Tuesday, October 10, 2006

# Posted 11:10 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

A LIBERAL IN SEARCH OF HILLARY’S SOUL: Republicans have a partisan interest in branding Hillary Clinton as yet another liberal with no sincere beliefs or real values.

Democrats resent the way John Kerry was labeled as a flip-flopping pol and bristle at the thought of letting Republicans apply that to any Democrat again. But when it comes to Hillary, more and more Democrats are genuinely concerned that the Republicans are right.

The cover story [sub. req'd] in this month’s Atlantic is a very long profile of Hillary’s development since her election to the Senate in 2000. Its author is Joshua Green, a senior editor at The Atlantic who is often sympathetic to Clinton but just can’t bring himself to believe in her. The final paragraph of Green’s profile expresses his disappointment:
It is fair to wonder if Clinton learned the lesson of the [1994] health-care disaster too well, whether she has so embraced caution and compromise that she can no longer judge what merits taking political risks. It is hard to square the brashly confident leader of health-care reform – willing to act on her deepest beliefs, intent on changing the political climate and not merely exploiting it – with the senator who recently went along with the vote to make flag-burning a crime.

Today Clinton offers no big ideas, no crusading causes – by her own tacit admission, no evidence of bravery in the service of a larger ideal. Instead, her Senate record is an assemblage of many, many small gains. Her real accomplishment in the Senate has been to rehabilitate the image and political career of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Impressive though that has been in its particulars, it makes for a rather thin claim on the presidency. Senator Clinton has plenty to talk about, but she doesn’t have much to say.
Those are scathing words from an author, who best I can tell, is a liberal Democrat but hardly a partisan of the anti-war, anti-Hillary left. Instead, these seem to be the words of a potential supporter who could not find what he was looking for.

Green begins his profile with a long passage that describes Hillary’s remarkable ability to convert the most hard-bitten, conservative Republicans into her friends and admirers. In a private prayer session, Sam Brownback mournfully told his worshippers,
“I’m overcome now with only one thought.” He confessed to having hated Clinton and having said derogatory things about her. Through God, he now recognized his sin. Then he turned to her and asked, “Mrs. Clinton, will you forgive me?” Clinton replied that she would.
That moment seems almost magical, as if Hillary had a charisma far more profound than her husband ever could hope for. Yet in spite of her ability to be at one with the most spiritual conservatives, she seems to be afraid of liberal ideals and has a hard time telling the truth about where she stands.

Again and again, The Atlantic profile emphasizes that everything Clinton says reflects calculation instead of candor. Green writes that:
Clinton told me she never considered pursuing elected office until 1998 until 1998, after [Daniel Patrick] Moynihan, New York’s senior senator, announced he would retire at the end of his term. The official version of how it happened, presented in her book and repeated with eerie word-for-word precision whenever she’s asked about it publicly, is a saccharine tale in which Clinton attends an event to promote an HBO special on women in sports and finds herself standing alongside a young woman so excited by rumors of her possible candidacy that she leans into Clinton and repeats the day’s fortifying slogan: “Dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton! Dare to compete!”
It may seem unfair to attack Hillary for being precise and consistent at the same time as attacking her changing with the wind. But even loyal Democrat might find it cloying for someone as intelligent and ambitious as Clinton to suggest that she never thought about running for Senate until a wholesome stranger suggested it to her.

Although saccharine denials of ambition may be par for the course in the Senate, Hillary is also ruthless. To illustrate this point, Green describes her approach to funding an AIDS care program first passed in 1990, when “AIDS was ravaging cities, which properly received the preponderance of assistance.”

In the years since, urban areas—often with help from the states—have worked to bring AIDS cases under control. In New York, all patients who qualify under the act have access to the drug cocktails that can prevent HIV infections from becoming full-blown AIDS—with enough money left over to pay for quality-of-life services like dog walking and massage therapy.

Now AIDS is exploding across the rural South, especially in black areas, leaving some states unable to afford even the basic life-saving drugs. Some experts believe that the funding formula needs to be rewritten to address where the disease is newly spreading. In August, news accounts revealed that Clinton was holding up the writing of legislation.

I was leaked documents from her office stamped CONFIDENTIAL showing Clinton’s proposed funding formula, which maintained New York’s high level of funding. When I asked her about entreaties from pastors’ groups and rural-state governors, who were concerned that their citizens would not receive essential medication, Clinton assured me that she hoped funding would be increased wherever it was needed—knowing how implausible this hope might be. She would not sacrifice her state’s allotment of money.

This, it seems fair to say, is not the same woman who once fought for equality in healthcare.

For the sake of brevity, I will leave for tomorrow The Atlantic's discussion of Hillary's thoughts on terrorism and national security. But the message is the same. She has betrayed the trust of those who once believed in her.
(3) opinions -- Add your opinion

"It may seem unfair to attack Hillary for being precise and consistent at the same time as attacking her changing with the wind"

Sure does, to me. Seems like the same standards applied to Newt Gingrich, or Mitt Romney, or John McCain, or Al Gore, or Howard Dean, or John Kerry, or - well you get the idea - would leave them looking no better. There seems to be a special axe that many on all sides have against Hilary, though.

Similarly, if she didnt defend NY State interests, shed be attacked for that. And of course that has nothing to do with the various national health care proposals.
I don't particularly like Hilary, but I've come to respect her as a politician. I don't think it's fair to say that she should accept an HIV funding cut in NY in exchange for an HIV funding increase elsewhere.

Why does the money have to simply be shuffled around different health care programs? There are far more useless programs out there that should be cut first if some state's HIV program needs more money.
I'd have thought that the Democrats should run someone of unimpeachable patriotism, but who had the good judgement to oppose the attack on Iraq. How many's that then?
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