I read and enjoyed Lucia Brawley’s essay in the HuffPost some days ago. I thought the author compelling and she made me rethink my priors with respect to Presidential Candidate Clinton, and why supporting her is so terribly important even with all the reservations that I have based on her long wrap sheet.
Candidate Clinton has been too close to scandal and corruption (Whitewater, commodities trading), money grubbing (speaker fees), law-breaking (larding her personal account with classified and sensitive emails), cozying up to the financial sector (speaker fees, campaign contributions, etc.), and much else. Plus, she and her campaign team can be ruthless and rough – downright Republican – during campaigns (see race-baiting during the primary against Obama).
However, I essentially agreed with Brawley’s essay that many of these trespasses are the price of power and must be judged through the prisms of realism and pragmatism. Clinton has climbed a brutal trek to the top of a mountain strewn with land mines. Like LBJ on his path to power before arriving at the White House, she too has bounced back stronger from setbacks.
Perhaps her Candidate Clinton’s greatest accomplishment since she was First Lady has been her great transformation from liberal icon to fiscal conservative. She was once the poster child for a radical restructuring of healthcare reform that, under her leadership, crashed and burned because in part she had misread the country’s political landscape. Since becoming Senator she has perched herself on the center-right of the policy spectrum and has built a strong base among the military brass. Moderate conservatism resides in what will soon be her party. Clinton is poised for the presidency and there is only the smallest chance that she won’t win. She will, I think, carry on with and try to deepen Obama’s domestic policies. If she turns out to be 70 percent as competent as Obama in this arena I will be happy. The economy will be in good hands.
My biggest area of concern with respect to a Clinton presidency is national security affairs. Part of the price of building her bona fides has been that she has ingratiated herself with the military and hawks in congress. There is a swath of generals who like her because she is tough and has not been afraid from her perches in the Senate and State to support dubious interventions – in sharp contrast to President Obama’s restraint (inter alia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria). She supported the war in Iraq and sided with the military and defense in favoring a ridiculously large surge in Afghanistan. In short, she shows signs of being trigger happy and too eager to trust generals who in the end are rarely held accountable for mistakes.
In her defense, all I can say is that I hope that her aggressive internationalism has been a function of politics, that is to say, that she made her choices because, like amassing wealth via speaker fees, they were necessary for accumulating power. Once in power it is my hope that restraint will be in order with respect to money-grubbing and her dubious embracing of liberal interventionists (Samantha Power et. al), neoconservatives, and hawkish generals. I am not optimistic on foreign policy. My bet is that we will return back to the imprudence of the Bush years.