SYNDICATED COLUMN: If Hillary Clinton Had Won, We’d Be Even Worse

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What if Hillary Clinton had won 114,000 more votes in four key states? Or, what if she’d picked up the two to three percent of the vote she lost because Bernie Sanders’ supporters sat on their hands on election day? She’d be “Clinton 2” or “Clinton 45” or “the second President Clinton” — and the world would look very different.

In terms of personnel and therefore policy, a Clinton Administration II would look and feel like a mash-up of Obama’s third term and a throwback to figures who populated her husband’s White House during the 1990s. Having moved to the right since Bill’s first term, progressive figures like then-Labor Secretary Robert Reich would be out in the cold. Rahm Emanuel and Timothy Geithner could expect cabinet offers. So could some Bush-era neo-cons like Robert Kagan.

Hillary didn’t promise much change to domestic policy during her campaign. Her biggest proposal was to spend $275 billion on infrastructure, which would have left us $1.3 trillion short of what’s needed. Not that she could have gotten it through the Republican Congress.

The alternate presidential history of 2017 differs most significantly in two respects: foreign policy, and tone.

Clinton’s liberal supporters always glossed over her long history of hawkish, arguably far-right, approaches to military matters. Those who mourn her loss to Trump today have completely forgotten that she convinced Obama to back military coups against the democratically-elected leaders of Honduras and Egypt. She also successfully advised advised Obama to arm and fund radical Islamist militias in Syria and Libya, plunging two modern Muslim countries into civil wars that have reduced them to failed states. Clinton’s famous cackle after a U.S. drone blew up Libyan ruler Moammar Khaddafi’s convoy, leading to his being sodomized by bayonet on video, is terrifying.

“It’s impossible to know which national security crises she would be forced to confront, of course,” Micah Zenko speculated in Foreign Policy in July 2016. “But those who vote for her should know that she will approach such crises with a long track record of being generally supportive of initiating U.S. military interventions and expanding them.”

Two months later, another FP writer penned an astonishing look behind the Kremlin walls at the thinking of top Russian officials worried about the U.S. election: “Moscow perceives the former secretary of state as an existential threat… That fear was heightened when Clinton surrogate Harry Reid, the Senate minority leader, recently accused Putin of attempting to rig the U.S. election through cyberattacks. That is a grave allegation — the very kind of thing a President Clinton might repeat to justify war with Russia,” wrote Clinton Ehrlich.

Would Hillary’s tough talk have triggered World War III with Russia by now? Probably not. But it’s not impossible — which shows us how far right she stands politically on the use of the force.

More likely and thus more worrisome, Hillary might have leveraged the current U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan into attacks against neighboring Iran. “I want the Iranians to know, if I am the president, we will attack Iran” if Iran were to attack Israel — even if there were no Congressional authorization or a clear and present danger to the U.S., Clinton said in 2008. “And I want them to understand that… we would be able to totally obliterate them [to retaliate for an attack on Israel].” Unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran has a real military and thus a real ability to defend itself — which would mean a long, costly and possibly unwinnable war.

Like Trump, Hillary would almost certainly be authorizing the construction, deployment and use of more assassination drone planes.

The one arena where most people agree that President Clinton would have been better than President Trump is presidential tone. Yes, “she does yell into microphones and speak in an overly enunciated voice—two factors that may make her seem abrasive.” But this is a woman whose campaign assigned 12 staffers to compose a tweet; they went through 10 drafts over 10 hours. There wouldn’t be any Trump-style 3 a.m. Twitter diarrhea coming out of a Clinton White House.

When George W. Bush was president, there wasn’t one morning I didn’t regret that Al Gore wasn’t there instead. Gore wouldn’t have invaded Iraq. He might not have gone into Afghanistan either. Unlike pretty much every other president, he cared about the environment.

There isn’t a single moment I miss President Hillary Clinton, though. Trump is a disaster, a real piece of crap. But everyone knows it. Because Trump is so loud and stupid and cruel and greedy and corrupt, all liberals and not a few conservatives clearly discern the true nature of his administration, and of the system itself.

If Hillary Clinton were president, the left would still be just as asleep as it was between 2008 and 2016. First woman president! Aren’t we just the best.

Meanwhile, the drones fire their missiles and U.S. troops and spooks prop up tyrants, and the filthy rich rake in their loot.

Trump gives us clarity. That is no small thing.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall) is co-author, with Harmon Leon, of “Meet the Deplorables: Infiltrating Trump America,” an inside look at the American far right, out now. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

15 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: If Hillary Clinton Had Won, We’d Be Even Worse

  1. “Would Hillary’s tough talk have triggered World War III with Russia by now? Probably not.”

    Trump ran as an isolationist: no imports, no immigration, bring the boys and girls home from the foreign military bases. He lied.

    In the 3rd debate, Hillary promised regime removal in Syria starting on Day 1. Based on her track record, she was NOT lying. Putin said he will NOT leave those NATO bases in Syria on which Russia is illegally squatting under International Law (as defined by Thrasymachus). Hillary promised she’d force regime removal in Russia if Putin didn’t back down, and the Clintonbots said, with the US anti-missal system making America perfectly safe from a Russian retaliatory strike, Putin would meekly back down, since he had no alternative, and it’s clear Hillary believed that.

    Iran, on the other hand, was set up for regime removal by Obama. Clinton convinced Saddam to give up his WMD so Bush, jr could force regime removal. Bush, jr convinced Libya to give up all its WMD so Obama and Hillary could easily force regime removal. And Obama convinced Iran to give up its WMD so Hillary could force regime removal. Only it’ll be Trump, not Hillary. Flynn promised RT regime removal in Iran back in ’15 (and took money for it, which got him indicted by Mueller).

    Still, Iran gave up all its WMD, so regime removal should go as easily as in Libya.

  2. “Ultimately, I pointed out (correctly) that Hitler being appointed chancellor would change the national conversation, inspire dissent and expose Nazism as just a more extreme status quo. The 6 million Jews were just collateral damage.” – Some cartoonist in 1946 Berlin

    • «OzzieFernandezIsaacs», your comment above is relevant to Ted’s discussion of how things would have turned out had Ms Clinton won the US presidential election of 2016 exactly how ? Do you mean that things had come to a better end in Germany if, for example, the more sophisticated Joseph Goebbels had become Reichskanzler Deutschlands in 1933 rather than Herr Hitler ?…

      Henri

  3. «When George W. Bush was president, there wasn’t one morning I didn’t regret that Al Gore wasn’t there instead. Gore wouldn’t have invaded Iraq. He might not have gone into Afghanistan either. Unlike pretty much every other president, he cared about the environment.

    There isn’t a single moment I miss President Hillary Clinton, though. Trump is a disaster, a real piece of crap. But everyone knows it. Because Trump is so loud and stupid and cruel and greedy and corrupt, all liberals and not a few conservatives clearly discern the true nature of his administration, and of the system itself.» About sums it up, Ted. The frightening thing to me, as a foreigner, is that the 95-odd per cent of us in the rest of the world, suffer along with you in the US the consequences of the choices that you make….

    Henri

    • «The frightening thing to me, as a foreigner, is that the 95-odd per cent of us in the rest of the world, suffer along with you in the US the consequences of the choices that you make….»

      That should, of course, have been : The frightening thing to me, as a foreigner, is that the 95-odd per cent of us in the rest of the world, suffer along with you in the US the consequences of the choices that you are allowed to make….

      Henri

  4. I’m a Sanders supporter. I didn’t sit on my hands. I voted for the first US woman president: Jill Stein.

    As to above:

    A) the political tragedy of 2016 was that THE “choice” was between HRC and
    Herr Hair (who won, thus becoming His Hairness.)

    B) HRC’s “spiritual emptiness”? How about total political insult as inspirational as a stage four melanoma diagnosis? In summary:
    1) he bad

    2) his supporters bad

    3) I am not he

    4) I have different anatomy

    5) I will work with his party, see #1, above

    6) $15/hour bad for YOU; $333,000/hour MY minimum
    
7) Rootin’ Tootin’ Putin bad

    8) My husband’s $500,000 from Putin-controlled bank, good

    9) neo-cons very good

    10) Kissinger just peachy
    11) suburban Republicans and their country club $’s even better!

    12) Obama legacy good (TTP, coddle TBTF banks, prosecute whistleblowers, do NOT prosecute illegal foreclosures [several million], escalated drone terrorism, bomb OTHER Nobel Peace Prize winners, etc., etc., etc … )

    13) Assad bad; medieval, Wahhabi kingdom of Saud good … enough to give me many $’s and buy US war toys (with robust kickbacks)
.
    14) lead in your water not MY problem

    15) your kids shot in the street by cops not my problem … they are assumed to be incipient super-predators who needed to be brought to heel anyway, until proven otherwise
.
    16) Dem congressional majorities? who the eff cares??? see #5 above.

    It is clear that the “deplorables” count is closer to 95 million, not the 30+ million HRC estimated.

    • > 3) I am not he


      Unfortunately, that seems to be the biggest campaign plank of both parties for lo, these many years.

      They spend far more time & money telling me why I shouldn’t vote for the other guy than they spend telling me why I should vote for their guy.

      “Vote for me – I’m no worse than the other guy.” Not exactly inspirational, nahmean?

  5. That joke “The good news is that Hillary lost; the bad news is that Trump won” remains relevant.

    I wonder how the (Harvey) Weinstein effect and #MeToo would have played out under President Hillary. She would have had to take a strong stand against sexual harassment, except it would be very awkward as Weinstein and many of these Hollywood pigs were big supporters and donors to Hillary and the Democrats, and it would dredge up the scandals around Bill. I can imagine the GOP and right-wing media hijacking this and running stories like, “President HILLARY TOOK MILLIONS of dollars FROM RAPISTS! Congress’ investigation continues…”

    As bad as President Trump is, I doubt he or the alt-right crowd would have gone away if Hillary were elected. Steve Bannon would learn from his mistakes, find a candidate with fewer skeletons in his closet, and come back in 2020 reminding everyone constantly that America continues to suffer because Hillary is too busy starting new wars and hobnobbing with Lena Dunham. It would never end.

  6. While the Bush years brought moral clarity to many, they also did make establishment Democrats like Obama look good in comparison – for a while. I think it is anyone’s guess how much Hillary’s unpopularity was due to people finally wising up to the spiritual emptiness of both wings of the establishment and/or merely her (complete lack of) personal charm.

    Just how deep is the awakening (or rubbing one’s face further into the horror) going to be now? Perhaps big D Democrats may somehow escape their reckoning once more by blaming it all on the other guys? Then again, perhaps it was about time people got the notion that the strong (sic) man would solve things for them out of their system…

    The one clear bright side is that with the Dems in opposition it may be easier for the “Sandernistas” to take over that party – as was done with the British Labour Party. In power, any attempts would be met by a constant refrain of “you lost the primary, now you need to support the presidency as it breaks promises and murders people in faraway places you have never heard of before at an alarming rate”.

    • > strong (sic) man
      Sick strongman? 😉

      “Fat, dumb and happy,” never inspires change. Even, “Fat, dumb and mildly discomfited” doesn’t get fat people off their fat asses. :: glances at backside ::

      “Hungry & Thoroughly Pissed Off,” however, does make change possible.

      MAGA! Four More Years!

  7. > Trump gives us clarity. That is no small thing.

    That’s unarguably a good thing (of course approve – I’ve made the same observation multiple times.) Hillary probably wouldn’t have galvanized The Left any more than Obomber did.

    But other than that – is Trump better? I’m not so sure. Trump selling arms to the Ukraine certainly doesn’t help our relationship with Russia. I can’t see Hillary publicly dissing our allies or starting a pissing contest with Korea. I don’t *think* she’d sign such a blatantly biased tax bill – but I can certainly see her signing a slightly-less-obviously biased one; actually helping with income inequality would be right off the table.

    Hillary worse? Maybe/maybe not – different, certainly. (This is in no way a defense of Hillary – I’m glad she lost. If things had gone the other way I’d be glad Trump lost and unhappy she’d won. This is merely a discussion of an alternate reality, we were already fucked when the nominees were announced.)

    • This is in no way a defense of Hillary – I’m glad she lost. If things had gone the other way I’d be glad Trump lost and unhappy she’d won.

      This.

      The weird thing is that this sentiment is now mainstream as both candidates were historically unpopular.

      Come to think of it, I think most of Ted’s column pretty much reflects mainstream opinion.

      Now where to turn for provocative vanguard news? 😉

      • I’m happy that I—with my Marx-informed perspective—can comment here where “much reflects mainstream opinion” without sticking out like a sore thumb.

        This is real progress.

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