SYNDICATED COLUMN: What Would President Hillary Do? She’ll Be the First Woman President.

Hillary is the talk of 2016. Will she run? According to the pundit class whose water cooler speculation gets repackaged as “conventional wisdom,” the nomination is the former First Lady’s for the asking. Following a coronation that saves her cash and bruising primary battles, it’s currently hard to conjure a Republican who can stop her from taking the general election too.

But to paraphrase a recent viral music video, there’s one thing that no one knows:

What would President Clinton II do?

            I posed this question to “Ready for Hillary,” the main pro-Hillary Super PAC. “Ready for Hillary focuses on grassroots organizing, not policy,” replied Seth Bringman. “Policy decisions would be up to the campaign if Hillary runs, which we are certainly encouraging her to do. We amplify the causes Hillary is advocating for and spread the word to our more than one-and-a-half million supporters. We have done so when Hillary spoke out on immigration reform, health care, voting rights, unemployment insurance, and the government shutdown.”

Given that the pre-primary season doesn’t begin for another 18 months, it’s a little early to expect a fully fleshed-out policy platform from a probable candidate. But HRC isn’t a fresh young thing. She’s been kicking around politics for decades — so it’s more than a little strange that neither her fans nor her enemies has a clue what she’d do about a host of issues.

Long before 2000, Al Gore’s longstanding interest in climate change signaled that the environment would have been a priority in his administration. Beginning with his testimony in the 1971 Winter Soldier hearings, John Kerry’s career path predicted a preference for diplomacy over war. On the other hand, it was similarly clear long before 2008 that a John McCain Administration would have been belligerent and quirky, featuring occasional alliances of convenience with Democrats.

So, what about Hill? The only agenda item anyone could have reasonably predicted was a revival of HillaryCare — which is now basically Obamacare. The biggest arrow in her quiver is gone.

Ready for Hillary says it has raised $4 million from 33,000 donors during 2013. That’s a lot of money. You’d think the donors would know what they’re buying, but if that’s the case, they’re keeping it to themselves.

Hillary leads every poll of the Democratic field for 2016. But why? What is it about her that makes some liberal voters swoon?

I combed the Internet looking for signs of something approximating a political agenda. I pushed out the following question to social networks: “Support Hillary for 2016? Can you tell me what she would DO?”

The closest approximation to an answer came back: “She would be the first woman president.”

Yeah, we knew that — but would she be a first woman president who fires drones at wedding parties, or a first woman president who pushes for a $20/hour minimum wage, or a first woman president who continues the first black president’s policy of not using government to try to create jobs? Would she be a first woman president who closes Guantánamo? Would she be a first woman president who continued NSA spying on Americans? Would she be a first woman president who adds a public option to the Affordable Care Act?

As far as I can tell, the (Democratic) arguments for Hillary boil down to the following talking points:

  1. Unlike Obama, who let himself get rolled by the Republicans, Hillary is tough and battle-tested. She’s a good negotiator.
  2. She’s an experienced manager. “Ready on day one,” she argued in 2008. She knows everyone and everything in government.
  3. Like her husband, she’s somewhat more liberal than Obama.
  4. She’s pre-disastered, thus electable. If there were any more Travelgates, Whitewaters, etc., the media would have uncovered them by now.

These are personality traits, not prescriptions for America.

Hillary Clinton isn’t a candidate — she’s a brand. She doesn’t offer a set of ideas; she projects a vague sense of competence that feels absent in the current White House. (Didn’t she used to hold some kind of big job in that place?) Despite having held high posts in government, she can’t point to a single major legislative or ideological achievement — but that doesn’t matter to her supporters.

Mostly, Hillary represents the potentiality of a historical symbol: first woman president. As soon as she takes the oath of office, her campaign’s biggest goal, shattering the ultimate political glass ceiling, will have been achieved.

If this feels familiar, it should. Senator Barack Obama was Clinton in 2006 and 2007, projecting calm after long post-9/11 years of jittery Bushisms, with a light resume that served as a blank slate, allowing people to project their hopes and ideals upon him. In the end, all that mattered was the beginning: winning as a black man. For the Obamabots, all that followed — protecting Bush’s torturers, the bankster bailouts, the drones, the NSA — was beside the point of their politics of identitarian symbolism.

What will happen to the long-term unemployed under Hillary? If 2008 serves as a guide, the 2016 campaign will pass without Americans much talking or thinking about such questions.

(Support independent journalism and political commentary. Subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)


10 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: What Would President Hillary Do? She’ll Be the First Woman President.

  1. Two things:

    1. Hillary will also give the Hillobots? The Hill’s Angels? The Hill-Billies? Her supporters the ultimate excuse for every single thing she doesn’t accomplish: “Those mean men in Congress stopped her. She couldn’t close Gitmo because she’s playing 23-dimension backgammon and knew that she’d lose that, so she’s saving her energies for more important issues which will never be raised because those mean men in Congress stopped her. She couldn’t …” (just keep repeating, over and over, like a mantra).

    2. How many more “push” presidencies can we withstand? I don’t mean that as some sort of deep metaphorical thing. I mean that the U.S. president is, with no real other competitors, the single-most important person on the planet for the purpose of triggering policy stances and getting issues started. Global warming reform will go absolutely nowhere fast until we get a president who understands science isn’t some sort of horoscope or the stuff you see on Star Trek. Until then, we’re all strapped into the go-kart that’s heading toward the cliff. How much longer do we have the luxury of a “brand” rather than a person?

    • I agree with your post, I just wanted to say how much I comically appreciated the “23 dimensional backgammon” comment. So sadly apt, and yet for the same reason so precisely hilarious (Hillary-ous?).

  2. I think what most people don’t realize is that there exists a behind-the-scenes activity that inhibits U.S. Presidents from realizing their goals. The powers that control U.S. Politics merely point to what happened to JFK and ask the sitting President if they feel secure, or if they think their family members are secure.

    I believe that Obama had really good intentions for his promises to become reality, but confronted with threats to his own well-being and that of his wife and daughters, he kowtowed to those powers.

    Hillary knows the risks and will be the one most likely to counter those elements of evil.

    (Okay, I’m paranoid. That’s why I chose to reside in Mexico, living with drug cartels and bribe-oriented government officials. At least, they don’t try to hide behind a façade of “everything is okay” as do the U.S. Officials.)

    • I disagree. I think Obama has demonstrated that he loves licking the boot heel. He is psychopathic. That’s how he managed to move up so quickly politically. He is opportunistic and deceitful in nature and loves power.

    • derlehrer,

      I have great respect for suspicion. I even admire a tiny drop or two of paranoia. But to imagine, even for a fraction of a second, that Hillary “will be the one most likely to counter those elements of evil” is not just plain wrong, it’s hopelessly naive.

      Hillary, as Ted pointed out, has been in positions of power for years and years. And what has she done with all that power and access?

      The only thing she’s done is show that she’s just as venal, grunting and power-hungry as any man. Not a particularly impressive accomplishment. She’s a little more polished that Bill, but she’s just as consumed by her own appetites.

      I’m not faulting her for that; she’s simply doing what politicians do in our country and at our time. But let’s stop right now with any delusions that she’s on “our” side. She’s on her side. Always has been, always will be.

      If she gets elected in 2016, I think it will be disastrous. Not because she’s a woman but because she isn’t enough of a woman.

      Hillary Clinton reminds me very much of the kind of woman George Carlin was talking about when he said: “I’ve noticed that most of these feminists are white, middle class women. They don’t give a shit about black women’s problems; they don’t care about Latino women. All they’re interested in is their own reproductive freedom and their pocketbooks.”

      But now that Christie is about to be rendered a criminal (all that it needs is one e-mail to have survived, one phone message that wasn’t erased), I do wonder what the election will be like.

    • I would not be surprised if you are correct, derlehrer.

      And if the Dems run Clinton, it’s likely because they think she stands the best chance of winning. What she does would be perceived as secondary. Which is why a lot of people don’t vote.

      The Dems argue for incrementalism, and that’s a reasonable attitude with regards to social change. But not climate change.

      Nobody wants to deal with climate change, though. Actually if it was made a top priority, we could do a lot of retooling pretty fast. Look at how we operated when we entered WWII.

      But we don’t, because we’re playing some kind of giant game of chicken with China.

      What would Hillary do? Complete the Keystone XL, I expect. Kill more people. Maybe she’ll be pleasantly surprised to find how good she is at it, too.

  3. Put your hands on your eyes, put your hands on your ears, put your hands on your mouth – then you turn yourself around… You do the hokey-pokey, then you turn yourself around – That’s what its all about! :^) We’re living in a nation where most of the people are knee-jerk simpletons.

  4. Hillary’s presidential administration, if it happened, is confusing to predict because Ms. Clinton has had multiple opinions during her multiple careers. To quote wikipedia on one quick topic, whether or not Jerusalem should be the capitol of Israel:
    As a senator and throughout her career, Clinton had supported a law that requires identifying Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, however, in September 2011, as Secretary of State, she filed a brief with the US Supreme Court opposing “any American action, even symbolically, toward recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel” because of the influence it might have on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
    Would President Clinton act like Senator Clinton or Secretary of State Clinton?

    “If Iran were to launch a nuclear attack on Israel what would our response be? I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president, we will attack Iran. That’s what we will do. There is no safe haven.”
    Would President Clinton act like Senator Clinton, who said that?

  5. What I would be hoping to get out of a Hillary Presidency is equivalent to what I think we are finally getting out of an Obama Presidency. The slow but important realization that simply removing aging Caucasian males from figure head positions doesn’t magically make the world a better place. The “She’ll Be the First Woman President” crowd needs to see their first woman president behave identically to all the male ones before her to understand that penis poisoning isn’t the source of all the ills in the world and magic vagina power does not empower all women to shoot rainbows out of their snatch Care Bear style that sets the whole world strait with just a couple of blasts. Sadly these individuals will probably need a full eight years of her as president plus some time to finally work through all their denial afterwards to fully come to terms with this fact (that’s appears to be what I am seeing as the expected trends for the reformable Obama bots). Then they need to be reminded that people like Cynthia McKinney could have been the first female president almost a decade earlier (and other woman earlier still), and that whatever you may think of their policies, they did actually stand for things often including efforts toward real change, and yet the vast majority of these vagina worshipers never gave a fuck about any of them when they ran. Finally the healing will be complete and then we can start looking at policy instead of personality or brand, in our major politicians – assuming the country hasn’t completely collapsed and burned to ash by then, or the whole world for that matter.

    • “penis poisoning isn’t the source of all the ills in the world and magic vagina power does not empower all women to shoot rainbows out of their snatch Care Bear style that sets the whole world strait with just a couple of blasts.”

      😀 Thank you so much for all the laughs!