SYNDICATED COLUMN: I Dunno If Hillary is Evil, But She Sure is Dumb

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To her enemies and many of her supporters, the brief on Hillary Clinton is that she’s evil but smart. “Smart leadership for the 21st century,” declares her website. Cynical and calculating she may be, people say. Sure, she’s an opportunist. But she knows the American political system inside and out — so she’ll be able to work her Machiavellian magic as president. Hopefully, on our behalf.

In this case, conventional wisdom is 100% wrong. Hillary’s intentions may or may not be purely self-serving. But she’s far from the political genius she’s being portrayed.

She may or may not be evil. But she certainly isn’t smart.

Look at the former senator’s vote in favor of the Iraq War. An evil decision? Maybe. While the results were catastrophic, there’s no way to see into her soul. Maybe she wanted to liberate Iraqis from dictatorship. Saddam was a tyrant. We’ll never know what she was really thinking.

What we know for sure is that that vote was political suicide. It caused her to lose the presidency to Barack Obama in 2008. It hobbled her in her primary campaign against Bernie Sanders.

This is not one of those hindsight-is-20/20 things. During the run-up to the war in late 2002/early 2003, many smart people expected the war to go badly exactly the way that it did. Leftist opinion columnists and editorial cartoonists (cough cough) repeatedly scoffed at Cheney’s claim that our invasion troops would be “welcomed as liberators.” Middle East experts correctly predicted the chaos, sectarian violence, regional destabilization and Islamist radicalization that would fill the power vacuum created by the overthrow of Saddam. Millions of citizens marched in the streets to oppose this optional war. It didn’t take a genius to see it coming — but she didn’t.

Only fools believed the Bush Administration’s nonexistent evidence (c.f. random metal tubes) and ridiculous rationale for war (“what if Saddam somehow built a nuke, then made friends with his mortal enemies, then gave those terrorist enemies his nukes as a gift, and then what if they figured out some way to ship them to the U.S.?”). Neocon fools. Republican fools. Fools like Hillary Clinton.

Hillary’s apologists say she had no choice. That, in the face of bloodthirsty voters’ lust for vengeance post-9/11, she had to act tough. But that’s nonsense. Senator Clinton represented liberal New York, where the war was unpopular from day one. She wouldn’t face reelection until 2006 or the presidential race until 2008 — three to five years after casting her vote. Just as the antiwar crowd predicted — yet Hillary was unable to — the Iraq War began going badly within months. By early 2005, most voters thought it was a mistake. A sharp politician would have anticipated that. A smart presidential aspirant, able to anticipate how things would play out in Mesopotamia, would have placed her chips on the antiwar side of the political betting table.

Then there’s her email scandal.

What was she thinking? Can she think?

When Clinton took over the State Department in 2009, she was already planning to run for president in 2016. She and her husband have come under GOP attack throughout their careers. Given the sharp scrutiny she was sure to come under seven years hence, why didn’t she order her staff to follow the government rules concerning email to the letter? A savvy political insider would have gone by the book, erring on the side of conservatism, rather than use a private email server for classified government correspondence. She was a moron. Now she faces a possible indictment.

Incident after incident indicates that the Smart Hillary construct is as much of a fantasy as her supposed record of progressivism.

It’s been obvious for a while now that 2016 was shaping up as the Year of the Political Outsider. Both parties are relying on their base to win, rather than the swing voters who were so important during the Clinton 1990s. The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements, and numerous polls, pointed to widespread disenchantment with the establishment. Yet Hillary acted like it was 1993, tacking center-right like the corporatist she is. She solicited the usual old big donors.

She even gave speeches to Goldman Sachs. In 2013!

Hillary radically underestimated the Bernie insurgency. Her messaging has been relentlessly tonedeaf, as when her aging surrogates Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem insultingly old-splained to young female voters that they owed her their votes. Less than a year ago, Hillary was still pimping every job-killing “free trade” deal she heard about — even though they were unpopular with voters. Now Hillary is running out of money and losing momentum to a socialist who is eating her lunch in primary states she took for granted.

Time after time, over and over, Hillary proves she doesn’t get it. She’s not intuitive. She has no sense of what people are/must be thinking. She’s incurious, failing to feel shifts in opinion or circumstance. She’s stuck in the past. She wallows in her bubble. Which, when you consider that even the wealthy patrician FDR had a strong sense of what voters cared about, is frightening.

In a Democratic debate, she brags about her bromance with Henry Kissinger, telling liberals — who consider him a war criminal — that she relies on Nixon’s deviant mad bomber for foreign policy advice.

At another debate, she conflates Bernie Sanders’ vote against the Wall Street bailout with a refusal to help the auto industry. Even in Michigan, no one is fooled. Does she think we’ve forgotten how gross that Bush-Obama bailout was?

After Nancy Reagan dies, she gives the Reagans credit for starting a “national conversation” about HIV/AIDS. The Reagans were disgusting homophobes, pleased as punch that gays were dying en masse. They refused to fund research to fight the disease. They started a national conversation about HIV/AIDS the way Hitler started a national conversation on Jews. Now she says she “misspoke,” that ultimate all-purpose meaningless verb.

Could this be similar to her amazing statement to a black voter that no one had ever asked her about her support for the 1994 Clinton crime bill, which sent millions of black people to prison for minor offenses? How is this possible? Did Hillary really not know about the Reagans’ antigay bigotry? Or was she lying but assumed no one would notice? Either way: idiotic.

Vote for Hillary if you want. But don’t vote for her because she’s smart.

She is many things.

Smart isn’t one of them.

(Ted Rall is the author of “Bernie,” a biography written with the cooperation of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. “Bernie” is now on sale online and at all good bookstores.)

5 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: I Dunno If Hillary is Evil, But She Sure is Dumb

  1. Ted,

    As I type this, Bernie is getting crucified in the five-state primary. He’s got a sliver of a lead in one state, might claw out a victory in a second state, and is 15% behind in two others. Florida, as expected, was a massacre.

    Although I think it’s still possible for him to win — if he really starts stacking up some double-digit returns — and I still think it’s possible that Clinton will get indicted for something, handing Sanders a technical win, I am mightily alarmed by how Clinton is able to get as many votes as she is. As you point out, she is not a savvy politician.

    Trump will eat her alive in the general election. Why? Trump is a good liar. Reagan was even better, though. Kissinger, famously, was called a stupendous liar with a remarkable memory by Christopher Hitchens. I’d love to see the three of them at a truth-telling contest. But Hillary lies the way a fifth grader lies. Badly, with little ability to improvise as the lie spins out and is challenged.

    I do wonder what this country will be like after four years of President Trump.

    • Given that Generalisssima Clinton’s indictable offenses are against US federal law, who, exactly might we hope will indict her?

      The Obumma DoJ?

      • Obama has had one single significant accomplishment. By a lot of hard work, he made sure that the pharma and health insurance industry got a seat at the table as taxpayer dollars are funneled through them because (cue the chorus) single payer universal healthcare is an impossibility that has never been successfully implemented anywhere ever.

        A Hillary Clinton candidacy equals failure to keep Obamacare going. The Republican House and Senate will defund it, block it, cripple it. If it goes to the Supreme Court, the new vacancies will all be held by moderates (at best) because (cue the chorus) you have to work across the aisle, compromise, gain incremental changes slowly by playing a long game. And that will start that chimera toward its eventual end.

        Obama’s presidency was eight long years of nothing. Gitmo stayed open, prison incarceration rates for black men stayed high, the war kept right on going. No one went to jail for Wall Street’s many crimes. If Sanders got in, he’d get UHC going, which would allow Obama to sit there and smugly say, “Yep. What FOLKS don’t understand is that it was Obamacare that paved the way for Bernie’s system.”

        But Hillary Clinton in the White House? Obama tried to name a nominee for the Supreme Court. We all saw how that went. And the Republicans just strongly dislike Obama. Clinton? They hate. Actively. With great passion.

        And then there’s the Democratic Party itself. What happens when the Republicans keep raising the e-mails, the Goldman Sachs speeches and whatever else during the general election? Do you think the Republicans are going to lose seats from that? Hardly. They will gain seats. And Hillary Clinton’s first two years, if she can actually scrape up the votes to win, will be a disaster, leading to more loses in the House and Senate. The Democratic Party must realize that if they lose this election, they are going to lose a lot of seats in the House and Senate.

        The midterm elections will come, and it will be an absolute nightmare. And the Supreme Court will be shifted a little more to the right with each of the departures (I’m thinking three). The House and Senate? You think Citizens United was a bad decision? Wait until some of the wingnuts start introducing theology-based bills that get passed by the legislature and then affirmed by a court that things abortion is something that wouldn’t happen if women would just read the Bible more and stop wearing makeup.

        It’s possible that the party itself will “order the hit.” Clinton will bring her supporters to the general election, but some of the Sanders supporters will sit it all out or vote for someone else because HRC simply represents the same thing: party insider taking care of the rich while the rest of us get thrown scraps.

        Trump, on the other hand, will be the Republican nominee (barring an indictment for Trump U.) and there’s one thing I haven’t seen anyone dare say during all the talking and analyzing: The Republicans ALWAYS rally around their candidate when the general election comes. He’ll win in a landslide. Against Hillary Clinton, anyone the Republicans put up will win in a landslide.

  2. A note on the emails – so long as they go out unencrypted over SMTP, they aren’t secure anyway. Doesn’t mean she didn’t fuck up, only that playing by the rules doesn’t really buy her anything in that regard.

    Not keeping the record of official conversations is the real crime.

  3. Senator Sanders won Michigan (barely) but McGovern’s win with a 25% plurality means the Democrats hand out delegates proportionately, so Sanders’ win in Michigan got him about half the Michigan delegates. African Americans LOVE the Clintons, and Secretary Clinton is getting more of the African American vote than Obama did (African Americans liked Obama more than Bill, but some stayed loyal to Bill in ’08).

    In short, Secretary Clinton will be the First* Woman President of the US of A. And she plans to prove she has bigger huevos than Obama. Or Bush, jr. Or Bill. So the evil Syrian regime will be replaced by a good Wahhabi ruler for Syria, a vizier of the King of Saudi Arabia. The Daesh (ISIS in English) could provide that vizier if they will accept the King of Saudi Arabia as the Spiritual and Temporal leader of all Islam, which al-Wahhab proved follows from the Noble Koran and the Sunnah. And making a vizier of the King of Saudi Arabia the sovereign of Syria will add LOTS of baksheesh to the Clinton Fund, which is what every decent person wants.

    Secretary Clinton is one of the most advanced neoliberals. She is on the far Left. The rich and powerful get everything, and the rest of us get whatever is LEFT.

    And after she brings to Syria the same peace and prosperity and freedom and democracy that Bush, jr brought to Iraq and Obama (strongly pushed by the Secretary) brought to Libya, she’ll bring that same peace and prosperity and freedom and democracy to Iran and North Korea and Russia and China.

    And the world will be very peaceful.