Wednesday, December 07, 2005

December 6, 2005

Beware: The Cult of Hillary

No Republican bashing today. Why? Because it's not required. The Republican revolution is finally petering out, dying a death of a thousand self-inflicted cuts. I said several years ago that the best way to get rid of neo-conservatives is to give them everything they said they wanted. They got pretty much all of what they said they wanted – tax cuts for the rich, welfare cuts for the poor, less environmental restrictions on businesses, free trade, conservative courts, faith-based politics, faith-based education. It began in 1994 with Newt and will come to a grinding stop in November 2006.

That's the good news.

The bad news comes two years later, in November 2008. While Democrats will regain some of their lost power in '06, (with the growing possibility they will even regain at least one house of Congress,) the party is risking the big prize, the White House in '08.

That risk can be summed up in two words: Hillary Clinton. If Democrats give Hillary the nod in '08 they will lose the White House again -- and this time not by the narrowest of margins, but in a landslide. Why?

Because Hillary is "one of them." There come along from time to time unique personalities that, flawed as they are, attract followers like flies to dung. The likes of Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, Rev. Moon, Tom DeLay, George W. Bush. People like them, follow them down the strangest of paths and trust them with their most precious possessions.

This leaves the rest of us watching in disbelief, scratching our heads wondering if maybe we're missing something. How can otherwise functioning, rational, law-abiding folk be attracted to such obvious liars, phonies and connivers? Because they are. It's always have been and it will always be so. It's truly one of life's great mysteries.

Hillary Clinton is precisely such a person. There's something about the woman that dazzles some people.

I first saw it three years ago while attending meetings with Democrat strategists in Washington. A cell phone would ring. "Mumble, mumble... okay." Click. "I have to go," the recipient would say, adding importantly, "I have to meet with Hillary." A knowing hush would fall over the room. Glances exchanged. Heads nodded. A call had come from on high. Power had touched all in the room. It was as if the image of the Virgin Mary had appeared on that fellow's toasted cheese sandwich.

I called it The Cult of Hillary. And I want to tell you, it's strong, organized and growing. They are hungry. Hungry for power. Hungry to put their leader in charge. They revere her, hang on her every thought, follow her every command. They are an army of Hillary Moonies and they have their eyes firmly planted on the prize.

Then there are those die-hard pro-Hillary voters. Somehow Hillary has convinced them she actually cares about the same things they care about. This is no small feat since all available documentary evidence points to a woman who cares only about what is selling at any point in time. When the sales climate changes, she changes right along with it.

And she lies. She lies just like the very politicians those same voters claim they despise.

"I am happy being a senator from New York and have no plans to run for President," she has told every reporter who asked. "I'm not running," she said at a breakfast with political reporters. When asked whether anything could convince her to change her mind, she shook her head and said firmly: "No."

(I can always tell when Hillary is fixin' to lie because she always precedes the untruth with a disarming, dismissive, phony laugh. Remember that.)

Despite all those video taped denials, Hillary really is running for President. (Did you ever doubt it?) The Hillary for President campaign kicked into higher gear in recent days. The little triangulator got about the business of putting a new coat of paint on, reinventing herself to reflect the very latest poll findings.

On the War in Iraq: Hillary voted for the damn thing, along with other weak-kneed Dems scared they'd look like sissies if they didn't. Then she spent the next three years trying to look at least as macho as George W. on the war. But now that polls show voters are fed up with the war, so she is too -- now.

But when you just spent three years defending your vote to go to war you have back out of that position carefully, slowly, an inch at time. No quick moves, she's too smart for that. Just a long, slow turn -- a giant leftward arch she hopes voters will not notice ends 180 degrees from where she began.

Did she begin this turn dramatically, bravely, like John Murtha? No way, Jose. Reporters would grill her, confront her with her earlier pro-war statements. That would screw up her stealth metamorphosis. So, Hillary began her transformation by sitting right down and writing herself a letter last week:

"I take responsibility for my vote, and I, along with a majority of Americans, expect the president and his administration to take responsibility for the false assurances, faulty evidence and mismanagement of the war," the New York senator said in a 1600-word letter to thousands of people who have written her about the war. (Full Story)

Hillary was brainwashed by the Bush administration? Was that it? Yep. And, damn it, she expects an apology! I guess I'd buy that had she written the same letter two years ago, when nearly everyone else accepted we'd been sold a bill of goods. But no, Hillary continued supporting the war until just recently. Why? Because Hillary wasn't finished establishing her tough-girl bones. More US troops had to die so Hillary could prove she's no limp-wrist liberal.

But, now the polls show that even pro-military Red State voters are beginning to lean away from the war. Hillary had to reposition, let the growing number of anti-war voters know she was with them. She needed to give them a big Hillary, "Me too!"

On Meaningless Patriotic Gestures: Triangulating ain't easy. A person can get herself all tangled up if not careful. A valueless trangulator must be fast on her feet. Backing away from supporting the war would get her some votes from the left, but could lose her an equal number of votes from moderate conservatives. Because it would associate her with the liberal anti-war Democrats. Hillary has done the electoral collage math and knows she needs moderate voters from Red States to win the White House. So she had to come up with a gimmick to lead moderates into believing she's no America-hating liberal. No siree Bob! So we got this:

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is supporting new legislation to criminalize desecration of the United States flag ...Clinton, D-N.Y., has agreed to co-sponsor a measure by Republican Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah, which has been written in hopes of surviving any constitutional challenge following a 2003 Supreme Court ruling on the subject....Her support of Bennett's bill follows her position in Congress last summer, when a constitutional ban on flag-burning was debated. Clinton said then she didn't support a constitutional ban, but did support federal legislation making it a crime to desecrate the flag. (Full Story)

Presto chango on flag burning. "You against burning the American flag." Hillary says, "Well, me too. Honest."

Hillary's explanation for this switcheroo is classic Clinton. Is she or isn't she for a law against burning US flags? Well, depends on what the meaning of "is" is. She has been against a constitutional amendment and still is. But now she is for a federal statute against flag burning. What's that all about? Triangulation, baby. Triangulation.

Let me help you solve this Hillary puzzle. It's really quite simple and obvious. (Too obvious.) A constitutional amendment can't be overturned by the Supreme Court. A statute passed by Congress can be. Hillary figures she can have it both ways. By backing a statute against flag burning she can convince moderate voters that she's a true blue flag waving jingo American. But she knows such a law to be so obviously unconstitutional even a conservative Supreme Court would overturn it.

Is this governing? Hardly. It's just more of the same cynical, strategic fakery and demagoguery that's gotten us into the various messes we're mired in now.

The above should be reasons enough for Democrats to say no to Hillary in '08. But add to all that the truckloads of negative PR baggage Hillary drags with her and you have the perfect formula for failure. (More than failure, a historic political drubbing.) As I said in an earlier column, if you thought the sleazy Swift Boaters disemboweled John Kerry just wait until their like-minded brethren get rolling on presidential candidate Hillary Clinton!

If, after thinking about all that, you're still dazzled by Hillary, try this on for size. Republicans may be corrupt but they are not stupid. They understand they let their far right wing push the envelope too far. They read polls too. They know voters are fed up with false trickled down economic promises, tax cuts for the already wealthy, mounting deficits, job losses and war. And be assured their candidates for president in 08 will reflect that. Hillary will not have the luxury of running against the likes of George W. Bush in '08.

So, you want Hillary? But Hillary vs. who?

How about this GOP ticket: McCain/Guliani.

Hillary would be finished the day that ticket were announced. Finished. First McCain's position on the war is, unlike Hillary's, at least believable -- If the nation is really at war, as the President claims, then act like it -- either double the number of US troops in Iraq or get out. And on the subject of torture he speaks with personal authority and is unconditionally against it.

Guliani's position on abortion and gay rights is as liberal as Hillary's but more reliable. Think about it. It's easy for Hillary to espouse choice and gay rights because those positions represent her party's positions. But Rudy risks losing Republican votes by holding firm on a woman's right to choose and gay rights.

So ask yourself, if the day comes when the chips are really down on a woman's right to choose, which of the two, Rudy or Hillary, do you think would stand firmly with women? I suspect it would be Rudy. Hillary would check the polls first and, if she found the winds blowing even slightly left to right that day, she'd sell women down the river in a New York minute. Believe it. Her finger is already testing the breezes on abortion rights:

Hillary is already "talking about finding “common ground” with abortion foes. Like Moses leading her party to the Promised Land, Hillary is treading a path to Red State America. She may be the darling of the liberal left, but she won in New York by appealing to upstate voters who are traditionally Republican." (Full Story)

I hope that between now and next year Democrats figure this out and start looking for two candidates progressives can enthusiastically embrace in 08. If such candidates don't exist within the confines of the old Democrat Party, then it's time for progressives to start looking for a new home.

And the best way for the party to signal that moment is to nominate Hillary for President.