Dr. J.’s Commentary: Less Gotcha? No, more!

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Hillary Clinton

Unscathingly yours. The (so far) unsinkable Molly Clinton.

Crosspost with BuzzFlash on Wed, 04/23/2008 


Everyone (well, lots of people) has been complaining about the 45 “Gotcha minutes” that Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos ran in the ABC “debate” April 16. Much too much, is the general opinion, with some folks holding out for none. As for me, I take a contrary view. Not enough, I say. Of those 45 minutes, a majority were devoted to bringing up “stuff” about Senator Obama. I guess Gibson and Stephanopoulos just were feeling the pressure to get on to “the issues” so they just didn’t have the time to ask Sen. Clinton some similar-type questions that they surely had prepared. Now I don’t have access to the ABC prep desks for that “debate,” but surely such questions would have included the following, don’t you think?

* Could you explain to us how you were once all for NAFTA while now you seem to be at least somewhat against it?

* The export of American capital and with it American jobs that produced goods for the American retail market began in earnest in the 1980s.  To make that change truly profitable for those American capital-exporters, they had to have the appropriate retail outlets for the cheap retail goods they would be importing back into our country. If Wal-Mart hadn’t existed, somebody would have had to have invented it, although another version might not have been so determinedly anti-union as Wal-Mart has been. You sat on the board of Wal-Mart for a number of years. Would you care to explain that association to us?

* You came up with a fairly decent health care plan in 1993. Yet you and your husband completely mismanaged the sale and marketing of it, opening the way for the complete takeover of our health care system by the for-profit sector. Yet a major feature of your campaign pitch is that “you know Washington” and “know how to get things done there.” Could explain that apparent contradiction?

* For about 15 years, you have been an active participant in conservative Washington Bible study and prayer circles that are part of a secretive Capitol Hill group known as “The Fellowship,” also known as The Family. This fact was reported in the September 2007 issue of Mother Jones by Kathryn Joyce and Jeff Sharlet. This grouping will be reported on in detail in a book by Mr. Sharlet entitled The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power to be published in May. Given your constant criticism of Sen. Obama for staying in Rev. Wright’s church, would you care to tell us about “The Family,” about which most Americans know so little, and comment on your membership in it.

* Your husband was famous for his “triangulation” of the Democrats in Congress after your party lost that body in 1994. It seems that Bill Clinton would have an important role to play in an Hillary Clinton presidency. Would you adopt that strategy too, once in the White House?

* Some observers say that you are fighting hard not just for the nomination, but if you cannot get it, to preserve the power of the Democratic Leadership Council in the Democratic Party. Yet in recent days, two DLC stalwarts, former Senators Nunn and Boren, have endorsed Sen. Obama. What is your response to those endorsements? 

* It has been reported that: “At a small closed-door fundraiser after Super Tuesday, Sen. Hillary Clinton blamed what she called the ‘activist base’ of the Democratic Party — and MoveOn.org in particular — for many of her electoral defeats, saying activists had ‘flooded’ state caucuses and ‘intimidated’ her supporters, according to an audio recording of the event obtained by The Huffington Post.” How do you plan to deal with MoveOn.Org and their wing of the Democratic Party in the future?

* Finally, you have recently been commenting with great frequency that Sen. Obama will not be able to “stand the heat” in a Presidential Campaign, implying that he is just too passive. Then in the days before the Pennsylvania Primary, he decided to come back at you fairly hard on policy (not personal) issues. Your reaction to that was not, “well I guess I was wrong; he can fight when he has to.” It was, rather, a typical, Republican-type, kill the messenger response, saying that “all of a sudden he had ‘gone negative,'” as if the kinds of policy criticisms he was aiming at your campaign were anything like the personal attacks you have been aiming at him since Super Tuesday. How do you explain that apparent contradiction?

Yes, indeed. I just know that Gibson and Stephanopoulos had a stack of questions like these just waiting to ask Sen. Clinton but just did not have the time to get them out there. Of course you can be sure that if she does indeed get the nomination, somehow, somehow the Republicans will contrive ways of using them (probably not the one about “The Family”). This will be the case even though Sen. McCain has stated that he wants to run an “issues-oriented” campaign.  If he were to do that, he would surely lose, of course.  But what the hey.  He has flip-flopped on tons of issues when he found it convenient, so why not that one too? 

Steven Jonas’ s incisive and often contrarian columns illuminate many aspects of America’s shifting political horizon. Steve’s essays appear on Cyrano, where he serves as a Senior Contributing Editor for Politics & Culture, Buzzflash, and many other leading venues in the continually expanding network of citizens’ media.

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