Thursday, June 14, 2007

Clinton Presidency Concerns

I’m beginning to have very serious concerns about a Hillary Clinton presidency. The election is still a long way off and it remains to be seen if she will win the nomination. Most of the polls currently show her in the lead, but these are national polls which don’t hold much relevance since the winning the nomination depends on winning the primaries. At any rate, as the clear front-runner, I feel it appropriate to address the following concerns. None of this means that I would not support Hillary as President. These are concerns, some of which could be and likely will be clarified by her in due time. That being said, I feel that they are significant enough to mention.

1. I’m fundamentally opposed to political dynasties. The American dream, if you will, was that anyone could become president, but of late, that hasn’t been the case. If Hillary wins the presidency that will mean at least 24 years of national leadership by two families. There are a lot of reasons why I don’t think that’s a good thing, but fundamentally, I feel it cuts against a core American ideal and in this epoch, we’re running awfully short of ideals.

2. Our nation is currently at its worst point since the end of the Nixon administration. We’re involved in an ill-advised, foolhardy war that has no clear end in sight (well, no end that doesn’t mean genocide). The reputation of the United States is reaching all time low levels across the globe at the same time that regional and global threats are emerging (Iran, North Korea, China, Terrorism, Environmental disaster, etc). The next leader needs to have a vision, a willingness to listen to advisors, and make prudent decisions on each of these fronts. Up to this point, Hillary has not articulated or demonstrated that she meets any of the three criteria I think the next president must have.

3. Her Iraq war vote. At this point, we don’t really know much more than she is unwilling to apologize for her vote to authorize President Bush to use force against Iraq. She defends this by saying that the vote didn’t authorize war; it just gave the President the power to threaten Iraq with force. The fact that she is unwilling to apologize or admit a mistake is troubling. Her defense is essentially a non-sequiter since Bush immediately used that power to go to war as everyone at the time knew he would. It’s indefensible for her to claim that she didn’t think it would result in the conflict. And the fact that she’s playing politics with this matter instead of fessing up and taking a strong position on the Iraq war leads me to my next point.

4. She might just be a closet hawk wrapped in sheep’s clothing. This has been circulated quietly, but the rumor is that she won’t apologize for her Iraq war vote because she thinks it was the right thing to do. I have read that she buys the GOP talking point that the war wasn’t the wrong thing, it was just poorly managed and that’s why we have this disaster. To me, employing a president who actually believes going into Iraq was the right decision is the exact opposite of what we need in the Oval Office.

If this is true, and it has not really been substantiated yet, then I wonder what other types of military action she would favor. Iran? North Korea? Cuba? Venezuela? My point is, that the logic used to justify the Iraq war is logic that could be applied to many other places in the world with equally disastrous results.

Bottom line: war should be a last resort, with limited objectives, and a clear end point. Invading countries to initiate regime change is directly counter to these conditions and is not what our military is for. The evidence appears to show that Clinton is much closer to a Neo-Con than a Bill Clinton Neo-Liberal.

5. I don’t trust her. Trust is a tricky area in politics since all politicians are, by nature, untrustworthy. So really, we’re just talking about degrees here. But, I watched the CNN “faith forum” which featured Edwards, Obama, and Clinton. Each candidate got 15 minutes of time and it was an interesting experiment. Of course, I find the whole process of “presidential faith” fact finding to be a sad statement of politics in our time (whatever happened to separation of church and state) but at the least, I felt that Edwards and Obama were genuine. Obama, in particular, was stunningly powerful.

I felt that Clinton, however, was lying through her teeth. Part of this had to do with body language. She answered with her eyes half-closed and appeared coached. All candidates are coached in everything, but the trick is to appear to be speaking naturally. On this issue, at least, she failed in that task.

Now, I won’t hold that against her. I particularly enjoyed her line that she was taught to distrust people that wear their religion on their sleeve (roughly paraphrased). It’s my inclination as well and I find the whole GOP pandering to religion to be barf-inducing and one of the reasons why I will never return to the GOP as currently configured. I’ve had enough of black/white, good/evil, prayer justified politics for a lifetime. And I think the last thing that we need is another “born-again” Christian who believes that God is behind his or her every decision.

So, ultimately, I’ll give Clinton the benefit of the doubt here and chalk it up to the fact that she was pissed off at even having to participate in such a display of utter stupidity. I blame the evangelical movement for this, among other serious transgressions.

Ultimately, it’s very early and the Clinton campaign has been playing it fairly close to the vest. However, I’m waiting for her to clarify her foreign policy position with more than vague allusions to “carrots and sticks”. Obama and Edwards have both taken a risk by clarifying their positions. Clinton needs to step up to the plate.

(Note: Up until this CNN special, I had basically found Edwards to be naive and uninteresting. In particular, I found his foreign policy views to be a bit sophomoric. However, he did improve his standing with me a notch or two with his passionate discussion of poverty. Not that I’m supporting him. I’m still for Obama. But I feel a little bit better about the Edwards potential than I did previously.)

(Addendum: I will be keeping a closer eye on the Clinton campaign from here on out and will post more information and links to relevant articles that go beyond bullet points and clarify her foreign policy position.)



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