Hillary Clinton and Flag-Burning

This is a problem:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is supporting new legislation to criminalize desecration of the United States flag _ though she still opposes a constitutional ban on flag attacks.

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.

In her public statements, she has compared the act of flag-burning to burning a cross, which can be considered a violation of federal civil rights law.

Flag burning is a stupid.  We should wash the flag in protest, not burn it.  But this embrace of symbolic reactionary politics is just bad news.  There are red state Democrats who courageously vote against the flag burning Amendment even though it  hurts them at home, and we have to take this sponsorship of something like this from a Senator from New York?  That's just irresponsible politics, putting courageous partisan Democrats in jeopardy for 'optical' reasoning (ie. so you'll look better to suburban Moms in the exurbs).  But whatever, not the biggest deal in the world, just a bit of of silly pandering. There might even be some interesting Senate negotiations to head off something worse, I really have no idea.

The deeply disturbing piece here is the awful comparison of flag burning to cross burning.  Cross burning is well-understood as a sign of terrorism.  It was used to suppress blacks organizing themselves in both the South and the North from the post-Civil War era until the late 1960s.  It was a sign of intimidation, of terrorism, or impending hate crimes.  It was often a death threat.  Flag burning has usually been the province of hippies and countercultural movements, and these have been relatively benign.  They are certainly not equivalent in any way shape or form to the KKK or the legacy of slavery and segregation that cross burning represents.

I am no fan of those who seek to ban flag burning, for a variety of reasons.  I kind of get the political calculus, even from a blue stater running for President (Clark did the same thing).  But really, must we seriously have to have a Democratic nominee who compares the actions of hippies in the 1960s with the actions of the KKK?

Now, to be sure, it's late, and the Clinton Senate office isn't open.  So I'm going to say that it's possible Newsday (update: sorry it's the AP, not Newsday), which is a credible publication, misinterpretted what Hillary Clinton said or meant.  I'll call tomorrow and hopefully be able to get some clarification on this.  

Tags: Pulse (all tags)



HRC ...
is really becoming tedious.
by Alvord 2005-12-05 04:55PM | 0 recs
Re: HRC ...
I love Hillary and always defend her, but she really is getting tedious.  You're right.  I have taken a lot of flak defending her here and on dkos, and when she pulls silly shit like this, I get tired of defending her.

OP is right, this is just stupid.

by jgarcia 2005-12-05 05:59PM | 0 recs
Re: HRC ...
I agree. I think some of Hillary's moves have been good things, like video game violence, and getting them properly rated. That's a smart moderate position to stake. This makes me feel she has no core belief system anymore... but to be fair, I think Diane Feinstein also supported anti-flag burning legislation.
by GrahamChristopher 2005-12-06 12:51AM | 0 recs

Well, I guess we know there won't be any movement from the triangulation strategy.  When does triangulating become pandering?  When do progressive Democrats stop thinking they know HRC is REALLY more of a progressive and is just playing the electability game?  

She is neither the best candidate we could have nor the most electable, so let's be clear about the need for more than an anti-Hillary candidate.  We need a full field of viable candidates so the exchange of ideas can at least help shape the campaign.  The Democratic Party would be better off in 2008 if HRC is NOT a candidate.

by Thaddeus 2005-12-05 05:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Hillary
HRC is an immensely important surrogate and party leader.  She is in the game, every day, 110%, and has been for 35 years.  For the last five years she's done nothing but the rubber chicken circui.  That's going to count for a lot, as it should.
by Matt Stoller 2005-12-05 05:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Hillary
We need a full field of viable candidates so the exchange of ideas can at least help shape the campaign.

I couldn't agree more.  And on a state level, we should be running good, well contested, open primaries as well.

by Albert 2005-12-06 05:30AM | 0 recs
What really bugs me
is the cowardice....supporting a ban, but not a constitutional amendment.

HRC: Wrong on Pandering, Wrong for America.

I wont be voting for her.

by ben114 2005-12-05 05:13PM | 0 recs
Flagging Hillary
I'm done with Hillary first she votes for the war despite the fact a large percentage of her constituency opposed it and now this.  There are better candidates it does no good to be Republican lite.  If the founding fathers didn't want flags burnt it would be in the Constitution.  They truly valued the right to protest a government even if it meant flag burning.  They had something else too COURAGE a quality sadly lacking in today's politicians.  I've got to go burn all my Hillary stuff.
by orionwest 2005-12-05 05:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Flagging Hillary
With you all the way. This is the last straw for me. She is the epitome of Republican-lite and apparently would vote for ANYTHING if she misguidedly thought it might gains votes from the mythical middle. A degree of expediency is one thing -- total capitulation to wrongheaded and devisive Republican wedge issues is another. Does she ever stand for anything because it might be RIGHT or stand against anything because it is WRONG? Not hardly.
by barbwire 2005-12-06 07:14AM | 0 recs
Up until now I supported her.  But this is really bad news, slippery slope and all that.  Its simply not necessary to ban flag burning.  You cannot legislate respect.  Attempting to actually does the opposite.  What an idiot.
by jrflorida 2005-12-05 05:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Uhgg
Dont worry.  Once she realizes this move is bad for her career, she will flip-flop.  
by Winston Smith 2005-12-05 07:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Uhgg
Some lines should never be crossed and oops doesn't make up for it.
by jrflorida 2005-12-07 07:26PM | 0 recs
She's angling for a spot on the 2008 ticket...
...as John McCain's running mate.
by KTinOhio 2005-12-05 06:10PM | 0 recs
Well, the next
time I get a campaign request from her, I think I will burn it and send it back to her in the enclosed envelope.
by LynChi 2005-12-05 06:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Well, the next
"time I get a campaign request from her, I think I will burn it and send it back to her in the enclosed envelope."

I agree. If she were to win the nomination I will vote for her, but she'll just energize the right wing base and depress our base. Surely we can do better.


by keith johnson 2005-12-05 07:23PM | 0 recs
The worst part is...
If Hillary's our nominee, I'll still vote for her. I'll hate it, but I'll do it. Ideologically, voting for Hillary sucks. But she's practically a saint compared to anyone the GOP would put up against her.
by bogun 2005-12-05 07:30PM | 0 recs
Power-crazed hustler
She obviously is a big celebrity, has lots money, and has campaigned for many office-holders who owe her - but really she's in for a rude awakening.
by Cyt 2005-12-05 08:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Power-crazed hustler
With this move we've just seen the beginning of the end of HRC as a viable candidate. If she's reading the political tell-tales in a way that makes half-hearted anti-flag-burning equivocations seem like "triangulation," she's lost both whatever claim to principles she's been able to make AND an accurate sense of the electorate's attention.

Seen any burning flags lately?

by Eqbal00 2005-12-06 06:15AM | 0 recs
This is extremely distressing...
Is HRC really a Democrat? It's obvious she's not a progressive - which this country needs now more than ever!

She's actually starting to scare me. If she's elected will she be a Manchurian Candidate with Karl Rove controlling the implants in her head?

I'm disgusted...

by desertjedi 2005-12-06 06:30AM | 0 recs
Okay, I've got the perfect
anti-progressive, anti-Democratic ticket for the Democrats:

Hillary and Lieberman

Who's with me?

by desertjedi 2005-12-06 06:47AM | 0 recs
Devil's advocate
Everyone get their flaming fingers ready: Who does this hurt? Will the ban actually pass? Probably not. Sure, it doesn't jive with my interpretation of free speech, but she's doing what every 2008 hopeful is doing right now. Nobody was complaining when Bayh or Biden moved to the left. This isn't going to pass, and it helps her in red areas of swing states should she be the nominee. I don't like her, wouldn't vote for her in the primary, but if she's nominated, I want her to win. If it helps her stake out the middle, I say go for it. It's better than gay-bashing or compromising on Roe.
by bluenc 2005-12-06 11:23AM | 0 recs
Re: What makes you so sure it wouldn't pass?
The very fact that some members of the GOP will vote against the ban makes it unlikely to be introduced. Nobody wants to have to go on record on flag-burning, and the whole thing is just too messy. This is the kind of thing that gets introduced just so Senators can say they co-sponsored it. I will eat my hat if it passes. As far as the politics is concerned, I say let her go. If she pisses of the base, she shouldn't get the nomination and won't. I personally doubt she'll win the nomination, but if she does, she'll be a hell of a lot better than anyone the GOP produces. I'm not going to vote for her in the primary, but she'd make a better President than McCain.
by bluenc 2005-12-06 02:30PM | 0 recs
What's surprising to me
is that the Lefty NY blogs have hardly taken any notice of this.
by Alice Marshall 2005-12-06 05:14PM | 0 recs
now i have defended clinton against her critics, saying that while i dont support her b/c she is waaay to divisive, she is not a DLCer and she is the  top 10 in progressive senators on progressive punch. HOwever, this is definately a social issue and the first where where i can say i am genuinly pissed off, because now she truly is doing the whole centrist thing with teh social agenda
by yomoma2424 2005-12-06 06:09PM | 0 recs
Re: until
nah....this is less of a social issue and more of a symbolic thing....hell, Feinstein co-sponsored a resolution proposing a flag-burning amendment, and no-one's calling her a social centrist....Do you really want a list of Democrats who have come out in support of bans on flag desecration? She has a 100% from NARAL, an 88 from the Human Rights Campaign (same as Schumer), and is strongly supportive of gun control...I haven't drank the kool-aid on Hillary, but lay off her on this one...
by bluenc 2005-12-06 06:43PM | 0 recs
Hillary Clinton scares the @&$! out of me.
I have nothing with a woman being President of this great country, but Hillary has always been and will always be the wrong person.
God only knows what she has up her sleeve if the people are stupid enough to vote her in. And, I am NOT a Republican. She is just the wrong person ever!
by msimrdile 2007-09-09 06:56AM | 0 recs


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