The "Same-as-Me" Defense of the Clintons
by psericks, Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 10:57:13 AM EST
Due to a spectacular flame-out of my adapter cord, my post from a borrowed computer will have to be brief. So I'll give merely an observation. A number of commentators noted again today the peculiar way the Clintons have criticized rivals this campaign cycle. Instead of defending their weaknesses, they either claim amnesia (on the Telecommunications Act at YearlyKos, on those funny charts of Perot's on NAFTA, etc) or, more often and more tellingly, the case made is that 'they're just like us.'
Hillary Clinton, for example, has responded to charges that she was taking substantial donations from lobbyists mostly by claiming that her rivals were as well, just less conspicuously. (We'll get back to that in a minute.) Chris Bowers called it "the Blurring" here back in May.
Her recent attacks fit this mold. Clinton's questions about fundraisers sounded particularly ironic to NBC's First Read:
It's also a bit ironic, too, given that the Clintons have had many more problematic donors than Obama (Hsu, Gupta, Chung, Denise Rich, those donations to the Clinton Library).
The tactic is, of course, clear: to try to prove that Obama is just like them.
The spectacularcrassness of the Clintons' recent fundraising schemes among Washington lobbyists would be hard to imitate: Her "Rural Americans for Hillary" fundraiser at the lobbying headquarters of Monsanto, or her selling defense contractors access to chairmen of the House Defense subcommittees would be two favorite examples.
Clinton's response? Not to change her behavior, but to find any sort of kink in Obama's shut-out of lobbyists from his campaign --- highlighting a state-registered lobbyist in New Hampshire, for example, one who, obviously, isn't covered by either Obama's or Edwards' ethics policies because they're not, say, Washington defense contractors trying to buy favors with those who hold the purse strings. I'll leave you to ponder for a couple seconds whether those things are commensurate.
She has taken to mocking ethics reform efforts using lobbyist talking points:
So, to hear Senator Clinton tell the story, the most comprehensive lobbying reform in more than thirty years -- and one of the major accomplishments of the Democrats controlling Congress -- was a joke...
To hear Senator Clinton spin the tale, the law was a meaningless effort because lobbyists can still serve cheese platters and mini-weenies on a toothpick at a stand-up gathering, when just a few months ago they could feed targeted elected officials and their staffs at the finest restaurants in DC and elsewhere. This is an argument against corruption reform straight out of GOP backrooms and the gilded offices of K Street.
Leaving aside that that ethics reform act, championed by Russ Feingold as well as Barack Obama, also drove Trent Lott into early retirement so as to skirt the reinforced provisions that would have prevented him from taking up a plush lobbying position, we're to believe that it had no impact in Washington.
Her position that you're not really against the war if you have ever voted to fund the troops is almost funny --- funny because it says what exactly about her own work in the Senate and her years of approving funding after approving the war resolution that brought this country into Iraq? (It's worth noting on the side that a number of the two dozen Senate Democrats who opposed the Iraq war resolution later voted for funding resolutions once troops were deployed, Dick Durbin for example.) This is apparently a "clever" way of derailing criticism of her own staunch support of the war by deflecting attention away from it.
Forgive if I take the candidate who from the start in 2002 argued against"the cynical attempt by Richard Perles and Paul Wolfowitz and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne." (Yes, that's a quote.) Only one of these two candidates stood up at the beginning and expressed their outrage, didn't they?
The blurring goes on and on...
Update [2008-1-23 16:13:46 by psericks]: Her amnesia over previous telecommunications legislation doesn't of course prevent her from pushing industry-written plans to sell out the progressive goal of expanding broadband access.