This Is Who The Clintons Are
by Adam B, Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 10:18:48 AM EST
I could have written this diary about Peter and Marian Wright Edelman, or Lani Guinier, or Harold Ickes, or any number of people the Clintons have used, praised and dumped by the side of the road in their efforts to accumulate or maintain power.
I never imagined I'd be writing it about Jesse Jackson.
Late January 1998. The Clintons' darkest hour of need. The tawdry accusations are out there. Some Clinton aides, per the NYT, "have already been putting out rumors that Ms. Lewinsky has an overactive imagination and may have fantasized her relationship with the President." [Clinton denied the affair until August 1998.]
And to whom did the Clintons turn for support? A man previously far on the outside of their universe, invited in for Super Bowl weekend, and from that point forward a regular in their inner circle:
In hushed tones in the inner sanctum of the White House, President Clinton's new spiritual adviser said he offered counsel that is steeped as much in practical politics as in the Bible: "Keep your eyes open and your mouth shut. And don't panic."Indeed. Throughout their personal and political crisis, when Jackson was needed by the Clintons, he was there for them. During the impeachment proceedings, Rev. Jackson rallied thousands on the steps of the Capitol:
For a President at the center of a scandal, that may be sound advice. But it comes from an unlikely source, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson. This is a man who once condemned Bill Clinton as "Machiavellian" and as having "a character flaw." Mr. Clinton, in turn, fumed that Mr. Jackson was "double-crossing" and "back-stabbing."
So it is all the more remarkable that since word first surfaced about Mr. Clinton's relationship with a former White House intern, the Clinton family -- the President, Hillary Rodham Clinton and their daughter, Chelsea -- have frequently turned to Mr. Jackson, a Baptist minister, for private sessions of prayer, said Mr. Jackson and people close to the President. ...
Several people who are close to the President said Mr. Jackson's emotional support should not be underestimated. "Jesse Jackson has been as good a friend as we've had in this," said Paul Begala, a senior aide to Mr. Clinton. "Oh, he's been good."
"The American people do not view Bill Clinton as a bad man," the Rev. Jesse Jackson told the crowd. "They see him as they see themselves -- as flawed, as less than perfect."
You know what happened on Saturday.
From necessary member of the inner circle to just some black guy who won South Carolina twice and lost the nomination (not that SC was even contested in 1984 and 1988), in ten short years.
If you think your interest group is immune from being betrayed by them, think again. There is no reason to believe her outreach towards and respect expressed for Markos and we of the netroots will last any longer than is politically expedient for the Clintons. Just ask the gay activists who pleaded with them not to sign the Defense of Marriage Act into law.
Or, for that matter, just remember the online activists of a decade ago, against whom President Clinton signed the vile and unconstitutional "Communications Decency Act" into law, which his Justice Department vigorously defended in court after court until the Supreme Court struck it down. Remember the Clintons' support for the Clipper Chip, which would have given the National Security Agency a secret key to your encrypted documents during their Administration ... and this one, too.
The Clintons will not support Internet freedom for a moment longer than it is politically advantageous for them to do so. There's a reason why Matt Stoller -- a decided Obama skeptic -- has already derided Hillary's broadband strategy as telecom lobbyist inspired dreck [that] may allow the destruction of the internet. They are not this medium's friends.
Venerated NYT liberal columnist Anthony Lewis recognized this back in July 1995, when the issue at that time was Clinton's abandonment of habeas corpus protections in his "effective death penalty" legislation:
For Bill Clinton's natural supporters, the most painful realization of his Presidency is that he is a man without a bottom line. He may abandon any seeming belief, any principle. You cannot rely on him.Or Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James Stewart, who whose book on Whitewater, BLOOD SPORT, cleared the Clintons of any wrongdoing. Back in August 1997, he explained one outgrowth of his research:
"It was a very consistent theme that I kept hearing," Mr. Stewart said. "The Clintons' personal advancement took precedence over anything else. There were so many people who were at one point or another considered close to the Clintons who felt betrayed one way or another."And this is what they do to their friends. To fellow, loyal Democrats. To the man who solidified their support among African Americans when folks everywhere were expressing doubts. Rev. Jackson may be too generous a man to claim offense today, but I'm not.