"Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen”. That was Bill Clinton in 2008, questioning then-President Obama’s opposition to the war in Iraq. Clinton was wrong about Obama’s opposition to the war, although the President’s backers should have paid greater heed to his rationale for opposing the illegal war of aggression.
But Bill Clinton’s words take on a greater significance today, as his wife, former-Senator and –Secretary of State Hillary Clinton begins rounding up support for a 2016 White House bid on the basis of the epic fairy tale she is spinning about her supposed progressivism.
Voters learned yesterday that leading Democrats are already working hard to make them irrelevant to the 2016 Democratic Party primary. ABC reported that “all of the female Democratic senators signed a secret letter to Hillary Rodham Clinton early this year encouraging her to run for President in 2016—a letter that includes the signature of Sen. Elizabeth Warren”.
While this is different from Warren—who would make a far better progressive president than the neoliberal, neoconservative Hillary Clinton—actually endorsing Clinton’s candidacy, it does seem to provide further evidence that there is no one amongst progressives willing to challenge Clinton’s coronation.
If we examine Hillary Clinton’s record on some of the most critical issues of our time—economic equality, the rights of workers, and the behaviour of the U.S. in the world—we find that Clinton is indeed consistent, but not in the way we would hope.
As a member of the Wal-Mart Board of Directors Clinton was steadfast...in her silence on behalf of the company’s workers as Wal-Mart attacked them and their unions, even when one of her fellow board members said that “labor unions are nothing but blood-sucking parasites living off the productive labor of people who work for a living”.
In the Senate, Clinton was a consistent advocate...for the financial services whose irresponsible activities helped to sabotage our economy, even when that meant supporting punitive backruptcy legislation which hurt the working class. She also supported bailouts for financial criminals as working people lost their jobs and were thrown out of homes.
In the Senate, Clinton was a reliable vote...for President Bush’s ill-judged war in Afghanistan, the Republicans’ illegal war of aggression in Iraq, and the strengthening of the military-industrial complex through the Patriot Act, and the civil-liberties grab which followed.
As Secretary of State, we could count on Clinton...to urge the President to extend the campaign of American terrorism abroad, miring the U.S. in additional conflicts and accepting the immoral logic of meeting terror with terror. She was also resolute in her defence of kleptocratic dictators against democratic risings.
It’s telling that when many public figures react to the prospect of a Clinton campaign, they describe Hillary Clinton using words or phrases like “she’s our shot”; “she’s extremely well-prepared”; “she would be a very strong candidate”; “unbelievably accomplished”. No one says that she would be wonderful for the working class of our country, or that she would be committed to economic equality, or that she is capable of standing up for social democracy.
No one is questioning her credentials. What we are questioning is why someone as right-wing and immoral as Clinton, whose hands are red with the blood of the victims of America’s imperial wars, and sullied by the dirty work she has done for America’s plutocrats, should be treated by her party as though she has some right to serve as a progressive standard-bearer.
It is this version of one of the most enduring opportunists in American politics—that Hillary Clinton is a progressive figure who would address the inequality which plagues our polity and the violence which characterises our behaviour abroad—which is the Biggest Fairytale of all.