Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Scenes From A Diner

Hillary Clinton has had a rough couple of weeks. First she went from leading the polls in Iowa to losing by a substantial margin to Barak Obama. Then she went to New Hampshire, where on Saturday she became enraged at Sen. Edwards's attack, by which he accused her of being a force of the status quo. Finally, on Monday, she broke down in a diner and got all teary-eyed:
It's not easy, it's not easy, and I couldn't do it if I didn’t passionately believe it was the right thing to do. You know, I have so many opportunities from this country just don’t want to see us fall backwards... You know, this is very personal for me. It’s not just political it’s not just public. I see what’s happening, and we have to reverse it.

She uttered these words in response to the question of a freelance photographer who was attending Clinton's rally in New Hampshire.

Being that it has only been a few weeks since we found out that Sen. Clinton's campaign had planted softball questions in a debate to give their candidate a chance to shine, forgive me for being callous and wondering if in fact Hillary's tears where all an act.

Regardless, pundits of all spots and stripes immediately rushed to analyse this singular display of humanity by a candidate who has otherwise come to be known for being calculating, ambitious, triangulating, cold, and--at times--ruthless. Was she sincere? Was it staged? Was it an attempt to show that blood, not ice, runs through her veins? Or was it an attempt to earn pity? (And why on earth would Hillary Clinton want to show weakness and try to earn pity, in an otherwise all-male field?) Is she going to benefit? Is she going to suffer? And then, finally, the questions that conservatives begged to ask were indeed raised: If she cannot even bear the stress of the campaign, would she then crack under the stress of having to launch a strike on the enemy which could cost innocent lives? Does this mean that she is not fit to be president? Those of course, are idiotic questions to ask, which only morons like Dick Morris or "Gunny" Bob Newman (look him up, or rather, do yourself a favor and don't) would dare to entertain. The real question that should be asked is: Is she best candidate that Democrats can field in November?

In a strong Democratic field, Sen. Clinton would be my last choice to begin with. It's not that she has never been good. She may have had the right intentions when, as the First Lady, her husband asked her to pilot the task force in charge of reforming healthcare. That she failed, in retrospect, is no surprise, considering the forces she was up against. But, from her failure, she learned the wrong lesson: transformed by defeat, she morphed into the ultimate Washington insider. Her solution was to become one of the "boys", to learn the ways of Washington compromise. Her ideas for radical reform took the backseat to her ambition, and she went from trying to introduce single-payer healthcare to becoming the highest recipient of political contributions from the insurance and the pharmaceutical industry (see Michael Moore's Sicko). That's why in Saturday's night New Hampshire debates she vehemently countered Sen Edwards's accusation of being the force of the status quo with her contention that she is "running on 35 years of change", not on the promise of change.

That, in fact, may be true, but it is precisely the reason why I do not trust Hillary Clinton to be the right candidate for the Democratic party. She may be right in thinking that change requires compromise and that it can only be brought about in small, incremental steps. But the problems that we face now, such as lack of universal healthcare, years of disastrous Middle East policies, our inability to engage other nations around the world, the crisis of the middle-class, the mortgage crisis, the increasing chasm between rich and poor in this country, the disastrous consequences of NAFTA and CAFTA, rising energy prices, the years of damage done by No Child Left Behind, all require a bolder vision than Sen. Clinton can offer. Sen. Edwards, who has taken several stabs at Hillary Clinton is right: This is no time to sit down at a conference table with all the enemies of change, to negotiate incremental change. For example, the insurance companies are the problem, not the solution, in the crisis of U.S. healthcare, and it is absurd to think that we can achieve the necessary changes by negotiating with them. We do not need another Clinton, however competent or sincere. We need another FDR. Hillary may be a Clinton, but she certainly is no FDR.

And so it is that another great American story has unfolded in a diner. This time, no onion rings--"for the table", you know. No man in a Members Only jacket. No Meadowpark. Just an omen, that Sen. Clinton's presidential run may ultimately end, in tears.

[Don't Stop Believin' plays. Stops. Cut to black]

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