(US observer Daniel Patrick Welch writes on the presidential campaign with all the
dutiful enthusiasm of one covering a sports event in which the local team has been
shut out. There's no real debate, but as with every horse race, there's always
someone to bet on--or against.)
I should start with full disclaimer: The only Democratic candidate I hold in lower
esteem than Hilary Clinton might be Barack Obama. This is not a pro-Obama piece. In
a recent argument with a potential Clinton voter who accepted the critique of Obama
but rejected it for Clinton, I reminded my interlocutor that they were, in fact, the
same candidate: twin cheeks on the same fat corporate ass, as it were.
So why do I care that the HillBilly Machine got so roundly trounced in South
Carolina? In the first place, with no discussion of any substance anywhere in the
current "debate," the only genuine emotion left is the bookie’s adrenaline rush,
which from a distance amounts to a sort of minor high on some vague perception that
the good guys won or the bad guys lost.
South Carolina seems to be the race where the mud gets slung, viz the repulsive
re-torture of John McCain by Karl Rove’s machine in 2000 to Clinton 42’s shameless
patronizing this week. I would call it the mud race, but in a state so officially
racist that it still flies the confederate flag it would certainly be twisted.
Hillary—let’s call her Clinton 44 with a question mark—tried to flee the state and
let 42 do her dirty work. Nice try, Hil. The only thing as ugly as seeing Slick
Willie get pounced on by the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy is the underlying slickness
of the Willie itself-—or himself.
Bill led the not-so-subtle charge, carefully calculated to be in his wife's absence,
against Obama in a thinly veiled race appeal that was so widely rejected as to
discredit the entire campaign. Deader Clintons have risen before, and this race race
is far from over. It may be that voters were just sick of being told—-in the tone he
once used for Sista Souljah and Christiane Amanpour—that they had to vote for his
wife. It may just have been too much, and after the dust settles the money and the
machine will turn back the Obama tide.
I suspect, though, that something deeper is at work. Bill's charm failed so
miserably to carry the day, or even to stem the tide just a little bit, that it
augurs a shift in voter consciousness, if any such oxymoron can be written about the
US electorate without the computer screen exploding at the end of this sentence.
Whew—glad I got away with that. But face it-—Bill is pretty much the ultimate
weapon. HillBilly Inc. will now start to ratchet down the reliance on Hurricane Bill
to storm through a state to move constituencies with a wink and a nod. They will say
it was never their intention for Hil to be overshadowed by Bill, and on and on ad
nauseam. But the die has been cast. Clinton;s whole shtick—-an enormous fraud though
it be—is the sham repetition of her vaunted "experience," even in her own words, of"knowing the White House from the inside."
Ugh. Even the Republicans know to run from this canard, taking their traditional
pains to distance themselves from the same Washington that keeps feeding their
fattest warmonger paymasters. Bill stands at her side, or behind her or in another
state altogether, but always as the word made flesh-y, or pudgy, perhaps, the living
example of all the experience the two of them can muster. But with Clinton, the
claims are no less sleazy or hollow. With eleven years' legislative experience to
Clinton's seven, Obama has yet to effectively expose this ponzi scheme for what it
is: a sort of peek-a-boo reliance on HillBilly history when it suits, and pandering
to the need for "change" when it doesn't.
Hillary Clinton's experience, from Rose Law to her awful health care attempt to
standing by Bill at every turn to her complete failure to mobilize any resistance to
the ongoing War Crime that is the US government of which she is part—-this so-called
experience is nothing anyone should be touting. Yet tout away she does, at every
opportunity-—it is, in fact, her entire campaign. It is wearing, tiresome, boring,
and above all, fraudulent. It is simply amazing that she has not been called on it;
the tired repetition about hard work and nose-to-the-grindstone crap is the refuge
of the candidate who has nothing else to sell. It all amounts to a sort of cranky
my-turnism, a la Bob Dole or John McCain, the notion that she somehow deserves it
while others don’t.
Of course, it goes without saying that the US should be able to elect a woman
president. After Golda Meir, Benazir Bhutto, Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel and a
host of others, Americans are decidedly behind the curve, as in so many other things
despite our high opinion of ourselves. Besides, even this short list gives an
inkling that gender is no guarantee of good leadership or policy; the bottom line is
it may very well not happen this time, and for god’s sake nobody said it had to be
Bill brought up the specter of Jesse Jackson this week, in a decidedly negative way,
saying that he won a few primaries and caucuses but obviously didn't win the
nomination. The clear implication was a warning to South Carolina's huge Black
Democratic constituency not to cast a feel-good vote that wouldn't have national
impact. It is also coded with the obvious message that the US is readier for a woman
president than a Black one, and that they should stay the course and "leave with the
guy what brung ya." God bless the democrat voters of South Carolina for telling him
figuratively to shove it up his ass.
Not only is HillBilly playing with fire for the obvious reason that the race/gender
card can be flipped. His slick and calculating (albeit backfiring, thankfully) use
of Jackson’s history there is especially revolting. When Jesse Jackson won South
Carolina and the south, with an actual Black base and as an actual Black candidate,
it was against a deck stacked by Clinton's mentors and friends in the nascent
Democratic Leadership Council, who thought that a southern Super Tuesday would
prevent just such a spectre from becoming the party’s albatross in the general
When Jackson proved them wrong, further rigging and fine-tuning led to the now
complete banishment of anyone with a progressive agenda from advancing anywhere near
the national stage, apart from a few border collies left nipping at the party’s left
flank to keep voters who want actual change from bolting. Make no mistake: choosing
Obama over Clinton is just as silly as vice versa: Obama's campaign itself held
Jackson at arms' length in his home state. There will not be another democrat who
calls for cutting the war budget, or who has the guts to say to a national audience
that Arabs "cannot continue to be made paraiahs." Campaign sloganeering aside, there
will be no change trickling down from any candidate in this race.
The first and greatest beneficiary of this shame was none other than Clinton
himself, and his finger-in-the-wind complicity and cowardice yields the two
sanitized, corporate approved war-friendly candidates we have today. It is beyond
appalling for him to try to make hay out of this wreckage of his own party’s
history. Shame on him. He should know when to keep his fat, fake ass, philandering
mouth shut. No matter what they say, increasing numbers of democrats will flock to
Obama for the simple reason that he is not Clinton. It holds little meaning, of
course, but who can blame them?
Daniel Patrick Welch
See the author's recent articles
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