Friday, February 29, 2008

Clinton and the Republican Politics of Fear

by Norman Markowitz

As her campaign continues to stumble, in spite of the enormous advantages with which she began, Hillary Clinton continues to show that her only interest is to get a nomination that will help her become president, even if her campaign undermines her party and strengthens John McCain and a Republican administration and party which has brought the nation to the brink of disaster.

A new Clinton ad begins with hokey Hollywood doom music and a narrator saying "its three in the morning and your children are asleep" There is a world crisis and the white house phone is ringing. Your vote will decide who answers the call.

Senator Obama responded quite rightly that "we've seen these ads before. There the kind that play on people's fears... Later he went on to mimic the narrator of the ad, saying that at three in the morning when your children are asleep and there is a world crisis, shouldn't the phone in the White House be answered by "the one--the only one who had judgment and courage to oppose the war in Iraq from the start."

But Clinton isn't stopping. She mocked Obama's opposition to the war in 2002 as mere rhetoric from someone who held no responsible position, hoping Democratic voters will forget that she supported Bush and the war. She then ignored Obama's opposition in 2003, up to the last day, trying to portray him as uncertain in his opposition, and then pulled a George W. Bush by saying that "when he got to the United States Senate he voted exactly as I did."

On what? Obama got to the Senate in 2005, more than a year and a half after the invasion and well into the occupation. Did he vote for the war funding, as most others in the Democratic party did, as a sort of fait accompli? Sure, but that is very different from Hillary Clinton's transparent maneuvering on the Iraq war, which like everything else, is about selling Hillary Clinton.

I wish Obama had voted against the war funding but I remember that Abraham Lincoln, who eloquently opposed the Mexican War before it began, then defended his vote for subsequent war funding and no one in his Whig party side, most of whom had done the same thing, went out to attack him in ways that could only help the pro war, pro slavery Polk administration.

Harry Truman, who was not above using such fears against the left, but not against members of his own party, once said that if the people are given the choice of voting for a Democrat who talks like a Republican and a real Republican, they will choose the real Republican.

The more Hillary Clinton talks like a Republican (at least an Arnold Schwarzenegger Republican) the more she helps the real Republican candidate, John McCain, and the real Republican in the White House, George Bush. If she does get the nomination (and she would be a far weaker candidate than Obama) I can imagine a McCain commercial that begins: "Its three o'clock in the morning and your children are asleep. There is call to the White and there is a world crisis. Will you feel safe if a woman answers the phone as commander and chief of our armed forces?"

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