Time to get in line

January 31, 2008 by barbara

barbara says

Time for straight talk. Why? Because some of us are tired of being Hillary pilloried. We are being brow-beaten for speaking our truth. Accused of being mean. We are told that in the interest of party unity, we must go to our rooms and not come out until we can behave. Okey dokey.

I've taken issue with Hillary Clinton, sometimes publicly. For years, I have struggled with my aversion to her. I don’t much like that about myself. Historically, I have to be crossed hugely and multiple times before I give way to mistrust and that shivery thing that runs up my spine. But the fact is, I find Hillary Clinton immensely off-putting. More.

When it became apparent that Hillary was going to run for president, I did an intervention on myself. I did the whole “she’s smart enough, she’s good enough and doggone it, people like her” routine. The whole “acting as if” deal. I shut my mouth about my reservations, in part because it’s difficult to defend gut feelings. Also because I suspected I’d be evicted from the sandbox if I didn’t get on board with the sisters.

It is fair to say that like many American women, I do get jazzed about the prospect of having a female CEO for this country. In my lifetime. Tick tock. Even so, every time I encounter some variation of “Hillary’s the one,” my gut whispers, “I don’t think so.”

I’ve mentioned here before that each time in recent memory that I’ve tried to disregard my rookie political preferences in favor of the anointed ones, the results have been catastrophic. Think John Kerry. Think Mike Hatch. I totally understand that my instinct is not Alpha and Omega. But each time I’ve done an enforced course correction on candidate preference . . . well, you know.

About Hillary? Look, I understand that her ruffles and Barbara Bush pearls represent decisions by her handlers, attempting to present a softer Hillary. I get that the “Hillary wept” dealie was propelled into nauseating scrutiny by the media. And I also recognize that the woman rarely gets a break from her detractors. Unfortunately for her, there are lots of those.

Hillary’s tendency to waffle and weave has not endeared her to me. Her failure to take a strong stand against the Iraq Occupation when that was essential was a deal-breaker. And while I understand that moderation picks up more votes, I’m disappointed in what seems to me Hillary’s march to the middle. That certainly worked for Bill. And I suppose the rationale is, “Whatever it takes.” Indeed.

Turns out my principal aversion is less to Hillary herself than to the Clinton Machine. Aversion to the Machine’s humongous special-interest funding, some of it from dubious sources. To its apparent culture of back-room deals and arm-twisting. To an uneasy suspicion that the Machine will pull all stops. For example, outlining directions for the Nevada caucus, a Clinton campaign directive stated, “It’s not illegal unless they tell you so.” Made me queasy. Made the word “ruthless” come to mind.

Then there’s the matter of Bill. More to the point, what’s the matter with Bill? His intrusive presence in Hillary’s campaign has been deeply unsettling and adds to my growing dis-ease with All Things Clinton. Pecker problems notwithstanding, Bill Clinton was a brilliant political strategist and a mighty fine president. It’s been painful to watch him morph into a loose cannon. And the Billary thing, whether real or perceived, is no longer an asset. It feels . . . creepy.

My storied gut is warning me away from the Clintons. I’ve been smacked down for demonizing Hillary. Going forward, I will choose my words more carefully and my listeners with utmost care. It’s the unity, stupid.

Posted in


leftymn (not verified) | January 31, 2008 - 8:58am

The prospect of having the first African American or female president in America is truly historical. Unity will accomplish that. Like you, I am not so much anti-Hilary , as I am anti-Clinton at this time and place in history. (a bit tired of the Shakespearean struggles of the Houses of York and Lancaster allegorically) Unfortunately , though she is smart as a whip, capable, and tough and tested, she comes with all the baggage of the battles of the 60's-90's in America, not the least of which are the prospect of the MSM and the wingnut right resurrecting gleefully the Whitewater and Lewinsky episodes of the Clinton Presidency. I sense a palpable amount of "true believer" type of support for Obama, this has a tendency to blind supporters to the flaws and weaknesses of his candidacy. He does have some skeletons to overcome, but nothing of the magnitude of the Clinton legacy. His challenge will always be overcoming the ingrained but subtle racism inherent and always prickable in the American psyche. With Edwards gone, I will likely pick Obama at the caucuses next week, while a woman President would be historical, I think the albatross of the Clinton years will make her path to winning difficult and to governing just as difficult, I believe Obama represents an era change in American history, to beat a dead metaphorical horse, a true passing of the torch to the generations that come after the baby boomers.


barbara says (not verified) | January 31, 2008 - 9:36am

LeftyMN, you help keep me sane and focused. Really. I mean it. Your thoughtful analyses are almost always spot-on. And you're the one who introduced me to Juan Cole, whose political and social commentary is second to none. I'm breathing now. Thanks!!


steve (not verified) | January 31, 2008 - 10:54am

I saw Bill Clinton's championing of NAFTA as a continuation of Reagan's "trickling down" and a betrayal of Democrat principles to the core. It helped to start the wheels of economic globalization which means our wages will freeze until they are more in line with the $3 a day Asian sweatshops. Anyone unlucky enough to be looking for a job today will find companies only hiring from temp services-- no benefits, $9 an hour. Thank you corporate America for placing money above people. And thank you congress for selling off our liberty to the highest bribers.


Bob (not verified) | January 31, 2008 - 12:25pm

I want her to be elected. The NAFTA thing is correct, no republican president could have gotten it thru. Globilization is inevitable, but this was not good legislation. If she is elected with a fillibuster proof House and Senate, I think her 1st hundred days would be the most spectacular in the countries history. Not every wrong could be undone, but it would be something I would love to witness.


barbara says (not verified) | January 31, 2008 - 5:37pm

Not to be contrarian, but might I respectfully submit that with a filibuster-proof, yea verily, veto-proof House and Senate, SpongeBob Square Pants might have a jolly 100-day romp as president? Okay. That's simplistic, but we need to focus time and assets on the House and Senate races. Vitally important. With a record number of Republican resignations looming . . . well, you just never know. Okay, that and replacing Reid and Pelosi, but that's a whole other matter for another time.


Kathie in MN (not verified) | January 31, 2008 - 6:25pm

Thank you Barbara, for this post. i am still depressed over Edwards leaving suddenly. Still don't know what to make of that - and still wondering whether I should caucus for Obama or no-one? Do you suppose anyone will be able to caucus for Edwards? Could he brought in at the last moment as a compromise candidate? (Okay - I am dreaming . . .)


Jean T. (not verified) | February 4, 2008 - 9:58pm

I too am an Edward's supporter and am wondering if we can support him in the MN caucuses tomorrow night. If enough folks did, could we get him any delegates that might put him in a position to have more power in the final convention duel? Without Edwards I am really sitting on the fence trying to choose between Obama and HIllary. Downsides to both and upsides to both. Who I really wanted was Al Gore! Barb's blog on this is very helpful. I am just worried about who Obama would ask to be on his cabinet and his closest advisors and VP - without that, I do not think he has enought experience. On Hillary, I mostly agree with Barb. I don't trust her and I think she swings in the wind though I think she may be able to handle the big-boys better than Obama. Someone build on Barb's blog and make every point possible for Obama - I need to know to cast my caucus vote!


leftymn (not verified) | January 31, 2008 - 6:29pm

where in the name of the deity do you get these pictures from?


Bob (not verified) | January 31, 2008 - 10:33pm

The very reasons I want Hillary are the ones that give you pause. Never having held office and then becoming one of the hundred most powerful people in the country caused her to tred lightly on the votes she cast. If she had railed against the war, which I'm POSITIVE in her heart she would have liked to do, she would have hurt her chances down the road. As for her aloof, cold persona, couldn't care less. I have been wronged for 7 years and I want retribution, & revenge. The B word might just fit, don't care, the office of president is not easily assumed. The 1st timers take months to get comfortable and grasp how to steer. The Clintons had to bring in a republican to get the ship righted and on course. On the first day things would be happening, she could be the best thing since FDR, all the game playing would be over, compitence would be the word. I'll support Obama if he's the candidate, but he comes up short of what I'm looking for.


susan | January 31, 2008 - 10:39pm

Barbara has a little treasure trove of pictures under her desk. Barbara has a little treasure trove of words on top of her desk. Barbara is a deity.


paul miller (not verified) | February 1, 2008 - 1:04am

Susan - great editorial in the Strib - not expecting much from the STRIB these days so missed it this morning but its no. 1 with a bullet on Common Dreams, it felt like you were channeling Molly, kudos


Anonymous (not verified) | February 1, 2008 - 8:30am

So typical.... Maureen Dowd "who delights in sippy word-play" and then the rest of your own piece is nothing but snippy word-play.


Anonymous (not verified) | February 1, 2008 - 8:31am

That would be "snippy"


susan | February 1, 2008 - 5:18pm

Lordy, the great anon is calling me snippy. I prefer sippy, especially on a Friday night. And if you read yesterday's Strib op-ed, which also ran on commondreams, you'll see me getting my butt kicked around in the comments at CD too. By Nader and Kucinich lovers. And Eugene McCarthy lovers and Molly Ivins lovers and Obama haters and Hillary haters. And Susan haters. Someone else sent me an email saying that Molly Ivins and I were both like a bad case of jock itch -- annoying and capable of emitting a bad odor. (I wouldn't know.) And another guy berated me for using Molly Ivins to support Hillary? Huh? Read the piece fella?
Check them out, anon, you'll see that there are wackos on the left who "think" just like you do.