Paul Jacob

Hillary Clinton would be an icon of the Democratic Party, except that an icon stands for something by resembling that something. That's its literal meaning.

What does Hillary stand for?

Once she discouraged cookie baking, but not anymore. Lately, Hillary seems to be rediscovering middle-class family values and waltzing toward the center of American politics with her many newly-positioned positions on Iraq, immigration, and even some careful shadings on social issues.

To most conservatives, though, she still symbolizes all that's wrong with the Democratic Party. I think that's too narrow a view. To me, Hillary symbolizes much that's wrong with politics in general.

Take Wal-Mart. While her husband was governor of Arkansas, she served for six years on Wal-Mart's board. During that time, Wal-Mart grew and grew and grew. And Hillary deposited her paycheck and received stock options.

Juicier yet, Hillary and Bill earned the equivalent of frequent flyer status on Wal-Mart's corporate jets, taking 14 trips in 1990 and 1991 to begin their pursuit of the presidency. They'd hit the big time.

You'd think that, as a politician who wants to appeal to voters who admire real-world success, she'd ballyhoo that experience.

But instead, she's repudiating her Wal-Mart connections, quietly but firmly. Last year she returned a $5,000 contribution given to her by Wal-Mart. Reason? "Serious differences with current company practices."

The real issue on her mind is surely, as usual, more political than principled: the current crusade by the left against Wal-Mart. The controlling wing of the Democratic Party seems perpetually caught in the mindset of its heyday, from FDR through LBJ, when politics was seen as the management of three branches of society — Big Government, Big Labor, and Big Business. A successful, big business like Wal-Mart is supposed to have a Big Labor component, a union, which is supposed to run the company into the ground, er, "help the employees." And between the two of them they are to churn as much money to and from Big Government as possible.

Quite a vision, eh? You've probably read about it in some Galbraith book. It's as old hat as a fedora.

So leftists, caught in this creaky vision of the world, spit and fume about Wal-Mart, a company that doesn't quite play well with Big Labor or Big Government.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.