Instead of the heavy-weight fight the media was hoping for, Thursday’s Democratic debate in California turned into a love fest; one with lots of pandering to the liberal Hollywood audience. But beneath the pleasantries it was once again clear that Hillary is seeking to have it both ways on a host of issues. She is the master of the non-answer and relentlessly offers her pat answers. One thing she never does, however, is admit a mistake.
Take health care. Hilary is now declaring universal government mandated health care a moral imperative and a core Democratic value. She insists that her plan is not “government controlled” despite the fact that mandates always lead to greater government control and her calling for government regulations on who insurance companies cover, what coverage citizens must have, and caps on premiums.
You wouldn’t think health care would be one of Hillary’s strengths given her history. But she remarkably turns any questions on her now infamous failure into proof of her experience. She describes the 1993 debacle as “an effort to try to begin this conversation, which we're now continuing. It has been a difficult conversation.” She absolutely refuses to admit that she played a significant role in the failure of that “conversation.”
She continues to blame the insurance and drug companies rather than the secretive, combative, and mismanaged process; or her stubborn unwillingness to compromise with key Congressional allies; or the byzantine and prohibitively costly plan that was the result of her management.
Many in her party seem to be willing to forgive her past mistakes on health care, but her shifting positions on the war in Iraq might not be so easy to put behind her.
In what was easily her worst segment of the debate, Hillary vainly attempted to explain her vote on the Iraq war resolution by again arguing that the war resolution was simply a way to give President Bush leverage in negotiations with Saddam Hussein.
No matter what your views of the war, and the votes leading up to it, Hillary is clearly not being honest about her vote. The resolution was obviously an authorization for the use of force. Hillary was too afraid to take a stand and lose her hawkish credentials. This is obvious, but she refuses to admit it.
Hillary plays this same sort of game on questions surrounding her campaign. When asked about the role of her husband she insists that all the candidates have spouses that are passionate and that she wants to be judged on her own merits.
But this is silly. Does anyone seriously believe that Hillary would even be a candidate for president were her husband not a former one? To compare Michelle Obama to Bill Clinton is deeply disingenuous. And if it wasn’t before, it has become plain in recent weeks that Hillary is running for her husband’s third term.
On Thursday she was asked about how people can expect her to control her husband in the White House when she can’t control him on the campaign trail. After laughing her awkward cackle of a laugh, she insisted that it was her name on the ballot and she would be making the decisions.
But this defense cuts across her foundational claim to have had so much experience. If the presidency is a “lonely job” and the decisions are made at the top, then how can Hillary’s time in the White House amount to anything more than that of dozens of other advisors the president relied upon? And if Hillary played such a crucial role in what she likes to call the “first Clinton administration” then how can we expect Bill to play no role whatsoever in her administration?
The truth is that Hillary’s campaign is a collection of contradictions and half-truths. She is running on the nostalgia for her husband’s administration but distances herself from its centrist policies, denies any role in its scandals, all while claiming credit for the “experience.”
She claims she wants to be judged on her own merits but constantly attempts to use both gender and race to her advantage. She takes advantage of her husband’s name recognition, media draw and financial connections and yet insists that he is just like any other spouse.
She campaigns as rabidly anti-war and yet refuses to explain her vote for the war. She touts her experience in battling the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy and yet claims to be able to unite the country.
For all his faults, Obama got one thing right. Hillary will say anything to get elected.