Saturday, October 20, 2007

As If I Wasn't Bummed Enough Already
By way of Andrew Sullivan's blog, which I'm coming to like more and more, here's an article from the libertarian Reason Foundation--a group that tends to lean right, but has had no love for the Bushes and neocons--that makes all the points I've been trying to articulate about Hillary Clinton's yen to perpetuate the Imperial Presidency:

[W]hen you strip away the partisan coating, Mrs. Clinton's grandiose, big-government vision is really no different than that envisioned by the neoconservatives so loathed by the left. Clinton, remember, not only voted for the Iraq war, she still hasn't conceded she was wrong to do so, and has made no promise to end it any time soon.
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Hillary Clinton voted for both the Patriot Act and its reauthorization. She voted for building a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border. She voted to loosen restrictions limiting the federal government's ability to wiretap cell phones. In the past, she has supported a robust role for the federal government in enforcing "decency" standards in television and music. She teamed up with former Sen. Rick Santorum on a bill calling for the federal government to restrict the sale of violent video games.
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What about secrecy and executive power? It's difficult to see Hillary Clinton voluntarily handing back all of those extra-constitutional executive powers claimed by President Bush. Her husband's administration, for example, copiously invoked dubious "executive privilege" claims to keep from complying with congressional subpoenas and open records requests—claims the left now (correctly, in my view) regularly criticizes the Bush administration for invoking.

Hillary Clinton herself went to court to keep meetings of her Health Care Task Force secret from the public, something conservatives were quick to point out when leftists criticize Vice President Cheney's similar efforts to keep meetings of his Energy Task Force secret.
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That jibes with a February 2007 New York Times article on Clinton explaining her refusal to back down from her vote for the Iraq war: "Mrs. Clinton's belief in executive power and authority is another factor weighing against an apology, advisers said... she believes that a president usually deserves the benefit of the doubt from Congress on matters of executive authority."
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[A]n increasingly imperial presidency isn't good for our republic.

Neither is our overly interventionist foreign policy, or the continuing erosion of our civil liberties, be it in the name of "family values," government paternalism, the war on drugs, or the war on terror.

Activists on the left... should also realize that even if they succeed in electing Hillary Clinton to the White House, it's likely that the only real resulting change in Washington will be that come 2009, we'll merely have a Democrat pursuing the same misguided policies.

Much like the point I made earlier about how "spite voting" on the left could propel the Democrat uninformed Republicans hate the most into the White House, the author cites "the temptation on the left to want to stick it to their political opponents by putting their worst nightmare in the White House." But this won't mean a whole lot two years from now, when Madame President Clinton screws over the unions with another awful trade bill, orders air strikes against whoever the dark-skinned villain of that moment might be, and further seals the archives of all previous Bush and Clinton administrations. At that point, millions of Democrats are going to smack their foreheads, ask themselves what the fuck they were thinking, and find themselves forced to choose between defending a president they deplore and disagree with, and letting the same people they'd tried to spite by putting her into power run rampant in national politics.

1 comment:

The Navigator said...

I read this shortly after you posted it and I hadn't commented because I didn't have much to add, but I might as well note that I don't really disagree. I don't expect any great things from a Hillary presidency. Anthony Lewis noted in the late 90's that Bill was the worst president on civil liberties since Nixon, though that record has since been surpassed. But the difference between HRC and most other Dems is one of degree, not kind.

I just don't ever expect to get excited about Democrats - in virtually every instance, they're no more than considerably better than the alternative, and I'm confident that would be true of HRC as well. But I also expect it to be true of just about any Democrat with a shot at winning (with Edwards & Obama two possible, rare exceptions). It's a result worth working for, but not worth getting enthused about.

I've probably said this before: if we had proportional representation, we could get a proper left-of-center party, and then we'd have much less bemoaning our fate; instead, we'd know that the best we could hope for was a center-left coalition government, and we'd celebrate when it happened, knowing we could expect some good things to happen, some pretty lousy things to happen, and some really bad things to be averted.