Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hillary Clinton won't defend her own remarks... Who are "some of us" and why is Tim Russert so freaking nice?

This is about the way Hillary Clinton said something that everyone in the whole fucking world heard (and saw) and now refuses to back the comment. This is about the kind of sleazy dishonesty that pervades American politics generally, but seems to be particularly thick in Clinton country.

If you're going to say it, defend it. Easy concept. An honest one, too. Hey, Hillary Clinton, I'm talking to you.

Right after Hillary had her (in)famous "moment of humanity" in New Hampshire, she quickly reiterated a key concept underlying her bid for POTUS. She said:

"Some of us are right and some of us are wrong. Some of us are ready and some of us are not. Some us know what we will do on day one and some of us haven't thought it through enough."

She said it right after choking up a little bit, too. That somehow made the comment "newsworthy" enough for every television and radio station in the world to run it at least a dozen times. Everyone in the world heard it.

And they knew exactly what she meant when she said it.

"Some of us are ready and some of us are not."

Clearly, Hillary thinks she's ready. We know that much. So, to whom was she referring when she mentioned those who "are not" ready for the White House?

Okay, we all know it was Obama. BO is her only real opponent and he's the only one who has a potential experience issue. "Not ready" = Obama.

We sure as hell know it wasn't Bill Richardson, who was still in the race at the time. His CV is longer and more impressive than Hillary's. I think we can feel safe that the comment wasn't really directed at John Edwards, either. He's been in the Senate, he's been through the grinder, Clinton endorsed the ticket he shared with Kerry, etc. Maybe Hillary feels that her experience trumps Edwards'. If that's the case, there is a remote possibility that he was part of the "some of us" in questions. There's no doubt, however, that Obama was the primary target of that barb.

Now, before we get into the meat of my disgust for Hillary's unwillingness to defend that remark, let me say that I'm not dismissing the argument. There is an argument to be had about experience and how it might matter when deciding how to cast one's vote. This post is not an Obama defense. It is not a response to the experience argument.

This is about the way Hillary Clinton said something that everyone in the whole fucking world heard (and saw) and now refuses to back the comment. This is about the kind of sleazy dishonesty that pervades American politics generally, but seems to be particularly thick in Clinton country.

Fast forward from The Magic Teardrop of New Hampshire (it might have been even more magical had it ever actually left her eye) to this morning. Hillary Clinton took a seat next to Tim Russert on "Meet the Press".

Let it be known that Tim Russert can be a somewhat ineffectual interviewer. He refuses to push any line of questioning that might cause a guest significant discomfort. He understands who butters the toast in the Russert breakfast nook and isn't about to create a situation where people might decline his invitations to get up early on Sundays and hang out on TV.

Tim does, however, ask half-decent questions once in a blue moon. Today, he asked Hillary Clinton about Barrack Obama and the experience factor. He moved from a discussion of The Great Display of Humanity in New Hampshire to the comments she made about experience. He asked her if Obama was ready to be President.

STOP!

Right after she choked up she basically said he was NOT READY. "Some of us are ready and some of us are not". She didn't say "Obama isn't ready", but it was intimated. I take that back, she pretty much fucking said it. "Obama isn't ready".

So, when Russert asks her if Barrack is adequately prepared to tool around in Air Force One, Hillary Clinton says:

“This is up to the voters of our country to determine, but I want them to have accurate information about our respective records, what we’ve accomplished, the work that each of us have done when given a chance to serve.”

Of course the voters will make the call, Hillary. Tim asked you if YOU thought Obama was ready. Remember, you've already said he wasn't. Now you don't have an opinion?

Russert, and this is about as tough as Tim gets, actually asked her again. She said:

“That is up for voters to decide.”

Well, I don't know what voters will decide about Barrack Obama's experience, but I do know what this voter has decided about Hillary Clinton.

She doesn't have the guts to make and maintain a real argument. She fears political confrontation so much and has so little nerve that she's afraid to either retract or defend her own public statements.

She could've said, "I don't think Barrack has sufficient experience. The voters will have the final say on that, but in my opinion he doesn't have the history".

She could've said, "Yeah, I alluded to this notion that Barrack lacks experience. Upon further reflection, I don't think that was fair to say. I have more experience and I believe that's important, but when I implied that he wasn't ready it was a mistake on my part".

Hillary Clinton has the guts to say her opponent is inadequately seasoned while surrounded by supporters with no risk of a follow-up question or a confrontation. When teddy bear Tim Russert asks her, she ducks. She avoids. She doesn't back up her own comments. She won't stand by them.

It's not like she's the only person to do this, but I found this example particularly pathetic. That's because it's a sleazy free shot. One day you go with the "my opponent sucks ass" tactic. A few days later, after that's worked for you a little bit and has seeded the argument in the media and elsewhere, you run back up to higher ground, letting the voters decide and emphasizing your own strengths as part of a "positive campaign".

Russert could've asked her another follow-up.

"You said 'some of us aren't' ready. If you weren't referring to Obama, to whom were you referring? Oh, and don't tell me about the voters. I'm asking for you to expand on your own personal opinion--the one you were willing to share with supporters in New Hampshire the day before the primary".

He didn't. He let her off the hook. You gotta take a little heat on "Meet the Press", but not enough to freak you out about being a guest again later.

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3 comments:

  1. Yeah, she's slimed her way through this argument the entire time, John. It's kind of disgusting to watch, really.

    I would also be willing to give the benefit of the doubt that she is trying to take some higher ground, at this point, but you may be right that she's just taking another angle on the same slime.

    This is what drives me crazy about the process, as is. The stakes are so high that we constantly have a situation where we can't really tell if people are telling the truth or lying? Why is the expectation not that our discussions should be as honest as possible with a focus on policy more than personality BECAUSE the stakes are so high. I guess who's got the power matters - I mean that's why we're debating it in the first place - but it seems to me that we should be able to trust, better, that people are being honest and not have this slimy expectation that politics will be politics and that's the best we're going to get. And I think we'd be better off if government operated more like universities where it matters less who specifically is in charge and much more with what the discussion looks like, with a respect for liberal values and conscience, generally.

    I work in an environment like that, right now, John, and it is the most functional environment I have ever worked in in my entire life.

    I mean, maybe my expectations aren't accounting for enough of the difference, but it seems to me that how universities work - where people do have formal power for limited periods of time but where their reputations as honest participants in serious scholarly, departmental, and campus-wide discussions are taken more seriously than the short period of formal power they might experience and, hence, where the underside of politics is present, some, but where honest and serious discussion is taken more seriously, generally, than who has "the ring" should be the rule in politics, too. And the fact that it is not should make us very wary of that power, then, I think.

    We are plenty wary of others, especially those of other ideological stripes, I think. But noone seems to be nearly wary of themselves, nearly enough.

    And the dishonesty of this argument by the Clinton camp reflects this tendency in Hillary that is the heart of why I don't trust her leadership, at this point, as well as so many points where she seems to turn to the political zeitgeist to solve problems that her better thought and arguments don't seem to resolve, even when the means she employs don't seem to solve those problems, either.

    Something tells me that we need to have a heart to heart where I can hear your thinking on this one, more, John, to check for whether I'm just missing the boat on what I see as the zeitgeist of force to solve more problems than it can really solve and Hillary Clinton hitching up a wagon to that zeitgeist whether it actually gets results or not. I'm not impressed by those results, right now, John.
    But I am genuinely open to being wrong about this.

    But it seems to me that Clinton's evasiveness is one of the consequences of a campaign of folks who are more scared of the consequences that others might deliver for them than they are for whether they have better ideas for tackling problems we face and that environment undermining peoples' level of responsibility for their behavior and choices rather than enhancing it.

    Lot's of discussion, here. I have some work to do this afternoon.

    Talk with you soon.

    Ben

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    1. ass gayte: Mr obama & an ever growing list of tax-payer supported killers/govt workersJune 2, 2015 at 9:53 AM

      Bush 43 & Obama meet in Africa (summer 2013). Not long after, Lac-Megantic horrific train explosion-over 50 dead. Bush Empire: conservative democrats/establishment & beer-o-cratic republicans, CNN/NBC

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  2. one of many concerned U.S. citizensJune 2, 2015 at 10:14 AM

    2/29/08-murder at an obscure generic motel chain-ricin. 9/11 aftermath; cartoon-like 1980's futuristic, trapped in a time warp character, emerging over the past couple of months (since around '07). Weird. That's all I can think of. Weird.

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