Monday, March 03, 2008

Why I Did Not Vote For Hillary Clinton

I have to say, this primary season in Texas has been unlike no other in my memory. I have never seen such vitriol spewed about one candidate or the other – from people in their own party – than I have this time. It makes me a little uneasy that after having spent weeks working themselves into such a fever, whether some partisans will be able to find closure and regroup for our all out united assault on the White House this fall.

For this and a couple of other reasons, I have stayed away from making any criticism of Hillary Clinton as a candidate or as a possible president. I think it is counter-productive and doesn’t serve the party. Best, I told myself, to celebrate the positive features of Barack Obama than being negative over Hillary Clinton, who is someone I do respect. But here on election eve, maybe it is time for me to come clean and say what is bothering me: what it is about Hillary Clinton’s campaign that prevented me from supporting her.

First, I think I mentioned this before when I switched my allegiance from John Edwards, who bowed out of the race before Super Tuesday, to Barack Obama. The one constant that I found in either Edwards or Obama was their steadfast refusal to accept campaign contributions from lobbyists and PACs. I found their positions laudable and a promise that maybe an Edwards or an Obama presidency would be one where the people weren’t left out of the equation. Where lobbyists and corporations don’t have the first and last word on what is to be.

I didn’t see that in Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. In fact, Clinton made no bones about the fact that she would not refuse corporate PAC money or contributions from lobbyists. In fact, these contributions made up the core of her monetary support. In my mind I cannot erase the one movie scene that I saw last year when I drove into Houston to see one of the few screenings of Michael Moore’s film, “Sicko”. The scene where Moore superimposed the dollar figures given by the Health Insurance lobbies to influential DC legislators on their moving images. This included the figures given to well-known and now discredited legislators like Tom DeLay and Rick Santorum. Only one of the dollar amounts given to these individuals, overshadowed that given to Hillary Clinton by the health care industry organizations. The self same organizations that she fought a fierce battle against during her campaign to bring health insurance to all Americans during her husband’s presidency. Only Senator Rick Santorum received more than Clinton.

Well, you tell yourself that politics make strange bedfellows, and who is your enemy one day is your friend the next. I couldn’t live like that, but on the other hand, I am not running for president.

So is it an integrity issue or just an issue of political convenience? You tell me.

Now here is the other issue that I have with the Clinton campaign. It has been nagging at me for several months now and I just couldn’t put a finger on it. Then all of a sudden I had to ask myself: if Hillary Rodham Clinton is 61, and she says that she is, and she has claimed that the main thing that she brings to the race is her 35 years of experience, indeed comparing her experience with Barack Obama’s, and finding his lacking, I had to start doing some math. The math says that Hillary Clinton embarked on her career of public service right after getting out of law school. Indeed it was during her post-graduate studies that Hillary Rodham worked for the Children’s Defense Fund, a public service that is listed in her vitae. That and a stint on the staff of the House Judiciary committee in the early 70’s was the sum total of her post law school service. The next 5 years she spent in various capacities doing legal aid work. After that it becomes hazy where she was a mother, where she worked for law firms (private practice, not public service) where she was a wife, a first lady of Arkansas, then of the United States, and finally, when she landed her job as a US Senator from New York.

My point is, and I am not the only one to point this out, I don’t think that the Clinton campaign is being completely forthright with this “35 years of experience” stuff. Yes, it has been 35 years since she has been out of school, but that is the extent of it – 35 years-wise.

Truthfully, I have a problem with this exaggeration. I know that the other campaigns have been giving her a pass on this issue for some reason, but when you start hearing the same old saw, over and over, and no one steps up to challenge its veracity, you start to wonder.

That, in the end is why I don’t give Hillary Clinton a pass on the “35 years of experience” thing. The Obama campaign has, and so have all of the other campaigns that have since gone by the wayside. It is an excellent strategy to present oneself against a much younger competitor, but it just doesn’t translate into the fall.

So why didn’t I vote for Hillary Clinton?

In the fall, Democrats will win the White House, I am sure of it. I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton because I want my president to focus on the people, not the corporations. In this, actions speak louder than words. And I want my president to be forthright with the people and set tendencies to exaggerate aside.

That’s why.


Fred said...

Good one, Hal! Over at TSB we use just a little bit of criticism...

Anonymous said...

He doesn't take PAC contributions directly (which are usually no more than about 1% of a candidate's donations anyway, because of the low limit imposed on PACs), but he does take "bundled contributions", which is how PACs really exert their influence, since these bundles can be from 10K - 1 million. Here is an article about it from early last year. No one knows what his take is since then.

So basically, all of the candidates take "PAC money", but he is the only one being disingenuous about it, and misleading the voters about the origins of his money.

Also, the WA Post has this story about his lobbying promise.

Basically, he is not taking the money from the lobbyist, but still taking money from the company and industry. So basically, instead of taking the money from the lobbyist, he is taking that same money from the CEO or Managing Partner. There is really no difference in the influence.

Also, if these are the biggest reasons you are supporting Senator Obama, you should look at the Open Secrets list of the biggest contributors:

Anonymous said...

hal, I differ with you on the best choice, but: the absolute bottomline is to remember that, in the end, no matter who we dems end up nominating, we have to vote our party in the fall!

dana milbank pens an instructive piece in the washington post today that is a sober reminder that today's golden boy often is tomorrow's whipping boy. obama's response echoes that of most politicians and tears a hole in the fabric of his invulnerability.

so - our current rhetoric, for all its persuasive intent, needs to acknowledge undying support for the democratic nominee come november, whomever that may be.

Anonymous said...

Hillary may be a stealth neocon. That's why I prefer Obama.

Anonymous said...

Once you get to the congressional level all you have in either party is a bunch of corporate sellouts, sorry folks, the voter doesn't count.