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Hillary Clinton. Neocon

Hillary Clinton: The Neocon in Democrat's Clothing

Friday, 27 May 2016 10:08 By Pierre Guerlain, Truthout | Op-Ed
Hillary Clinton speaks at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 30, 2008. (Photo: Brett Weinstein)Hillary Clinton speaks at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 30, 2008. (Photo: Brett Weinstein)
The next president of the United States will almost certainly be a Republican. No, not the one everyone in the media rejects, the buffoon named Donald Trump who stands no chance of shaking the hands of world leaders. Chances are, the next Republican president will be a woman, and yes, her name will be Hillary Clinton.
No kidding, if this comes to pass, history will be made: the first woman president and among the first Republican neocons in Democratic garb. Everyone knows the expression "a wolf in sheep's clothing." Now, it seems the United States will invent the macho Republican in feminist, Democratic clothing.
We're all Eisenhower Republicans here, and we are fighting the Reagan Republicans. We stand for lower deficits and free trade and the bond market. Isn't that great?
Eisenhower Republicans were, by today's standards, quite moderate. The quote refers to the 1990s, and already Bill Clinton had triangulated his presidency to Republican-hood. He had demolished Aid to Families With Dependent Children and bought into the bash-the-poor rhetoric of the right wing. He had passed a crime bill that targeted people of color; he had destroyed FDR's legacy, notably by abolishing the Glass-Steagall Act. And he was so "tough on crime" that during the 1992 presidential campaign season, he had gone back to his home state of Arkansas to witness the execution of Ricky Ray Rector, who was "mentally deficient." Bill Clinton might not have inhaled marijuana, but he certainly had inhaled the poison of right-wing ideas.
As we all know, Hillary Clinton openly supported many of Bill Clinton's political measures. She used the terrible expression "superpredators," supported the crime bill and made a hash of health insurance reform. Liza Featherstone talks about Hillary Clinton's faux feminism, and she links her critique to class themes, which is as it should be. Feminists cannot be elite feminists or 1% feminists if they want to defend the rights of all women.
Hillary Clinton's track record on issues of poverty, racial justice and justice for women is appalling. As a former member of the board of Walmart, she sided with the rich and powerful, which she also does when she gives speeches for Wall Street. The really important question is how someone who has constantly sided with the rich can campaign as a progressive, as a friend of people of color and even as a feminist? Michelle Alexander exposed the hypocrisy of the situation in arguing that "Hillary Clinton doesn't deserve the black vote."
On foreign policy issues, Hillary Clinton is not even an Eisenhower Republican, but a war hawk whose philosophy and shortsightedness is evidenced by the flippant way in which she advocated for war in Libya and the way in which she celebrated. "We came, we saw, he died," she said and laughed loudly. This cruel statement does not take into account the mess and mayhem left behind after the intervention, something President Obama calls a "shit show" and his worst mistake. But it is the companion piece to her major fellow elite "feminist" Madeleine Albright declaring that killing half a million Iraqis is worth it.
Hillary Clinton, like true neoliberals in the GOP, supported the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), so as Bill had said she supported the bond market and free trade. Now, she claims she did not, but, of course, she is lying. Her lies also have to do with Wall Street (she has not released the text of her speeches), support for people of color and her feminism.

Hillary Clinton is a 1% millionaire who now talks the progressive talk, but never really walked the progressive walk.

The challenge by Bernie Sanders, who is still around and has no intention of dropping out of the primaries, made Clinton change her tune, but, of course, she is ready to say anything to be elected. Now that she is facing a buffoon who makes racist, sexist, dishonest remarks all the time, she can play a series of cards that do not correspond to who she really is: the progressive card, the antiracist card, the feminist card, the "consistent" card, the geopolitical card. The campaign circus or electoral extravaganza can now become man vs. woman, or rather, racist white man vs. "friend of minorities" woman. Yet, if there is little doubt that Donald Trump is a vile demagogue who sometimes hits upon an issue of concern to ordinary people, the identity of the other candidate is all phony.
Feminism cannot be only about the equality of CEO compensations. Equality in CEO compensations in general should exist at a much-reduced level. In his book Listen, Liberal, Thomas Frank tells the story of a Clinton convention meeting he attended and what he witnessed was Hillary Clinton as "Ms. Walmart," pretending she cares about all women. Frank, who is genuinely worried about rising inequality in the United States and racial justice, suggests that elite feminism is worried about the glass ceiling for CEOs, but does not even worry about working-class women who have "no floors" under them. Hillary Clinton is a 1% millionaire who now talks the progressive talk, but never really walked the progressive walk.
It would indeed be a symbolic change if the US elected a woman president, but for the symbol not to be empty, something more is needed. If a woman president does not improve the lot of the majority of women, then what is the good of a symbol?
Hillary Clinton is actually to the right of President Dwight D. Eisenhower -- "Ike." He refused to use the atom bomb in Asia, showing more geopolitical prudence than Hillary "we came and he died" Clinton. He also wanted to preserve the FDR advances that the Clintons have done so much to cancel or erase.
In a 1954 letter to his brother, Eisenhower wrote: "Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear from that party again in our political history."
Unfortunately, Ike was not right. Later, the Republicans -- starting with Hillary Clinton's youth idol Barry Goldwater -- and the Democrats calling themselves "New Democrats" vied with each other to dismantle the New Deal and the Great Society programs that Democrats had set up. Noam Chomsky argues that the GOP is not a political party any longer, but a radical insurgency, for it has gone off the political cliff. The Democrats have become the Old Republicans and Hillary Clinton is more neocon than traditional conservative of the Eisenhower type.
So Hillary Clinton, the Republican, is poised to win in November, but her Republicanism is closer to George W. Bush's and even more conservative than Ronald Reagan's -- except on the societal issues that have now reached a kind of quasi-consensus like same-sex marriage. She is a pro-business, Koch-compatible lover of Wall Street who uses feminism like some pinkwashers or greenwashers use progressive agendas to sell regressive policies. Author Diana Johnstone calls her the "Queen of Chaos." Clinton is the queen of deception, faux feminism and faux progressivism, whose election will be made easier by her loutish, vulgar, sexist loudmouth of an opponent.
In his book The Deep State, Mike Lofgren quotes H.L. Mencken, who gave away what explains the success of the political circus: "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the neoconservatives were past masters at this creation of hobgoblins, but now Hillary Clinton, the opportunist, can outdo them and out-Republicanize them. I think Ike would not like her; she might now be even more reactionary than Goldwater. Indeed, Charles Koch (whose hatred of progressivism is well documented by Jane Meyer in her book, Dark Money) expressed some admiration for Bill and Hillary Clinton and said he could vote for Hillary this time around.
The GOP is dying, but a reactionary Republican in faux progressive clothing, loved by the wolves of Wall Street and the wolves of the Kochtopus, will most probably win.
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.


Pierre Guerlain is a professor of American studies at Université Paris Ouest, Nanterre, France.


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