Posts Tagged ‘Hillary Clinton’

Post-Feminist Foreign Policy: Liberal Internationalism In Action

Monday, January 26th, 2009

by Tommy Brown

From a really bizarre article in the online version of Newsweek by Anna Quindlen, titled “The End of Swagger:”

As Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton begin to use their uncommon authority and intelligence to implement a new American international agenda, it might behoove them to read a speech given some years ago in Beijing. It read in part: “If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights for one and for all. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely—and the right to be heard. Women must enjoy the rights to participate fully in the social and political lives of their countries if we want freedom and democracy to thrive and endure.”

Secretary Clinton was first lady when she spoke those words at a United Nations conference on women in 1995. Some of the participants wept to hear an influential American commit to a view of the world so many of them shared: that the way for nations to prosper was to pay attention to women’s rights, women’s welfare and women’s concerns.

A noble cause, to be sure, but one that immediately runs up against the brick wall of reality, in that the only belief in women’s rights that most countries where the Western Enlightenment never penetrated have is that a woman has a right to bear children and serve her husband. While of course it is a noble cause to push for women’s rights worldwide, Your Humble Author seems to recall that this particular message was a key one in both the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns, and in the end, turned out to be so much horse manure. And this is in a situation where we invaded, broke down their old society, and re-wrote their laws. Accomplishing it through less direct means like diplomacy may be a tad more difficult.

Now, I’m sure this will offend some (if not most) people, but foreign policy is not missionary work, and our relationships with unpleasant regimes shouldn’t hinge on whether women have to wear the burqa or not. I’m all for soft diplomatic power to encourage women’s rights, and using the UN to push for it, in the same manner that we led the fight against human rights violations (until recently). But in matters where important national security interests are at stake, this is the definition of a non-issue.

A story most don’t know is that the main roadblock towards America extending diplomatic recognition to the Taliban government, and thus being able to negotiate with them in the years before 9/11, was that a group led by Mavis Leno (wife of Tonight Show host Jay) lobbied and convinced then-President Clinton that recognition should be denied until the Taliban gave their women Western-style civil rights. The fact that everyone in Afghanistan lacked any sort of Enlightenment-style human rights seems to have escaped everyone involved.

But here’s where the article gets a bit bizarre:

Those are the kinds of conclusions that put people’s backs up, particularly if those people happen to be male. Isn’t it just another form of sexism, they argue, to suggest that women are better, or different? Hasn’t Secretary Clinton shown herself to possess a killer instinct as finally honed as that of any male counterpart? Yes, she has, and perhaps now that everyone knows she can be the toughest person in the room, she is uniquely positioned to go the other way. “Soft diplomacy could be her greatest strength,” says Kavita Ramdas, president of the Global Fund for Women. “This is the time to get rid of militarism as a dominant theme, not only because it’s wrong, but because it doesn’t work.”

It truly makes one wonder about the premise for this entire article, considering that the former Secretary of State passing the torch to Hillary Clinton is also a woman (though perhaps because she is a Republican it does not count).  So what does Madam Clinton being a woman have to do with getting ridding of “militarism as a dominant theme” and moving towards soft diplomacy? Obviously a woman can be just as hawkish as a man, in the case of both Condi and Hillary, and the author points that out the latter before making a totally contradictory point.

In the end, this is a difference of ideology, not yet another skirmish in the Battle of the Sexes. The Bush administration was composed of neoconservative hawks; the Obama administration is composed mostly of neoliberal hawks with the occasional internationalist thrown in.  This makes it pretty likely that negotiation is going to take a dominant position over militarism and saber-rattling, but I am at a loss as to why the SecState being a woman has anything to do with it.

The Clinton Foundation

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Am I the only person in America who doesn’t really think this Clinton Foundation thing is much of an issue? It seems incredibly unlikely to me that Hillary Clinton is going to be particularly swayed because someone gave money to her husband’s charity, or at least certainly not more swayed than she will be by the nature of things. The implicit charge seems to be that if the Sudanese government gives the Clinton Foundation enough money the U.S. government will pretend Darfur isn’t happening, or something. That’s implausible for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which being that Barack Obama is the President.

Wednesday Kennedy Blogging

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Apparently this is going to be one of those topics you have to address daily.

While reading Dana Goldstein’s post on the matter over at TAPPED, it did occur to me that whomever is appointed to the seat is going to be among the very most junior members of the Democratic caucus, in a body where seniority means everything. To that extent, one “qualification” Kennedy certainly does bring to the table is the ability to trade on her name and her connections, most notably to the (next) President, which will give her more of an ability to exert influence on the larger body than any of the other candidates could possibly manage. That might seem trivial on the face of it, but New York is a big state with a lot of interest in what goes on in the Senate for a number of reasons, and it’s very important to a state like that to have representatives with as much influence as possible. Chuck Schumer is both fairly senior in the caucus and a member of the leadership team, and while being fairly low in the seniority ranks, Hillary Clinton was able to leverage her national profile to get more results than the average person in her position would be able to. Is that reason enough to put aside the unseemliness of it all? Maybe not, but it’s probably at least worth keeping it in mind when considering the state’s interests in the matter.

And while we’re on the subject, this article is really bad, even by Politico’s standards (or lack thereof). Leaving aside that it doesn’t even try to address the irony of the party of George W. Bush croning about “Democratic nepotism,” it’s biggest problem seems to be that it’s acting as if all of these instances are exactly the same situation, which is just absurd. For example, even if we concede that the Kennedy talk is totally without merit, that doesn’t really say anything at all about, say, Beau Biden. Biden has already held statewide office in Delaware, and he will not be appointed to the seat. If he wants to fill it after 2010, he’ll have to win a statewide election in Delaware to do so, and if the people of Delaware want him to represent them in the Senate, I don’t see how it’s anyone else’s business to tell them they can’t do that because his dad held the seat and will be the Vice-President of the United States. Similarly, the case of the Salazar brothers has a distinctly square peg feel to it. For one thing, they’re not father-son, or grandfather-grandson, they’re brothers. John was elected to the House the same year Ken was elected to the Senate, although I suppose you could argue he traded in on his brother’s two terms as Attorney General, but he held state level positions over the same tenure. Basically he has a political background of his own in the state, and it’s hard to say that either Salazar brother is where they are because of the other. It certainly seems, to me, that John Salazar may indeed be among the most qualified candidates to replace his brother in the Senate, and I think you’d have a much harder time arguing the opposite.

But the most galling example in the article is, surprise, how it treats Hillary Clinton. In noting her designation to head the State Department, Politico refers to her as “the wife of a former President” and…well nothing. That’s it. And obviously, when you frame it that way, it looks really bad. Who wants their Secretary of State picked on the basis of being the spouse of a former President? But of course that’s not all Hillary Clinton is by any means. She’s a Senator who sits on the Armed Services Committee, she’s a very prominent national, and international, political figure, and she was a trailblazing Presidential candidate who received somewhere between 15-20 million votes to be the Democratic nominee for President. In other words, she’s a qualified figure in her own right, and her marital status is secondary at this point. Of course, if you start pointing these things out, then you sort of erode all of this talk about nepotism and “dynastic politics,” and then reporters might have to talk about boring things like the economy once in a while.

And we wouldn’t want that.

Gender

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

I’m finally up with my piece on the role of gender, or more precisely sexism, and the Democratic campaign.

While I would certainly cede that Sen. Clinton has lost a few votes on the basis of some voters being unwilling to vote for a woman (although Obama has undeniably lost some voters on the basis of race), and wouldn’t argue that there are blatant sexists like Chris Matthews in media, that is hardly the same as saying that there is a grand, sexist, design that doomed Hillary. What doomed Hillary is simple; bad campaigning. Her campaign was ill prepared for the race that emerged, they were out of step with what voters wanted, and they had no answer to Obama’s skill and appeal. And not even loyalty to the Clinton brand, nor deference from a media loathe to bet against the Clintons they’d been burnt betting against time and time again, was enough to overcome that after it was already too late.

Full piece here.

Does Obama need Clinton to Stay In?

Monday, May 12th, 2008

An interesting premise from the LA Times:

Counterintuitively, the way he sees the inevitable delegate math in favor of Barack Obama, the worst thing that could happen to the Illinois senator now is what so many party members are clamoring for: Hillary Rodham Clinton to drop out.

Why?

Because with her name still on the ballots, she’d be very likely to win in West Virginia anyway. And maybe Kentucky too, given the demographics in both places. And possibly Puerto Rico as well.

The Gender Card Again

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

This morning, on ABC’S This Week, panelist Cokie Roberts alleged “blatant racism” from the media and “the Obama campaign” (although “certainly not” Obama himself) in calls for Clinton to exit the race. I’ll have an extended take on this later, but briefly, does anyone think the situation would be somehow difference if it were, say, John Edwards in her position right now? And on that, can anyone name a candidate who has gotten so much media deference in losing as Hillary has since Super Tuesday?

Maybe Cokie needs to interview Rudy Giuliani.

More Unity Ticket

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

Michael Tomasky

10 Reasons not to Pick Hillary

More Superdelegates

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

Rep. Harry Mitchell of Arizona, and an Ohio add-on, for Obama, and a Massachusetts add-on for Hillary.

Obama’s “Bind”

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

Michael Crowley on the delegate balancing act that is West Virginia:

Obama’s in a bind here. Not competing ensures a total blowout. But competing and still losing badly is rather embarassing. (Not that WV can save Hillary’s bacon but Obama wants to downplay stories about his weaknesses.)

It does seem that there’s no good solution here for Obama, and does make you wonder what Hillary thinks she can accomplish here, but she does need a positive way out, and May 20th seems like the logical day for that. Otherwise, it looks like she was forced out unceremoniously and her supporters, particularly older white women remain, er, bitter.

The Unity Ticket

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

I’ve got a piece up with my take on the hypothetical Obama-Clinton ticket; the pros, the cons, and a potential alternative.

 But how much water does that really carry? Let’s be honest, one of the underlying currents in the election thus far have been the unmentionables in the Land of Clinton. From Whitewater to Travelgate, sniper fire to the obvious question of just how much being First Lady qualifies one in the realm of foreign policy (Laura Bush 2012?), there are a plethora of campaign soundbytes Republicans were just waiting to sling at Hillary that no candidate in a Democratic primary could possibly mention, for fear of reprisal from Democratic voters, namely females who consistently made up nearly 60% of the electorate in every primary.

     And then there is the question of appeal. Even though she might have garnered a larger share of the demographics than Obama, how many rural, gun owning, white voters who wouldn’t vote for Obama in November would do so merely because he tapped Hillary Clinton to be his VP? Maybe more to the point, how many people really believed the Hillary-as-conservative populist routine she adopted after Bittergate? We’re talking about one of the most solidly pro-gun control politicians in recent political memory. A candidate who, with her husband, has raked in over $100 million in the past 8 years. And while Sen. Obama could not “go there” in a primary (especially one he was already winning, with little to gain and everything to lose), Republicans will have no such reservations over the summer and into the fall.

Full piece here.

Chait Puts the Icing on the Clinton-Rove Cake

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Andrew Sullivan has been pointing it out at every turn, but Chait really crystallizes the Clinton co-opting of right-wing memes.

The dying days of the Hillary Clinton campaign have brought the breathtaking spectacle of a candidate lashing out at every element of public life that has nourished her career. The über-wonk has disparaged economists and expertise. The staunch ally of black America has attacked her opponent for lacking support of “working, hard-working Americans, white Americans.” People who thought they knew Hillary Clinton have gazed in astonishment: What has she become? The answer is, a conservative populist. Conservative populism and liberal populism are entirely different things. Liberal populism posits that the rich wield disproportionate influence over the government and push for policies often at odds with most people’s interest. Conservative populism, by contrast, dismisses any inference that the rich and the non-rich might have opposing interests as “class warfare.” Conservative populism prefers to divide society along social lines, with the elites being intellectuals and other snobs who fancy themselves better than average Americans.

Also, everyone should eat arugula.

Do It Yourself?

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Eugene Robinson thinks Clinton is bad for the Democratic Party.

It’s hard to really argue any of those points, but should also be pointed out that pushing Clinton out in ugly fashion could just as easily, if not moreso, leave a bitter taste in the mouths of her most rock-ribbed supporters.

Superdelegates for Clinton

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Rep. Ciro Rodriguez of Texas.

Playing Nice Goes Out the Window?

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Clinton attacks Obama on healthcare:

You’ve got to have a seamless health care system which covers every single person. My plan does, my opponent’s doesn’t…. How can anyone run to be the Democratic nominee and not have a universal health care plan?”

Well it’s on policy anyway.

Kennedy Dings (slams?) Clinton Over VP Spot

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Ben Smith has the scoop on Kennedy’s appearance on Al Hunt’s Bloomberg program over the weekend:

“I don’t think it’s possible,” he told Hunt of the joint ticket, continuing that Obama should choose a running mate who “is in tune with his appeal for the nobler aspirations of the American people,” Kennedy said. “If we had real leadership — as we do with Barack Obama — in the No. 2 spot as well, it’d be enormously helpful.”

Implying, obviously, that she doesn’t share Obama’s “appeal for the nobler aspirations of the American people” nor exhibit “real leadership.” Wow.