Thursday, May 22, 2008

Campaign 08: Quindlen Blind on Mrs. Clinton

Today, Anna Quindlen writes an editorial which begins by saying:

ON his last night as president of the United States, Bill Clinton issued a pardon for a man named Marc Rich. Later, Clinton would write a long op-ed piece on the reasons, but the reason seemed obvious to observers: the fugitive financier was what just plain folks call stinking rich, and his ex-wife had given nearly a half-million dollars to Clinton's presidential library. Even the president's customary allies did not find it in their hearts to justify his action.

Yet, in some way, the pardon was an apt coda to an administration that seemed to veer from constructive to self-destructive so often that the American people developed whiplash.

The Family and Medical Leave Act, and Monica Lewinsky. The elimination of the deficit, and the Rich pardon. The supremely eloquent speaker, and the man who said: "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is." Bill giveth, Bill taketh away, mainly from his own reputation. A presidency with an ace domestic agenda somehow became a dizzying slip-and-slide that made you want to scream: Legacy, legacy, legacy, legacy, legacy.
Quinlen goes on to say that she figured Hillary Clinton to be "more highly disciplined" than her husband and, well, just "better" than all of that. But, alas, Quindlen bemoans the fact that it is now Mrs. Clinton's "turn" to go "down a dark road from a Democratic perspective." Yes, Mrs. Clinton is "an historic figure" who has smashed the "glass ceiling" for future female candidates and all that. But, amazingly, Quindlen is all too blind as she writes:

When her husband pardoned Marc Rich, one supporter said it was no worse than what the Republicans had done in the past. That's not what I call a defence. And it's no kind of legacy for a woman as formidable as Hillary Clinton.
How can a person so intelligent as Quindlen not see that Bill and Hillary are apples and apples? Why, the Marc Rich pardon was no more controversial than the pardon controversies surrounding Hillary's brothers (Hugh and Tony) and her campaign treasurer (see discussion here). Is it possible that Quindlen has not heard of Hillary's involvement with outrageous pardons granted to the Hasidic Jews in New Square New York? Was Quindlen away on vacation when Mrs. Clinton did her own whiplash PR campaign in the aftermath of the FALN commutations - first calling on her husband to withdraw the clemency offer, then "reaching out" to angry community leaders that might cost her the election to the U.S. Senate? Every time Hillary Clinton said, "I don't know anything," and accepted envelopes that people put into her hands to pass along to high ranking government officials without asking any questions, it was perfect harmony to Bill's classic deposition gnosticism.

"Discipline" is just not the proper word to describe what is on display when the Clintons play politics. A disciplined candidate would have never even thought to be critical of Barack Obama for being associated with a former Weather Underground member. There was nothing in that territory for Mrs. Clinton but quick-sand and an instant rhetorical mauling. A disciplined candidate would have just sat back and kept the old mouth shut when Scooter Libby's prison sentence was commuted. But Mrs. Clinton just had to issue this statement:

Today's decision is yet another example that this Administration simply considers itself above the law. This case arose from the Administration's politicization of national security intelligence and its efforts to punish those who spoke out against its policies. Four years into the Iraq war, Americans are still living with the consequences of this White House's efforts to quell dissent. This commutation sends the clear signal that in this Administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice.
Oh the humanity! The horror! We're gonna need a bigger boat! For one brief moment, Ted Kennedy's post-Robert Bork nomination BS bomb had to take a back seat. There was a new champ. Mrs. Clinton was offended by the intersection of "cronyism and ideology" and the pardon power. Heavens! Forget about all of those pardons to Roger Clinton (Clinton's brother), Susan McDougal (Clinton's former business partner), Henry Cisneros (D- Clinton's HUD Secretary), Arnold Prosperi (who managed Clinton's student council president campaign in college), John Deutch (Clinton's CIA Director), John Fife Symington (who saved Clinton from drowning at a 60s beach party), Richard Riley Jr. (the son of Clinton's Education Secretary), Dan Rostenkowski (D) and Mel Reynolds (D)!

Yes, cronyism. Intolerable stuff!

It all demonstrates that Mrs. Clinton got much more than phenomenal name recognition, a hefty joint banking account and all of that political "experience" from her husband who - if you take a second to think about it - first catapulted himself to national prominence by talking and talking and talking, and not seeming to know when to shut up (while nominating Michael Dukakis at the Democratic National Convention). See Quindlen's full editorial here.

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