No Thank You, Hillary, I’ll Pass

Am I really the only liberal in the country who hasn’t already thanked, raised money for, supported, door-knocked for, voted for and attended the 2016 inauguration of Hillary Clinton as President?

I love these conventional wisdom commentators who are all saying the Democratic nod for president is Hillary’s if she wants it. Why? How come? Really?

Hillary for blogI’ve gotten emails every day for the last month saying “please sign this card for Hillary thanking her for her amazing superlative selfless saintlike damngood service to the country, the species and the universe.” It’s as if we’re all so greatly indebted to this masterwoman who lowered herself from her corporate board seats to serve poor drooling humanity one more time.

The latest is an email story from The Washington Post announcing a contest —  Help Hillary name her upcoming memoir. I’ve got a name for Hillary’s book that’s fitting — “ME!”

Let me step firmly off this bandwagon.

Carl Bernstein’s excellent and revealing 2007 biography of Clinton showed her to be soulless, a person driven by whatever is best for her. Measured, focus-grouped, a person whose core principles are all about advancing herself.

Has she done a good job a secretary of state? Yes. Has this been good service to the United States and world? Yes. Does she believe in and advocate for important causes, such as the empowerment of women worldwide? Yes. She, like all of us, is a complicated woman, a blend of selfish and selfless.

But what’s at her core? Watching her last week testifying before the Senate, reading — READING — her remarks about how she stood at Andrews Air Base and watched the coffins return from Benghazi and how she put her arms around the daughters and spouses showed her to be — hollow. Reading these remarks? Did she have margin notes — “Choke up just a little here…”?

This is the person who, in the 2008 campaign, when Republicans were attacking Barack Obama for not being American and for being Muslim, responded when asked about his religion — “As far as I know he’s a Christian.” What a profile in courage. The ugly sewer-level whispering about Obama was benefiting Hillary, so she was going to do the least required of her to deal with it. Compare this to what I’ve posted on this blog several times — Colin Powell excoriating his fellow Republicans for not stamping out this disgraceful canard.

Even my oldest brother, who can cherish a grudge like fine wine, says I have to let go and get over this. But I don’t think I will. Character, or its lack, shows through in key places in a person’s life, and I think with Hillary we’ve seen what we’ll get.

I don’t find her a compelling political leader nor a mind with great vision, as I’ve found Obama. She has a good shot at becoming the first female president — but should she be elected because she’s female? What’s the bumper sticker — “Not just any woman”? There are many women leaders in the country who would make better presidents, even if they would have a harder time getting elected.

But could Clinton get elected? I think her lack of character would show, as it did in the 2008 campaign. Against a genuine and passionate and younger Republican — she’d have great trouble.

But apparently I’m the only one who’s not waving a Hillary 2016 flag. I’m not ready for the restoration — I think it’s time to keep moving in the direction Obama is heading us.

— Bruce Benidt



(Image from NBC News

Of Ignorance, Courage and the Lack of It

Mississippi and Alabama Republican voters, half of them — half! — think President Obama is a Muslim.

We liberals find that appalling. Any flavor of human would, I think, find that horrifying.

But a vaunted liberal helped spread this ignorance. When Hillary Clinton, during her long primary contest with Obama, was asked if Obama is a Christian, she said, “As far as I know he’s a Christian.”

What a calculating, pusillanimous, inhuman answer. It was Clinton’s low point, as far as I was concerned. She chose political advantage over being a decent person. And when leaders don’t stand up, the rest of us have few examples.

Many of us liberals were, rightly I think, sickened by Mitt Romney’s and Rick Sanctimonious’s cowardly refusal to excoriate Rush Limbaugh for his wretched comments about Sandra Fluke. But did Hillary Clinton show any more courage than that when asked about Obama’s religion?

Want to see a man of courage, a decent man, dealing with something like this? Colin Powell, on Meet The Press, during that same 2008 campaign. He says he’s troubled by his party allowing it to be said that Obama is a Muslim. And then he says:

“The correct answer is he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian, he’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no — that’s not America.”

Would that more of our public figures had Powell’s courage and compassion. We might not be such a nation of ignorance.

(BTW, I use this clip — and it’s well worth watching the whole thing — with my clients to show the impact an example provides. Watch Powell tell the story of the Arlington headstone. It illustrates his point so compellingly.)

— Bruce Benidt

Mullet-Americans Rally Around Pawlenty

Mullet-Americans are “cautiously optimistic” about rumors that mulleted Minnesotan Tim Pawlenty may soon be named Senator John McCain’s vice presidential running mate.

“It would obviously be historic, and it could really balance the ticket, what with McCain’s embarassing lack of hair below the cervical vertebrae,” said mullet-American activist Billy Rae Cyrus.

Still reeling from the political demise of skullet-American Jesse Ventura and fem-mullet-American Hillary Clinton, mulleteers continue to claim Pawlenty as one of their own, despite allegations that he has recently scaled back on the party side of his do.

“Look, we understand that candidates have to ‘run to the middle’ in the general election,” said actress Florence Henderson. “Even I’ve had to moderate under pressure from the mainstream manes running the major studios. But we know Pawlenty will do the right thing once he gets in the White House.”

Mullet-Americans were once a proud and influential group in the 1980s, led by the likes of Ziggy Stardust, MacGyver, Michael Bolton, and Luke from General Hospital. But more recently, an ugly wave of mulletism pushed them into the margins of society.

“Great Clips has actually refused me service, and the ACLU just laughed about it,” said one mullet-American, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, due to fear for his safety. “It’s very emotional to think that some day I might see someone who looks like me attending obscure funerals and being appointed to toothless commissions.”

To understand the tremendous obstacles Pawlenty faces as he attempts to break through what many say is the highest and hardest glass ceiling, consider the hate speech directed at the mulleted minority: “Hockey hair, ten ninety, helmet hair, coupe Longueuil, haircut o’ death, neckwarmer, shorty longback, the 10-90, the Kentucky waterfall, the bi-level, the faded glory, the Ben Franklin, the Missouri Compromise, the Louisiana Purchase, the Camaro crash helmut, the business cut (business in front, party in the back), the LPGA, the soccer flip, the convertible, the Tennessee top hat, the Mississippi mudflap, the Canadian passport, the New Jersey neckwarmer, the Chattanooga choo choo, and the neck blanket.” In perhaps the ultimate insult to Minnesota’s Governor, the proud mullet is sometimes even referred to as “the Wisconsin waterfall.”

Though fossil records prove that homo sapiens with primative mullets have walked the Earth for at least 130,000 years, it was 2001 before the word “mullet” even appeared in dictionaries. The historical implications of a Pawlenty candidacy are not lost on beleaguered ape drape advocates.

“I do get emotional about it,” said Cyrus, whose own hind-heavy tresses have been referred to by mulletist hate groups as The Achy-Breaky Mistakie. “They can call us what they want, but come January, let’s just say there is going to be Pawlenty of hair facing east on the inaugural stage.”

– Loveland

Obama Goes To Black Father’s Day = Nixon Goes to China?

African American men are one of Barack Obama’s strongest constituencies. And yesterday, Father’s Day, he called them out about disproportionately high levels of asbsentee fatherhood among African American men.

This is tough stuff. This is akin to John McCain going to white seniors and lecturing them about the current structure of Social Security and Medicare threatening their grandchildren’s ability to retire in dignity. It’s like Hillary Clinton going to feminist activists and lecturing them about inadvertently fostering a culture of victimhood by occasionally overstating sexism to gain a personal advantage.

Make no mistake, Barack Obama stuck his political neck out here. Guts, or nuts?

There is a phrase used in politics, “only Nixon could have gone to China.” President Richard Nixon was able to politically survive negotiating with Chinese communists because of his staunch anti-communist street cred. Therefore, the reference “only Nixon could go to China” builds off that historical analogy to make the larger point that personal history dictates one’s relative credibility to be a messaging pioneer.

The son of an absentee black father went to an African American church yesterday in the same way Nixon went to China. Others would not have been heard in the same way. Others would have chosen the safer route with their strongest constituency, pandering rather than pushing. Others would not have survived politically.

All of us need to be pushed by our leaders. I need to hear about the need to sacrifice more in taxes to truly “support our troops,” so the fiscal pain for my generation’s wars are not pushed off onto my kids’ generation. I need to hear that my kids should be subject to military service as surely as other people’s kids, so I am not insulated from the pain and sacrifices associated with our foreign policy decisions. I need to hear that I’m not the “self-made” man I sometimes fancy myself to be, and that I need to do more to give back to the next generation in the same way past generations of taxpayer’s gave so much to me.

And I don’t hear enough of that from my leaders.

African American dads are hardly the only ones in America who need less pandering and more pushing. All leaders need to search their souls and ask themselves, “where is my ‘Nixon goes to China’ opportunity to say what really needs to be said?”

– Loveland

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Throw Back the Ring

(My wife, Lisa Dewey Joycechild, has been saying some intriguing things about Hillary Clinton, and I asked her to write her thoughts for the Crowd. -Bruce Benidt)

My 20-year-old Master’s Degree in Women’s Studies & I disagree with three of my friends and their Women’s Studies degrees about who to support for president. It’s been Barack Obama for me ever since I heard him at the 2004 Democratic convention and we ordered bumper stickers from a do-it-yourself website years ago. My three friends–two 51-year-olds and a 40-year-old, all white–are vehement about Hillary Clinton.

We’ll remain friends. And they’ll vote for Barack. But I’ve been surprised by what seems to me like their entrenchment. My 73-year-old mom (white, with a graduate degree) wants Hillary, too, but I get why she wistfully says, “I want to see a woman president in my lifetime.” I don’t get my friends.

I haven’t tried to change their minds and I’ve tried to understand them a little. One friend just kind of ominously insists that “the next president has to have a vagina.” One friend said the depth of her feeling surprises even her; that it feels like something ancient and righteous rising. The other friend said Hillary deflects sexism better than Barack deflects racism. I know why that’s important to my friend but as a big criteria for the presidency, it feels narrow.

To me, it’s simple: Barack’s the future. Or rather, he’s here today bearing the exact skills and perspectives needed to help us through the present and into the future. He’s the only one speaking that kind of language. I think it’s easy to recognize him because the essence of what he’s doing is getting us to lead ourselves.

And that’s the future.

He’s also effortlessly raised millions on the internet and draws tens of thousands of us to hear him speak, as though waiting in line for hours is a mini pilgrimage we’re happy to make. For me, the effortlessness and the tens of thousands are evidence that Barack is galvanizing something. Something that has heretofore looked invisible but is quite real and has been richly ripening. I think it’s our appetite for love and appreciation. And for the recognition that we co-create reality.

We’re famished for the radicalizing possibilities we feel (like, the possibility of true economic democracy) when somebody is able to tap the fact that it’s up to us to create the world and to create reality. Thereby introducing us to how powerful we each are. That’s what Barack does and that’s why he’s unstoppable. It’s because we’re unstoppable–people, human beings, our species–there’s nowhere else for us to go except into our next step in evolution, into the future, together.

Dominance is an evolutionary dead end, says my heroine Caroline Casey (who I got to hear at a conference last month). We need to focus on how not to polarize, on how not to have contempt, on how not to face off with each other–because those things serve “empire.” We need to “conjure the desirable world;” ask about everything we do whether it leaves us more “kinned” or more alienated; realize that if we can dream something up, we can dream it down–that it’s possible, like we’re air filters, to inhale our complicity in tyranny and exhale democracy. Barack animates all that for me. I don’t hear Clinton anywhere near those ideas.

Two weeks ago at my conference, seven world class astrologers on a panel about the U.S. presidential election unanimously chose Barack Obama to win–if, many of them cautioned, the will of the people prevails and the person actually voted for is also declared the winner and inaugurated. One panelist said Hillary’s chart shows a career crisis or collapse. Another said her chart is showing the end of a dream. One said Hillary’s chart may be indicating it’s time to retire from such an out-there public life and go do something “personal,” like Al Gore did after 2000.

Caroline Casey reminded us that the Lord of the Rings trilogy is about who wants the ring of power and who wants to throw it back into nature where it belongs. Even Galadreal is seduced by its tractor beam for a moment, and Hillary’s story represents that part of all of us that can’t quite let go of the ring yet.

Maybe tomorrow night or the next day some kind of dream will die for my friends and my mom who want Hillary. That may be sad. But to me it’s somehow an old-world dream and it needs to die. In the new present, where the ring and its power are returned to nature, everybody matters. “Equality is more radical than switching tyrants,” Caroline says. We conjure (con = with; jure = the law, natural law) the desirable world together. Just like Barack’s inviting us to do.

–Lisa Dewey Joycechild

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Vanity Fair Profile of Clinton (Bill) A Good Read

I don’t know how accurate it is (though it seems exhaustively reported) but Todd Purdum’s profile of the post-presidential Bill Clinton in the July Vanity Fair is an entertaining and thought-provoking read. It examines the – among many issues – the question of why President Clinton – who is one of the best political practitioners I’ve ever observed – could be so off-note so often during his wife’s campaign. Purdum doesn’t reach any conclusions on that point – or others including questions of affairs and suspect business dealings – but he does offer up some interesting theories and has lots of anecdotes.

One of the most interesting things, however, about the piece is its timing, coming as it has at the very end of the primary campaign and past the point where it could possibly change the course of the nomination contest. Did VF restrain itself on that point or did it do so in the face of pressure, presumably from the Clinton camp? I doubt we’ll ever know, but if I’d been in the HRC war room and known this story was being developed I would have fought hard to kill it and failing that (which I would have 99 times out of 100) worked even harder to delay it (more possibility there).

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