Nothing became Barack Obama like his predecessor. As I wrote at the time: “His election might not be the Second Coming, but to pursue the eschatological metaphor, it would mark the end of the reign of the Anti-Christ.” However, despite the fawning press from the liberal punditocracy, if Obama disappointed you, just wait until you see Hillary Clinton. We are talking Tony Blair with boobs here.
Rarely can there have been a power couple more convinced of their self-importance than the Clintons, but within that couple it was Hillary who had more the messiah complex and stiffened the back of the invertebrate Bill when he wobbled in his fervor, as he so often did.
She stood by her man, and behind him, almost certainly urging him to “Do the right thing” to get the couple into the White House. That included flying back from the campaign trail to Arkansas as governor to sign the execution warrant for Ricky Ray Rector, the brain-injured condemned man who proved his unfitness for execution by saying Clinton seemed a nice guy – and asked to save the dessert from his last meal until afterwards. She was also an active partner in throwing black academic Lani Guinier to the neo-con wolves when they ran a campaign against her as a “quota queen”. Guinier had proposed a multi-member constituency system to allow minority representation without the ludicrous gerrymandering that blights American democracy. Nominated for an office by Clintons, her old friends, when the Wall Street Journal weighed in against her, they cut her loose politically and professionally.
Much praised for her forbearance in agreeing to work with Obama when he so unforgivably defeated her, such forgiveness did not extend to defectors from her camp. It is clear that there is a little mental black book waiting for payback time for them. Bill Richardson, one of the more principled Clinton appointees, was saying only recently that his card was still marked, six years after he had endorsed Obama – and had had the decency to call Hillary to tell her what he was going to do. “Let me tell you”, he said then, “we’ve had better conversations.”
Hillary was notoriously responsible for making sure that the insurance companies got their pound of flesh in the Clinton healthcare proposals – and so bears some vicarious responsibility for excluding the single payer NHS option from Obamacare. After all, insurance companies are major healthcare donors. She backed her husband when the took huge steps to demolish FDR’s New Deal by supporting “welfare reform” that penalised poor and working families and put lifetime limits on unemployment benefits. She supported him as he rewrote the regulatory framework to allow the banks which had supported his campaigns so lavishly to reshape the financial system in ways that brought about the economic crash. And we are supposed to forget all this because it might end up with a president who, very occasionally, wears a skirt? Personally, I would rather have Prince Charles in a kilt.
The brouhaha about her is drowning out much more substantial candidacies on the left. Senator Elizabeth Warren has an appreciation for what is wrong with the country, and knows more is needed than just getting an ambitious and self-serving female in office. She challenges the neo-liberal consensus, embraced by Hillary, which has led to disaster for the 99 per cent. And, beyond tokenism, Bernie Sanders is one of the few honest men to enter Capitol Hill and has the populist credentials to take on the Tea Party on its own ground with working-class and middle-class victims.
Choosing between a Hillary endorsed by oodles of expedient Wall Street cash and a Republican backed with crazed ideological money from the far right will be a tough choice.