“‘She never had anything to with it,’ Clay said. ‘I just don’t think you ought to play games with that kind of stuff.’” As a follow-up to Clinton’s previous exaggerations on the matter, former Representative William Lacey Clay, who helped steer the Family and Medical Leave Act to passage in 1993, says Clinton had nothing to do with it. “All we needed was a president to sign it. The president signed it, and we’re grateful for that but there was no lobbying by him or her.”
Hey all. Well, I’m sure many of you are as sick of reading about this lingering primary season as I’m getting to be about writing on it. At this point, my feelings about the Clinton campaign and the dwindling band of dead-enders lingering around her failed candidacy have gone from disbelief to disgust to a sort of exhausted aversion: It’s unsightly and hard to watch, and not only because so many Clinton supporters online have been leaving the reality-based community in droves. Like a fatally wounded snake, the campaign is still writhing, hissing, and lashing out by reflex, seemingly unaware that its time came and went weeks ago.
But, the news is the news, and I did promise to keep following it. So, if you, like me, took a break over the Easter weekend, here is the most recent litany of outrages. (Of course, at this late date, you’ll probably only find these outrageous if you haven’t been following along for the past few months…)
Obama supporter Gen. Tony McPeak has been taking some flak for likening this questioning of Obama’s patriotism to the antics of Senator Joe McCarthy, but, let’s be honest, what else would you call it? It’s definitely in the same ballpark. Since time immemorial, arguing against one’s opponent’s patriotism has been the last refuge of a scoundrel, and as sure a sign as any that a political campaign is wheezing its last. And Clinton, of course, knows this firsthand, since he was on the receiving end of a similar smear in 1992. In short, the president has shamed himself and his legacy yet again.
I’m not at all surprised Carville is “Stickin’” with the Clinton campaign well past its expiration date — It’s his nature, and you can’t teach an old Clinton yellow-dog new tricks. But he’s dead wrong on this one, and given that he more than anyone else should be able to see the writing on the wall, politically speaking, he really should be working to bring the party back together, not continuing to poison the well with badly thought-out religious metaphors. (And if saying thus make me a “Judas” in his eyes, well, so be it…although I’d prefer to think of myself as a Jack Burden.)
Update: “I think the statement had the desired effect. It was what I said.” Carville talks Judas on CNN, and, as I suspected, he seemed to think it just all part of the game: “‘I doubt if Governor Richardson and I will be terribly close in the future,’ he said, but ‘I’ve had my say…I got one in the wheelhouse and I tagged him.’” What Carville seems to be ignoring here is that, tag or not, the game is already over, and Obama is the one going to the Series. So it’s a little late to be throwing the chin music.
“In campaign speeches, Clinton describes the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, as an initiative ‘I helped to start.’…But the Clinton White House, while supportive of the idea of expanding children’s health, fought the first SCHIP effort, spearheaded by Senators Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, because of fears that it would derail a bigger budget bill. And several current and former lawmakers and staff said Hillary Clinton had no role in helping to write the congressional legislation, which grew out of a similar program approved in Massachusetts in 1996.“
Here’s one I missed from a few days ago. As she did with foreign policy and the FMLA, it seems, Sen. Clinton has apparently been widely exaggerating her role in the creation of SCHIP. “McDonough, a Democrat who has not endorsed a presidential candidate, also said it was Kennedy who developed the SCHIP idea after that meeting. ‘I don’t recall any signs of Mrs. Clinton’s engagement,’ McDonough said.”
“I think the only ‘red-phone’ moment was: ‘Do we eat here or at the next place.‘” As you may recall, Sen. Clinton’s recent touting of her commanding foreign policy bona fides hit a snag when it turned out not only that she was lying about the particulars on several trips, but that her big Kosovo excursion was taken with those wily diplomatic veterans, Sheryl Crow and Sinbad. (If you frequent Talking Points Memo, one wag (no, not idiotic, although he’s funny too) has been having a good deal of fun with this over the past week or so.)
Well, now the real Sinbad has gotten involved, and his critique of Clinton’s account of that trip is pretty devastating. ““I never felt that I was in a dangerous position. I never felt being in a sense of peril…In her Iowa stump speech, Clinton also said, ‘We used to say in the White House that if a place is too dangerous, too small or too poor, send the First Lady.’ Say what? As Sinbad put it: ‘What kind of president would say, ‘Hey, man, I can’t go ’cause I might get shot so I’m going to send my wife…oh, and take a guitar player and a comedian with you.“‘”
Update: If you don’t want to take Sinbad’s word for it, how about Greg Craig, the director of Policy Planning for the State Dept. during the Clinton years? He completely eviscerates Clinton’s claims to foreign policy experience in a memo this morning: “There is no reason to believe…that [Sen. Clinton] was a key player in foreign policy at any time during the Clinton Administration. She did not sit in on National Security Council meetings. She did not have a security clearance. She did not attend meetings in the Situation Room. She did not manage any part of the national security bureaucracy, nor did she have her own national security staff. She did not do any heavy-lifting with foreign governments, whether they were friendly or not. She never managed a foreign policy crisis, and there is no evidence to suggest that she participated in the decision-making that occurred in connection with any such crisis. As far as the record shows, Senator Clinton never answered the phone either to make a decision on any pressing national security issue – not at 3 AM or at any other time of day.” (He then goes on to refute her claims country by country. Pretty damning stuff.)
“By now, we all know how over-hyped are Hillary claims about her foreign policy experience – including her claims that she negotiated peace treaties and opened borders. But there’s also hype in her claims about domestic policy.” Some enterprising dKos’ers look at the timeline and find Sen. Clinton had basically nothing to do with passing the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The bill, originally penned in 1986 by Sen. Chris Dodd, had already been passed and vetoed twice under Papa Bush. It was then set up to go by the Democratic Congress upon Clinton’s entering office (it was HR.1 and S. 1 respectively), and was signed into law, as a fait accompli, only sixteen days after inauguration day.
Update: Former House member William Lacey Clay notes: “‘She never had anything to with it. I just don’t think you ought to play games with that kind of stuff.’“
“It was her coming that helped. But she had absolutely no role in the dirty work of negotiations…This had nothing to do with her competence.” The Chicago Tribune delves into Clinton’s dubious claims of foreign policy experience and finds not only that she has little to none, but that she is basically lying about what she’s accomplished. “Pressed in a CNN interview this week for specific examples of foreign policy experience that has prepared her for an international crisis, Clinton claimed that she ‘helped to bring peace’ to Northern Ireland and negotiated with Macedonia to open up its border to refugees from Kosovo.“
Let’s take ‘em one by one. Regarding Ireland, historian Tim Pat Coogan refers to Clinton’s role as “part of the stage effects, the optics, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lord Trimble today called Clinton’s claims “silly”: “I don’t want to rain on the thing for her but being a cheerleader for something is slightly different from being a principal player.” The Telegraph digs up coverage of the one meeting Clinton attended in Belfast, and it wasn’t exceptionally hard-hitting. In fact, it was a photo-op. “Conversation ‘seemed a little bit stilted, a little prepared at times’ and Mrs Clinton admired a stainless steel tea pot, which was duly given to her, for keeping the brew ‘so nice and hot’.” The Kitchen Debate, it wasn’t.
Regarding Macedonia and Kosovo, that border was opened the day before Senator Clinton arrived. Update: The picture above is from Clinton’s Kosovo trip. As you can see, part of her delicate negotiations to get this already-open border opened involved singing with Chelsea, Sheryl Crow, and some poor military officials forced to humor the wife of the Commander in Chief.
As TPM’s Josh Marshall aptly summed up, “Let’s get real and admit that Hillary Clinton is getting the free ride of all free rides on her repeated invocations of foreign policy experience.“
“The point is not that experience is pointless but that it needn’t be in politics to be useful. John McCain’s years as a P.O.W. gave him an understanding of torture and a moral authority to discuss it that no amount of Senate hearings ever could have conferred. In the same way, Mr. Obama’s years as an antipoverty organizer give him insights into one of our greatest challenges: how to end cycles of poverty.” LIke Tim Noah, the NYT’s Nicholas Kristof argues Clinton’s claims of superior “experience” don’t hold up. “[T]he presidential candidate left standing with the greatest experience by far is Mr. McCain; if Mrs. Clinton believes that’s the criterion for selecting the next president, she might consider backing him.To put it another way, think which politician is most experienced today in the classic sense, and thus — according to the ‘experience’ camp — best qualified to become the next president. That’s Dick Cheney. And I rest my case.”
“Clinton’s claim to superior experience isn’t merely dishonest. It’s also potentially dangerous should she become the nominee. If Clinton continues to build her campaign on the dubious foundation of government experience, it shouldn’t be very difficult for her GOP opponent to pull that edifice down. That’s especially true if a certain white-haired senator now serving his 25th year in Congress (four in the House and 21 in the Senate) wins the nomination. McCain could easily make Hillary look like an absolute fraud who is no more truthful about her depth of government experience than she is about why her mother named her “Hillary.” Dennis Kucinich has more government experience than Clinton. (He also has a better health-care plan, but we’ll save that for another day.)“
So…now that we’ve (hopefully) stepped back from the abyss of identity politics, where does that leave us? Ah, yes, hope vs. experience. Well, drawing on this NYT story of several weeks ago, Slate‘s Tim Noah argues that Clinton’s claims of superior experience just don’t hold up, and particularly once you factor in John McCain. “Oh, please. Thirty-five years takes you back to 1973, half of which Hillary spent in law school, for crying out loud. I don’t mean to denigrate her professional experience…But in government, Clinton’s chief role over the years has been that of kibitzer.” Update: Speaking of Dennis Kucinich, he’s back in tomorrow’s Nevada debate. Update 2: Nope, he’s out again, by decision of the Nevada Supreme Court.