Foreword, April 28, 2016 The Modern Witch Hunt Continued
The Clintons may have the interesting status as having been perhaps the the two people in history who have had the most massively expensive, years long, witch hunt mounted against them without a single criminal accusation being proven or an indictment issued against them.
Not only a massively expensive and long witch hunt but a witch hunt using the willing participation of even the most respected and august organs of the media, those fully participating and cooperating. The New York Times can stand as the emblematic example of "respectable" media that lent an obviously cooperative hand to that effort. The Washington Post was, if anything, even worse. And that's the print media, radio and TV were the life blood of the thing. And, most of all, an effort which the federal government and to an unprecedented extent the courts dominated by Nixon, Reagan and Bush appointees, also participated. I recall that at the time the figure that Republicans in congress, alone, had spent more than $40,000,000 in public funds to "investigate" the accusations against the Clintons. I remember no charge was too obviously NOT a matter of illegality to be ridiculously investigated in the show trials of that decade, congressional hearings.
I listened to the House hearings into "travelgate" in which the Clintons were accused of replacing seven at-will employees in the White House Travel Office who had been openly operating as political enemies of the administration which was totally justified with firing them for merely being appointees of a Republican administration. Not only were there hearings in the House but also in the Senate, both of them controlled by Republicans, there was an extensive FBI investigation and a two-year investigation by the Republican witch hunter, Kenneth Starr, appointed by a Republican dominated special division of the D.C. Circuit Court, including the entirely politicized Republican thug in a black robe, David B. Sentelle, one of a number of Republican appointees on the bench who openly participated in that witch hunt.
I would go into detail, including the open use of members of the House and Senate, the Judiciary, appointees in federal positions such as the head of the FBI and others to use this NON-CRIME to rake up the corpse of Vincent Foster as part of the "travel gate" "issue", who years before committed suicide when the pressure of being hounded by the media and Republicans broke him early in the Bill Clinton administration. The repugnant Reverend Jerry Falwell had already made use of the suicide of Vincent Foster by, as part of his TV "ministry," peddling a video accusing Hillary Clinton of having had him murdered to cover up other phony scandals being invented and pushed by Republicans and the ever cooperative media.
People too young to remember those years should go look at just that one campaign of vilification and lies OVER AN ACTION WHICH WAS ENTIRELY LEGAL if they want to understand where their feelings of irrational unease and disrespect of Hillary Clinton were forged. The ongoing lie campaign against her began three decades ago. What they are doing is buying into that media fed and promoted campaign without even being aware of it. There is nothing subliminal about the message they were infected with except their unawareness of where it came from.
That is one part of the anger of the Anyone But Hillary side, the other is in the disappointment that she didn't do what they wanted her to do as a Senator and, later, as Secretary of State. I will grant that, just as every single other successful politician, she was unable to fulfill every rational hope and expectation hoped for by the left, even the left which supported her election. That's the topic of a post I wrote before the mid-term elections in 2006, reposted below, with some corrections. There is a post-script as well.
Look at it from the position of a liberal to moderately liberal politician. They've done the hard work of winning an election. For liberals in most places just winning the office is proof of an enormous commitment to social change.
A politician has a lot of different constituents, supporters and those who would like to turn them out of office. In a district without a safe majority the office holder has to consider all potential supporters and opponents, trying to figure out how to please supporters and not anger the others sufficiently for the office to be lost. No politician out of office can make good political change. Even a moderately wishy-washy politician can sometimes do good in office. If only by preventing someone worse from holding the office. There are few Democratic politicians who do not believe that they are in it for the general good. It would be unwise for anyone who has fought a hard campaign to win office to act in ways they know will lose it to someone who is reliably worse. Few of ours are so stupid.
Given these facts, what can the left do to make itself a stronger factor. What can we do to change the situation? First, we can face the truth about the left's political weakness and its causes. Here are two examples.
Nader took on the mantle of the left in the last three presidential elections, two times with the support of the Green Party, explicitly a party to the left of the Democratic Party. He openly played spoiler and helped put the worst president in our history into office in 2000. In his typically modest fashion he claimed credit for electing Democrats lower down on the ballot while accepting no responsibility for the disaster he brought about. The exercise was an attempt to "move the agenda". Then he tried to do the same thing in 2004, well after any sane person could see how well that had "moved the agenda". Rational Greens had had enough of him by then but some Nader cultists formed a rump effort. Though less of a problem, they were certainly no help. In other races similar actions of "the left" have been less than helpful in the effort to prevent right wing hacks from taking office. I believe it was Ronnie Dugger who once commented on the folly of the race that had put John Tower into office. Given this personification of "the left" as back-stabbing spoiler, is it any wonder that Democrats who hold office would be somewhat ambivalent about working with "the left"?
Politics contain an agreement between the candidates and the people who support them. They promise to promote issues in the agenda of the people who put them into office. A politician has to hold office to do that, out of office they are powerless to make real change. Any politician knows that the entire agenda of their supporters won't be put into effect. And their supporters have to accept that as a given. Sometimes there are conflicts in what supporters want. Choices have to be made on the basis of possibility and practicality. Democrats in office have a good excuse to be skeptical of the support of "the left" even as they try to do what is impossible in the present situation of total Republican control, hold the gains of the past. The frankly bratty response of many leftists to just about anything Democrats do, even as they hopelessly support bills and amendments closer to what "the left" wants, must give our politicians pause. Given our recent history and the present situation "the left's" insisting, beyond any connection with reality, on having it all does nothing to help the situation. Anyone who doesn't start off realizing that we are not going to get more than a part of what we want should consider it now.
Any thinking leftist supports the right of gay people to marry. It is a personal right and a matter of equality and basic decency. But there isn't a single right people have, the exercise of which isn't conditioned by the situation they find themselves in. Many rights are impossible to exercise due to societal attitudes that take years or longer to change. That is a sad but plain truth. When the state court in Massachusetts forced the implementation of that right a lot of us knew it was a disaster for real progress on all issues, despite our agreeing with the decision. By that time it was clear that John Kerry was going to be the nominee and that this issue would be used by religio-fascists to defeat him, making it impossible to remove the worst president in our history. The rights of lesbians and gay men, not only to marry but in all areas, would be hurt around the country by this decision. And Bush staying in office would also hurt the rights of countless others. Even the decision of the court seemed to be a temporary victory and could be overturned by the voters, something that for the president seems to be less of a danger than it did then. Our fears about every other issue involved have turned out to be entirely true.
Short of the most drastic emergency, no politician in their right mind will attempt to do the impossible and end their career in the process. A few leftists in safe seats, almost all who happen to be in the House, are able to push items that would spell political death for more moderate politicians. They provide a service to the truth but their ability to do more that raise the issues is limited by the public's acceptance of them. Unlike the Supreme Court, or at least the long gone Warren court, the legislative branch can't go beyond the electorate's acceptance to do the right thing.
The supreme example, the Warren court's civil rights decisions, were obviously not that far ahead of the possible. Truman's integration of the army and the fact that it hadn't been destroyed by it must have given them the confidence to do what they knew was right. But even those decisions contained language that made the process much more gradual than it should have been. Black children always had the right to attend any school but it was not possible for them to exercise that right before conditions in the entire country allowed them to do so with some safety. Lesbians and gay men have had the right to marry for just as long but the conditions which will allow the exercise of that right are not here right now for most of the country. The history of "marriage protection" laws around the country demonstrate that. It is worse than a waste of time to insist on our politicians falling on their swords over the issue, this year. It prevents them from winning elections, doing part of what we want and so really "moving the agenda". The self-defeating attempt to force them to do the impossible deflects us from the hard work of laying the essential groundwork in the general public.
Post Script 2016.
I had no reason to expect that the issue of gay marriage would catch on as quickly as it did and while, of course, I'm entirely thrilled to have had that happen, it isn't without its troubling aspects.
In a period when even more basic rights of black people, of Latinos seems to be going backward, under a similar hate campaign, I have to conclude that one of the reasons that gay marriage gained acceptance is the entirely wrong and irrational view of gay men and lesbians as being white, middle and upper class, white collar people. I suspect that is because that is the media and entertainment image of gay men and lesbians that is seen most often, it is the kind of gay man and lesbian who are personally known to and related to people with power in the media and in government and in the courts. While the issue of gay marriage is an issue of civil rights, rights which benefit black, Latino and other gay men and lesbians, that isn't the media image of it. What is unsettling is the timing AS COMPARED TO THE LINGERING RACISM OF THE MEDIA, THE POLITICAL CLASS AND THE COUNTRY. I think the timing of the gay marriage issue's becoming a settled, even unremarkable aspect of American culture is not unlike that of the advancement of Irish people, Jews and others who are mostly white while black people, Latinos and others, including Native Americans are not allowed to advance.
And I would include women in that group because in many ways the rights of women have stagnated, certainly for women who are not daughters of privilege and wealth. But even they are not allowed to aspire to the highest positions, even when proven to be massively qualified and competent, as Hillary Clinton has proven more than just about any previous contender for the presidency. I think a lot of the Anyone But Hillary feelings on the left are motivated by the fact that she is a woman. No doubt there will be many occasions in the coming months to point that out.
* And I'd ask why would someone BE NOTICING what someone else is doing while they are using a toilet? It would seem to me that these obsessive, even compulsive bathroom monitors are really voyeurs in our midst masquerading as those defending us from people who haven't seemed to have attacked anyone. Come to think of it, it's like the "voting fraud" issue where there is nothing there but political opportunity by the Republican-fascists to gain power so they can steal everything.