After Hillary’s speech this weekend I was sitting in a sushi bar in Manhattan (Hatsuhana at 48th and Madison, which I highly recommend) reflecting, with the help of excellent saki, on her failed campaign. I had misgivings about her from the start, because I believed her main problem was not misogyny, although there was some of that, but rather a more a serious character flaw. Soon after Obama announced his candidacy he passed her on the Senate floor and gently touched her arm, an act, if not of friendship, at least of courtesy. She ignored him, cutting him dead and walking away. To me it showed her sense of anger contempt towards him for having the temerity to run against her when she considered herself the pre-ordained Democratic nominee.
To me it was nothing new for Hillary and Bill. On the night of the first Clinton inaugural they held an event at the White House attended by President and Mrs Carter. The senior statesman of the Democratic Party and its only living former president was deliberately seated by the Clintons six rows back in the audience. Despite acknowledging many of those attending, Clinton failed to mention Carter’s presence, ignored him for the entire evening and in his remarks talked about how much he admired Ronald Reagan who had defeated Carter. Subsequently Clinton, with the exception of Warren Christopher who was more a foreign policy bureacrat than a Carter supporter, failed to a appoint to his administration anyone who had served in a senior position under President Carter. Republicans continuously enhanced the strength of their party maintaining continuity from one Republican administration to the next by rewarding life-time party loyalists with new appointments. The Clintons set out to destroy everything that had preceded them. The new Democratic Party would begin with the Clintons alone as though nothing had existed before them.
Hillary took on healthcare not withstanding the fact that she had little knowledge of the field. She put together a sizable committee to work with her which included not a single physician ( can you imagine a committee to deal with legal reform that included no lawyers). She also failed to consult with the many people, myself included, who had worked on national health care issues under Carter. Admittedly we failed, but we had a great deal of knowledge about how to avoid the pitfalls that had tripped us up which we were happy to pass on. In 1992 there were a number of distinguished people still in Washington who had secured the passage of MEDICARE and MEDICAID under President Johnson and they were similarly ignored. At that time I attributed these shortcomings to ignorance and inexperience. I later came to realize that the Hillary was determined to see she received exclusive credit for her health plan and to insure that no one else would share the limelight. The poorly conceived hodge podge she ended up with went nowhere. The bottom line is that because of Hillary’s ineptitude and narcissism the opportunity was blown and American’s have now gone another fifteen years without adequate health insurance.
The nature and style of campaigns very much reflect the personality of the candidate they are serving. Like Obama his campaign seems to be smooth, and well-organized, with deep loyalty to the common cause. By contrast the Clinton campaign has been characterized by destructive in-fighting, self-indulgent opportunism, poor strategy and worse management. The arrogance of Hillary set the tone for her campiagn. In the Sunday, June 8th, New York Times, Peter Baker and Jim Rutenberg wrote:
“As she flew from town halls to rallies on the road, she did little to stop the infighting back home among the advisers who nursed grudges from their White House days. The aids grew distracted from battling Senator Barack Obama while they hurled expletives at one another, stormed out of meetings and schemed to get one another fired.”
All politicians are by nature egotistical but the better ones see running for elective office as an opportunity to acquire enough power to make a lasting difference in society and in people’s lives. Although both Clintons are not without significant altrusitic accomplishment they are both to a large extent arrested in the first stage of the process. Excessive ego-gratification, holding on to power, the accumulation of finacial wealth, adulation and swimming in the limelight are seen as ends in themselves.
After Hillary finally conceded defeat and urged, with all the right words, her followers to work for Obama. The latter had little choice but to show gracious appreciation and express his eagerness to involve both Clintons in the general election campaign. But he would be mad to take her on the ticket. I believe she (and Bill) do not want him to win and will use the general election campaign to advance her own interests not Obama’s. They will make a sufficient show of support to insure that she is not accused of contributing to his loss if he were to lose. I was struck that in her concession speech while urging support for Obama she did not mention the name of McCain and the dire prospects for the country if he were to be elected. Does she not want to antagonize someone that she will have to work with in the future in the Senate or was she just going through the motions but at the same time not willing to lend the clout of her position against McCain leaving the door open for a segment of her supporters to defect to him?
The bottom line is that the Clintons are for themselves, not the party, not any other candidate and by implication not much for the longterm welfare of the country. Barack Obama should beware of Hillary Clinton.