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Fri Oct 16, 2015, 01:54 PM

Hillary’s debate performance failed to allay any of my concerns about her candidacy

(Posted originally as a Facebook note.)

[font size=6]Hillary’s debate performance failed to allay any of my concerns about her candidacy[/font]

[font size=2 color="gray"]Mark Kessinger · Friday, October 16, 2015[/font]

Mainstream media pundits are insistent that Hillary Clinton “won” the first 2016 Democratic presidential debate, despite dozens of informal polls of viewers that gave the night to Sanders. I will concede that most of these polls were unscientific, and thus cannot necessarily be considered to be reliable indicators of the public perception; but at the same time, when so many polls – informal though they may be – lean in one direction, it certainly gives one reason to question whether the pundits’ analyses are entirely accurate. So, in the end, I am left with only my own, subjective reactions to the candidates’ debate performances, combined with what I know of their individual histories, to form a basis for my own evaluation of the candidates.

As a progressive Democrat, I have had serious reservations about Hillary’s candidacy all along. I support Bernie Sanders for the nomination (even if he is thought by many to be a long shot). But I have said repeatedly, and I still say, that should Hillary win the nomination, I will vote for her in the general election. (But then, what else could I do? Any of the concerns I have concerning a Hillary Clinton presidency are only magnified – ten-fold – when it comes to any of the potential GOP nominees. In the end, elections come down to choices among a set of flawed choices, and I’m not an idiot.)

If the measure of debate performances is style and polish, then sure, Hillary won hands down. I have never doubted (nor, do I think, have many others) that Hillary is anything other than a consummate political pro: of course she is – to a fault. But my reservations about her as a presidential candidate have never been about any lack of polish or inability to present herself. Rather, my concerns have been issues of substance: that is to say, what are her actual views on issues, what drives those views, if certain presently held positions conflict with past ones, when and why did those views change, and where do her commitments lie, based not only on her present statements, but on her history. Specifically, I have been troubled by (1) her past eagerness to support military interventions (something I think this country has been overly willing to engage in), (2) her long-standing ties to big business and to Wall Street, and (3) her past close identification with the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), s group founded in 1985 and dissolved in 2011 (many of its members are today knows as “Third Way” Democrats, that led the party to the right in the 1990s and early 2000s, away from its historical commitments to labor, to minorities and to the poor, and towards a more corporate- and Wall Street- friendly footing. It is the corporatist wing of the Democratic Party.

I went into the debate really hoping, given Hillary’s position as frontrunner and presumptive nominee, that I would hear something from her that would help to allay those concerns. Unfortunately, I heard no such thing. If anything, her responses during the debate only highlighted and underscored them.

At the outset of the debate, Anderson Cooper pressed her about the widely held perception that she changes her views according to whatever is politically expedient to her at any given moment, citing, as one example, her shift on the subject of gay marriage (in less than a year, she went from being opposed to gay marriage to supporting it, and has never offered any explanation of the rapid shift). Hillary didn’t address the example, but adamantly insisted that she has always been absolutely consistent in taking positions that were based on her “values.” Ironically, though, in defending her ‘consistent’ record, she cited an example of her own – the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement, or TPP – and in so doing, misrepresented her own past support of the agreement. In the debate, Hillary said:

You know, take the trade deal. I did say, when I was secretary of state, three years ago, that I hoped it would be the gold standard. It was just finally negotiated last week, and in looking at it, it didn't meet my standards. My standards for more new, good jobs for Americans, for raising wages for Americans.


The only problem with that is that, as Secretary of State, speaking at a Technet conference in Adelaide, Australia. she didn’t say she “hoped” the TPP “would become” the gold standard. In those remarks, she said:

This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field.


Note the absence of any language about future hopes of what the TPP would become. Many of the most controversial aspects of the TPP were leaked in November of 2013. Now, is it possible that all of the controversial provisions were inserted between the time she left her job as Secretary of State on February 1, 2013, and the date on which Wikileaks obtained parts of a working draft of the document? Sure, it's possible. Almost anything is possible. But these are significant provisions we are talking about, so it’s not bloody likely! And note the vagary of her (now purported) objection: "it didn't meet my standards." What the hell does that mean? It tells us absolutely nothing about which provisions she opposes and why – and that is critically important information. Hillary’s response, which was no doubt a masterful example of political spin, nevertheless doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in her honesty.

Later in the debate, when asked whether she could support Sanders’ call to expand Social Security, Hillary responded:

I want to enhance the benefits for the poorest recipients of Social Security. We have a lot of women on Social Security, particularly widowed and single women who didn't make a lot of money during their careers, and they are impoverished, and they need more help from the Social Security system.

And I will focus -- I will focus on helping those people who need it the most. And of course I'm going to defend Social Security. I'm going to look for ways to try to make sure it's solvent into the future.


Read that quote very carefully, and understand what she is implying. I believe it is a veiled reference to means-testing for Social Security – something the DLC/Third Way Democrats have long advocated. (I, and I think most Democrats, oppose means-testing for Social Security for the simple reason that once you means test it, you turn it into another entitlement program, subject to the whim or largesse of voters and/or their elected representatives.)

As for her tendency towards hawkishness, again, she said nothing that addressed my concerns. Indeed, she advocated for a much more muscular foreign policy than that of Obama. Great – still more military interventions to look forward to.

I was also very disturbed by the way Hillary casually mentioned – almost as if it were self-evident – that “the Iranians” were among the list of enemies she is most proud of having made. At a time when the war drums have been banging for a war with Iran , that is a very disturbing statement indeed.

There were a couple of other things Hillary said that raised red flags for me. Asked about Sanders’ call for expanding the social safety net for families along the lines of Scandinavian countries, Hillary responded.

But we are not Denmark. I love Denmark. We are the United States of America. And it's our job to rein in the excesses of capitalism so that it doesn't run amok and doesn't cause the kind of inequities we're seeing in our economic system.”

The notion that capitalism can be reined in is one of the enduring illusions of our time. As economist Richard Wolff has pointed out, we might – might, not will – succeed in reining it in for a time, but under our present system of campaign financing, and so long as the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling stands, any success on that front will be temporary at best. But beyond that, it strikes me that the statement, “We are not Denmark, we are the United States of America,” displays an attitude that is all too common in this country, and which often prevents us from finding solutions to some of the problems we confront: the notion that we, in the U.S., have absolutely nothing to learn from the experience other nations. It’s an attitude that may play well among some voters, but which also lies very close to the core of our national dysfunction.

Finally, I was outraged and appalled by Hillary ‘s comments about Edward Snowden. The n9tion that he could have been granted whistleblower protections – protections which have been thoroughly elusive to other prominent whistleblowers – is a fiction.

Hillary is, to be sure, better by a long shot than any Republican alternative. But let’s be honest: that’s a really low bar. Surely we can, and I sincerely hope we will, do better.

13 replies, 918 views

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Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
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Arrow 13 replies Author Time Post
Reply Hillary’s debate performance failed to allay any of my concerns about her candidacy (Original post)
markpkessinger Oct 2015 OP
cosmicone Oct 2015 #1
markpkessinger Oct 2015 #3
cosmicone Oct 2015 #4
markpkessinger Oct 2015 #5
markpkessinger Oct 2015 #6
markpkessinger Oct 2015 #7
cosmicone Oct 2015 #10
SamKnause Oct 2015 #2
Tierra_y_Libertad Oct 2015 #8
markpkessinger Oct 2015 #9
wyldwolf Oct 2015 #11
Armstead Oct 2015 #12
Live and Learn Oct 2015 #13

Response to markpkessinger (Original post)


Response to cosmicone (Reply #1)

Fri Oct 16, 2015, 02:17 PM

3. Excuse me?

It was my own Facebook post! I shared it here, not representing it as anything other than my own post, and hence, my own opinion. This is a discussion site, where people post opinions every single day about every single post. If I had written on DU's interface, rather than Facebook's would that have changed anything?

Oh, and if you want to take issue with any factual assertions in the piece, by all means, be my guest.

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Response to markpkessinger (Reply #3)

Fri Oct 16, 2015, 02:23 PM

4. My apologies. I missed that part. n/t

 

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Response to cosmicone (Reply #4)

Fri Oct 16, 2015, 02:27 PM

5. Apology accepted.

Thanks.

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Response to markpkessinger (Reply #5)


Response to cosmicone (Reply #4)

Fri Oct 16, 2015, 04:44 PM

7. Again, thanks for the apology. I do have one question, though . . .

. . . Assuming the Facebook posting in my OP had not been my own -- say it had been a friend's posting -- how would that have made it any different? I mean, there is nothing in the text of the piece that purports to be "authoritative," and neither did I represent it as such in my posting here. I made clear in the last sentence of the first paragraph that the observations were subjective. And people in the the two General Discussion forums share things all the time that were written by others. Merely sharing something here doesn't make it authoritative, and neither does it represent any assertion on the part of a DU poster that he or she regards it as such. So, even given that you missed the fact that it was my own post, I really fail to see how your reaction to it represented anything other than a knee-jerk dismissal purportedly because it appeared on Facebook, but really motivated by our respective difference of political opinion.

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Response to markpkessinger (Reply #7)

Fri Oct 16, 2015, 09:34 PM

10. Facebook postings have no quality control

 

no fact checking and no corroborations. When editorializing, facebook doesn't have senior editors for a vetting process. So anything and everything can be other people's facebook posts and the author may be known to you but to everyone else it is just another post trying to go viral.

Your post was well written and well thought out -- so it wasn't one of those "Cockroach sings national anthem" types but I felt like you were circulating propaganda and trying to make it go viral like many Bernie supporters have done before. I had a reflex reaction - I didn't see that your DU ID and the author's name were same so I apologized and deleted my post.

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Response to markpkessinger (Original post)

Fri Oct 16, 2015, 02:07 PM

2. K&R

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Response to markpkessinger (Original post)

Fri Oct 16, 2015, 04:46 PM

8. If you enjoy platitudes rather than statements, Hillary is a winner.

 

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Response to Tierra_y_Libertad (Reply #8)

Fri Oct 16, 2015, 08:00 PM

9. Indeed! n/t

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Response to markpkessinger (Original post)

Fri Oct 16, 2015, 09:38 PM

11. thank you for your concern

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Response to markpkessinger (Original post)

Fri Oct 16, 2015, 09:40 PM

12. Good post

 

Pretty much sums up what I (and many others) feel.

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Response to markpkessinger (Original post)

Fri Oct 16, 2015, 09:44 PM

13. K&R Good post. nt

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