Michelle Goldberg writing in a recent edition of “The Nation” (1) tried to answer the question “can Hillary win over the left?” Citing Clinton Administration era campaign rhetoric and Hillary’s vote against ratification of the Central American Free Trade Agreement in order to establish her left-leaning bona fides, Goldberg ends up quoting Saru Jayaraman, cofounder of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, a group seeking fair wages for workers in the industry on why, in the end, she is supporting Hillary:
“The fact that she’s a woman, the fact that gender equality and income inequality are going to be two of the key issues of the campaign [wages for tipped workers] really fits into the nexus of those two issues” Jayaraman says”’. (2)
The fact that she’s a woman…therein lies the final justification.
But this essay was written in the summer and another season is fast approaching. Political columnist Karen Tumulty reported in yesterday’s Washington Post that the latest polls show deeply troubling trends for the Clinton camp. In a piece entitled “Clinton’s Support Erodes Sharply Among Democratic Women (3) it is becoming clear that Hillary can no longer base her campaign on gender issues.
Citing numbers in a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, an ‘alarm siren’ should be, says Tumulty, going off in the Clinton campaign. In just the last 8 weeks, according to the numbers, Hillary’s support among Democratic-leaning female voters has dropped an astounding 29 percentage points; down from a high of 71% to a mere 42 % now. Moreover the steepest decline has been among white female voters, down to levels where she has now nearly lost her gender advantage, polling almost equally between white males and females. As a result, reports Tumulty “Clinton’s once-commanding lead over Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Vice President Biden, who is considering joining the race, has been cut by two-thirds…The poll suggests”, Tumulty concludes, “that the historical significance of Clinton’s campaign is being overtaken by other forces”(4)
The email scandal has certainly been corrosive. Defenders rightly maintain that Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice did government business using personal emails and servers, and that the applicable law was enacted after she left office. But her reaction to demands that she produce the ‘evidence’ brought back all-too-many memories of the lost Rose Law Firm documents surrounding the ‘Whitewater’ scandals, as well as memories of the previous Clinton tenure in the White House. Not being completely forthcoming and nitpicking by using legal formalisms does not endear one to the voting public; a public that has grown weary of parsing language, obfuscations, and outright evasions. Her reactions have simply played into America’s deepest suspicions about the Clintons, including the veracity of their public commitment to political action.
As a case in point, Goldberg in her article in the Nation quotes Clinton White House operative James Carville in an exchange with the other Clinton-anointed guru Dick Morris about Hillary’s then plans for Health Care:
‘“Mystified, he [Morris] went to James Carville: “what’s with all this liberalism?”
“These fucking liberals are all over the place!” exploded Carville, They are like water damage. They seep in.”’ (5)
Supporters see Carville and Morris as foils against whom Hillary has burnished her progressive liberal bona fides. I prefer to see it in another light. Morris, a political hack who worked primarily on Republican campaigns before he worked with Clinton and after he left the White House in disgrace, and Carville seen here revealing behind closed doors his real proclivities, were both central to the rise of Bill and Hillary Clinton on the national stage. The fact that the Clintons not only employed them but assiduously sought their counsel and acted upon it betrays the sincerity of their public proclamations concerning commitment to a real progressive agenda; for here, in a nutshell, one gains a glimpse into the soul of a Clinton administration. This is what lies behind the deep suspicions concerning the trustworthiness of Hillary Clinton, an issue magnified by her tepid response to pressures to be forthcoming—including her reluctance to hold news conferences and submit to press scrutiny. The result, as Tumulty reports in interviews with various Democratic operatives about the country, is that many Democrats and especially many Democratic women want to see a woman elected President of the United States. The problem for Hillary, as the recent polls so clearly demonstrate, is that a growing number of women question whether Hillary is the right woman for the job.
Besides, has anyone noticed that the arrow on the Hillary’s campaign logo is pointing to the right?
- Goldberg, Michelle. “Can Hillary Win Over the Left?” “The Nation” September 14/21, 2015 pages 13-18
2. Ibid. pg. 18
5. Op. Cit.