Supporting the Iraq War was not the practical decision, as far as the United States was concerned. Clinton's decision to authorize war ultimately cost the U.S. trillions, further destabilized the strategically-crucial Middle East, and led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of American soldiers. Sad!
Supporting the financial industry before 2006 was not the practical decision as far as the United States was concerned. Clinton's decision to stand with Wall Street in view of past recessions and scandals led directly to one of the great economic disasters since the Great Depression. In the process, this already-on-its-own-merits-impractical decision had staggering implications that we're living with today: The crash economically disenfranchised a whole generation, devastated the wealth held by blacks and Hispanics, and let the beast of fascism burst through the creaking door. Sad!
Supporting welfare reform and mass incarceration during the Clinton administration was not the practical decision as far as the United States was concerned. As Doug Henwood shows repeatedly in My Turn, Hillary and Bill form an tag-team, politically, and both of these measures were classics of the DLC triangulation genre the Clintons pioneered together. So it's totally on the table even if you don't buy that she bears direct responsibility for Bill's presidency. In any case, millions of single mothers had their livelihoods taken away and went into severe poverty and low-wage employment as a result of welfare reform. From a fiscal perspective, this was probably helpful, as there were now tons of fathers newly in prison who suddenly needed food, shelter, and health care. Sad!
All of the above were catastrophes that set the United States back years or even decades without an obvious corresponding benefit, and in all cases, Clinton gave her enthusiastic support to the wrong side. Plenty of writers who specialized in the financial industry knew how unstable and prone to recession and collapse it was. Plenty of foreign journalists were critiquing the Iraq War with criticisms that, in retrospect, were often laughably tame and understated. And everyone knew what welfare reform and mass incarceration actually meant. Sad!
But even as far as her own interests are concerned, it's fair to question what all these accumulated disasters--which count as signature Clinton achievements--are actually doing to help her politically nowadays. Arguably, her support for the Iraq War cost her both the nomination and the presidency in 2008. Barack Obama ran a brilliant campaign, but even Obama might have come up short if he couldn't differentiate himself so easily on the biggest debacle of the previous decade. Sad!
Now that the other party might just nominate a bigoted, racist fascist, it's perhaps time to reflect on the practical consequences of racism that both parties engaged in in the 1990s. For example, it might have been nice for the nation's future if the Clintons hadn't disenfranchised and impoverished so many men and women of color with their welfare and crime policies. While no one could've predicted how these 2016 primaries have gone, or just where they'll end up going, it's looking kinda shortsighted, maybe, to have deliberately criminalized, impoverished, or otherwise disenfranchised a generation of poor black men while now, also, depending on a multiethnic coalition of working-class Americans to win the nomination and the presidency, again, against an open racist fascist bigot. Sad!
And, of course, inequality, poverty, and Wall Street are central issues that have endangered Clinton in both the primaries and in the general election as an increased surge in populist anger mars her establishment candidacy. Once again, the wisdom of selling out an entire generation of progressives and sticking to transactional allies despised by her political base has totally backfired on the more practical candidate. Sad!
And today, even in her supposedly practical platform for achieving progressive goals, Clinton is just as bafflingly shortsighted. Even as Democrats from all walks of life (but especially a huge segment of young people) cry out for change, inspiration, leadership, and integrity, Clinton supports a dull platform of deliberately-uninspiring, a la carte, focus-grouped compromises. Clinton opposes single-payer, free tuition, and financial reform, and has allowed herself to be painted as cravenly unconcerned with both the working class and the truth. Sad!
Clinton doesn't even act like a practical person who makes occasional mistakes and then learns from them: After all, she still listens to the same kinds of foreign policy advisors that neocons like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz also listen to. So she can't even back out of the terribly-mistaken decision which cost her the presidency in 2008, because she's still beholden to the foreign policy establishment which most Democratic voters have reviled for 12 years. Clinton is still close to genocidal idiot Henry Kissinger. Hillary gave private speeches to the reviled Goldman Sachs and conceals to this day the transcripts, even though it's likely releasing the transcripts would help her with most Americans, who barely understand how corruption actually works. Clinton shortsightedly used a private email server while working as Secretary of State, and likely plans to nominate yet another Wall Street heavy for Treasury Secretary (more on Blackstone here). Part of practicality means having and using good information, and Hillary has consistently demonstrated that she would prefer to be surrounded with bad advice. Part of practicality means adapting to the demands of political theater to avoid looking dishonest. Hillary has demonstrated neither. Sad!
Again and again, Hillary demonstrates far too little fluency in responding to current events in a campaign that her entire life has been building towards. The best moment of her campaign was the outrage she expressed at the water crisis in Flint. And she did great. But it was one moment, among a campaign that routinely fights below its weight class--a campaign that, more than anything the Sanders campaign has done, has mobilized young people against her. Part of practicality means taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves in real time and can lead to long-term gains. Hillary is batting below .500 against Little League pitchers. Even the intellectuals who have brazenly sold out to Clinton will reluctantly admit that she's been prone to countless indefensible gaffes and errors in judgment in this campaign alone. Sad!
Talking turkey for a moment: Even looking at her supposedly realistic plans which are meant specifically to differentiate herself from Sanders as a serious candidate who knows how to compromise, Clinton's compromises are transparently unworkable, pandering, and frequently less politically-viable than Sanders' more extreme analogues. Sad!
For example, Clinton categorically opposes raise taxes on the middle class, but also expects to raise taxes on "the most fortunate" for family leave, practically guaranteeing that her proposal will never get through Congress as such by her own transactional theories of power. After all, how on Earth is Clinton supposed to build a coalition to raise taxes just on the wealthy? It's a zero-sum game, and she can't even get elected without their money. So where are the votes, Hillary? The only way Hillary can hope to thread this needle is to give up something even dearer to the working class to the same oligarchs who have waged class warfare on workers and intellectuals for the past 40 years. Which isn't exactly appealing, horse-trading-wise. Sad!
Hillary Clinton doesn't actually make practical decisions consistently in terms of the best economic and political interests of our country, Hillary Clinton isn't even practical on her own terms. Rather, like all the sophisticated media cheerleaders of the Iraq War who inexplicably still have big media jobs, Hillary Clinton is a "transactional" politician who plays nice with plutocrats in a plutocracy, who lets people buy influence from her, who compromises on seemingly any principle to win, and who doesn't understand why someone would still be upset about something that happened 10 years ago. Sad!
Hillary certainly does a lot of things right, but, at the end of the day, Clinton has a history of poor, stubborn judgments on the most important issues. And these judgments, crucially, end up serving her opponents' interests far more than her own. Hillary's tactics are often subtle, canny, and effective; no question. But her strategy, and judgment, however, are often phenomenally impractical, both personally and politically, quite apart from also being disasters for the American people. Sad!
The establishment media (who never tire of playing the proverbial hack sportswriter from your small-town newspaper in 1983) often state that Sanders got lucky to time his campaign just as America had its populist awakening, seemingly at random. Maybe that's true. But, to these eyes, it's Clinton who has had the amazing fortune to run as an establishment candidate right before the Democratic media and political elite realized how much Americans have come around to hating them. Sad!
When I started to write this post, I wanted to build to a couple of non-negotiable demands. I wanted the punchline of this post to be that I would demand two take-it-or-leave-it concessions from the Clinton campaign:
- That Clinton would purge from her advisors and future Cabinet nominees anyone who supported the Iraq War into 2004 as a fully-grown adult, and anyone who still held the neoconservative ideology.
- That Clinton would purge from her advisors and future Cabinet nominees any major executive at an investment bank in the last 20 years, or anyone else with close ties to the financial industry (this would exclude, for example, Lawrence Fink of Blackstone).
Now, please understand I'm not throwing her under the bus. Hillary does learn from her mistakes to an extent. But when I see Hillary stumble over yet another obvious trap set for her by the right or the left, I start to think of the twilight years of another great establishment power-broker, and one of the few people who might claim fairly to have more experience than Hillary going into office,
For, just like Lyndon Johnson, Hillary is no idiot. They both know how to put a coalition together, how to make a deal and a friend in the cloakroom, how to build a personal fortune from which to mount a campaign, and how to wait 15 years to achieve a solution. They're both smart as a whip.
Just like Lyndon Johnson, Hillary has precious few blindspots: in foreign policy, in public perception, and in ethical compromises. These are flaws which may not harm someone in a Senate committee or in a cabinet post, but they're much more troublesome when you present them to the guileless American public. And, just like Lyndon Johnson, Hillary learns far too slowly when it comes to those blindspots, turning what would be mere liabilities into abject disasters.
48 years ago, on March 31, 1968, Lyndon Johnson announced he would not run for another term, as growing outrage at his administration from both left and right flanks proved to be too dispiriting and harmful. After a tremendous run of civil rights and anti-poverty achievements that stand with Lincoln and Roosevelt in their ambition, the backlash against civil rights and his growing commitments in Vietnam sunk President Johnson's agenda. One of the great backroom politicians in history, finally undone by the weight of his earlier decisions.
This isn't a perfect parallel. The lessons aren't clear, nor do they point only to Hillary's downfall. But we're seeing a festering movement on the right and the death spiral of the conservative movement, We're seeing a time of tremendous achievement and ambition on the one hand, and tremendous decadence and decay on the other. And, in the tumultuous era that the United States is entering, Hillary's failure to adapt--in its tragic, hubristic impracticality--may be our undoing as a nation.
 - "Hillary was at Bill’s side throughout all of this and was a close collaborator in the education reform operation. She co-wrote Bill’s 1991 keynote speech at the DLC’s national convention, which turned out to be a major hit.", from My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency, by Doug Henwood
 - (other than Carl Diggler and the #MBET, obviously)
 - Speaking of which, minor point, but calling the rich "the most fortunate" is a surefire way to make them ideologically angry. Remember "you didn't build that"? They're still harping on 57 states. Does Hillary even have a chance of currying the elites that she's constantly courting? Which is kinda the point of running to the left for real.
Note to Readers: Politics is a relatively new sphere for me, and it's especially new as a subject in my writing. Now, I do have some experience with inexperienced writing; just check the archives from 2009. Such history has shown that I'll likely look back on this period of writing as sprawling, smug, and self-contradictory. That said, the posts seem to be getting better--though at a slow pace. Time will tell. In the meantime, I appreciate your patience, Pearls Divers(e).