Tripping up Hillary
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There are plenty of folks unhappy with Hillary Clinton, despite her icon status among Dems -- and even some progressives -- who tend to treat her as royalty. Hey, a celebrity is a celebrity, and the Democrats celebrity quotient is not high. Yet this weekend, as she raised big bucks from a gaggle of Hollywood wealth and celebrity at three different parties, she was dogged by the women of CodePink furious with her for her pro-war record. The anti-war movement is gaining momentum: 59% of Americans consider the war a mistake, while the death of the American soldier number 2,000 is on our doorstep.
"We have never hesitated to hold both Republicans' and Democrats' feet to the fire," said Tiffany Burns, a CodePink organizer. "This war is based upon lies, [and] it is time Senator Clinton said so." Burns reported that about thirty-five CodePink women shouted slogans and showed "bring the troops home" signs at a luncheon where the price tag of a plate ranged from $1,000 to $25,000. Burns mentioned that celebs like Morgan Fairchild and Jason Alexander attended, while bigger names like Rob Reiner were on the invitations.
Many Hollywood progressives expressed frustration that progressive dough was going into the already flush coffers of Clinton, who has a reelection campaign where she is far ahead in the polls and the money race. Rick Jacobs, a key Dean fundraiser and a influence among California progressives, wrote:
I wonder if those who helped bring in $300,000-500,000 for a weekend of buffets for Senator Clinton really know for what the money will be used. Does Hillary really need this kind of dough now? I for one have determined that my fundraising and political giving will be confined almost exclusively to California issues. Two weeks ago, we struggled to raise $15,000 for Franicine Busby, a Democrat running in the 50th Congressional District (North San Diego County) for a seat currently occupied by the corrupt Duke Cunningham.
The fiery populist David Sirota, writing in In These Times, goes far beyond Jacobs, seeing the Hillary problem as something more endemic of the Democratic parties inability to focus on substance:
"[...] Take progressives' constant genuflecting anytime Sen. Hillary Clinton's (D-N.Y.) name is mentioned. She is forever portrayed as a champion of the left, with everyone who's anyone in politics assuming that she will have rock-solid support from the Democratic base despite her loud and continuing support for the Iraq War, and rather quiet Senate record on other progressive issues. The assumption speaks volumes about a 'base' with an ideology so afflicted by a haze of hallucination that it believes the best politics even in such a polarized environment are those that avoid contrast."
The Hillary saga may will continue through 2006 into 2008, and she may very well be nominated to become the first female president. But I, for one, wonder why the key women who seem to be presidential timber -- Clinton, Feinstein, Libby Dole -- all seem to be out of the Margaret Thatcher mold: basically triangulating, pushing their pro-war credentials, and never giving voters the chance to vote for someone they really admire, and who takes strong stands. For my money, based on a couple of TV performances, Geena Davis offers a model of tough and tender that I would vote for in a second. She is decisive, and her decisions reflect a creative third way they seem to weave progressive values with no nonsense politics. Whoever is writing the stuff has a fresh take on politics and it is refreshing.
Don Hazen is the executive editor of AlterNet.