Media spinmeisters have claimed Hillary Clinton showed her mettle Tuesday during her keynote address to the “Take Back America” conference, daringly baiting her party’s leftist base with her “hawkish,” “centrist” Iraq policy. Norman Solomon called the speech “premature triangulation.” In fact, the fringe crowd repeatedly cheered her on, because Hillary slavishly followed leftist talking points from start to finish. It was the most servile “Sister Souljah moment” in history.
An Organized Anti-Troop Protest
The few jeers received during her rally-the-troops address came as part of an organized campaign led by the radical organization Code Pink – which TBA organizers had banned from the speech. However, as Code Pink President Medea Benjamin, explains, “A few Code Pink women did manage to get inside the breakfast,” because “they were legitimate ticket holders.” The media failed to report that leftist activists did not boo Hillary’s war policy alone: As this video records, they first booed the troops.
Hillary: Many of us have said, and I know many of you in this room have said, that we want to support our troops, and we should. These young men and women are among the very best we have to offer.
Heckler: No, no! No, no, no, no!
Code Pinkos – who have a history of disrupting speeches – were made to look like a majority due to their adept manipulation of the media; yet even as they jeer her Iraq policy – which drew wider outrage – one can hear compensatory applause further in the background. (Watch the whole speech here.)
Scratching the Leftist Itch
The crowd had reason to cheer, as Shillary spoon fed them piles of red meat. In her opening remarks, she pledged “to stop this administration and their [sic.] unaccountable undermining of our constitutional democracy.” She peppered her remarks with references to Hurricane Katrina.
She warned “right-wing Washington Republicans” and Bush officials “had a determined effort to suppress science” and “were going to turn over the air we breathe to the dirtiest polluters in the world.” She all but accused the Bush administration of murder, saying, “We have evidence that their support of pollution is not only undermining people’s lives but it’s leading to people’s deaths.”
She charged Bush with undertaking a “frontal assault on Social Security” including an onslaught against “widowhood and orphanhood.”
She decried “weaker workplace protections, a weak response to global warming, exploding oil prices” and “the unbelievably shameless exploitation of Terri Schiavo and her family.”
The crowd tittered when she opined President Bush “must watch old cowboy movies 24 hours a day.” While the Left strives to build “a more inclusive community,” the GOP has other plans:
They believe in concentrating maximum wealth and power in the hands of those they believe are entitled to rule the rest of us…They believe, they truly believe, in a government that is run for the benefit of their partisan and commercial allies, and without accountability.
Hillary exhorted the government to “cut all the tax cuts to oil companies, pharmaceutical companies, and millionaires”; “to stand up for the right to organize workers” and make “health care available and affordable for every single American”; and made the omnipresent invocation of “people who worked hard and played by the rules.”
The Stolen Election Blood Libel
She truly hit a nerve, though, when she opened by accusing Republicans of stealing the presidential election – of 2004. Her “first and perhaps most important request” dealt with “the overwhelming need to return integrity to our voting system.”
I believe so strongly that if we do not go to the local and state levels in the next several months to see what local election commissioners are doing, to see what secretaries of state in the ilk of Katherine Harris and Blackwell in Ohio are doing, that we may not have the victories we deserve and that I think the American people want us to have in November… So please join with me and make sure you do everything you can in the next several months so we don’t have a repeat of what happened in Ohio, what happened in Florida.
Returning to this theme in her conclusion, Hillary shouted: “Stand up for winning elections…Let’s make sure our elections are of integrity.”
The far-Left has recently revived its blood libel that Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell manipulated the vote in his capacity as state election overseer – and as a stockholder in the company that manufactures the voting machines! Robert Kennedy Jr. has followed Gore Vidal and Harper’s in popularizing this myth. Indeed, the day of Hillary’s speech, Cindy Sheehan wrote, “The GAO has estimated that 350,000 votes were miscounted, lost, or disappeared into the thin air of the Ohio political machine run by now Republican candidate for Governor of Ohio, Ken Blackwell.” (She also echoed Hillary’s call for “paper trails.”)
All of which overlooks the fact that John Kerry’s Ohio legal counsel dismissed these charges in 2004. That bastion of conservatism, Salon, has thoroughly refuted the conspiracy theories Hillary irresponsibly encouraged Tuesday. Many of the election officials Hillary wants to investigate also happen to be Democrats – especially in the areas most cited for voting irregularities: Cleveland and Columbus. Franklin County (Columbus) Democratic Party Chairman William Anthony, a black man, asked, “Why would I disenfranchise voters in my own community?”
The Committee to Repeal the 20th Century
To the crowd’s delight, she also accused the president of wanting to repeal modernity. She first perceived President Bush wanted to undo the Clinton administration. “I thought we’d done a lot of good things for our country and the world in those eight years,” she said. (We?)
But it became clear to me is that it wasn’t just the eight years of the Clinton administration. They wanted to turn the clock back the progress of the 20th century, that starting with Teddy Roosevelt all the way through Bill Clinton, this crowd had been unhappy; they’d been unhappy about saving capitalism, which is what Franklin Roosevelt had done; they were unhappy about the bipartisan consensus about how we should act in the world to promote American interests; they had been unhappy with the extension of civil rights and civil liberties, so they came to town to reinstitute a 19th century attitude…We have been living with that systematic destruction of everything that happened in the 20th century, I don’t care if it was consumer protection or actually a FEMA that worked and protected people and saved lives and property. It was an assault on the environment that had been pent up inside of them for decades.
Where to begin? Eisenhower was the great conservator of the New Deal just as Nixon expanded the Great Society; it was the Democratic Left that abandoned a bipartisan foreign policy during Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm, and again during the War on Terror; Congressional Republicans were passing Civil Rights bills and Nixon was desegregating Southern schools while Hillary’s husband was toadying to Orval Faubus and working for the man he called “my mentor,” Sen. J. William Fulbright (whom he later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom); and the conservative movement did oppose activist judges extending enough newfound “civil liberties” to vaccinate violent criminals against incarceration.
Contradictory Feminism: A Woman’s Prerogative
Again playing to the crowd, Hillary saluted Joan Blades, “the co-founder of MoveOn,” for the agenda she pursued with her Moms Rising group. Blades, who was scheduled to speak later in the conference, agitates for additional flextime and paid leave, a call Hillary heartily seconded. America must adopt such policies to restore “the Basic Bargain.” (Not as stirring as the New Deal, eh?)
She then asked, “Why is it still absolutely the case that working women don’t get equal pay when so many of them are supporting their families and contributing income that is necessary?”
Researchers who compared women genuinely doing “the same work as men” have found no disparity. Indeed, with women outnumbering men in college graduation, the “wage gap” will soon swing in the other direction. Extant pay differentials exist because women are more likely than men to exit the workforce for family reasons, and more likely to take long interludes of “flexibile” leave time – precisely the move Hillary endorsed in her previous sentence.
Hillary Clinton: China Hawk
Hillary strained all credulity, though, when she excoriated President Bush for being too lenient…toward China.
[W]e have so many wonderful people who have seen the plants close down and move to China or move somewhere else, and they come up to me and say, “Senator, why can’t we get tough on China?” And I say, Well, “I agree with you. They manipulate currency. They steal property rights, they don’t follow the rule of law. But do you know how difficult it is to crack down on your banker?”
Though not a new charge, Hillary appears to be channeling Governor Clinton’s 1992 campaign, where he made the same charges – before we learned his campaign chest was Made in China, and as president he encouraged all the above.
And Chinese nuclear proliferation.
Iraq: Scratching the Left’s Itch
The alleged true grit portion of the speech came in her remarks on Iraq. However, they, too, sound like they were composed for the leftist echo chamber. President Bush, she charged, “rushed to war” and “refused to let the UN inspectors conduct and complete their mission.” “We need to be building alliances instead of isolation around the world,” she advised. And she insisted, “There must be a plan that will begin to bring our troops home.”
But then she voiced the controversial phrase: “I do not think it is a smart strategy either for the president to continue with his open-ended commitment which I think does not put enough pressure on the Iraqi government, nor do I think it is a smart policy to set a date certain.”
Wiggle room. Hillary hopes to exploit such ambiguity whenever the Iraq weathervane changes direction: now hawkishly dedicated to winning, then calling for timetables should things go south.
That her remarks were insufficiently irresponsible for some is more a matter of perspective than a reflection on her remarks themselves.
The “Take Back American 2006” conference was run by Robert Borosage, who claims the military budget is not driven by a two-front war but by the “military industrial complex and a very large, entrenched bureaucracy that mobilized with extraordinary efficiency against the threat of peace.” Hillary’s fellow panelists this year included:
- Rep. Barbara Lee, one of FrontPage Magazine’s “Ten Most Dishonorable Americans” and the only representative to vote against toppling the Taliban;
- Rep. John Conyers, the impeachment-obsessed reparations advocate who would become Judiciary Committee Chairman if the Democrats will the House this fall;
- Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-IL, a member of the Progressive Caucus and Cindy Sheehan supporter who wants a softer foreign policy toward Castro;
- AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America;
- Roger Hickey, Borosage’s co-founder, who blames the current toxic political environment on Ronald Reagan;
- Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid;
- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi;
- Sen. Russ Feingold;
- Sen. John Kerry; and
- Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.
The only figure missing is their current spiritual father: John Murtha.
Past meetings have featured Dennis Kucinich, Maxine Waters, Castroite Medea Benjamin, and Lila Garrett – the advisory board member of the Progressive Democrats of America who hailed “the greatest political film ever made, Reds.”
There was a stray jeer by a member of an organized radical group, Code Pink, whose founders met while promoting Central American Communist revolutionaries. That was, however, the only jeer of the evening, interspersed by much acclamation.
To be applauded heartily by such a group qualifies one for many labels: “centrist” is not one of them.
This article originally appeared as the weekend lead on Friday, June 16, 2006, on FrontPage magazine.