Tomorrow’s Neocon Today
In March of 2005, I wrote a post at the Centrist Coalition, in which I predicted that Hillary Clinton would be the frontrunner for the 2008 Democratic Presidential Nomination. In that post, I criticized her both for her support for the Iraq War and her pandering to social conservatives.
Six months later, I wrote a follow-up post in which I lamented that anti-war Democrats who have relentlessly criticized Bush for invading Iraq would nonetheless rally around the candidacy of Hillary Clinton who voted in favor of the 2002 resolution that gave Bush the authority to invade Iraq:
And here’s the sad part. All of the Democrats who have been denouncing the Iraq War for the last two and a half years will flock to Hillary Clinton and proclaim her the savior of the Democratic Party, seemingly oblivious to the fact that she, like Bush, was responsible for a war that sent a couple thousand American soldiers to their deaths and claimed the lives of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians. We can expect Clinton and the DLC to advertise the fact that the Bush administration STILL has not apprended Osama Bin Laden, and instead of arguing for a more humble and realistic foreign policy that rejects the naive notions of the current administration’s War on Terrorism, Clinton and the DLC will argue that the War on Terrorism was not fought HARD ENOUGH and that it would had succeeded had Bush not bungled it all up.
Sure enough, Senator Clinton announced her candidacy in December 2006, and she’s been leading in the polls ever since.
Senator Clinton’s candidacy was initially met by fierce criticism from anti-war activists within the party–many of whom thought her sudden conversion from war-supporter to war-opponent less than 14 months before the 2008 primaries smacked of political opportunism and were further angered when she refused to apologize for voting for the 2002 resolution that sent our country on the path to war with Iraq.
Yet Senator Clinton was not about to be denied her party’s nomination. Just as President Bush has employed revisionist history to explain why we went to war with Iraq, so to has Senator Clinton in order to justify her support for the 2002 resolution. Last February, I wrote a post at the Coming Realignment in which I argued that Senator Clinton was retroactively attempting to alter her justification for supported the war in the first place. Senator Clinton argued that she only supported the 2002 resolution in order to put pressure on Saddam Hussein to allow weapons inspections and that she did not support the invasion itself. However, as I pointed out then, a March 2003 video depicting a meeting between Hillary Clinton and members of Code Pink (a group of left-wing activists) shows that this was not the case at all. As the video clearly shows, Hillary Clinton supported the invasion of Iraq (with or without international support) less than two weeks before our government’s “shock and awe” campaign in Baghdad commenced.
As Hillary Clinton’s lead over her Democratic rivals increases, I continue to be astounded by how easily Democrats are willing to support a Senator who for four years, supported this misguided war in Iraq. This is the same Hillary Clinton who criticized Russ Feingold for daring to suggest that we withdraw from Iraq back in 2005.
A hawk…A panderer…A political opportunist…
But a neocon?
That’s what libertarian Radley Balko argues in an article over at Reason. As he sees it, a Hillary Clinton presidency wouldn’t be all that different from a George W. Bush presidency, and he provides an account of some of the political positions taken by Senator Clinton that suggests a strong neoconservative streak in her:
Then there is Hillary Clinton on the issues. Cato Institute President Ed Crane recently wrote a piece for the Financial Times pointing out that when you strip away the partisan coating, Mrs. Clinton’s grandiose, big-government vision is really no different than that envisioned by the neoconservatives so loathed by the left. Clinton, remember, not only voted for the Iraq war, she still hasn’t conceded she was wrong to do so, and has made no promise to end it any time soon.
In fact, the L.A. Times reported last week that Clinton has refused to commit even to pulling U.S. troops from Iraq by 2013, which, if elected, would be the end of her first term. TV journalist Ted Koppel recently told NPR that Clinton has admitted the U.S. would still have troops in Iraq at the end of her second term.
The 1990s, remember, weren’t exactly a decade of peace. Bill Clinton ordered more U.S. military interventions than any other post-WWII administration, and there’s no reason to think any of them were over Hillary’s protestations. She supported the U.S. military campaigns in Haiti, Kosovo, and Bosnia. She once boasted that as the tension in Kosovo mounted, she called her husband from her trip to Africa and, “I urged him to bomb.”
Hillary Clinton voted for both the Patriot Act and its reauthorization. She voted for building a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border. She voted to loosen restrictions limiting the federal government’s ability to wiretap cell phones. In the past, she has supported a robust role for the federal government in enforcing “decency” standards in television and music. She teamed up with former Sen. Rick Santorum on a bill calling for the federal government to restrict the sale of violent video games.
Hillary Clinton may be loathed by leading neoconservatives and may loathe them in return. Yet they have more in common with each other than either of them would care to admit. As a U.S. Senator, Hillary Clinton has had seven years to lay out her political positions, and she hasn’t shied away from making speeches or meeting with constituents. But in the end, a politician is judged by how he/she exercises that unique power that distinguishes him/her from the rest of us–the power to vote for or against legislation. And on many of the most controversial and far-reaching pieces of legislation that have been passed these last seven years, Senator Clinton has voted the de-facto neoconservative position.
After 7 years of Bush and Cheney controlling the Executive Branch, I can see why Democrats would want to see change come to the White House.
Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton isn’t that change.
Note: This post was cross-posted at The Coming Realignment.
UPDATE: I want to remind regulars and visitors at TMV to read Radley Balko’s piece over at Reason. It was his article that inspired my post and whose title I surreptitiously stole. Obviously I couldn’t quote his entire article, and there is much that he writes about in terms of Hillary Cllinton and neoconservatism–particularly with regards to executive power–that I didn’t cover in my post.