A Musing On The Next President: Be Very Careful What You Wish For

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As I noted the other day, there is an epidemic of lazy thinking abroad in the land with too many politicians, pundits and bloggers pretty much giving the White House a free pass because of the dopey notion that everything will be better with a new president.

This attitude is astonishingly short-sighted when one considers that if the 2008 election were held tomorrow, in all likelihood the winner would be either Hillary Clinton or Rudy Giuliani. This raises the prospect that the successor to the lousiest president since forever might be as bad – or at the very least neither a break from the past nor a great improvement.

The more we learn about Giuliani, the scarier he is.

There are his ample personal shortcomings, including being an admitted adulterer, which brings up the possibility that he could become the first president to have broken the news to his wife that he was getting a divorce at a press conference.

The Family Values party is so desperate to hang onto power that dirt like this hardly makes a ripple these days, let alone Giuliani’s previous support for abortion, gay rights and strict gun control. No less righteous a personage than the Reverend Pat Robertson has welcomed Giuliani into his slimy embrace, and other right-wing Christianists of note are said to be getting ready to line up behind him, as well.

Then there are Giuliani’s claims that as America’s Mayor he made New York City safer and was a heroic leader in the wake on the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

He is absolutely correct about the former and deserves credit. But he has been a demonstrable liar about the latter, and his claims that he spent more time at Ground Zero than rescue and clean-up workers are obscene.

Then there is the company that Giuliani keeps and his predilection, like President Bush, for valuing sycophancy above all while overlooking disturbing information and inconvenient questions when they pertain to the people loyal to him.

Exhibit A in this regard is, of course, Bernard Kerik, whose legal entanglements are sure to provide background music for the Giuliani campaign for months to come despite the effort of his supporters to drown out this dirge. The only question here is whether Kerik will be able to attend a Giuliani inauguration, if there is one, or will be behind bars.

Moving right along, there is perhaps the most frightening aspect of Giuliani: A warmongering foreign policy predicated on bombing first and asking questions later that, if possible, is even scarier than the president’s. And a foreign policy team that is even too extreme for the president.

Meanwhile, the more we see Hillary Clinton in action, the scarier she is, as well.

Giuliani certainly has done his share of flip-flopping. But Clinton’s well-documented peregrinations on the Iraq war and more recently on whether illegal immigrants should have driver’s licenses cement my view that, as is typical of most politicians, she will say whatever she believes she can get away with in the service of raising campaign cash and courting voters. And what we most definitely do not need is just another political hack in the Bush postbellum.

Then there is Clinton’s obsession with secrecy. As one scribe put it regarding her relationship with the news media: “The Bush administration changed the rules, and she likes the way they look. ” The MSM, of course, is rolling over and hoping that Clinton scratches its tummy.

And while it’s not quite as ballsy as FEMA putting faux reporters in the audience at a California wildfire press conference, you have to hand it to Clinton in taking a play from the Bush-Cheney playbook and having her campaign staff plant questions with audience members and then pointing out the plants to her.

I’m not troubled by charges that Clinton overcompensates for the fact she is a woman by trying to prove that she is tough. In fact, there are no gender-related issues for me except the ones that she, Mr. Clinton and her campaign staff raise themselves, the most recent iteration of which is hints that the other Democratic candidates are picking on her because of her sex. That is silly. They’re picking on her because she’s the front-runner.

That noted, there is Clinton’s tortured relationship with another admitted adulterer — her husband — and the prospect of a White House with a First Mister who is not only enormously influential in his own right but in my view is the most adept politician of modern times. Theirs certainly would not be the first presidential marriage of convenience – and there doesn’t seem to be much question that this is a relationship without a whole lotta love.

Out on the stump, Clinton says over and over that she will reverse the policies of the Bush administration, but that would not seem to apply to some biggies like the Iraq war, torture and domestic spying. And she has been maddeningly unclear on World War III . . . er, Iran.

Clinton, in fact, has been notably vague about what policies she would reverse, repeatedly falling back on the mantra that hers is a campaign of hope – until she goes negative.

Then there is the prospect of a Giuliani-Clinton race next fall.

They certainly would bring out the worst in each other at a time when the nation already is extraordinarily polarized. It will be a mudbath if not a bloodbath, and that’s the last thing we need.

Don’t get me wrong. The nominees inevitably will have lot of warts no matter who they are, and I can live with that. But when they remind me more of the man they seek to replace – which Giuliani and Clinton do – than someone who will boldly lead America away from the excesses of the past seven years, my palms get all sweaty. Yours should, too.

13 Comments

  1. Giuliani, IMO, is the worst GOP candidate, and Hillary is the worst Dem. It boggles my mind that their nominations seem inevitable. We seem set to elect the President for all the wrong reasons… again…

  2. Good post, Joe, and I’ve got to agree, that we might get more of the same. At the very least, both are establishment candidates. Giuliani has close ties with AG Mukasey and Roger Ailes(20 year friendship) along with Kerik, and H. Clinton was up to her eyeballs in the scandals of the Clinton years (How many more “I don’t recalls” can we expect during hearings?) Both are too tied in with the super-wealthy elites.

    Its sad that candidates who appear to offer real change like Obama or Ron Paul are being sidelined for these two. Which begs the question-does someone without the proper connections to wealth and power even have a chance?

  3. Its sad that candidates who appear to offer real change like Obama or Ron Paul are being sidelined for these two.

    So true. But Obama seems to be gaining on Clinton in the early primary states so perhaps this will change.

  4. The fault lies in the mirror, not in the nominees.

  5. Giuliani would be an extension of the national nightmare. Hillary marginally better, but these are hardly times for marginal performance. Obama is looking better all the time to me – I hope Iowa starts seeing it that way too.

  6. Lol, great post Shaun – I like it all.

  7. You never know, Hillary could be Guliani’s next “conquest” and we’ll end up with both no matter who gets elected.

  8. If Hillary wins, she’d better hope Congress stays in Democratic hands, or she’ll be using W’s expanded claims of executive privilege to ward off all of those subpoenas, lol. Partisanship will be at an all time high. Don’t think it couldn’t happen- Republicans will be riding the wave of anti-immigration anger in ’08.

  9. Well, Hillary despite the fact she seems inevitable is simply a political hack who has all the bad qualities of her husband (i.e. Two-Face) and none of the good ones (i.e. a political touch that only FDR exceeded). Obama actually has passion and clearly has some good ideas to get America moving (although they do seem a bit murky). Edwards is the best candidate for his experience defeating the corporate bullies and also for having the clearest vision to get America moving, uniting her, making her better than she’s ever been before (and he actually is a Democrat, and could rival FDR and LBJ re: social reform), and also because he has that Clintonian political touch minus the bad side.

    I’m just waiting to see what America wants. Actual change or same old nonsense. It’s up to the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire to decide. Hopefully, they make the right decision for once.

  10. GH: ‘I’m just waiting to see what America wants. Actual change or same old nonsense.’

    Bet on the nonsense.

  11. GH: And yr rt- Edwards wd be the best Prez, for your reasons, but Obama wdn’t be bad.

  12. “What America wants’ is a ridiculous question, IMO.
    The whole problem is that we have separate, bitter, angry,camps of America all wanting different things and all ready to kill each other to get them.

    Considering who could pacify the armed camps to the greatest degree is important for me.
    I would be ready to vote for whoever that is, if I could identify who that is.

    The most crucial issue for the next president is reintroducing the concept of true compromise. the kind that can accept from the outset that no one societal sector can get everything their way.

    Come to think of it, BALANCE is a better word than compromise. Seeking balance automatically recognizes that all the factions need to be considered and involved.

    So, which candidate could bring about balance?
    I can’t decide.
    Giuliani wouldn’t try, IMO.
    Hillary would try, but I’m not sure she would be given a fair chance at succeeding..
    Obama would try, but I have no real sense of his abilities in the necessary political maneuvering.

    Worst of all, I don’t think Ameicans want balance.
    They prefer bloody political battles and chaotic conditions (re immigration, for example).

    Is there anyone who could turn this around?

  13. I’ll support Obama if he gets the nomination, but if Senator Clinton gets it expect me to look towards a third party.

    The Republicans, of course, simply seem to want to stay the disastrous Bush/Cheney course (except for Ron Paul, who’s even worse), so I obviously won’t be voting for them.

    If the Democrats fail the working class (again), I guess I’ll have to go Green.

    Domajot: re: immigration, just give them citizenship. That way, Wal-Mart suddenly loses their initiative to hire them.

    Edwards ’08

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