Monday, February 06, 2017

She was not the best

Only one good thing would have come out of a Hillary Clinton victory in November 2016: a woman would have been the Most Powerful Person in the World, upending millennia of patriarchy, misogyny, sexism and mansplaining in one fell swoop. Trying to find anything else that is positive about a Hillary Clinton victory is an exercise in futility. In the 2006/2007 campaign, she was frequently more hawkish than Barack Obama and as a freshman senator, she voted to invade Iraq. As the Secretary of State, Libya was destablised, its tyrant deposed and al Qaeda allowed to metastasize throughout the country and today, with US-style freedom ringing throughout Libya, life expectancy has taken a turn for the calamitous.

Her mendacity is not something to ignore either. Donald Trump may have taken the gold with his whoppers, but Mrs Clinton will forever be remembered for trying to turn herself into US heroine by describing a trip to Bosnia in action-hero terms: landing under gunfire and racing to safety from the airport. Film footage of the visit will live to mock her.

She has done much to erase the racialist ugliness of her campaign against Mr Obama but Black Americans of a certain vintage remember her describing young Black American men as "super predators" who "had to be brought to hell". Much dissembling has taken place to explain that the context of the time, as Bill Clinton was trying to persuade Congress to enact his crime bill and she was lobbying for him in the press, was that "super predators" meant all young persons who had no conscience and no empathy as the committed heinous crimes. (The crime bill itself ended up guaranteeing the increased incarceration of more young Black American men than at any time in the preceding fifteen years.)

Mr Trump has been accused of great corruption; if true, and if the US system is as robust as everyone claims to be and not a sophisticated version of the so-called banana republics', independent prosecutors will soon be after his hide. In contrast, and in the context of US politics, Mrs Clinton was portrayed as the Virgin Mary, utterly beyond reproach. Then the non-official Blackberry surfaced. Then the non-official e-mail server surfaced. Then the seedy connections between Mrs Clinton, her husband, Bill, the Clinton Global Initiative and seedy donations by seedy foreign nations surfaced. "Influence-peddling" was whispered but never seriously investigated. If it had been, she might never have made it past the filing-papers stage in the 2015/2016 campaign.

Mrs Clinton, like Mr Obama, learnt a very important lesson about US politics: keep up appearances - of honesty, charm, humanitarianism, global co-operation and all the nice things US citizens tend to fall for. But just n case things don't go the US's way, be prepared to spool up that cruise missile and drop it onto the unco-operative, George-W-Bush-style then send in USAid and Americorps and Opic (Overseas Private Investment Corporation) to set things right. Naiveté is one thing but wilful naiveté is pushing things.

Don't get me wrong; Bernie Sanders would probably have been worse. His decades as an elected representative would have meant nothing for us, as non-US-citizens, because of his inexperience and blind ideology in a messy world. He would probably have been much worse than Donald Trump, whose narcissism is the one thing keeping the world from being irradiated.  (On the other hand, it might be the reason why the world is irradiated.) But don't try and tell us that Mrs Clinton would have been the best that the world could expect. She wasn't. Not by a long shot.

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