To Know Hillary, Look at Her Husband and Barack Obama
“Only Nixon could go to China.” This is now a maxim of American politics, a metaphor for the political phenomenon I call “inoculated immunity”. This is when a politician is deemed by the public to have a set of political “credentials” that prohibit criticism that might otherwise be brought to bear to block certain political objectives. In the case of Nixon, his history of red-baiting and anti-communist rhetoric put his political détente with China beyond reproach. A commie-hater like Nixon would never “sell out” to Red China – that was the common wisdom at the time. And so Nixon’s efforts to normalize relations with China were immune from what should have been a tsunami of criticism and condemnation from the conservative Right and his own Republican Party.
On the other side of the spectrum, the first and most prominent case of inoculated immunity for Democrats was found in Bill Clinton. As a Democrat, he was able to “end Welfare as we know it” with his 1996 Reform Act without having to fight the progressive Left over the effects that bill had among impoverished communities. Because he was a Democrat, only Clinton could pass the 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill that led to the mass incarceration of blacks and Hispanics while militarizing police forces across the country. And because he was a Democrat, people did not question his pro-business legislative milestones like bank de-regulation and the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which led to unprecedented industry consolidation, massive income inequality, sky-high profits and incredible wealth consolidation among the Corporate class. Perhaps the best example of Clinton’s inoculated immunity was when he, as a Democrat, was able to do what his predecessor, Bush 41, was unable to get accomplished: he got NAFTA passed through the Democrat-controlled Congress, thereby fulfilling Reagan’s vision where Bush could not.
In many ways, however, Barack Obama is an even more profound example of inoculated immunity. Because he is not just a Democrat but also an African-American, Obama was immediately and automatically credited with fighting for all sorts of progressive objectives, from taming Wall Street excesses to ending racism; from providing universal health care to stopping climate change – and of course he was going to end America’s wars and bring about World Peace. The last item was only furthered by his (some say premature) winning of the Nobel Peace Prize.
And yet, as Bruce Bartlett and others at The American Conservative have pointed out, Barack Obama has acted as a true Republican while in office.
Liberals fought bitterly against the Bush Tax Cuts of 2001 and 2003. The cuts were passed despite the protests of the Left, who could only console themselves with the fact that they were temporary and scheduled to sunset in 2010. Obama, however, first extended the Bush Tax Cuts by 2 years, and then, in 2012, Obama made the Bush Tax Cuts permanent. Conservative representative Dave Camp (R-Mich.) summed up the situation by saying, “After more than a decade of criticizing these tax cuts, Democrats are finally joining Republicans in making them permanent.” Indeed, in many ways these are now Democrats’ tax cuts as much (if not more so) as they are Republicans.
The reaction from the Left about Obama’s extension and subsequent permanent adoption of the Bush Tax Cuts was at most “muted.” Bernie Sanders famously filibustered the extensions on the Senate floor for 8 hours. But Sanders was almost alone in opposing Obama – the measure passed with majority Democratic support.
So while Bush was able to pass the tax cuts, it took Obama, a Democrat with his inoculated immunity, to make them permanent. Nixon and China all over again.
Obama has also pursued a very quiet but determined pro-business agenda. Last month we found out that the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC), a panel set up to examine the causes of the 2008 meltdown, actually submitted in their final report a recommendation that criminal charges be filed against 14 banks and their top execs personally for causing the great financial crisis. The Obama Department of Justice did nothing, and buried the committee’s report.
The reaction from the Media and the Left to this bombshell of a scandal? Crickets. Elizabeth Warren kicked up a fuss, but the whole issue has been swept under the rug, and Citigroup Board Chairman Robert Rubin (a top Democratic operative and donor named in the criminal referral) has nothing to fear. Again, had a Republican Administration given all these banks and bankers a free pass, the outrage would have been powerful and pervasive. But Obama’s inoculated immunity ensures that the Media and the Left will keep mum about it all.
And of course, Obama is touring the world touting the virtues of the TPP, and seems determined to see this trade deal passed in the waning days of his Presidency. In this he has shown himself to be a true friend of Corporate America and the Chamber of Commerce.
Even in the area of national defense and border security, inoculated immunity helps Obama pursue a Conservative agenda without incurring opposition from the usual Leftist groups. Take deportations, an area where Obama has far, far exceeded anything GW Bush ever did. Between 2009 and 2015 Obama’s administration deported more than 2.5 million people – 500,000 more than Bush did, and Obama still has another year to go. And then there are the Central American refugee families and children languishing in ICE “detention centers” – which are really more like prisons. Thousands of others are being turned away in order to “send a message” to their friends and relatives in Honduras, El Salvador and elsewhere. This “tough love” policy is worthy of even the most conservative policy maker, and, amazingly, seems designed to antagonize the same Latino demographic that helped Obama win the Presidency in the first place.
And yet there are no mass demonstrations, no congressional opposition … the Left and the Media seem fine with this situation. Because Obama is a Democrat.
When it comes to war, Obama has acted as a principled conservative. He has doubled-down on the Bush foreign policy initiatives, and so far he has carried out 10 times more drone assassinations than did Bush. He has increased our troop presence in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has abandoned all rhetoric that talks about ever withdrawing. The PNAC vision of having a permanent US military presence in the Middle East is quietly becoming a reality under Barack Obama, and the Left is nowhere to be seen or heard.
Clinton Guarantees Us More of Obama’s Brand of Conservatism
Hillary Clinton has already telegraphed her intention to carry on Obama’s conservative corporatist agenda. Indeed, it could be argued that she already has even deeper ties to Wall Street and Corporate America than Obama does, and when it comes to foreign policy, she is widely recognised as being to the Right of Obama. Indeed, policymakers behind the Iraq invasion such as Robert Kagan, Max Boot and Paul Wolfowitz have all publicly declared their support for Hillary Clinton, as have Henry Kissinger, John Negroponte and George HW Bush. The fact that Clinton can “proudly” publicize these endorsements with no blowback is proof positive of just how strongly Hillary has been inoculated. The “Right Wing Witch Hunts” that she and her team constantly complain about have inculcated a view in America’s mind that Hillary must, beneath it all, be the Liberal that Rush Limbaugh says she is.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Indeed, Clinton is so much more conservative than Obama that she should have been more difficult to “inoculate”. Enter the Mainstream Media. The six major media companies owe their very existence to Bill Clinton and the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which allowed them to gobble up the other 44 media outlets that existed at the time. These media conglomerates know whom they have to thank for their power and their wealth, and they are repaying it with interest. Clinton is by far the biggest recipient of contributions by Media company employees, and the owners of the New York Times, Thompson Reuters, 21st Century Fox and Newsmax have all given over $1 Million to her campaign. Other companies like Comcast (NBC), Time Warner (CNN), The Washington Post, Viacom, NPR and Knight-Ridder have also given generously.
Online “liberal” Media outlets such as RawStory, Vox and The Daily Beast – on whose Board Chelsea Clinton sits – have all been pushing Hillary’s “liberal” bona fides on the Internet. These online ‘zines have savagely attacked Bernie Sanders and his proponents, and have now turned their attention to Jill Stein and the adherents of the Green Party – always pushing Clinton’s self-proclaimed characterization as a “Progressive who likes to get things done.”
The result? Hillary Clinton is now widely perceived as a liberal candidate, a stalwart Lefty who may not be as wild-eyed as Bernie Sanders but whose liberal credentials cannot be questioned. This positions her ideally to continue Obama’s priorities regarding conservative, pro-business and traditionally Republican economic and foreign policy issues.
A Trump Presidency Would Be a Disaster for Republicans and Conservatives
We cannot talk about the reasons for Conservatives to vote for Hilary Clinton without discussing the many very valid reasons for Conservatives to vote against Donald Trump. Ben Howe of RedState has been telling anyone who will listen that if Donald Trump wins, it will destroy the Republican Party, and could even cause the GOP to lose control of the House in 2018. There is already an internecine battle within the GOP between the traditional Republican elites and the Tea Party extremists at the grass roots level. A Trump victory would turn this conflict into a full-on war that would fracture the Republican coalition completely, setting the Party back decades. Moreover, with Trump as the leader of the Republican Party, conservatives will be tarred with the same tainted brush for years to come. Indeed, the current thinking among many Republican pundits is that a Trump loss is the only thing that can save the GOP.
Adding to these worries is the potential for Trump to move to the Center or even the Left once he is in office. Conservatives like Joe Scarborough have been saying all along that Trump is really a “big government liberal” at heart. And Tom Nichols at The Federalist openly worries:
“Trump will be every bit as liberal as Hillary—perhaps more so, given his statements over the years. He is by reflex and instinct a New York Democrat whose formal party affiliation is negotiable, as is everything about him.”
At the very least, everyone agrees that Trump is narcissistic, vain, malleable and open to suasion by others. Everyone also agrees that Trump has championed everything from Single Payer Healthcare to Abortion Rights in the past. Should large protests break out around liberal issues, he may well take steps to mollify the liberal Left in an effort to make himself more popular. And of course Trump has made his absolute opposition to the TPP a cornerstone of his campaign.
The message from all of these strategists and pundits is clear: A Clinton win will allow the GOP to regroup and remain viable as the Party in opposition to another “liberal” Democratic President, and further allow them to retain control of the House and possibly even regain the Senate in 2018.
Certainly these are all very good reasons for Conservatives and Republicans to vote for Clinton and ensure that Trump never gets to the Oval Office.
Now I know many Conservatives may feel nervous about voting for a candidate who is openly campaigning on “debt-free college” and “higher taxes on the wealthy” – but remember the lessons of Obama. His two most popular campaign promises, which he introduced to thunderous applause throughout 2008, were to (1) offer a public healthcare option and (2) close Guantanamo Bay prison. Needless to say the Left are still waiting for those goodies. Clinton will “deliver” in the same way.
COMING NEXT: The Progressive Case for Donald Trump