Friday, May 13, 2016

By Your Enemies Ye Shall Be Known

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination and the younger brother of George W. Bush, posted a statement Friday on Facebook declaring, “Donald Trump has not demonstrated [the] temperament or strength of character” necessary in a president. He continued: “He has not displayed a respect for the Constitution. And, he is not a consistent conservative. These are all reasons why I cannot support his candidacy.”

Mitt Romney appeared Thursday night at a gala dinner in Washington DC to benefit the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. When asked if he would run as an independent candidate for president, he said he was not interested. He then added, “I don’t intend on supporting either of the major-party candidates at this point.” He continued: “I am dismayed at where we are now, I wish we had better choices, and I keep hoping that somehow things will get better, and I just don’t see an easy answer from where we are.”

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who like Jeb Bush was a candidate for the Republican nomination and signed a pledge last year to support the eventual nominee, said Friday that Trump was unfit to be commander in chief. “I don't think he’s a reliable Republican conservative,” he said. “I don’t believe that Donald Trump has the temperament and judgment to be commander in chief. I think Donald Trump is going to places where very few people have gone and I’m not going with him.”

An even more scathing denunciation came from former US senator Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire, who will be a delegate to the Republican National Convention pledged to Ohio Governor John Kasich. “Unequivocally, I am not supporting Donald Trump,” he told the press. “I think he is a sociopath.”

While saying he would vote for Trump in November, Arizona Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee in 2008, said he would not attend the July convention in Cleveland. This is the increasingly common choice of those who won’t oppose Trump publicly but don’t want to be associated with his coronation as the nominee.

The executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Ward Baker, told a briefing for lobbyists and donors Thursday that Republican candidates should skip the convention if they felt it was to their advantage in November.

Some of the most right-wing members of the House Republican caucus have declared their opposition to Trump, including Justin Amash of Michigan, who bills himself a libertarian, and Steve King of Iowa, a ferocious anti-immigrant bigot who supported Texas Senator Ted Cruz and is aligned with the most extreme Christian fundamentalists.

Trump often sounds remarkably populist in ways that white working class voters appreciate. He has been critical of things that elite Republicans (and elite corporate Democrats) hold dear, including corporate globalization, “free trade’ (investor rights) deals, global capital mobility, cheap labor immigration. He questions imperialist adventures like the invasion of Iraq, the bombing of Libya, the destabilization of Syria, and the provocation of Russia. He’s a largely self-funded lone wolf and wild card who cannot be counted to reliably make policy in accord with the nation’s unelected and interrelated dictatorships of money and empire. And he’s seizing the nomination of a political organization that may have ceased to be a functioning national political party.

Things are different with Hillary. She’s a tried and true operative on behalf of both the nation’s capitalist and imperialist ruling class who sits atop the United States’ only remaining fully effective national and major party – the Democrats. She’s a deeply conservative right-winger on both the domestic and the foreign policy fronts, consistent with the rightward drift of the Democratic Party (and the entire U.S. party system) – a drift that she and her husband helped trail-blaze back in the 1970s and 1980s.

In 1964, when Mrs. Clinton was 18, she worked for the arch-conservative Republican Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign. Asked about that high school episode on National Public Radio (NPR) in 1996, then First Lady Hillary said “That’s right. And I feel like my political beliefs are rooted in the conservatism that I was raised with. I don’t recognize this new brand of Republicanism that is afoot now, which I consider to be very reactionary, not conservative in many respects. I am very proud that I was a Goldwater girl.”

It was a telling reflection. The First Lady acknowledged that her ideological world view was still rooted in conservatism of her family of origin. Her problem with the reactionary Republicanism afoot in the U.S. during the middle 1990s was that it was “not conservative in many respects.” She spoke the language not of a liberal Democrat but of a moderate Republican in the mode of Dwight Eisenhower or Richard Nixon.

The language was a perfect match for Hillary and Bill Clinton’s politico-ideological history and trajectory. After graduating from the venerable ruling class training ground Yale Law School, the Clintons went to Bill’s home state of Arkansas. There they helped “lay…the groundwork for what would eventually hit the national stage as the New Democrat movement, which took institutional form as the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC)” (Doug Henwood). The essence of the DLC was dismal, dollar-drenched “neoliberal” abandonment of the Democratic Party’s last lingering commitments to labor unions, social justice, civil rights, racial equality, the poor, and environmental protection and abject service to the “competitive” bottom-line concerns of Big Business.

The Clintons helped launch the New (neoliberal corporatist) Democrat juggernaut by assaulting Arkansas’ teacher unions (Hillary led the attack) and refusing to back the repeal of the state’s anti-union “right to work” law – this while Hillary began working for the Rose Law firm, which “represented the moneyed interests of Arkansas” (Henwood). When the Arkansas-based community-organizing group ACORN passed a ballot measure lowering electrical rates residential users and raising them for commercial businesses in Little Rock, Rose deployed Hillary to shoot down the new rate schedule as an unconstitutional “taking of property.” Hillary joined the board of directors at the low wage retail giant Wal-Mart.

During the Clintons’ time in the White House, Bill advanced the neoliberal agenda beneath fake-progressive cover, in ways that no Republican president could have pulled off. Channeling Ronald Reagan by declaring that “the era of big government is over,” Clinton collaborated with the right wing Congress of his time to end poor families’ entitlement to basic minimal family cash assistance. Hillary backed this vicious welfare “reform” (elimination), which has proved disastrous for millions of disadvantaged Americans. Mr. Clinton earned the gratitude of Wall Street and corporate America by passing the arch-global-corporatist North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), by repealing the Glass-Steagall Act (which had mandated a necessary separation between commercial deposit and investment banking), and by de-regulating the burgeoning super-risky and high-stakes financial derivatives sector. Hillary took the lead role in the White House’s efforts to pass a corporate-friendly version of “health reform.” Along with the big insurance companies the Clintons deceptively railed against, the “co-presidents” decided from the start to exclude the popular health care alternative – single payer – from the national health care “discussion.” (Barack Obama would do the same thing in 2009.)

The Clinton White House’s hostility to “big government” did not extend to the United States’ giant and globally unmatched mass incarceration state or to its vast global military empire. Clinton’s 1994 crime bill helped expand the chilling expansion of the nation’s mostly Black and Latino prison population. Clinton kept the nation’s “defense” (Empire) budget (a giant welfare program for high-tech military corporations) at Cold War levels despite the disappearance of the United States’ Cold War rival the Soviet Union.

A growing number of Republican party leaders are already coming to believe that Hillary is not all that bad an option for them. More Republican billionaires are considering the same. For example, the notorious Koch brothers, ultra-conservative multi-billionaires in the US, have already signaled publicly they could support Hillary if Trump becomes the Republican nominee. And Hillary’s husband, Bill, is reported to be aggressively courting with some success-other billionaire Republicans, seeking money and support for Hillary in exchange for what in return one can only guess.

Not long ago this guy would've been carrying our bags.
-- Bill Clinton on Barack Obama, 2008