Monday, April 14, 2008

Clinton Full of Hypocritical B.S. Over Obama's Remarks on Working Class


Multimillionaire Former First Lady -- Whose Husband Still Favors Free-Trade Deals That are Costing Thousands of Working-Class Americans Their Jobs -- Has a Lot of Nerve Accusing Her Rival of 'Elitism'

US Democratic presidential candidate New York Sen. Hillary Clinton ...

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has been making hey over her Democratic presidential rival Barack Obama's remarks about small-town working-class Americans feeling "bitter" over their worsening economic conditions, accusing the Illinois senator of being "elitist" and "out of touch." But where does a multimillionaire candidate for president whose ex-president husband champions free-trade agreements costing thousands of working-class Americans their jobs get the chutzpah to accuse her rival of being an "elitist?" (Photo: Paul J. Richards/Agence France-Presse)


By Skeeter Sanders

Rarely is a politician so transparently full of hypocritical B.S. on any issue that only the most die-hard of that politician's supporters are blind to see it.

President Bush certainly comes to mind in that regard, insisting that his controversial warrantless surveillance program is legal, when almost everyone else by now knows full well that without warrants, the program is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment's ban on unreasonable government searches and seizures.

Another example is the disgraced, soon-to-retire Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho), who made a name for himself as an outspoken opponent of extending civil-rights protections for gay and lesbian Americans -- and then got caught soliciting gay sex in a men's washroom, even pleading guilty to it. So much for his "defense" of "traditional family values."

And please, don't get this blogger started about disgraced former Representative Mark Foley (R-Florida), who claimed to be gay after sexually-explicit e-mails and text messages with teenaged male congressional pages were exposed by ABC News.

Yet nearly two years later, there's still no evidence that Foley ever had sexual relations with adult gay or bisexual men and plenty of evidence that he's sexually attracted only to minors under 18 years of age. That's not homosexuality, folks. That's pedophilia -- period.

Hypocritical B.S. Not Limited to Republicans

But who says that being full of hypocritical B.S. is limited to Republicans? There are Democrats who are just as capable of it. Classic example: Disgraced former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer -- caught soliciting the services of a high-class prostitution ring. This is the same Elliot Spitzer who made a name for himself busting prostitution rings as a prosecutor and as state attorney general -- a hypocrisy so glaring that he had no choice but to resign.

Then there's Representative Charles Rangel (D-New York), who's called for a return to the draft, knowing full well that there's no stomach for it by the Bush White House, the majority of Rangel's colleagues on Capitol Hill and even the Pentagon itself -- and also knowing full well that his proposal would ignite a firestorm of opposition not seen since Vietnam among Americans of draftable age (if not an open generational war) if it ever became law.

Not to mention the fact that the Rangel measure would run afoul of a constitutional requirement that Congress first issue a formal declaration of war -- something it hasn't had the political will to do since the end of World War II -- before it can pass legislation reimposing compulsory military service, lest it violate the 13th Amendment's ban on "involuntary servitude."

Now we're witnessing the latest chapter of hypocritical B.S. by a Democratic politician -- this time by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

Clinton Accuses Obama of 'Elitism' Over Remarks

The former first lady's presidential campaign is doing its damndest to score political points over rival Barack Obama's comments about bitter working-class voters in small towns ahead of next Tuesday's Pennsylvania Democratic presidential primary -- one that has in recent weeks seen her once-commanding 23-point lead over the Illinois senator in pre-primary polls shrink down into the single digits.

At issue are comments Obama made privately at a fundraiser in San Francisco a week ago Sunday. He was trying to explain his troubles winning over some working-class voters, saying they have become frustrated with their worsening economic conditions:

"It's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations," Obama was quoted as saying.

The Clinton campaign poured gasoline on the controversy in every place and every way it could, accusing the Illinois senator of being "elitist and arrogant" and hoping that its charges will resonate with the working-class voters both candidates are vying for not only in Pennsylvania, but in upcoming primaries in Indiana and North Carolina as well.

Clinton supporters handed out "I'm not bitter" stickers in North Carolina, and held a conference call of Pennsylvania mayors to denounce Obama. In Indiana, Clinton did the work herself, telling plant workers in Indianapolis that Obama's comments were "elitist and out of touch."

Obamas Much Closer -- Literally -- to Working-Class Americans Than Clintons

For his part, Obama tried to quell the furor on Saturday, explaining his remarks while also conceding he had chosen his words poorly. "If I worded things in a way that made people offended, I deeply regret that," Obama said in an interview with the Winston-Salem Journal in North Carolina, where Obama holds a double-digit lead over Clinton in its primary on May 6.

Barack and Michelle Obama are hardly working-class Americans in their own right -- but they're also nowhere near fabulously wealthy by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it wasn't until Barack Obama wrote a pair of best-selling books that he and his wife were finally able to pay off their student loan debt.

According to the Obamas' 2006 income tax returns, they had $991,296 in annual income, mostly from royalties on the Illinois senator's two books, Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope. And that was down from the nearly $1.7 million they reported on their 2005 tax return from sales of Obama's first book.

That puts the Obamas -- who will release their 2007 income tax returns soon after they file them with the Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday -- somewhere between the uppermost echelons of America's middle class and the lowest ranks of the nation's "millionaire's club."

Clintons Out of Touch With Working Class Since Late '70s

But how can Clinton accuse Obama -- who's nowhere near the Clintons' wealth league -- of being an "elitist" and of being "out of touch" with working-class Americans when she and her husband have been out of touch with working-class Americans themselves for over 30 years?

This blogger hasn't forgotten Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign battle cry as a champion of the middle class -- not the blue-collar working class, but the white-collar middle class. And wasn't it Bill Clinton's alleged "elitism" during his first term as governor of Arkansas that got him kicked out of the governor's mansion in 1978?

In fact, the Clintons today are multimillionaires as far removed from the working class voters Hillary's trying to woo as Donald Trump, Rupert Murdoch and Bill Gates. Since leaving the White House in 2001, the Clintons racked up a more than $100 million fortune, according to the former first couple's recently-released income tax returns.

And in a move reminiscent of Mitt Romney's failed bid for the GOP nomination, Hillary Clinton even lent $5 million of her own money to her presidential campaign in January.

Hillary Still Has a Credibility Problem Over NAFTA

A high point of Bill Clinton's presidency was passage of the North America Free Trade Agreement, which his wife now criticizes at virtually every campaign stop.

But White House records show that as first lady, Hillary Clinton attended several meetings designed to build up congressional support for NAFTA in the early 1990s. She says she had reservations about the pact at the time, and made her feelings known in such gatherings.

But if the former first lady had "reservations" about NAFTA, then how come those "reservations" don't show up in White House records? And why have the congressional leaders she says she met to voice her "reservations" with NAFTA not publicly confirmed it?

And, lest we forget, NAFTA passed the Democratic-controlled House in 1993 with a majority of Democrats -- 156 to 102 -- voting against it. Union leaders blame the passage of NAFTA in part for the Democrats' loss of control of Congress to the Republicans in the 1994 election.

As president, Bill Clinton’s support of trade agreements with Mexico, Canada, China and other nations often put him at odds with fellow Democrats and labor leaders who backed a more protectionist approach. Bill Clinton argued that Democrats should support lower barriers to trade because the nation, on balance, would benefit.

And What About Clinton Controversy Over Colombia Free-Trade Pact?

Then there's the not-so-small matter of Bill Clinton's staunch support for a free-trade agreement with Colombia that is deeply unpopular with working-class Americans because of past free-trade agreements Clinton pushed through while he was president that have cost America hundreds of thousands of jobs that working-class Americans have historically relied upon.

President Bush tried to ram through the Colombia trade pact through Congress by putting it on the "fast track" with a 90-day deadline for Congress to cast an up-or-down vote. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, sensing an attempt by Bush to drive a wedge between Democrats and one of their most loyal constituencies -- blue-collar workers -- led House Democrats to kill the 90-day deadline, putting the trade pact in indefinite limbo.

That both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama fiercely oppose the Colombia free-trade pact -- and that the Clinton campaign was forced to publicly acknowledge a split between Bill and Hillary over the issue -- is sure to undermine Clinton's claim that Obama is an "elitist."

Clinton's campaign spokesman, Jay Carson, was forced to acknowledge that, “Like other married couples who disagree on issues from time to time, she disagrees with her husband on this issue. President Clinton has been public about his support for Colombia’s request for U.S. trade preferences since 2000.”

Adding to Senator Clinton's credibility problems: The firing of her top campaign strategist, Mark Penn, a week ago Sunday, after it was reported that he had met with Colombia’s ambassador to the United States to discuss passage of the agreement. Colombia was a client of Penn’s large public relations firm, Burson-Marsteller.

A $100 Million Fortune Amassed by Clintons in Just Seven Years

While the Clintons' personal wealth pales in comparison to billionaires like Trump, Murdoch and Gates, it is nonetheless highly disingenous to this blogger that the Clintons can claim to be able to connect with working-class Americans anymore, especially since Bill Clinton has amassed more wealth in the past seven years since leaving the White House than all three of his immediate predecessors -- and certainly more than most working-class Americans, this blogger included, can even dream of amassing in an entire lifetime.

According to an analysis by Politico.com, the Clintons' multi-million-dollar fortune hasn’t kept the 61-year-old Bill Clinton from taking maximum advantage of the publicly-funded perks offered to former presidents. In fact, his presidential retirement benefits cost taxpayers almost as much as those of the nation's other two living ex-presidents -- Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, both 83 -- combined.

The price tag for Clinton’s federal retirement allowance from 2001 through the end of this year will run $8 million, compared to $5.5 million for the senior Bush and $4 million for Carter during the same period.

Since 2001, according to Politico.com, Clinton has received more of almost every benefit available to former presidents than his predecessors -- from his pension to his staff’s salaries and benefits to supplies. His $420,000 phone bill and $3.2 million office rent tab both nearly surpassed the totals rung up for those purposes by Bush, Carter and the late former presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan combined. As a group, they spent $484,000 on telephone service and $3.8 million on rent in the same span.

And Hillary Clinton has made millions of dollars in her own right from royalties on her best-selling book, Living History. Even before the book was published, she received a near-record $8 million advance from her publisher, Simon & Shuster (Which, ironically, is owned by the News Corporation, controlled by the Clintons' political arch-nemesis, Murdoch).

So for Hillary Clinton to accuse Obama of being "elitist" and "out of touch" with working-class Americans is ludicrous, given how far removed she and her husband are from working-class Americans themselves.

Indeed, to say that the New York senator and former first lady is full of hypocritical B.S. on this issue is an understatement. Combined with getting caught in a lie about coming under sniper fire while on a visit to Bosnia in 1996, is it any wonder that Hillary's lead over Obama in Pennsylvania is crumbling?

Her latest broadside only confirms what many of the Clintons' critics have been saying for years: That they'll say and do anything to get elected.

Machiavelli would be very proud.

# # #

Volume III, Number 26
Copyright 2008, Skeeter Sanders. All rights reserved.


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