Shame on Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton. A Shame for Americans

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

Shame seems to be the issue of the day.  The North America Free Trade Agreement is also among the topics discussed.  Health Care plans are reviewed.  As the Presidential campaigns progress, let us reflect, and recall why these matters move the media and the people.

It was a cold day in January.  The year 2007, after much debate and ample discussions, Hillary Rodham Clinton concluded the time was now.  The climate was ideal.  The former First Lady sat poised on a couch.  The colors in the room were warm.  A lamp placed behind the sofa was lit.  Sunlight streamed into the room.  Photographs of the family were visible on a table nearby.  Finally, the stage was set.  The New York Senator looked into the eyes of her visitors.  Gently she smiled.  Hillary Rodham Clinton opened her home and her heart to an American audience desirous of change.  The woman many had hoped would be the first woman President of the United States affirmed “I’m in.”

Hillary Clinton invited us all to join her in a conversation.  She mused, she had a feeling; it was going to be very interesting.  Indeed, it is.  Weeks ago, the candidate realized a deep dip in the contributions.  This drop in donations caused much clamor.  On February 21, 2008, during the Democratic Debate, First Lady Clinton offered her admiration to the man who appeared to be more prominent in the eyes of the people, Barack Obama.  Then, a mere forty-eight hours later Hillary Clinton attacked her adversary.  

The Senator from New York claimed, while in the crowd at an event in Cincinnati, Ohio, just days prior to that State’s primary, she was handed two mailers.  A brilliant woman, organized, and aware, ready to take on the responsibilities of the Oval Office the day she crosses the threshold, did not realize that ten days earlier, the Ohio Daily Blog published an essay which spoke of the brochures.  Jeff received his copies.  Yet, Hillary had not yet sampled hers.  

The experienced, professional politician fumed as she spoke, of the accounts.  As a mother scolding her child potential President Hillary Clinton shrieked, “Shame on you Barack Obama!”  The genteel First Lady pointed her finger and challenged her rival Senator Obama to “meet me in Ohio, and let’s have a debate about your tactics and your behavior in this campaign.”

As Americans listen to the words of the woman we once thought would receive her just coronation into the White House, we are reminded, this political campaign has never truly been about issues.  Personality, popularity, electability, and the ability to connect to wealthy contributors have long been the focus among the candidates and by extension the electorate.  Voters are subject to the voice of those who speak of what is important to them personally.  We might recall the times a candidate or two expressed what is true.  For them, this campaign is personal, full of personal attacks.

A day later, the Clinton Camp announced they would engage in a calculated campaign of smear.  Conduct unbecoming a possible Commander-In-Chief, when named Barack Obama is quite befitting of a potential President Clinton.

In the robo-call voiced by Clinton, she said she wants to set the record straight.  “Sen. Obama has sent out attack mailers that distort my record on NAFTA, but I believe Ohio deserves the truth,” Clinton says, “NAFTA has hurt Ohio families and I have a plan to fix it.  My opponent does not.  I’ll appoint a Trade Prosecutor to enforce our trade agreements, and crackdown on China’s unfair trade practices.  I’ll eliminate tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas, and invest in creating good jobs right here in Ohio.”

The Clinton attack mailer cites press reports of Obama praising NAFTA and other trade deals.  “Don’t be fooled by Barack Obama.” [or Hillary Clinton?]

Might we take a moment to reflect.  Let us begin with the records.  The text of Barack Obama comments may enlighten us on the issue of tactics and behavior, the topics Hillary Clinton would like to discuss in an Ohio debate.  The background also offers insights.

(Alan Keyes wanted to withdraw completely from trade agreements.) “Keyes, the Republican nominee, said the United States should move away from negotiating multinational trade agreements, arguing the country can cut better deals by bargaining one-on-one and imposing tariffs on countries that undercut American farmers with cheap products. ‘Why is it in American economics that you say ‘tariffs’ and everybody thinks you cursed,’ Keyes said. ‘We need to make sure we get a fair deal.’ He also called for complete elimination of the inheritance taxes, as well as the income tax.

“But Democrat Obama said Keyes’ ideas could lead to trade wars that would harm farmers, who are always looking for new markets willing to buy American crops. He said the United State should continue to work with the World Trade Organization and pursue deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, but the country must be more aggressive about protecting American interests. ‘We don’t want to set off trade wars. What we want to make sure of is that our farmers are treated fairly,’ Obama said. ‘The problem in a lot of our trade agreements is that the administration tends to negotiate on behalf of multinational companies instead of workers and communities.'” (AP, 9/8/04)

Hillary Clinton took a stand on the North American Free Trade Agreement and has for years.  The Former First Lady spoke in support of her husband’s Bill’s legendary policy.

Clinton promoted her husband’s trade agenda for years, and friends say that she’s a free-trader at heart. “The simple fact is, nations with free-market systems do better,” she said in a 1997 speech to the Corporate Council on Africa. “Look around the globe: Those nations, which have lowered trade barriers, are prospering more than those that have not.”

Praise for Nafta

At the 1998 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, she praised corporations for mounting “a very effective business effort in the U.S. on behalf of Nafta.” She added: “It is certainly clear that we have not by any means finished the job that has begun.”

Clinton “is committed to free trade and to the growing role of the international economy,” said Steven Rattner, a Clinton fundraiser and co-founder of Quadrangle Group LLC, a New York buyout firm. “She would absolutely do the right thing as president.”

However, as Hillary Clinton herself reminds us, speeches are not solutions.  While at a General Motors plant, the Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton proposes, “That’s the difference between me and my opponent, I offer solutions. It’s one thing to get people excited.  I want to empower you to live your dreams so we can all go forward together.”

“Now, over the years, you’ve heard plenty of promises from plenty of people in plenty of speeches. And some of those speeches were probably pretty good. But speeches don’t put food on the table. Speeches don’t fill up your tank, or fill your prescription or do anything about that stack of bills that keeps you up at night.”  Only jobs and a stable income can keep Americans safe and secure; hence, the need for American policymakers to assess the North American Free Trade Agreement.  As Senator, Clinton could finally take actions that would rescind a policy that haunts her husband and his heritage.  Thus, she did or did not.  Please ponder the documentation.

  • Voted against CAFTA despite Bill Clinton’s pushing NAFTA. (Oct 2005)
  • Voted YES on free trade agreement with Oman. (Jun 2006)
  • Voted NO on implementing CAFTA for Central America free-trade. (Jul 2005)
  • Voted YES on establishing free trade between US & Singapore. (Jul 2003)
  • Voted YES on establishing free trade between the US and Chile. (Jul 2003)
  • Voted NO on extending free trade to Andean nations. (May 2002)
  • Voted YES on granting normal trade relations status to Vietnam. (Oct 2001)
  • Voted YES on removing common goods from national security export rules. (Sep 2001)
  • Rated 17% by CATO, indicating a pro-fair trade voting record. (Dec 2002)

What is a voter to think?  Hillary Clinton Biographer Carl Bernstein avows, Hillary Clinton’s economics, the ones she preached to her husband in the White House are much closer to John Edwards then you would think. She argued with Bill Clinton when she was First Lady, her husband, she said ‘Bill, you are doing Republican economics when you are doing NAFTA.’ She was against NAFTA.  Yet, as the author expresses in his own assessment of the candidate . . .

A new biography’s unflattering portrayal of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton as someone who “camouflages” her real self for political gain is starting to attract attention – and not for the salacious stories, most books recount about the Clintons.

“A Woman in Charge,” by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Carl Bernstein, gives scant attention to the tense days the former First Lady spent in the White House when Bill Clinton was sneaking around with his intern, Monica Lewinsky. Instead, the former Washington Post reporter, who helped blow the lid off Watergate, attempts to portray Hillary Clinton as someone who is willing to rewrite her own history to advance the political career she put on hold when she moved to Arkansas with her college sweetheart who would later become president.

“This is a woman who led a camouflaged life and continues to,” Bernstein told TODAY host Matt Lauer on Friday in an exclusive interview. “This book takes away that camouflage.”

The Bernstein book, which the writer refers to as the first “real biography” of Hillary Clinton, is a recent edition. There is ample, additional information; Hillary Clinton was for, no against, the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA].  Hence, again, we can only do as Hillary advises; look at the votes for verification.  As we observe, duplicity and a commitment to convenience, seem apparent.

This inconsistent configuration is no less obvious in the banter and behavior of Barack Obama. The expressions of Barack Obama and the conduct of Hillary Clinton are, as the First Lady imagined them to be many months ago, interesting.  

Words are not separate from work, whether we speak of one candidate or the other.  Even constituents can be considered complex beings.  We have wants, needs, among these are Universal Health Care.  Barack Obama understood this on that cold frigid day in Springfield, Illinois.  In February, on the 10th day of the month, in the year 2007, Illinois Senator Barack Obama stood in front of the Old State Capitol building.   A throng of supporters frozen; yet full of fervor positioned themselves where they could best see the man they admired.

Dignified as he spoke Presidential hopeful Obama reminded Americans that more than a century ago, on these same steps, Abraham Lincoln called on a divided house to stand together.  Barack Obama stated that in Springfield, Illinois he learned that “common hopes and common dreams still” live.  Then, the man who speaks and writes of the audacity of hope offered . . .

I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States. . .

Let’s be the generation that finally tackles our health care crisis. We can control costs by focusing on prevention, by providing better treatment to the chronically ill, and using technology to cut the bureaucracy. Let’s be the generation that says right here, right now, that we will have universal health care in America by the end of the next president’s first term.

Yes, we can . . .  be the generation that declares we will provide medical coverage for one and for all.  Yet, Barack Obama is, as of yet unwilling to propose that we, the people be insured equally.  Senator Obama, has not worked towards Universal Health Care.  Indeed, he argues against it, and presents a proviso, the plan may changed if need be.

Like former senator John Edwards (N.C.), who outlined his health-care goals in February, Obama would pay for his plan, which could cost more than $50 billion, by increasing taxes for people earning more than $250,000 and reversing tax cuts that President Bush approved. Obama would require almost all employers to offer insurance to workers or face a tax penalty, an idea that many businesses abhor and that is also in Edwards’s proposal. This employer mandate drove much of the opposition to the Clinton plan in 1994.

Like Clinton, who in a speech last week laid out some of her health-care ideas, Obama is focused as much on reducing the costs for those who are insured as on expanding coverage to the estimated 45 million Americans who are not. He called for the federal government to pay part of the costs for patients with chronic illnesses, so that employers would not have to do so, but also emphasized the importance of preventive care. It is important to “listen to our wives when they tell us to stop smoking,” he said, referring to his own unhealthy habit.

Like many Democratic politicians, he blamed drug and health insurance companies for stopping the passage of more expansive health-care proposals.

The lack of new ideas in Obama’s health plan in part reflects his approach. He has emphasized his freshness as a rationale for his candidacy, but that freshness has been much more about his tone and his rhetoric about hope and bipartisanship than his policy proposals . . .

One concept that Obama’s plan does not include is a popular idea from both Democrats and Republicans who work on health-care issues: an “individual mandate” that would require every American to buy health insurance.  . . .

The Clinton and Edwards campaigns quickly criticized Obama for not offering a plan that would require insurance for all. ” . . .

Obama’s advisers argued that such a mandate is less important than adding subsidies and other ways to make health care more affordable.  . . .

“The key is not the mandate,” said David Cutler, an economics professor at Harvard, who advised Obama on the plan. “It’s the affordability and the accessibility.”

It seems Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, neither of whom offer a Single Payer, Not For Profit, Universal Health Care can tout as they do with credibility.  Each vocalizes, “I will be the people’s President.”  Yet, as the nation peruses the plans it remains evident, that if either of these aspirants [or the Republican rival] enters the Oval Office in 2009, all men will remain unequal.  Those who lost jobs to Free Trade agreements will likely remain unemployed or become underemployed.  Circumstances for the constituents will continue to be dire.  Millions of citizens will be unable to afford or access medical care at any cost, to say nothing of the twelve or more million migrants who go without health care.  Mailers be damned.  Shame on Barack Obama?  Shame on Hillary Clinton?  It is a shame that the people were never given a voice or entrée into the election.  

Dennis Kucinich, potential President of the people, a live-time Union member, the one person to actively propose an end to the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA], the war in Iraq [remember that refrain?], and Single Payer, Not For Profit, Universal Health Care, I miss you.

Sources of Shame . . .