★ Foreign Policy
No President will have controlling power over globalization, the emergence of a multipolar world or global instability likely to arise from hyper-connected economies and entire peoples on the move in an ever more fragile biosphere. America can lead and should lead, that’s our responsibility as the cornerstone of the global order FDR built, but our national talents notably do not include – waves at PNAC – ruling an Empire.
The next President will need to manage these challenges, many of them abroad or multilateral, in short will need to to be fluent in foreign policy. That's Hillary Clinton.
Some people say that she's yesterday's news, Maureen Dowd's perennial meal ticket; I prefer to think of her as a successful Secretary of State with a million miles of travel racked up, one who made human rights, specifically those of women and children along with the rights and lives of LGBTs a focus of United States foreign policy, or for that matter articulated a framework to deploy American soft power in preference to boots on the ground.
To LGBT men and women worldwide, let me say this: wherever you live and whatever the circumstances of your life, whether you are connected to a network of support or feel isolated and vulnerable, please know that you are not alone.
I approached my work with confidence in our country's enduring strengths and purpose, and humility about how much remains beyond our knowledge and control. I worked to reorient American foreign policy around what I call "smart power."
To succeed in the 21st century, we need to integrate the traditional tools of foreign policy--diplomacy, development assistance, and military force--while also tapping the energy and ideas of the private sector and empowering citizens, especially the activists, organizers, and problem solvers we call civil society, to meet their own challenges and shape their own futures.
We have to use all of America's strengths to build a world with more partners and fewer adversaries, more shared responsibility and fewer conflicts, more good jobs and less poverty, more broadly based prosperity with less damage to our environment.
Fortunately, the United States is uniquely positioned to lead in the 21st century. It is not just because of the enduring strength of our military or the resilience of our economy, although both are absolutely essential. It goes deeper than that. The things that make us who we are as a nation — our diverse and open society, our devotion to human rights and democratic values — give us a singular advantage in building a future in which the forces of freedom and cooperation prevail over those of division, dictatorship and destruction. [...]
So our levers of leadership are not just about keeping our military strong and our diplomacy agile; they are about standing up for human rights, about advancing the rights and role of women and girls, about creating the space for a flourishing civil society and the conditions for broad-based development.
None of her opponents, not Democrats , not the other side – what are they called again? stink rabbits? – have that kind of experience or empathy nor frankly the intellectual disposition to acquire them. This is not even close.
I do not like criticizing the other Democrats in the race, but I will say this: Senator Sanders specifically is clear that his attention flags at the water’s edge; not quite isolationism, but indicative of a dangerously parochial lack of interest in what lies beyond our borders, something this country can’t afford in a world grown smaller. We may not want or be able to rule it, wider still and wider, but America cannot disengage from this world we are a part of.
★ Continuity
Barack Obama deserves immense credit for righting the ship of state after the crucible of the Bush years. The Obama Presidency has seen the country come of age as a multi-racial, multi-cultural democracy, its immense variety now firmly a part of the national psyche, as is the broader tolerance implicit in this variety; unevenly to be sure, but this is not the America that produced George Bush or elected Ronald Reagan. We are immensely the better for it.
The economic crisis has eased, it is not over. What we need now is a steady hand to cement the achievements of this President and restore the easy optimism and sense of assurance that marked the first Clinton Presidency.
Again, that's Hillary Clinton. She's the only candidate running who served in Barack Obama's cabinet. She's also the only candidate running that expressly wants to maintain and build on the achievements of the sitting President.
The GOP will roll them back outright, the other Democrats are implicitly campaigning against the current White House or even explicitly so; Bernie Sanders is running on the banner of a Democrat in revolution against everything (including a Democratic White House), a revolution of remarkable paradox, having as its goal the succession of one Democrat to another in the White House. I suspect it might be difficult to sell that to the country at large as storming the Winter Palace anew.
★ Diversity
Some of this change, like the browning of America, no President will be able to affect. But they can recognize it, channel it, bring new stakeholders into the process. That’s what the Obama coalition really is: the emerging American majority taking political form. Democrats need to hold that coalition together not just as a condition of retaining power, that is the least of it, but because it is the right thing to do, the moral thing. And it cuts both ways: we are accountable to this coalition.
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
– Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus as inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty
That war on women? It’s real.
Black Lives Matter is not, as some have said to their immense discredit, a tool of the Democratic primary. It is a cry for justice, one that Democrats and the entire nation must hear, the most urgent moral question of our time.
2014 was a year that saw profound injustice, and extraordinary resilience. Homicides at the hands of police sparked massive protests, meaning that America could no longer ignore bitter truths of the Black experience. Gabriella Naverez, a queer Black woman was killed at 22 years old, unarmed. 37 year old Tanisha Anderson’s family dialed 911 for medical assistance. Instead, Cleveland police officers took her life.  Anyia Parker, a Black trans woman was gunned down in East Hollywood. This brutal attack was caught on camera, yet her murder, like so many murders of Black trans women, have gone unanswered. This country must abandon the lie that the deep psychological wounds of slavery, racism and structural oppression are figments of the Black imagination. The time to address these wounds is now.
Going further, do you think now that marriage equality is settled law (and Caitlyn Jenner has an amazing wardrobe), LGBT rights are done? Really?
Then you don’t know about the national epidemic of trans murders, anti-gay hate crimes in general, the lack of Federal protection from bias or for that matter the ongoing silent carnage of AIDS.
Twelve million undocumented men, women and children live in the shadows of our shining city on a hill; they deserve a seat at Dr. Martin Luther King's table of brotherhood, deserve to be heard in the marble corridors of power.
I’ll go one step further: being heard isn’t enough. Harvey Milk ran for office for one simple reason: allies are indispensable. Better to have power in your own right.
What does diversity or inclusion look like in practice? Just one example: whoever is elected in 2016 will nominate Supreme Court Justices, obviously a matter of transcendent importance, but also do something less often noticed: nominate judges to the Federal judiciary. You may not know this, but...
When Obama took office, Republican appointees controlled ten of the thirteen circuit courts of appeals; Democratic appointees now constitute a majority in nine circuits. Because federal judges have life tenure, nearly all of Obama’s judges will continue serving well after he leaves office.
Or this:
It may be that, in the end, his biggest effect on the judiciary isn't sheer numbers as much as the diversity of his judges. Forty-two percent of Obama's confirmed judges are women, 19 percent are black and 11 percent are Hispanic, according to data provided by the White House. Eleven of his confirmed judges are openly gay or lesbian.
Even the 12 nominees confirmed Tuesday night will make a mark: Robert Pitman will be the first openly gay judge to serve in the Fifth Circuit, which includes Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Loretta Biggs will be the first black woman to serve as a district judge in North Carolina.
Hillary Clinton was one of the top lawyers in the country before becoming First Lady. Her commitment to diversity is life-long; just take a look at her campaign team. The reshaping of the Federal judiciary is one of the key achievements of this administration, making the judicial bench look a lot more like the country itself. The same applies to the sprawling Federal bureaucracy.
If you remember President Carter – I don't – you might consider this: he New Republic calls the nomination of female judges his most important legacy. Why, you ask?
A 2005 Yale study found that in sexual harassment and sex discrimination cases the gender of judges “mattered more than [their] ideology in determining outcomes.” Female judges ruled in favor of plaintiffs more often than male judges, and male judges who were on a bench alongside female judges ruled in plaintiffs’ favor more than twice as much as judges on all-male panels.
So again, if this diverse America is yours as it is mine, Hillary Clinton is the right choice.
★ Temperament
"Clinton's endurance is legendary"
Time Magazine, 11.20.2008
Hillary Clinton was my Senator for eight years. Before that, she was First Lady of the United States, the spouse of a two-term Democratic President I voted for twice, before that, first lady of Arkansas, and before that, as noted, one of the top lawyers in the country. None of these are easy jobs, nonetheless, she redefined them all. No President’s wife had ever had an office in the West Wing, the formal seat of Executive power; she did.
Symbolic perhaps you may say, small coin of little worth, what about the policies? We need to talk about the policies!
Sure, no problem. Try S-CHIP, the children’s health insurance program that covers millions of kids. Ted Kennedy credited her with being the driving force that made it happen.
Hillary Clinton had a legislative record before she even got elected to anything.
As First Lady, she traveled to a UN conference in Beijing and delivered a speech on women's rights, a speech the host country’s government decided was too explosive to air and her husband’s administration did not vet. It was seminal, elevating the rights of women and children to the top of the global human rights agenda.
If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all.
As an aside, echoing the same theme, again at the UN in 2011:
Like being a woman, like being a racial, religious, tribal, or ethnic minority, being LGBT does not make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.
Many UN member nations are homophobic as a matter of state policy; Secretary Clinton helped pass that body's first resolution recognizing the inherent dignity, worth and rights of LGBT people worldwide.
Hillary Clinton always did one thing without fail: outperform expectations or more simply, do her damn job. It would have been natural, easy even, for her to retire from public life after the bruising 2008 campaign; instead, she followed the old maxim that you do not refuse the President of the United States when he calls on you to serve the nation. It may be old-fashioned, but that’s the core ethos of public service, what Frederick the Great called le premier domestique de l’État, the first servant of the state.
As to her campaign, it is a thing of beauty. She's taking the fight where it belongs, to the GOP, not other Democrats. If, as the saying goes, you don't bring a knife to a gunfight, the right might consider the wisdom of bringing a spork to a drone strike.
★ Muscular Liberalism
I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration, somehow you're not patriotic, and we should stand up and say, "We are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration!"
If you check the date, you'll notice she said that about a month after the Iraq War started. This was when, just to refresh your memory, the country was still madly in love with one George Bush, dissenters were traitors and the World Trade Center still a gaping wound in the soil and soul of Manhattan.
Think that might have required some guts? How many Democrats were willing to publicly stand up back then and call out the Cheney White House?
Not all that many, which is just one reason we lost in 2004. There was Howard Dean, yes, the man who brought a lot of us into active engagement with government; he's with Hillary too. Probably one reason she's bringing back the 50 State strategy.
★ Economy
But what about economic issues? Huh? What about them, Michael, you neoliberal corporatist bootlicking toad?
"Trickle-down economics has to be one of the worst ideas of the 1980s, right up there with New Coke, shoulder pads, and big hair," she said. "I lived through that, there are photographs, and trust me, we don't want to go back there."
-- People Magazine, 8.15.2015
And sure, she can't really talk about the TPP – for the rather salient reason that she helped negotiate the still unfinished and classified treaty, which only members of Congress can presently read, and public statements on it by the former Secretary of State would open up the U.S. government to being sued – but if you're thinking of her support for NAFTA and CAFTA, the big job-killers, well, you're wrong. She was opposed to both, and voted against the latter in the U.S. Senate. She spoke out against fast track.
Or try this, from self-described capitalist tool Forbes about her tax plans:
While campaigning in 2008, Clinton was asked about her stance on the Bush tax cuts, to which she responded, “We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.” That is a refrain we’ve heard throughout President Obama’s eight-year presidency — that the rich must pay their “fair share.”
This quote, when taken with Clinton’s voting record, allows us to reach some logical conclusions. If elected, Clinton would continue the policies of the existing regime, seeking to raise the taxes on the wealthy while enacting and expanding breaks for the lower and middle class.
Emphasis added.
But.. But... Wall Street!
Oh for the love of fuck. She was a Senator from New York and she's running for President. This campaign will cost a billion dollars. Do you have that kind of money lying around?
No? Neither do I. The Koch brothers do – choose.
★ The Clinton Haters
I use the word 'haters' with deliberation; it comes not from my gift for the language, such as it may be, but from this piece in the New York Times Magazine published in February of 1997.
Probably no sitting President has been so vilified: Kennedy was dead before the stories about Judith Exner and mob ties were circulated. Clinton can read the scandalous stories about himself in countless pamphlets and books and on numerous Web sites. There are claims that his cronies smuggled drugs through Mena; there are any number of women he is said to have had sexual relations with; there are murders, perhaps more than 50, that his political ''machine'' is said to have ordered or acquiesced in or covered up. Oh, and there is the claim that his mother was involved in two killings at the hospital where she worked as a nurse. And there is, most prominently, the death of White House Deputy Counsel Vincent W. Foster Jr., which no full-blooded Clinton crazy believes was a simple suicide.
A piece well worth the read even almost two decades later. Simply put, both Clintons, Bill and Hillary both, have been objects of vilification for decades. I don't discount the progressive critiques of either of them; but I do caution that the wheat is sometimes very closely entwined with the chaff. In terms of psychology, they are symbols, vessels to be filled with what we individually want to see.
Hillary Clinton is described variously as ambitious, power-hungry or over-confident – there’s that inevitability thing again, grab that pipe – which I suppose are bad things in a woman but unremarkable in a man. I don’t think so. She has a vision for the country, no doubt, but really what she wants is to serve. I fail to see how this desire is a bad thing.
Another criticism is her supposed inconsistency, variously described as lacking core values or – heaven forfend – changing her mind on stuff as new evidence becomes available. That’s not something a good liberal does, or so I’m told, since we all by nature vault fully formed into this world like Athena from the head of Zeus. Perhaps it’s some genetic predisposition, our very DNA making us always and inevitably right.
Could be; unlike some, I don’t claim infallibility or any ability to read minds. I do know Hillary has been working for women, children and families since before I was a zygote. She was busy impeaching Richard Nixon before I was able to walk. I’d say hers is a pretty good place to start out from given that her shifts are always and inevitably to the left.
She was not the most left-wing member of the United States Senate. Pretty close, but I’ll grant you that much. Is she a fire-breathing true believer? No she’s not, as best I can tell, nor for that matter am I.
She's something far more consequential: the most well-known woman in global politics, a pragmatic leftwing politician with decades of experience, with a unique experience of and in government, zero fucks to give, and many, many reasons to loathe the right wing. The people who published identifying details of her husband's equipment on government letterhead.
I don't know that Hillary Clinton is the forgiving type. Once she's Madam President, we'll find out.