Although she's running for president, Hillary Clinton is hard to catch up with unless you're a surveillance camera at a Chipotle or a mega-donor to her campaign.
At a fund-raising event in Red Hook, Brooklyn—the very place that H.P. Lovecraft set a story about an unnameable horror—Hillary Clinton was allowed to be overheard saying:
"We're going to make clear, I'm not running for my husband's third term or for President Obama's third term," one person recalled her saying. "I'm running to make history on my own."…
Mrs. Clinton has generally embraced Mr. Obama and his policies, although she is likeliest to seek distance from him on foreign policy. As for Mr. Clinton, whose record she alluded to repeatedly in her 2008 presidential campaign, Mrs. Clinton has rarely mentioned him so far in this race.
When it comes to Obama's foreign policy, which she helped design and implement for too many years as Secretary or State, she really does needs to explain how hers will be different. This is especially pressing because no matter how shitty things have been for the past 15 years under Republicans and Democrats alike, they can always get worse.
When it comes to her husband's generally successful presidency, she also needs to clarify what pieces she still agrees with and why. Bill Clinton, for instance, had excellent free-trade bona fides, while she is pointedly dithering on supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would generally reduce trade barriers about the United States and 11 other countries, most of which are in Asia. Bill Clinton famously supported the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) over the objections of his own party. Though NAFTA was started under a Republican adminstration, Bill Clinton's support was crucial to its ultimate passage (so too was Al Gore's, whose utter demolition of H. Ross Perot in a debate hosted by Larry King of all people remains a highlight of semi-recent political discourse). It has been a good thing overall, just as freer trade is a good thing overall. Yet Bill Clinton was terrible on foreign policy, dispatching troops more often than Ronald Reagan did; he was terrible on trying to regulate Internet content and put "back doors" into telecom equipment that would allow unfettered government snooping, and much more.
Some free advice to Hillary Clinton: If and when you do become president, try to return the federal government to a common-sense set of rules not restricted to the following.
- Absent serious, cataclysmic events such as World War II, the government shouldn't spend more than it takes in. And after cataclysmic events end, any increases in spending should be ratcheted down sharply and quickly, as happened after World War II.
- Reverse your late-1990s position that what's so great about Social Security is that it means baby boomers don't have to take care of their aging parents but can push the cost on to younger, poorer workers. You are now the old people you didn't want to take care of and you and your group of leading-edge boomers are generally rich as hell and should pay for your own damn retirement and elder-health care. Push not for old-age entitlement reform that will continue to bilk unborn generations to maintain an unfair and inefficient system and instead convert it all to a true safety net for poor people regardless of age.
- Rather than flip-flopping on social issues such as gay marriage (you supported your husband's awful Defense of Marriage Act and Don't Ask Don't Tell policy as First Lady), just flat-out say that what consenting adults do amongst themselves is nobody's business, least of all the state's.
- Stop attacking Edward Snowden and pretending that the story is about him and his motivations rather than the massive and unconstitutional surveillance programs he revealed and you seem to endorse.
- Reject Barack Obama's (and your own) foreign policy, which has been nothing less than disastrous and basically just a continuation of interventionist Republican folly. And don't be like your husband, whose foreign policy was more promiscuous than his White House sex life (Bill dispatched troops into fighting situations twice as many times as Ronnie Raygun).
- And for god's sake, go off your meds for a few minutes, clean your head, and stop talking total, obvious horseshit about the war on drugs, like the time you said (and have since repeated), "We can't legalize drugs, there's too much money in it!" Weren't you a National Merit scholar or something back in the early 1960s? Start thinking like one.
But most of all, Madame Clinton:
- Please don't try to "make history," on your terms or anybody else's.
We need less "history making" from presidents and politicians in general. When muckety-mucks like you "make history," it's usually the rest of us who suffer. Whether it's dying in great patriotic wars to make the world safe for democracy or small, supposedly easy-to-contain regional conflagrations to stop awful crimes, things rarely work out as planned and often cause more problems than they solve. Passing massive new entitlements and regulatory schemes at home have a funny and predictable way of killing economic growth and screwing the young out of a future that was once so bright they were gonna have to wear shades. Attempts to enforce social, cultural, and economic equality routinely end up advancing only the interests of the groups controlling the doling out of favors.
In fact, what's great about America is that it is millions of individuals who get to "make history" however the fuck they want to. They might start a business that revolutionizes the transportation or computer industry, or they might teach poor kids or spend their time finding their own bliss in an art studio in their basement. But the point is that unlike the fiefdoms of old Europe and the would-be empires of the Middle East and Asia, America has at its best decentralized history making to its individual inhabitants. We do best when government at levels stops trying to regiment us into some version of the good life and instead creates a simple framework for us to have maximum freedom to pursue our own passion projects (i.e., our lives).
You get the picture. If you become president, think less about history and what you can do to restrain the size, scope, and spending of government which has metastisized since your husband left office, very little of of it for the good of America much less humanity. Channel the humility with which George W. Bush entered office but keep it real rather than embarking on some epic road trip of history-making that will inevitably be only slightly less hallucinatory, ruinous, and unreadable for future generations than the one undertaken by Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.