Clinton: turn
for the worse

Author Doug Henwood tells Jamie Kenny that US politics is in national decline

Hero image

Even before he called for a ban on all Muslim travel to the United States, mainstream US media were openly discussing whether the leading Republican candidate for next year’s presidential election is a fascist.

Not a conservative, an authoritarian or a right winger. An actual fascist.

They’re not alone. Members of businessman Donald Trump’s own party have recently taken to using the F word about the man consistently polling twice the numbers of his nearest primary contenders.

“Trump is a fascist. And that’s not a term I use loosely or often. But he’s earned it,” tweeted Max Boot, an adviser to Trump rival Marco Rubio.

This should be good news for leading Democratic contender Hillary Clinton. Having emerged from the shadow of her husband’s presidency to become a politician in her own right – a senior senator for New York and former Secretary of State – she should be an easy bet to become the US’s first woman president in a competition against a man too right wing for the US right.

Contradictory candidate

Not so fast. Clinton may not be Trump, but that’s about all she has going for her, according to a hard-hitting new book. In My Turn – Hillary Targets The Presidency, American writer, journalist and economic analyst Doug Henwood paints a picture of a pro-establishment politician beset by scandal, without either principles or detectable legislative achievements and firm only in the belief that she has a right to the world’s top job.

“If there is a Hillary worldview, it’s status quo plus – the plus being mainly about her,” Henwood told Big Issue North.

“She essentially represents the existing order, money plus American power, while pretending otherwise. She uses a rather narrow definition of feminism to promote this image, and her fans enhance the effect by imputing all sorts of progressive impulses to her.”

In My Turn, Clinton is revealed as the feminist who supported welfare reforms that impoverished millions of American women, the backer of equal marriage who once backed laws banning it, the candidate of “everyday Americans” who is also proud to be “the Senator for Wall Street” and the competent, can-do politician whose attempts to reform US healthcare during her husband’s first term were a complete failure.

According to Henwood, she also has a problem in distinguishing between the country’s business and her own. He notes that as Secretary of State she frequently lobbied hard not just for US business generally, but specifically for those businesses that donated to the Clinton Foundation, the family’s philanthropic enterprise. Want Clinton to use her office to promote your business interests? Just pay Bill a few hundred thousand dollars for a speech.

Political exhaustion

Perhaps worst of all for people worried about a looming Trump candidacy, she’s also a weak campaigner, says Henwood. In My Turn he cites a reporter with long experience covering both Clintons: “Bill’s ground zero assumption is that you’re an asshole but that he can charm you. Hillary’s ground zero assumption is just that you’re an asshole.”

“She doesn’t have much passionate support and an awful lot of people don’t like her – many for the wrong reasons, I should say.” Henwood told Big Issue North. “She’s not a natural politician – she can be wooden and say stupid things that cause her trouble. She’s got scores of scandals trailing her, and the Clinton Foundation could yet cause her even more trouble.

Henwood: "midst of national decline"
Henwood: Clinton is “status quo plus”

“It’s funny – both Trump and Hillary have high negatives in the polls. It’d be hard to imagine an election where both candidates are more disliked than they are liked, but I suppose this is what living in the midst of national decline is like.”

Perhaps the most disturbing message in My Turn is that Clinton’s candidature is evidence of wider political exhaustion in the Democratic Party, the last gasp of centrist politics-as-usual. Her main rival for the nomination, Bernie Sanders, is in his seventies and not even a Democrat. But no one else seems able to mount a credible run against a candidate who was easily swept aside by outsider Barack Obama in 2008.

“They have some very serious problems,” said Henwood. “They don’t have a very deep bench of future candidates. Both Hillary Clinton and Sanders have been around for a long time.

“I certainly have no problem with older candidates in themselves, but when they’re all you’ve got, you’ve got to worry.

“Also, while the Republican Party is frothing with hostility and delusion, they actually believe in something and are willing to fight for it. It’s hard to say what they – aside from a few like Sanders who is not actually a Dem – stand for.”

If it came down to Clinton versus Trump, said Henwood, holding his nose would still not be an option.

“As I say in the penultimate paragraph of the book, I’d listen respectfully to anyone who makes the lesser evil argument because the Republicans are truly horrible. But we need a longer-term plan to get out of these evil choices.”

My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency by Doug Henwood is published by OR Books

If you liked this article, we think you’ll enjoy these:

Interact: Responses to Clinton: turn for the worse

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.