The divisions in the blogosphere over Hillary Clinton can be seen in a diary by Alegre at Daily Kos which calls for a strike by Clinton supporters who are unhappy with how they are treated at the site. This is significant not because of being a dispute at one blog but because it demonstrates the rifts in the liberal blogosphere. Marc Ambinder explains:
Who Hillary Clinton is and what she represents has been THE debate among Democratic activists for years. It is now THE national debate. The Democratic Party may well come together and support its nominee. But the debate about Clinton, her (and his) politics, the legacy, the tactics — will endure.
Bloggers tend to have strong opinions or they wouldn’t be bothering with blogs. Blogs also tend to bring out a number of people who behave quite terribly, even if they represent a tiny minority of the supporters for any candidate. The problem faced by Clinton supporters is that she represents many of the views and the type of politics which many of us are protesting in our blogging. While the dispute at Kos is being framed as being between Obama supporters and Clinton supporters that is not quite accurate. Many Obama supporters, such as myself, are not backers of Barack Obama specifically but have been opposed to Clinton for much of the primary race. The dishonesty of Clinton’s campaign since she was challenged by Obama this winter further reinforces our view that Hillary Clinton is unfit to be president.
Many of us preferred other candidates who are no longer in the race. Some of us now back Obama because of the viable major party candidates he is the only one without strong negatives which prevent us from supporting him, leaving him as our only choice. The dispute isn’t so much Obama supporters versus Clinton supporters but a dispute between the attitudes of the majority of the liberal blogosphere and the attitudes of Clinton’s apologists.
For many of us Clinton’s views and conduct cause us to see her as not being significantly better than George Bush and John McCain. The most obvious example of this is her support of the war. Her efforts to rewrite history regarding her views and the views of Obama do nothing to increase our support for her but do create a great deal of contempt for the Clinton supporters who promote lies of this magnitude.
Another reason many turned to the blogosphere in protest over the policies of George Bush has been the extension of presidential power. Clinton fails as an alternative on the issues of presidential power and executive privilege. Clinton has supported decreased transparency and would be more likely to continue, and I fear abuse, the powers taken by George Bush.
While the conventional wisdom is that Obama and Clinton have similar views, I’ve noted considerable differences after moving beyond party line votes. For example, Clinton opposed needle exchange programs, favored strict sentences for drug use (while Obama has favored retroactive changes), supported legislation to ban flag burning, supported censorship of video games, and opposed the banning of cluster bombs. These are just some of the areas where Clinton has supported the status quo while Obama has been on the right side.
Besides being a supporter of the status quo, the Clintons have shown a disturbing tendency to compromise on matters of principle out of political expediency. After the 2004 election it was revealed that Bill Clinton had called John Kerry advising him to support the Constitutional amendments banning same sex marriage where they were on the ballot, arguing that Kerry would have a better chance of winning such states. Kerry refused to compromise principle in this matter, but does anyone really doubt that Hillary Clinton would have taken Bills advice?
With Clinton being on the conservative side on foreign policy, civil liberties, and social issues it is no wonder that many of us do not find Clinton to be an acceptable candidate. The dishonesty of her campaign, and willingness to engage in tactics which many of us see as being tantamount to stealing an election makes Clinton even less tolerable an option.
I’ve reviewed many of Clinton’s dishonest statements in multiple previous posts. For example, Clinton has sent out mailers which were totally misleading regarding Obama’s positions on issues such as Social Security, abortion rights, Iraq, and health care. Clinton’s distortions on abortion rights led Lorna Brett Howard, the former President of Chicago NOW, to drop her support for Clinton and back Obama. Clinton has also raised bogus charges such on plagiarism, distorted the meaning of voting present in the Illinois legislature, and distorting Obama’s references to Ronald Reagan in an interview. Lawrence Lessig made an excellent video summarizing the reasons to oppose Clinton due to her character. I have previously posted both the video and a transcript here. Bill Bradley has also commented on Clinton’s dishonesty recently as as noted here.
Ultimately the democratic process is more important than any individual issue. The mere fact that Clinton campaigns against Obama by repeatedly distorting Obama’s positions in her stump speeches, mailers, and robo-calls is already damaging to the democratic process which is dependent upon voters making an informed choice between the candidates. Clinton’s manipulation of the facts has been every bit as Orwellian, and every bit as disturbing, as the dishonesty we see from the Bush administration. Clinton’s attempts to seat delegates elected outside of party rules in Michigan and Florida, and her more recent talk about going after pledged delegates, are seen as even more serious attempts to break the rules and steal an election.
It was largely a combination of the feeling that George Bush had stolen an election, along with his support for the war, which fueled the early opposition to George Bush and the development of the liberal blogosphere. We cannot simultaneously oppose George Bush and accept the same problems from Hillary Clinton. Those who will write justifications for Hillary Clinton will inevitably wind up in conflict with the majority of liberal bloggers, making such disputes at Daily Kos inevitable.