05 June 2008

what HE said (better than me)

Power at any cost
Thursday, June 05, 2008 by Father Raymond J. De Souza, National Post

Whatever else he might accomplish, Senator Barack Obama has prevented the restoration of the Clintons. That alone is cause for rejoicing.

How did he do it? It was partly about him, but mostly about her. Many have remarked that in the identity-politics world of the Democratic Party, the first credible black candidate trumped the first credible woman candidate.
That is largely true, but it is not a phenomenon of the Democratic Party alone.

Americans as a whole are eager to give their support to blacks who manifest aspirations of racial harmony. Consider the last 25 years. The most popular comic: Bill Cosby. The most popular athletes: Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods. The most popular talk-show host: Oprah Winfrey. The most popular general: Colin Powell.

Obama demonstrated the same holds true in politics. Yet a freshman senator with an ultraliberal voting record does not win the nomination without deep weakness in the competition. Obama became the chosen instrument for those who fervently wished to prevent the Clintons from coming back. In this race, being the not-Clinton was as important as being black.

When the Democratic Party rules committee decided last weekend to give Obama several dozen delegates from the disputed Michigan delegation, it marked the end of Clinton's slim chance to win the nomination. But it was back in Michigan on Jan. 15 when the formidable power of being the not-Clinton first became clear.

In Michigan, Clinton was the only name on the ballot, the others having withdrawn their names to conform with the rules against too-early primaries. Competing against no one in what was considered a meaningless primary, Clinton won 55% of the vote. But a staggering 40% of Democratic primary voters went out in the middle of winter to vote for "uncommitted," i. e., to vote for anyone but Hillary Clinton.

That was the key to this election year -- the determination of so many to stop the apparent Clinton juggernaut. It is the flip-side of the Obama phenomenon -- just as he makes Americans feel better about their country, the Clintons make Americans feel dirty.

It's not just that both of them are "extraordinarily gifted liars," in the words of former Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey, though Hillary's make-believe story about dodging sniper fire in Bosnia confirmed that. It's not just their shady associations, though Bill's lucrative post-presidential life has been filled with those. It's not just their willingness to damage their party for their own good, though their explicit racial campaigning shocked even their progressive supporters.

It's not just the sexual harassment, the cash-for-pardons, the preening sense of entitlement, the perpetual claims of victim-hood, the general all-purpose tawdriness of it all. It is something deeper, a sense that this couple exists solely, exclusively, totally and utterly for the pursuit of power. It is what they have devoted their entire adult lives to. Power cannot corrupt them, as the perpetual search for power has long since rendered them free of any principles or honour to corrupt.

In one of the various personas Hillary adopted for the campaign, she would regularly boast that she had "35 years of experience" in making change. That's her entire life since leaving college. It was not a good line, for it reminded voters what is fundamentally creepy about the Clintons, that they have spent their entire adult lives running for the highest office open to them. And when Bill achieved the presidency at a young age, the only thing left was to start running Hillary, which she began to do before she even left the White House.

The Clintons are morally repellent to many Americans not because of any particular abuse of power, but because they are the purest symbol of the pursuit of power at any cost. They degrade the office they seek because all they know how to do is to seek office.

Some years ago, when Anthony Hopkins played Richard Nixon in Oliver Stone's 1995 film about the former president, Nixon was shown brooding in the White House the night before his resignation. He comes upon the portrait of JFK, his archrival, and says: "When they look at you, they see what they want to be. When they look at me, they see what they are."

Americans look at the Clintons and see what they do not want to become. And so Hillary and Bill have been rejected. Enjoy the four years -- at which point they will be back. It's all they know how to do.

AMEN FATHER DE SOUZA (it's amazing how sometimes things are seen so much more clearly from a distance)