Hillary Clinton’s Xenophobia (Part I)
What do Hillary Clinton’s campaign tactics against Barack Obama reveal about her worldview?
- What the new president's team needs to do first is to take care of the long list of pressing tasks on the home front.
- One minute, she is a true Madam of the World — and the next she is full of distrust of the world. Which way is it, Mrs. Clinton?
- All of a sudden, after months of a flawlessly executed campaign, there are concerns about Obama getting "swiftboated."
- The tactically skillful exploitation of temporary stupidities (à la Powers) or naivété (à la Goolsbee) are, of course, the essence of politics as usual.
No doubt, Barack Obama is currently going through the worst weeks of his entire presidential campaign. First, there was the incident of his marquee foreign policy advisor, Samantha Power, amateurishly running her mouth. Declaring that Hillary Clinton is a “monster” is unpardonable.
Then there are the conversations which Obama’s principal economic advisor, Austan Goolsbee, had with the Canadian government about NAFTA.
All of a sudden, after months of a flawlessly executed campaign, there are concerns about Obama getting “swiftboated” (or worse, that — John Kerry-style — he may be swiftboating himself).
Answering Hillary Clinton’s pomposity about her 35 years of experience could have easily been countered by pointing to the careers of distinguished women politicians.
Just consider California’s Diane Feinstein, who has spent a totality of 29 years in public life in meaningful posts, first as mayor of San Francisco and then as a U.S. Senator. Or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose career in the U.S. Congress now spans 21 years.
But what matters from a global perspective is something completely different, namely Hillary Clinton’s artful xenophobia in taking Obama to task for letting his advisors speak in such ways “to foreign journalists and governments.”
What precisely is the implication here? That a contest for the top political leadership post in the country cannot involve statements made to foreigners? That speaking to them soils the image of the United States?
Even worse is the implication that Obama and his team are apparently prepared to make common cause with foreigners, operating in the shadows and behind the backs of the American people.
The suggestion is clear enough: Upstanding Americans cannot trust this man. Come to think of it, can we really afford to make a man President of the United States whose deceased father hailed from Kenya, a country which has been displaying barbaric acts of violence on the world’s TV screens in recent weeks? In a country where people have long been conditioned that the medium is the message, such images matter.
Regarding the Goolsbee incident, the charge is similar: Obama and his team are evidently hell-bent to stab hard-working, honest Americans in the back — and consort with the loonies from Canada.
Such a tactically skillful exploitation of temporary stupidities (à la Powers) or naivété (à la Goolsbee) out of all proportions are, of course, the essence of politics as usual.
Moreover, they are carefully calculated to resonate with an American electorate insecure of its own future economic fortunes. Under such circumstances, it almost always works to circle the wagons and claim to keep the foreigners out of the tent of American politics.
As if that could really happen. As if the media today weren’t global. And as if the Canadians weren’t worried about being the 51st U.S. state (and weren’t not-so-jokingly referred to by Americans by that name quite often).
These two episodes — and Hillary Clinton’s ominous-sounding critique about engaging with foreigners — wouldn’t be a big deal if the New York Senator had not, in the same week of her campaign, made such a big deal about her network of contacts with world leaders (which is actually quite thinly woven).
One minute, she is a true Madam of the World — and the next she is full of distrust of the world. Which way is it, Mrs. Clinton?
Her statements that — once in the White House — her presence will virtually single-handedly restore the prestige of the United States around the world to the same stellar level as it was under her husband’s administration, are based on a fallacy.
While most people around the globe look forward to a new U.S. government operating once again more in the traditions of international cooperation, the world has moved on. Few nations are yearning for American leadership, even though they are most certainly yearning for an end to the systemic obstructionism and non-cooperation à la Bush.
That promise, though — just vote for me and the United States will again be the top dog in the global game — is always implied by Hillary Clinton and her advisors, who lust for their turn at “running the world.”
What the new president’s team needs to do first and foremost is to take care of the long list of pressing tasks on the home front.
Given that vast range of domestic tasks — from schools to health care to infrastructure, from housing to the country’s financial and regulatory system — there positively won’t be any time to “run the world” — as tempting as that task may sound.
Ultimately, focusing on that dimension is tantamount to running away from what really needs doing, ensuring that the proud U.S. of A. does not become even more of a fixer-upper.
Editor’s Note: Read Part II of this feature here.