As I mentioned in a recent post, I've fallen off the wagon and started immersing myself again in the world of high politics. Shit's just been too damn interesting. This week was an especially action-packed one, as it has seen Hilary Clinton's presser about her emails and the "letter of the 47" wherein Senate Republicans have attempted to sabotage the president's negotiations with Iran. While I can't connect the two without laboring to do it a little, I think it's fruitful to discuss them both.
As far as HRC is concerned, I'm hardly surprised that yet another Clintonian scandal has sprung almost a year before Iowa and New Hampshire. The Clintons seem to revel in constantly having to defend themselves against accusations, it is their oxygen. A lot of time has passed since 2008, and many Democrats seem to have forgotten why they didn't vote for Clinton back then. This most recent scandal, which like most Clinton scandals involves barely legal skeeviness, has been quite the reminder of why so many Dems were willing to jump ship for Obama. Hilary's supporters like to point out that she is vetted, as if no new scandals can hurt her. The voters know exactly what they're going to get, so goes the argument. However, that fact might be Clinton's biggest problem. After Obama's eight years of relatively drama-free style, the Clinton way looks unnecessarily distracted.
It's been a few days since the revelations about the emails, and people are still talking about it in a way that makes me think it could have legs. Much of this could perhaps be chalked up
to the public's increasing agitation at the lack of transparency in the national security state. If Clinton is so quick to hide her official activities from scrutiny, that does not make a lot of people comfortable about her overseeing the NSA. I find it strange that the major media outlets haven't really discussed this angle much, and have instead been treating it as Just Another Clinton Scandal, like Filegate or something. Yes, this is driven in large part by the opportunism of her opponents, but at a time when there is a greater thirst for transparency, her actions strike a false note, even if they are not illegal or that rare.
And now on to Tom Cotton and his merry band of Republican meddlers. There is a kind of crazy strain in conservative foreign policy that insists that onetime enemies be enemies for life. If you don't believe me, go back and look at what George Will and his like said about Reagan after his overtures to Gorbachev. They compared his actions to, you guessed it, Chamberlain's signing of the Munich Agreement appeasing Hitler. If they had their way, the Cold War would have never ended. More recently, conservatives have wailed and gnashed their teeth over normalized relations with Cuba, evidently hoping to continue our completely failed isolation position until the end of time. This same mentality is behind the now infamous letter to Iran penned by freshman Senator Tom Cotton, who has shot to the top of the charts in the "Could there possibly be a Republican politician more insufferable than Ted Cruz?" sweepstakes. The gang of 47 wants Iran to be America's bitter enemy no matter what, and will abet the policies of extreme Zionists like Netanyahu no matter how badly they hurt America's relations with the rest of the world. They remind me of the stories of Japanese soldiers found decades after World War II ended, unaware that the war had ended and still ready to fight. No reality can dim their ardor for perpetual war and conflict.
In this particular case there is also a strange kind of strategy by Republicans to shift the focus from domestic to foreign affairs, now that the economy is improving. Cotton's letter is a pretty craven attempt to resurrect the neo-conservative world crusade, whose abject failures have yet to cure its adherents of their wrong-headedness. I'm not sure Americans are exactly itching to repeat the experience of Iraq and Afghanistan, but whatever. Of course, instead of calling out conservatives for advocating a ridiculously belligerent stance that has shed much blood in the last decade and a half, liberals have instead screamed "treason!" While the Senators' actions deserve condemnation, and are unprecedented in their lack of respect for a sitting president, they hardly qualify as treason. By making those accusations the story then puts the burden of proof on the accuser, and the substance of the letter, which is quite frightening in its implications, gets totally forgotten.
If anything ties the Clinton email scandal and the letter of the 47 together, it's that they both demonstrate, yet again, the craven worthlessness of our political class. It's enough to make me go back to stop caring about what they do again.