Thursday, October 8, 2015




Hillary Clinton announces that she’s now opposed to the trade agreement she negotiated in 2012.  Today at The Daily Beast, I write on how this is an indication of how dumb she thinks we all are. As an expression of throwback reflexes on trade and growth, this move amounts to Trumpism in a pantsuit. And it’s something more: It’s evidence that a second Clinton presidency can only be won on the ashes of the legacy and vision of the first—a triangulating presidency during which entitlements were reformed significantly and free trade expanded.

Yet I wonder if all the campaign operatives right and left now saying, “Oh, Hillary’s flip-flopping, she’s contradicting what’s in her book—this could damage her,” have been paying attention to anything the voters have learned about Hillary Clinton in the intervening years. Of course it won’t damage her to flip-flop. She has been for all the things before she was against them.

The trap for Republicans is assuming the TPP news presents some new kind of weapon against Clinton, instead of one already dulled past the point of uselessness. Many Americans think Clinton is impossible to trust. They view her as a stone-faced liar—about everything, for years—and yet she’s still neck and neck with the Republicans, which tells you a little something about the party’s brand.

Do Republican operatives think it is news to the American people after the decades of knowledge we have about Clinton that she is shifty? No one cares. That she will obfuscate to the point of congressional inquiry? No one is surprised. That she will flip-flop according to poll numbers? No one thinks otherwise! What matters is whether people think she’ll fight for them, and in this economically backward way, that’s what she’s promising.

Flip-flops like these are not comparable for other politicians. It’s not as if Ted Cruz is saying he’s for raising some income tax rates, or Bernie Sanders is saying he’s for raising the Social Security retirement age. Such statements would almost certainly follow a thorough, thoughtful vetting process about the substantive pros and cons of each policy. “After long consideration and reconsideration,” and so on and so forth.

These rules do not apply to Clinton, which is why it’s pointless to make a fuss about her stated “position” on TPP. She is likely lying about what she thinks, and even if she’s not, her words have no necessary relationship with her true policy goals. The odds of Clinton pushing this agreement forward yesterday were 50/50, and today they are 50/50. It is a position taken for the sake of advantage at this juncture of a long campaign—and there is no reason she will feel bound by it once in the White House.

Clinton’s campaign positions are just about doing whatever will do her the most political good in the moment, like Lucille Bluth deciding between her least favorite children. Her positions are just words designed to get herself into the desk where she can then decide what is best for all the little people. Clinton’s words are the cake she lets the voters eat. And eat it they will.


No comments:

Post a Comment