Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hillary’s Bad Politics and Worse Ideas - Bruce Thornton

by Bruce Thornton

These comments embody everything that is wrong with a modern foreign policy based on Kantian delusions about a global “harmony of interests,” the notion that all peoples are just like us and want all the same goods such as peace, prosperity, political freedom, and respect for human rights. If they behave differently, it’s because they just don’t know these goods are in their best interests, or they have been traumatized by history

141124111023-hillary-clinton-new-hampshire-story-topOnce again Hillary Clinton has given the Republicans some suicidal soundbites they should stash away for 2016 in the likely event she is the Democratic candidate for president. A review of some of her recent statements reveals that Clinton is not just entitled, money-grubbing, unlikeable, unpleasant, and unaccomplished. Nor do they just show that she is a political dunce who has obviously learned nothing from her politically brilliant husband. More seriously, they expose her commitment to failed ideas and dangerous delusions.

First there was the “What difference at this point does it make!” she practically shrieked to Senator Ron Johnson during a January 2013 hearing on the Benghazi debacle that unfolded on September 11, 2012. Clinton had told the grieving parents of the victims during the transfer of remains ceremony at Andrews Air Force base that they died because of “an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with.” Four Americans, including an ambassador, had been murdered on her watch, but she refused to explain to the Senate why she blamed the hapless maker of a YouTube video, who spent a year in jail.

This evasion is significant, for within hours of the attack it was clear that it had been a carefully coordinated, well-planned assault, not the spontaneous reaction to a video. Soon it also became known that ambassador Stevens had repeatedly requested increased security, but had been denied by officials in the State and Defense Departments. As Secretary of State, Clinton was ultimately responsible for those decisions made by State, as well as for the astonishing failure to notice the escalating violence in the months before the attacks, or the significance of the anniversary of 9/11, or the immediate evidence that the attack was not a spontaneous reaction to a video that had been on YouTube for weeks.

But in her response to all this evidence of negligence and post facto political spin, all she could do was indignantly declare that all these failures were irrelevant. In 2016, this footage of the arm-waving, shrill Clinton transparently trying to misdirect the Senators and the citizens from her patent incompetence should be played and replayed in political ads.

Next came the more recent revelation of her embarrassing economic ignorance, shameless pandering to her left-wing base. At a campaign event in October, attended also by lefty heartthrob Elizabeth Warren, Clinton lectured, “Don’t let anybody, don’t let anybody tell you that, ah, you know, it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs. You know that old theory, trickle-down economics. That has been tried, that has failed. It has failed rather spectacularly.”

Somehow Clinton missed the 1980s, when economic and tax policies that encouraged business investment led to spectacular growth. As the Laffer Center explains,

“According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, 1982-1999 was one continuous mega-economic expansion.  In fact, as it stretched into 2007, this 25 Year Boom saw a tripling in the net wealth of U.S. households and businesses from $20 trillion in 1981 to $60 trillion by 2007.  When adjusted for inflation, more wealth was created in this 25-year boom than in the previous 200 years. This sustained economic growth is not only impressive on its own, but even more astonishing as it compares to the period immediately preceding it.  In the 10 years from 1972-1982, recessions were deep and recoveries were short.  In fact, throughout American history, the nation’s economy has been in recession or depression roughly one-third of the time.  But from 1981-2005, the annual growth rate of real gross domestic product (GDP) in the U.S. was 3.4 percent per year, and 3.8 percent per year during the 1983-1989 Reagan expansion alone.”

Compare that to the performance of Obama’s economic policies over the last 6 years, when intrusive regulatory regimes like Dodd-Frank and a runaway EPA, Obamacare’s highjacking of the health-care industry, the trillion-dollar stimulus squandered on crony socialist projects like “green energy,” and the anti-business rhetoric of Obama’s “you didn’t build that,” have all led to sluggish economic growth, metastasizing debt, declining income for the middle class, an explosion in entitlement spending, and nearly 20 million unemployed and under-employed.

Contrary to Clinton’s Keynesian superstitions and dirigiste magical thinking, what has “failed spectacularly” has been progressive economic policies that think parasitic politicians and unaccountable government bureaucrats can manage a complex, dynamic economic system better than a free market that incentivizes people to actually build businesses that create jobs and increase wealth. And just as spectacularly incompetent is Hillary’s political tin ear that lets her make such a statement just to curry favor with a narrow base of anti-capitalist fundamentalists, when she surely must know that come the 2016 presidential election, those words will be pinned to the Obama albatross sure to be hanging around her neck.

Finally, there is the bizarre statement at Georgetown last week about improving our foreign policy with what she called “smart power”:  “Using every possible tool and partner to advance peace and security. Leaving no one on the sidelines. Showing respect even for one’s enemies. Trying to understand, in so far as psychologically possible, empathize with their perspective and point of view. Helping to define the problems, determine the solutions.” She then added a banal cliché of modern feminism, suggesting that the lack of women negotiators and signatories was responsible for the failure of many peace treaties. After all, women are naturally more empathetic and sensitive to others’ “point of view,” one of those Victorian stereotypes that feminists used to tell us were sexist insults.

These comments embody everything that is wrong with a modern foreign policy based on Kantian delusions about a global “harmony of interests,” the notion that all peoples are just like us and want all the same goods such as peace, prosperity, political freedom, and respect for human rights. If they behave differently, it’s because they just don’t know these goods are in their best interests, or they have been traumatized by history, particularly the depredations of Western colonialism, imperialism, and capitalist exploitation, which are the causes of their violent aggression and brutality. Thus if we “understand” and “empathize” with the roots of our enemies’ behavior, they will see the light and abandon aggression and tyranny.

This is the same delusion that Obama based his foreign policy on, as evidenced by his infamous “apology tour,” on which he donned the hair shirt of Western sin and groveled before foreign audiences. It’s the application to foreign affairs of the two-bit psychologizing that dominates the public schools, where boosting self-esteem and “empathizing” with punks and bullies are the favored mechanisms for teaching and civilizing young people. It utterly lacks any understanding of the tragic constants of human nature and the wisdom accumulated by the human race since the ancient Greeks and Hebrews––that, as Machiavelli said, “all men are bad and that they will use their malignity of mind every time they have the opportunity.”

For all her alleged foreign policy toughness, Clinton’s philosophy embodies the bad utopian ideals that have enabled much of the disorder afflicting the world since their spectacular failure in preventing World War I. We hear the same delusions in the words of Neville Chamberlain after Hitler’s Anschluss of Austria in March 1938, when he told the House of Commons, “We should take any and every opportunity to try to remove any genuine and legitimate grievance that may exist,” and then imagined telling Hitler, “The best thing you can do is to tell us exactly what you want for your Sudeten Deutsch.” Such blind “empathy” and “understanding” and “respect” for Germany’s “grievances,” of course, in 6 months culminated in the debacle of Munich and the devastating sequel of World War II.

Contrary to Clinton and Obama, enemies like Vladimir Putin, ISIS, Bashar al Assad, Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram, the Ayatollah Khamenei, and Xi Jinping are not the global village’s wayward teenagers “acting out” because they don’t know their own best interests and suffer from insufficient self-esteem and “respect.” They are hard, brutal men, vicious and ruthless, who know exactly what they want, and who possess beliefs alien to Western ideals like liberal democracy, human rights, tolerance, and a preference for diplomatic words and “mutual understanding and respect.” In their “perspective” and “point of view,” violence is a tool of international relations, and a legitimate instrument for achieving their aims and interests. And they have nothing but contempt for our schoolmarmish empathy and respect, which they correctly interpret as civilizational weakness and a failure of morale. All they respect is force. That’s the most important truth we need to “understand.”

These 3 statements reveal political beliefs and character flaws that should automatically disqualify Hillary Clinton from being president. And even if we attribute them to rank ambition and venal opportunism rather than sincere belief, their sheer political stupidity and lack of prudence bespeak a mind and character unfit for leading the most powerful country on the planet.

Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, a Research Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, and a Professor of Classics and Humanities at the California State University. He is the author of nine books and numerous essays on classical culture and its influence on Western Civilization. His most recent book, Democracy's Dangers and Discontents (Hoover Institution Press), is now available for purchase.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just hope people will remember this stuff in 2016

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