Jan 27, 2014

Do You Like Your Bourbon Neat?

commentary by killre

It was like a scene from The West Wing.

Although she has yet to officially declare her intention for the presidency, Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign for the Democratic Party's nomination for said office is like that grainy footage of the far turn at the 1973 Belmont Stakes, with an agitated Chic Anderson hollering, "He's moving like a tremendous machine!  Secretariat by twelve!  Secretariat by fourteen lengths...!"  Regardless of how you feel about her, you have to recognize Clinton has certain political and logistical pluses.  She has some minuses, too.  I'll not be compiling a list of either here, partly because some items would involve a debate as to which category they belong.  I will say, though, that I find some cross-metaphorical irony in the biggest political move she has made since coming up short at the end of the long hot summer of 2008.  That move, of course, was accepting the job of Secretary of State.

The job itself comes with an inherent irony.  It is a major cabinet post --the nation's leading diplomat-- so it's important.  Nine days out of ten, though, cable news finds talking about a cabinet post --any cabinet post-- every bit as sexy as talking about a fence post, so there is a bubble of relative calm enveloping it.  Moreover, foreign policy tends to be the one area of our political landscape where both sides still strive to maintain some civility, lest the nation-states of the world smell weakness, so Secretary of State is usually further insulated.  That, uh, state of being plays a role in the specific irony of the case of Hillary Clinton.  Part of the job description, you see, is to fly all over the world, and part of the reason she took the job was to make us forget about all her baggage-- a significant portion of which bears the monogram WJC, as in William Jefferson Clinton.

One of Hillary Clinton's biggest advantages, should she run, is her classification as a female-type homo sapiens.  The Democratic party has been seeking, in part at least, to enhance this advantage by trying to convince us the Republicans are conducting a War on Women, which is less a war than it is the Mother of all Blind Spots-- like the time you overslept and it was a particularly frosty morning and you started driving to work having de-iced only the windshield, and not even all of that.  Particular to the presidential picking process, the Dems are trying to make the Reps leery of how, or even if, they should attack poor, poor, put-upon Hillary.  So, like the conservatives they are, the Republicans are reaching into an old bag of tricks: lobbing eggs and rotten fruit at ol' Bill, hoping some of the splash gets on Hillary while still being able to deny they were throwing at her.

The recent tribulations and possible impending trials of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have the presidential horse-race handicappers on the Republican side rejiggering the odds.  For the time being, many are provisionally picking as the front-runner that TEA-partyin' libertarian Republican Kentuckian whose last name is a first name (Paul) and whose first name is, well, for that I'd need another paragraph...

Rand [rand] can be defined three ways.  One: a strip of leather used in shoemaking.  Two: a border or margin (some will find that even more appropriate).  Three: a four-letter version of the nickname "Randy," which as a word means horny; probably preferred because the person in question would rather be thought of as either of the first two.

So it came to pass that Randal Howard "Rand" Paul met via satellite with David Gregory on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday morning, trying to sound more like an old strip of leather and less like someone on the margins.  It was a lengthy interview.  I'll not try to deal with most of it here, but there were a couple of items that caught my ear...

Gregory began by pointing out the junior senator from KY has some possible baggage of his own: his father, former Texas congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul.  The senator handled that well enough; then Gregory followed by specifically addressing some of the heightened rhetoric used by many TEA-partyin' libertarian Republican types, including both Pauls, asking, "Is the Federal government guilty of tyranny?"

Paul began his response by referencing Charles Louis Secondat, the Baron de Montesquieu, a French-born political philosopher whose arrival in this world predated the framing of the U.S. Constitution by just shy of a century, and whose ideas on the separation of powers served as that document's foundation...

"Well, you know, Montesquieu talked about when the executive branch tries to assume the legislative powers that that's a form of tyranny.  So, yeah, there are times when we lose our checks and balances, when government grows, and when government's not obeying the rule of law, that that is a form of tyranny."

I would note that government simply growing is not necessarily tyrannical, but I don't have to.  Senator Paul quickly added this:

"Tyranny is a strong word, but it makes people sit up and-and-and-and take notice."

Oh.  So, in other words, just because I say "tyranny" doesn't mean it actually is tyranny... but I made you look!

Much later in the interview, Gregory brought forth a quote from Paul's wife, Kelley, reciting a passage written by Jason Horowitz and printed in Vogue magazine...

"While her husband jokes that his 'gut feeling' that Hillary Clinton will not run for president is a good thing since 'all the polls show her trouncing any opponents,' Kelley ... practically cuts him off to say Bill Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky should complicate his return to the White House, even as First Spouse.  'I would say his behavior was predatory, offensive to women,' she tells me."

...and used it to contextualize the question, "Are these issues something that you r-really think will be fair game and an appropriate part of a campaign, should she [Clinton] be the nominee?"

Paul, in part:
"...I think really the media seems to ... have given President Clinton a pass on this.  He took advantage of a girl that was twenty years old and an intern in his office.  There is no excuse for that.  And that is predatory behavior... This isn't [about] having an affair...  Someone who takes advantage of a young girl in their office, I mean, really, and then they have the gall to stand up and say Republicans are having a war on women?  So, yes, I think it's a factor.  And that's not Hillary's fault..."

Gregory cut him off at that point to re-specify the question: "Is it something Hillary Clinton should be judged on, if she were a candidate in 2016?"

"Yeah, no, I-I-I'm not, I'm not saying that.  This was with regard to "The Clintons," and sometimes it's hard to separate one from the other, but I would say that, with regard to his place in history, that it certainly is a discussion..."

Translation: I have nothing against Hillary herself, but do we really want to elect someone who's married to that guy?

Neatly done, Senator.  Neatly done.

P.S.... Dan "You've Had Your Coffee Ration For This Week, Robespierre" Hicks must go.

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