Friday, April 11, 2008

Hillary and Bosnia

I guess you all know about the Democrat Party primary here in the USA. Obama and Clinton. Hillary Clinton. Not much difference between the two except for gender and race. Plus, Clinton says she will return to the good old days of her husband's presidency, while Obama says he will bring in change. He does not say what kind of change, exactly, or at least I can not tell, but it is about hope and peace at home and abroad. Clinton means the good old days of economic prosperity and non lying presidents (hmm). Because their differences are largely symbolic, they need to say what it means, to remove ambiguity, to give people reasons to vote (or not). This is easier done by attacking the symbols and meanings the other candidate gives, by re-framing their opposition's interpretations, in ways that hurt the opposition, and thereby help their own campaigns.

Clinton says she is more qualified because of her experience in the White House. What experience? She was the First Lady. That usually is not a position that relates to policy, politics, and decision making. It sounds like experience by osmosis, like using a textbook as a pillow as a way to learn algebra. Clinton says hers was an executive post, and she give examples of experience she gained there. This will eventually catch up with her and President Clinton's legacy because it will require unraveling what happened in that White House and who and how power was managed there. Was Hillary Clinton as First Lady in a position to make decisions, even if she was not elected? Is that an abuse of power, and by whom? How did President Clinton use this to his advantage? What was the role of Gore as Vice President?

Clinton claimed she arrived in Bosnia under sniper fire. Sinbad, a comedian who was with her on the plane that landed, said, no, there was no danger. The press investigated. Revealed Clinton was not under danger. Clinton seems to have taken the suffering of the people of Bosnia and used it to her advantage. To have taken their side and used that to her advantage, she knows what it is like to be out of power, a victim, and is now fighting for all of those people, all over the world.

Actually, President Clinton did something to help people in Bosnia who were attacked, but it was rather late. Actually, Senator Clinton, who was then First Lady Clinton, pushed for health care reform in the US, rather than engaging internationally. That happens in many presidencies, when a president decides that, but I am not sure it usually happens with the First Lady, and I am not sure that a First Lady has influence matters at all. However, it usually does not happen that what went on in a White House is later opened up in such a way as to create convenient symbolic alliances that never existed and at the same time ask new questions about a former presidency. And finally, Bosnia is not something to play with, their suffering is not something to use to your advantage, especially when you did not, in fact, really do much to help people there. And frankly, not many in the US policy world are so interested in Bosnia, and it is a complicated situation to begin with, so it was not worth it for her to bring it up to advance her position.

Then, Clinton said the media was waiting for her to misspeak because they are against her. She is often a clever campaign politician, using whatever lines are necessary to advance her cause. Clinton does best when perceived in a position of the victim of attacks.

So, either McCain or Obama is fine with me. Which is too bad, because I started out excited to vote for a woman candidate.