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February 01, 2008


I rather doubt that the moderate Republicans, Independents, or Reagan Democrats want to see the KENNEDY DYNASTY resurrected by Teddy Kennedy, either.

With all due respect.

The dynastic argument and the comparison with the Bush family never carried a lot of weight with me, because Hillary isn't the child of a president, and Chelsea does not appear inclined toward electoral politics. There are lots of families in American politics with brothers and uncles and wives holding prominent positions. The Bush family is a dangerous dynasty because it's generational (and I would say the same thing about the Kennedys if any of the children of JFK's generation had risen to run for president.)

I think it had some resonance concerning Hillary because she chose to run primarily on "experience" (that is, not primarily as the outsider against the current administration), and because the Republicans were desperate to try to pretend that she was a pseudo-incumbent so they could avoid having Bush hung around their necks. While she speaks of her lifetime of experience, it's clear the main reference is to a restoration of the "good times" of the Clinton Administration. I don't fault that; it's clearly one of her strongest assets, but it's also bound to generate dynasty critiques.

Well said, Jim.

Neither Bill nor Hillary Clinton came from "dynasties;" neither of them were trust fund babies backed up by their wealthy family's "regime."

Average middle class kids, they were, worked hard, studied hard, ON THEIR OWN.

Not the same as Bushes or Kennedys.

Not by a long shot.

Mary, it's an interesting question, whether the "dynastic" objections would be raised if a Kennedy were in the race today -- and if they'd be being raised by the same people who level it against Clinton!

Clinton certainly is in no position to run as an "outsider" (and I don't think she's trying to), and Jim E-H, I think you make an astute point that the dynasty frame is really being used often (and somewhat sloppily) as shorthand for her insider status.

I don't know that Hillary Clinton really qualifies as "Dynastic" since in many ways she was First Counsel in Bill's Administration. I see it as just a way around the two term limit put into the Constitution in the early 1950's in hopes it would prevent another FDR four term Presidency.

Presidents don't do all the heavy lifting on their own -- they work through those they put into power in the Executive, the Judicial, and even in the Legislative, to the extent that a President, in charge of his/her Party, can influence who gets endorsed for congress. For instance, in his first year in office, Bill Clinton was looking around for a less progressive type from Minnesota whom he hoped would challenge Paul Wellstone in the endorsement (caucus) system in 1996. (Bill's candidate was Norm Coleman who was then Mayor of St. Paul, anti-union, and a bad fit for a party called the Democratic Farmer Labor Party.) It only stopped when he lost Congress in 1994. Bill went so far as for nine months to open up a DLC funded office next door to the DFL office in the Capitol Complex (office used during sessions for party lobby work) -- but it got closed once Mondale came back from Japan on Vacation, and had a little visit with Bill. But the same instinct spiked up again in 2006, when the DLC funded a Green Candidate for the 5th District Congressional Seat in the General Election, disturbed as they were about the nice progressive Minneapolis Lutherans deciding to endorse an African American Muslim.

By the way -- this is one reason I so strongly support Howard Dean's 50 State Project. It is only when state parties are strong enough to nurture, endorse and nominate and then elect their own without prior approval from whatever power center is at work in DC, that we will again have a strong party with guts.


I think the "dynasty" charge is really an empty one if applied to Clinton.

And the so-called "continuation" of the Kennedy flame by Obama--which he eagerly latched on to---is much more of an issue in Peoria.

I'm down here in red Texas--many of my Republican friends affectionately call me a "Communist" when I say Martin Luther King had great things to teach us.

That said, my moderate Republican friends will not be impressed by Obama's attempt at extending the Kennedy dynasty, and being associated with what they call that left-wing liberal Teddy Kennedy makes them think of Obama poorly.

Add being rated #1 liberal by National Journal, and being endorsed by Move-On (definitely Communists to Republican Texans), and he doesn't stand a chance.

That's really my point. I LIKE Obama, but what he's projecting won't attract the Reagan Democrats or Republican moderates that I know. He's not a centrist, and won't "unite" anybody but the same people John Kerry did.

But then again, Texas is a world unto itself, and by no means , will I be offended if you laugh out loud.

There's no "dynasty" on the Clinton side. It's a false charge.

There IS the "dynasty" with Obama's adoption by Uncle Teddy, and it isn't an attraction to those Obama thinks he can attract.

Mary, well, I hear you, and I've lived in Texas -- albeit in a more liberal (for Texas) region.

First, do you think Obama is trying (or thinks he could try in the future) to win over enough Texas Republicans to win there? I hadn't gotten that from his campaign, but I'm interested in others' views.

Second, it sounds more like the people you've talked to are objecting simply to where he is politically, not objecting for reasons of dynasty.

Finally, if he does have any chance of winning over enough Texas Republicans to matter, I think it's going to be by talking about faith (something he does better than Clinton or McCain) and not by policy or endorsement. At least with the Texans where I lived, church trumped state every time.

Well, actually, he HAS tried in Texas; rallies in Austin , where young 25-year-olds like my son LOVE him. But they usually can't find their voting registration cards, and many don't even register.
It's more like rock star concert for them.

There are plenty of moderate Republicans and Reagan Democrats disgusted by the Bush administration down here looking for something else.

But Obama's choice to align with Uncle Teddy and MoveOn.org will drive them right into the arms of John McCain.

It isn't Blackness. It isn't Dynasty. It isn't Faith. It isn't Experience.

It's the LIBERAL that they'll mind. And driver's licenses for illegal aliens.

We have to keep in mind, that while the Teddy Kennedy branch of the Democratic Party gives inspiring speeches, they NEVER get elected. Even JFK had to run to the right of Nixon on the missile issue to be credible.

I agree with the proposition that Hilary Clinton is less likely than Obama to be an agent of change. Check out her fundraising sources- she is raising a ton of money, much of it from large sources. Obama is raising a ton of money from very small sources. That tells us a lot about where her loyalty lies. She's close and cozy with big entrenched interests, Obama's campaign is much closer to populism. Also, check out the advisors she has brought into her campaign. There is no reason to expect dramatic change from that cast of characters.

global yokel, that's fine, but what I was pointing out was that the criticism is often levelled in terms of dynastic succession, when in fact dynasty has little to with it and there are (as you point out) legitimate reasons to critique her as a Washington traditionalist that are merely muddied by bringing Bill into of irrelevently!

On the other hand, global yokel, Obama's main contributor is Goldman Sachs.

It's why he voted AGAINST any caps for obscene interest rates on credit cards given to the poor or those with poor credit histories.
As it stands, his vote HELPED the credit card companies, who now can charge any interest rate they want.

Both Clinton and Edwards stood tall AGAINST that.

"The fact that she's part of a family who has a record of fixing exactly those problems is not really a drawback."

I beg to differ. Bill Clinton likes to claim credit for the dot-com boom of the 90s but doesn't really deserve it. What he does deserve credit for is pushing through Congress NAFTA and the WTO agreements capitulating national sovereignty to the secrecy of transnational governance thus subordinating workers, consumers and environment to supremacy of globalized commerce.

Let's not forget the Telecommuncations Act of 1996 concentrating more power in large telecom companies.

As far as Iraq is concerned, Clinton is responsible for the UN-backed economic sanctions leading to the death of about 500,000 children.

But the creme de la creme was repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999 through the help of then Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin (now CEO of Citigroup) which was designed to prevent a repeat of the 1920's scams in which banks made speculative investments, turned debts into securities, and sold them off to unsuspecting investors with the blessing of the bank. No more separation of Commercial and Investment Banks. The scandals that pumped up the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s, as well as the most flagrant cases like Enron, and the crash that followed, were the result of the SEC and the CEOs, their accountants, and stock analysts working for their bankers, all conspiring to puff up corporate balance sheets and pump up stock prices on which executive bonuses depend. Let's not forget Clinton's reappointing of Republican Alan Greenspan as Chair of Federal Reserve which assured no attention would be paid to the visible precursors of what is now the sub-prime mortgage crisis as Greenspan declined to use his regulatory authority and repeatedly showed that he almost never saw a risky financial instrument he couldn't justify. This Clinton deserves credit for as we sit on the precipice of a far greater crash than the depression of the 30s.

And Hillary never skips a beat in reminding people that a large part of her experience is based on the fact that she was first lady. Dynasty or not, I for one do not look forward to the continuation of the Clinton legacy.

Trashing a genius like Robert Rubin won't help your cause, greenhouse. Obama's main economic advisor believes in the privatization of Social Security; it's why Obama is falsely claiming a "Social Security crisis."

Besides, Robert Rubin and Bill Clinton gave us the TRUE Ronald Reagan legacy: balanced budgets and surpluses, WITHOUT raping the middle class. And lest you do the "NAFTA" whine, most informed Americans know that NAFTA was George Bush Sr's baby, signed by him December, 1992, quickly, before he left the White House, so Clinton would be locked into what Bush's own corporate contributors wanted.

What Bill Clinton did was to ADD environmental and labor regulations to implement FAIR TRADE, and they were enforced.

It wasn't until Bush 2 took office that enforcement of any of those nuances stopped. And it was BUSH who made China a fast-track trade partner, at the behest of his corporate sponsors.

With all due respect, I'll take Robert Rubin's balanced budgets and surpluses ANY DAY.

And Obama's economic advisors who are actually FOR Social Security privatization?

No thanks.

"agent of change" Tea Leaves 2008 http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22agent+of+change%22+bush&aq=f

Oh really Mary? Pray tell, what is the genius behind dismantling the one act that prohibited the same financial company from being both a commercial bank and an investment bank. If by genius you mean clever, I'll agree with you. You sound so enamored by the genius of Rubin that it verges on the pathetic. Anybody who praises an architect of our current state of imminent economic collapse needs to have their head checked. People like Rubin knew the potential damage of securitization of mortgage credit to a debtor economy. Through securitization, a mortgage broker could originate a loan, sell it to a mortgage banker, who would then sell it to an investment bank like Salomon Brothers, who in turn would package the mortagages into securities. These were then evaluated and coded (for a fee) by private bond rating agencies according to their supposed risk, and sold off to hedge funds or pension funds. Each of these worthies took their little cut, raising the cost of credit to the borrower. Rather than diffusing risks (a course that economic theory urges on a prudent capitalist nation), however, securization concentrated them, because everyone was making the same bet on real-estate inflation.

In the sub-prime sector, you could get a loan without a full credit check, or even without verification. The initial "teaser" rate would be low, but after a few years the monthly payment would rise to unaffordable levels. Both borrower and lender were betting on rising real-estate prices to bail them out, by allowing an early refinancing. But when a soft housing market dashed those hopes, the whole sub-prime sector crashed, and the damage has now spilled over into other financial sectors.

Do you still not know this or understand this. I'm sorry if it sounds like I'm lecturing but the jig is up. There is a generalized melt-down of economies worldwide, thanks to Clinton, Rubin, Greenspan and Bush II.

And as for the history of NAFTA I agree that it was initially pursued by corporate interest in the United States and Canada supportive of free trade, led by Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, U.S. President George H. W. Bush, and the Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari. The three countries signed NAFTA in December 1992, subject to ratification by the legislatures of the three countries. But NAFTA was able to secure passage after Bill Clinton made its passage a major legislative priority in 1993. Again, agreed that since the agreement had been signed by Bush under his fast-track prerogative, Clinton did not alter the original agreement. He complemented it with the NAAEC and NAALC and it came into effect on January 1, 1994.

Mary, you're are very astute observer and give great insightful analysis about the dreadful state of US political affairs and our constitutional crisis and I look forward to reading your contributions but you have no clue as to who I'll be voting for so why bring Obama into it?

greenhouse, dear,

MBA's in Economics UNDERSTAND what Robert Rubin and Clinton did for the American economy: balanced budgets and surpluses. They had the courage to actually RAISE taxes to pay the country's bills. Duh.....

You ARE aware that Obama's Economic advisor on his campaign is FOR the privatization of Social Security, right?
It's why Obama is falsely claiming an SS "crisis."

Rubin and Clinton had it right: if you actually PAY your bills, and have the courage to raise taxes to do so, then the INTEREST we pay on that debt goes down, and we are more capable of dealing with expenses like Social Security and Medicare.

It's just like a household checkbook, greenhouse.

If you keep paying the mimimum balance on every montly debt you owe, you just end up in more financial trouble and can't meet other demands due to interest charged on the amount you DIDN'T pay.

We don't need privatization of SS like Obama's advisor says.....besides, do you trust the stock market for that?

I see RATIONAL financial policies with a Clinton or a Rubin.

I see NOTHING in the opposition that shows he even understands the economic issues.

He doesn't even understand that the ONLY way to lower healthcare costs is to mandate that ALL pay in, even the most healthy, to lower the costs of all.

Financial wisdom???? Clinton /Rubin

By a MILE.

Oh dear, there you go with Obama again. If you want to talk about candidates who actually have a clue as what's going on with this economy and actually have a plan to deal with it then you might want to look in Ron Paul's direction, not that I support him. But OK, since you insist on bringing Obama into this debate, let's talk about him, and Bill, and Hillary.

Agreed, that as far as the surplus goes, Clinton deserves credit. But despite the nominal surplus, the national debt grew each year of the Clinton presidency since the surplus is not applied against spending in this calculation, as anyone with an MBA can tell you. It grew to a record $5.6 trillion.

The Republican takeover of Congress in 1994 led to a push for a balanced budget as part of the Republican Contract with America campaign, continuing deficit reductions by President Clinton consistent with his 1992 campaign promise. Major economic growth by the dot.com bubble which would bust in 2000 and spending controls such as welfare reform (you know code for rich black women taking advantage of the system), favored by both the President and Congress, allowed for a balanced budget (when the Social Security surplus was counted as revenue) by early in Clinton's second term and, afterwards, a surplus which actually allowed the retirement of some government debt.

Now about Hillary. As far as she is concerned, she writes in her autobiography “Living History” that she would have opposed her husband over welfare reform if she thought it would hurt young children. (One wonders what she thinks happens to kids in poor working and over-working families.) In 1996, welfare “reform” cut almost 800,000 legal immigrants off aid entirely and even denied them food stamps, but no one denies that it helped get Bill Clinton re-elected. “Welfare reform became a success for Bill” writes Hillary in “Living History.” It was all about politics, not poor people.

In terms of human rights, even as Clinton called for the recognition of women’s rights as human rights at the 1995 UN World Conference on Women, the rigged-for-profit trade policies that she supported then and continues to endorse were encouraging a global sweatshop economy that has all but eradicated the right to unionize in most of the world — a working man and woman’s best protector. Let's not forget it took her six years to get off the board of the anti-union giant Wal-Mart.

And while we're on the subject of each candidate's advisors let's look at Hillary's choices shall we. Senator Clinton’s foreign policy advisors tend to be veterans of President Bill Clinton’s administration, most notably former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger.

Senator Barack Obama’s foreign policy advisers include mainstream strategic analysts who have worked with previous Democratic administrations, such as former national security advisors Zbigniew Brzezinski and Anthony Lake, former assistant secretary of state Susan Rice, and former navy secretary Richard Danzig. They have also included some of the more enlightened and creative members of the Democratic Party establishment, such as Joseph Cirincione and Lawrence Korb of the Center for American Progress, and former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke. His team also includes the noted human rights scholar and international law advocate Samantha Power - author of a recent New Yorker article on U.S. manipulation of the UN in post-invasion Iraq - and other liberal academics.

While some of Obama’s key advisors, like Larry Korb, have expressed concern at the enormous waste from excess military spending, Clinton’s advisors have been strong supporters of increased resources for the military.

While Obama advisors Susan Rice and Samantha Power have stressed the importance of U.S. multilateral engagement, Albright allies herself with the jingoism of the Bush administration, taking the attitude that “If we have to use force, it is because we are America! We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall, and we see further into the future.”

While Susan Rice has emphasized how globalization has led to uneven development that has contributed to destabilization and extremism and has stressed the importance of bottom-up anti-poverty programs, Berger and Albright have been outspoken supporters of globalization on the current top-down neo-liberal lines.

Obama advisors like Joseph Cirincione have emphasized a policy toward Iraq based on containment and engagement and have downplayed the supposed threat from Iran. Clinton advisor Holbrooke, meanwhile, insists that “the Iranians are an enormous threat to the United States,” the country is “the most pressing problem nation,” and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is like Hitler.

Perhaps the most important difference between the two foreign policy teams concerns Iraq. Given the similarities in the proposed Iraq policies of Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama, Obama had the better judgment in opposing the invasion beforehand. Indeed, in the critical months prior to the launch of the war in 2003, Obama openly challenged the Bush administration’s exaggerated claims of an Iraqi threat and presciently warned that a war would lead to an increase in Islamic extremism, terrorism, and regional instability, as well as a decline in America’s standing in the world.

Senator Clinton, meanwhile, was repeating as fact the administration’s false claims of an imminent Iraqi threat. She voted to authorize President Bush to invade that oil-rich country at the time and circumstances of his own choosing and confidently predicted success. Despite this record and Clinton’s refusal to apologize for her war authorization vote, however, her supporters argue that it is no longer relevant and voters need to focus on the present and future.

Indeed, whatever choices the next president makes with regard to Iraq are going to be problematic, and there are no clear answers at this point. Yet one’s position regarding the invasion of Iraq at that time says a lot about how a future president would address such questions as the use of force, international law, relations with allies, and the use of intelligence information.

As a result, it may be significant that Senator Clinton’s foreign policy advisors, many of whom are veterans of her husband’s administration, were virtually all strong supporters of President George W. Bush’s call for a U.S. invasion of Iraq. By contrast, almost every one of Senator Obama’s foreign policy team was opposed to a U.S. invasion.

Financial wisdom, Foreign Policy, Human Rights???? Clinton tag team lose!!!

By a MILE.

And furthermore about his policy on Social Security, Both Obama and Clinton say they want to keep social security intact and oppose the Republican idea of switching to private stock market retirement accounts. BUT that is where the agreement ends. Obama is talking–centrally and repeatedly–of elminating the income ceiling cap on the social security or payroll tax, with a possible “doughnut hole” exemption preserved in the c. 100,000-200,000 salary range. But Obama wants to see all income levels pay the payroll tax, not simply the onerous “tax the poor” highly regressive nature of this tax as it now stands. At the same time, according to Obama’s campaign website, Obama advocates returning the first $500 of payroll tax paid to the lowest-end earners of the workforce (in the form of a tax credit).

The regressive payroll tax is one of the most obvious and severe burdens targeting, like a neutron bomb, above all the working poor; however the social security defined-benefit system is so effective and under Republican attack that the blatantly regressive nature of the tax to pay for it has been accepted. Obama’s agenda on the payroll tax would preserve the social security system against any attack on it on fiscal grounds, and at no ADDITIONAL cost to the working poor.

But now look at Clinton’s reaction to Obama’s serious and central campaign on this matter: Clinton ATTACKS Obama for this. She calls it a “trillion dollar tax increase” “on the middle class” (Clinton defines middle class as above 100,000, or if the “doughnut hole” is implemented, above 200K per year). Clinton’s repeated attacks on Obama on THIS issue means Clinton can hardly turn around, if she were elected, and then implement raising the cap on income herself–or it will be far more difficult to do so. She could do so only by having helped get elected by attacking Obama on the very point she would then be implementing.

BUT Clinton says she will keep social security intact (against the Bush-Republican agenda to gut social security). Yet she has–repeatedly, and consistently, just as consistently as Obama is the opposite here–ruled out raising the income ceiling on paying the payroll tax. Yet she centrally advocates “fiscal responsibility” by which she appears to mean balanced budgets and pay-as-you-go. HOW will she accomplish this, RULING OUT raising the income ceiling on the payroll tax, yet keeping social security?

Clinton’s STATED answer is: she will not say, except to say she will form a bipartisan commission (both Republicans and Democrats), then let them decide what to do (so everyone can share in being blamed). Then she will implement it. Remember, she says she is not going to abolish social security, and she is opposed–personally and politically and as president–to extending the payroll tax to anyone above the existing level of around 100,000 cap. She not only is opposed to any wealthy person paying the payroll tax, but ATTACKS Obama on this point.

Although Clinton refuses to say where she is going with this, let me spell it out: she is setting up CUTS IN BENEFITS (and/or INCREASING the payroll tax on the poorest earners of society). However this is massaged and explained, this is what social security is headed for if Clinton has her way. She will not SAY this–she SAYS she will let a bipartisan commission figure out what to do (let THEM say “cut benefits”, “delay benefits”, stick it to the poor a bit more)–provided only–if Clinton has her way–that any notion of raising the 100,000 ceiling on payment is RULED OUT.

Yet neither Obama, nor Edwards earlier, nor any journalist questioning Clinton, has ever been able to get Clinton to SAY this–because she simply repeats as a mantra: “fiscal responsibility” and “bipartisan commission”. When she excludes raising the income ceiling, this is code for sticking it to the working poor worse and/or cutting benefits.

There is much else that is similar between Obama and Clinton, but this difference is real. This is not buried deep in some obscure campaign promise on either side that might be forgotten. This is major. It reflects a difference in vision for America and America’s working poor: with Obama, ending the regressivity of the payroll tax. With Clinton, keep the regressivity of the payroll tax. This is about as stark as it gets.

It is in the economic interest of no one earning over 200,000 to support Obama’s vision for social security/the payroll tax. However, there are many earning above 200,000 who will vote for Obama, against their economic interests on this point, for a variety of reasons one of which for some is the simple sense of justice on this point.

Clinton plays to her corporate wealthy backers on this issue, using the language of “opposing middle class tax increases” by which she means 200,000-plus earners (Clinton has opposed the “doughnut hole” idea). Obama is proposing real structural change here, going to the heart of the neutron bomb tax effect on the poor of the payroll tax. If Obama is successful it would eliminate once and for all the “pretext” of social security’s fiscal problems which is what the Republicans want to use to gut the program. With Clinton–if she has her way, and she has been very clear on this–the social security program will be fiscally viable only with pain and piecemeal changes, always subject to Republican-inflamed attacks that it should be gutted or ended because of the fiscal problems. This is a clear and compelling difference in vision and agenda between Obama and Clinton.

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