Friday, December 14, 2007

A Case of Mistaken Identities

Make no mistake, big fan of Bobby Kennedy here, but in his most recent Huffington post,"Hillary Haters and the Roosevelts" in which he endorses Hillary Clinton, Kennedy appears to suggest that the intense dislike with which the populace greeted the Roosevelts was soon to change after FDR took the oath of office. Arguably, this may be the only similarity one may find between the Clintons and the Roosevelts.

Indeed, inspired leadership requires conviction, not necessarily on the part of the voters, but of those who want to win their votes. Moreover, while intriguing, any analogy made between the Clintons and the Roosevelts falls flat when taking a closer look. Principally, a few compelling questions emerge:

1) Is Bobby implying that Hillary is like FDR, or Eleanor? Clearly, it's not FDR, but if it is Eleanor, then it must be remembered that Mrs. Roosevelt never ran for office nor would she.

2) There's the proverbial "two for the price of one" argument, namely, that by electing Hillary we'll get another 4 to 8 years of Bill. The underlying presumption here is that Bill and Hillary agree on most important issues which requires a huge leap of faith. I suspect, like most couples, the Clintons disagree on a few notable issues like war, and the distribution of wealth.

3) the coup de grace assertion that Mme. Clinton would like to work for the little guy, divest corporations of power and share the wealth is belied by the fact that she boasts of standing up to the HMOs, and pharmaceutical companies, on the one hand, and puts her other hand in their pocket.

What's more, when Hillary said, in last night's debate, that she wants to make health care "affordable for Americans," she demonstrates that she still doesn't get that, for many of us who are uninsured, having to pay anything for a doctor's visit is too much inasmuch as most who are uninsured often have to choose between filling their refrigerators or their prescriptions.

Last but not least, with FDR, one sensed heartfelt desire for economic justice, as well as an unflagging drive to create jobs. One doesn't get that sense with Mrs. Clinton. Indeed, when talking about most issues, Hillary is about as passionate as your garden variety oncologist.
When discussing the fact that wealth is in the hands of the upper one percentile, and how she's going to change that, we need to hear passion instead of what what sounds like campaign rhetoric. You will recall that when President Kennedy spoke about segregation, and civil rights, it rang true, and never sounded like a scripted pitch for the presidency. We expect nothing less from any candidate.

If "Hillary Haters and the Roosevelt's" argument is that running for office isn't a popularity contest, I couldn't agree more. Indeed, this country could do a whole lot worse than having Hillary Clinton as its commander-in-chief. We could have a president who thinks AIDS patients should be quarantined, one who wants to build big fences around the border, reverse legislation banning handguns in our nation's capital, or turn a woman's right to choose over to the states to decide instead. But, we need to hear Hillary speak to these issues, as well as to any so-called pre-emptive military strike against Iran. Governing by inference hasn't worked for the past seven years, and it's guaranteed not to work for seven more.

As Shakespeare once said, "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them." One would hope that, if she should find greatness thrust upon her, and that she is the fortunate recipient of keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Mrs. Clinton would show the same unabated appetite for human rights, economic justice, and statesmanship as Franklin Roosevelt showed, as well as the humility, and unpretentiousness of his spouse.

Yes, inspired leadership requires conviction on the part of the leaders, too. And, whether one is electable or not isn't a mere matter of strategy, but credibililty. Why replace one president we don't believe with another. Those who speak truth to power speak from the heart. Everything else is just party talk.