Hillary Clinton may well run for president in 2016. Or she may not. But while the nation awaits her decision, both jittery Republican politicians and titillated political journalists -- often in concert -- will seize upon any excuse to recycle those old "Clinton scandals."
Commentary by Joe Conason
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Very few Republican operatives knew the Nixon gang as intimately as Roger Stone, the legendary trickster whose back is adorned with an enormous Tricky Dick tattoo. And very few know New Jersey politics as well as Stone, who toiled among the party faithful in many campaigns since 1980, when he first ran the Garden State for Ronald Reagan.
When Karl Rove praises a politician's "straightforward" approach to an erupting scandal, it seems wise to expect that something very twisted will instead emerge in due course -- and to consider his real objectives.
Cruel Follies: Fighting Poverty the Republican Way, With Fresh (and Not-So-Fresh) Ideas by Joe Conason
Listening to Republican politicians these days as they talk (and talk and talk) about poverty and inequality can be a poignant experience. They want us to know they're worried about the diminishing economic prospects confronted by so many Americans. They hope we will admire their shiny new solutions. And they are so eager for us to believe they care.
But however concerned these Republican worthies may be, they still insist on promoting the same exhausted and useless ideas favored by their party for decades. The sad result is that almost nobody believes that they care at all -- and their "anti-poverty initiatives" tend to be dismissed, with a snicker, as public relations rather than public policy.
To find out more about Joe Conason, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM
If anyone wonders whether Pope Francis has irritated wealthy conservatives with his courage and idealism, the latest outburst from Kenneth Langone left little doubt. Sounding both aggressive and whiny, the billionaire investor warned that he and his overprivileged friends might withhold their millions from church and charity unless the pontiff stops preaching against the excesses and cruelty of unleashed capitalism.
Spreading holiday cheer, a Western tradition for hundreds of years, no longer engages our so-called conservatives as the end of the year approaches. In fact, the innocent phrase "happy holidays" only infuriates them. The new Yuletide ritual exciting the right is the "War on Christmas" -- an annual opportunity to spread religious discord and community conflict, brought to us by those wonderful folks at Fox News.
Beyond the eulogies bestowed this week on the late and truly great Nelson Mandela -- a visionary, revolutionary and peacemaker -- there is much for Americans to learn from the story of his vexed relationship with our country. We will forget the mistakes perpetrated in dealing with him at our own peril.
To put it simply, the same Washington figures who so wrongly coddled Pretoria, South Africa's apartheid regime three decades ago -- people like Dick Cheney and the neoconservatives -- now tell us, wrongly again, that the United States should abandon negotiations with Iran and continue the embargo of Cuba. (And, of course, these are the same experts, politicians and pundits who promoted war against Iraq while assuring us the invasion would be a cheap cakewalk.)
To find out more about Joe Conason, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM
So far, the Republican response to President Barack Obama's historic address on economic inequality has not veered from the predictable cliches of tea party rhetoric. It was appropriately summarized in a tweet from House Speaker John Boehner, complaining that the Democrat in the White House wants "more government rather than more freedom," ignoring his challenge to Republicans to present solutions of their own.
Intellectual Impoverishment: Why Paul Ryan Is Rebranding That Old 'Compassionate Conservatism' By Joe Conason
Nobody in Washington talks much about the poor in America these days, even though they are more and more with us in the economic aftermath of the Great Recession. Perhaps that is why the Washington Post welcomed Paul Ryan's recent declaration that he wants to fight poverty "with kinder, gentler policies to encourage work and upward mobility."
Amid the current national uproar over the troubles of the Affordable Care Act, it is almost uplifting to hear the deep concern expressed by politicians, pundits, lobbyists and corporate leaders over cancellation of existing health insurance policies. They empathize loudly with the millions of potential victims, whose plight infuriates these worthy observers with fury. They fill hours of television and pages of print with expressions of outrage. Suddenly, everyone in Washington is intensely concerned about Americans losing their health coverage.
Are Politicians who Cut Food Stamps and Deny Health Access Truly 'Pro-Life'? A Commentary by Joe Conason
When Wendy Davis proclaimed that she is "pro-life" -- a description long since appropriated by conservatives opposed to abortion rights -- the right-wing media practically exploded with indignation. How could she dare to say that? But having won national fame when she filibustered nearly 12 hours against a law designed to shutter Lone Star State abortion clinics, the Texas state senator with the pink shoes doesn't hesitate to provoke outrage among the righteous.
With his impending re-election in "Blue Jersey" evidently assured and his national profile rising, Chris Christie is a formidable presidential hopeful. If not always a voice of reason, the blustering governor usually sounds sane in a Republican Party where conspiracy, paranoia and extremism reign. His decision to abandon the state's legal appeal against gay marriage exemplified the canny pragmatism that worries Democratic strategists looking forward to 2016.
If Americans learn anything from this month's shutdown-and-debt-ceiling debacle, they ought to realize that political extremism brings real costs -- denominated in dollars and jobs, as well as national cohesion and prestige -- and that those costs are not small. As long as the tea party faction continues to wield its malign influence over the Republican leadership in Congress, the threat of further and even worse damage will not subside.
Risky Business: Corporate Leaders Bemoan Tea Party Default Crisis Created By Their Own Donations By Joe Conason
America's great minds of business and finance have reached a consensus on the government shutdown and worse, the prospect of a debt default: While the latter is worse, both are bad. Those same great minds are well aware how the shutdown came to pass and why default still looms on the horizon, whether next week, next month, or next year.
Drunk and Disorderly: How Republican Extremists Are Shredding Every Principle the GOP Claims to Uphold By Joe Conason
By Washington standards, the current government shutdown is an everyday disaster -- of a kind we are gradually learning to expect whenever the Republican Party controls Congress. The impending breach of the nation's credit, however, when those same Republicans refuse to raise the debt limit to cover the funds they have spent, threatens a singular catastrophe: unpredictable, global, yet entirely avoidable.
For the American media -- and especially for "the liberal media" -- even the possibility of a Hillary Clinton presidential nomination, however distant, seems to invite a reversion to bad old habits. During the presidency of Hillary's husband, all too many Washington journalists lived by "the Clinton rules," which meant applying the most cynical interpretation to everything Bill and Hillary Clinton (and anybody associated with them) did or had ever done.
For a president who distinguished himself from his predecessor by promising to extricate the United States from Iraq and Afghanistan, Barack Obama suddenly appears determined to maroon his own presidency in Syria. But critics who worry that Obama is imitating George W. Bush are missing the central irony in his predicament -- which stems from his failure to mimic Bush closely enough.
The mere prospect of Hillary Rodham Clinton running for president again is evidently provoking outrage among old adversaries -- from Rush Limbaugh and Fox News to Maureen Dowd -- whose appetite for bogus "Clinton scandals" will never be sated. With the fizzling of Benghazi after an official State Department probe found no wrongdoing by the former Secretary of State, her critics have moved on, casting a gimlet eye on the charitable foundation built by her husband, the former president, over the past decade. Although Hillary has mostly been very busy elsewhere, the foundation provides an ample target for speculation and spite -- so long as critics ignore what it actually does for people around the world.
To discover what Chelsea Clinton is doing with her life -- and why -- shouldn't pose much of a challenge to any reasonably industrious journalist. In recent months, after all, she has stepped into the spotlight to advance the causes that excite her. Yet the political press still seems far more inclined to ruminate over her supposed ambitions rather than report her real concerns.
Guy limps off the tennis court with an obvious sprained ankle. The doctor tells him to go home, elevate the leg and put some ice where it hurts.