Blaming Hillary for Bill
Hillary apologists insist that one shouldn’t hold her responsible for abominations perpetrated by her husband, like the crime bill and the end of welfare. There’s some truth to that; she wasn’t the one with executive power. But she did praise both, extensively. Not only was there her calling ”welfare recipients “deadbeats”—there’s this chilling demand to bring “superpredator” youth “to heel.”
Holding her not responsible for Bill also undermines a good bit of the argument for her “experience”—that quality we’re supposed to admire but not examine. As I write in My Turn (pp. 22–25), she was very much Bill’s partner in the invention of the New Democrat ideology—tough on crime, hard on the poor, and happy to go to war. She co-wrote his keynote speech to the 1991 conference of the Democratic Leadership Conferece, the New Dems’ trade association. She ran his campaign to impugn the reputation of Arkansas teachers and their union, a strategy that would become neoliberal standard fare.
And then there’s this memory, reported by Gail Sheehy in Hillary’s Choice:
“[Hillary] decided [Bill] lacked the discipline and toughness,” observes Dick Morris. “He was too idealistic. His head was in the clouds. He wasn’t a pragmatist. He needed a tough-as-nails manager.” Morris saw Hillary make a bold choice: “In 1978, they were a two-career couple; in 1981, Hillary became the manager of their joint political career.”
Of course, Hillaryites will dismiss Morris as an unreliable source, even though he was in the Clintons’ employ for 20 years.
Sheehy supported Morris’ analysis with this quote from Hillary: “If I didn’t kick his ass every morning, he’d never amount to anything.” Their old friend Susan McDougal—who served 18 months in prison, 8 of them in solitary, for refusing to answer questions in the Whitewater investigation—glossed Hillary’s quote by saying, “You always knew that Hillary was about the business end of it, and Bill was about being loved.”
From the time more than 25 years ago when they first became famous, they advertised themselves as a two-fer. If you’re going to tout experience, you can’t be so selective about evaluating it.