February 16, 2008—Over the past few months, as the Democratic presidential race has heated up, we have received a number of complaints about critical stories we have written about Barack Obama and, especially, Hillary Clinton.
Since we value the views of our readers, we feel we owe you a response, albeit one that is not likely to please everyone.
First and foremost, Consortiumnews.com is an independent journalistic entity that is not beholden to either the Democrats or the Republicans. Over the past several years, the bulk of our critical reporting has focused on the Bush administration, but we have not spared Democrats from criticism when they have deserved it.
As for our stories on Campaign 2008, we feel that each one was legitimate, raising fair questions about positions taken by the candidates or their actions.
We took some grief from Obama supporters when we challenged Obama’s comments about Ronald Reagan as a transformative leader who had brought a measure of accountability to the supposed excesses of the 1960s and 1970s. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Obama’s Dubious Praise for Reagan.”]
Our article recalled Reagan’s real history of covering up horrendous human rights crimes in Central America and other examples of Reagan’s avoidance of genuine accountability.
Another article from last year noted Sen. Obama’s tendency to duck head-on fights with the Bush administration over the Iraq War, particularly his joining with Sen. Carl Levin in rejecting a showdown over war funding. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Is Obama Getting Colin-ized?”]
As for Hillary Clinton, we have noted that she didn’t just vote to authorize the Iraq War; she remained a stalwart war supporter almost until the eve of the Democratic primary race when she realigned herself with the anti-war views of rank-and-file Democrats.
Clinton’s endorsement of the war also isn’t a minor issue. Once George W. Bush was allowed to proceed with the invasion in March 2003 – and once it became clear that many Iraqis would resist occupation – there were no good options left for resolving the conflict.
Indeed, all the post-invasion options were terrible. The United States could remain in Iraq indefinitely as an imperial force, taking and inflicting casualties (essentially the Bush/McCain position), or U.S. forces could leave, unleashing a potential civil war in Iraq and recriminations about “surrender” back home.
Sen. Clinton, who insists that she will be “ready on Day One,” wasn’t ready on that day in October 2002 when President Bush demanded a blank check to invade Iraq. She did what many other aspiring Democratic presidential hopefuls did; she tested the political winds and voted yes.
(Though Obama was not in the U.S. Senate in 2002, he did speak out against the invasion and thus cannot be fairly blamed for this cardinal misjudgment.)
We also noted that last September after Sen. Clinton solidified her frontrunner status, she reverted to her hawkish stance on the Middle East, voting for a resolution that urged Bush to take a more belligerent position toward Iran by declaring its Revolutionary Guard a “global terrorist organization.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Hillary Prods Bush to Go After Iran.”]
In our view, there have been other legitimate questions and concerns raised by how Sen. Clinton has run her campaign. [See, for instance, Consortiumnews.com’s “Hillary Plays a Risky Gender Card,” “The Clinton Audacity,” and “Hillary’s Curious Campaign Loan.”]
Though the mainstream media has since picked up on the points that we raised in those stories, our articles preceded – rather than followed – the MSM's coverage.
We are not “Clinton haters.” Indeed, when the Clintons came under unfair attack in the 1990s, we were one of the few news outlets that pointed to the larger picture – that a right-wing attack machine was trying to mount what amounted to a political coup d’etat.
[Peruse, for example, our Archive on the “Clinton Scandals,” in particular a two-part 1998 article entitled “The Clinton Coup d’Etat.”]
Both on the Web site and in my book Secrecy & Privilege, we recounted the otherwise untold story of how President George H.W. Bush green-lighted an illegal search of Bill Clinton’s passport files in fall 1992 in a bid to paint Clinton as a traitor. We also showed how Bush’s dirty trick was whitewashed by Republican special prosecutor Joe DiGenova.
We explained, too, how Chief Justice William Rehnquist set the stage for the Right's assault on Clinton’s presidency by ousting a moderate Republican judge, George MacKinnon, from the panel responsible for picking special prosecutors and replacing him with Judge David Sentelle, a protégé of right-wing Sen. Jesse Helms.
Sentelle then selected right-wing special prosecutors who used their extraordinary powers in an ideological war to destroy Bill Clinton and his administration. That assault was aided and abetted by a well-funded right-wing news media and a compliant mainstream press that seemed most eager to avoid accusations of “liberal” or “Clinton apologists.”
At Consortiumnews.com, we ignored those pressures and told the story the way I believe history will eventually record it.
That said, we have been critical of how Bill Clinton turned his back on his unique opportunity as the first president elected after the Cold War to reveal its true history. He wanted to focus on the future, not the past, without realizing that a truthful history is crucial for setting the course for a better future.
Clinton’s gross miscalculation kept the American people in their extended childhood state, woefully uninformed about what their own government had done over the previous half century.
Also, by failing to assist investigators looking into abuses by his immediate predecessors, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush – from secret dealing with Iran and Iraq to protection of drug traffickers associated with wars in Nicaragua and Afghanistan – President Clinton left open the back door of the White House for the eventual restoration of the Bush Dynasty and the catastrophe that has followed.
While it would be unfair to fault Hillary Clinton for the mistakes of her husband, the only precise information the public has about what she would do on Day One is her husband’s unchallenged statement that her first act in office would be to send him and George H.W. Bush on an international fence-mending tour. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Hillary Signals Free Pass for Bush.”]
That would suggest that she intends to follow a similar course as her husband did in forgiving the Bushes their sins in exchange for some faux “bipartisanship.” Pro-Hillary Democrats who are now bashing Obama for his so-called “Kumbayah” reconciliation might ask what campfire song the Clintons and the Bushes would be singing.
So, in conclusion:
While we understand some of our readers won’t always like what we write about political figures – whether about Bush and McCain or about Clinton and Obama – we do hope that you will look at the body of our work in judging us.
Please also accept our assurance that our only goal is to provide you with as honest an assessment of what’s going on as we can.
This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.
Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.
This story was published on February 18, 2008.