Why Isn’t It the End of Hillary?

With Barack Obama sweeping North Carolina – in part due to massive turnout by students and African-Americans – and Indiana (as of 5:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time) very possibly a close call, the numbers should be telling us Hillary Clinton is finished – at least as far as the elected delegates are concerned.

The mathematics and the clock would normally doom her campaign, but being the candidate of the Establishment, she’s not being counted out. Far from it. The one chance she has, and it’s not all that unlikely, is if she manages to convince the "super-delegates" – elected officials and other grand poobahs of the Democratic Party –that Obama is unelectable. If you thought the campaign was dirty at this point, then just wait until you get a gander at what’s to come. The smear campaign – a technique the Clintons were always masters of – is going to be something to see.

What is clear, by now, is that the War Party is openly rooting for Hillary: see the Weekly Standard for the neocons’ paean to Hillary the war goddess. Before the Obama surge nearly wiped her out, she was sounding like Obama in his denunciations of the "war that should never have been fought," i.e., Iraq, yet she shifted gears rather abruptly and began presenting herself as a lunch-bucket know-nothing pro-war demagogue who could pass for Joe Lieberman in drag.

The Weekly Standard-ites are all atwitter at the new Hillary, the woman who "may still be a nanny-state type in some of her policies, but in her own life she seems more and more of a Social Darwinian, refusing to lose, and insisting on shaping her destiny." She’s a "fighter" – never mind what she’s fighting for – who’s been through a lot. Of course, the same can be said of Ron Paul, yet we don’t hear any praise coming to him from Bill Kristol, Rush Limbaugh, and the neocon Right. The reason for this newfound enthusiasm for the Woman the Right Used to Hate is twofold: She isn’t Obama, and she is sounding more and more like McCain when it comes to foreign policy, the premier issue as far as the neocons are concerned.

Her "obliterate Iran" jeremiad gained her major traction in those quarters, and the clincher was her endorsement of Charles Krauthammer’s demand that the U.S. extend its nuclear shield over Israel. Aside from that, however, and her generally more belligerent attitude toward Iran, is the general tone of her campaign: she’s a "tough gal," belting down shots with the boys and showing up the effete intellectual Obama for the wimp that he is. The WellesleyYale Ivy Leaguer whose polished demeanor cracked apart during the campaign and led to an outpouring of tears has emerged as a working-class broad who might be a waitress in the Hardscrabble Diner, or a gun moll with a heart of gold. This has very little to do with the issues, including foreign policy, at least explicitly, yet the implication is clear. She’s selling herself as the daughter of the "hard-hats" of the 1960s, who formed the core of the LBJ-Nixon "silent majority" of that tumultuous era. As Murray N. Rothbard, the economist and libertarian grand old man, put it:

"In the spring of 1970, a new political term – ‘the hard hats’ – burst upon the American consciousness. As the hard-hatted construction workers barreled their way around the Wall Street area, beating up college kids and peace demonstrators, earning the admiration of the right wing and a citation from President Nixon, one of the banners they raised summed up in a single phrase how remarkably the right wing has changed over the past two decades. For the banner said simply: ‘God Bless the Establishment.’"

Obama holds high the banner of "change," yet the neo-hardhats are bitter about the changes that have taken place during the past 20 or so years, which have seen their jobs expire under the onslaught of globalization and the information age. Hillary represents the familiar old politics, which they find comforting in its demagogic "give me mine" appeal. In making their pitch to a racially defined segment of the "working class," the brazen ethnic divisiveness engaged in by the Clinton campaign would be condemned if it were, say, David Duke we were talking about. This is where Hillary’s ostensibly "liberal" politics have stood her in good stead, effectively inoculating her against the charge of racism.

In the event of a split decision – North Carolina for Obama, Indiana for Clinton – the Clintonians will take it to the bitter end, doing their best to portray Obama as unelectable. As the primaries – six more – run their course and the convention approaches, the argument made to the super-delegates will be: are you really going to nominate a sure loser?

The War Party – both the Democratic and Republican wings – couldn’t be happier. With the Wright smear campaign taking a big chunk out of Obama, and Clinton toeing the party line, they can’t lose, unless Obama breaks through. And look at the obstacle he faces: the super-delegates. You’ll note that the Republicans, who are supposed to be ideological elitists, don’t really have "super-delegates" – just a few Republican National Committee members who are automatically given delegate status (and the GOPers have a much smaller National Committee than the Dems).

The Democrats, on the other hand, who are supposed to be small-d democrats ideologically and are committed to egalitarianism in rhetoric if not in principle, have a frankly hierarchical delegate-selection process, with the "supers" erected as a bulwark to prevent any kind of populist takeover by the grassroots. The whole process was conceived as a scheme to derail just such a candidate as Obama, and it looks like it just might work like a charm.

In spite of his waffling, his glitches, his inability to please the really hard Left – and the really hard anti-interventionist Right – Obama is the antiwar candidate in this election. He was, after all, against the ill-starred invasion of Iraq from the very beginning, and his persistence in emphasizing this fact is what has propelled him to his present position as the front-runner. It is also why he is hated by the DLC party establishment types, as well as the small-but-inordinately-influential Joe Lieberman wing. They think an antiwar candidate can’t win, and they aren’t willing to take a risk in order to test the proposition: for the establishment – any establishment – power comes before principle, every time, and that is what will defeat Obama, in the end, if, indeed, he is defeated.

What’s heartening, however, is that he is the front-runner and does indeed have a good chance at winning the White House – and that, in and of itself, is cause for optimism.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of Antiwar.com, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].