Top Leaderboard, Site wide
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
June 26, 2017 Disclaimer: Please read.

Statements and opinions expressed in articles are those of the authors, not Truthdig. Truthdig takes no responsibility for such statements or opinions.

What’s Next for the Bill Cosby Sex-Assault Case?

Truthdig Bazaar more items

Email this item Print this item

Such Fickle Political Lovers

Posted on Oct 28, 2007
Hillary meets the press
AP photo / Charles Dharapak

Clinton meets the press: The senator talks to reporters in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 3 after winning the endorsement of the American Federation of Teachers.

By Bill Boyarsky

Why, when a majority of Americans oppose the Iraq war, are the political correspondents so eagerly awaiting the nomination acceptance speech of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate most likely to continue the conflict?

Square, Story page, 2nd paragraph, mobile
Soon we’ll be reading about the brilliant thinkers and literary stylists who will write her acceptance speech.  Team Hillary members, such as her chief strategist, Mark Penn, are becoming the subjects of admiring pieces by writers wanting to suck up to power.

The political correspondents—mainly those based in Washington—go along with what everyone else thinks.  Their professional lives are spent nervously eyeing the Conventional Wisdom Express, desperate to climb on before the train leaves the station.

The polls show that a majority of Americans want out of Iraq.  A New York Times/CBS survey taken in September found that 30 percent wanted our troops out and 35 percent favored a reduction in the force.  Just 41 percent felt that going to war was the right thing to have done, and only 34 percent felt it was worth the cost.  Other surveys show much the same.  The cautious Clinton is probably worried about the almost 30 percent of people in the survey who favor either keeping our troops at the same level or increasing our forces.  Barack Obama and John Edwards show the same caution.  All of them say they worry about departing American forces leaving behind a hopelessly chaotic Iraq.  But what do we have now?

Clinton said she would quickly convene the Joint Chiefs of Staff, her defense secretary and her National Security Council to come up with a plan to bring troops home.  I assume all these people would be part of a Washington establishment afraid to veer too far one way or the other in policy matters.  Clinton’s top strategist, Penn, is worldwide president and CEO of Burson-Marsteller, which helped prepare the chief of Blackwater USA for his congressional testimony; in that testimony the Blackwater executive defended the way that company employees killed 17 and wounded 24 while fulfilling its contract to provide security for the State Department.  It’s all very clubby.


Square, Site wide, Desktop


Square, Site wide, Mobile
I’d say it would be a hawkish plan.  Clinton voted recently for a Senate resolution condemning the Iran Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization, a stand that has been interpreted by some war critics as giving President Bush authority to attack Iran.  Enough Iowans were upset by the vote for her to send out a letter explaining her stand.  Trying to hold on to a slender polling lead for the Iowa caucuses, Clinton said she voted for the measure only after the removal of language she felt would give Bush power to take military action against Iran without congressional approval.  “I was there; I exercised leadership ...,” she said.

That was a dig at Obama, who missed the vote.  Both Obama and Edwards favor a pullout.  But like Clinton’s, their withdrawal proposals foresee no end.  Obama wants to leave enough troops to support the Iraqi army and police and conduct specialized counterterrorism operations.  Edwards favors a complete withdrawal of combat troops in Iraq in the next 12 to18 months without leaving behind any permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq.  But he hedges, too, wanting to leave enough troops in Iraq to assure that instability in Iraq doesn’t spill over to other countries and cause another war, create a terrorist haven or permit genocide.  Of the Democratic candidates, only Dennis Kucinich and Bill Richardson favor a complete pullout, and only Richardson has even a remote chance of being on the ticket.

“The foundation of my Iraq plan is this: Get out now. Get all our troops out now,” Richardson said at Georgetown University early in October.  “So long as we are there, with a bull’s-eye on our back, the situation cannot change for the better. ...”

He’s absolutely right.  Only he and Kucinich have the sense and guts to say this.

But I don’t think the candidates are the villains of this piece.  The real villains are the news media.

Popular perceptions are shaped by the way television, print and the Internet play the news.  Communications academics call it “framing” the news.  If something is not on television or in the papers, it has not really happened. 

The Internet is supposed to have changed this equation.  But, despite the hammering away of informed commentators such as Juan Cole and the many others who blog about the war, the mainstream media still shape American consciousness.

A study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism helps explain why, despite the opposition of a majority of Americans, the war goes on without much protest.

Coverage of the war has dropped.  The PEJ study found that in April, May and June of this year, 15 percent of the news space and time was devoted to the war, down from 22 percent for the previous three months.  In the first days of October, Iraq got just seven percent.  It was only the fourth most played story on the networks and was lower than that on cable.  Only online sources gave the war the attention it deserved.  When the war and its policy debates are not covered, people stop caring.

But if Iraq gets worse, the war will move up on the coverage charts.  If that happens, audiences in the heavily covered small states of Iowa, with its caucuses, and New Hampshire, with its primary, will start asking questions and insisting on answers.

Chase Martyn of the Web site Iowa Independent noted that Clinton, Obama and Edwards “are locked in a virtual tie for first place in Iowa”—an observation backed up by the polls.  “If Clinton hopes to maintain or expand her standing in Iowa, she will have to start giving specific answers to questions posed by members of the public,” Martyn wrote.  If the answers aren’t direct, perhaps the reporters will notice.

As was the case with their passionate but brief love affair with Howard Dean four years ago, the Hillary-loving correspondents may drop her and run off with the next new thing.  With such fickle lovers calling the shots, this campaign is far from over.

Banner, End of Story, Desktop
Banner, End of Story, Mobile

Watch a selection of Wibbitz videos based on Truthdig stories:

Get a book from one of our contributors in the Truthdig Bazaar.

Related Entries

Get truth delivered to
your inbox every day.

New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

Join the conversation

Load Comments

By lc, October 31, 2007 at 2:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Excuse me, but what pundit world do you inhabit?

Sure, all the pundits have made Clinton the frontrunner since before she even announced, but I can’t think of a single one who has ever said anything nice about her (except that she has, surprise, surprise, been an effective Senator). 

I can’t remember reading even a single pro-Clinton blog on liberal blogs such as The Huffington Post or here at Truthdig.

All the reporters and pundits can talk about is how to beat Clinton, how the other Dems have to attack her more. We’re starting to see the, expected, “news” reports about her penchant for secrecy, her paranoia, etc., etc. And when one gets to the right wingers, well, they’re foaming at the mouth Hillary-haters of the first degree.

Report this

By BobZ, October 31, 2007 at 11:24 am Link to this comment

Ms. Clinton did not allay any concerns in last night’s debate about her hawkish stance on Iraq compared to her main challengers. Edwards clearly enunciated his position - “combat operations will cease”. Clinton still wants to chase Al Qaeda around the countryside. She was also caught mugwomping on drivers licenses for undocumented workers - Edwards and Obama jumped on her for that. I’m more and more impressed with Edwards and less so with Clinton. To me she doesn’t represent the clear break from Bush’s policies that this country needs. She will still be tied to Wall Street and the Military Industrial Complex.

Report this

By ender, October 31, 2007 at 10:17 am Link to this comment

Kudos WR Curley.  Love your writing style and perceptive comments.  For myself, I must admit that since the ‘04 election, I have lost confidence in our electoral process, and believe that with that implementation of the touch screen voting machines, our choice has been effectively removed.  This doesn’t mean that Hillary won’t win, but if she does it will be because she has already been coopted by the military-industrial complex that is setting our foreign policy, and much or our domestic policy.  Richardson and Kucinich are there for our amusement, but the nomination of either would constitute a revolution, and the current administration would probably refuse to reliquish office under an interpretation of one of the terrorism powers acts that congress has passed over the last 12 years.

Our choice is not even the between the lessor of two evils.  We just get to pick which color it comes in.

Report this

By Grace Anderson, October 30, 2007 at 9:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hikkary’s vote on the Kyle-Lieberman resolution on Iran shows how in thrall she is to supporters of a foreign power.  She had to vote for this to keep her New York voters even if it was hurtful to her general campaign. So she is left to make convoleuted, unbelievable explanations to Iowa caucus goers.  With Hillary, it’s all about getting elected.

Report this

By Douglas Chalmers, October 30, 2007 at 12:45 am Link to this comment

#110266 by P. T. on 10/29 at 9:45 am: “...she can ride her husband’s coattails to power.  After all, there wasn’t so much chaos when Bill was president….”

Have we forgotten the bombing of BELGRADE already??? That’s when this whole damn thing started…..

Hillary has to sort herself out over Bill’s baggage, or finally go down under his bullshit!

Her presidential campaign is his party - which he is enjoying at her expense now, uhh.

Report this

By rowdy, October 29, 2007 at 9:47 pm Link to this comment

being the only advocate of thermonuclear holocaust on this site, i must say bush has been my #1 bet to bring it about. for me the #2 best bet is hillary. she would bomb manhattan if she thought she could be crowned imperator for life.

Report this

By DennisD, October 29, 2007 at 6:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hillarious is probably the single most polarizing “candidate” out there from either party. If the Dimocrats nominate her they’re virtually sentencing the country to continued Repugnant rule since most people don’t have the balls to vote independent.

Wake up Bill, and the rest of the Truthdig columnists who relentlessly prop this cardboard figure up. Hillary is for Hillary and her corporate backers, no one else. You’re preaching for the most part to people who are sick of hearing it and you’re not going to change their minds, myself included.

I want alternatives, give us articles about Kuchinch, Paul or Gravel or I’m done reading anymore of this bullshit. I could get this from the MSM anytime day or night.

Report this

By WR Curley, October 29, 2007 at 4:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ach. Sorry. Don’t mean to be intrusive.

But Mr Boyarsky suggests that these “political correspondents” are fickle. Let’s do a quick check here…these people, the ones with audience share, the ones who count, are corporate employees. Their corporate employers read what they write…before it gets published. Dig? Sulzberger reads Frank Rich before he prints it. If he doesn’t like it he doesn’t print it. If he doesn’t like it two/three times running, he fires Frank’s sorry butt. Because he’s slow. But Frank ain’t slow. He knows this. Your political correspondent frames the narrative to the demands of his corporate superiors. He is not fickle until he is told to be. 

The press is only free if you own one.

Mr Boyarsky may or may not grasp these fundamentals. But if he doesn’t, then really, he should take his muddy shit-kickers out of the stream and let clear water run.

WR Curley
Elizabeth, Colorado

Report this

By WR Curley, October 29, 2007 at 10:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Evidently Mr Boyarsky is no better positioned than you or I to pry any hard data out of Ms Clinton. He is obliged to resort to opinion and speculation, just like the rest of us.

She’s the Cheshire cat in the campaign…the closer you get, the less there is of her.

If she’s learned one thing in all her tough slogs through the swamps of Foggy Bottom, it’s that the AIPAC agenda will control your media coverage. The Monica thing was all about the Oslo accords, a series of agreements deeply abhorred by the Zionists, and abandoned the moment the Clinton administration lost control of the process.

Around the time of the impeachment proceedings, the ADL website featured a photograph of Bill shaking hands with Arafat in the leaf-dappled sunshine at Camp David. Irony duly noted.

During that era, Newt Gingrich was shtupping a staffer as well, but the Times/Post did not think it worth reporting.

No, Monica was about Oslo, and the sudden startling appearance of an internationally recognized and legitimized Palestinian defense force, armed and manning border crossings on the Green Line. 

You’ll note that during this new era the Green Line has disappeared from the over-the-shoulder maps on the nightly news. There is no Palestine in the brave new world.

But I digress. The point is that, whatever Hillary intends to do with the continuing occupation of Iraq (not a war, mind), and with the consequences of a possible American/Israeli strike at Iran, she’s not telling. She knows better. To hint that she favors an exit strategy might win her favor with the electorate, but it would damn her utterly with the neo-cons and with the media they control.

There is archival footage of Hillary and Bill greeting the Arafats warmly, kisses on the cheeks, in the White House Rose Garden. That scene plays differently to different audiences.

So it’s tough. All we’re left with, absent data, is personality assessment. What can we surmise about policy positions from what we guess about the candidate’s proclivities. Ms C caved on health care already, near as I can tell. My guess is that she’ll cave on our adventures in the sand box as well. My guess is, that as the first woman President, she’ll feel obliged to come on real butch, a biker babe with a blade in the boot.

It’s a paradox, for sure, that the debates most essential to guiding our most crucial decisions in this putative democratic process are the debates that are verboten with the “front runners”. They can’t risk telling you what’s on their minds.

Keep it firmly in your minds…not one vote has yet been cast. No matter what you’re told, no one knows how this thing might go. Cheer up. Might as well enjoy the ride.

WR Curley
Elizabeth, Colorado

Report this

By P. T., October 29, 2007 at 10:45 am Link to this comment

Hillary figures the public is so sick of the Republicans that she can ride her husband’s coattails to power.  After all, there wasn’t so much chaos when Bill was president.

We could wind up with a choice between a Democratic hawk and a Republican hawk in the 2008 presidential race.  Even though he cannot win, Ralph Nader may need to enter the race just so people can have somebody who is not a hawk for whom to vote.

Report this

By TC, October 29, 2007 at 10:01 am Link to this comment

Traditional Repugnocrats reportedly believe they have died and gone to heaven, so blessed - internal memos reveal - is the Clinton campaign to their rampaging causes. Thanks to Clinton, Repugnocrats can constantly attack, throwing red meat to the worst instincts of their base support, encouraging all ferocity and ignorance, while behind the scenes being glad that Clinton supports nearly everything they do. She’s a better public face for their savage attacks. And so they get to bash her for PR reasons while surreptitiously cheering her on to their increased power and wealth. Hillary Clinton - the perfect Repugnocrat candidate. A great Neo-Dumblican.

If Hillary Clinton wins election, every US President following Ronald Reagan, from 1988 to 2016 - nearly three decades - will have graduated from Yale University - Big Money U - home of Skull & Bones. Sheer Neo-Dumblican and Old Repugnocrat rule. Or is that Neo-Damnedlican and Old Rethugnocrat? ...

More at:

Also see the excellent reports by Counterpunch on Clinton.

Report this

By don knutsen, October 29, 2007 at 8:32 am Link to this comment

For almost twenty years now we’ve had either the bu$h clan or the Clintons at the helm. Both of which have been subserviant to corporate money far too much. The Bu$h’s appear to be literally in-capable of caring about our middle class. The Clintons, in their rush to govern from what they perceive to be the center have cow-towed to corporate interests all along as well, though not quite as consistantly to the exclusion of the middle class as much. Neither have governed with the interests of the majority of american citizens. Hillary has played it safe in the senate, not wanting to rock the status-quo near enough. Our congress has gotten to the point where if anyone stands up to the status quo they are immediately branded a maverick to be ignored, so that nothing has the remotest chance of improving at all…as if its naieve to expect nothing but just more of the same. Isn’t it about time we make a change when we go to the polling booth ? To vote for someone that will turn our countries direction back to representing our people ? Our only chance to change what is being dictated by our media is at the primaries. Rather then allow the media to tell you who is ahead, how about we decide instead. The republicans are hoping that Hillary is the democratic candidate because she is still such a polarizing character to so many. As long as she is the front runner they don’t have to deal in solutions, only rhetoric. Aren’t we getting tired of only having the lessor to two evils for a choice ? Do we really want to risk giving it to the republicans yet again and a person like Gulianni?

Report this

By Douglas Chalmers, October 29, 2007 at 8:13 am Link to this comment

#110227 by RdV on 10/29 at 6:20 am: “...We need to be free of their entrenched baggage in order to move on. Because the Clintons are so invested in the present status quo…”

Hillary can actually free herself once and for all - by freeing herself from Bill! He is now her main liability and she has to finally accept that (a) he was impeached as president, and (b) that he was fucking Monica Lewinsky (the goo on the ‘blue dress’) and couldn’t give a damn about her.

The reality is that he doesn’t really give a damn about her now, either, and will eventually undermine her out of jealousy and male chauvinism. He is only using her to validate his useless existence and to gloss over his past errors. If she hold on to that, he will ruin her!

This is now Hillary’s greatest opportunity to make her efforts in re-inventing herself as her own person really worthwhile. Its up to her now…..

Report this

By mary, October 29, 2007 at 8:01 am Link to this comment

Based on personal conversations, I’m thinking most Americans are not as “on board” with Sen Clinton as the news media wants us to believe. Frankly, I just don’t believe anything on the network news or whatever comes out of DC, they continue to lie about everything.  It would be great if voters learned a very hard lesson the last two presidential elections and start paying attention to the candidates and issues and start ignoring network news.  When the Rupert Murdocks of the news world stop being able to effectively feed us the garbage they feed to us now, and we start finding the answers on our own, him and his kind will slink back to the rock they crawled out from.  Then maybe we’ll start getting the news.  For now the only thing we can do is VOTE out as many incumbents as possible.  That’s when DC will get the message.  And when we surprise the talking heads by not following their selected candidates, they too will get the message and slink off the the same rock pile.  AMERICANS, IT IS TIME FOR MAJOR CHANGES. WE CAN DO THIS…......

Report this

By RdV, October 29, 2007 at 7:20 am Link to this comment

That 30 % is unlikely to vote for Clinton under any circumstances. In fact, they are chomping at the bit to use bashing the Clintons as the most effective uniting strategy of the Republican base.
  If the views of the Democratic base are irrelevant to the process, how can they expect their “cautious” (and that is very, very charitable considering they enabling ongoing crimes surpassing Clinton’s indiscretions)approach to appeal to the Right?
  The most fundamental problem with the Clinton’s iron grasp on the Democratic party structure is that they can not and will not correct the course. We need to be free of their entrenched baggage in order to move on. Because the Clintons are so invested in the present status quo- they already are shielded unless they threaten that power structure—and the Clintons are not going to do that. They use people, circumstances, connections to obtain and maintain power—and they will not grqacefully exit. They even use each other in a shallow, transparent power grab.
  The reporters will never ask the hard questions of the pre-ordained Hillary. It is like FEMA questioning FEMA.

Report this

By Douglas Chalmers, October 29, 2007 at 6:36 am Link to this comment

America is guilty of creating a DisneyLand style of political milleu. It now has itself deeply mired in the illogical mess it has created by wanting to live both a fairy story and a never-ending Hollywood war epic. The result is a horror movie - and you are now living in it!!!

Worlr War 3 could be started tomorrow, next week, or some date between the end of the BeiJing Olympics and the presidential election. If you don’t want to “go down with the ship”, start moving on DEMANDING that your representatives DO SOMETHING NOW!!!

Report this

By thomas billis, October 28, 2007 at 11:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Screw this.The poor under educated American public just cannot find out what is really happening.Listen if you voted for George Bush and did not know he was a moron then you are a moron.They are shaped by the media to send someones elses kid to war they find it is all lies and like dogs eating their own vomit they go right back to the same sources.The Democrats want the war to end and bring the those kids home and surprise surprise Hillary is leading.She voted for this war and never apologized then she votes for Kyle Lieberman.Not only is it what George Bush wants Joe Liberman wants it does that sound like a war ender to you.There are candidates who want to end this war and if the infantile moronic American public cannot figure it out they are more pathetic than even I imagine.Listen morons if George Bush starts a war in Iran they will have to institute a draft and your dear LIL Johnny will have to leave college and fight over there.You will certainly be informed then.

Report this
G.Anderson's avatar

By G.Anderson, October 28, 2007 at 11:25 pm Link to this comment

Yes, the current political correspondents like popularity, they like following someone who is popular, because they know they will have a larger audience. For them it’s the easy way to go.

Especially in a campaign that isn’t really driven by issues, but soley by who is more popular.

I must say, that I am afraid Hillary will win.
Those pictures of her and Bill, sitting together, clearly scheming, together are troubleing to me. I keep seeing Mr. Clinton riding around in a golf cart with George Bush senior, clearly having a hell of a good time.

I ask myself, how can Mr. Clinton be comfortable with the Bush’s? 

After she wins,then there will be lots of story’s about her being the first women president. And lots of stories about Women CEO’s, and important career women; not that there is anything wrong with those story’s.

But very little coverage of how she is going to get us out of Iraq, keep us out of Iran, and return political power from the corporations back to the people?

Maybe those things won’t be as important as how popular she is, and that she is the first women president.

Report this

By Stephen Cassidy, October 28, 2007 at 11:19 pm Link to this comment

The defining issue of the 2008 Presidential campaign is the Iraq War.  If we are not careful, Iraq may be the defining issue in 2012.

At the Democratic Presidential debate at Dartmouth College, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards each refused to commit to withdraw our troops from Iraq by 2013, the end of the first term of their hypothetical presidencies.  When the question was put to Clinton, she responded,  “It is very difficult to know what we’re going to be inheriting.”  Obama dodged as well:  “I think it would be irresponsible” to say what he would do as President.  Edwards replied: “I cannot make that commitment.”

Bill Richardson, the Presidential candidate I am supporting, unequivocally calls for a prompt and complete exit from Iraq. “Our troops have done everything they were asked to do with courage and professionalism, but they cannot win someone else’s civil war,” Richardson states.  “So long as American troops are in Iraq, reconciliation among Iraqi factions is postponed.  Leaving forces there enables the Iraqis to delay taking the necessary steps to end the violence. And it prevents us from using diplomacy to bring in other nations to help stabilize and rebuild the country.”

“A struggle between a country’s warring factions, where both sides hate the United States, is not worthy of one more lost American life,” Richardson adds.  I agree.  It’s time for the U.S. to leave Iraq.

Report this
Right Top, Site wide - Care2
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
Right Internal Skyscraper, Site wide

Like Truthdig on Facebook