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Can we really trust Hillary Clinton?

By
September 7, 2007

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who both fascinates and infuriates, has a new message in her determined quest to return to the White House, this time as president.

The new TV ad campaign, running in New Hampshire, the latest state she has adopted, trumpets the New York Democrat as the true agent of political change, although she has spent more time in the White House than any other U.S. presidential candidate except for Franklin Roosevelt.

“If we have the will, she has the strength. If we have the conviction, she has the experience. If we’re ready for change, she’s ready to lead,” says a male voice as she is shown shaking lots of hands, while wearing lots of suits. That’s the beauty of TV — you don’t have to say strength for what, conviction for what or change to what.

There have been about 48 books written about Clinton, most of which I have read. I covered her and her husband for eight years in the White House and while campaigning. I have watched her as she matured as a senator, winning respect and re-election in a landslide from a state she moved to in order to run for her very first elective office. And I am still at a loss when pondering what type of president she would make.

Not for nothing is she the Democrats’ current front-runner. Many women are thrilled that a final frontier might be crossed — election of the first female U.S. president. She is smart, disciplined, attractive, tireless and hardworking, and can be warm, friendly and funny. She has raised millions of dollars for Democrats.

She arrived in Washington in 1993 with amazing arrogance and a tin ear on how to practice politics in the nation’s capital, throwing the White House into turmoil, alienating the press and many in her party, stonewalling prosecutors and orchestrating a disastrous health-care policy that cost Democrats control of Congress.

Then she reinvented herself. She went abroad, wrote feel-good books about children and villages and her cat and setting a beautiful table, explored her spirituality, helped her daughter grow up and kept on supporting her husband despite his known serial infidelities. An Illinois native who failed the D.C. bar exam before passing the Arkansas bar, she wrote her memoirs, made millions and decided to become a senator and then president. Along the way, she emerged as one of the most astute politicians ever.

The week her new ad campaign aired, she also aired a new strategy: Here’s Bill! The ex-president, who also made millions writing and giving speeches while traveling the globe and doing good works, was brought forth to campaign with her in another two-for-the-price-of-one deal.

If she wins, their puzzling love affair — he once asked her for a divorce to pursue another woman before humiliating her with Monica Lewinsky and others — and symbiotic relationship no doubt will continue to befuddle us. Is she weaker when she is with him and stronger (and cagier) on her own, as her Senate career seems to indicate? Would he be co-president, as she was for a while to him? She says she would send him abroad to be a goodwill ambassador. (To get him out of the country?)

So far, Clinton fatigue does not seem worrisome to Democrats. There are five months to go before any candidate snares enough delegates for the party nomination, after the Feb. 5 glut of primaries.

But the five months will pass quickly, and voters want to know the real Hillary Clinton.

The other day, in Iowa, another adopted state, she said, “Ultimately, to bring change, you have to know when to stand your ground and when to find common ground.” She added, “You can’t always demand everything your own way or you’ll never get anything done in America.”

That suggests she herself has changed. Many think her health-care efforts were doomed because of her secretiveness, an obsessive need for control and her refusal to compromise.

But the old defensiveness and combativeness return when she defends her positions on Iraq, insisting her vote to go to war was a vote to authorize more diplomacy. She insisted there was a link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda when there was none.

This is a woman who wants to make the world a better place but doesn’t always know how to do it, a woman admired and lionized but also hated and demonized. She’s known pain; she’s known glory. The race for the White House is livelier and more provocative than it would be without her, but she is also a woman whose roller-coaster fortunes will always be intertwined with those of her husband.

Stick with her and get “change,” Clinton demands in an often-strident voice.

She has a long way to go before Americans decide whether to trust her to give them the change they seek.

(Scripps Howard columnist Ann McFeatters has covered the White House and national politics since 1986. E-mail amcfeatters(at)nationalpress.com.)

15 Responses to Can we really trust Hillary Clinton?

  1. mooseman

    September 8, 2007 at 3:05 am

    mooseman01

    Get over it, Lady! Just tell us who you favor. Leave your analysis to your buddies. This election is really simple: Vote for any Republican? Not me. The thugs must go.

    Vote for any Democrat? Yes. See above.

    All else between now and election day is bilge.

    Your cheap shot about bar admission is just that, cheap. I suggest you meet with your buddies in bars of your choosing.

  2. SEAL

    September 8, 2007 at 5:00 am

    What a stupid question. No politition can be trusted. If you want a president that can be trusted, write in Carl Nemo’s name on election day. If you want a female, write in Sandra Price’s name. Don’t write my name because I have a terminal disease that makes it unlikely I will survive 8 more years.

  3. Paolo

    September 8, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    I trust Hillary Clinton to do exactly what she says she will do: maintain the illegal, immoral, and unconstitutional war in Iraq, and probably expand it to Iran and Syria. In other words, on foreign policy, she is just as much a warmonger as Bush.

  4. SEAL

    September 8, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    So far, I haven’t heard Hillary say anything that I could make a decision as to whether to trust her to do that or this. She has stated no position on anything. Now they think the smart thing to say to voters is that she will change things. They are correct. The voters do want change. But notice how careful they are not to identify what she will change. It’s just a bumper sticker slogan – “HILLARY FOR CHANGE” – well, whoopie!

    That was Obama’s message in the beginning. But in his case it was legitimate. He even identified some of the things he wanted to change. However, that is as far as he has gotten with it, so far. The oddity of our political campaigns is that the candidates who are the most specific and forthright about what they stand for and what they would like to do as president are always those who have no chance of being elected. The front runners are always those who are the most vague. Why is that?

    “If you want someone who will fight them, I’m your girl!” That’s what she said. Fight who? For what? She didn’t say. But she sure got a lot of applause. When asked what she would do about the war, she talked about our responsibility to do the right thing. But nothing as to what that “right thing” would be. Obama says we must be very careful how we get out of Iraq. Non-answers is all we ever get from these people. Neither of them has said anything about restoring the civil rights like habeas corpus and/or due process for wiretapping that the Bush gangsters have taken from us. In fact, neither has pointed out the lies and coruption of the Bush gang. But one of them is most likely going to be the next president.

    The voters will make one of them president of the united states without ever hearing what they are planning to do as president. Why is that? We have candidates on both sides that have clearly stated what they would do. And what they say is what most people want. But they have no chance of being nominated. Why is that?

  5. macdoodle

    September 11, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    the dlc shows she is gop lite. san frna chronical leah discussed yet anphter dinner withteh biushes now has to give back 850 ooo of bad money and soemhhow berkeley is alwys comming up in connectiopn with the bad stuff.
    another uc berkeley grad berkely housing authority in hud nonn colmpliance for years dumpes 5000 vocuher holders tookmoney as most accessibel city has no safe accessible housign with parking on section8 ..

    soem how this part of the democratic party seems jhust an extension of the 2 class plan corporate and worker bees anll the cut of civil and human drights nad housing cuts dfro disbeld soem progrms at hud now ask 505 income as affrodable and say mulit disabeld on ssi too poor for most hud programs!!!!!!!..even the emergency shelters that charge rent. recycling the homeless
    and corproate taxs cuts have put into effect through the reagan bush clinton bush timeleine.

    i read a funny line about monica saving social security.clinton was to agree get rid till the scandal hit…

    thank you monica
    no thank you hillary or bill

    america the not so great anymore?
    unless you see 6 figures?
    gOt hOpe?

  6. macdoodle

    September 11, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    hOpe and chAnge is ObamA

    stealing ObamA’s lines
    how low can you go?

  7. Electric Bill

    September 7, 2007 at 10:17 am

    Can we really trust Ann McFeatters? Or is she just another of the many right wing operatives in the press doing the bidding of the RNC?

  8. JudyB

    September 7, 2007 at 11:16 am

    ….”An Illinois native who failed the D.C. bar exam before passing the Arkansas bar”…

    This is a message for Ann McFeaters:
    You felt it important to note Hillary failed the D.C. bar exam but failed to note that D.C. had a 40% failure rate at the time. Many thousands of this nations most brilliant lawyers have had to take the bar exam 2 or 3 times before passing. Currently their is almost a 50% failure rate in N.Y. & Ca.
    Hillary and all of those who have finally passed the bar after failing at least once, have what is known as presistence and tenacity and to me, thats a good thing. I do not post this in support of Hillary but this article did stike me as petty nothingess!

  9. Donnat

    September 7, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    I haven’t noticed her being an agent for change during her terms in the Senate.

    I agree with Obama, maybe he doesn’t have a long record of experience, but we have people in high places with a lot of experience right now, and look where it’s got us.
    Donnat

  10. LurkingFromTheLeft

    September 7, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    Or in my case…

    …I don’t want to NOR do I –

    …dog help us she’s it –

    …we can do sooooo better than her –

    …and I’m a woman –

    LFTL

  11. allan hirsh

    September 7, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    mr. hirsh:
    You may not trust Hillary, but you cannot trust Tokyo Rose, either.

  12. JoyfulC

    September 7, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    All this article was lacking was the comment, “And I don’t care what anyone else says about her, I think she’s attractive in her own way.”

    Catty, catty, catty! ;-)

  13. SnowCrash7

    September 7, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    I’m an independent who feels quite strongly that very few politicians of both parties are not in the pockets of the mega-corporations.

    John Edwards, Hillary and John McCain, for example, recently argued for an EXPANSION of temp visas to cheap foreign labor that will supplant and reduce the wages of American workers.

    And we are supposed to believe that they truly have the interests of the American worker in mind. What nonsense!

    Hillary is considered the QUEEN of outsourcing and was even recently introduced at a fund raiser by outsourcing executives as ‘the Senator from New York … and Punjab’ Hillary loved it.
    Wake up folks!

  14. pupnannie

    September 7, 2007 at 9:07 pm

    It’s too bad that people won’t give up on persecuting the Clintons. If anyone can prove to me that things have been better under this “bush” administration then it was during the Clinton Administration I will eat my hat. The Clintons have worked tirelessly for this country. Pres. Clinton has worked tirelessly for all mankind since leaving office. I feel that Hillary Clinton has the experience and the forsight to do a wonderful job as President. It doesn’t matter to me if she is man or woman, black or white, red or green, just that she is an intelligent, caring person that will do her best for this nation. Unilke the un-intelligent administration that sits in the White House now. It will be good to have someone in office that other countries can respect.

  15. JerryG

    September 7, 2007 at 9:47 pm

    Trust and the Presidency? Please, let’s not muddy the waters with respect into what the modern day Presidency (JFK forward) has evolved. The only “trust” I’m interested in is whether or not the President will uphold the contract we commonly refer to as the Constitution.

    Who, among the Democrats, are so altruistic in their principles that they will honor the agreement between we the people and the office of which they will be temporary custodians? We are in very complex times in which personal economic issues are intrinsically woven into legislation that seems to be in direct contradiction to our welfare. For example, the trade imbalance, our national debt, a continued free pass for corporations to outsource so our portfolios don’t suffer.

    I bet you that in light of recent events in Australia if you ask Dubya about the Constitution he’ll jokingly refer to the laxative he took the night before!

    Hillary Clinton is just another tool of the plutocrats. Hillary is part of the machine. Yet, compared to Giuliani or Romney at least we know what we’re getting!