The Hillary Bogey

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Washington, D.C. — a.k.a. the "Belly of the Beast" — has been a-twitter these past two weeks with the release of Hillary Clinton’s new book Living History. Contrary to the hopes of conservatives, the book has sold very well and might even justify the $8 million advance that the former First Lady received.

The book — apparently written by a gaggle of ghostwriters and not Mrs. Clinton herself — has not revealed anything surprising, judging from the accounts I have read. (No, I do not plan to read this "book," as I tend to steer away from memoirs penned by the political classes. If I want to read fiction, I will go to the proper outlets.) Yet, the usual suspects either are calling it a "triumph" or a pack of lies, depending upon how they have historically viewed the Clintons.

From the various sources that have reported on this book, Mrs. Clinton claims to have been surprised and angered when her husband "confessed" to her that, indeed, he and Monica Lewinsky had been doing some nasties in the Oval Office and, no, it was not the work of the "Vast Rightwing Conspiracy." Given that Mrs. Clinton knew from the start that Bill’s denials were outright lies, this passage alone should give us pause to think that Hillary Clinton is anything but a spinner of fabricated tales, second only to her husband.

Elsewhere, we read that she wanted to do all sorts of wonderful things for the country, but those Bad Republicans who wish to "turn back the clock" so old people can die in the streets kept her and Bill from giving all of us free healthcare. We read that the tax increases of 1993 created prosperity, and that the modest tax cuts of 2001 created a recession. (In other words, Hillary Clinton proves she is economically illiterate — but we already knew that.)

As for her social activism, she tells us the same thing she said a decade ago: her support of the welfare state comes from her "Old time Methodist" upbringing. (Murray Rothbard already has dealt with that explanation, so there is no use in my plowing the same ground that he so ably did before his untimely death.)

All that being said, let me say that I believe that the significance of this book is not that Mrs. Clinton gives us the same drivel she poured out of the White House while First Lady, but rather that it proves once again the absolute mediocrity that characterizes the political classes in this country. For her supporters, Living History somehow "proves" that Hillary is ready to be President of the United States, while her detractors either try to tell us that the book proves that either she is not presidential material or they quake in fear at the prospect of a Hillary presidency.

Now that I have said it, let me now say that this whole business has become quite ridiculous. Those who support her say she will make a wonderful president, while those who hate her believe she will be dishonest and vindictive. Perhaps I need to put it another way: if she were to become president, her behavior would mirror nearly everyone else who has held this office in my lifetime.

Does this mean I think she should be president? My short answer, not surprisingly, is "no." I would hate to see Hillary Clinton become president because I think she would be a disaster. For all of her leftist proclivities, I believe that she is a fascist at heart. First, she is authoritarian and second, she most likely would govern in the manner of her husband, who was constantly manipulating the reins of government to reward those companies that were in his political camp.

However, all that being said, I cannot help wonder if President Hillary would have launched a war against Iraq, a conflict that no longer can be spun as a Great Victory over the Evil Saddam. At this writing, the U.S. Armed Forces there are losing about one soldier or more per day as Iraqis engage in guerilla warfare. I doubt that Mrs. Clinton would have pulled us into such a conflict, which I believe still will be the downfall of the presidency of George W. Bush.

On the economic front, I doubt she would be worse than what we are seeing from Congress and President Bush. That is not a vote of confidence for Mrs. Clinton. Since, as Lew Rockwell has so aptly put it, John Maynard Keynes "rules from the grave," the overall economic policies of the U.S. Government will be Keynesian, be it a Democrat or Republican in the halls of power. Right now, can anyone say with a straight face that the U.S. Government under Republican leadership in all branches of government is engaging in responsible economic policy?

"But what about environmentalism?" some might ask. Is not a Republican presidency better in that area than what we see from Democrats? Again, while I appreciate some of the lip service Republicans give toward changing some environmental policies, let us not forget that it was the Republican administration of George I that gave us the draconian "wetlands" rules that have successfully resulted in the imprisonment of many "environmental criminals" who have done dastardly things like put fill dirt or sand on their own property.

Keep in mind that I do not care for Hillary Clinton and I do not wish to see her occupying the White House. And, yes, on some issues she is truly terrible. However, on balance while she is a terribly polarizing person, I doubt a Hillary presidency would be worse than what we have seen for a long time.

Again, that is not a compliment. In absolute terms, Hillary as president would be a disaster and further lead this once-free country down the road to serfdom. However, keep in mind that President Hillary would not have to change directions, as this current crop of Republicans is doing much the same. Yes, she might quicken the pace a bit, but her predecessors already will have greased the path for her.

June 19, 2003

William L. Anderson, Ph.D. [send him mail], teaches economics at Frostburg State University in Maryland, and is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

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