With the launch of her book, Hard Choices, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has commenced her campaign for the U.S. presidency in 2016.
She previously sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, but was narrowly defeated by Barack Obama. The four years she subsequently spent as Obama’s Secretary of State have given her unrivalled political experience in her bid for the White House.
Certainly, as far as the Democrats are concerned, she stands head and shoulders above any Democratic contender, currently polling over 60 per cent, while her nearest rival, Vice-President Joe Biden, has less than 10 per cent.
In contrast, none of her Republican rivals have more than 15 per cent, and they are deeply divided internally.
The U.S. Republicans are currently divided between Tea Party conservatives, who favour radical reductions in the size of government but are often libertarian on social issues, and social conservatives such as Rick Santorum who support increased government spending, particularly in relation to defence and foreign policy.
Republicans are also divided on important domestic issues such as same-sex marriage, the status of America’s 14 million illegal migrants from central and south America, and America’s global role in relation to conflicts in the Middle East, East Asia and eastern Europe.
There is still time for a Republican to emerge who can transcend these divisions, but time is running out.
In contrast, Mrs Clinton’s support base is united and cohesive. She has carefully positioned herself as a spokesman for the American left, getting the support of radical feminists, extreme environmentalists and the “gay” lobby, as well as the Democratic heartland of working-class Americans, blacks and Latinos.
Her recent book, Hard Choices, reflects these positions. Not surprisingly, she continues to repeat the familiar feminist mantra that ‘‘women in public life still face an unfair double standard”.
She adds, “Even leaders like former prime minister Julia Gillard of Australia have faced outrageous sexism which shouldn’t be tolerated in any country” — a clear swipe at Australia’s current prime minister.
The comments refer to the time when Julia Gillard was the subject of public criticism over actions she had taken, when employed by labour lawyers Slater and Gordon, to help establish a union slush fund run by her then boyfriend, Bruce Wilson.
It was alleged that money from this fund was used to purchase a home in Melbourne. Gillard has denied any wrongdoing; but the matter is currently the subject of inquiry by the royal commission into union corruption.
Hillary Clinton has also been backed by the American abortion rights organisation, Emily’s List. Its founder, Ellen Malcolm, recently endorsed the Clinton campaign, and the organisation claims to have two million supporters in the U.S.
As American commentators have pointed out, Hillary Clinton is not above criticism. In Hard Choices, for example, what is significant is how the real hard choices are either glossed over or airbrushed out altogether.
As Secretary of State, Clinton was in charge at the time of the assassination in Benghazi of Christopher Stevens, the American ambassador to Libya, a country which America helped liberate from Colonel Gaddafi.
It was been alleged that the U.S. Administration knew of the terrorists operating in Benghazi, and should have avoided a visit by the unarmed ambassador, especially on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, or at least should have provided adequate protection.
Clinton, confronted by these events in recent television interviews, said that it was “a tragedy”, but, when pressed further, said, “I take responsibility, but I was not making security decisions.” In other words, it was someone else’s fault.
In relation to climate change, Clinton faithfully repeats the Left’s mantra. In a chapter headed “Climate Change: We’re All In This Together”, she says that “America’s ability to lead in this setting hinges on what we ourselves are willing to do at home.”
She adds, “The problems posed by global warming were evident, despite the deniers. There was a mountain of overwhelming scientific data about the damaging effects of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases.”
Yet the U.S. Congress has done nothing to cut America’s greenhouse gas emissions — even in the period when the Democrats held the presidency and controlled both Houses of Congress.
Clinton explains away her vote supporting the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2002, implying (but not admitting) that she was wrong. “In our political culture, saying you made a mistake is often taken as weakness when in fact it can be a sign of strength and growth.”
Her book does not even mention some important issues with which she dealt, including the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the U.S., which has been stalled by Democrats for six years, or the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram, which Clinton refused to designate as a terrorist organisation.
Despite all this, Clinton stands a good chance of winning the Democratic Party nomination for president in 2016.
Peter Westmore is national president of the National Civic Council.