Over the next few months, I’ll be running a series on the Democratic candidates for 2016. As they enter the race, I’ll sift them through my presidential litmus test to see how they rank.
I’ll start with Hillary Clinton. She’s likely to be the only Democratic candidate who stands a chance of winning, and this makes for a dark forecast. In my opinion, she’s a bad choice. My litmus test involves the following seven categories, in order of importance.
1. Free Speech
2. The Middle Class
4. The Drug War
5. Renewable Energy/The Environment
7. Marriage Equality
1. Free Speech: Fail.
Anyone who fails in this category automatically doesn’t get my vote, so this rules out Hillary before even considering the other six. She has shown a flagrant contempt for the First Amendment.
The incident, of course, is the Benghazi attack in 2012, in which a group of jihadists attacked the American diplomatic compound and killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. It’s well known that Hillary (and Obama) were appraised from the very start that there would be an attack, yet ignored the cries for help. What’s less known are the details in what followed, and so I’ll spell them out. Immediately following the attack, the Obama administration, but especially Hillary, blamed a youtube video for inciting the jihadis’ rage. This youtube video denigrated Muhammad, and quickly became the touchstone for riots and killings around the world. But at the time Hillary blamed it for the attack, the video had only 17 views on youtube. Contrary to what she claimed, virtually no one knew of it. There are, of course, hundreds of thousands of youtube videos ridiculing or attacking Islam or the Qur’an or Muhammad — and which have thousands of views — but no one with any reason or decency thinks to blame movies for real-world murder.
But Hillary did: she told the father of a navy SEAL who was killed in the Benghazi attack that “we’re going to have the filmmaker arrested and prosecuted” (she later lied and denied saying this). We now know that when she made this outrageous statement, she already knew that the Muhammad video had nothing to do with the jihadis’ reason for attacking. It doesn’t even matter if it did. Criminals are accountable for their actions. In scapegoating the video, Hillary was implying that it’s “our” fault that our own ambassador and his colleagues were killed. If we would just keep quiet about Islam and not provoke Muslims to rage, incidents like this wouldn’t happen. That’s sometimes a false assumption (as it was here), and other times not — but it’s disgraceful reasoning in any case. It’s equivalent to blaming rape victims for dressing provocatively.
Hillary delivered on her promise. She had the filmmaker (Mark Basseley Youssef) arrested, and he served a year in prison. He had been in prison before (for drug charges and bank fraud), and one of the terms of his probation was that he could not use the internet. So – nominally — he was arrested on grounds of violating his probation (uploading the youtube video), which was obviously a smokescreen. Many people violate their probation without consequence, and in ways far more serious than posting obscure videos. In reality, he was arrested for the reason Hillary wanted him arrested: for insulting Islam and Muhammad. Mark Basseley Youssef became the first political prisoner of the U.S. — jailed for his opinions.
It shouldn’t be illegal to hate or denigrate Islam any more than it should be to hate or denigrate Christianity, or any belief system (capitalist, communist, etc.). And it never has been illegal — until this event. It is, however, illegal in Islamic law: insulting Muhammad is a death-penalty offensive. What few people realize is that Hillary was catering to Islamic law by arresting someone for the the “crime” of offending Islam and its prophet. What further goes unconnected is that her action was a direct result of her (and Obama’s) recent endorsement of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation only nine months before, and her closed-door meeting with the Secretary-General of that organization.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is 56 nations plus the Palestinian authorities — the largest voting bloc at the UN since the collapse of the Soviet bloc — and from 1999-2010, every year, this bloc had tried introducing a resolution which called for the criminalization of inciting religious hatred. Effectively, this demands the criminalization of honest and truthful investigation. (When reasonable people like Sam Harris, Robert Spencer, Bill Maher, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali explain why Islam isn’t a religion of peace, and how it enshrines violence and intolerance, they are branded haters and bigots.) The OIC wants to foreclose on the possibility that one can study what jihadis actually believe, and what is fundamental to the Islamic religion. The U.S. government voted against this resolution every year, until Hillary (and Obama) signed on to it in 2011. For the first time ever, America went on record opposing the Constitution — the First Amendment, no less; free speech, the most sacred pillar.
Hillary Clinton is without question an enemy of the First Amendment. She opposed free speech on the international level, created the first political prisoner at home, and has even advocated the public shaming of citizens who speak hostilely against religion (particularly Islam). For this reason alone, she would never get my vote. But it turns out she’s even worse…
2. The Middle Class: Fail
Hillary is known for being cozy with Wall Street and trade deals. The question of the Trans-Pacific Partnership has her currently under the gun. America needs trade policies that benefit working families, not just Wall Street and multinational corporations. The trade deals that have been pushed on the American people result in millions of jobs lost through outsourcing, lower wages, and, of course, the collapse of the middle class. Hillary has been no help here, and there’s no reason to believe she will change.
3. Islam: Fail
Hillary, like Obama, is completely clueless about Islam, about the close relationship between abstract beliefs and real-world behavior, and about how our foreign policy should be accordingly conducted. She feigns a pro-Israel stance while downplaying the root cause of ongoing violence between Israel and the Palestinians — the latter’s refusal to make any concessions, unlike the former. She has made excuses for Hamas using human shields on grounds that “Gaza is pretty small”, showing no recognition (any more than Obama did) that Hamas’ statements that “killing Jews is worship that draws us closer to Allah” and “whoever kills a Jew goes to heaven”, reflect sincere beliefs that have nothing to do with poverty or lack of education. Likewise, elsewhere in the Middle-East, she would presumably pursue the same kind of policies Obama (and Bush) did — forging alliances and toppling dictators which result in the strengthening of jihad and sharia groups.
4. The Drug War: Fail
Hillary has stated repeatedly that legalization is the wrong approach to the drug war. Recently she’s been wavering on the question of marijuana (but only marijuana), making vague noises about “awaiting more evidence” about its effects. Suffice to say that she is no proponent of ending the drug war. A miserable fail on this point.
5. Renewable Energy/The Environment: Pass
But barely. Hillary seems to take climate change seriously, has supported renewable energy alternatives, and recently praised Obama’s use of the Clean Air Act. Much of this, however, could be lip service. She has refused to weigh in on the Keystone Pipeline, which may indicate that she’s worried about alienating the business community.
6. Choice: Pass
If nothing else, Hillary can be counted on to stand up for abortion rights.
7. Marriage Equality: Fail
Hillary hasn’t so much evolved on the issue gay rights, as she never had a heart where it counts. Andrew Sullivan points out that she was not, in fact, “just another evolving American”. She was the second most powerful person in an administration in a critical era for gay rights. “In that era,” says Sullivan, “her husband signed the HIV travel ban into law (it remained on the books for 22 years thereafter), making it the only medical condition ever legislated as a bar to even a tourist entering the US. Clinton also left gay service-members in the lurch, doubling the rate of their discharges from the military, and signed DOMA, the high watermark of anti-gay legislation in American history. Where and when it counted, the Clintons gave critical credibility to the religious right’s jihad against us. And on the day we testified against DOMA in 1996, their Justice Department argued that there were no constitutional problems with DOMA at all (the Supreme Court eventually disagreed).”
So the real question is whether she regrets that period and is willing to take any responsibility for it, instead of just getting angry when asked about it. Until then, she should be seen less as an evolver and more as one who accommodates and bends according to the climate. In this light, her current “support” for gay marriage doesn’t mean much at all.
In Short —
I would no more vote for Hillary Clinton than I would for Ted Cruz. She’s a dreadful candidate.
Overall rating: 2/10.
NEXT UP: Bernie Sanders.