The Clintons: So Many Masks

hillary henry
Scheming, secretive, Machiavellian: birds of a feather

W.J. Astore

As Donald Trump continues to implode, it’s worthwhile considering how he even has a chance at the presidency.  It’s quite simple, actually: Americans don’t trust the Clintons, and rightly so. Why? Because the Clintons, in their quest for office, try to be all things to all people. Even as they talk about the poorest Americans and economic fairness, for example, they’re promising to make special deals for the richest and special trade deals (open trade borders for all!). Even as they criticize Wall Street they praise bankers and the financial elite behind closed doors (cashing-in big-time for these speeches). Even as they talk about the environment and global warning, they praise fracking and the fossil fuel industry.

What do the Clintons really believe?  Like many politicians, they ultimately believe in themselves, in their own quest for power, a quest in which virtually all tactics are justified. In which you can don any mask depending on that day’s audience and performance.

But if you’re all things to all people, you’re basically nothing to no one.  Put differently, if you’ve worn so many different masks for so many audiences, which face is the real you?

Trump’s followers embrace him in part because they think they know where he stands. He’s willing to say unpopular things.  As loutish and crass and ignorant as Trump is, he’s not always holding a finger up to test the political winds.  He’s not always currying favor with (and favors from) established elites.  He may be bad, but he’s genuinely bad.

The Clintons?  The word “genuine” just doesn’t apply.  Words like “scheming” and “secretive” and “Machiavellian,” however, do.

Small wonder that Hillary Clinton is such great friends with Henry Kissinger!

11 thoughts on “The Clintons: So Many Masks

  1. What a dreadful picture! Two grinning goblins gleefully groping each other: You-Know-Her and Henry “the Teutonic Bomber” Kissinger, one of the principal sons-of-bitches who — along with his political patron Tricky Dick Nixon — sent my young ass to Vietnam in July of 1970. I often wondered why, but eventually I came upon a quote of his that explained things perfectly:

    “I refuse to believe a little fourth-rate power like North Vietnam doesn’t have a breaking point.”

    Then I got it. What an epiphany! It turns out that Tricky Dick and Henry had sent me — along with hundreds of thousands of other Americans — to Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos) as part of a little experiment to see if we could help Henry discover North Vietnam’s “breaking point.” Millions of people got broken by the experiment but in the end the “little fourth-rate power” sent Tricky Dick and Henry scurrying to the negotiating table where they sold out their pathetic little Saigon proxy puppet for a tiny fig leaf of an agreement that barely covered their shrunken geo- (and domestic) political genitalia. I got it, all right. Too bad for America and the world that You-Know-Her didn’t. But, of course, she never spent any time in the Nixon-Kissinger Fig Leaf Contingent, so how would she ever know a lesson worth learning?

    Actually, as we know from recent events in Libya — formerly a functioning sovereign state now reduced to bloody chaos chiefly thanks to imbecilic, murderous meddling by You-Know-Her and her browbeaten boss, President Obama — You-Know-Her sees herself as a sort of Julia Caesar crossing the Potomac towards the “glass ceiling” of power: a demented dyke of debacle and disaster, now poised to put another of Henry Kissinger’s witticisms into bloody effect (this one from the Iraq-Iran War of 1980-1988):

    “…It’s best to let them kill each other off” … “oil is too valuable a commodity to be left in the hands of the Arabs.”

    Hence, in tribute to Mrs Clinton’s deep and assiduous study of Henry Kissinger’s “lessons” from Souheast Asia to the Middle East, I offer You-Know-Her the perfect poem for Inauguration Day, January 21, 2017:

    A Glib Giddy Ghoul / Goldwater’s Girl
    (Venimus. Vidimus. Et Mortuus Est)

    “We came. We saw. He died,” she cackled,
    This chicken hen hawking her bile,
    Amused at the bleeding and shackled
    Gaddafi upon whom would pile
    Jihadists with red hatred spackled,
    And all so Dame Clinton could smile.

    Or, alternatively:

    On hearing of Gaddafi’s savage murder
    She smiled and joked: “We came. We saw. He died.”
    Apparently, she thought that those who heard her
    Would share her chickenhenish war-slut pride.

    She campaigned in her youth for Bomber Barry
    Goldwater, who from Arizona came;
    Who made his money ripping off the natives
    On reservations where he staked his claim.

    Our You-Know-Her worked hard for Bomber Barry
    Who swore that if elected he would kill
    Vietnamese who found us less than scary
    In numbers that would break their iron will.

    A pantsuit with no principles or vision
    Just raw ambition: naked, stark, and vain.
    If peace might happen, war is her decision.
    Goldwater’s Girl is just a John McCain.

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2015


    1. Perhaps the best moment of the Democratic debates came when Bernie Sanders attacked Hillary for her glowing reference to Kissinger. I knew then beyond a doubt that Bernie was a far better candidate and person.

      Now we’re hearing all the revelations about Hillary’s cozy relationship with the banks, with the big money people, with the fracking industry, and so on, ad nauseam. Those revelations, none of them that surprising, might have tilted the scales to Bernie this spring, but it was not to be.


      1. I, too, thought Senator Sanders did a good thing when he denounced You-Know-Her’s dependence on Der Bomber Kissinger’s “advice.” Still, since Bernie’s seat on a Senate committee depends on the Democratic Party with whom he caucuses, I never thought that he would seriously challenge You-Know-Her. I figured, based on past experience with the Democratic Party — especially under the Clintons — that Senator Sanders would put on a show of something vaguely “leftish” so as to attract the young and inexperienced demographic, sort of like candidate Barack Obama did back in 2008. Then, according to plan, You-Know-Her would betray these foolish “progressive” childen — again, as President Obama did after he assumed office in 2009 — by moving even further to the right (which Democrats euphemistitcally call “the center”) once she had secured the nomination. You know, that Pied Piper of Hamelin thing. Watching most of the top office-holding Republicans and the monied corporate elite flee Donald Trump — another phony Pied Piper — for the tender and welcoming embrace of neocon war-witch You-Know-Her only confirms me in my post-Vietnam cynicism.

        My Taiwanese wife thinks that the Global Corporate Oligarchy purposefully put up both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump as easy-to-vanquish straw men for You-Know-Her, always the establishment choice, to knock over without breaking a sweat. When I told my wife that she sounded even more cynical than me, she smiled and replied: “We Chinese have just had many more centuries of experience with this kind of thing than you Americans have.” She always uses that line on me. And it always seems to work. When I once tried to explain the fine art of double-bookkeeping to her, she almost choked on her stir-fried, sweet-and-sour chicken: “You mean you Americans have only two?” Regarding the self-styled businessman, Donald Trump, she likes to say: “Any Chinese can get the best of an American in a business deal. That doesn’t prove anything. But for a Chinee to cheat another Chinese, now that is truly impressive.” Donald Trump doesn’t have a Chinese bone in his body. Neither does You-Know-Her. So it doesn’t make one bit of difference to the Chinese who winds up in the White House in January of next year.

        Many years ago, Henry Kissinger and his boss Richard Nixon desperately needed to get out of their self-created quagmire in Southeast Asia. Assuming that the Vietnamese actually gave a shit what China — their ancient enemy — thought about anything, Kissinger went off to Beijing, hat in hand, to see if Chairman Mao wouldn’t give him and Tricky Dick a little help with those inflexible Vietnamese bastards who insisted on their independence and national sovereignty. Trying to bullshit The Great Helmsman, Kissinger first tried the phony humble-pie bit: “We know you understand that we don’t want anything from you and that you don’t want anything from us.” Mao cut him off with a curt: “If I wanted nothing from you, I wouldn’t have invited you; and if you wanted nothing from me, you should not have come.” Like my wife says: the Chinese have had many more centuries of experience with this sort of thing than we Americans have. As a fairly well-informed person recently observed: China seems poised to resume the position it formerly occupied for twenty-three of the last twenty-five centuries: namely, on top.” It could happen.

        Anyway, at 93 years of age, The Teutonic Bomber may not live long enough to locate anyone’s “breaking point,” not that he won’t advise You-Know-Her (as no doubt he already has many times) to do some bombing of “little fourth-rate powers” just because the United States can — and would, he thinks, suffer a grave loss of “prestige” if we didn’t. Kissinger has always believed that our friends won’t respect us and our enemies won’t fear us if the United States stops acting so bloody stupid. This assumes, of course, that our friends respect our stupidity and our enemies fear it; precisely the opposite of how friends and enemies actually think. I’ll never forget when the folk-singer/satirist Tom Lehrer quit show business and returned to college teaching saying: “All comedy died the day Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize.” I wonder what he would say now about the latest U.S. war criminal to win that award? You know, President Barack “I’ve gotten really good at killing people” Obama. What more can anyone do to already dead comedy after Henry Kissinger killed it first?

        It appears that You-Know-Her will soon answer that question for us. Personally, I do not look forward to her next comedy act. The many previous ones have left too many millions dead, dismembered, and homeless. Given You-Know-Her’s near orgasmic reaction to the jihadi mob murder of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, it would not surprise me to hear her ejaculate ecstatically at news of the next U.S.-murdered foreign leader: “He died. I saw. I came!” There, Donald. I’ve given you a free one from the U.S. Navy locker room. Now go run with it. You haven’t much time left. Neither, perhaps, have we.


      2. During the Cold War, my dad would say that if the Soviets and Americans blew themselves up, a billion Chinese would pick up the pieces and the world would go on. (This is before we knew about the dangers of a nuclear winter.)

        China has made itself the workhouse of the world. Almost every new product seems to say, “Made in China.” China has enormous capacity for growth, and I don’t just mean GDP. Along which path will China walk? Historically, China hasn’t been an expansionist nation, at least not in a military sense. It seems to me the U.S. has chosen to assert itself globally through its military primarily, whereas China is asserting itself through its economy and trade. The Chinese approach holds more promise over the long term.

        The one caveat is that China, in its quest to dominate global markets, seems to be poisoning itself through air and other forms of pollution and environmental damage. (Just as the UK and US did during their own Industrial Revolutions.) Chinese workers are paying a high price in the name of trade and economic growth, just as other peoples have throughout history.


  2. Oh, yes and by the way, I mailed off my overseas ballot for the State of California today. I had the choice of five political parties and their candidates for President of the United States. I voted for Dr Jill Stein of the Green Party, naturally. The Republicans didn’t get enough votes in the blanket primary to qualify a candidate for U.S. Senator so one of the two women Democrats running for the office will get it. I really have no interest in either. I also voted to legalize Marijuana and abolish the death penalty. So, I did my civic duty. Now for you people in the other 46 states (where the Green Party has made the ballot) to either vote the Republican and Democratic bastards out of office or vote them back in while swearing — honest injun! — that you really don’t like them very much.


  3. This is an insightful article not because it reveals anything new about Hillary Clinton, but because it raises an interesting question: what is the U.S. President’s responsibility to Americans?

    The last time I checked the person elected as President of the United States is not the Democrats’ President, the Republicans’ President, the Independents’ President, the poor people’s President, the wealthy people’s President, or the white, black or brown people’s President he or she is the American President.

    What does it mean to be the President for ALL Americans and how does a single individual represent the interests of the widely divergent interests found across a nation that is 3,000 miles wide and includes more than 350 million individuals? How should a single individual go about dividing their attention across a spectrum of constituents ranging from the Minimum Wage worker, who is unable to “get by” on their income, to the CEO of a major corporation whose annual bonus is in the tens of millions of dollars? Complicating this question is the American theory of the supremacy of the individual and his/her rights, running headlong into the notion of what’s right and wrong for the good of the collective whole.

    So, we return to the question of how should a single individual who becomes the American President represent the obviously competing interests of a widely divergent constituency?


    1. Rick: My simple answer is the president needs to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution. That’s first and foremost.

      Second, he or she needs to be a public servant. Not a servant of special interests, and not a servant of himself or herself.

      Third, he or she needs to be a leader. A president should be able to inspire, to bring people together, to get things done for the betterment of all (as much as that’s possible).

      Fourth, the president should be a defender of the little guy or gal. Wall Street doesn’t need a defender. Corporations don’t need a defender. But ordinary people do. People without big money and connections need a champion, and the president should be that champion.

      Fifth, the president must represent America on the world stage in a positive light. Like it or not, the president, whoever he or she is, inevitably becomes a lead symbol of America. That person should represent us at our best, not our worst.

      Sixth, the president, as commander-in-chief, needs to recognize the limits of military power, and needs to exercise control over the national security state, recognizing that incessant war is an enemy of democracy, and that spending on weapons and war is a waste of resources.

      Seventh (and finally), the president must be a steward of the nation’s resources, especially its environment (healthy air, clean water, unpolluted land, and so on). The president must always have an eye on the future — on the need to preserve our country for our children and their children.

      This is a quick list, and it could easily be lengthened, but these to me are some of the top priorities for the U.S. president.


      1. No argument with your points one through three or five through seven, although I think the list is a bit lengthy as most things work best when the list is kept to three. However, it’s number four that your original article calls into question for me.

        I don’t see anything in the Constitution or the President’s job description that specifies the President is “a defender of the little guy or gal.” Instead, the job title is President of the United States of America, meaning he or she is everyone’s President whether “little or guy or gal,” Wall Street Tycoon, or all the people in between.

        Now, the simple answer is majority rules, throwing the choice toward the more numerous “little guy or gal.” However, we have to remember our three branches of government and particularly the bicameral legislative branch were set up to preclude the “tyranny of the majority.” That notion, in my opinion, has morphed over the years into what I’ll call “the tyranny of the minority,” with “the minority” defined on a du jour basis, as demonstrated by a shift in the “minority du jour” from oppressed minorities in the 1960s, to oppressed women in the 1970s and 80s, to a tax oppressed wealthy elite and regulatory oppressed corporate “citizens” in the 2000s.

        So, again I return to the central question of how should a single individual who becomes the American President represent the obviously competing interests of a widely divergent constituency?

        Perhaps the answer lies in one’s perception of what the United States means or more accurately what was and is sold to you, the individual, regarding what the United States means.


      2. Rick: Maybe I can call it “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Presidents” 🙂

        With my fourth point, I used the word “should,” not “must.” In my mind, I see the president as a sort of umpire or referee, making sure the game is played fair and square. In the “game” of life, powerful interests (the ultra-rich, powerful corporations, and so on) already have a big advantage, so I see the president as a public servant (umpire) who acts to ensure the interests of the people are not subsumed or denied or violated.

        Of course, there are many interests of the people, and many are contradictory, but again I see the president as acting to ensure, as much as he or she can, the integrity of the process.

        This is one reason we need campaign finance reform. Those with money speak with a much louder and more powerful voice, essentially drowning out our voices. A president who’s a captive of the special interests is a president only in name, i.e. just a money-grubber, just a bag-man (or -woman). We’ve allowed politics to be co-opted by special interests with deep pockets; campaign finance reform and public funding of elections will help to reverse this.


      3. The answer to your question usually goes something like this, Rick: “The greatest good for the greatest number.” You like things simple, so there you have it. But as Einstein said: “We should make things as simple as possible, but no simpler.” Simpler than simple just means simplistic. That won’t do, either.

        Formally, as our high school civics textbooks tell us, the United States constitutes a compound republic divided first between State and Federal governments, with each of those two major divisions in turn subdivided into three administrative subdivisions: namely, the executive, legislative, and judicial “branches.” I just finished voting (by overseas absentee ballot) for the State of California where I had the opportunity to choose federal, state, and local officials as well as various state initiatives such as the legalization of marijuana, the abolition of the death penalty, and a petition to overturn the Supreme Court “Citizens United” decision which, as we all should recognize, simply means that the wealthiest Americans can buy all the government — and legal immunity — they want, since for them, money means “speech.” The corollary to this obscene and corrupt decision means, of course, that those without money have no speech at all. As Constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald explains things in his book With Liberty and Justice for Some:

        “For all the homage we pay to equality under law, we have virtually abolishd it in practice. Indeed, beyond isolated, politically motivated rhetoric, we hardly even pretend to believe in its validity any longer. Instead, the United States now has the exact opposite of a single set of laws before which everyone is equal. It has an entrenched two-tier system of justice: the country’s most powerful political and financial elites are virtually immunized from the rule of law, empowered to commit felonies with fullscale immunity and to act without any constraints, while the politically powerless are imprisoned with greater ease and in far greater numbers than in any other country on the planet.”

        Furthermore, as Mr Greenwald writes:

        “… criminal prosecutions are simply not appropriate for the country’s elites. Courtrooms, indictments, and prisons are there for ordinary Americans, not for the ruling classes, and virtually never for our highest political leaders. … The central promise of the American founding — that all would stand equal before the rule of law no matter what other political and economic inequality was allowed — has been abandoned.”

        All of our elected officials, I believe, take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, and the President, as the nation’s chief executive, takes a special oath “to see that the laws are faithfully executed.” If you truly want a definition of the President’s chief responsibility to the people, there you have it. Not an incessant stream of vapid rhetoric from Barack Obama claiming “no red states, no blue states, but just the United States, blah, blah, blah …” Our Presidents today, regardless of gender or political party, have abandoned practically every pretense of fullfilling this primary responsibility “to see that the laws are faithfully executed.”

        Mr Greenwald explains the reason for this failure to execute a chief executive’s primary duty to the people:

        “Becausse every president eventually leaves office, incoming chief executives have an incentive to quash investigations into their predecessor’s tenure. In other words, by letting criminal bygones be bygones within the executive branch, presidents uphold a gentleman’s agreement to shield each other from accountability for any crimes they might want to commit in office.”

        “That dynamic expresses the underlying motive of the political and media classes’ general defense of elite immunity: by protecting the lawbreaking license for other powerful individuals, they strengthen a custom of which they might avail themselves if they too break the law and get caught. It is class-based, self-interested advocacy. This is why belief in this prerogative and the devotion to protecting it transcend political ideology, partisan affiliation, the supposed wall between political and media figures, and every other pretense of division withing elite classes. It is in the interest of every member of the privileged political and financial class, regardless of role or position, to maintain the vitality of this immunity. And what we have seen over the last decade is the inevitable byproduct of elite immunity: pervasive, limitless elite corruption and criminality.”

        As this elite lawlessness relates to the present article, it constitutes a gross dereliction of duty, if not criminal negligcnce, for any American president not to prosecute war criminals like Henry Kissinger and predecessor presidents who have invaded and wrecked sovereign states, overthrown foreign governments, assisted global corporations in the plundering of foreign peoples, and all while violating the Constitutional liberties and protections of the American people. America has in fact become a lawless hypocrite and rogue predator: arrogant and impervious to reform efforts through the transparent charades and Enterainment Tonight spectacles marketed as “democratic elections.” As long as the likes of Henry Kissinger and Dick Cheney walk free upon the earth despite their heinous crimes, no sitting President of the United States will have fulfilled his or her primary responsibility “to see that the laws are faithfully executed.” U.S. Presidents today simply see to it that the poor and powerless are executed, not the laws that they so cavalierly swear to uphold and protect.

        I hope that answers your question, Rick.


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