Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Game Over?

Today we live in a political climate where the anger and frustration over the institution that is Washington beltway politics is surpassed only by the disdain exhibited toward those who ply their trade within its corridors. The popularity of “outsiders” like Trump, Fiorina and Carson gives testimony to the reality that voters are ready to express that anger at the polls.

It is in this hostile atmosphere that we find Hillary Rodham Clinton, the embodiment of an establishment politician, making a run for the White House. The Clinton campaign offers a textbook example of everything that today’s voters hate about politics. Parsing quotes…non-answer answers…walking the fine line between appeasing the big corporations that fill her campaign coffers and the middle class and working poor whose plight she pledges to champion.

Case in point…the Keystone Pipeline.

Over the past several months Mrs. Clinton has been asked hundreds of times if she supports the Keystone Pipeline. Each time she has declined to answer the question. First she told us she would give us an answer AFTER she was elected president. Then she said that in deference the White House she would wait until after the administration announced its decision. Then she said that she had put the White House on notice that she was going to announce her decision “soon.”

While her stated intent was to afford deferential respect to her former boss, the truth is that Clinton was carefully weighing the options of whose support she needed the most. Should she appeal to the big money bundlers in big oil or should she bow to the interests of the ecological crowd entrenched in her liberal base? The pluses and minuses of the Keystone Pipeline have been spelled out for months. This decision was about nothing but politics.

Yesterday Clinton suddenly announced that she would NOT support the building of the Keystone Pipeline. Apparently she decided that at this point in time in her campaign she needed the support of her left wing base more than the backing of the money crowd. Perhaps the reality of Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden nipping at her primary heels had something to do with her decision.

Then there is the timing. It is no coincidence that Clinton’s announcement came at the same moment that Pope Francis was setting foot on American soil. What better way to fly under the radar with a politically risky announcement than to make it when the press is distracted by a different shiny object. Her decision may get some play on the evening news but after that it is three days of wall to wall coverage of the Pope. By the time Pope Francis leaves the country her decision will have long since been relegated to yesterday’s news.

And even if you believe that her announcement was intentionally timed for the papal visit to connect with the Pope’s recent encyclical on the dangers of climate change; the calculation is still pure politics.

Mrs.. Clinton continues to play the political establishment game in an environment that is toxic to politics as usual. She tip toes through the landmines of truth versus fiction…principled values versus political opportunism…running the risk that at any moment her political career could go up in smoke.

Voters are tired of politics as usual. The fatigue over Clinton being Clinton continues to rise. A just released Bloomberg poll has Clinton barely leading the straight talking Sanders and the not-yet-candidate Biden: Clinton 33%; Biden 25% and Sanders 24%. She is upside down in the polls in terms of her character and trustworthiness. Questions over her handling of her emails continue to haunt.

Yet she keeps playing the same game.

Could the game be over?

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