William Jefferson Clinton was not our first Black president, Hillary won’t be the second

To set the mood for the subject of this piece, the things we think we hear versus the things that are actually said, here is what Rupert Cornwell of the UK’s Independent wrote of both Clintons in 1994. Please keep it in mind going forward:

“Bill Clinton, the candidate was wont to say during the 1992 campaign, ‘and you get two for the price of one’. But that was back in the good old days, when Hillary Clinton was an asset beyond argument. She remained one until a week or so ago when that Arkansas imbroglio called Whitewater became the only topic in town.”

The article is well-worth a read to get a feel for the passions of the time. Whitewater may be water under the bridge now, but the underlying sense of entitlement to power of the Clintons and their propensity to say things that sound like what we want to hear but fall well short when given a closer look,  has not abated.

Barely a day after we were treated to the news that Bill Clinton wrote we “overshot the mark’ on incarceration,” the very next morning, Hillary gives a speech in which she declares that America must confront ‘hard truths about race and justice.’

It’s kind of hard to take, if you remember your history of the last three decades. You’re a bit fuzzy on the details? That’s all right. The internet isn’t.

  • Then Senator Joe Biden wrote the $8 billion ‘Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994‘ which Bill Clinton signed, that started America’s incarceration binge, culminating in the 1.5 million missing Black men Secretary Clinton mentioned in today’s speech:

“When we talk about one-and-a-half million African-American men, we’re talking about missing husbands, missing fathers, missing brothers – they’re not there to bring home a paycheck, and the consequences are profound.”

“Lake Forest, Ill.; Beverly Hills, Calif.; Wellesley, Mass. What do these towns have in common? They’re all affluent big-city suburbs with very little serious crime—islands of prosperous serenity in a dicey world. It would be hard to think of places in the United States that have a less urgent need to field more police officers. Yet one more thing these municipalities share is that in recent years, the federal government gave each of them money to do exactly that.” […]

“It may seem like a validation of COPS that the rate of violent crime peaked in 1994, the year it was enacted. But the homicide rate began falling in 1991, and property crimes have been have been coming down since the mid-’70s. Drug arrests, on the other hand, rose in the last decade. Whether COPS had anything to do with these trends is anyone’s guess. A 1999 investigation by the Chicago Tribune that looked at the nation’s 50 largest police departments found “no correlation between the growth in the number of officers and crimes rates since 1993.” The NIJ researchers would go no further than to say, “We cannot rule out the possibility that the program accounts for part of the drop in national crime statistics.””

Secretary Clinton’s new-found compassion for Blacks and detection powers for racism are jarring when we consider that it wasn’t that long ago that Christiane Amanpour could not get her to agree that the animus that has been directed at President Obama is racist in nature. Watch***:

In her speech this morning, Hillary Clinton said:

“When we talk about one-and-a-half million African-American men, we’re talking about missing husbands, missing fathers, missing brothers – they’re not there to bring home a paycheck, and the consequences are profound.”

Three profound aspects arising from this statement are:

  1. That it is the two-fer partner of the Clinton duo who is saying it.
  2. That, aside from Bill (and Hillary by extension) being responsible for greasing the skids of mass-incarceration, both Clintons are responsible for the “missing husbands, missing brothers – they’re not there to bring home a paycheck…” part of Hillary’s statement.
  3. The consequences of the repeal of Glass-Steagall and the mortgage crisis.

Welfare reform is another of Bill Clinton’s greatest achievements in office. His knee-jerk reaction to the Ronald Reagan-era “Welfare Queen” atmosphere was the enactment of the welfare reform laws that are responsible for the further decimation of the nuclear family the Clintons often mention. I will limit myself to quoting from two of the numerous research studies that have been done in the years since the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act was signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996.

  • From BillMoyers.com:
    Medicaid and other anti-poverty programs: they killed off the federal entitlement and turned the money over to the states to implement new models of welfare as they saw fit. It was a central plank in Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America” 20 years ago and also considered one of Bill Clinton’s signature achievements.University of Minnesota sociologist Joe Soss spent a decade studying how those reforms shook out in the real world. With Richard C. Fording and Sanford F. Schram, he co-wrote the book, Disciplining the Poor: Neoliberal Paternalism and the Persistent Power of Race, explaining how race became a determining factor in how states created their own welfare programs — and how that ultimately led to a system that’s rife with racial bias.
  • From Vocativ, “Baltimore Youths Have It Worse Than Those in Nigeria
    When a teenager from East Baltimore was asked to describe his neighborhood, he spoke of “big rats going around in people’s trash, vacant houses full of squatters and needles on the ground.” A young woman in New Delhi, asked the same question, described the dirt and the “dirty water found lying on the roads,” while a young man in Ibadan, a large city in Nigeria, spoke of the smell of urine and streets “littered with paper and other refuse.”All three teenagers live in the poorest neighborhoods in their communities and were surveyed as part of the “WAVE” study, a global research project that examines the well-being of adolescents in vulnerable environments around the world. Led by Dr. Kristen Mmari, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, the survey assessed health challenges faced by 2,400 15- to 19-year-olds from impoverished areas in Baltimore, Shanghai, Johannesburg, Ibadan and New Delhi, as well as their perceptions of their environments.

While the fumbles with the email may have given the appearance of disorganization, the Hillary machine has been deceptively-well prepared for a media assault. The appearance of a dormant effort has been masking the tremendous behind-the-scenes sales job that has been hoisted to elicit glowing press coverage. Every important base has been addressed, with all of the hottest polling topics that the public is demanding seem to have been adopted either by the main think tank behind Clinton, or by Hillary herself. Well-crafted policy statements from the Clinton Machine have systematically fed to eager press outlets, designed to make the reading public feel as if Hillary is going to grant them their deepest desires.

But, upon closer scrutiny, policy papers and statements fall short of a firm commitment to any given position. The same approach is true of new hires to the Clinton campaign. On the economic side, we have Larry Summers who put together Hillary’s economic manifesto from his position at The Center for American Progress. I’ve written at length about Summers’ central role in greasing the skids for what eventually came to be known as the financial crisis that started the Great Recession. Sure, she has hired a couple of people who are said to have solid progressive reputations, but the dominant person, at least on the economic side, is Larry Summers who has made a great deal of effort, since his forced withdrawal from vying for the Fed position, to make a hard left pivot. That Summers is a serious economist, is not in dispute. That Summers, suddenly, is a progressive, is very much in doubt. Remember, Glass-Steagall led to the financial crisis and the mortgage crisis:

From MLK warned us about inequality back in the 60’s:
To pick up on the Prince George’s County example above, the shrinking of America’s middle class has been ongoing since the Reagan years. The Great Recession was a coup de grace in that it heightened the problem to the point where it is now visible to the naked eye. Everyone lost something, with many losing everything due to the housing and jobs crises brought on by the near-collapse of the financial sector. Many, no matter the ethnicity, have yet to recover and may never do so. Workers near middle age and in their fifties lost the most, as many are unlikely to resume careers and have become a part of what Paul Krugman calls a “lost generation.” Be that as it may, if Blacks traditionally suffer far higher rates of unemployment at all times, the Great Recession has been nothing short of catastrophic for them. This time around, those who had climbed into the middle class suddenly lost their status and whereas their white neighbors have recovered at least to some degree, they have not.

Indeed, the Clinton team recently made a statement on the TPP that was billed by the New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman as falling just short of rejection:

“Hillary Clinton believes that any new trade measure has to pass two tests,” her spokesman, Nick Merrill, said in a statement. “First, it should put us in a position to protect American workers, raise wages and create more good jobs at home. Second, it must also strengthen our national security. We should be willing to walk away from any outcome that falls short of these tests.

“The goal is greater prosperity and security for American families, not trade for trade’s sake.”

One has to evaluate the statement above in the context of Summers’ very long and well-documented track record on banking and trade during his stint with Bill Clinton and Hillary’s long-standing commitment to trade policy via the two-fer one proxy of her marriage to William Jefferson Clinton. NAFTA hurt the middle and working classes. While the job losses hurt everyone, they hurt Blacks even more.

While many will say that she should be evaluated on her own, separately from her husband’s legacy, such an evaluation is invalidated by Bill Clinton’s myriad statements about Hillary’s involvement in policy, and her hiring of the same people who served her husband when he was president.

Then, when you put Bill Clinton’s written statement “we overshot on incarceration…” side by side with his wife’s “hard truths,” the idea of another Clinton presidency becomes even harder to swallow.

I would rather vote for the right two old white dudes than the wrong woman. For this woman to become the right candidate, she would have to shed just about every adviser she brought over from Clinton I and then repudiate just about everything her husband did. Frankly, were she to do it, I couldn’t believe her no matter how hard I might want to.

The left pundit-industrial complex would love for us to believe that Hillary Clinton is inevitable. They would love for us to believe that she can pivot enough to the left and be believed. They would love for us to be so scared that we will submit. They would love it if we forgot the very history that we have watched unfold and live. They would love it if we didn’t understand why we are where we are economically and socially.

What America needs, right now, is someone who can pick up from Martin Luther King and finish what he started. We are poorer, more afraid and, in some ways, more at-risk for all kinds of things. We need wisdom, a rock solid moral compass, determination and a whole lot of selflessness in shepherding our nation out of the ethics morass it is now mired in. That person just isn’t Hillary Clinton.

*** Mediaite removed the video of Hillary Clinton and Christiane Amanpour’s Town Hall exchange on race. Here is a transcript, via Talking Points Memo.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Senator Jay Rockefeller said recently and he suggested basically that some of the political opposition to President Obama could have something to do with the color of his skin. Do you agree with that? What do you think about that?

CLINTON: Well, I can’t read the mind of all of the opposition. But some of it is virulent, and really, in my view, you know, quite detached from the job that not only this president is doing but any president has to do. It’s a really hard job. And you’re not going to agree — I don’t care who you are — with everything any president does.

And there are many reasons why people are opposed to political figures. I felt when I ran in ’08 that there were people who were opposed to me because I was a woman. So, you have to really try to keep getting up everyday and doing the best you can. That’s what President Obama has done.

And he is trying — like the capture today, you know, that was months in the making. And he had to make the decision, once again, to send Americans into harm’s way to try to detain the leader of the attack against Benghazi. You know, he has to shut out a lot of the other stuff that’s going on to have the concentration to be able to make those hard choices.

So, if someone wants to dislike the president, remember, 60 percent is a landslide. If you get that kind of vote. That means 40 percent, four out of 10 people don’t like you. And you have to know that, because even if you get to 60 percent, which is hard to do, you’re operating on a margin where four out of 10 are never going to be happy or satisfied —


AMANPOUR: Do you think some of that is latent racism, vestiges of racism, as some people have said?

CLINTON: Well, I know that — I don’t want to — I don’t want to say that I verify that, because that would be generalizing too broadly. I believe that there are people who have trouble with ethnicity, with race, with gender, with sexual orientation, you name it. And therefore, they are not developing a reasoned opinion — even if it’s an opinion in opposition, but they are a reacting to not a visceral stereotypical basis. And that’s unfortunate.



Bill Clinton: ‘We Have Overshot The Mark’ On Incarceration

| By Mollie Reilly

In a foreword for a new book of essays on criminal justice reform complied by New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice, Clinton says the tough-on-crime policies of the 1990s “overshot the mark” on incarceration.

“The drop in violence and crime in America has been an extraordinary national achievement,” Clinton writes. “But plainly, our nation has too many people in prison and for too long — we have overshot the mark. With just 5 percent of the world’s population, we now have 25 percent of its prison population, and an emerging bipartisan consensus now understands the need to do better.”

The U.S. is estimated to have a prison population of more than 2.4 million people, andincarcerates more of its population than any other nation in the world. As The Guardian notes, the prison rate increased signifcantly during Clinton’s tenure in office.

Clinton says the policies implemented during his years as president were effective in reducing violent crime, but added that many of the measures were “overly broad instead of appropriately tailored.”

“Some are in prison who shouldn’t be, others are in for too long, and without a plan to educate, train, and reintegrate them into our communities, we all suffer,” he writes.

Read Clinton’s full foreword here.

15 thoughts on “William Jefferson Clinton was not our first Black president, Hillary won’t be the second”

    1. Thank you very much for reading and leaving a comment. It pleases me to no end to hear back from visitors on the blog.

      Have a great weekend!

  1. Rima, did you protest the fact that Barack Obama’s top economic advisor from transition team in 2009 to first term of his presidency was Larry Summers? that Paul Krugman was never named to a broad WH conference of early advisors which included de-regulators Robert Rubin and Alan Greenspan? I did.
    In breaking news, Obama is strong-arming the passage of TPP which probably will have a greater effect on labor, middle class, jobs, corporate power than anything to date. If you’re concerned about our corporatocracy, there’s plenty in current news to worry about.

  2. Pingback: Blog #42

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