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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Hillary's Howler

Hillary Clinton, who is a lawmaker I have very high hopes for, really disappointed me yesterday. At a MLK Jr. event in Harlem, she decided that, somehow, it was a appropriate opportunity to slam the Republican-run House of Representatives for being run like a plantation. From the NY Times:
At the ceremony, Mrs. Clinton, the junior Democratic senator from New York, said that Democrats were largely responsible for much of the nation's progress in areas like civil rights and women's rights.

But she suggested that things had changed in recent years with the Republicans in control of the White House and Congress, according to a transcript of her remarks.

Mrs. Clinton added that the House has been "run like a plantation" under Republicans. "And you know what I am talking about," she said. "It has been run in a way so that nobody with a contrary point of view has had a chance to present legislation, to make an argument."
My first, and the most obvious issue, is the fact that she is standing up to speak, on a day that remembers a man who fought for the civil rights of his severely downtrodden people, and comparing a democratically elected house of government to an system of slavery that treated blacks as subhuman. Personally, I find this an objectionable comparison, especially given the timing Clinton chose to make it.

Second, I think Clinton is guilty here of calling the kettle black. As noted in a report published by NYU's Brennan Center for Justice, the NYS legislature is arguably the least democratic, most dysfunctional government body in the United States. From the report's introduction:
New York State’s legislative process is broken. This report documents five key weaknesses and compares New York’s process with those in other state legislatures and in the U.S. Congress. Together, the problems identified here deprive New Yorkers of the government they deserve. Indeed, New York’s legislative process limits legislators’ consideration of legislation – whether counted in hearings, debate, amendments, readings, conference committees, or even simply legislators’ presence when they vote – far more than any other legislature. Neither the U.S. Congress nor any other state legislature so systematically limits the roles played by rank-and-file legislators and members of the public in the legislative process.
Hillary, you want to use racially loaded sound bites to encourage reform in the Republican-led Congress? Bravo. But before you focus on your presidential run, why don't you remember that you are still the NY State U.S. Senator. As a member of the State Democratic Party, how about you put put some of that effort into cleaning a legislative house run by your own party - the Democratic NY State Legislature. You have no oversight over the House, but chose to use its dysfunction to make a political point. Feel free to do the same about your state party. It would make me feel a whole heck of a lot more charitable about the comments you made yesterday. Give it a shot.

Yesterday could have been worse, though. As Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, said of Clinton's comments:
At least she didn't mention Hitler.
I guess.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hillary who


11:30 AM  
Blogger The Town Crier said...

it was definitely poor judgement on her part to have taken that note from the al sharpton guide to speaking in harlem.

11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"who is a lawmaker I have very high hopes for"

Huh. interesting. High hopes that she will do more Suha-kissing? High hopes that she will keep on criticising Israel?

11:55 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

High hopes that she will do more Suha-kissing? High hopes that she will keep on criticising Israel?

Anon, I was waiting for this. Can you really tell me that Hillary has not been supportive of Israel since being elected? And how many times can you use the Suha-kissing against her? I have yet to hear you anti-Hillary's railing against Bush and Crown Prince Abdullah's romantic garden stroll, while they held hands together?

12:06 PM  
Blogger Henchy said...

Orthomom...I am suprised that you would be disapointed. Hilary is nothing but a power hungry opportunist who will say an do anything to get to higher or in her case the highest office possible.

1:33 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

I agree that equating GOP housemembers to slave owners is inappropriate, but I think your second criticism is misplaced. How is she responsible for the way the state legislature is run?

1:41 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Krum, nor is she responsible for the way the house of representatives is run.

1:43 PM  
Blogger AS said...

Why the suprise? After all she's friends with the like of Belafonte calling the president a terrorist etc. Instead of knocking the administration and trying to impeach the president why don't they focus on the Iran problem etc. These people make me sick!

1:45 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:47 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

Krum, nor is she responsible for the way the house of representatives is run.

Why is that relevant? The issue is whether she is entitled to criticize the house of reps for how it is run. The fact that the state legislature of her home state is similarly corrupt or poorly run seems irrelevant.

1:49 PM  
Blogger respondingtojblogs said...

She is a US senator, not a state senator. Not that her remarks are any less odious.

2:11 PM  
Blogger The Town Crier said...

Hillary is a brilliant person who has proven herself a highly effective lawmaker and leader. She has been 100% loyal on all fronts to Israel. (AND btw blogmeister read the news lately She avoids belafonte like the plague) If you wanna play the guilt by association game there is plenty to go around. Its funny to hear you say things like

"Instead of knocking the administration and trying to impeach the president why don't they focus on the Iran problem etc. These people make me sick! "

Funny, thats what we said when ken starr was wasting government resources, lots of time and millions of us tax dollars to educate children on the width of Bill clintons penis instead of helping to run the country. If Iran is suddenly a threat why is the us sitting on its hands waiting for the UN? Because here is a case where we have ironclad proof of nuclear proliferation as opposed to when we had mythical WMD and went in alone.

2:28 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

R2JB: Who said that she is a state senator?

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The issue with the NYS legislature is hardly irrelevant. Hillary is one of the senior office holders in the NYS Democratic party and its biggest source of fundraising largesse. In addition, former Clintonites Howard Wolfson and Co. essentially run the operations of the NYS party. Hill can't just criticize a GOP majority in one legislature (Congress) while ignoring the sorry state of the legislature in her home state run by her political pals Shelly Silver and Denny Farrell. There is no Federal/ State distcintion since we are discussing minority rights in the legislature and not specific pieces of legislation. The state of minority party rights in BOTH Houses of the NYS legislature is far more plantation-like than the US House of representatives. Hillary is in a position to pressure her party to do something about Silver's dictatorial rule. She should look to her own backyard first if she believes in fundamental fairness and is willing to lob such huge firebombs at her political opponents.

2:46 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

isac, the argument holds no water. Is there any precedent for it? Maybe GWB should be held responsible for the positions of the texas state republican party. Do you think?

Also, as you acknowledge, the GOP runs the state senate in the same way. Even if Hillary could affect how the statehouse was run, it would be political suicide for her to do so given that the dems are shut out in the senate. Why should the dems be expected to disarm unilaterally?

3:14 PM  
Blogger respondingtojblogs said...


I was pedantic enough to take issue with this:

why don't you remember that you are still the NY State Senator

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

krum- you ignorant, politcal neophyte twit- if GWB was calling for legislatures to reform themselves then he should address unfairness across the board including Texas. But he isn't. Hillary is, and she is doing it in a fashion, similar to Howard Dean, suggesting that the GOP yearns for the days of Jim Crow and is only looking to keep the minorities down. Isac is suggesting that Hillary should call for fairness everywhere or otherwise accept the principle of majority rule. Majority rule works fine for Hillary in the NYS Assembly but it is a racist system in the US House?

4:58 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

jeff weisenfeld, maybe the bile is hurting your eyesight, but I would suggest you read my comment. Follow this: GWB has made many many comments regarding the political extremism of his opponents (e.g., repeat the "outofthemaintstream" talking point ad nauseum.) If it is legitimate to tar Hillary with the doings of state politicians of her party, it is just as legitimate to tar GWB with the political extremism of his.

5:16 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

At the risk of giving any ground to commenters more interested in name-calling, let me clarify that I do not think that it is ordinarily legitimate to attribute the doings of NY or Texas state politicians to Hillary or GWB. I also made it clear above that I don't condone Hillary's invocation of racisim. I just take issue with the state legislature argument.

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Krum- Once again you prove yourself as an ignoramus. There is no wall of separation between federal, state, and local politics. These people are members of the same party. If Howard Dean says that Republicans are all White Christian Men who never made an honest days living then he is talking about all levels of government. If Hillary is talking about fairness and racism then should should apply it evenly to the places where she has the most sway. Hillary has far more influence in the NYS Asssembly than she does in the US House. OrthoMILF is right for pointing out Hillary's continuous hypocrisy. Are you one of those HofJuden who works for Shelly or something? Don't prove yourself as such a pathetic imbecile.

5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does Krum have a thing for Hillary? Does he want her to be the first woman president or does he just not get it. i have never agreed with Jeff before and i probably never will again but the reference to the pathetic state of the NYS legislature is not something that should go unsaid.

5:59 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

OK, Jeff, so is GWB bound to stand up to the wingnuts in his party when he decries the political extremism of his opponents? Can we go down the list of GOP congressmembers who do the same? Try answering without using anti-semitic imagery, more sysnonyms for the word "imbecile", or your sexual provclivities.

Keep in mind that by your lights, "OrthoMilf" should be counted among the HofJuden as well.

6:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happened to Jeff?

Maybe he is looking for a bigger thesaurus.

7:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sysnonyms? is that yiddish for s%$t 4 brains?

8:01 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Wow, this thread degenerated quickly...

OM, excellent post. I'm actually somewhat to the left of you on this one, between you and Krum. I'm not sure how much of a relationship Clinton has to the State Legislature; she's a US Senator, not a State Senator. I just think she should keep her mouth shut about both.

8:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ez- while i love your pic, we are not talking about good old Hillary making laws here. The fact is that her relationship to the state legislature is that she is THE leading member of the NYS Democratic party and that party runs the nation's WORST legislative body. If Hillary were to lay it on the line and call for reform of Albany, Shelly and the gang(sters) might actually listen. How many times do I need to explain this?

10:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frankly, I'm aghast at Jeff's use of the term OrthoMILF. At this point, I'd suggest that anyone as disrespectful as that ought to be ignored, if not banned altogether. Feh!

12:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You need to excuse Jeff. He had a rough day. It might be last time anyone will care what Pataki says

12:46 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

I find it hard to believe how this thread has descended into this pit of namecalling. "Jeff" and "Isaac", next hostile comment you make gets deleted. Stop being such jerks. Also, never make the mistake again of calling Krum names. He's a much more valuable commenter here than you guys are. I'm the hostess here, and those are my rules. Period.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Jeff - I think that's your mistake - She's not the leader of the NYS Democratic Party (to my knowledge), but rather the most prominent Democrat in the State of New York. That doesn't mean she has any effect on the Legislature. If I'm wrong on this, find it for me, but that's how I understand it.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Krum and Ez- I know that the Daily News is too low-brow for your armchair philosopher-king understandings of politics, but the edit heads over there seem to agree with the OrthoBabe.

Over the top

Sen. Hillary Clinton put the Democratic Party's penchant for self-defeating rhetoric on full display when she told the audience at Harlem's Canaan Baptist Church on Martin Luther King Day that the Republican-led House of Representatives "has been run like a plantation - and you know what I am talking about."

Comparing Congress to a plantation - and, by extension, GOP leaders to slaveholders - would smack of demagoguery at any time. But on that day, in that place, Clinton's message was particularly inflammatory and downright politically dumb. Will the Democrats ever learn that they will not regain their standing as the majority party through hot-button name-calling?

It was only last week that Clinton's Democratic colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee tried to derail Samuel Alito's Supreme Court nomination by depicting him as an extremist, a bigot who was "out of the mainstream." They ended up blathering themselves into ridicule, the same fate Clinton now suffers.

She was playing to a sympathetic crowd, many of whom believe that Republican policies have been wrong for America at large and for American blacks in particular. Dissecting the GOP domestic agenda should have been easy work for Clinton, yet she chose to liken the Republican leaders to oppressive racial overlords.

Such simpleminded attacks trivialize the historical lessons taught by monstrous evil. And Clinton's defense made her words no more palatable. Her plantation metaphor was apt, Clinton said, because the GOP-led House "has been run in a way so that nobody with a contrary point of view has had a chance to present legislation, to make an argument." If that's Clinton's definition of a plantation, she could level the same accusation at Sheldon Silver and her other fellow Democrats in the state Assembly. She could do that, but she won't because, as she said, we do know what she was really implying.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

isac, OK, in deference to ortho-whatever, I will not call you names. But I would suggest you READ my comments. I said:

I agree that equating GOP housemembers to slave owners is inappropriate, but I think your second criticism is misplaced.

Read that sentence once, and read it again. It's rather long and hard to follow, I know, but I think you can do it. Now, read the editorial you quoted. Do you see any reference to the condition of the NYS legislature?

5:07 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Actually, Krum... If that's Clinton's definition of a plantation, she could level the same accusation at Sheldon Silver and her other fellow Democrats in the state Assembly. was his point, I believe...

9:05 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

OK, maybe I should learn how to read. Ezzie and Isac are right regarding the editorial. (But I still think the argument is stupid).

8:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Democratic NY State Legislature'

The NY State Senate is Republican. Only the Assembly is Democratic -- and the Speaker, Sheldon Silver, is an Orthodox Jew. Neither house has changed party control in many decades.

5:21 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

and the Speaker, Sheldon Silver, is an Orthodox Jew.

Uh, yeah. And he is the guy who received most of the criticism in the report I referenced in the main post.

6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'And he is the guy who received most of the criticism in the report I referenced in the main post.'

Yup. He along with Joe Bruno and George Pataki basically make all the decisions in New York. And he has used his influence to benefit the Jewish community. Are we willing to give up that influence in the name of reform?

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW I agree that Sen. Clinton's "plantation" remark was out of line. As dictatorial as the Republican leadership is, I haven't noticed them getting out whips and shackles. The Democrats still have the right to make as many speeches as they want, they just can't get any of their legislation to the floor for a vote. In addition, her comment detracts from the fact that the Republicans really have put the government up for sale to lobbyists. "Auction house" would have been a much better analogy.

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'she could level the same accusation at Sheldon Silver and her other fellow Democrats in the state Assembly'

This is a fair accusation. Republicans are pretty irrelevant in the State Assembly. But things are even worse for Democrats under Joe Bruno in the State Senate. And I don't see things changing any time soon. (And the Jewish community has been a major beneficiary of Speaker Silver's rule.)

7:09 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

And the Jewish community has been a major beneficiary of Speaker Silver's rule.

Charlie, I would love to hear some examples of what you feel Silver has done for the Orthodox Jewish community.

8:40 PM  
Blogger blueenclave said...

Hillary is talking about something different than whether the legislative process is broken. She is talking about the legislative process in the House being run for the benefit of one party and Democrats having less participation than Republicans had when they were in the minority. I suppose we have direct election of senators so that they do not have to go begging to the state legislature for votes, but they have no incentive to care about what is happening in the state legislature unless they previously were in state government.

2:46 AM  
Blogger blueenclave said...

OK, this thread died. Thank you for the New York politics update. I understand better now.

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10:48 PM  

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