Hillary Repeats ’08 Mistake

Hillary Clinton 2016 ChancesI am a progressive populist who strongly supports Hillary Clinton for president. But I must admit, the most memorable aspect of Clinton’s carefully orchestrated book tour for Hard Choices could be the discussion about whether she is fully in tune with the temper of our times on matters of wealth and opportunity in America.

There is a growing concern in Democratic circles, which I share, about whether the Hillary Clinton who could run in 2016 is repeating the mistake she made in 2008, when she ran as the inevitable and invincible candidate of a political establishment held in widespread public disrepute.

Americans have endured a decade of hard economic pain that, for many of them, continues today. Since 2006, voters have repeatedly expressed an intense desire for change and have been repeatedly thwarted by change elections that have changed nothing.

The mood of the electorate is anti-Washington, anti-establishment, anti-incumbent, anti-crony capitalism, anti-politics as usual and anti-status quo. The great battle of American politics is which candidates give voice to these sentiments and offer a future in which tomorrow is better than today and the American dream is not a thing of the past.

Voters don’t give a damn about the net worth of the Clintons. They don’t want to demonize the wealthy. They want leaders who will give them a fighting chance in a fair economy whose rising tide lifts all boats — including theirs.

The danger is that she has spent so much time immersed in the world of the wealthy and powerful that she could fall victim to a Stockholm syndrome of elites.

The danger for Clinton is not that she made money giving paid speeches to big banks, though this is not the preferred path to the presidency. The danger is that she has spent so much time immersed in the world of the wealthy and powerful that she could fall victim to a Stockholm syndrome of elites and lose touch with the heartbeat of a nation in which many are jobless, hungry, hurting, disenfranchised by politics and falling behind in making ends meet.

In a recent Gallup poll, confidence in Congress fell to 7 percent, putting approval of lawmakers within reach of approval of Saddam Hussein, while approval for Pope Francis, the world’s leading voice condemning the idolatry of money, approaches 70 percent.

Voters don’t care how many insiders revolve around Planet Hillary or which advisers are up or down in Hillaryland. They don’t care about the cleverness of her calculations, the benefits of her caution, the surge of her super-PACs or the great migration of consultants from Team Obama to Team Hillary.

Americans favor a fighting underdog and rebel against the inevitability of a candidate’s coronation following an imperial march to victory, surrounded by coteries of courtiers who cling to the candidate to milk her for money or use her to get power and constantly tell us what she really believes.

If the political Gods would grant me one wish, it would be to meet Clinton at a secluded corner table at a local tavern with no aides, consultants or pols — just Hillary, me and Jack Daniels. And when we have sipped enough to shed our inhibitions, I would plead:

Brent-Budowsky-175You don’t need to deny your wealth or condemn the wealthy, but to challenge them to lift the whole nation together in what Springsteen sang was the land of hope and dreams, in which those who have the most share a sacred calling to help those who have less. Tell voters about the passions in your soul, the courage of your convictions, the dreams in your heart, not about becoming president but about why, of a land that is lifted because nothing is beyond us when we are inspired to act together.

Hillary Clinton is a wonderful person and great public servant whose work has helped countless people. She has conquered sexism unlike few women in history, but unlike in 2008, she must now conquer the Stockholm syndrome of elites, abandon the illusion of coronation and sound the trumpet to summon the nation to the better days we yearn for.

Brent Budowsky
The Hill


  1. says

    Mr Budowsky,
    You call your self a progressive populist who strongly supports Hillary Clinton for president. Unfortunately, that is an oxymoron on the face of it. How could any progressive or populist support someone who worked with and supported an administration which “put an end welfare as we know it” by kicking over 4 million women and children into abject poverty and to this day is proud of that fact? Who supported an administration which put an end to the New Deal banking regulations and thereby was directly responsible for the worse economic disaster the workers of the United States have suffered since the great depression is still proud of those changes. I might also add that Hillary has not met an imperial folly she did not whole heartedly endorse or a banker she was unwilling to supplicate herself before. Her dumb show of post White House poverty would be laughable if it were not so immoral. Hillary is cut from the same cloth as her husband. They are third way corporate democrats. In fact I would not call them democrats at all but rather middle of the road Republicans. Hell, Eisenhower was more progressive and populist then Hillary and Bubba put together. I mean no disrespect, but I have been reading your articles since I began subscribing to this post and you have repeatedly been a Hillary apologist. I want to be clear I support you right to your opinions. However, before you use words like progressive or populist again I strongly suggest you do a little historical research regrading those terms for the folks you endorse are neither and if you continue to support them and thereby the policies they stand for neither are you

  2. Rich Broderick says

    Sorry. If it’s true that ‘[he mood of the electorate is anti-Washington, anti-establishment, anti-incumbent, anti-crony capitalism, anti-politics as usual and anti-status quo], then Hillary doesn’t have — not deserve — a chance. Go Elizabeth Warren — Please!

  3. Jerry Lobdill says

    The Clintons are friends of Wall Street. Bill promised to veto NAFTA but did not after he was elected. Hillary is a war monger. They have gotten rich off of their time as “public servants”.

    I am not against a woman for president, but for God’s sake, let it be someone like Elizabeth Warren.

  4. says

    With Hilary’s announcement last week that the Clinton’s are worth $50 million it would appear that Bill and Hill got into public service to do good, and by the grace God they ended up doing great!

    At the same time, if Mr. Budowsky is the progressive/populist that he claims (although he sounds like a Rockefeller Republican), why doesn’t he inquire about Mrs. Clinton’s role as a Board Member of a nice little family business called WalMart? The Clinton’s have been hell on poor and middle class men, women and children at home and abroad. There isn’t a single progressive or populist issue (especially relating to economics, peace or criminal justice) that the Clinton’s have led or supported.

    If you want to continue the abuse just vote for a Clinton Democrat or the real deal herself.

    • says

      Johns – I couldn’t agree more about the author. No true progressive says “people have voted for change and there’s been no change” – Obama was a sea change. And it’s not “congress” which provokes the people’s outrage and low approval ratings, it’s the REPUBLICANS in congress, who most obviously and clearly, have alone stood squarely in the way of change people overwhelmingly voted for in 08 and 12, at least vis a vis Obama. People are concerned about plutocrats, crony capitalism but JFK and FDR were wealthy and not tagged as Wall Street puppets. Mrs. Clinton would have to work on dispelling her membership in the “1% and f the rest club”, both in image and in facts. It wasn’t Romney’s money that foiled him, it was his obtuse view of “makers and takers”, otherwise people don’t split hairs. Are you going to kowtow to the Kochs, or are you going to facilitate healthcare for all, equal pay for equal work, make some inroads into global climate change (all of which the “non change” Pres. Obama has done, and more)
      And it’s true that Bill Clinton, no real liberal who I definitely voted for with a pinched nose, enacted, with the aid of congress – Republican or Democrat – some of the most damaging policies of recent mind: DOMA, the trade agreements and even worse, the media consolidation which has stymied debate, diversity and the Truth… among other things. Mrs. Clinton was indeed imperious in 08, and they resorted to some of the thinly veiled racist attacks that have dogged Obama ever since (I vividly recall Bill Clinton dismissing Obama’s South Carolina primary victory because, well, Jesse Jackson won there too so no big deal read: caz he’s black). Mrs. Clinton will be another pinched nose vote… if she’s victorious. I hope Elizabeth Warren or even Biden makes a run… perhaps an Hispanic Obama will emerge (Julian Castro?)

  5. trayNTP says

    You only support Hillary Clinton because you’ve intended to every since Obama was nominated in 2008, as if it’s “her turn,” therefore, your support is a joke.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *