[Tom Hayden is a highly-respected state senator in California and was one of the founders of Progressives for Obama. In the early 1960’s Hayden was a prime mover behind the major organizational force in the New Left, the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and was the primary author of that group’s founding document, The Port Huron Statement.]
My wife Barbara has begun yelling at the television set every time she hears Hillary Clinton. This is abnormal behavior since Barbara is a meditative practitioner of everything peaceful and organic, and is inspired by Barack’s transformational appeal.
For Barbara, Hillary has become the screech on the blackboard. From First Lady to Lady Macbeth.
It’s getting to me as well. Last year, I was somewhat reconciled to the prospect of supporting and pressuring Hillary as the nominee amidst the rising tide of my friends who already hated her, irrationally I thought. I was one of those people Barack accuses of being willing to settle. I even had framed a flattering autographed message from Hillary. But as the campaign has gone on and on, her signed portrait still leans against the wall in my study. I don’t know where she belongs anymore.
At least Hillary was a known quantity in my life. I knew of the danger of her becoming more and more hawkish as she tried to break the ultimate glass ceiling. I also knew that she could be forced to change course if public opinion was fiercely opposed to the war. And I knew she was familiar with radical social causes from her own life experience in the Sixties. So my progressive task seemed clear: help build an anti-war force powerful enough to make it politically necessary to end the war. Been there, done that. And in the process, finally put a woman in the White House. A soothing bonus. But as the Obama campaign gained momentum, Hillary began morphing into the persona that has my pacifist wife screaming at the television set.
Going negative doesn’t begin to describe what has happened. Hillary is going over the edge. Even worse are the flacks she sends before the cameras on her behalf, like that Kiki person who smirks and shakes her head at the camera every time she fields a question. Or the real carnivores, like Howard Wolfson, Lanny Davis and James Carville whose sneering smugness prevents countless women like my wife from considering Hillary at all.
To use the current terminology, Hillary people are bitter people, even more bitter than the white working class voters Barack has talked about. Because they circle the wagons so tightly, they don’t recognize how identical, self-reinforcing and out-of-touch they are.
To take just one example, the imagined association between Barack Obama and Bill Ayers will suffice. Hillary is blind to her own roots in the Sixties. In one college speech she spoke of ecstatic transcendence; in another, she said, “our social indictment has broadened. Where once we exposed the quality of life in the world of the South and the ghettos, now we condemn the quality of work in factories and corporations. Where once we assaulted the exploitation of man, now we decry the destruction of nature as well. How much long can we let corporations run us?” She was in Chicago for three nights during the 1968 street confrontations. She chaired the 1970 Yale law school meeting where students voted to join a national student strike again an “unconscionable expansion of a war that should never have been waged.” She was involved in the New Haven defense of Bobby Seale during his murder trial in 1970, as the lead scheduler of student monitors. She surely agreed with Yale president Kingman Brewster that a black revolutionary couldn’t get a fair trial in America. She wrote that abused children were citizens with the same rights as their parents.  Most significantly in terms of her recent attacks on Barack, after Yale law school, Hillary went to work for the left-wing Bay Area law firm of Truehaft, Walker and Burnstein, which specialized in Black Panthers and West Coast labor leaders prosecuted for being communists. Two of the firm’s partners, according to Treuhaft, were communists and the two others “tolerated communists”. Then she went on to Washington to help impeach Richard Nixon, whose career was built on smearing and destroying the careers of people through vague insinuations about their backgrounds and associates. [all citations from Carl Bernstein’s sympathetic biography, A Woman in Charge, 2007, pp. 67,69,70,75, 83]
All these were honorable words and associations in my mind, but doesn’t she see how the Hillary of today would accuse the Hillary of the Sixties of associating with black revolutionaries who fought gun battles with police officers, and defending pro-communist lawyers who backed communists? Doesn’t the Rev. Jeremiah Wright whom Hillary attacks today represent the very essence of the black radicals Hillary was associating with in those days? And isn’t the Hillary of today becoming the same kind of guilt-by-association insinuator as the Richard Nixon she worked to impeach?
It is as if Hillary Clinton is engaged in a toxic transmission onto Barack Obama of every outrageous insult and accusation ever inflicted on her by the American Right over the decades. She is running against what she might have become. Too much politics dries the soul of the idealist.
It is abundantly clear that the Clintons, working with FOX News and manipulating old Clinton staffers like George Stephanopoulos, are trying, at least unconsciously, to so damage Barack Obama that he will be perceived as “unelectable” to Democratic super-delegates. It is also clear that the campaign of defamation against Obama has resulted in higher negative ratings for Hillary Clinton. She therefore is threatening the Democratic Party’s chances for the White House whether or not she is the nominee.
Since no one in the party leadership seems able or willing to intervene against this self-destructive downward spiral, perhaps progressives need to consider responding in the only way politicians sometimes understand. If they can’t hear us screaming at the television sets, we can send a message that the Clintons are acting as if they prefer John McCain to Barack Obama. And follow it up with another message: if Clinton doesn’t immediately cease her path of destruction, millions of young voters and black voters may not send checks, may not knock on doors, and may not even vote for her if she becomes the nominee. That’s not a threat, that’s the reality she is creating.
Source. / Progressives For Obama / The Rag Blog
[Hillary Clinton and the media are engaged in a ‘terrorist’ smear campaign against Obama that involves telling lies against Bill Ayers and others as well. Clinton apparantly has no shame, since plenty could be said about her activities in the 1960s, taking place when Obama was eight years old. We let Ayers speak for himself.]
Day in and day out I go about my business, I hang out with my kids and my grandchildren, take care of the elders, I go to work, I teach and I write, I organize and I participate in the never-ending effort to build a powerful movement for peace and social justice; now and then (and unpredictably) I appear in the newspapers or on TV with a reference to my book Fugitive Days, a memoir of the revolutionary action and militant resistance to the Viet Nam War—the years of miracle and wonder—and some fantastic assertions about what I did, what I said, and what I believe. The other night, for example, I heard Sean Hannity tell Senator John McCain that I was an unrepentant terrorist who had written an article on September 11, 2001 extolling bombings against the U.S., and even advocating more terrorist bombs. Senator McCain couldn’t believe it, and neither could I.
My e-mail and my voice-mail filled up with hate, as happens, mostly men with too much time on their hands I imagined, all of them venting and sweating and breathing heavily, a few threats—”Watch out!”; “You deserve to be shot”; and from firstname.lastname@example.org, “I’m coming to get you and when I do, I’ll waterboard you”—all of it wildly uninformed. I’ve written a lot about the Viet Nam period, about politics, about schools and social justice, and I read and speak about all of it. I encourage people to argue, to agree or disagree, to discuss and struggle, to engage in conversation. I believe deeply in the pedagogical possibilities of dialogue—of listening with the possibility of being changed, and of speaking with the possibility of being heard—and I believe in revitalizing the public square, resisting the eclipse of the public and expanding the public space, searching for a more robust and participatory democracy. Talking to one another can help.
So in that spirit here is another attempt at clarity:
1. Regrets. I’m often quoted saying that I have “no regrets.” This is not true. For anyone paying attention—and I try to stay wide-awake to the world around me all/ways—life brings misgivings, doubts, uncertainty, loss, regret. I’m sometimes asked if I regret anything I did to oppose the war in Viet Nam, and I say “no, I don’t regret anything I did to try to stop the slaughter of millions of human beings by my own government.” Sometimes I add, “I don’t think I did enough.” This is then elided: he has no regrets for setting bombs and thinks there should be more bombings.
The illegal, murderous, imperial war against Viet Nam was a catastrophe for the Vietnamese, a disaster for Americans, and a world tragedy. Many of us understood this, and many tried to stop the war. Those of us who tried recognize that our efforts were inadequate: the war dragged on for a decade, thousands were slaughtered every week, and we couldn’t stop it. In the end the U.S. military was defeated and the war ended, but we surely didn’t do enough.
2. Terror. Terrorism—according to both official U.S. policy and the U.N.—is the use or threat of random violence to intimidate, frighten, or coerce a population toward some political end. This means, of course, that terrorism is not the exclusive province of a cult, a religious sect, or a group of fanatics. It can be any of these, but it can also be—and often is—executed by governments and states. A bombing in a café in Israel is terrorism, and an Israeli assault on a neighborhood in Gaza is terrorism; the September 11 attacks were acts of terrorism, and the U.S. bombings in Viet Nam for a decade were acts of terrorism. Terrorism is never justifiable, even in a just cause—the Union fight in the 1860’s was just, for example, but Shernan’s March to the Sea was indefensible terror. I’ve never advocated terrorism, never participated in it, never defended it. The U.S. government, by contrast, does it routinely and defends the use of it in its own cause consistently.
3. Imperialism. I’m against it, and if Sean Hannity and others were honest, this is the ground they would fight me on. Capitalism played its role historically and is exhausted as a force for progress: built on exploitation, theft, conquest, war, and racism, capitalism and imperialism must be defeated and a world revolution—a revolution against war and racism and materialism, a revolution based on human solidarity and love, cooperation and the common good—must win. We begin by releasing our most hopeful dreams and our most radical imaginations: a better world is both possible and necessary. We need to bring our imaginations together and forge an unbreakable human alliance. We need to unite to transform and save ourselves as we fight to change the world.
Source. / Bill Ayers blog / The Rag Blog