THE BLOG

President Hillary Clinton Would Be Far More Conservative Than You Think

06/24/2014 09:36 am ET | Updated Aug 24, 2014
  • H. A. Goodman Columnist published in The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Baltimore Sun, The Hill, Salon, The Jerusalem Post www.hagoodman.com
ASSOCIATED PRESS

With the Republican machine on the attack against Hillary Clinton long before the 2016 election, there's something that should concern both the GOP and the Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton, former senator and secretary of state, is more conservative than most Democrats, and ironically, most Republicans would ever admit. She might be so conservative that even if Clinton beats her GOP rival for the presidency, a moderate Republican would still sit in the White House.

In terms of foreign policy, Clinton might be a great deal more of an interventionist than President Obama and more willing to send U.S. troops to faraway lands than Rand Paul or Jeb Bush. For example, Jeb Bush would have the specter of his brother's failed decisions looming over every opportunity to engage in military action. Rand Paul is well known for his isolationist beliefs and most other Republicans, even if more hawkish in rhetoric than Democrats, have worked hard to distance themselves from people like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

Hillary Clinton, however, not only voted for the Iraq War, but her foreign policy has been described as "neocon" by other neoconservatives. In a recent New York Times article titled "Events in Iraq Open Door for Interventionist Revival," even famed neoconservative and champion of preemptive war in Iraq describes Hillary Clinton in a favorable manner:

But Exhibit A for what Robert Kagan describes as his "mainstream" view of American force is his relationship with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who remains the vessel into which many interventionists are pouring their hopes. Mr. Kagan pointed out that he had recently attended a dinner of foreign-policy experts at which Mrs. Clinton was the guest of honor, and that he had served on her bipartisan group of foreign-policy heavy hitters at the State Department, where his wife worked as her spokeswoman.

"I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy," Mr. Kagan said, adding that the next step after Mr. Obama's more realist approach "could theoretically be whatever Hillary brings to the table" if elected president. "If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue," he added, "it's something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else."

When Robert Kagan foreshadows the type of foreign policy a Democratic president will have and then says it would fit the label "necon," then liberals everywhere should be worried. It's important to note as well that Kagan has advised Clinton on foreign policy, so it's doubtful she'd stray too far away from his advice and the ideas of others who advocated counterinsurgency wars in distant lands. Also, if drone strikes in Pakistan and other countries have increased under Obama, it's safe to say that President Hillary Clinton will call for even more strikes from unmanned drones.

As for reigning in Wall Street to prevent a future collapse, that's not likely to happen under another Clinton presidency. Unlike Elizabeth Warren, the former first lady has strong ties to investment banks, making the likelihood of any CEOs serving jail time for potential illegal activity in 2008 a virtual impossibility. In a Politico article titled "Wall Street Republicans' dark secret: Hillary Clinton 2016," Clinton has a mutually beneficial relationship with America's largest corporations:

"If it turns out to be Jeb versus Hillary we would love that and either outcome would be fine," one top Republican-leaning Wall Street lawyer said over lunch in midtown Manhattan last week. "We could live with either one. Jeb versus Joe Biden would also be fine. It's Rand Paul or Ted Cruz versus someone like Elizabeth Warren that would be everybody's worst nightmare."

Most top GOP fundraisers and donors on Wall Street won't say this kind of thing on the record for fear of heavy blowback from party officials...

But the private consensus is similar to what Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said to POLITICO late last year when he praised both Christie -- before the bridge scandal -- and Clinton. "I very much was supportive of Hillary Clinton the last go-round," he said. "I held fundraisers for her."

...And if none of the sitting governors or a Wall Street-friendly candidate like Ryan can wrest the nomination from the likes of a Paul or a Cruz?

"In that situation," one Wall Street executive said, "then Hillary seems relatively tolerable."

It's doubtful that Elizabeth Warren would be "tolerable" to Wall Street CEOs or would ever be compared to Jeb Bush by people in the financial sector. Also, "fireside chats" with investment banks isn't exactly something most Democrats, or even tea party candidates, would want as their public relations strategy. If you hate bailouts like the tea party, you won't enjoy Clinton's approach to potential economic disasters. Conversely, if you believe corporations and management who run their companies into the ground through potentially illegal behavior should serve jail time, then President Hillary Clinton shouldn't get your vote. You'd be far better off with Elizabeth Warren as commander-in-chief.

Finally, President Hillary Clinton would continue Bush and Obama's policies in the war on terror. A Boston.com article in 2008 titled "Candidates Hold Stances on Guantanamo" explains how some have viewed Clinton's opposition to Bush's policies:

Hillary Clinton was a freshman senator with only a year in office when Bush began to bring detainees to Guantanamo Bay in January 2002. She and many fellow Democrats in Congress said so little in opposition to the prison during those early years that right-leaning commentator William Safire accused them of giving Bush a blank check in his treatment of detainees. "Not a peep out of Hillary Clinton," he wrote.

When President Bush was implementing his doctrine, there was "not a peep" out of a certain future Democratic nominee. While 21 out of 50 Democratic senators voted against the 2002 Iraq War Resolution, Hillary Clinton was not one of them. Furthermore, one would be hard pressed to find any occasion where Hillary Clinton was as vocal as Elizabeth Warren on economic issues, or stood for vehement opposition to the Republican foreign policy agenda like Dennis Kucinich.

Hillary Clinton is neither a liberal nor a true conservative. Rather, she's an electable Democratic candidate who leans to the right. She's the Democratic version of Mitt Romney. President Hillary Clinton will be a conservative Barack Obama and a somewhat liberal George Bush. She'll bail out banks in another collapse and send ground troops to a foreign country in the event of a terror attack. While Elizabeth Warren represents a confident liberal wing of the Democratic Party and Rand Paul is the darling of libertarian Republicans, Hillary Clinton is all things to everyone. She recently claimed that the Bible remains "the biggest influence" on her thinking and that she was dead broke, so pandering to too many voters at once might do her a disservice in the long run.

The fact that Hillary Clinton defines the term "centrist" might actually be a good thing, but Democrats should understand that they're electing a person far more conservative than President Obama. If the GOP has a phrase called "Republicans In Name Only," then Democrats should come up with a similar label for Hillary Clinton.