Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.
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Last night’s debate found some more daylight between the two Democratic presidential candidates: Bernie Sanders clashed with Hillary Clinton over the former secretary of state’s praise for Henry Kissinger, who Sanders described as one of the worst secretaries of state in living memory.
During a series of questions about foreign policy, Sanders, who has remained fairly vague about his own foreign policy influences, pinned Clinton on her ideological ties to Kissinger:
The secretary and I have a very profound difference. In the last debate and I believe in her book, very good book by the way, in her book and in this last debate, she talked about getting the approval or the support or the mentoring of Henry Kissinger.
Now, I find it rather amazing because I happen to believe that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country. I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger, and in fact, Kissinger’s actions in Cambodia when the United States bombed that country, and created the instability for the Khmer to come in, who butchered generations of people—one of the worst genocides in the world. So count me in as somebody who will not be listening to Henry Kissinger.
The crowd in Wisconsin responded positively to the broadside: among some Democrats, Kissinger is associated with state secrecy, support for military juntas, and his lingering presence inside the national security apparatus.
In 2005, Kissinger penned an opinion piece in which he outlined what the Bush administration’s exit strategy should be in Iraq. “American strategy, including a withdrawal process, will stand or fall not on whether it maintains the existing security situation but on whether the capacity to improve it is enhanced. Victory over the insurgency is the only meaningful exit strategy,” he wrote. He cited American attempts to stabilize the South Vietnamese government as a model exit strategy, until the North won the war in 1975.
Sanders’ distaste for Kissinger is par for the course among far left liberals: Kissinger’s enthusiastic support for military coups against the leftist governments of Salvador Allende in Chile and Isabel Peron in Argentina led to the suppression of all civil liberties under a military regime and the disappearances of thousands of leftist political opponents. In southeast Asia, he championed the secret bombing campaign against Cambodia in an attempt to stop Communist Vietnamese fighters attacking South Vietnam across the border. The campaign helped lead to the rise of the Khmer Rouge, who forcibly depopulated all urban centers, put the entire nation to work in collective farms and killed up to 3 million Cambodians. By one estimate, Kissinger’s policies lead to the deaths over at least 4 million civilians, not counting deaths in Vietnam.
Clinton countered Sanders’ accusation of Kissinger’s influence on her foreign policy with his lack of credit advisors: “Well, I know journalists have asked who you do listen to on foreign policy and we have yet to know who that is,” she retorted, exposing what has been a weak spot in Sanders platform.
“Well, it ain’t Henry Kissinger, that’s for sure,” Sanders responded.
Nevertheless, Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State during President Obama’s first term was seen positively by most, both for her efforts to rescue troubled relationships internationally, and for her attempts to peacefully resolve international conflicts.
Clinton led the reset efforts with Russia in 2009, repaired Pakistani relations by hosting a series of discussions with various segments of Pakistani society, and pushed the perception of a new era in foreign relations in this country. She also called for Bashar Al-Assad to step down in 2011 after he ordered the Syrian military to start shooting protesters. In Egypt, albeit belatedly, she called for an orderly transition to democracy, a veiled demand for Hosni Mubarak’s to step down in 2010. Kissinger only ever paid lip service to the concept of democracy.
By registering his dislike of Kissinger, Sanders taps into the Democratic electorate’s awareness of this country’s poor foreign policy record. In a 2010 Gallup poll published during the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, 74 percent of Democratic voters and 57 percent of independents said the Iraq war was a mistake. Younger voters have benefited from the passage of time, including document declassifications on anti-Communist foreign policy during the Cold War. At the onset of President Obama’s attempt to lead a multi-national effort to intervene in Iraq and Syria against ISIS’s burgeoning military power, young people aged 18-29 disagreed with the action more than any other group.
In Clinton’s review of Kissinger’s book World Order, she said of Kissinger, “Even when there are tensions between our values and other objectives, America, he reminds us, succeeds by standing up for our values, not shirking them, and leads by engaging peoples and societies, the sources of legitimacy, not governments alone.” But Kissinger’s wisdom will be a hard sell to younger Democratic voters, who have come to dislike the sort of policies associated with him.
By John Whitesides
MILWAUKEE (Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders battled over healthcare and Wall Street in a debate on Thursday, with Clinton accusing Sanders of misleading Americans on his healthcare plan and making promises “that cannot be kept.”
In a sixth presidential debate that featured several sharp exchanges but a more sedate tone than their last meeting, Clinton said Sanders’ proposal for a single-payer, Medicare-for-all healthcare plan would mean dismantling Obamacare and triggering another intense political struggle.
“Based on every analysis I can find by people who are sympathetic to the goal, the numbers don’t add up,” Clinton told Sanders. “That’s a promise that cannot be kept.”
Sanders said he would not dismantle the healthcare plan known as Obamacare and was simply moving to provide what most industrialized countries have – healthcare coverage for all.
“We’re not going to dismantle anything,” Sanders said. “In my view healthcare is a right of all people, not a privilege, and I will fight for that.”
Sanders repeated his accusation that Clinton is too beholden to the Wall Street interests she once represented as a U.S. senator from New York, noting her Super PAC received $15 million in donations from Wall Street.
“Let’s not insult the intelligence of the American people,” he said. “Why in God’s name does Wall Street make huge campaign contributions? I guess just for the fun of it, they want to throw money around.”
Clinton said the donations did not mean she was in Wall Street’s pocket, and noted that President Barack Obama had taken donations from Wall Street during his campaigns.
“When it mattered, he stood up and took on Wall Street,” she said.
The Judicial System and Race
With the presidential race moving into states with larger minority populations, both candidates decried the high incarceration rate of African-Americans and called for broad reforms of the criminal justice system. Sanders said black incarceration rates were “one of the great tragedies” in the United States.
“That is beyond unspeakable,” Sanders said of a disproportionately high black male prison population. He called for “fundamental police reform” that would “make it clear that any police officer who breaks the law will in fact be dealt with.”
Clinton criticized what she said was “systemic racism” in education, housing and employment. “When we talk about criminal justice reform … we also have to talk about jobs, education, housing and other ways of helping communities of color,” she said.
Clinton entered Thursday’s debate under acute pressure to calm a growing sense of nervousness among her supporters after a 22-point drubbing by Sanders on Tuesday in the New Hampshire primary election and a razor-thin win last week in the Iowa caucus. Both states have nearly all-white populations.
For his part, Sanders, an independent U.S. senator of Vermont who calls himself a democratic socialist, hoped to harness the momentum and enthusiasm he gained from the first two contests and prove he can be a viable contender to lead the Democratic Party to victory in the Nov. 8 presidential election.
“What our campaign is indicating is that the American people are tired of establishment politics,” Sanders said. “They want a political revolution.”
The race now moves to what should be more favorable ground for Clinton in Nevada and South Carolina, states with more black and Hispanic voters, who, polls show, have been more supportive of Clinton so far.
Clinton, a former secretary of state, on Thursday won a significant endorsement from the Congressional Black Caucus, while Sanders has launched his own effort to make inroads among African-American voters.
Sanders met with civil rights leader Al Sharpton the morning after his New Hampshire win, and has aired advertising and built up staff quickly in both Nevada and South Carolina. The debate on Thursday was the last one before those two contests.
After South Carolina on Feb. 27, the presidential race accelerates with 28 states voting in rapid succession in March, including 11 states on March 1 and big prizes such as Ohio, Florida and Illinois on March 15.
(Additional reporting by Amanda Becker, Alana Wise and Megan Cassella in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler)
Photo: Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton arrive on stage ahead of the start of the PBS NewsHour Democratic presidential candidates debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, February 11, 2016. REUTERS/Darren Hauck
With the release of the first batch of the thousands of emails that Hillary Clinton turned over to the State Department, what has America learned about the former Secretary of State and current presidential candidate?
Nothing voyeuristic or venal to thrill journalists ever on the hunt for Clinton “scandals” — but just a few things that voters might be learning for the first time, if all they know about her is what the mainstream media always tell them.
According to the New York Times – a “liberal” newspaper that no longer attempts to conceal its longstanding animus against the Clintons – this initial batch of 3,000-plus emails is “striking” in its “banality,” because so many of the messages from her early months as the nation’s third-ranking official deal with daily problems like scheduling, fax machines, and snow days at Foggy Bottom. Seeking to embarrass her whenever possible, the Times account leads with her apparent concern over possible press comment on a 2009 joint interview with her most notorious predecessor.
Evidently she fretted, for a few minutes at least, that her “distant” relationship with President Obama might be compared invidiously to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s leech-like fastening upon his old boss, Richard M. Nixon.
“In thinking about the Kissinger interview, the only issue I think that might be raised is that I see POTUS at least once a week while K saw Nixon every day,” noted Clinton in an email to aides, using the abbreviation for President of the United States. Then the woman who helped to impeach Nixon snarked: “Of course, if I were dealing w that POTUS I’d probably camp in his office to prevent him from doing something problematic.”
Like so many matters dredged up in her old emails, that fleeting anxiety has faded into oblivion. As for weightier decisions, declares Times reporter Peter Baker, those must have been discussed and debated on the telephone rather than via email, where she seemed “acutely aware that anything she wrote could someday be read by a wider audience.” (A strange observation in a newspaper where the working assumption is that she schemed to conceal her emails from public scrutiny forever, but never mind.)
Still, if these emails offer no hint of titillating scandal or slander, they cannot be said to offer no insight into America’s best-known female leader. While the Times grudgingly concedes that these messages reveal “hints of personality,” Time magazine found a woman in full – and someone whose very existence may surprise voters more familiar with the secretive, imperious, self-centered figure so often caricatured in American media over the past 25 years.
Time informs us that the “complex portrait” of Clinton emerging from the emails shows “a management style that is efficient under pressure and reflective in the late hours of the day,” with “bursts of thinking” that sometimes erupted during “sleepless nights circling the globe.” Nothing new there: Everyone knows she is sharp, thoughtful, and driven to get stuff done. But Time describes her with adjectives rarely used in conventional profiles: “humble,” “self-deprecating,” “concerned,” “generous,” and “one of the best bosses” that members of her staff have ever had.
Humble? She usually went out of her way to meet with friends and colleagues, rather than insisting they come to her. Self-deprecating? She joked constantly about herself and her foibles. Concerned? She repeatedly sought ways to help a young girl she had met in Yemen — and she admonished John Podesta, an old friend who now serves as her campaign chair, to “wear socks to bed to keep your feet warm.” Generous? She often expressed gratitude to staff and kept close track of births, illnesses, and other milestones affecting friends, acquaintances, and employees.
Does any of that sound familiar? Not unless you’ve spoken with people who know Hillary Clinton well. The point isn’t that she is any kind of paragon. She is simply a human being, whose friends and former staffers might also mention her flashes of impatience and temper, her wariness toward the press, her efforts to protect family privacy that can sometimes seem excessively secretive.
The question is whether major media outlets, often hostile and suspicious toward Clinton, can yet draw a fuller portrait of a candidate who is so well known; a candidate whose true character, in all its complexity, has been obscured by negative coverage for so many years; a candidate who, despite those persistent distortions, may yet make history again.
Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, speaking with Richard Nixon’s Secretary of State Henry Kissinger about China policy, told a packed audience at the Reuters building in Times Square just now that he will announce his candidacy for president next Tuesday.
The former ambassador to China under President Obama returned to the United States just in the last 2 months, a campaign apparatus having apparently already been set up for him by John Weaver, former strategist to John McCain in his centrist, “maverick” days. A relative moderate, Huntsman has in the past supported civil unions, an individual mandate to purchase health insurance, and cap-and-trade, though presumably he will retreat from most if not all of those positions as he caters to the conservative primary voters in New Hampshire and Florida.
Like Mitt Romney, Huntsman is a good-looking, Mormon millionaire. They would also appear to occupy the same center-right ideological space and are thus now on a collision course going forward.
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