Most defences of Hillary Clinton start by conceding two obvious realities: first, that she is deeply unpopular, and second, that she has no credibility among the left.
Because of the reluctance of many progressive people to support Clinton, the liberal press has felt compelled to devote much energy to defending her and urging people to vote for her.
Van Badham’s recent Guardian piece, “Time to hail Hillary Clinton – and face down the testosterone left”, goes well beyond the usual defence of Clinton as a lesser evil, characterising her not only as committed to social equality, but as the literal embodiment of it.
It is not hyperbolic to say that the piece could have been written by any of the lead spokespeople for the Clinton campaign. The only reason something so offensively right wing is being responded to by the left is because of Badham’s reputation and claim to be some sort of raging leftist (the descriptions of herself vary from anarchist to feminist to “explicitly socialist” – as she says in the article.)
It’s impossible for the claim to be an “explicit socialist” to have any legitimacy when you’re fawning over one of the most notorious neoliberal war hawks of the international ruling class. So Badham pre-empts criticism by accusing everyone who disagrees with her of being “brocialist” or “manarchist” bullies.
Supposedly all of the men who oppose Clinton on a principled left wing basis or disagree with Badham on Twitter or Facebook are just terrible misogynists, while women who do likewise have just been duped by the “Bernie bros” and got caught up in the popular testosterone fuelled sport of tormenting Van Badham.
That Badham thinks of herself as some sort of anti-establishment martyr for women is laughable, especially in the context of her latest piece. It’s also insulting. It’s an insult – to the victims of US imperialism, workers fighting for minimum wage (including those at the corporation Clinton helped defend, Walmart), African Americans being brutalised by the police, and many others – to suggest that their reality is just “propaganda” in a nasty anti-woman crusade against Clinton and Badham.
The truth, according to Badham, is that Clinton fights for the advancement of equality for women and that she has done so for the entirety of her career and in every way:
“Not only does she have a singular, expert history of activism, leadership and service that recommends her on her own terms. She’s a candidate whose policy, practice, life and very person are inextricable from the political cause of equality.”
This is right wing propaganda of the highest order, the type that “explicit socialists” – and even some of the non-explicit ones – generally have a nose for.
Clinton being a super political first lady and saying she is for contraception doesn’t cut much ice against the fact that she has consistently supported the economic disenfranchisement of the poorest and most vulnerable in society.
Between 1996 and 2011, extreme poverty increased by 159 percent in the US. Welfare reform, instituted by Bill Clinton and supported by Hillary Clinton played a large part in this. Writing about her role as an interventionist first lady in her 2003 memoir Living History, Clinton said:
“I agreed that he should sign [the Act] and worked hard to round up votes for its passage – though he and the legislation were roundly criticised by some liberals, advocacy groups for immigrants and most people who worked with the welfare system.”
Clinton today has the support of the majority of the ruling class precisely because she has proven she will maintain the neoliberal status quo. Her own financial position is a testament to which side of the fence she stands, and is in stark contrast to that of those she oppresses.
Badham’s comments about Clinton’s foreign policy take her argument beyond the delusional to the macabre. She grotesquely characterises Clinton’s role as secretary of state under the Obama administration as creating “unprecedented centralisation of gender equality strategies to foreign policy”.
Clinton presided over a dramatic increase of drone strikes in numerous countries, the broken promises of the Obama administration to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and the repression of the Arab revolutions, including setting the Saudis against the uprising in Bahrain and supporting Assad, formally a rival, against the democratic revolution in Syria.
Clinton has been described by many in the ruling class as more hawkish than Obama and the rest of the Democrats. She objected to Obama’s plan to distance the US from Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak during the revolution and has been an open supporter of Israeli war crimes. She also played a pivotal role in encouraging the military coup in Honduras against a democratically elected government.
Her active support for imperialist warfare and dictatorships stretches further back and further afield. She supported the Bush led invasion in 2003 that resulted in the deaths of more than 1 million people. And the Clinton Foundation has given financial support to many governments with many strings attached; for example the money it give to projects in Haiti.
It is unnecessary to explain to anyone on the left why this non-exhaustive list of Clinton’s imperialist crimes is at odds with the claim she is for “gender equality”.
Michael Brull, in response to Badham, gave a useful account of Clinton’s allegiance to Wall Street. That allegiance is well documented.
Clinton has the support of 58 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs and has a long and established relationship with the big banks, which pay her handsomely for her abiding opinions.
Badham seems keen to endorse this practice. In response to one of the “brocialists” on Facebook who criticised her article she wrote: “[A]s my opinion is so valuable that other people pay me for it, I’m hardly going to hand it to a bunch of aggressive jerks for free”.
Unlike her idol, Badham could never hope to be paid $675,000 by Goldman Sachs. But she is advertising her Guardian seminars for $299 on “How to write an opinion column with Van Badham”. A catchier title would be, “How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb”.