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Molly Ivins: Addressing the National Crisis Means Moving Beyond "Republican Lite"

I Will Not Support Hillary Clinton for President
by Molly Ivins
The Columbus Free Press (Ohio), January 20, 2006

I'd like to make it clear to the people who run the Democratic Party that I
will not support Hillary Clinton for president.

Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation and equivocation. Enough clever
straddling, enough not offending anyone This is not a Dick Morris election.
Sen. Clinton is apparently incapable of taking a clear stand on the war in
Iraq, and that alone is enough to disqualify her. Her failure to speak out
on Terri Schiavo, not to mention that gross pandering on flag-burning, are
just contemptible little dodges.

The recent death of Gene McCarthy reminded me of a lesson I spent a long,
long time unlearning, so now I have to re-learn it. It's about political
courage and heroes, and when a country is desperate for leadership. There
are times when regular politics will not do, and this is one of those times.
There are times a country is so tired of bull that only the truth can
provide relief.

If no one in conventional-wisdom politics has the courage to speak up and
say what needs to be said, then you go out and find some obscure junior
senator from Minnesota with the guts to do it. In 1968, Gene McCarthy was
the little boy who said out loud, "Look, the emperor isn't wearing any
clothes." Bobby Kennedy -- rough, tough Bobby Kennedy -- didn't do it. Just
this quiet man trained by Benedictines who liked to quote poetry.

What kind of courage does it take, for mercy's sake? The majority of the
American people (55 percent) think the war in Iraq is a mistake and that we
should get out. The majority (65 percent) of the American people want
single-payer health care and are willing to pay more taxes to get it. The
majority (86 percent) of the American people favor raising the minimum wage.
The majority of the American people (60 percent) favor repealing Bush's tax
cuts, or at least those that go only to the rich. The majority (66 percent)
wants to reduce the deficit not by cutting domestic spending, but by
reducing Pentagon spending or raising taxes.

The majority (77 percent) thinks we should do "whatever it takes" to protect
the environment. The majority (87 percent) thinks big oil companies are
gouging consumers and would support a windfall profits tax. That is the
center, you fools. WHO ARE YOU AFRAID OF?

I listen to people like Rahm Emanuel superciliously explaining elementary
politics to us clueless naifs outside the Beltway ("First, you have to win
elections"). Can't you even read the damn polls?

Here's a prize example by someone named Barry Casselman, who writes, "There
is an invisible civil war in the Democratic Party, and it is between those
who are attempting to satisfy the defeatist and pacifist left base of the
party and those who are attempting to prepare the party for successful
elections in 2006 and 2008."

This supposedly pits Howard Dean, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, emboldened by
"a string of bad new from the Middle East ... into calling for premature
retreat from Iraq," versus those pragmatic folk like Steny Hoyer, Rahm
Emmanuel, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Joe Lieberman.

Oh come on, people -- get a grip on the concept of leadership. Look at this
war -- from the lies that led us into it, to the lies they continue to dump
on us daily.

You sit there in Washington so frightened of the big, bad Republican machine
you have no idea what people are thinking. I'm telling you right now, Tom
DeLay is going to lose in his district. If Democrats in Washington haven't
got enough sense to OWN the issue of political reform, I give up on them

Do it all, go long, go for public campaign financing for Congress. I'm
serious as a stroke about this -- that is the only reform that will work,
and you know it, as well as everyone else who's ever studied this. Do all
the goo-goo stuff everybody has made fun of all these years: embrace
redistricting reform, electoral reform, House rules changes, the whole
package. Put up, or shut up. Own this issue, or let Jack Abramoff politics
continue to run your town.

Bush, Cheney and Co. will continue to play the patriotic bully card just as
long as you let them. I've said it before: War brings out the patriotic
bullies. In World War I, they went around kicking dachshunds on the grounds
that dachshunds were "German dogs." They did not, however, go around kicking
German shepherds. The MINUTE someone impugns your patriotism for opposing
this war, turn on them like a snarling dog and explain what loving your
country really means. That, or you could just piss on them elegantly, as
Rep. John Murtha did. Or eviscerate them with wit (look up Mark Twain on the
war in the Philippines). Or point out the latest in the endless "string of
bad news."

Do not sit there cowering and pretending the only way to win is as
Republican-lite. If the Washington-based party can't get up and fight, we'll
find someone who can.

Molly Ivins is the former editor of the liberal monthly The Texas Observer.
She is the bestselling author of several books including Who Let the Dogs In?

© 2006 Columbus Free Press