Follow Waldo on Facebook!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

She's running, dammit

Officials in both major U.S. political parties are quaking in their boots this day.

Among Republicans, Eric Cantor's defeat- by 11 points after outspending his opponents something like 400-to-1- has them all wondering if their Walrus & the Carpenter stroll with the Teabaggists is coming to the shuckin.'

For the Democrats, it's that creeping feeling you get, after a quarter-century, when you realize a Clinton Is Running Again.

The She-Clinton, as Waldo dubbed her six years ago, is huffing and puffing and talking a blue streak on a "listening tour" to tell people to buy her new book.

This morning she was on NPR's Fresh Air (you can listen to it here), and along the way in the interview with Terry Gross, Madam Secretary started waffling and shimmying about marriage equality and what a wonderful thing it is, and how she was glad to be there all along, whispering sweet It-Takes-A-Village nothings into the gay tribe's ears. As National Journal noted (in a story po-facedly headlined , "Why Terry Gross Was A Mistake For Hillary Clinton,"
[D]uring a tense exchange lasting more than seven minutes, Gross asked Clinton 10 different ways about the evolution of her stance on gay marriage. But, unlike some recent TV interviews Clinton has given, the takeaway was not Gross's pointed inquiries, but the fact that they seemed to get under Clinton's skin, who snapped back at her interlocutor.
Mediaite has it this way:
During a contentious interview on NPR’s Fresh Air, Clinton scolded host Terry Gross for persistently asking questions about the former Secretary of State’s “evolution” on the issue of gay marriage. In Clinton’s mind, the host had been attempting to twist her words to unfairly paint a picture about her views on the issue. 
Clinton publicly endorsed same-sex marriage only last year, leading many to surmise that she either withheld her true feelings on the issue all along, or had simply come around to the voting public’s increasing support for the issue. On Thursday morning, Gross attempted to understand Clinton’s change of heart, provoking a testy response. 
After repeated questioning and several defensive responses, Gross told her interviewee: “I’m just trying to clarify so I can understand.” 
“No, I don’t think you are trying to clarify,” Clinton fired back. “I think you’re trying to say I used to be opposed and now I’m in favor and I did it for political reasons, and that’s just flat wrong.” 
She continued: “So let me just state what I feel like you are implying and repudiate it: I have a strong record, I have a great commitment to this issue, and I am proud of what I’ve done and the progress we’re making.“
Politico ran a more detailed account:
NPR’s Terry Gross was interviewing Clinton about her newly released memoir, “Hard Choices.” She repeatedly asked the former secretary of state whether her opinion on gay marriage had changed, or whether the political dynamics had shifted enough that she could express her opinion. 
“I have to say, I think you are being very persistent, but you are playing with my words and playing with what is such an important issue,” Clinton said. 
“I’m just trying to clarify so I can understand …” Gross said. 
“No, I don’t think you are trying to clarify,” Clinton snapped back. “I think you’re trying to say I used to be opposed and now I’m in favor and I did it for political reasons, and that’s just flat wrong. So let me just state what I feel like you are implying and repudiate it. I have a strong record, I have a great commitment to this issue, and I am proud of what I’ve done and the progress we’re making.” 
The exchange comes the same week that Clinton began her book tour and accompanying media rollout, during which there has already been at least one other rocky moment: When she said that after leaving the White House, she and former President Bill Clinton were “dead broke,” a remark she has since sought to clarify. 
A recording of the NPR interview was shared with POLITICO by America Rising, a Republican research group that’s spent the majority of its time focused on Clinton. “Fresh Air” is a favorite program among progressives. 
“I did not grow up even imagining gay marriage, and I don’t think you probably did, either,” Clinton said to Gross. “This was an incredibly new and important idea that people on the front lines of the gay rights movement began to talk about and slowly, but surely, convinced others of the rightness of that position. And when I was ready to say what I said, I said it.” 
Clinton was lauded at the State Department for focusing on LGBT issues related to agency personnel and also in other countries. But she formally stated her support for gay marriage only after a number of prominent Democrats, such as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, and even some Republicans, such as Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, had already done so. 
Her allies have attributed her timing to the need for her to stay apolitical while at the State Department. 
“You know, somebody is always first, Terry,” Clinton said. “Somebody is always out front, and thank goodness they are. But that doesn’t mean that those who join later, in being publicly supportive or even privately accepting that there needs to be change, are any less committed. You could not be having the sweep of marriage equality across our country if nobody changed their mind, and thank goodness so many of us have.” 
She further argued that “too many people believe they have a direct line to the Divine, and they never want to change their mind about anything, they’re never open to new information, and they like to operate in an evidence-free zone. ... And I think it’s good if people continue to change.” 
Gross noted that in the 1990s — when Clinton’s husband signed the Defense of Marriage Act, which let states refuse to recognize same-sex marriages permitted by other states and also prevented federal recognition of such unions — there already were supporters of gay marriage. 
“To be fair Terry, not that many,” Clinton replied. “Were there activists who were ahead of their time, well that was true in every human rights and civil rights movement, but the vast majority of Americans were just waking up to this issue, and beginning to think about it, and grasp it for the first time, and think about their neighbor down the street who deserved to have the same rights as they did, or their son, or their daughter.” 
The ’90s were another era, she said, and replied “of course,” when asked if she was glad the Supreme Court has since struck down elements of DOMA.But at the time, “There was a very concerted effort in the Congress to make it even more difficult and greater discrimination and what DOMA did is at least allow the states to act. It wasn’t going yet to be recognized by the federal government but at the state level there was the opportunity. And my husband was the first to say, that you know, the political circumstances, the threats that were trying to be alleviated by the passage of DOMA, thankfully, were no longer so preeminent, and we could keep moving forward and that’s what we’re doing.” 
Pressed on whether she, or the public, have changed since then, Clinton replied, “I think I’m an American, and I think we have all evolved, and it’s been one of the fastest, most sweeping transformations I’m aware of.” 
That’s something that “we ought to celebrate, instead of plowing old ground,” she said. 
At another point in the interview, asked about the political calculus involved, Clinton told Gross she was interpreting things “very wrong.” Throughout the segment, Clinton said several times that she has “evolved” on the issue, and bristled at the suggestion that, “for political reasons,” she couldn’t speak out sooner. 
She said that she long held the view that marriage was best left to the states, and that she had supported initiatives such as fighting employment discrimination.After leaving the State Department, “I was able to very quickly announce that I was fully in support of gay marriage and it is now continuing to proceed state by state,” Clinton said. “I’m very hopeful we will make progress and see even more change and acceptance.”

In The Washington Post, Chris Cillizza even offered a diagram of Mrs. Clinton's views (click here for a bigger version):


Cillizza added, a little snarkily:
We can't really blame Gross for trying to nail Clinton down, however. In 1996, NPR's Scott Simon interviewed Clinton for Weekend Edition. Here's part of the exchange, via the Clinton Presidential Library.
It was all so tediously familiar, the sort of bad dream you have to decide you can only get out of by waking yourself up, but as is always the case with the Clintons, when you wake, there they are, too. Take Bubba's embrace of this issue- after he not only signed the Defense of Marriage Act but took credit in his 1996 re-election bid for doing so.
Hey, one can hope.

No comments:

Post a Comment