The triumph of the empty suits

Recently, a commenter, blaine, asked why “some people hate hillary clinton so much.” That got me thinking.

I don’t hate Hillary Clinton. But I do find her emblematic of a rather odd phenomenon going on in politics these days, especially among the Democrats.

I’ve been looking at a couple of the leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination for 2008, and for the life of me I can’t figure out just why the hell they are so prominent. What have they achieved thus far that makes them qualified for consideration for the presidency?

Let’s look at Hillary Clinton. What has she achieved in her life thus far? Well, she seems to have done a good job raising her daughter — Chelsea seems pretty level-headed and not nearly as screwed up as she is entitled to be. But a lot of people are good parents — there’s nothing truly outstanding about that.

She dabbled briefly in cattle future speculations, and made a killing — she turned $1,000 into $100,000. But this apparently was far more than “beginner’s luck” — the trading firm that handled her business was fined for violating trading rules in building her fortune.

She dabbled in real estate, but if you go by her own accounting, she ended up losing money in Whitewater. So that hardly counts as a “plus” on her resume’.

She was a member of a powerful law firm, but her biggest client was a bank that went bankrupt.

She was elected to the U.S. Senate, but from a state she moved to only shortly before the election and in the year her wildly-popular husband was leaving the presidency after being the first Democrat since Harry Truman to serve two full terms.

In fact, it can be argued that up through 2000, every single one of her achievements can be directly tied to Bill Clinton’s political successes. This is hardly the resume’ of a supposed “strong, intelligent, accomplished woman,” as her backers like to describe her.

Similarly, look at the Democrats’ nominee this last time around. Repeatedly during the campaign I challenged Kerry supporters to cite three major accomplishments of his during his 20 years in the Senate, and they repeatedly failed miserably. In fact, the only major achievement I can find in Kerry’s record is his leading the fight to investigate the Bank of Commerce and Credit International, which eventually collapsed after revelations concerning their involvement in arms trafficking, drug trafficking, and money laundering. Kerry was the leader on that, and doesn’t get damned near enough praise.

Other than that, Kerry was essentially a zero in the Senate. (In fact, last year he was practically a zero — he missed about 7 out of every 8 roll call votes.) But for some reason, he was repeatedly hailed as a “leader” and “visionary” and “an accomplished Senator,” despite piles of evidence to the contrary.

So, where are the Democratic leaders who have actually DONE anything? Who have a record of achievements and successes that demonstrate that they can actually get things done? Or is it what I’ve always suspected — they are so blinded by style, they can’t see the utter lack of substance?

J.

(Addendum: I’m looking for disproof of the above, not counterexamples. Yes, George W. Bush had a similarly indifferent record of accomplishments prior to 2000, apart from being a moderately successful governor of a large state. Consider that point acknowledged, and move on.)

Update: Pat Curley points out that Harry Truman didn’t serve two full terms. The last Democrat to serve two full terms was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who actually served a smidgen over 3 terms before dying in office. Damn. Thanks for the correction, Pat.

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