Will Hillary Clinton be another George Bush? Probably!

Published: October 18, 2016

Bill and Hillary Clinton earned roughly $30 million since January 2014, mostly from giving speeches on the lecture circuit to corporations, banks and other organizations, according to disclosures filed with federal elections officials. PHOTO: REUTERS

Donald Trump’s heavy tread has swept the path clear for liberals of all stripes to present or reinforce their creds by giving him a sustained, collective bashing. While he has succeeded in getting all guns to turn on him, his gleeful opponent seems to be getting off scot-free. It is perhaps time to wonder what sort of president Hillary might be, if elected.

Unless Donald pulls a last-minute rabbit out of his ear, Hillary is liable to return to the White House, this time on the arm of the First Gentleman whose dubious comportment record will always haunt the first couple. Liberals will go mad with joy, Republicans will grind their teeth, Donald will scream ‘foul’ and Bill will, of course, measure the curtains.

There will be no wall on the Mexican border and minorities will celebrate. But this joy will come with the life-span of champagne bubbles. Reality will soon catch up and the American nation will wait with bated breath for Hillary to start keeping her promises.

That’s the difficult part. Calling someone a consummate politician means they can navigate the mined gap between promise and delivery with greater ease than their peers. So – however skilled and weathered a politician may be – that gap remains unfilled. And Hillary is an accomplished politician. She has vowed to trim the sails of the wealthy by selective taxation. While that position helped her keep Bernie Sanders at bay, her war chest was stuffed with Wall Street campaign contributions and her bank account had allegedly received substantial payments for her speeches to bankers’ associations.

And therein lies the dichotomy. It would be as dishonest — not to say suicidal — for her to ignore Wall Street’s expectations as it would be to discount the expectations of her supporters. They are anxious for America to join the comity of developed, civilised nations such as Turkey who provide their citizens with healthcare. So she will uphold the truth of Alexis de Tocqueville’s prediction that:

“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

Congress discovered that a long time ago, and the American Republic is still going strong. And that is how Hillary will stay afloat, bickering, plotting and planning her re-election campaign.

After her possible victory, she will have to battle the Republican Party in Congress — at least until the next mid-term elections of 2018. She will stall the full implementation of the 210 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. It was passed to regulate the financial industry and prevent a replay of the Great Recession 2008. Congress might just pressure her to do more and then show her up to Wall Street so she can get shot down. At the same time, her team will busy itself in creative accountancy to provide the semblance of a healthcare plan, while she brings together multiple voices to deflect expectations.

Hillary Clinton has promised to seal tax-loopholes for the rich. She will close some, leave a few open by insisting they are not loopholes, and provide a couple more to balance the loss. So it will be business as usual under semantic cover.

Although she might have to impose a dreaded wealth tax on the obscenely rich, don’t be surprised by parallel tax breaks for public interest foundations in which the rich will be able to hide their money well inland of United States shores.

Hillary’s campaign promises, of keeping jobs in America, will be threatened by her track record of negotiating free trade agreements. Colombia, Panama and South Korea and the joint development of overlapping underwater oil reserves with Mexico were her achievements as Secretary. Yet, these very achievements send jobs overseas. At that critical juncture her spin doctors will swing into motion. She will synchronise her political acrobatics showing her gold to be gilt, while she steps into a tango number with free trade.

Her foreign policy will oscillate between ruthless pragmatism and lethal naivety. As Secretary of State she supported Hosni Mubarak’s authoritarianism in Egypt and then discarded him when he had outlived his usefulness. She cold-bloodedly allowed democracy in Honduras to be overturned by a coup. Her advisors were able to talk her into believing that in Arabic speaking North Africa, a western-educated urban minority of youth desirous of western style democracy and a ‘fun’ culture could be translated into structural change. The Arab spring turned into unending autumn and finally ushered Daesh into power as a sovereign, though unrecognised, entity. The lonely little bud in Tunisia is still struggling to bloom.

Hillary is the sort of person who won’t admit that she or a plan she supported was at fault, but will launch it again with the order ‘get it right this time!’. So, expect similar misadventures under her probable presidency.

Moreover, when she is convinced that she and her team know what’s good for foreigners, she will not hesitate to do what George Bush did with the Weapons of Mass Destruction. How the prospective First Gentleman had the Balkans bombed to smithereens will be another example breathing down her back.

Hillary and Bill Clinton are known to be quarrelsomely competing rivals. They will discuss issues, but when she wants to show him and he wants to show her up, her judgment will suffer. And so will a lot of other people, in the United States and overseas.

So Hillary’s presence in the White House will not trigger a new, enlightened era in American foreign policy. Not even a purely pragmatic one which the United States’ dependent allies might be able to tweak to their advantage. But then with hybrid cars being the rage, why not a hybrid foreign policy? It’ll keep foreign office staffers of allies on their toes.

It is very hard for an American president to overturn the fundamentals of mature policies fostered by senior, career bureaucrats. Hillary Clinton, if elected, would also have to govern within these limitations. Ultimately, her governance will determine success at home and abroad. Her ready ingredients are the First Gentleman’s centrist positions, Barack Obama’s liberal doctrines and Bernie Sanders’ populism. She could draw on one or two of them, whip an omelet with all three and add her own presentation garnish, or come up with a game changer she has been nursing during this long wait for a prize she still might miss, despite her opponent’s clumsiness.

Azam Gill

Azam Gill

The author is a novelist, analyst and retired Lecturer from Toulouse University. He served in the French Foreign Legion, French Navy and the Punjab Regiment. He has authored nine books. He blogs at writegill.com/

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.