Did Bill Clinton Deliver a Coded Warning about Obama?
A crescendo of jabs from Bill Clinton aimed at Barack Obama's re-election chances have caused much commentary, but the pundits have ignored an anomalous digression in a recent speech, which may be a startling coded warning about Obama.
In a June 4 New York City fundraiser speech featuring the joint appearance of Messrs. Clinton and Obama, Mr. Clinton says, at 16:23 of this CSPAN link and after having praised Mr. Obama's economic policies and extolled Mr. Obama's contributions to national security:
And he's had to get all this done while people as recently as last week were still saying he wasn't born in America [and one should note that Mr. Clinton said just last week that the evidence was merely "pretty clear" that President Obama was born in Hawaii."]. He's had to get all this done with a House of Representatives that had one of the Tea Party members claim that 78-81 members of the Democratic Caucus were members of the Communist Party and neither the presidential nominee nor any of the leaders rebuked him for saying that. This is not the 1950's -- -at least Joe McCarthy could skate on the fact that there was [sic] at least one or two communists walking around...nobody's seen a communist in over a decade...no criticism is too vicious."
Has Mr. Clinton ever heard of Mr. Van Jones -- avowed Communist and Obama "green jobs" czar (albeit former czar, but Mr. Jones is, then again, still "walking around")?
Many readers will have heard that Mr. Jones is a self-declared communist. Has he lately declared himself a communist?
No. But wait: let us now parse Mr. Clinton with utmost care, and note once again that he said in the New York speech that "nobody's seen a communist in over a decade...no criticism is too vicious."
Indeed, no criticism is too vicious. Did the word "decade" materialize out of thin air? In all likelihood not, especially when you consider that it is very reasonable to believe that Mr. Van Jones' communism formally ended in...you guessed it...2002, about a decade ago:
Usually accusations of communism bring to mind memories of Joe McCarthy and hapless leftists being ruined (at least for a while) by being asked, "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party." Of course with the death of the Soviet Union and with even China practicing a capitalism of a sort, being a member of the Communist Party is rather quaint and certainly not very threatening.
According to Trevor Loudon, a New Zealand blogger, back in the 1990s, Van Jones was a leading member of an organization called Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM) in the San Francisco Bay Area. Loudon quotes a leftwing blog, Machete 48, is [sic] describing STORM.
"STORM had its roots in a grouping of people of color organizing against the Gulf War in the early 1990's and was formally founded in 1994. The group's politics had a number of influences, but evolved towards what could be best characterized as third worldist Marxism (and an often vulgar Maoism). The group grew in influence until its disbanding in 2002 amid problems of internal dynamics and especially controversy around the leadership roles that members played in the youth movement (such as the fight against Proposition 21). Nearly the entire membership of the organization was staff members for various social movement non-profits in the Bay Area, many linked to the Ella Baker Center, which Van Jones steered" [emphasis added].
What is a rational person to make of this, other than that Mr. Clinton is pointing a pink finger at Mr. Van Jones, and therefore at Mr. Barack Hussein Obama?
It now seems anticlimactic to ask if Mr. Clinton is aware that Mr. Obama, again just last week, awarded the Medal of Freedom to the honorary chair (Ms. Dolores Huerta) of the largest socialist organization in America (can you believe it?). Has he ever heard of Senator Bernie Sanders, self-declared socialist, or Mr. William Ayers, a communist?
Moreover, a 2009 letter by the Democratic Socialist (sic) of America outfit indicated that 70 members of Congress were DSA members. Do you suppose Mr. Clinton may have gotten wind of this?
The answer to each of these questions is almost certainly: of course he has. So why does Mr. Clinton, in a major fundraising speech on behalf of Mr. Obama in New York, even mention Communism (and therefore, implicitly, socialism), in a way that obliquely impugns Mr. Obama ?
Why would someone of Mr. Clinton's stature, intelligence, and political expertise subtly, psychologically, and politically link Mr. Obama with communism/socialism, and, what's more, do so (1) just after Mr. Obama's "Medal of Freedom" link to socialism was all over the news and (2) when the link comes out of nowhere in terms of the flow of Mr. Clinton's speech preceding it, so that it is even more difficult to discern an affirmative reason, helpful to Mr. Obama, in support of the link?
Was the idea that Mr. Obama is a socialist/communist far enough from Mr. Clinton's mind that Mr. Clinton was simply attempting to assuage the concerns of the marginal independent voter as to the prospect that Mr. Obama may be a socialist/communist? This seems very doubtful. Independents who are concerned with the notion that Mr. Obama may be a socialist/communist are unlikely to have had their worries muted by a statement from the likes of Mr. Clinton, and many of the remaining independents are either leaning towards or committed to Mr. Obama whether he is a socialist/communist or not. With respect to those independents left over, seemingly throwaway ideological lines at a New York fundraiser are unlikely to make much difference.
However, the "throwaway lines" might not be throwaway at all if the lines telegraphed something to persons other than middling independents. The question then partly becomes: whom might Mr. Clinton have been telegraphing?
Perhaps the answer to the part-question has to do with Mr. Clinton's now very widely discussed criticism of the Obama campaign's opening, major salvo against Mr. Romney and Bain Capital. Rather than buttress Mr. Obama's characterization of Mr. Romney as a vampire capitalist (curiously, Marx had a fondness for vampiric imagery, and so does popular culture in contemporary America, although vampires seem to be morphing into zombies before our very eyes, which might well say something about the unconsciously cannibalistic nature of socialism), Mr. Clinton does the opposite and suggests that Mr. Romney's business performance has been "sterling."
Similarly, might Mr. Clinton's throwaway ideological lines been only superficially throwaway? That is, might Mr. Clinton have been, as the saying goes, "protesting too much" with his ideological lines, so that the lines, as telegraphed to certain persons and institutions, are properly read as Van Jones-related lines, and therefore as having suggested the very opposite of what they appeared to be saying?
That interpretation would certainly dovetail perfectly with the Van Jones timing coincidence and with Mr. Clinton's demolition job of Mr. Obama's opening act against Mr. Romney and Bain, would it not? And all while giving Mr. Clinton plausible deniability on the issue and thereby helping preserve Mr. Clinton's political capital with Mr. Obama's supporters.
So, on this analysis, what persons and institutions did Mr. Clinton telegraphically target when, in New York, he alluded, for no apparent reason, to socialism and communism and a "decade" ago in a speech supposedly praising Mr. Obama? He may be saying that Mr. Obama is not simply a menace to capitalist finance in terms of his economic policies, but rather, and much more gravely, Mr. Obama is an ideological menace to capitalist finance.
So, what would Mr. Clinton's motives be for proceeding in this way? Clearly, he cannot brazenly declare Mr. Obama a socialist/communist without decimating his own political capital. More affirmatively, do you suppose that Mr. Clinton has his legacy in mind? Should Mr. Obama win a second term at this momentous period in history, might there not be an excellent chance that Mr. Clinton's two terms will be relegated to, shall we say, "second-class" status?
Furthermore, here is a very interesting datum: Democrats have not held the presidency for more than two terms in a row since FDR. If Mr. Obama wins, he will almost certainly complete his two terms. Thus, there is fairly persuasive historical reason for believing that, should Mr. Obama win in 2012, a Democrat is unlikely to win in 2016, which would all but scuttle Mrs. Hillary Clinton's chances of occupying the Oval Office. Moreover, Mr. Clinton may well think that given Mr. Obama's politics, the likelihood of Democrats holding the presidency for three or more consecutive terms may be low even aside from what history tells us.
There are thus good reasons to believe that Mr. Clinton does not welcome the prospect of a second term for Mr. Obama. Either way, though, if Mr. Clinton is willing to go so far as to render a vicious ideological criticism of an incumbent Democratic president -- one that meticulously yet cautiously associates that president with the black hole of communism/socialism and fits the chin forever jutting toward the clouds -- we can be very confident that people in very powerful places are paying attention.
There is one other possibility worth considering: that damaging information, perhaps a cascade of damaging information about Mr. Obama's past, a decade or more ago, is known by Mr. Clinton to be waiting in the wings. Just yesterday came news of newly available archives which prove that the Obama campaign lied during the 2008 campaign about Obama's membership in the radical socialist New Party, uncovered by the National Review's Stanley Kurtz. Democratic Party elders are reluctantly concluding that they may be headed for a disaster in November of Wisconsonian proportions. Could this be a warning shot across Obama's bow, pressure on him to pull an LBJ and bow out?
Reasonable people will agree that Mr. Obama came out of nowhere and ascended to power. Mrs. Clinton was swept aside by a perfect storm whose elements included Bush fatigue and the release, by MSM forces, of a hitherto mostly latent cultural psychosis.
Once Mr. Obama thusly achieved power, he exercised it impetuously and impudently, thereby jeopardizing the future of his party. Very powerful Clintonian forces are crystallizing once more, and Mr. Obama is going to pay the price.
Therefore, even absent any other reason, it is reasonable to believe that Mr. Obama is ideologically dangerous for the same basic reason why he will lose in 2012, which is that Mr. Clinton is telegraphing that Mr. Obama is dangerous, and that he (Mr. Clinton) is therefore willing to negotiate with Republicans.
Jason Kissner Ph.D., J.D. is associate professor of criminology, California State University, Fresno.