To paraphrase the late Lloyd Bentsen: Senator Clinton, I knew Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Bill Clinton.
When Bill Clinton came into office I was a Republican. By the time he left, I had voted for my first Democrat, Al Gore. I haven't voted for a Republican since.
Bill Clinton ran towards the center back when there was a center. As a Republican, I wanted to balance the budget. Clinton and the Republican Congress made that happen. As a Republican, I wanted to make sure we had welfare reform. Clinton and the Republican Congress made that happen.
I wanted real security in our streets. President Clinton put a 100,000 cops on the street and the crime rate went down all across the country (for a variety of reasons, but his program helped the process). I wanted an effective military that had clear missions and executed them. President Clinton led the Kosovo War, where we completely achieved our objective without a single US casualty.
Bill Clinton brought the Democratic Party to the center. Accordingly, he left office with enormous popularity - 66% approval rating, more than double President Bush's current numbers. He made a lot of people like me think that the Democrats were far more reasonable than we had suspected. He got us to open our minds to the Democratic Party.
So, why shouldn't I be happy to see Senator Hillary Clinton running to the center again? Because the center has moved!
The mainstream media seems to be very slow to recognize this enormous political fact. The Democratic Party of today is exactly where the political center used to be in the 80's and 90's. The Republican Party of today is to the far right of Ronald Reagan. To run towards the Republicans today is not running to the middle, it is running to the extreme right.
Reagan raised taxes repeatedly after 1981. Read that again. No one talks about it, but it"s true. Reagan realized (with the help of the Democratic Party and pragmatists inside the administration) he had cut taxes too much and that the deficit was out of control. So, he adjusted and raised taxes.
George H.W. Bush knew it was a politically suicidal move, but he also raised taxes. Why? Because they ultimately cared about the country. The state of our budget and our economic health in the long run was more important than their ideology.
Reagan made the mistake of going into Lebanon and 241 US Marines were killed. But instead of staying the course so that thousands more could die in the middle of the Lebanese civil war, he changed course.
Reagan believed in Peace through Strength. Now, we have Weakness through War. The more wars we get into, the weaker we get. George H.W. Bush created the New World Order, which meant that we would defend our allies if they were ever invaded and we would not allow any first strikes. George W. Bush turned that doctrine on its head and launched his own first strike against a country that did not attack us or any of our allies.
This is not your father's Republican Party. These Republicans are extreme right on almost every issue across the board. They have moved the playing field to the right.
Now, when Senator Clinton moves to the right to meet them half way, she is not being moderate, she is heading towards extremism. The fact that she has not yet denounced the Iraq War is stunning.
We have a war against a country that did not attack us, that was absolutely no threat to us, a war that has cost the lives and limbs of thousands of Americans and the lives of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians. And Senator Clinton can't even say that was a mistake. That's not a moderate position. That's an extremist position.
When we have an executive branch that is running roughshod over the constitution and refuses to follow federal laws, it is not a moderate position to speak softly on that matter. To acquiesce to clear law breaking is not moderate. It is extreme.
The president says he can ignore Congressional laws through signing statements, he can torture detainees according to his interpretation of the laws, he can track the calls of every American and listen in on all our international calls without a court order. Running towards those positions is not moderate. It is extreme.
The true moderates these days are the ones running away from these radical right positions. Senator Feingold, Al Gore, Jack Murtha have not only the courage to speak their minds when it is absolutely necessary but they also have enough sense to understand that conventional wisdom is wrong - running toward the Republicans is not running to the center.
The party of President Clinton understood where the real center of this country lay. The party of Senator Clinton is so scared of seeming soft on defense (or whatever Fox News Channel and Rush Limbaugh are accusing them of this week), that they have forgotten where the center lies. They have also forgotten their oath of office and why voters put them there in the first place.
They are supposed to protect the Constitution. They are supposed to have the best interest of Americans in mind, not their political careers. The voters of New York voted for a Democrat, not a warmed over Republican.
Alberto Gonzales, who wrote and authorized the torture memos - confirmed! General Hayden, who oversaw the illegal warrantless spying program for the administration - confirmed! Sam Alito, who was the original author of the signing statements - confirmed!
Phase II of the intelligence investigation on whether the administration manipulated the evidence to lead us into war -- never completed. The nine billion dollars we lost in Iraq --never investigated. Whether the torture at Abu Ghraib, Bagram Air Base and countless other facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan was authorized by the chain of command -- never investigated.
I understand that the Democrats are not in charge and far more blame goes to the Republicans who are protecting the administration at all costs. But I am afraid that if this mentality of the Democrats continues that things are never going to get better - even if they win back Congress.
If they are still scared of being called liberal whenever they challenge the president's law breaking or aggressive foreign policy, then it's not going to matter that they are in charge. Two thirds of the Democrats voted for General Hayden's confirmation. He would have been confirmed even if there was a Democratic majority. That's hideous.
To be fair to Senator Clinton, she voted against Hayden's confirmation (as did all the Presidential contenders on the Democratic side, except for Biden). But let's get real, she leads the Democratic Party right now. And the sound of silence coming from her office on all of these issues is deafening.
One of the admirable attributes of President Bill Clinton was that he did not shy from a fight. When Gingrich shut down the government, he stood his ground. When the Republicans impeached him over a nonsense personal affair, he stood his ground. When they relentlessly attacked him for eight straight years, he stood his ground. And he fought back!
That's why Senator Clinton, you're no President Clinton.