Clinton’s early actions to relax abortion requirements and to admit homosexuals into the military left friends and foes alike to ponder how deep his liberal agenda may be. With liberalism in low esteem in America, Clinton’s first weeks’ ratings were the lowest for any president since the beginning of such ratings.
I applaud both decisions as progressive and positive. They indicate a kinder outlook toward minorities and suppressed groups, an attitude befitting a great nation and a great leader. However, I wonder if they are also so much red herring to hide the truth that promises of economic reform (for which Clinton won the election) will not be actually re-form, but so much tinkering.
For example, the Republicans have had a good chuckle at Clinton’s choice of cabinet members and other top advisory positions, noting that he has selected from the super-rich in proportions even greater than Bush or Reagan did before him. However, whereas the Republicans are satirically gleeful to point out this fact, I find it very disconcerting. Indeed, it becomes at last certain to me that we are not a democracy, but finally and irrevocably a plutocracy, a government by the wealthy class alone.
So it doesn’t surprise me either that the middle class will not be spared increased taxes, and that the superwealthy will only have their taxes raised a mere 5 percent, certainly within their budgets, in spite of all the melodramatic Republican hand-wringing after the State of the Union Address.
Worse, worker-financed Social Security programs will be further exploited for general welfare, and taxes on gasoline and energy will be raised: both “sacrifices” directed squarely at modest-income, working Americans. Surely, behind closed doors, the rich must be congratulating each other that nothing more hurtful will be asked of them, after having so unconscionably prospered for 12 years at the expense of the workers and middle-class, many of whom can’t afford such basics as modest homes and medical care.
There were even earlier hints that a Democratic victory would bring nothing new to Washington, going back to the first day, I believe. I was disappointed that Clinton didn’t use his inauguration to indicate that this presidency would be one “of the people” in a new and obvious way—perhaps by cutting the hoopla expenses to the bone, forsaking the top hats and tuxedos, simplifying the balls and parties.
There is so much extravagance surrounding power, millions and millions spent for self-importance perks, over $30 million spent on the inauguration alone. An enlightened Clinton would have used the inauguration to say, “I will be different, I will be ‘just people,’ as I’ve been telling you all along. I will lead by example more than words, and take hold of my office in a modest way. I will be your servant.”
Clinton will be no such man. His reduction of White House staff means very little, when you realize how ungainly huge it had grown anyway, people tripping over each other; and when you note that Clinton, without even blushing, is already having his own private running track built.
But his true inner politics are revealed most clearly by a close look at those he chooses to surround himself. Zoe Baird, his first choice for attorney general, perhaps provides the blueprint. She wasn’t a people’s lawyer—she was a corporate lawyer, a blue-chip corporate lawyer at that. Her income is a half million dollars a year, which, of course, is in addition to her husband’s salary, plus what people of such resources can make through investments.
And she wasn’t a people’s person either. For example, when she told her story of hiring the illegal aliens, I first thought it wasn’t so bad that she would have compassion on these people, who I’m sure were desperate for a decent job. But when I heard her explanation for her “indiscretion,” I was dismayed. She was thinking only of her children. Even at her and her husband’s advanced salaries (which will buy her children every advantage all their lives) she was looking for a personal bargain in home care. The greedy and insensitive get the power. The basic business of our White House and Capitol Hill is to protect the wealthy. Now and then things get so distorted in favor of the rich that a Roosevelt, or nowadays, a Clinton, is called in to slightly center the picture and stave off momentum toward real reform.
The insensitive greedy run the country. In reality they are almost all Zoe Bairds, making extravagant incomes while hiring their help at the lowest possible wages. For their children, of course. They have little respect for legality even. This is the country we live in.