Hillary Clinton’s Hates Power (No, Really)
Mike Tomasky interviews Hillary Clinton for The Guardian. The opener is quite interesting:
I want to start with some questions about foreign policy and terrorism. If you become president you’ll enter the White House with far more power than, say, your husband had. What is your view of this? And what specific powers might you relinquish as president, or renegotiate with Congress – for example the power to declare a US citizen an enemy combatant?
Well, I think it is clear that the power grab undertaken by the Bush-Cheney administration has gone much further than any other president and has been sustained for longer. Other presidents, like Lincoln, have had to take on extraordinary powers but would later go to the Congress for either ratification or rejection. But when you take the view that they’re not extraordinary powers, but they’re inherent powers that reside in the office and therefore you have neither obligation to request permission nor to ask for ratification, we’re in a new territory here. And I think that I’m gonna have to review everything they’ve done because I’ve been on the receiving end of that. There were a lot of actions which they took that were clearly beyond any power the Congress would have granted or that in my view that was inherent in the constitution. There were other actions they’ve taken which could have obtained congressional authorization but they deliberately chose not to pursue it as a matter of principle.
David Kurtz is quite excited, summarizing the exchange, “Hillary Clinton promises a systematic review of the Bush administration’s executive power grab if elected–with an eye toward relinquishing some of those powers.” Except for the part about relinquishing some of those powers, I’d say.
You’ll notice that she ran with the idea that the Bush administration has expanded presidential powers but neglected to answer the part about “specific powers might you relinquish as president, or renegotiate with Congress.” Indeed, she didn’t even jump on the easy target of “declare a US citizen an enemy combatant.” Instead, she went for the transparent dodge of saying she’d have to “review” the situation. What’s to review?
They’re thieves. They’re thieves, they’re filthy little thieves. Where is it? Where is it? They stole it from us. My Precious. Curse them, we hates them! It’s ours it is, and we wants it.
My guess is her tune would quickly change were the ring once again hers.
UPDATE: Matt Yglesias comes to the same conclusion, minus the Gollum reference. Andrew Sullivan agrees, adding, “With the Clintons, you always have to go back later and read the transcript very, very closely. They reflexively lie, the way other people breathe.”
CORRECTION: The original version of this attributed Kurtz’ comments to Greg Sargent. The error is attributable to Kurtz having linked Sargent’s post at a different TPM Media blog and my having then followed Sargent’s link to Tomasky’s original interview with Clinton.
For his part, Sargent wasn’t “excited” at all about the remarks; indeed, he voiced objections quite similar to mine.
The promise of a review of these abuses is clearly newsworthy, though unfortunately the interview is short on specific suggestions as to what areas she might be willing to relinquish power in. For instance, asked directly by Tomasky whether AG nominee Michael Mukasey’s recent hedging on whether waterboarding constitutes torture would lead her to vote against him, she demurred.
She did say, however, that some of Mukasey’s answers “about presidential authority with respect to interrogation” concern her. Of course, the proof of this will reside in her vote, and she’s continually stopped short of condemning specific torture techniques.
OTB regrets the error.