Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Beware of Clintons Bearing Gifts

Many of you have seen Hillary Clinton's jaw dropping Christmas video. If you haven't, you must.

It is called "Presents." In it, she is shown labelling various Christmas presents that have been beautifully wrapped in gold paper and big red bows. The camera closes in on labels reading "Universal Health Care," "Alternative Energy," "Bring Troops Home," and "Middle Class Tax Breaks." She draws particular attention to the final gift by seeming to have misplaced it and then finding it. Under the ribbon, she inserts the label, "Universal Pre-K."

On the face of it, three of these policies are Bush administration priorities. The present administration is investing in alternative energy sources, such as ethanol. President Bush is committed to bringing the troops home after their job is complete, namely victory in a stable Afghanistan and Iraq. Hillary Clinton has conceded that she foresees us having troops in the regions for some years to come. She has not been running a "bring 'em home now" campaign. On the other hand, dissembling is her intuitive response in any given situation. As for tax cuts, that has been a hallmark of the Bush presidency. The gift may be code for repealing the Bush tax cut on only higher incomes.

The whoppers, however, are the universal health care and universal day care, which she calls "pre-k." What is striking is that these are offered as "gifts" to the American people. The Clinton website calls them "her wishes for the American people." She presents these matters as though her wishes can be simply translated into fait accompli gifts, as though these generous desires can be delivered to us without any cost or complication. It is (I assume) unintentionally significant that these "gifts" are wrapped with gold and secured with crimson.

Hillary's campaign and her general approach to government came into illuminating juxtaposition for me with an old Popeye cartoon over the Christmas holidays. Compare the spirit of Olive Oyl's campaign song, "If I Were President" from the 1948 cartoon "Olive Oyl for President," with Hillary Clinton's Christmas video.

If I were president, if I were president,
There'd be at least ten months of June,
For folks to spend their honeymoon,
And night winds would all have the sweetest scent.
If I were president.

If I were president, if I were president,
Silk worms in every house would grow
And they would all be on the go
(In case there were a stocking accident).
If I were president.

There'd be lampposts like you've never seen.
And streets would all be spotless clean!

If I were president, if I were president,
I'd have a cure that would work right,
For those who couldn't sleep at night.
The time they spent awake would be well-spent.
If I were president. If I were president.

If I were president, if I were president,
The dogs whose habits all were strange
Would undergo a brand new change.
An all-day cone would cost a cent.
If I were president.

If I were president, if I were president,
Each bus would have a smoother run,
With lots of seats for everyone.
Apartments once again would be for rent.
If I were president.

There would be no wrangling anymore,
For drumsticks that fell short before.

If I were president, if I were president,
I'd pick up feminine morale,
And get a man for every gal.
More holidays would get my strong consent.
If I were president.
The premise of the cartoon is that this is how a woman would govern. She would make everything nice, just as she does in her home. She gives no thought to cost or to the constitutional bounds of federal government activity. In the cartoon, Congress responds to her campaign song with the chant, "She's a jolly good female, She's a jolly good female, She's a jolly good female. We love our president." You can make what you want of that.

I'm sorry that I could not find the cartoon for you on the web. Olive's portrait come to you courtesy of

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