The Two-Headed Billary Beast - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Two-Headed Billary Beast

A Democratic presidential debate on Martin Luther King Day lent itself to an atmosphere of concord. But it quickly dissipated as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama traded ugly charges.

Obama, clearly furious with the two-headed Billary beast he faces, reminded the audience, after Hillary tried to throw in his face his pro-Reagan comment from last week, that in the 1980s she was a greedy corporate lawyer.

“While I was fighting Reagan’s policies” on the streets of Chicago as a community organizer, he said, Hillary was riding the gravy train as an attorney sitting on the board of Wal-Mart.

Other upper cuts to the Billary beast ensued. “I can’t tell who I am running against,” he said at one point, interrupting one of Hillary’s moments of lawyerly parsing about what she said (rather than her husband).

I have no idea if Obama’s ratcheted-up stridency here is good politics. I suspect some commentators will say he looked at times hyper and unnerved. But it is fun to watch, and there is much more to mine here.

Why doesn’t he remind people that during Hillary’s much-ballyhooed “35 years” of “other-oriented” service to the unfortunates of the earth she was making gobs of money off get-rich-quick schemes like her cattle futures trading? Gordon Gekko would have beamed with pride as Hillary entered the alleged age of Reagan greed with $100,000 in her pocket off a $1,000 investment in the cattle futures market.

Stung by Obama’s reference to her corporate hackery for Wal-Mart, Hillary hit back. As a lawyer Obama had defended a “slumlord,” she breathlessly huffed, then grabbed for some water. Obama responded that his work for the guy was negligible (he billed five hours on the man’s case, he said), but he might have also mentioned that Hillary’s client list — and billing records as a corporate attorney — don’t exactly bear much scrutiny either.

He could even mention that during one of her summers between years at Yale Law School she knowingly worked for a Communist lawyer, Bob Treuhaft, who many years later expressed astonishment that such an ambitious, seemingly establishment girl would associate with his over-the-top, radical law firm in Oakland.

HILLARY, LOOKING hot under the Armani collar, generated a few boos with some other rough broadsides against Obama, and went into screeching Vladimir Lenin mode after Obama noted her universal healthcare disaster.

Hillary, of course, had other glistening moments of “experience” than that one to tout and made sure to mention, in a pandering gesture before the predominately black audience in South Carolina, her work with Marian Wright Edelman at the Children’s Defense Fund, back in those heady days (though she didn’t mention this) when she was comparing the family to other institutions of oppression and extolling socialist child care in France.

The anti-Reagan cord, which Hillary is striking hard so as to poach the Daily Kos crowd from Obama, invites an obvious rebuttal: If Reagan’s ideas were so appalling and unworkable, why did the Clintons hire Dick Morris to steal them from their Republican opponents?

Why did Clinton pal around endlessly in the 1980s with self-described moderate Democrats like Al From whose entire message was that the Dems had been whipped by Reagan on the front of ideas? What, if not Reagan’s ideas, were the Clintons responding to when they babbled on about the need to “redefine” the Democratic party and come up with “innovative new” policies through the Democratic Leadership Council?

It was because of Reagan’s ideological success that the Clintons had to scramble and come up with head-faking triangulation polices regarding welfare reform, school uniforms, v-chips, and so on.

Hillary is willfully distorting Obama’s comment about Reagan, which was nothing more than a modest and obvious observation that Reagan radically changed politics through his charisma and vision. In this debate, as in the others, Obama seems to be already running a general election campaign, seeking to draw disaffected Republicans and independents into his ethos of quasi-bipartisan uplift, while Hillary, with her tired anti-Reagan gibes, seems to be running for Jimmy Carter’s second term.

The second part of the debate, in which the candidates sat in chairs, wasn’t as lively as the first, but a few interesting questions came up, including one about whether Bill Clinton was the “first” black president. Obama graciously noted Bill Clinton’s outreach to the black community. He said that he couldn’t answer the question authoritatively, however, owing to his lack of knowledge of Clinton’s “dancing skills.”

George Neumayr
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George Neumayr, a senior editor at The American Spectator, is author most recently of The Biden Deception: Moderate, Opportunist, or the Democrats' Crypto-Socialist?
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