Clinton’s surreal historical revisionism – which she walked back after a firestorm of criticism – is typical of the eagerness with which she embraces even the most dubious figures, as long as they are members of what my colleague Scott Lemieux calls America’s “overcompensated and underperforming elites.”
For example, Clinton continues to cozy up to Henry Kissinger, and to the same bankers who came close to wrecking the world economy just a few years ago, shortly before they started paying her millions of dollars to give speeches to them.
A few weeks ago she repeated the racist myth that “radical” Northerners imposed corrupt governments on the defeated South after the Civil War, and thus paved the way for Jim Crow and the Ku Klux Klan. This week she engaged in some good old-fashioned red-baiting, criticizing Sanders for opposing America’s sordid history of dirty wars in Latin America, which she mischaracterized as his support for Communist dictatorships.
All of this is both wrong as a matter of principle, and stupid politics to boot. How many votes does she think she’s going to get from (increasingly imaginary) “moderate Republicans” as a consequence of this 1990s-style triangulation? Not nearly as many as she’ll lose among disgusted liberals, who remember that the Contras were terrorists, that Kissinger is a war criminal of the first order, that Reconstruction didn’t cause the virulent racism that undermined it, and that the Reagans’ silence regarding AIDS contributed to countless unnecessary deaths.
I will, of course, vote for Clinton if she’s the nominee – she is after all vastly preferable to either Trump or Cruz – but by now this is starting to feel like pointing out that a sprained ankle is preferable to a heart attack.