Hillary Clinton gave an interview to 'The Washington Post' that was released yesterday. There were two controversial points. The first, which didn't attract too much attention,
Hillary: "I intend to win in November 2008, and then I intend to build a centrist coalition in this country that is like what I remember when I was growing up."
A centrist coalition? After 8 years of hard neo-con Conservative politics, a centrist coalition sounds about as appetizing as a chef adding seasoning or pablum to what our diet has been- unreconstructed, undigested GOP policies. I would feel much better if she said we need a new direction entirely and not something down the center, whatever that means. But like most of things Hillary says it doesn't mean much; she blurs over her subject so she won't get cut by the words later.
But what has got the liberal blogosphere in a flap was her less than unequivocal condemnation of Bush/Cheney's policies on torture. This paragraph from the Post article raised the hackles of the Hillary bashers:
Clinton was similarly vague about how she would handle special interrogation methods used by the CIA. She said that while she does not condone torture, so much has been kept secret that she would not know.. what other extreme measures interrogators are using, and therefore could not say whether she would change or continue existing policies.
"It is not clear yet exactly what this administration is or isn't doing. We're getting all kinds of mixed messages," Clinton said.
Kevin Drum was indignant about Clinton's evasive answer, but offered that the Clinton campaign, by way of explanation, had included this sentence in the full interview transcript:
Hillary: "I think we have to draw a bright line and say 'No torture - abide by the Geneva conventions, abide by the laws we have passed,' and then try to make sure we implement that."
This sounds better, but she still doesn't seem very shocked at Bush/Cheney's torture, extraordinary rendition, black site policies...
Marc Kleiman remains unconvinced as well:
If Hillary Clinton didn't intend to evade the torture question (as her handlers and her friends in the blogosphere insist) there are two things she can do about it:
1. Issue a simple statement: "When I'm President, there will be no waterboarding, no cold room, no sensory deprivation, no 'long time standing,' and no renditions."
2. File and ask for hearings on a bill for the relief of Khaled al-Masri.
Unless she does one of those things, those of us for whom torture is a deal-breaker will have to conclude that her ambiguity was and is deliberate, either because she thinks it would be bad general-election strategy to be too far out there on behalf of human decency or because she's not ready to limit her Presidential options with respect to the maltreatment of captives.
I'm glad the liberal blogosphere is hammering away at this. We have got to try to keep Hillary as honest as possible. She has a tendency to slide very comfortably to the center on most issues. She seems at ease talking about "principled compromises", but most of us feel the US has compromised itself 8 long lost years with Bush. We don't need any more waffling on torture or our catastrophe in Iraq; anything than reminds us of what the neo-cons have wrought. We need a new broom, to sweep away all the debris left by the outgoing administration.
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