Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton assails President & GOP as being mad with power & self-righteousness.
Senator Clinton, who is running for a second term in 2006 and is widely seen as a possible Democratic nominee for the presidency in 2008, said that her party was hamstrung in fighting back because Republicans dissemble and smear without shame.
While she has recently highlighted her moderate views, her remarks yesterday were starkly partisan and meant to rally her most loyal supporters at a time when at least four New York Republicans are preparing to run against her. She made the remarks at a Midtown hotel to about 1,000 supporters at a "Women for Hillary" breakfast that was her first major Senate re-election fund-raiser. Contributions from the event totaled about $250,000.
The senator said that left unchallenged, Republican leaders could ram through extremist judges, wreck Social Security, and make unacceptable concessions to China, Saudi Arabia and other nations that finance the United States budget deficit.
"There has never been an administration, I don't believe in our history, more intent upon consolidating and abusing power to further their own agenda," Mrs. Clinton told the gathering.
"I know it's frustrating for many of you, it's frustrating for me. Why can't the Democrats do more to stop them?" she continued to growing applause. "I can tell you this: It's very hard to stop people who have no shame about what they're doing. It is very hard to tell people that they are making decisions that will undermine our checks and balances and constitutional system of government who don't care. It is very hard to stop people who have never been acquainted with the truth."
She did have some kind words for past Republican presidents, noting Richard M. Nixon's support for the Environmental Protection Agency, Ronald Reagan's attempts to overhaul Social Security, and George H. W. Bush's work on the Clean Air Act. But these gestures were brief and rhetorically designed to slight the current president by comparison.
"We can't ever, ever give in to the Republican agenda," she said. "It isn't good for New York and it isn't good for America."
Mrs. Clinton described Republican leaders as messianic in their beliefs, willing to manipulate facts and even "destroy" the Senate to gain political advantage, a reference to the recent fight that nearly stripped the Democratic minority of its filibuster powers to shelve judicial nominees. She also took a shot at the House of Representatives, calling it "a dictatorship of the Republican leadership."
Referring to the Congressional leadership, she said, "Some honestly believe they are motivated by the truth, they are motivated by a higher calling, they are motivated by, I guess, a direct line to the heavens."
Then, lightening the moment a bit, she referred to reports during her husband's two terms as president that she would try to channel a favorite first lady of the past. "Now, I talk to Eleanor Roosevelt all the time, and she has never said there is any reason to only have one point of view. But apparently they have a different direct line."
In some of her sharpest language, Mrs. Clinton said that abetting Republicans was a Washington press corps that has become a pale imitation of the Watergate-era reporters who are being celebrated amid the identification of the Washington Post source Deep Throat.
"It's shocking when you see how easily they fold in the media today," Mrs. Clinton said, again to strong applause. "They don't stand their ground. If they're criticized by the White House, they just fall apart.
"I mean, c'mon, toughen up, guys, it's only our Constitution and country at stake."
(6-7-05, The New York Times.)