Saturday, August 31, 2002

It's The Company You Keep

I was reading the other day and came upon this story about Senator Hillary Clinton becoming the new Newt Gingrich; that is, the new political figure to demonize, the radioactive person. Republicans use her image as a negative and many Democrats avoid being connected to her, at least publicly.

Well, for some reason a light went on in my head. I had also been reading about HILLPAC, Clinton's political action committee that is raising enormous sums of money. Many political observers believe it's to set her up for her own Presidential run, in either 2004 or 2008, because it is unusual for freshman Senators to set this kind of PAC up. Clinton has been using some of the money raised to also fund the campaigns of other Democrats around the country.

That's not unusual, though. During the two years leading up to the 2002 elections, Vice President Al Gore criss-crossed the country spending an estimated $3 billion of Federal money to lavish programs and projects on districts and politicians he wanted to line up for support in his Presidential run. Rush Limbaugh documented a lot of this while it was going on. It's called "firming up your support" and "setting markers." He called in those chits during the campaign.

All this led me to wonder, so I went to Open Secrets, the website of the Center For Responsive Politics, which monitors the flow of money in politics and political campaigns. There I searched for Democratic candidate for the US Senate Bob Clement. And sure enough, I found this.

It turns out that Senator Clinton's HILLPAC has donated $10,000 to Clement's campaign, tying her for third place in highest donation to his campaign, along with a lot of unions, Senator Tom Daschle and the Trial Lawyer's Association. Another name at the top of his donor list was the strange-sounding New Jersey United Federal PAC. This one turns out to be New Jersey Senator Jim Corzine's PAC! What in the world is this multi-millionaire doing in Tennessee?

Let's return to Hillary Clinton. As many of you remember, back in 1993 President Bill Clinton gave his wife complete control of the effort to socialize the American health care system. She held secret meetings with everyone except patient and nurse's advocates. When even the press questioned why the President's wife -- unaccountable to anyone but him and with no known experience in the field -- was leading this, when the right raised an enormous stink, when the tin-eared Hillary didn't respond to any inquiries about what was happening, the whole thing fell apart into a nasty mess. It caused Hillary to slink back into the shadows, never again to be seen publicly working for any of her Socialist agenda.

But several States, eager to curry favor with the new President, volunteered to try out HillaryCare at the State level, to prove it could work. Tennessee Governor Ned McWherter was one, and so TennCare was born. It has ballooned into a Socialist nightmare of bureaucratic failure, bloated enrollment, fiscal mismanagement and corporate ruin. It proved that HillaryCare would not work. Spectacularly.

TennCare is ruining the State's budget. Not by itself, of course, but in very large part. It is a sprawling, growing cancerous mess. It has deformed the social, political, medical and corporate landscapes of Tennessee. Getting even simple reform, much less dramatic reforms or termination, is a protracted and difficult process filled with lots of shouting and pointing.

So when I see that Bob Clement has taken money from her, I have to pause. I have to wonder at his commitment to TennCare reform. I have to wonder at what other Socialist ideas he might be inclined to. It seems to be a bad harbinger and requires explanation from the candidate. And I have to let the readers of Half-Bakered know about it.

TennCare is radioactive and Bob Clement wants the support of the architect, the lineal mother of it. For me, this one thing is the deal-breaker. This one connection all by itself would dissuade me from voting for Clement, even if I were so inclined.

We need to let folks know about this and warn them. Spread the word, now.

Until next time,
Your Working Boy

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