- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 1, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The spin emanating from Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign has found an unlikely sympathetic audience: conservatives.

In recent weeks, Mrs. Clinton has sought to portray herself as a gutsy, tenacious fighter, who understands and speaks for Middle America. Unlike her Democratic rival for the presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, the former first lady claims she is not an elitist liberal. Rather, she is a responsible moderate who is a foreign policy hawk and a champion of gun rights.

Initially, many on the right supported her against Mr. Obama for tactical reasons. Rush Limbaugh urged listeners to vote for her in the Democratic primaries. The goal was to further fracture the Democrats and prolong the political bloodletting between the two camps.

Something strange, however, happened along the way: Many conservatives found a new respect for Mrs. Clinton. For years, those on the right despised her. They are now helping to redefine her as an Iron Lady - one who is more qualified than Mr. Obama and who can be trusted to be the next president of the United States. In short, many conservatives have swallowed her campaign spin hook, line and sinker.

Conservative pundits are now praising Mrs. Clinton. Radio talk show host Tammy Bruce says she admires Mrs. Clinton for her “tenacity” in continuing her nomination fight against Mr. Obama. Miss Bruce also claims the New York Democrat is a “centrist.” Firebrand columnist Ann Coulter vows she will campaign for Mrs. Clinton against Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain. Why? According to Miss Coulter’s twisted logic, “She’s more conservative than he is. I think she would be stronger on the war on terrorism.” Even the normally sensible William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, laments the “liberal media failing to give Hillary Clinton the respect she deserves.”

They are wrong. The Clintons are corrupt, incompetent politicians. They are narcissistic Baby Boomers who will say and do anything to achieve their ambitions. Mrs. Clinton repeatedly boasts that she played an integral role during Bill Clinton’s presidency. Therefore, she is the “most qualified” and “experienced” candidate to lead the country. In fact, the Clintons oversaw one of the most scandal-ridden and inept administrations of the 20th century.

Conservatives would do well to remember the 1990s. It was a decade full of illusions, scandals and the squandering of American power.

In foreign affairs, the Clintons frittered away the vast geopolitical capital America had amassed following the victory over Soviet communism. Under the Clintons’ watch, China acquired sensitive U.S. missile technology in exchange for illegal campaign contributions; Pakistan and North Korea attained the nuclear bomb; Iran armed Hezbollah and transformed Syria into a vassal state; U.N. sanctions against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq crumbled; Radical Islam established a strategic beachhead in the Balkans; and the fundamentalist Taliban regime in Afghanistan was allowed to become an al Qaeda safe haven.

Most importantly, Muslim militants declared war on the United States. The 1993 attempt to destroy the World Trade Center, the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa, the 2000 suicide attack on the USS Cole - all these terrorist atrocities met with little or no response. The forces of Islamic fascism became emboldened, gathered steam, and eventually launched the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on American soil. Instead of gloating, the Clintons should be ashamed of their foreign policy record.

Mrs. Clinton should also be ashamed of her role in the scandals that plagued the Clinton administration.

Her presidential campaign has been unusually inept and vicious - even by Clinton standards. She lost a huge lead. She has deliberately played the race card to pit working-class whites against blacks. She lied about taking sniper fire in Bosnia during a visit as first lady. She lied about her role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland.

Some conservatives may think Mrs. Clinton is better than Mr. Obama. She’s not. In fact, she is far worse. She shares all of his leftist ideas: withdrawing troops from Iraq, nationalizing health care, abortion on demand, gay rights, protectionism and soak-the-rich class warfare. Yet she combines this with a ruthless political machine.

Furthermore, Mrs. Clinton may talk tough about Iran’s mullahs or the need to defend Israel. But, ultimately, she will do to the Iranian people and to the Jews what she has done to Iraqis, feminists, African-Americans and anyone else who has placed their trust in the Clintons: Abandon them when it is expedient.

At her core, Mrs. Clinton is a 1960s radical, who subordinates morality to politics. There is nothing centrist or admirable about her. She is consumed by raw, unbridled ambition. Conservatives once called this the sin of pride. Now they refer to it as “tenacity.” Mrs. Clinton does not deserve their praise or grudging respect. She deserves their scorn.

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