MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Politicians in tight spots often say the most puzzling things. While campaigning in coal country, where large numbers of miners are without jobs, Hillary Clinton has been met by grassroots opposition to her (hopefully accurate) comment earlier this year that coal, as a fuel, is on its last legs.
As Politico reported on May 2,
Clinton has faced increased scrutiny and backlash from coal-producing areas of the country after boasting at a March town hall, "We're going to put a lot of coal companies and coal miners out of business." Though she followed up by saying that the United States should "make it clear that we don't want to forget those people," the remark created consternation in the coal community. On Sunday, Bill Clinton confronted protesters in West Virginia unhappy with his wife's comments.
The Hill reported on May 5 that current polling shows Clinton potentially facing an embarrassing loss to Bernie Sanders in the upcoming West Virginia primary on May 10, but also confronting the possibility that Donald Trump could carry the state in November:
West Virginia is shaping up to be a terrible state for Hillary Clinton.
Polling shows Bernie Sanders with a sizable lead in there, meaning its Democratic primary on Tuesday is likely to extend a presidential nominating contest Clinton had hoped to wrap up by now....
In a general election match-up against presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump ...Clinton will be an underdog in West Virginia, which has voted for Republican presidential candidates since 2000.
There are other reasons behind the precipitous fall-off in support of the Clinton brand in Appalachia, including rural white bigotry and the enthusiasm that Hillary showed for disastrous trade policies, beginning with NAFTA (passed in her husband's first administration) and continuing through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which she championed as Secretary of State. It was only after Bernie Sanders found a groundswell of support among displaced workers for his opposition to trade pacts that Hillary Clinton reversed course and announced her opposition to the TPP.
The Washington Post took note of her political predicament on the TPP in a May 5 article:
Clinton supported and promoted the TPP while serving as secretary of state, but she has moved to the left in a hard-fought primary campaign against Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), who has long railed against U.S. trade pacts. Sanders also opposed a lame-duck vote, telling the Oregon Fair Trade coalition: “Holding a vote on the TPP during a ‘lame duck’ session [of the US Congress] would be going against the will of the people.”
Business leaders, including Chamber of Commerce President Thomas J. Donohue, have said they believe Clinton will come around and support the TPP if she wins the general election. Her moves further left could make that more difficult.
“I strongly suspect she would like it done and out of the way” before she takes office, said Philip Levy, a senior fellow at the Chicago Council who served as a trade adviser on Sen. John McCain’s 2008 campaign. “That would make life easier for her.”
But, Levy added, Clinton’s likely Republican opponent in the general election, business mogul Donald Trump, also has denounced trade pacts, and the issue could prove pivotal in industrial swing states in the Midwest.
The skeptical perspective, as represented by the head of the Chamber of Commerce above, is that her opposition to the TPP is born of political necessity, not of political conviction. One could argue that only time will tell if she is being forthright or just wily.
However, Hillary Clinton provided some evidence to bolster the cynical viewpoint with her attempt to reassure coal country voters. She tried to assuage their economic fears with a hint that her husband might become her jobs czar. Now remember, this is Bill Clinton, the neoliberal globalist who played a cheerleader-in-chief role for the trade pacts that had a significant impact on the very loss of jobs in manufacturing that Hillary Clinton says she is concerned about. As CBS News reported on May 2,
Clinton is often asked exactly what kind of role her husband would play in her administration.
On Monday, in Kentucky coal country, she said she would put the former president in charge of reviving jobs in communities hard hit by manufacturing losses.
"I told my husband he's got to come out of retirement and be in charge of this because you know he's got more ideas a minute than anybody I know," she said.
Yes, and many of these ideas are like big meteors hurdling toward you.
Global trade pacts that favor corporations are not a significant reason coal is doomed -- that's actually due primarily to the development of cleaner and more cost-efficient fuels and the need to save the planet from climate change -- but they have become the symbol of a US government policy that has accelerated the hemorrhaging of US manufacturing jobs to less-costly overseas settings.
If you want to speculate on how sincere Hillary Clinton's newfound anti-TPP position is, just consider the fact that she is contemplating putting Bill in charge of reversing the US manufacturing job loss that he had a key role in accelerating.
Does that make any sense?
Not to be reposted without permission of Truthout.