As we enter the serious phase of the 2008 presidential campaign, we're looking at the real possibility of a genuine 1960s radical becoming our president and commander-in-chief. If that doesn't scare you, then you have a very high "scare" threshold.
Having grown up with the hippies and yippies, I found that it was easy to see through their peacenik agenda to what was really important to them:Â control.Â Control over how they dressed, no matter how sloppily; control over the length of their hair, no matter how long and ill-kempt; control over their drug and drinking habits, no matter how harmful to them or others; and so on. "Do your own thing" was, in reality, "let me do my thing and, no matter how outrageous it is, leave me alone about it."
The radical hippie side of my generation spawned many big lies.Â Here are just a few:
- Marijuana is not a harmful or addictive drug, and it doesn't hurt anyone else when I use it.
- There's nothing wrong with promiscuous, extra-marital sex and no real consequences.
- It's more noble to burn one's draft card than to fight and possibly die in a war that, in your opinion, the government had no business in getting involved.
- No one over 30 can be trusted; the whole system of private and public institutions in this country is utterly corrupt.
Make no mistake, young Hillary Rodham was not only a radical; she was a leading radical figure during her collegiate years at Wellesley and later at Yale Law School. As a turncoat from a conservative upbringing (she was a former "Goldwater girl"), Rodham had the same zeal once she switched sides as most ex-smokers have against the nasty habit. That zeal has fueled her political ambitions, both for her husband and herself, to this day.
We are kidding ourselves if we believe that the trappings of being a wealthy, middle-aged U.S. senator have done all that much to change the radical within. Even the most hardened communists, such as Lenin and Castro, knew instinctively when to soften their message as they worked their way up the political ladder. All Clinton's occasional nods toward Republican positions do, such as her vote to authorize war against Iraq, is convince me further that with her it's all about expediency and what will gain her votes when the time comes.
Dick Morris rather aptly compares Hillary's style to that of Richard Nixon-that is, if you're not squarely in their camp, then you're the enemy and must be destroyed, not just opposed. Hillary's visceral hatred of all things conservative and Republican cannot be emphasized enough, for that hatred will do much to energize her campaign. And in looking through the prism of good (her and those like her) and evil (all conservatives and most Republicans) she truly may see herself as a Joan-of-Arc type figure who is riding in on her white horse to save us from ourselves.
If there's truth to the legendary stories of Hillary's profanity-laced diatribes against her enemies (or "friends" who did her wrong), then this is a window into the anger that fuels this woman's ambition. Not that this is unique to her among political figures, but it's an important dimension of a leader that should not be discounted by voters.
For those who would say that a few youthful indiscretions committed 30 or more years ago should not count against a candidate, I would submit that Clinton's radical campus activities represented far more than that-it was in fact a sea change in her political outlook and even her personality. And just because she now wears pink pantsuits instead of ragged blue jeans, does not mean that the person inside has changed all that much.
It's true that most of the hippies did a pretty good job of going underground, starting in the late 1970s until now. In the '80s we heard about ultra-radical "Chicago Seven" yippie Jerry Rubin wearing three-piece suits as an investment banker on Wall Street. However, the untold story was that Rubin's political beliefs hadn't really changed much-he just became realistic or cynical enough to recognize that he was better off working within the system than trying to destroy it. For Bill and Hillary Clinton, occupying the governor's mansion in Arkansas during most of the '80s was a similar undertaking-a means to an end that they have done their best to control, right down to crossing every "T" and dotting every "I" in the script. In fact, Hillary's controlling obsession was probably what saved Bill's candidacy in 1992 as she determinedly put out all of the "bimbo eruptions" surrounding her husband. In her view, these were simply impediments to the goal, which far transcended the fact that Bill had betrayed their marriage vows, not just once but repeatedly.
The hippies may seemingly have gone underground; but look at the cultural change that has been wrought in their wake. Americans need to ask themselves, do we want someone who aided and abetted that cultural change, much of it to our detriment, to occupy the White House in 2009?