The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman sort of interviewed Hillary Clinton –he certainly did not pose difficult questions or press for news-making responses. The exchange —transcript here— barely generated a ripple.
“News” was generated by Bush and Rubio, not by Jindal and Clinton. The reasons for the various reactions to the various interviews/speeches/conversations are in themselves interesting reflections of how the elite media views the run-up to 2016.
GOP would-be candidates only generate sparks when they are both (1) thought to be serious contenders and (2) say something to do with a rival or the horserace aspects of the contest. Thus the Rubio interview drew a lot of coverage because it was understood by some to contain a knock on Senator Rand Paul and commentary on Spanish language media.
Jindal’s chat with me generated no coverage despite some very interesting ground covered –Pope Francis, the rise in people decline to have their children receive vaccine immunization– largely because (in my opinion) MSM doesn’t think he has a chance of winning and MSM is not interested in substantive critiques of Obamacare.
Jeb Bush will be the instant front-runner if he declares, so everything he says gets put under the microscope, and he gets tough questions –for example, about Common Core– when he appears on interview shows. The line-by-line scrutiny of Sunday’s speech was thus to be expected.
Hillary, in contrast to MSM interest in the sayings of Bush and Rubio, gets the Jindal treatment. No one pays much attention to the specifics.
I’ll be talking about the “why” of that on Monday’s show, but first an example of it.
Here is one exchange from her conversation with Friedman:
CLINTON: Tom, if I could just add. you know, for many of us, and I, before the lights went in my eyes, I could actually see people I knew out there, but for many of us, the argument for women’s equality, for women’s rights, was first and foremost a moral argument, right? And it was a political argument, but I think where it is now, as an economic argument, is, in many respects, the maturing of the case that women’s rights are human rights, but also a very important way of enlisting greater support. you know, you are well known for your writing about, you know, the world is flat. Well, it can’t really be flat if you have half the population, either discouraged from or discriminated against when it comes to economic activity, because you will not be as productive as you would otherwise.
FRIEDMAN: I think you’ve talked about it: It’s not only smart, it’s strategic.
CLINTON: It is. It’s very strategic, and where women are more equal, you have less instability, fewer conflicts, greater democracy and accountable government. you know, these go hand in hand. So part of what…
CLINTON: …Part of what Christine has done, and I will toot her horn, the IMF has only recently begun looking at these statistics, because the IMF has these three principle missions. Governments listen to the IMF. So when they make the case that increasing women’s access to and full participation in the economy will raise your Gross Domestic Product, and that’s true even in the United States.
CLINTON: It’s not just true somewhere else. I mean, the percentages are not as great here, but even in the United States, what we’re learning, and you know, Cheryl Sandberg(?) with Lean In(?), a report out of Google in the last 48 hours, the way women are treated is often now much subtler, but no less damaging, not only for the individual woman, but for the economy as a whole. And that’s a profound message that I hope more and more people and institutions will help us make.
FRIEDMAN: Just go a little from the public to the more personal. Is there still a double standard in the media about how we talk about women in public life?
Then it is off to the personal, but look in vain for one word about Afghanistan, where if the U.S. completes its scamper and the Taliban triumph in return, the “human rights of women” in that country will return to among the worst in the world. As Friedman conducted this conversation, Afghanistan was on the cusp of a hugely important vote in which millions of women participated, exercising a basic right that will be denied them if the arbitrary deadline imposed by President Obama during Hillary’s tenure as Secretary of State results in a collapse of the U.S.-and-NATRO supported regime and a return of a violent-towards-and-often-deadly-for-women regime.
A few minutes later Friedman asked as gently as possible for Hillary’s self-assessment of her tenure at State. Before blowing him off with a “read my book” wave of the hand, Hillary said this:
Look, I really see my role as Secretary, and in fact, leadership in general in a democracy, as a relay race. I mean, you run the best race you can run, you hand off the baton. Some of what hasn’t been finished may go on to be finished, so when President Obama asked me to be Secretary of State and I agreed, we had the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, we had two wars, we had continuing threats from all kinds of corners around the world that we had to deal with, so it was a perilous time, frankly. And what he said to me was, Look, I have to be dealing with the economic crisis, I want you to go out and, you know, represent us around the world. And it was a good division of labor because we needed to make it clear to the rest of the world that we were going to get our house in order. We were going to stimulate and grow and get back to positive growth and work with our friends and partners. So I think we did that. I’m very proud of the stabilization and the, you know, really solid leadership that the administration provided, that I think now leaves us to be able to deal with problems like Ukraine, because we’re not so worried about a massive collapse in Europe, and China trying to figure out what to do with all their bond holdings and all of the problems we were obsessed with. I think we really restored American leadership in the best sense. That, you know, once again, people began to rely on us, to look at us as you know, setting the values, setting the standards. I just don’t want to lose that, because we have a you know, dysfunctional political situation in Washington. And then of course a lot of particulars, but I am finishing my book so you’ll be able to read all about it. Haha.
FRIEDMAN: I think you also laid the predicate for the Iran negotiations. Without those sanctions… it’s something people don’t see. But I think it was very very important.
CLINTON: Well, you know, I write, obviously, a whole chapter about this, because this is the kind of slow boring of hard boards that Max Weber(?) talks about with politics, but which also applies to diplomacy. It is painstaking, microscopic advantages. And putting together the international coalition to impose tough sanctions on Iran is what eventually changed the calculus inside the Iranian government, and brought them to the negotiating table. Now where it goes from here, we have to wait and see. But it took an enormous amount of effort on the part of a lot of us to put that into motion, so yes, it’s part of the work that we did.
Iraq approaches elections at month’s end, and the women of that country could see enormous hardship if the regime shatters and civil war returns, a result much more likely because Hillary’s State Department could not negotiate an extension or amendment to the 2008 Status of Forces Agreement which led to the sudden withdrawal of all American forces from that country in 2011 and a surge in instability since. (“SOFAs” are not the exclusive province of State, but along with DOD, State has the lead role and the failure of 2011 was at least in part Hillary’s.) The women of Syria, Libya and Lebanon are also living with the consequences of Hillary’s statecraft.
Hillary should be getting hardball questions about the world she helped create and her answers should be generating lots of news. She isn’t and they aren’t. That’s because MSM is blocking for her even as it blocked for President Obama in 2008 and 2012. That’s just the way it is, and conservatives have grown used to it.
But this election is unlike any other Hillary has ever contemplated because no matter how little she may be pressed on her record at State by Thomas Friedman, every day is another day where serious journalists might get close enough to begin –just begin– the long and close inspection of her record, juxtaposed at every step with the reality of the world, not the fantasy sports league world of elite media wishing only to believe that global climate change is what makes the world safer for women, and that the people of Crimea, like those of Syria and many other places, don’t matter much to American voters. “What difference at this point does it make?” many of her fans in MSM will ask (in very different way of course.) All the difference in the world the real journalists will answer.