Thursday, September 11, 2008

NOW She Discovers Positive Chutzpah!

According to my records, Hillary Clinton has received only one Chutzpah of the Week award; and she shared that one with Joe Biden of Delaware, Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Barack Obama of Illinois for letting campaigning take priority over doing the people's business when the appointment of Judge Michael Mukasey as Attorney General was up for vote in the Senate last November. Well, it may be that, after several effective demonstrations from Dennis Kucinich that there can be a positive side to chutzpah, Clinton may have learned the lesson; and she could not have picked a better setting to do so. As I have persisted in suggesting for some time, last month's events in Georgia may have less to do with standing up to Russian aggression and more to do with looking for an excuse to heat up the Cold War. After all, what other explanation could there have been for the neoconservatives to dispatch their "ultimate weapon of mass destruction" (known to his friends, if he has any, as Dick Cheney) to Georgia during the Republican Convention? This is the sort of situation that triggers all of the oversight instincts of a Representative like Kucinich, but it is also a situation in which Senate oversight tends to carry more weight than activities in the House. To my pleasant surprise Clinton seems to have been the Senator to pick up this particular gauntlet, at least according to a report from Washington by Daniel Dombey for the Financial Times:

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic former presidential candidate, said it was not "smart" to isolate Russia over the conflict and cast doubt on the administration's decision this week to withdraw a nuclear co-operation agreement with Moscow from Congress.

In a move that could embarrass both Washington and Tbilisi, she asked for a commission to look into the origins of the conflict echoing a similar call from Germany.

The issue is particularly sensitive because of the insistence by Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgian president, that his forces went into South Ossetia only in response to the movement of Russian troops into the area.

Russia argues that Georgia provoked the conflict.

To even hint that the Russians may have had a point in their actions last month at a time when the most rabid of the Cold Warriors are trying to reclaim the hearts and minds of the American electorate before Election Day (what better way to distract voters from the pathological condition of the economy?) is chutzpah indeed. Doing it in a Senate committee meeting makes it chutzpah with a sharp edge, which is probably the only way to get our Legislative Branch to stop rattling sabers (one more time) and take a more dispassionate approach to analyzing just what happened a month ago. Meanwhile, Dombey also reported that Representative Ed Royce (who happens to be a Californian Republican) is doing similar heavy lifting, perhaps to let Kucinich know that other Representatives can take this kind of oversight seriously. Nevertheless, Clinton has the bully pulpit for this one (on the "Eve of 9/11" of all times); so she really deserves the Chutzpah of the Week award to herself.

Back when Clinton was fighting tooth and nail for the nomination, I remember at least one of the pundits commenting that she could probably serve her country better in the Senate than in the White House. Perhaps it takes Clinton to expose this particular neoconservative sideshow (remember the book by William Shawcross about our destructive adventures in Cambodia?) for what it is. If so, then she may yet be instrumental in the Democratic Party recovering the White House and stronger control of the Congress as well. If she does this through chutzpah, I shall be only too happy to grant her further awards!

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