Hillary Clinton: regulate Wall Street and the terrorists win

Last night Hillary Clinton went “full Giuliani” when she
 compared criticism of her Wall Street ties to letting the terrorists win. For a candidate who is superb debate performer, the creepiest thing about last night is that this message wasn’t deployed as the result of a fumble. She said exactly what she meant to say.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 3.35.15 PMIt all began when Clinton was asked about how her ties to Wall Street would influence her and she basically said, ‘not one bit,” to which Sanders responded  “let’s not be naive about it.” Sanders continued, “Why, over her political career has Wall Street been a major — the major campaign contributor to Hillary Clinton? You know, maybe they’re dumb and they don’t know what they’re going to get, but I don’t think so.”

Sanders was pointing out what every voter in America knows. Big donors, giving millions to her super PACs, are keenly aware of what that money buys. If billionaires, hedge fund managers and Wall Street bankers gave money away just because it felt good, we’d have fully-funded public infrastructure, schools and arts. We might even have cured cancer, and colonized Saturn by now.

All that money Wall Street throws at Hillary Clinton has a purpose behind it. Some is intended to “modernize Social Security.” Some is intended to “keep regulation in check.” You can bet that there’s a pile specially designated to maintain the “carried interest deduction.” Lobbyists know exactly what their dollars buy. Checks are written. Meetings are attended. Laws are passed.

Before playing the 9/11 card, Clinton briefly tried to play the sexism card. Here is where Sanders differentiates himself from Clinton on Wall Street and campaign finance: “Once again, I am running a campaign differently than any other candidate. We are relying on small campaign donors, 750,000 of them, 30 bucks a piece. That’s who I’m indebted to.”

Clinton initially responds to criticism of her Wall Street campaign contributions as being sexist, saying, “Wait a minute, he has basically used his answer to impugn my integrity. Let’s be frank here…You know, not only do I have hundreds of thousands of donors, most of them small. And I’m very proud that for the first time a majority of my donors are women, 60 percent.”

After that she quickly pivoted to 9/11. Why the sudden turn away from her usual charges of sexism? I’m glad she’s (maybe) giving that a rest for while. When Hillary Clinton accuses Bernie Sanders of sexism for using the phrase “we need to stop shouting at each other about guns,” there’s no escaping the fact that this cheapens the experience of every woman who actually has been silenced because of “tone complaints.” No one wants their struggle exploited for a candidate’s political gain.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like her pivot was because she saw the light on being a better feminist. She pivoted, I believe, because the campaign has more powerful talking point: In the wake of the Paris attacks, the new talking point is intended is to cloak Wall Street in our fear of terrorism. 

Here’s the moment of the full reveal of the new talking point in the debate:

Clinton: “I represented New York on 9/11. I spent a whole lot of time helping them rebuild. That was good for New York. It was good for the economy, and it was a way to rebuke the terrorists who had attacked our country.”It’s fine to say what you’re going to say (to Sanders) — I look at reinstating Glass-Steagall,” and “I looked very carefully at your proposal; re-instating Glass-Steagall [provisions of the Banking Act of 1933, abolished by Bill Clinton] is a part of what very well could help, but it is nowhere near enough. My proposal is tougher, more effective, and more comprehensive because I go after all of Wall Street, not just the big banks.”

Regulate Wall Street and the terrorists win. It’s classic Clintonian triangulation. With a little luck, this message could ‘take Wall Street off the table’ for the rest of the campaign.

It’s such nonsense I can hardly believe it wasn’t Rudy Giuliani or Donald Rumsfeld spouting this stuff. Must we even remind folks that Wall Street collapsed in 2008 because of their own fraud? Their downfall had nothing to do with terrorism, back on 9/11, or today in the wake of the Paris attacks. This is the kind of rebuttal I imagine needing to deploy against George W. Bush.

If there was any question about her intention to make the connection between Wall Street and rising jingoistic antipathies, an incredulous Twitter question was chosen by CBS to give Clinton a second bite at the apple. Instead of backing-off her outlandish, mis-portrayal of the 9/11 attacks, Clinton doubled-down repeating her original statement almost word-for-word.

CORDES: And Secretary Clinton, one of the tweets we saw said this, “I’ve never seen a candidate invoke 9/11 to justify millions of Wall Street donations until now.” The idea being, yes, you were a champion of the community after 9/11, but what does that have to do with taking big donations?

CLINTON: Well, I’m sorry that whoever tweeted that had that impression because I worked closely with New Yorkers after 9/11 for my entire first term to rebuild. So, yes, I did know people. I’ve had a lot of folks give me donations from all kinds of backgrounds say, I don’t agree with you on everything, but I like what you do. I like how you stand up. I’m going to support you, and I think that is absolutely appropriate.

It couldn’t be clearer that she prepared this statement to push back on her coziness to Wall Street interests, specifically with the Paris attacks in mind. Of all the moments to exploit 9/11, she did so while they are still wiping the blood off the streets in Paris. Why would anyone think it’s okay to stoke these fears, to these ends, at this time?

I’ve gone back and forth on my support for a new Clinton Presidency. There was a reason I went for Obama in 2008, and it was largely because of Hillary’s ugly campaign behavior. In this cycle I have my favorite candidate, but I would like to say we’ve got a good team no matter who wins.

After last night, I’m afraid I can no longer make that claim. There’s no excuse for exploiting terrorism for political gain, especially not in service of protecting the Wall Street bankers who blew up the world’s economy. Real people died in the attacks on 9/11 and in the Paris attacks. Some are still fighting for their lives with bullets in their bodies. Now is not the time to use our mourning and disgust as a means to advance a political agenda that protects Wall Street fraudsters. All the while, you’re trying to tell us that their money doesn’t buy them anything. This is what it buys them: your utter submission.

There’s “winning ugly,” and then there’s becoming so ugly that you deserve to lose. This might be one of those times.





Brook Hines is a writer, photographer, activist and former alt-weekly publisher, as well as an award-winning advertising creative with more than 20 years’ experience crafting strategy for clients ranging from healthcare companies to museums. She’s the Senior Political Correspondent for Progressive News Network (tune this Sunday at 7:30 pm or download the podcast anytime), and the Communications Chair for the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida. All opinions offered here are her own, delivered from the perspective of social theory, cultural criticism, and near constant stream of caffeine. Political and media analysis through a Progressive lens. Read all of Brook’s articles here. Check out brookhines.com
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These are her Italian Greyhounds, Trouble and Daphne.

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  1. Naoya6161 · ·

    “Deserve to lose”? Bad stance to take with the current GOP field.


    1. So it is okay to simply run on fear “hey vote for us because the other side is downright scary.”

      I am sorry, I survived a stolen election in 2000, a Bush victory in 2004 and two terms of Jeb Bush in this state. The world is not going to come to an end if we insist on our party adhering to the values we claim we hold. Also I refuse to continue this party establishment mantra of blaming progressives if running to the middle leads to another loss because when you have a real Republican and a fake one in the eyes of voters who cast ballots based on economic issues, why would they vote for the fake one?


      1. Naoya6161 · ·

        Hmm…why don’t we do a recap of what happened under Bush, shall we? Worst terrorist attack in American history. We got involved in a completely pointless war. The economy is in the worst state its been for decades. The judges Bush appointed to the Supreme Court were responsible for Citizens United, creating the current political atmosphere.
        OK sure, maybe you didn’t suffer any losses from what happened there, but I can think of quite a few people who are suffering now as a result of the apathy of 2000.
        And the two current GOP frontrunners are people who have absolutely no political experience and have shown that they have no clue how to run a country.
        Sorry Kartik. Elections have consequences. If you think that there won’t be any horrible consequences to allowing Trump or Carson becoming president, you’re more than welcome to believe that. But somehow, if that reality comes true, I have a feeling you will regret it.


      2. Election do have consequences which is why the losing streak of Democrats due to the nominating of candidate that cannot appeal to a broader spectrum of the electorate (19 of the last 20 statewide Florida races without Nelson as the candidate) has gotten us here. I reiterate that the foreign policy disasters of the Bush years were supported by many Democrats and the Obama Administration has made similar mistakes. If the Democrats are not willing to stand tall on these issues but instead have to take a mushy position for fear of being labeled soft on terrorism or socialist, then the fight sometimes is not worth it.

        But Democrats in many cases are more interested in winning internal battles than external ones and use fear of losing the external ones (which they always find a way to lose) to justify the way they battle internally. It’s clever, must say that much!


      3. Naoya6161 · ·

        1) It’s been twelve years now, Kartik. Quite a few of the Democrats who did vote for these policies are no longer in office. Kind of pointless to compare when the politicians who supported them are gone. And the public’s stance on those policies aren’t the same as they were back then.
        2) See, many times it seems to me like the insurgents have no idea as to how to win the external battles in the event that they win. Internal fighting can hurt the party suffering from it in the general election if it’s handled wrongly – the current governor race in Louisiana is a perfect example of this in action.
        3) Tell me, what has your internal fighting done for the state of Florida so far? It had a hand in letting Rick Scott get a second term. It’s putting the chances of winning the Senate back in jeopardy. And it’s increasing the odds Trump/Carson become president.

        You were right in that the FDP establishment is weak and has made many mistakes in the past. However, the people who oppose them in their own party suffer from many of the same problems that they do.


  2. Fisher Flemming · ·

    I thought Hillary was doing very well last night. Better, maybe than Sanders. She was sharp, and sounded reasonable and knowledgeable throughout. It was a good, thoughtful, smart-people’s debate that made me proud of our party.

    Until that moment. She clearly overreacted horribly to an understandably sensitive issue for her campaign, and deployed an obviously canned, completely unsupportable, emotionally manipulative rationale that made her look defensive and weak.

    It sounded like a Republican talking point.

    As for donors and “quid pro quo,” the Citizens’ United logic that massive donations, whether through individuals or PACs are free of any expectation of self interest unless a favor is literally handed over in exchange for a sack of money, is ludicrous. None of those financial firms or individuals within them are forking over money out of — what? Gratitude for something something 9/11?

    They expect to profit from her leadership, period.

    And this does go to Democrats’ real, substantive issues with Clinton. She lacks credibility as someone who would work to reign in the disastrous game-playing by banks and financial institutions that broke the world, and absolutely will do so again if they are not stopped from doing it.

    Invoking this Giuliani-esque 9/11 rhetoric sounds disingenuous, and reinforces in my mind that she really has no good answer as to why she is the overwhelming favorite among the billionaire investor class among Democratic candidates.

    Anyone who wants to see her do well would be far better served dismissing this as a poorly thought-out glitch, rather than trying to defend or rationalize it, which is frankly impossible.

    Great piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Latha Krishnaiyer · ·

    Spot on analysis. Keep it coming.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. buckthundaz · ·

    Great write-up. Took me until my 4th google search and page 3 to find a piece written about this moment.

    Appreciate the work, I have shared your article with my circle. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s interesting. I starting writing this last night, and woke up this morning checking my Twitter feed to see anyone had picked up the idea. Lot’s of people I follow had made mention of the 9/11 messaging. I printed out the transcript to read the words on paper and make sure things were as they seemed to appear in my notes.

      I actually didn’t write the column with the end in mind — I rarely do. Over the course of writing and editing, it became clear that Clinton’s messaging strategy is one we wouldn’t tolerate from the other side, if it the shoe were on the other foot. She’s cleverly trying to paint anti-Wall Street sentiment as un-patriotic.


      1. buckthundaz · ·

        It may well be that I’m a bad Googler and haven’t honed the people I’ve followed on Twitter too well.

        I did see Mother Jones had a blurb on the moment, but they were restrained in their opinions towards the moment.

        Again, great insight from you!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. True leadership is one of authenticity, quality, and ability. Bernie Sanders exhibits true leadership. Senator Sanders is kind, honest, humble,energetic, intelligent, experienced, and passionate about helping all children succeed in this country, thus building a stronger generation for future generations.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on Wobbly Warrior's Blog and commented:
    No, Secretary Clinton. Regulate Wall Street and 99% of us win.


  7. Brook, keep up the great work. You should be writing for the N.Y. Times.


  8. Phillip Wynn · ·

    Not having cable, I looked forward to Sat nite’s debate, leaning Bernie, but trying to keep an open mind, esp. given that Universal Conventional Wisdom has it that HRC has the nomination about sewed up. So when I heard & saw her go full Giuliani, complete with faux outrage, my jaw dropped. Brook Hines is the first I’ve seen to state what I realized pretty quickly; that this was a canned, pre-prepared response, if inartfully delivered, to getting pressed about her ties to Wall Street. With that remark & what it represents, along with her dissing of the $15 minimum wage and her tepid remarks re health care reform, she lost me. I wonder how many others she’ll lose who watched the debate. If she’s the nominee, there’s a very good chance she’ll lose. I think I’ll do what I can to deny her the coronation she obviously thinks is hers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I found it remarkable that she chose to distance herself from the Fight for $15 during the week of the high-profile actions. Wonder how SEIU feels about being dissed like that.


  9. By having the debate on a Sat. night during the Iowa football game and limiting debates to 6, DWS is guilty of primary election voter suppression. She is becoming more Republican every Day.I used to be a big supporter but not anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. […] the Democratic debate on Saturday and Secretary Hillary Clinton’s statements about regulating Wall Street after 9/11 and bank deregulation. We will also discuss Senate and Congressional Redistricting as well as the Florida Democratic […]


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