Monday, September 18, 2017

Clinton’s Lost Friends

Political friendships, as we all know, are not long-lived. They usually end when the political clock runs out and the favored politician, putting active politics behind him, enters into history. Hillary Clinton's time as an active politician – one who may run for public office again – is over; so at least she says. Her political friends, attentive while she was an active politician – a First Lady, a Senator from New York, a Secretary of State in the Obama administration -- will now recede into the background. Political friendships are temporary at best. Those politicians who prefer public adulation to the adulation of their wives and children, are trading permanent friendships for part-time working relationships; for that is what a successful marriage is – a permanent friendship, more reliable and steadfast than the affections of lobbyists or partisan political comrades.

There is a quip obliquely attributed to President Harry Truman: “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” Active politicians do not find it necessary to keep up friendships with politicians who have left the public stage. The political sandbox in Washington is forever changing. In DC, politicians come and go, speaking of Michelangelo. They write their memoirs, take up hobbies and, if they are presidents, busy themselves with their libraries and try their best not to be underfoot. As has-beens, they become politically invisible.

When one-term former Governor Lowell Weicker retired from politics, after having hung an income tax, like a hangman’s noose, around Connecticut’s neck, there were no knocks on his door, and his phone didn’t ring. Occasionally, a journalist would call to ask a pointed political question, usually about budgets, deficits, or politically active Republicans. On this last point, all Republicans fell short in Weicker’s estimation, pock-marked as they were by conservativism. In any case, the redundantly rich Weicker was out of the stream, loitering on a far bank, perhaps reading the poetry of Hilaire Belloc, whose advice to the rich was: “Get to know something about the internal combustion engine, and remember – soon, you will die,” a dollop of humility few active politicians are willing to swallow.

Die at some point we all will. But politicians die twice: once when they leave active politics behind them, and again when they shuck off their mortal coil.

The most certain indication that Hillary Clinton, permanently retired from active politics, has lost political luster is U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal’s sharp, cold-shoulder swipe.

Due to appear at two venues in Connecticut to peddle her newest book “What Happened”,  Blumenthal, a fast friend of the Clinton’s since their days together at Yale , commented, “The majority of Connecticut voters supported her,” including, it should be noted, Blumenthal, whose support at the time seemed warm and genuine. Would Blumenthal then  attend the book signing? The  response to this question had icicles hanging from its eves. According to an account in the Connecticut Post, "Blumenthal said he hasn’t read Clinton’s book and doesn’t have plans to attend either signing, however. ‘I’m not her agent,’ he said.” Here we glimpse the flower cast by an active politician on the soon to be buried casket of a dearly departed former friend.

Since Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election to current President Donald Trump, Blumenthal has pledged his troth to socialist Bernie Sanders of the People’s Republic of Vermont. Supporting universal health care – AKA socialized medicine – however devastating government supported health care might be to insurance jobs in Connecticut, once known as the insurance capital of the world, Blumenthal announced dramatically which side his progressive bread was buttered on, and he meant to brashly announce his solidarity with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. What better way to do it than by trumpeting socialized medicine?

Socializing healthcare in the United States would involve moving from the private market to a government run market about 20 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The Veterans Administration currently supplies wholly inadequate socialized medical care to war-shattered vets. The transference would devastate the private health insurance employment market in Connecticut, because insurance companies would no longer be able to compete on “a level playing field” – an expression often employed by Blumenthal in different contexts – with monopolistic, tax supported, socialized medicine. In essence, the former private health insurance market would become a boutique enterprise, much reduced, selling more expensive and more comprehensive plans to a limited market comprised of rich people such as Blumenthal. U. S. Senators wisely avail themselves of federal retirement plans and Thrift Saving Plans that together offer far superior benefits than their constituents enjoy in a private marketplace; and of course they much prefer private insurance to Obamacare, viewed by many as a baby-step on the way to a universal health care system. Rarely do Congressmen include themselves as beneficiaries of the redistribution schemes that pour off their drawing boards.

The last thing congressmen such as Blumenthal want is a level playing field that would put them in the same game as the constituents they intend to help. When the authors of the Federalist Papers assured their countrymen that legislators in a functioning republic would not likely pass laws that would adversely affect themselves, they were yet unaware of the socialistic strategies of the Machiavellian legislators of our day.


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