Photo by Associated Press, July 6 2016

A short wish list for President Clinton's first 100 days

As I am writing this, I am making a rather safe bet that Hillary Rodham Clinton will be elected president this November. This isn’t eleventh-hour partisan politics; I’m just being realistic here.

Having made that presumption, let’s not ponder on what Her HRC would do during the first 100 days of her presidency, a made-by-and-for-the-press threshold of a new administration’s savvy and resolve. Let's be so bold, as to wish for what she OUGHT to do.

Never mind, for now, the platforms she posted on her campaign website, a predictable liberal agenda of progressive tax reforms, renewable-energy initiatives, affordable higher education and whatnot that appeal mostly to her base, much of which is inherited from her drawn-out contest with Bernie Sanders, her primaries opponent, who stands to her left on almost every issue other than gun control. Fulfilling those broad campaign promises will be a plethora of challenges, to say the least, especially if the Republican majority in both chambers of Congress somehow survive Donald Trump’s inept, rancorous and tawdry run for the White House. After all, if they weren’t so cooperative with Barack Obama, why would they be so with Clinton II once they regain their mandate?

Stand up to foreign strongmen. It’s a time-honored practice for America’s real and potential adversaries to exploit our quadrennial election cycle, by countering the outgoing administration’s foreign policies with impunity. They have been doing that much sooner this time, ever since they had called Obama’s bluff of “crossing the red line” over the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons.

It’s not just Russia, still sore after being sanctioned for annexing Crimea and fomenting the insurrection in eastern Ukraine, to hack into the U.S. presidential campaign, renege on a sensitive uranium trade deal, and bomb the hell out of Aleppo. It’s not just North Korea, rushing to develop its ICBMs that can match its bellicose rhetoric of waging nuclear war against the United States. Even on the basest level, you have a lout like Philippine’s Duterte, who quickly developed a habit of hurling obscenities at Obama for criticizing his policy of extra-judicial killings of suspected drug dealers.

Ironically, this plea to “make America strong again” was a theme of Trump’s doomed campaign, long debunked by the Republican nominee’s oft-professed admiration for the likes of Saddam Hussein, Kim, Assad and especially Putin. The task of re-asserting the interests and the dignity of the United States, and the free world at large, now falls upon the desk of a former Senator and Secretary of State – who, for good or for ill, earned her hawkish reputation by first voting for the invasion of Iraq, and then advocating for military action in Libya. Whatever the merit of those decisions, it is such will to action that is now badly needed to remedy Obama’s timidity.

Address racial tension head on, via criminal justice reform. The Black Lives Matter movement was not a mere reaction to the police killings of young black men. It was, in some part, the legacy of the law enacted by the earlier President Clinton, which incarcerated a disproportionate number of African Americans, and effectively eliminated their chances of upward social mobility. With the prevalence of social media, and cameras worn by police officers and built in the phones of any bystander, the public is becoming ever more aware of the persistent use of deadly force used by, and against, those who are there to serve and protect – and in almost every case, race is an issue.

Reform of the criminal justice system is an agendum that the first black president of the United States cannot complete in his two terms of office, even as he granted clemency to hundreds of individual prisoners. Can the wife of the so-called “first black president” resume Obama’s unfinished work? We will have to see.

-- CW, 11 October 2016


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