Hillary Clinton had a lengthy conversation with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show last Wednesday. Clinton promoted her latest book, Hard Choices, which she wrote to “pull the curtain back so people could get an idea on what we were doing in the world.”
Stewart brought up Clinton’s never-ending tale of whether she will run for president in two years. On July 18th, Gallup found 84 percent of Democrats favored her as a presidential candidate. However, Clinton avoided the discussion with a joke on making her announcement on another show. In fact, when Stewart told Clinton an announcement could end the media circus on if she will run, Clinton responded by saying it would pose a problem for those writing and talking about it.
“I think a lot of people would lose their jobs if it all stopped,” she joked.
Throughout the interview, Clinton made some notable comments on the state of domestic and international politics.
One issue she focused on was the decline of economic opportunities young people today face compared with previous generations. She stated more should be done to help disillusioned youths as her generation received benefits from a more committed government.
“I think that people do not feel [government will help them] and I feel that we have to change our political and economic system,” she said.
Stewart referred to this as structural problems, which Clinton agreed with as she nodded. She blamed it on two problems: an ineffective Congress and an executive branch struggling to adjust to contemporary times.
“What I saw going to 112 countries is how important it is we function in the United States because people look up to us. Our system has been the beacon [for other countries] for so many years,” Clinton said.
Clinton spoke on the “ancient history” of the U.S. “liberating” Europe from the Nazis during World War II. The values of this effort was something the current generation of youths would not understand, which affected their view on what the U.S. represents. The “great story” the U.S. had was not being told well. She agreed there were negatives in the history of the United States, but felt proud of the country’s rich history.
Salon journalist Daniel D’Addario highlighted an interesting comment Clinton made during her interview with Stewart:
The most revealing remark Clinton made in the interview, which she quickly qualified, was that ‘we did a much better job telling the world who we were during the Cold War.’ It was both startling for its candid nostalgia — do we really want to go back there? — and apt.
Clinton elaborated on this comment on the impact American culture had worldwide, which assisted in the message of the United States. She contrasted this to present-day issues where she offered the situation in Ukraine as an example and told Stewart Russian media was “much more effective” in its narrative. She did note it was a narrative that was misleading, yet effective nonetheless.
Her reference of the Cold War as a simpler time where U.S. hegemony was respected seems over-simplistic. It was difficult to believe her since her comments on the situation in Gaza were typical talking points from any other politician in Washington: it’s Hamas’s fault, Israel is justified, there are deaths in Gaza, etc. She spoke for around 10 minutes on Israel-Palestine, but it was nothing different from comments from mainstream news outlets.
Russian writer and a dissenter of the former Soviet Union, Roy Medvedev, perhaps highlights what the current American political system represents in his book, On Socialist Democracy:
If in capitalist countries the bourgeoisie generates and supports not one but as a rule two or more political parties, this is by no means simply to pull wool over the eyes of the ‘workers and peasants.’ The existence of two major parties in the United States reflects the fact that there are different political trends and opinions within the ruling circles of the country. Moreover, conflict between those two parties helps to promote the most capable politicians and administrators, highly proficient in their defense of the interests of capitalist society.
Clinton’s appearance on The Daily Show obviously showed her interests in running in the 2016 presidential elections and her comments accomplished the job of showing her as a legitimate source on domestic and foreign policy. Whoever runs as the candidates for the Democrats and the Republicans will not make massive changes to the political system.
What Clinton represents can best be found in journalist Jeremy Scahill’s book, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield. In fact, what he wrote last year is still relevant and will definitely be relevant two years from now.
Scahill writes, on President Barack Obama’s “foreign policy team,” that it was filled with “hawkish Democrats” such as Joseph Biden, Susan Rice, Richard Holbrooke, and Hillary Clinton. In addition, President Obama added former Bush officials to bolster his foreign policy vision.
“All of these figures had a track record of support for military interventions, neoliberal economic policies and worldview consistent with the foreign policy arc that stretched from George H.W. Bush’s time in office to the present,” he wrote.
The reaction from the right-wing at the time was one of praise and Max Boot, a “neoconservative leader and former McCain campaign staffer,” felt surprised by the decision.
“I am gobsmacked by these appointments, most of which could just as easily come from a President McCain.” Boot added that Hillary Clinton would be a “powerful” voice for “for ‘neoliberalism’ which is not so different in many respects from ‘neoconservativism.’”
Her appearance on The Daily Show was interesting, but it indicated she would not present anything unique to the public debate. Until 2016 happens, the media game of whether or not she will run continues as current issues are not critically analyzed.