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Response to E-mail: Six Questions on History (or Is Hillary Clinton a Communist)

Hillary ClintonA friend sent me an e-mail and asked for my comments. So, like normal, I've decided to turn it into a blog entry. This one took the form of a 'quiz', listing six quotes, and asking you who you think stated them. At the end of the e-mail, it was revealed that they were all made by Hillary Clinton. These quotes are apparently supposed to make Clinton look like a socialist or a communist, but like so many right wing e-mails, it takes a little bit of creative presentation (i.e. quote mining) to achieve that goal. But even then, some of the quotes don't seem objectionable even in quote mined form.

First, for the easy fact checking, here's a link to the Snopes article, Hillary or Karl. That article lists of all those quotes in context, with Clinton's full meaning.

Since this is my blog, I'm required to add my own commentary, which I've interspersed with the quotes below. For anyone interested in reading the full e-mail, I've included that below the fold.


1) "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."

Although it's not what Clinton was getting at originally, I agree with that on its own. That's what government does. They take some of my money in taxes, and put it towards roads, bridges, the military, the FDA, NASA, etc., all for the common good. I can't have all the infrastructure and institutions that make America so great without chipping in my part. You can't get something for nothing.


2) "It's time for a new beginning, for an end to government of the few, by the few, and for the few...... And to replace it with shared responsibility, for shared prosperity."

That's what representative democracy is all about, echoing Lincoln's statement about "government of the people, by the people, for the people". I don't see how anybody who supported a democracy or a republic could see anything wrong with that statement.


3) "(We).....can't just let business as usual go on, and that means something has to be taken away from some people."

As an out of context quote, it's hard to say whether or not this is a good or bad statement. Business as usual in what sense? Take what away? When she said this, Clinton was talking about dependence on foreign oil and climate change, so it doesn't actually seem so bad in context.


4) "We have to build a political consensus and that requires people to give up a little bit of their own ... in order to create this common ground."

That's a very dishonest place to put an ellipsis - it only cut out one word. The full quote is "We have to build a political consensus. And that requires people giving up a little bit of their own turf, in order to create this common ground." That's simply how compromise works. You give a little on your position, and your opponent gives a little on theirs, and you reach a common ground. This is another one where I don't even see where anybody could find fault with this statement (unless they misunderstood it to be about giving up material possessions instead of compromising on political positions).


5) "I certainly think the free-market has failed."

Clinton was talking about one specific issue (providing positive guidance to youth), not the free-market in general. And I agree that in some instances, the free-market does fail to give us what we want for society. That's why have a mix of publicly funded institutions and private enterprise - each does what it's best at. One example I bring up is a lot is antibiotics (see the entry, Free Markets, Government Intervention in Health Care, or Why I'm Not a Libertarian). As bacteria evolve resistance to antibiotics, new antibiotics need to be developed to treat those resistant bacteria. Unfortunately, the return on investment for antibiotics is much lower than other drugs that pharmaceutical companies can develop (things like treatments for high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, impotence, etc.). So, with a limited pot of money to spend, they sink it into the drugs with the potential to earn them the most money. To quote an article I read a few years ago, "FDA approvals of new antibiotics declined 56 percent during the past 20 years (1998-2002 versus 1983-1987). Looking to the future, the researchers found only six new antibiotics in the R&D pipeline out of 506 drugs being developed." (source). The free market does a great job of making the pharmaceutical companies money, but it's not providing society with the antibiotics needed to treat drug resistant bacteria.


6) "I think it's time to send a clear message to what has become the most profitable sector in (the) entire economy that they are being watched."

Nothing outrageously wrong with this (although you may not agree with it). Clinton suspected the oil companies of manipulating markets in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and wanted the Federal Trade Commission to look into it. That's a legitimate role of government, making sure that the free market truly is free, and not being manipulated.

---

I'm not trying to defend Clinton. I'm not a particularly big fan of her myself. Had my friend not asked for my comments, I probably wouldn't have done more than just send him the Snopes link. But he did, so there you have it.

Image Source: Wikipedia


Here's the full text of the e-mail that prompted this entry (with the formatting cleaned up a bit, and the various colors and fonts dropped).

Subject: Six questions on history

OK EVERYONE CHECK OUT HOW SMART YOU ARE! NO CHEATING.
TAKE THE TEST AND THEN CHECK THE ANSWER!

Six Trivia Questions

Six trivia questions to see how much history you really know. Be honest, it's kinda fun and revealing. If you don't know the answer make your best guess.

Answer all of the questions (no cheating) before looking at the answers.

And no, the answers to these questions isn't always "Barack Obama"


Who said it?

1) "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."
A. Karl Marx
B. Adolph Hitler
C. Joseph Stalin
D. Barack Obama
E. None of the above

2) "It's time for a new beginning, for an end to government of the few, by the few, and for the few...... And to replace it with shared responsibility, for shared prosperity."
A. Lenin
B. Mussolini
C. Idi Amin
D. Barack Obama
E. None of the above

3) "(We).....can't just let business as usual go on, and that means something has to be taken away from some people."
A. Nikita Khrushev
B. Joseph Goebbels
C. Boris Yeltsin
D. Barack Obama
E. None of the above

4) "We have to build a political consensus and that requires people to give up a little bit of their own ... in order to create this common ground."
A. Mao Tse Dung
B. Hugo Chavez
C. Kim Jong II
D. Barack Obama
E. None of the above

5) "I certainly think the free-market has failed."
A. Karl Marx
B. Lenin
C. Molotov
D. Barack Obama
E. None of the above

6) "I think it's time to send a clear message to what has become the most profitable sector in (the) entire economy that they are being watched."
A. Pinochet
B. Milosevic
C. Saddam Hussein
D. Barack Obama
E. None of the above


Scroll down for answers

Answers
(1) E. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 6/29/2004
(2) E. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 5/29/2007
(3) E. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 6/4/2007
(4) E. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 6/4/2007
(5) E. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 6/4/2007
(6) E. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 9/2/2005

Want to know something scary? She may be the next president if you don't forward this to everyone that you know.

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