By Matthew Rothschild on February 16, 2010

Has it ever crossed your mind that maybe Hillary Clinton might have made a better President than Barack Obama?

It’s sure crossed my mind a lot lately, as we’ve seen Obama flounder so badly on health care, on the bank bailout, on foreclosures, and on the jobs front.

Now I’ve got no brief for Hillary Clinton. She’s a centrist Democrat on domestic policy, and a very hawkish one on foreign policy. I wasn’t a big fan of hers during the primaries. I never cared for her politics. I was sick of the Clinton dramarama. And Obama at least held out the remote possibility of something better.

But I always admired her toughness, something that Obama has in such short supply.

And she would have had none of the foolishness about bipartisanship that Obama has had, foolishness that looks more and more like crippling naivete.

Remember back in the campaign, when she mocked Obama’s invocation of bipartisanship by saying: "The sky will open. The lights will come down. Celestial choirs will be singing and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect!"

She was criticized for being harsh, or as the sexists put it, “shrill.”

But she was right, especially when she added: “Maybe I’ve just lived a little long, but I have no illusions at how hard this is going to be. You are not going to wave a magic wand and have the special interests disappear.”

She also made the case that she could take a punch and keep on fighting, and she called into question Obama’s willingness to play hardball.

Today, her critique rings clearer than ever.

She knew the Republicans wouldn’t let any Democratic President “turn the page” on partisanship, and she was prepared to slug it out.

But not Obama. He still isn’t.

Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine. To subscribe for just $14.97 a year, just click here.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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