Wednesday, March 16, 2005

That Hillary Moment


Above: " ... Such are the mysteries of the dark side of the force."

They should get a room. Senator Hillary Clinton and Methuselan Fed Reserve Chief Alan Grenspan had yesterday at -- of all places -- the Senate Special Committee on the Aging that which can only be properly construed as "a moment."

And no, there was no phosphorescent Chablis being served, and, no, there was no sultry Barry White as background ambiance to their comingling of bodies (The Corsair *shudders*), but there was that old black magic in the provocative question the Senator from New York loosed.

Alan Greenspan is a survivor. His escalating power and the cherry blossoms are the perennial sights of DC. In the unfortunate event of nuclear winter -- knock on wood -- Keith Richards, the cockroaches, Martha Stewart and Alan Greenspan will no doubt be called upon to "be fruitful and multiply." Eeeew.

Greenspan's apparent endlessness in DC is, in part, due to the labyrinthine nature of his answers to Senate Committees which, evidently, can be viewed in any which way but accurately. Greenspan testimony has the disturbing effect of being interpreted by newspapers in every conceivable perspective; very Rashomon, that. Then again, this is an exemplary talent for one whose every utterance is parsed by John Q Wallstreet, and has reverberations throughout the global economy.

At the end of George W Bush's second term, the Clinton and Bush families will have traded the leadership of America between them roughly two decades. What is more remarkable about this political competition -- feud? -- is that these two decades encompass a period of American hegemony over the entire globe. At no point in history have Presidents had a greater scope of power. From George W Bush's stewardship over the decomposing Soviet Union, to Bill Clinton's humanitarian adventures in Somalia and Yugoslavia to Dubya's idealistic interventionism, these two families have presided over America at the zenith of it's power and influence. And Alan Greenspan has been there the entire time, like a vulture unto carrion. But an impossibly cautious scavenger at that.

Assuming Hillary Clinton runs for President in 2008 -- and it is appearing more and more likely with the passage of time -- her relation to Alan Greenspan will be instructive to observe. Greenspan's decision to back Dubya's tax cuts presents a "personal" issue for Hillary as it undercuts the most important legacy of her husband's administration, namely, the elimination of the deficit and fiscal responsibility of the surplus. Then again, it is reported that HW Bush was miffed at Greenspan's handling of interest rates, which, arguably, contributed to an economic downturn with led to his ouster from office by the Arkansan Governor.

According to the Arizona Record:

"Alan Greenspan and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton clashed briefly Tuesday over rosy surplus forecasts the Federal Reserve chairman relied on to support President Bush's 2001 tax cuts, estimates that turned out to be considerably off the mark. 'It turns out that we were all wrong,' Greenspan conceded at a Senate hearing. 'Just for the record, we were not all wrong, but many people were wrong,' Clinton, D-N.Y., quickly shot back."

Most curious. Then again, HW and Clinton appear so tight nowadays, touring Tsunami striken territory, maybe we are making a mountain out of a molehill. Finally, says the Old Gray Lady:

"Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, told Mr. Greenspan on Tuesday that his support for tax cuts had set the stage for the government to spend surpluses that were building up in the Social Security trust fund's 'lock box.'

"'Your testimony helped blow the lid off the lock boxes when it came to the size of the tax cut, the extent of the tax cut,' Mrs. Clinton said."

Unfortunately, the other Senators had questions to ask, so they cut it. It is a democracy after all. Still, we would have loved to see Hillary and Greenspan do the full dance. It might have been interesting. Then again, do we regard Senator Clinton's lock box as interesting?

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