THE SPINE MAY 20, 2007
I always wondered why Hillary Rodham Clinton never boasted about her
service on the Wal-Mart board. After all, she boasts--even exaggerates--about everything she's done and does. I have had this "story" in my head
for maybe fourteen years. I tried to get New Republic staffers to go after
it, anyway without the success.
Let me be frank. I think that the argument about Wal-Mart does not come
out one-sided, either in terms of the economy as a whole (not just in the
U.S.) or of local economies. Nonetheless, I feel deeply that, until some
national health program like the one Ezekiel Emanuel and Victor Fuchs
proposed earlier this year in TNR and about which I posted, all
businesses should bear some responsibility for the medical care of their
workers. This was once assumed almost as axiomatic but no longer.
I was interested in what Mrs. Clinton did for this matter as a director of
Wal-Mart, particularly since as soon as she entered the White House
universal health care became her mantra and her message. What had she
thought of Wal-Mart's indifference to its workers' medical coverage?
This morning when I picked up the Times, I immediately noticed a front-page
headline, "Clinton Moved Wal-Mart Board, But Only So Far." Here, I thought
was the story for which I'd been looking for over nearly a decade and a
half. Michael Barbaro's article told me a lot (and a lot that I'd
suspected: Hillary was a "play" director, nothing more). This will cause
her grief. Some of the "idealists" in her camp may realize that, when she
was in a position to do something in what was even then one of the largest
corporations in America, she played footsie with her bosses, which is
exactly what they were. What an empty vessel.
In any case, she did nothing then for medical care. Of course, she'll have
an elaborate scheme for the campaign. But, as usual with her, it will be
too simple and too intricate at once, covering her inspirational ambitions
and trying to make her appear as a wonk, too.