Clinton & Tobacco

Greg Nowell GN842 at CNSVAX.Albany.Edu
Tue Dec 15 09:33:23 PST 1998

I do think that there is a component of the impeachment which is pure affect, the hatred of Clinton because it is such a joy to hate, but I also think there is a rational component. I agree with one of the other people who posted on this list. Clinton realized that his winning electoral strategy needed California, New York and the eco-topians; that he couldn't hold the South. Once he made that decision, it was easy to jettison tobacco and even attack it to pick up more votes elsewhere.

In so doing, he attacked billion dollar corporations and billion dollar industry which also happens to be a core supporter of the Republican party, and in particular, the Southern republicans who have taken over the Southern conservative democrat constituency of the "old solid south." What we have left is a South which forks on to the national plate heaps of fundamentalism and tobacco money. Never mind that Hyde is from Illinois. Tobacco is a big lobby everywhere. Pulls strings in California and New York. So Clinton was taking aim at one of the core constituencies of the Republican party, the one that delivered the cash.

Therefore, I think that the ideological rubbish and so-called irrationality of the Republican move is rational from another dimension. They need money in order to win votes, they can't win votes without money. The annihilate Clinton strategy is designed to protect the big money (and ingratiate themselves thereto). It is rational to assume that they can't win without money, and if you have to put your bets on whether you are better off two years from now with lots of money and an electorate which may or may not be alienated (while the core electorate remains intact) versus not having money or seeing their chief economic supporter, tobacco, take more hits, then it is clearly rational to tie down the King and prevent him from doing any additional harm. Because in the tobacco wars it is not just short-term issues at stake: the anti-tobacco faction wants to implement strong measures to stop teenage addiction (such as the effective, Republican-killed California campaign).

What we are seeing therefore is at the surface all blowjobs and perjury. The deeper issue is this: this is the American version of the opium wars, and in that sense we are lucky that the purveyors of a major addictive substance which is rooted in the political economy of a dozen major states are putting up so *mild* a fight.

-- Gregory P. Nowell Associate Professor Department of Political Science, Milne 100 State University of New York 135 Western Ave. Albany, New York 12222

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