Hastert and ... tobacco

Chris Burford cburford at gn.apc.org
Sun Dec 20 14:21:02 PST 1998

Info first -

According to Common Cause, Smoke and Mirrors, page,

in the ten years to 31 Dec 1995 Hastert received in PAC declared contributions from tobacco companies


enough to make him the 22nd highest H of Representatives recipient of tobacco money and to make him want to smile encouragingly each time they have something to discuss with him.

Now the wider question

At 01:32 PM 12/20/98 -0500, Doug wrote:
>Tom Lehman wrote:
>>Are the Republican's jealous that Clinton has carried forward the corporate
>>agenda with more skill than they could?
>Yes. I think the best explanation of their anti-Clinton mania is that he
>co-opted their issues, leaving them little of substance to talk about
>except their hatred of Clinton for his alleged embodiment of the "sixties."
>As Maureen Dowd wrote in today's New York Times: "Tom DeLay, the
>jagged-edge exterminator who may next-up in the Speaker roundelay, was
>choked up, praising the greatness of Mr. Livingston for understanding that
>this was 'a debate about relativism versus absolute truth.'" I think all
>these hyper-vulgar Marxist attempts to see tobacco capital at the root of
>the impeachment melodrama is embarrassingly wrong. These cretins are
>serious, and about 20-30% of the U.S. electorate stands behind them

Clearly Doug and I are coming from very different angles on this question and are unlikely to convince each other. But I do not think all the points are counterposed. There were a couple of posts on marxism-psych arguing along similar lines about Clinton's weaknesses. Almost everyone knows a friend, relative, if not themselves, who has had a really messy affair. The image of the President as righteous paternalistic figure has gone, and Clinton unites people somehow in another way, which is new, and to do with modern media.

Phenomena are multiply-determined. I see no reason to argue in a crude deterministic way that there is also a fundamental economic imperative here. I agree with the thrust of some of the argument that Clinton has taken the Republican clothes. The point is that he has done this so effectively he has left them with a constituency that is not mainstream modern corporate capitalism but is a rag-bag of capitalist interests. A constituency who are trying to flee from the anomie of late capitalism into the certainties of Christian fundamentalism; (they are not cretins - I disagree strongly on that), small capitalists who have their own pest extermination business (DeLay), of a few family restaurants (Hastert), and an old fashioned low-tech industrial agricultural product, about as modern as asbestos manufacturing, however slickly the market is controlled.

Clinton's courting of the black consituency is in harmony with Greg's thesis, and it arises also spontaneously out of his own adolescent experiences growing up in the upland not the flatland of Arkansas, which identifies more with the old plantation South.

Whether we are being reductionist or not, is solved from the point of view of practice. Doug and I won't share that point of view if he does not support further restrictions on the promotion of tobacco. There is clearly a battle here to protect the markets of the tobacco capitalists and they have seen a big threat from Clinton. There will of course be no document to be seized in their headquarters by the moral equivalent of Unscom, stating that they are actually promoting the impeachment of the President but they will have no objection if he is made an even lamer duck than he would otherwise have been in his last two years, and they will not slacken support for the Republicans now.

Does anyone deny the data in the Guardian article that Starr was put in place by a group of North Carolinans close to tobacco, and that Starr continued to work for a subsidiary of British American Tobacco while preparing his work as Special Counsel? Is that vulgar marxism? Is it vulgar marxism to note that the tobacco industry has had to calculate this year how to contain financial burdens in the coming years of around 200 billion dollars, and that is is likely to have a budget for a defense fund that is at least in millions of dollars?

>From the point of view of practice too, is it enough to quote the declared
stats on political donations, without taking up the issues of soft money?

But basically I do not see this impeachment as just a melodrama cooked up by cretins. This is a major constitutional clash in the the world's biggest state while it was going to war. Ultimately a clash this serious must be fuelled by money, however much it is a clash between two idological blocs, otherwise they would have compromised. It has major implications for the legitimacy of bourgeois politics. Hunt the money.

Chris Burford


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