N.Y. Times Focused On Hillary's Time On the Board of Hated Wal-Mart

The New York Times explored Hillary Clinton’s service on the Wal-Mart Board of Directors in the Sunday newspaper. Reporter Michael Barbaro employed a typical focus on inoculating liberals against conservative attack: "Her years on the Wal-Mart board, from 1986 to 1992, gave her an unusual tutorial in the ways of American business — a credential that could serve as an antidote to Republican efforts to portray her as an enemy of free markets and an advocate for big government."

Citing a board of directors credential is hardly proof you’re not an advocate of big government. Just think of all the major corporations – including NBC-owning General Electric – that eagerly allied themselves with the Clinton tax and health plans in 1993. Major corporations and big government are often the coziest of allies. Barbaro sinks into the usual template about how this shows how Hillary the Trailblazing Idealist is an odd match for Hillary the Get-Along-to-Go-Along Pragmatist:

In Mrs. Clinton’s complex relationship with Wal-Mart, there are echoes of the familiar themes that have defined much of her career: the trailblazing woman unafraid of challenging the men around her; the idealist pushing for complicated, at times expensive, reforms; and the political pragmatist, willing to accept policies she did not agree with to achieve her ends.

Barbaro’s main thesis is that while Mrs. Clinton pushed for gender equity and environmental steps, she did not touch the electric issue of unionization in her time on the board. The Times did use the L-word, once: "But if her circumstances made her a natural choice for the board, her often liberal beliefs did not and she struggled to change the rigid, conservative culture at Wal-Mart, achieving modest results." For example, she pushed for a greener business approach with McGovernik friends:  

At her request, Mr. Walton set up the environmental advisory group, which sent a series of recommendations to the company’s board.

When it came time to pick members, Mrs. Clinton, who led the advisory group, reached out to at least two colleagues from the McGovern presidential campaign — Mr. Mauro and Roy Spence, who headed an advertising firm in Texas that did extensive work for Wal-Mart.

Under her watch, the advisory group drew up elaborate plans. Consumers would bring in used motor oil and batteries for recycling. Suppliers would reduce the size of their packaging. And Wal-Mart would build stores with energy-saving features.

Wal-Mart executives put much of the program into place. In 1993, for example, they opened an experimental "eco-store" in Kansas, with skylights and wooden beams from forests that had not been clear cut.

One executive derided it as "Hillary’s store" because it was more expensive to build than the average Wal-Mart, but several of its features, like the skylights that cut energy bills by reducing the need for artificial lighting, were widely copied across the industry.

"We were on the leading edge of something that is being mandated now," said Bill Fields, the head of merchandise at Wal-Mart in the early 1990s who worked closely with Mrs. Clinton on the environmental project.

That Hillary, always ahead of her time, such an environmental visionary. Think of that as another way they'll suggest Hillary's superior to those liberal-baiting Republicans.

Environment Campaigns & Elections 2008 Presidential New York Times
Tim Graham's picture

Sponsored Links