“My opponent is an implant. She doesn’t represent anybody.”
That was Maria Elvira Salazar, 56, the Republican candidate in Florida’s 27th congressional district, about her Democrat opponent Donna Shalala, 77. In her first run for elected office, Shalala is being touted as an easy winner for the seat formerly held by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and a marker for the Democrats to retake the House. On the other hand, Salazar, a journalist, is wrong that her opponent doesn’t represent anybody. First and foremost, Donna Shalala represents Bill and Hillary Clinton.
In 2015, as Hillary Clinton ramped up her presidential run, the Clintons tapped Shalala to run the Clinton Foundation. “I don’t know in my long life that I ever worked with anybody who had quite the combination of policy knowledge and concern, political skills, a personal touch with people, a sense of innate fairness,” former president Bill Clinton told reporters. “She’s a remarkable person.”
Shalala’s stint at the Clinton Foundation was not her first service for the Clintons. President Clinton, doubtless with Hillary’s input, tapped Shalala as federal Health and Human Services boss and she headed HHS for eight years. The squat bureaucrat had already made a name for herself as the queen of political correctness.
Shalala worked at HUD during the Carter administration then went on to head Hunter College before becoming chancellor of the University of Wisconsin in 1988. There she proclaimed “The university is institutionally racist. American society is racist and sexist. Covert racism is just as bad today as overt racism was 30 years ago.” The remedy was her “Madison Plan,” which as the inaugural issue of Heterodoxy noted, was the academic version of a Stalinist five-year plan, hostile to free speech and heavy on racial and ethnic quotas. And Heterodoxy was hardly Shalala’s only critic.
“She’s basically an authoritarian personality who is politically savvy enough to create an appearance of consensus,” explained UW history professor Theodore Hamerow. “She exercises a great deal of pressure to ensure conformity with her views.” Shalala’s quota plan caused a “measurable decline” in academic excellence because it made “race or ethnic origin the prime consideration and not merit.” According to Hamerow, Shalala’s plan constituted “a kind of resegregation of American education, with a program for blacks, a program for Asians and so forth.”
For Washington Post columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, “the complaint against Shalala is that she embodies two of the worst transgressions by today's liberals flying in the face of American tradition: quotas and speech control.” Shalala’s speech code punished students for what she perceived as “racist” and “sexist” remarks to other students. Shalala shrugged off the First Amendment as a dodge but in 1991 U.S. District Judge Robert Warren declared the speech code unconstitutional.
As Evans and Novak noted, the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan spoke at the campus but UW halted conservative Paul Weyrich’s National Empowerment Television network, “by insisting on controlling the program’s content.” Shalala was “the epitome of today’s wholly politicized educator,” doubtless why the Clintons tapped her for HHS, where she was “a pillar in the administration’s Hillary wing.”
True to form, the feminist Shalala defended Bill Clinton when he was accused of having an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinski. As Ken Starr notes in Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation, Shalala signed on to a statement that the allegations were “completely untrue.” The HHS boss later claimed she confronted the president about the affair during a cabinet meeting.
When Shalala moved on to the University of Miami, Miami New Times proclaimed, “the Cagney and Lacey of the Clinton administration are now in South Florida.” Clinton attorney general Janet Reno had sent Cuban refugee Ilian Gonzalez back to Fidel Castro’s Communist dictatorship. Now Reno could tell stories with fellow “Beltway vixen” Donna Shalala.
After 14 years at UM, pals Bill and Hillary picked Shalala to head the Clinton Foundation, which one wag described as a “bribery clearance center” and whose fathomless corruption Peter Schweizer charted in Clinton Cash. Bill is on record that “Donna did a fabulous job.” For her part, Shalala told reporters, “I was able to lead the foundation and do some things that needed to be done. It was fun.”
Fun-loving Donna Shalala may eventually show up in the more than 30,000 emails the former First Lady and Secretary of State destroyed before congressional investigators could have a look. FBI boss James Comey refused to press a criminal case but Hillary went on to lose the 2016 election to Republican Donald Trump. Two years later, the former Clinton Foundation CEO is running for Congress her own self.
Shalala proclaims she will be “ready on Day One” but the queen of political correctness is not openly pushing speech codes or college admission quotas. The former Clinton HHS boss is relying on name recognition and thinks she has a read on the voters. “There’s no question about it,” Shalala told reporters. “In all their experience, Trump is their worst nightmare.”
At this writing, a new poll shows Salazar leading Shalala 44-42, as Florida Politics noted, “another sign that Shalala’s position in the race is not as strong as Democrats had hoped.”
As the president says, we’ll see what happens on November 6.