Tag Archives: 2016

The peril of cable news misogynists

As we inch toward another presidential campaign in which the odds are even that several Democratic finalists for the nomination will be a woman, a woman of color, or both, Scott Lemieux worries about the presence of media misogyny, despite the exit of several notorious figures:

Mark Halperin was an early and highly influential Trump adopter, as well as someone who was on America’s “liberal” news network on a constant basis. It was apparently known by virtually everybody at NBC that Matt Lauer was a massive sexist asshole (not to mention, in an important and related point, a featherweight whose knowledge of public policy appears to be somewhere between Donald Trump’s and the NBC peacock’s) when he was sent onstage to badger Hillary Clinton about inane trivia before tossing softballs to his asshole misogynist buddy Donald Trump. And so on and so on and so on. Given that Democrats can’t and won’t stop running women for high office, this is a very serious problem and a big part of the story of how we ended up with President Trump.

Expect Kamala Harris or Kirsten Gillibrand to get The Treatment in eighteen months, especially if the Democrats pick up seats in the midterm elections as expected.

Who did what to whom

I’m not a fan of Scott Lemieux, but he at least grapples with the reality of door-to-door politics like his colleagues don’t. In light of recent “Joe Biden would have won talk,” another variant on the speculation around my preferred candidate Bernie Sanders, i.e. “Bernie would’ve won won Michigan,” he mentions enough hypotheticals that serve to confirm my suspicion: Donald Trump, the culmination of thirty-seven yeas of conservative Jacobinism, might still have beaten any Democrat anyway because the no-college white guy was lost forever:

Again, one fatal problem with any “Biden/Bernie/O’Malley woulda won” counterfactual is that they almost always involve ceteris paribus assumptions that are completely untenable. It’s superficially persuasive to say that “any Democrat would have gotten better media coverage than Clinton, that coverage (especially as catalyzed by Comey, who also may not have gone rogue against another nominee) probably cost Clinton the election, so therefore any other Dem nominee would have won.” Only of course you can’t hold everything else constant. Biden might have gotten generally more favorable media coverage than Clinton — but done worse in the debates, committed twenty other distracting gaffes, done worse with women voters, and narrowly lost anyway. You can’t construct counterfactuals that take away Clinton’s (very real!) liabilities but not her strengths.

Or let’s leave the media out of it. The key to Trump’s win was not attracting more white voters per se but trading college-educated white voters for white voters without college degrees but doing OK economically, a tradeoff that was useful on the Electoral College. The superficially persuasive case for Bernie is to say that he would have done better among the latter group and won. I think this is plausible, but. Paul observed recently that Virginia shows that the GOP can lose even more college-educated suburbanites than it’s already lost, but this cuts both ways — it was not inevitable that the GOP would lose as many as it already did in 2016. Bernie might have won; it’s also very possible that the candidate who labelled his left-liberalism as “socialism” would have done better than Macomb County than Clinton but worse in Oakland County and lost Michigan anyway.

When liberals push Democrats next cycle, they must realize that getting blacks, Hispanics, gays, and women excited about liberal policy will entice them to stay within the party. Give voters a reason to vote for you, win an election, and you’ll suddenly believe in democracy again. If you feel despair, get yourself a pet, or, better, volunteer at a phone bank.

Elections 2018, post-cockiness edition

One calendar year ago I was excited enough to amble around campus in a state of suppressed glee, a phenomenon I couldn’t attribute to having voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton a couple weeks earlier. Although I was under no illusions about the limits of ClLinton’s power and the adamantine resistance she would experience from a newly empowered Congress, I thought a majority of Americans would rebuke Trumpism. The reckoning came the next morning.

That was a year ago. Thanks to DNC chairman’s decision to concentrate on local races, liberals/progressives can claim a few substantial victories:

– First, opponents to the Medicaid expansion can’t say it hasn’t passed by democratic means. In fact, supporters of the federalist approach to sweeping legislation should delight in what Maine voters accomplished last night. The win wasn’t narrow: by a twenty-point margin despite the robust efforts by Governor Paul LePage. By my lights, what happened in Maine represents the first time the Affordable Care Act has been popular enough to triumph.

– Second, Danica Roeme! The transgender candidate beat archenemy Bob Marshall, a scion of conservative Virginia politics who treated Roeme as if she were a Cossack about to invade his town: he refused to call Roeme by her gender and, worse, circulated these kinds of fliers.

– Third, Democrats picked up two George House of Delegate seats that in 2016 were uncontested. In 2012, Mitt Romney won the district 54-44; last year, Donald Trump by 49-46.

In my own state, incumbent Rick Kriseman beat back his Republican challenger after one of the nastiest races in recent Florida political history.

Contest every local seat. Discuss health care. Link opponents to Donald Trump. Don’t waste time converting people who voted for the president not because they wanted coal jobs back or eliminating the capital gains tax but because they wanted to fuck with people who didn’t:

Del Signore said he’s been following politics far more than before because of Trump. Trump, he said, is just “more interesting.” So now he likes watching the news. “Ninety-nine percent of the time I watch Fox,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll be sitting there listening to all this Fox stuff, and I’ll say, ‘Maybe they aren’t right, maybe I’ll flip to CNN’—but every time I’ve found that Fox has been correct, and CNN is definitely fake news.”

A Catholic whose wife goes to church every Sunday, whereas he, “shame on me,” does not, Del Signore told me toward the end of our lunch that some people at church told his wife that Obama is the antichrist. “She comes home and tells me these things that they tell you in church,” he said. I asked him whether that’s what he thinks. “I don’t know,” he said. “Some people say that.”

If Obama, I asked, is the antichrist—whose arrival is said to precede the second coming of Christ—what would that make Trump?

“The savior?” Del Signore suggested.

America, ladies and gents.

Hillary Clinton has as much right to bore us as anyone in public life

The ponderous, politically tone deaf, and immune to improvisation Hillary Clinton discomfited me less than her husband did in the early nineties, so when she landed the nomination this Bernie supporter shrugged his shoulders and said the hell with it. After eight years of feeling spittle on my neck about Muslims in the Oval Office, death panels, socialized medicine, gun confiscation, and the First Lady snatching Chicken McNuggets out of my mouth, I knew the Republican Party would find or force a candidate to espouse every repellent idea about privatizing industry, coal, ISIS, and contraception. The GOP was hungry; we had sober, ponderous Hillary Clinton.

With another memoir, likely a ponderous, sober one, ready for publication, we’re going to see bipartisanship at last: the right and left will join forces in its prolonged disgust for Clinton. Paul Waldman is correct:

So let’s say this really slowly: It’s possible to simultaneously acknowledge that 1) Clinton made plenty of mistakes, and 2) there were egregious problems with the way the campaign was covered, problems that contributed to the outcome. Calling attention to the latter doesn’t negate the former.

And boy, were there ever problems with the coverage. Consider that the New York Times and The Washington Post struck a deal with Peter Schweitzer, the author of a book called “Clinton Cash,” for exclusive access to the material in the book, which alleged corrupt dealings at the Clinton Foundation. Even though Schweitzer’s particulars amounted to little more than a lot of nefarious insinuation without evidence of actual wrongdoing, the initial burst of front-page coverage the book received was enough to set off endless cable news chatter about the Clinton Foundation, all of it with the implication that Clinton was guilty of all manner of ethically questionable actions.

Really, she has as much right to bore us as Al Gore and John Kerry, and as much right to play Cassandra as Mitt Romney, whose letter criticizing Donald Trump after the Charlottesville murder got its requisite day’s worth of attention before disappearing without a trace. Newt Gingrich is allowed in any green room without a minder holding a spiked mace. Hell, for many years his implacable taste for revenge kept John McCain hale and hearty until his good luck ran out.

Let Hillary be.

A Day Without Hillary

Here is my A Day Without Women post, titled A Day Without Hillary:

Most decisively, there was a sudden change in the net sentiment results that followed immediately after FBI Director James Comey released his Oct. 28 letter to Congress about a renewed investigation of Clinton emails. Immediately afterwards, there was a 17-point drop in net sentiment for Clinton, and an 11-point rise for Trump, enough for the two candidates to switch places in the rankings, with Clinton in more negative territory than Trump. At a time when opinion polling showed perhaps a 2-point decline in the margin for Clinton, this conversation data suggests a 28-point change in the word of mouth “standings.” The change in word of mouth favorability metric was stunning, and much greater than the traditional opinion polling revealed.

Based on this finding, it is our conclusion that the Comey letter, 11 days before the election, was the precipitating event behind Clinton’s loss, despite the letter being effectively retracted less than a week later. In such a close election, there may have been dozens of factors whose absence would have reversed the outcome, such as the influence campaign of the Russian government as detailed by US intelligence services. But the sudden change in the political conversation after the Comey letter suggest it was the single, most indispensable factor in the surprise election result.

This conclusion helps us to understand how it is possible that the polls were generally correct about a Clinton lead through most of the campaign, but nevertheless Trump still won because of a late October surprise.

I’m not sure to what degree I should trust Engagement Labs’ chief commercial officer, and this same fellow acknowledges that in elections this close any number of factors in concert can influence results; but that’s the point too. The Comey letter came at the right moment.