Tag Archives: Hillary Clinton

Swingin’ low

Pundits confuse or conflate swing voters and centrists. They’re not the same. Swing voters can believe we need stronger environmental policies that protect us from sea level rise, endorse robust protections for reproductive liberties, yet believe the national debt is a problem and that Hillary Clinton is a cold bitch; some of the vilest misogynists, in my experience, have been on the left. Continue reading

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.

Beltway wisdom

“Washington always wins,” Joe Scarborough repeats at least once a day on Morning Joe, like a Catholic murmuring a Hail Mary. He’s right in this sense: diseased with an incurable self-regard, the Beltway press now excuses its mistake in thinking like the rest of us that Hillary Clinton was going to win last fall by saying any Republican, including the Twitter addict in the West Wing, would have beaten a candidate as flawed as Clinton. She couldn’t win those Democratic strongholds in the north! She didn’t tell enough jokes!

The Democrats picked the wrong candidate—I was a Bernie Sanders supporter from spring 2015—but I suspect he might’ve lost anyway. It’s possible Pennsylvania and one other Dem stronghold won by Trump would have stayed in the Sanders column, but Trump might still have inched a squeaker of an Electoral College win instead of a solid one. Charles Pierce:

You want a textbook example of a thoroughly bad campaign, look to the Dukakis juggernaut in 1988, not the Clinton campaign of 2016, no matter what you’re hearing from people pitching books full of gossipy back-stabbing and obsequious resume-polishing. The fact is that the current spate of Clinton-bashing completely ignores one undeniable fact: Donald Trump was a helluva candidate. In fact, for the cultural and political context within which that election took place, he might have been a perfect candidate….

That Trump never paid a price in the eyes of his voters for that kind of meretricious goonery is the best evidence there is that, in 2016, anyway, he was in every sense a formidable political force. And, let it not be forgotten that he brought with him a Republican Senate, a Republican House, and massive gains out in the states as well.


Moreover, and I owe a hat tip to Scott Lemieux here, it’s likely in retrospect that Trump’s plan of action, while unconventional in the extreme and relentlessly eccentric, also was based in a kind of mad logic. There really was a big slice of the electorate, concentrated in states that were vital in the Electoral College, that was uniquely susceptible to Trump’s appeal. He and his people spotted it and campaigned accordingly. As Nate Cohn shows in the piece linked above, HRC performed about as well as could be expected among Democratic base voters and, as we said, she did win the popular vote by more than three million.

But Bob Woodward has no book out, so Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes will get several days’ worth of talk show bookings and shakes of the head from George Stephanopoulos.

What we lost when we lost Merrick Garland

Thomas Geoghegan ponders what we lost when Clinton lost the election, didn’t flip the Senate, and couldn’t get Merrick Garland confirmed:

By a five to four vote, gerrymandering of congressional districts would have been struck down. Even more than “money in politics,” gerrymandering decides who controls the House of Representatives. A center-left Court might have made a redistricting system based on independent, non-partisan commissions the law of the land.

Of course, a liberal Court, would have been likely to reverse Citizens United. More importantly, it might have revisited an earlier, even more pernicious precedent, Buckley v. Valeo, the 1976 case that established that money is a form of speech. Now, if the Democrats ever do regain legislative majorities and pass campaign finance reform — say, at some point in the next twenty years — a conservative Court will cite Buckley and Citizens United to strike it down.

At some point, a center-left Court might have declared education a “fundamental” right. In Rodriguez v. San Antonio School District, a 1974 case, the Supreme Court ruled five to four that no such right existed under the Constitution, meaning public school children in different districts had no claim to equal state funding. Forty years later, in a far different world, there is even more reason to declare education a fundamental right. The enshrining of a constitutional right to public education would have been monumental. But now? It’s out of the question.

Or consider race discrimination. The 1976 decision in Washington v. Davis held that laws with racially discriminatory effects don’t violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as long as they don’t have a discriminatory purpose. In 2001, in Alexander v. Sandoval, the Court applied the same reasoning to narrow minorities’ ability to sue under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. A liberal majority could have reversed those decisions and made it easier for victims of discrimination to have their day in court. Instead, a center-right Court will continue with the status quo, and may well dismantle what’s left of the Voting Rights Act.

If Geoghegan is sad, think of someone like me who has never known a liberal Supreme Court; hell, my earliest memory of SCOTUS was a photo that flashed during CBS Evening News‘ coverage of William Rehnquist’s confirmation hearings as chief justice of the Burger Court’s last year, in which eight men and one woman looked older than sequoia trunks rotting in the sunlight.

Basta. In politics, absolutes are a joke that God plays on pundits. Still, read that list of probabilities.