Sick Day Open Thread
Hey, guys. I'm sick, and somewhat pudding-brained. The essay I planned to write deserves better thought than I can give it at this moment.
I made a comment yesterday that Gulfgal, Ellen, and Snapple BC thought was worth turning into an essay. I'm going to set it here for discussion. Hopefully, a more ordinary Open Thread will be on its way to you next Wednesday!
This comment was made in response to an article by Bob Borosage of Campaign for America's Future fame. For those of you that don't know CAF, they are, or were six years ago, the best of the establishment DC non-profits, with all the bad and good that implies. They were the last big liberal NGO I had any dealings with.
The article deals with, really, allotments of political and moral capital: who is going to get credibility, and who gets to be the fall guy for the severe decline of the Democratic party. For those of you who have been paying attention to such things, there has, over the past couple of months, been a move toward turning Hillary Clinton heel. A "heel turn," in wrestling parlance, means taking someone who has been championed as a good guy and rewriting their character to make them a bad guy. Apparently, a few months ago, someone up amongst the powers that be figured out that Hillary simply can't be made to function as a good guy in the public perception, so they are finally heel-turning her.
However, apparently there is no consensus on this amongst the powerful. This is a rare moment when the monolith cracks and you see warring factions. There's a faction that wants to blame Hillary; there's another faction that wants to preserve Hillary as a good guy/gal, and blame Obama.
That's where Borosage positions himself in his recent article in The Nation. https://www.thenation.com/article/hillary-clinton-tries-to-explain-what-...
It's a cleverly written essay, because it looks, at the outset, like he's criticizing Hillary. And, in fact, he is, though I would say he does so gingerly:
Part of this stems from her own admitted inadequacies as a candidate. Her “message”—poll-driven and focus-grouped to death—lacked authenticity. The book is full of 20/20 hindsight concerning what she woulda, shoulda, coulda done or said but didn’t. She wrote that she constantly suppressed her own instincts because of focus-group findings or staff cautions. Most revealing was the scene her publisher released as part of promo for the book: the debate where Trump acted like a “creep” stalking her across the stage. It was “one of those moments,” she wrote, “where you wish you could hit pause and ask everyone watching, ‘Well, what would you do?’ Do you stay calm or turn as say ‘Back up you creep.’”
Hit pause and poll the audience? Why not just react humanly? She was too disciplined, packaged, and cautious for that.
But look past that mild criticism and you get quotations like:
Hillary Clinton’s book-length reflection on the 2016 presidential race, What Happened, struggles to answer the haunting question of how a highly experienced candidate with a massive political machine lost to Donald Trump and his vile clown campaign.
I doubt very much that the question is "haunting" to the nearly 2/3 of the American population that disliked or distrusted Hillary Clinton on Election Day. In fact, it's probably only "haunting" to Clinton supporters, which Borosage clearly is. The words "highly experienced candidate," even when modified by "with a massive political machine," shows that he is; Hillary's experience, her competence was the steadiest drumbeat of her campaign apart from the wounded victim of sexism pose.
Clinton accepts responsibility for her loss, and allows that she might have “missed a lot of chances.” Most of the book, however, is about casting blame and settling scores: Putin did it, Comey did it, and so did Bernie, the media, Fox News, sexism, Clinton fatigue, Electoral College, partisan loyalty, voter suppression, and many other factors. With Trump losing the popular vote and drawing an political inside straight to win three critical states by 77,000 total votes, thus winning the Electoral College, any of these plausibly might have made the difference. But as Hillary admits, none helps explain how the contest with Trump’s bizarre candidacy was close in the first place.
"Clinton accepts responsibility for her loss?" In what universe? Aside from the multiple times and ways she has blamed everyone else, even the media and the DNC, who might as well have had Ready For Hillary imprinted on their corporate logos during 2016, the very fact that "Most of the book, however, is about casting blame and settling scores," should make it pretty obvious that Clinton doesn't accept responsibility for her loss.
Here's the quotation that made me write my original response to Borosage:
Of far greater importance is the credibility problem that establishment Democrats suffer generally. , but under Obama Democrats lost over 1,000 state legislative seats and control of both the House and the Senate. Putin, Comey, and Bernie didn’t do that.
And here's my original response:
Isn't she, Mr. Borosage? Not even a little bit?
I admit the President of Hope and Change is primarily responsible--that is, if you're looking for a politician to take responsibility, rather than the forces that are really in charge of our government, and which probably give politicians few options if they want to 1)survive, 2)keep their jobs. The most truthful thing to say is probably that the wealthy, with their control of the media character assassination machine, and the military industrial complex, with its control of an actual assassination machine--whether you think that machine has ever been pointed at an American politician or not, it undeniably has assassinated lots of people, and continues to do so--are responsible. They are the ones who are in control of American politics, along with some assorted bullies from overseas, in places like Saudi Arabia and Israel. They are the ones who keep America on this horrible, suicidal trajectory, because it gives them maximum wealth and power. They are the ones who will allow no diversion from that trajectory.
But OK, let's say you don't want to talk about that, for fear of being called a conspiracy theorist; say you don't want to be, or hire, the investigative reporter who looks into that--assuming one could be found willing to take the risks. Let's pretend that politicians are the ones who control American politics, and not their paymasters, nor their overseers, even though both Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi have stated publicly that it's dangerous for a politician to oppose the will of the CIA. Let's pretend the big machine is controlled by politicians.
Does Hillary Clinton really have nothing to do with voter disillusionment about the Democratic Party? Is it all Obama's fault?
What you don't ask is why voters chose Obama, who came out of nowhere, over Hillary, the candidate of continuity (are you really buying the idea that she was "pigeonholed" into that notion by external forces?) In other words, why, in 2008, was Hillary not seen as a "change" from George W. Bush?
Could it be because the Clintons had spent from 1992-2000, and then again from 2002-2008, advocating for every economic and military policy the Republicans did? I don't much like Republicans, Mr. Borosage, but I have to admit that they had reason to be upset in the 90s, upset because Mr. Clinton was stealing all their policy positions and remaking the Democratic Party in their image. Because our insane duopolistic system requires the parties to appear different from one another, or cease to be relevant, the inevitable conclusion of this triangulation was for more and more extremist Republican politicians to take power in the Republican party. The Republicans really only had three choices: They wouldn't triangulate to the left for the same reason the Democrats won't return to the left: they'd lose all their big donors. It took a political neophyte like Trump to do something as politically reckless as that, at least on a couple of issues (he ran on an anti-globalism that you could, if you squinted hard, interpret as anti-corporatism; he was opposed to regime change and intervention in others' civil wars; he spoke up, a little bit, for Americans at least keeping their jobs). But encouraging extremist Republicans in order to be able to remain a Democrat and keep some putative moral high ground while actually acting as a mouthpiece for every billionaire willing to send money your way is an old, old Clinton strategy. The "Pied Piper" strategy was, in that sense, only new in that the corporate media was actually issued explicit instructions to participate in a strategy the Clintons have been engaging in and profiting from all along.
And yes, Mr. Borosage, Hillary was not just a ride-along on this trip. She was a willing, active partner who took part repeatedly in advancing her husband's political aims. Later, as a senator, she did nothing--literally nothing--to advance a more left-wing, a more populist, or even a more lawful set of policy goals. Tell me one thing George W. Bush did that she led the charge against--as you think a person might if she was preparing to run for President as a change candidate. Try to think of one horrible Bush policy she publicly opposed.
Like hell she has no responsibility for this.