Remarks And Asides: The New Hampshire Primary Edition

♦ I have watched Hillary on the campaign trail, during debates, and on television interview programs. She is almost always on her game. Superbly talented, in command of the issues, and quite likeable. Her biggest problem during this campaign (other than the dumb decision to set up her own server and the even dumber decision to cash in on her pre-presidency celebrity), has been her surrogates or supporters. For instance, Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright should stop doing Hillary favors. Now. Before it’s too late.

♦ Speaking of favors, Bill Clinton, who was in charge of explainin’ stuff for Obama in 2012, should do Hillary a favor, too. Stop explainin’ why he wishes he wasn’t married to her. It makes voters think of people like Kathleen Willey, a former volunteer aid in the Clinton administration who accused Bill of sexually assaulting her, and who is now going to campaign against Hillary on behalf of a right-wing PAC.

♦ If you think about it, there is a little bit of a contradiction in Bernie’s criticism of Hillary raking in all that big dough from bankers. He says, correctly, that our campaign financing system is broken and corrosive. But he refuses to say, and only insinuates, that Hillary Clinton has been bought like a prostitute, even if a pretty expensive one. Like Hillary says, if Bernie has somethin’ to say, he should just say it. If he doesn’t, maybe he should save his the-system-is-corrupt message for the Republicans, who generally love the system and who generally are, without a doubt, corrupted by it. If Bernie were to win, how can he accuse, say, Bush! of being corrupted by donors, if he wasn’t willing to say it about his Democratic opponent? Just stop it, Bernie, for now, and explain your tax plan, which is what will sink you in the end if you don’t begin to make people understand how it will work and how it will make the country a better place.

♦ Speaking of Bush! He will surprise. Okay, okay. You may, with good reason, think I’m nuts. But I think Bush! still has a good chance of being the GOP nominee. Yep. Call me crazy, call me insane, call me Ted Cruz. But I think Bush! can still win. Not many of the self-proclaimed revolutionaries, in either party, ever win. When I was a mind-numbed conservative, I was once a Patrick J. Buchanan supporter back in 1992 and 1996. Naively, I thought he had a chance against the Republican establishment. He didn’t. You have to have the professionals with you, no matter how many people populate your rallies or root for you from the cheap seats. Buchanan had many enthusiastic followers, but that was about it.

♦ Speaking of enthusiastic followers, neither Donald Trump nor Ted Cruz, no matter what happens in New Hampshire, will ever be president. Period. Let’s don’t even discuss it.

♦ Which leads me to this young woman who was interviewed on MSNBC the other day:

“There’s something very “politics” about the way she talks. And Bernie has a refreshing way of speaking,” said the earnest and engaged young lady. That’s the way a lot of young folks feel about the race between two old Democratic politicians. One gets labeled merely as a politician and the other—just as much a politician who has been around forever—gets to set himself up as an outsider whose speech is refreshing.

And it is. Bernie’s speech is refreshing. I have to admit I agree with this sincere young woman. Bernie sounds fresh and new because he is talking about a revolution. Young people tend to like that sort of talk. And there is something very politics in the way Hillary talks. Why? Because she’s a professional politician who understands that having a vision of where the country should go is important, but that it is at least as important to also have a vision of how to realistically get it there. That’s professionalism. That’s politics. That’s not all pie-in-the-sky optimism, but some stick-in-the-mud realism. And, admittedly, muddy realism doesn’t much appeal to young folks who are much more optimistic about what can get accomplished in the American political arena than is good for them. Just like I was when I was a nutty Pat Buchanan supporter in the 1990s, too many, especially too many young folks, don’t appreciate the skills of professionals who can talk “very politics” while also being very good at their jobs.

Any sober survey of the political landscape would lead one to conclude that progress from here to where we Democrats want to go will require a lot of zigging and zagging, a lot of one-and-a-half-steps forward and one-step back compromises that make regular folks cringe. And I understand the resistance to that approach. It would be nice if we could just all march up, pitch forks in hand, and take the highest hill. Unfortunately, though, there are other folks sitting on the hill, who won’t just surrender to our demands. They will fight. And they will fight with as much, or more, fervor as any left-leaning 20-year-old can marshal. That’s how they got to be “the establishment,” by the way.

Thus, Hillary’s biggest job this primary season will be in conveying a sober but still optimistic message, with as much combination of enthusiasm and realism as possible, to those young folks who need to hear it, to those who think we can afford to take a chance on a revolution-minded candidate and a revolution-ready electorate. Because, after all, more than any age group, they have the most to lose if we gamble and Republicans take it all.

 

8 Comments

  1. Ben Field

     /  February 9, 2016

    Duane,

    I hope you’re as wrong as you were when you supported Pat Buchanan (lol). The problem with Hillary, is more severe than the emails, and the Clinton Foundation donors, is the “honesty/trust issues” she has with the electorate. Of the exit voters in New Hampshire polled on this, 92% said they voted for Bernie. The GOP is certainly not going to work with her, lest we wouldn’t have the Bengazi gate lasting longer than any other investigation. With backers like Albright and Steinum, she just alienates more women, giving Bill a pass. Anti-establishment seems to be the order of the day, and I hope months to come. Bernie with Warren as VP, now that’s a ticket.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I sympathize with you, Ben, but I think Duane is right. Making Bernie the nominee would be a dream come true for the GOP’s. They might even resurrect Joseph McCarthy for the occasion!

      Oh. Never mind, they’ve already got him. In this life he calls himself Ted Cruz.

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      • Ben Field

         /  February 10, 2016

        Jim,

        You both may be right, but I think the voters are not as adverse to a “socialist” Democrat as you might suspect. How else do you explain the support he has amassed. It is a testament to his character that he hasn’t gone negative against Hillary, or I think she would now be only an afterthought. The idea that Sanders can’t win the minority vote is premature, and I look forward to see if the South follows pundits projections, which to date have been seriously flawed. If Hillary is the last standing after the primaries, I will support her, but I do not expect the GOP to give any more cooperation to her than Bernie.
        I have no qualms about Sanders against Trump or Cruz. We will see if Kasich, Rubio, or Bush can accumulate any support.

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    • Ben,

      Remember: About two out of three of the voters on the Democratic primary side (40% of whom were independents) were either liberal or very liberal. Perfect constituency for Bernie. Plus, on the honesty issue, naturally if 50% of the voters who showed up thought “only Sanders” was honest and trustworthy then he was bound to slaughter her. Among those voters who thought “both of them” were “honest and trustworthy,” she slaughtered him. If you look at the age demographics, clearly she has a lot of work to do among younger voters, who probably don’t know anything about her honesty and trustworthiness that they haven’t learned, unfortunately, from listening to Bernie Sanders talk about her loyalty to Wall Street and the donor class. I find that disheartening for a fellow Democrat–oh, wait, Bernie didn’t exactly become a fellow Democrat until about five minutes ago.

      And, sure, a Sanders/Warren ticket would be great for you and me. But I smell a McGovern trouncing, if that were to come to pass. Count me as skeptical that the American electorate is ready for what Bernie and Elizabeth would be trying to sell them. Although that day is coming, I don’t see it here yet. The only possible wildcard in this thing is a Donald Trump nomination, and I don’t even like Bernie’s chances against that buffoon. I have heard a lot of working class Democrats, even union members, talk favorably about his views on trade. It is really scary.

      Duane

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      • Ben Field

         /  February 10, 2016

        Duane,

        What Hillary should find disheartening is that this six month old Democrat has tied and beaten her to date. If he continues to pull independents into the Democratic Party, she should be very worried. I have heard of no support for Trump in my union or any others, and the fact that Trump has already accused Clinton of treason, should be no harder to disprove than Sanders is a Marxist. You must admit that Sanders has not gone negative against Clinton, nor do I think he will. He certainly has a better chance of being elected than the Donald.

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        • Ben,

          I’m sure she does find it “disheartening.” Especially after what she went through in 2008. But independents are notoriously unreliable, in terms of sticking with any candidate. I have seen interviewed many independents who have expressed love for BOTH Trump and Sanders. I wouldn’t count on them, if I were the Democratic Party. And I have seen many working class folks, including union workers, express support for the Trump message on trade and jobs. Sure, it is a charade, but he is emphatic about it and people tend to gravitate toward confidence.

          Trump accusing Clinton of “treason” is exactly the kind of thing that would doom his candidacy against her. Project into the future: a general election campaign would feature all of the ridiculous and xenophobic and racist and conspiratorial things that Trump has said and he will, by the time Democrats are finished with him, look the fool he actually is. I promise you he does not want to run against a strong Hillary Clinton. That is why you see him, and other right-wingers, attacking her ferociously. They fear her in the general. They don’t fear Bernie at all.

          Again, the problem with the Marxist charge against Bernie is that Bernie doesn’t deny two things: 1) that he is a democratic socialist, and 2) he wants a “revolution.” Republicans can easily turn those two admissions into a radical transformation message that, unlike the one against Obama, could very well resonate with a majority of independents. This likely would give the election to the reactionaries, an outcome that none of us on this side would welcome.

          Does Bernie have a better chance than the Donald of becoming president? I used to think so. But I have watched Trump learn on the job and become a better politician. He will, undoubtedly, move toward the center and tame his rhetoric, as you can already see him doing. And with the help of the Republican establishment, who will eventually have to support him if he becomes their nominee, he will suddenly become the voice of reason against the radical, self-proclaimed socialist from the Northeast. The best hope Bernie has, should he win the nomination, is to saturate the airwaves with the stupid shit Trump has said and paint him as an unhinged character, much like Lyndon Johnson did to Barry Goldwater in 1964. Is that plausible? Yes. But times have changed since then and the establishment media, in which the ’64 election was waged, has fragmented. And there is a whole lot of independent voices in media, especially online, that will not transmit, properly, the message that Trump is not suited for the job. It will require a Herculean effort to get the media to focus on the insanity that is the Trump campaign. The temptation will be to pit one fringe candidate against the other. (This, obviously, will be a problem for Hillary, too. But most people already know she is not a fringe candidate, but fairly mainstream.)

          At least that’s my take on it, for what it is worth.

          Duane

          Liked by 1 person

          • Ben Field

             /  February 11, 2016

            Duane,

            Thank you for your reasoned and articulate response to my comment. I am blue collar, working class and do not pretend to know the inner working of establishment politics. I do “feel the Bern” as I think many of my peers and young voters do as well. Anomosity toward the banks and the establishment run strong with us and income equality is an issue in both parties. The GOP blames Latinos, Muslims, and career politicians, hence Donald Trump. Sanders realizes college for all, family leave, truly universal health care (not all states participate) is possible. I would not have guessed five years ago that marriage equality would be the law of the land, so I don’t discount the ability of people to change the status quo. As far as the union members you heard endorsing Trump, please inform them this union carpenter refers to them as “rat bastards” and will be happy to do so in person. Thank you for your effort to educate this dinosaur, and us old dogs can learn new tricks, so keep preaching brother.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thanks for the kind words, Ben. We’re all in this together, or at least those of us who want the kinds of things that both Bernie and Hillary want. It is just a matter of what can get done and how fast. Remember the marriage equality thing, even though it seemed fast, actually began in 1970, when two male students in Minnesota decided they wanted a marriage license and were, of course, denied. Progress on that issue had many setbacks among a few advancements, but public opinion did eventually change to a majority rather quickly at the end. So, maybe you are right about the revolution Bernie is trying to start, but I fear the worst: a Republican president as a result.

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