2016 Democratic Presidential Nomination

The Hook (Hillary Under the Sun)

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa, United States, June 14, 2015. (Detail of photo by Jim Young/Reuters)

And there is the hook:

Sen. Timothy M. Kaine of Virginia and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack remain two of the leading contenders for Hillary Clinton’s vice-presidential pick, but Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey is also under active consideration, according to a Democrat with knowledge of the process.

Booker, a freshman senator and former mayor of Newark, has drawn relatively little attention throughout Clinton’s vice-presidential selection process but remains a serious prospect. He was among the roughly half-dozen potential running mates who met with Clinton at her home in Washington on Friday, a fact first reported Thursday by Politico.

(Wagner and Gearan)

Please let this be the hook.

On Sen. Booker (D-NJ): It is easy enough to say if not Warren then Booker. But neither is Mr. Booker a second choice for lack of better. Nor, in that context, should we view Sen. Kaine (D-VA) or Sec. Vilsack (D-IA) so poorly. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). Photo by Jake Rosenberg/The Coveteur. But in the case of the latter, Hillary Clinton can at least perceive the need for someone less institutionally ensconced than either of these stalwart political résumés offer the powerful left-flank movement asserting policy influence, a bloc whose votes and continued support she needs.

Sen. Warren (D-MA) seems the obvious choice, but truth told there is a fine argument for what she can do from the Senate, but this also presumes enough pressure on Democratic leadership in the Senate to buck future Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (NY) and Whip Richard Durbin (IL). It’s a tough proposition, but the Senate Democrats under Elizabeth Warren and Patty Murray (WA) or Amy Klobuchar (MN) would be a powerful majority caucus; as a minority, it seems an easy suggestion that they would be more effective than what Mr. Reid (NV) has managed in the face of Republican intransigence. It’s all speculation, though. The bottom line is determined by Hillary Clinton, this time; she can perceive the need, but how will she address and reconcile it?

Elevating Sen. Booker as her running mate is one of the things she can do. And should anyone find cause to doubt we are getting civil rights president out of this, selecting Mr. Booker would put that question to rest.

(more…)

Advertisements

David Brooks Being David Brooks

Detail of frame from FLCL episode 2, 'Firestarter'.

So, right. I mean, sure, it’s David Brooks, and that, you know, generally means something, but still―

The big historical context is this: Something fundamental is shifting in our politics. The insiders can’t see it. Outsiders get thrown up amid the tumult, but they are too marginal, eccentric and inexperienced to lead effectively.David Brooks of The New York Times

Without much enthusiasm, many voters seem to be flocking to tough, no-nonsense women who at least seem sensible: Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton and, now, the Conservative Party front-runner, Theresa May.

We probably need a political Pope Francis-type figure, who comes up from the bottom and understands life there, but who can still make the case for an open dynamic world, with free-flowing goods, ideas, capital and people. Until that figure emerges, we could be in for a set of serial leadership crises.

―could somebody please be so kind as to tell me what those paragraphs mean?

____________________

Brooks, David. “Choosing Leaders: Clueless or Crazy”. The New York Times. 5 July 2016.

The Clinton Nexus: Critique and Purpose

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses supporters at the Navy Yard in Brooklyn, New York, 7 June 2016, after vote projections achieved a majority of pledged delegates in the Democratic presidential primary. (Detail of photo by Steve Sands/WireImage)

As editorials in the guise of reportage go, Niall Stanage’s effort to get into the presidential race for The Hill isn’t as completely terrible as it could be:

In the general election, Clinton can offer a depth of policy experience that far exceeds that of Trump, who has never held elected office. But she also has no slogan as simple and straightforward as his exhortation to “Make America Great Again.”

It’s a failure that some Democratic insiders find perplexing.

“It’s not clear what the over-arching message is yet,” said New York-based Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf. “It is clear that being the anti-Trump has some value; it is clear that offering economic policy has some value. But there is no over-arching message.”

An anonymous Democratic strategist asks, “What’s her vision for the country?” In a way it seems a pertinent question, but in the end it is just another reporter complaining about a non-traditional year.

Part of the difficulty, Democrats say, resides in Clinton’s cautious personality and her past political experiences. Her tendency toward incrementalism doesn’t lend itself to bumper sticker slogans, but she learned the hard way how tough it is to enact sweeping change. Her push for health care reform during the first term of her husband, President Bill Clinton, ended in utter failure.

Those past political experiences help explain why Clinton exhibits a mild disdain for the soundbites that Sanders and Trump―and other candidates―can deploy so readily.

When Clinton met with Black Lives Matter activists almost a year ago, she told them, “Look, I don’t believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate.”

Her arguments are such moments may well be fair, or at least plausible. But “change allocation of resources” is not the kind of call to thrill the masses.

In addition, some people suggest that the sheer length of Clinton’s record means that it is hard for to her to gin up the same enthusiasm as new arrivals on the political scene.

Trump “can say anything and he gets applause because he’s fresh and new. She doesn’t get the same applause because she’s not fresh and new,” Sheinkopf said. “It’s more difficult for her than it is for him because Trump has no political history and can therefore say anything and do anything.”

The answer exists within the explanation; it’s just not necessarily apparent because we are all supposed to be looking elsewhere. Stanage’s entire article orbits a presupposition that Hillary Clinton is making a mistake, yet here we encounter an occasion when the question of a mistake seems counterintuitive.

(more…)

The Donald Trump Show (American Distress)

Detail of image via Trump campaign.

“Yes, Antonin Scalia’s passing meant the Supreme Court was down one justice, but it doesn’t take a mathematician to know 3 + 1 does not equal 5.”

Steve Benen

The thing about politics right now is that everything is really, really depressing. I’m deathly sick of Donald Trump, yet the question persists: How did this happen?

Nor do I mean that in any context suggesting plaintive puzzlement. We all have a reasonable idea how the abdication of civic leadership in the context of public service struck the Republican Party so low after decades of pandering to ill-educated bigotry.

Donald Trump saying something stupid really shouldn’t be headline news. It shouldn’t be anything unusual. It shouldn’t be anything the rest of us have any reason to give a damn about. Then again, just how the hell did Republicans find themselves with Donald Trump as their presidential nominee apparent?

Oh, right.

(more…)

The Donald Trump Show (Tears for Fears)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks at a sheet of notes and talking points as he speaks during a rally in Eugene, Oregon, 6 May 2016. (Photo by Ted S. Warren/AP)

The Donald Trump phenomenon is admittedly a depressing spectacle to witness. Then again, not all of that sucking of souls is entirely on the candidate; a vampiric press must also answer; sometimes instead of simply toddling back and forth in search of sound bite, it seems useful to mark thresholds and declare an issue, well, if not over, then at least sufficiently defined:

Anthony Scaramucci, a New York financier who recently backed Trump, told Fox News that the real estate mogul’s reluctance is due to “the complication of the return, the fact that he’s under an audit, he feels that he doesn’t want to give out that information to the general public and have a whole nightmare situation with opposition research trying to pick holes through the return.”

(Trudo)

Consider, please, that the argument put forth by a surrogate is essentially that the GOP frontrunner and presumptive nominee is afraid.

Yes, really:

“… he feels that he doesn’t want to give out that information to the general public and have a whole nightmare situation with opposition research trying to pick holes through the return.”

Such are the dangers of surrogacy: Mr. Trump apparently does not want to release his tax returns because he is afraid to answer for what is in them.

(more…)

An Important Day

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at her presidential primary election night rally, Tuesday, April 26, 2016, in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

Today was supposed to be something of a good day. The question, then, is what tomorrow brings. Let us start, then, as Steve Benen did, with yesterday.

Recognizing the writing on the wall, Sanders’ aides conceded yesterday that the campaign will “reassess” its strategy going forward. While that’s often a euphemism for “quit,” that’s not the case here: Sanders isn’t prepared to walk away, but he is prepared to shift his focus in light of the recent results. Consider the statement his campaign issued last night:

“I congratulate Secretary Clinton on her victories tonight, and I look forward to issue-oriented campaigns in the 14 contests to come. […]

“The people in every state in this country should have the right to determine who they want as president and what the agenda of the Democratic Party should be. That’s why we are in this race until the last vote is cast. That is why this campaign is going to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with as many delegates as possible to fight for a progressive party platform that calls for a $15 an hour minimum wage, an end to our disastrous trade policies, a Medicare-for-all health care system, breaking up Wall Street financial institutions, ending fracking in our country, making public colleges and universities tuition free and passing a carbon tax so we can effectively address the planetary crisis of climate change.”

Over the last couple of months, each of the Sanders campaign’s election-night statements have included at least one reference to his “path to the nomination.” This one did not. It wasn’t an accidental omission.

Sanders started the race as an issue-oriented candidate who didn’t expect to be the party’s nominee, and the recent results have brought him full circle. He’s not done fighting; he’s just going to fight for something new: he can’t catch Clinton through the ballot box, but he can “fight for a progressive party platform.”

This is the day, apparently, when the Democratic Party is supposed to come together and turn its eyes to November.

(more…)

A Reflection on History, Standards, and the Establishment

Detail of cartoon by Matt Bors, via Daily Kos, 23 March 2016.

“Hillary Clinton is indeed, as her critics claim, part of the “the establishment.” Like all women of lofty ambition, she is keenly and woefully aware that in 2016, less than a century out from women’s suffrage, pioneering into a space formerly only occupied by men requires an acceptance that gender constrains one to work within the system, rather than from outside of it.”

Katie Massa Kennedy

Two generally grim thoughts arise and insist:

• The nagging feeling that my fellow liberals are about to blow our best opportunity in generations, and seemingly because the GOP has decided to run dangerously out on a limb, and we want a little bit of that spectacle for ourselves.

• The nagging feeling that it isn’t blindness toward history driving the liberal need to endanger this chance, but, rather, the proposition that some will do anything to keep a woman out of the White House.

(more…)

The Republican Message

"Meet Merrick Garland" ― Detail from screenshot of GOP.com.

Let’s talk about messaging.

Okay, we get that President Obama is the big bad villain and all that, but am I the only person who noticed that the GOP “oppo dump” against Judge Merrick Garland, besides being utterly flaccid, is filed under “Hillary Clinton”?

(sigh)

Here. Consider this note, please, from Greg Sargent, offered a couple days before the president nominated Judge Garland:

Republican operatives will “vet that person and put their real record on display.” Ideally, of course, this is what would happen if the Senate were to hold hearings on that person. But that might afford the nominee a chance to directly respond to his or her Republican cross-examiners in a high profile setting (as opposed to only having Democratic groups mount all the pushback, which of course they will also do, once there is a nominee). Direct exchanges between the nominee and Republican Senators, alas, might reflect well on that person. And so the only “vetting” and examination of the nominee’s “real record” will be undertaken through the RNC and associated GOP-aligned groups.

That’s not meant as sarcasm. It’s the actual Republican party-wide position right now. Remember, Senate Republicans themselves have told reporters that they don’t want to hold hearings explicitly because it would risk drawing the wrong kind of media attention to the nominee, thus making it harder politically for GOP Senators — particularly vulnerable incumbents facing reelection in states carried by Obama — to oppose that person later.

It also seems a good time to reiterate Stuart Rothenberg’s recent reflection on this year’s U.S. Senate races. No, really. Trying to tie it all together is an exercise in futility, because it’s almost like a harm reduction scheme implemented in advance of scheduled self-harm. And, yes, that sentence is supposed to read so ridiculously; that’s kind of the problem.

____________________

Image note: Detail of screenshot from GOP.com, taken 19 March 2016.

Republican National Committee. “Meet Merrick Garland”. GOP.com. 16 March 2016.

Rothenberg, Stuart. “Dem Senate Takeover Probable, If Cruz or Trump Nominee”. Rothenblog. Roll Call. 13 March 2016.

Sargent, Greg. “In Supreme Court fight, Republicans lead with their chins”. The Washington Post. 14 March 2016.

Pretty Much a Useless Post

Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, (I-VT) and Hillary Clinton interrupt each other during the Univision/Washington Post Democratic presidential debate at Miami-Dade College, Wednesday, 9 March 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Roll Call offers a summary of “What We Learned From Wednesday’s Democratic Debate”, including commentary from Adam Green of Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Clay Shroers from League of Conservation Voters, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Two main questions emerge:

Adam Green: From a marketing standpoint―you know, trying to hook the audience with an idea―do you think there might be a better way to say it than “popular economic populism ideas”?

Reince Priebus: I just need to know: Is there some pathological reason Republicans can no longer say “Democratic Party” properly?

No, really, if you cannot correctly pronounce the words “Democratic Party”, you’re probably not smart enough to hold public office in the United States.

Still, though, can you say, “popular economic populism ideas” five times fast?

____________________

Image note: Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, (I-VT) and Hillary Clinton interrupt each other during the Univision/Washington Post Democratic presidential debate at Miami-Dade College, Wednesday, 9 March 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Roll Call Staff. “What We Learned From Wednesday’s Democratic Debate”. At the Races. Roll Call. 9 March 2016.

A Thesis Worth Attending

Y’know, he might have a point:

"In every national election I can remember, the party that had its shit together the most won." (John Moe, via Twitter, 1 March 2016)

(Update, 7 March 2016: Sadly, it appears this gem of wisdom has already disappeared from the Twitterverse. I’m heartbroken. But, hey, at least we have this record. Should I be ethically torn, then? Never mind. But it really is a worthwhile observation. Oh, hey, try this: Remember that one time he said something really cool, and then suddenly he didn’t? This is our new existential testament.)

____________________

Image note: “In every national election I can remember, the party that had its shit together the most won.” (John Moe, via Twitter, 1 March 2016)