Archive for Presidential Race
Discontent is simmering out there. Donald Trump is one proof. Bernie Sanders is another. The New York Times’ Patrick Healy looks at how discontent manifests itself among liberal-leaning voters:
Interviews with three dozen Democrats in key early states — a mix of undecided voters and Sanders and Clinton supporters — laid bare a sense of hopelessness that their leaders had answers to problems like income inequality and gun violence. It is frustration that Mr. Sanders, a senator from Vermont, and other progressive candidates are channeling and that Mrs. Clinton has addressed with increasing passion, as when she responded to Thursday’s massacre at an Oregon college by saying she was “just sick of this.”
Healy reports that similar insurgencies against party-blessed candidates have also popped up in Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania. Why? Because gun violence is not the only thing Democratic voters are sick of.
The disaffection among Democrats flows mainly from three sources, according to interviews with voters and strategists. Disappointment lingers with President Obama over the failure to break up big banks after the Great Recession and fight for single-payer health insurance, among other liberal causes. Fatigue with Mrs. Clinton’s controversies endures, as does distaste with her connections to the rich. And anger abounds at party leaders for not pursuing an ideologically pure, economically populist agenda.
So much I miss by going to bed early:
As a kid, I watched Superman on TV in black and white fighting his never-ending battle for “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.” All three have since fallen out of fashion. Carly the Fabulist’s tales of Planned Parenthood reminded us just how far we have fallen. Her “willingness to unrepentantly and repeatedly” look into the camera and lie to our faces recalls Dick Cheney’s talent for that, Digby reminded this week at Salon.
Digby references a post (in part about Mitt Romney) by Rick Perlstein that I want to revisit. While his books might bear pictures of presidents to please the marketers, Perlstein writes, he is much more interested in how “both the rank-and-file voters and the governing elites of a major American political party chose as their standardbearer a pathological liar. What does that reveal about them?”
Indeed. Direct-mail maven Richard Viguerie is one of his Perlstein’s touchstones for seeing into the conservative mind. Perlstein’s insights also come in part from examining the snake-oil ads in conservative publications such as Human Events and Townhall, as well as the more plebian Newsmax. My viewport is the conservative pass-it-on spams that land in my in-box. I collect them. I lost count somewhere around 200.
Perlstein contrasts the ubiquitous “get rich quick” appeals in these publications to one he noticed in the liberal The American Prospect for donations to help starving children in the Third World. I contrast them with the lack of appeals found in pass-it-on spam. They are lies, smears, distortions, propaganda — passed along dutifully by the parents who warned us about communist propaganda as kids:
Several postmortem analyses this morning on the Great Whitebread Hope’s presidential ambitions (emphasis mine):
Short of support and cash, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, saying he had been “called to lead by helping to clear the field,” announced Monday that he was suspending his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
Wow. On his way off the national stage and he comes up with a euphemism worthy of a Mike Huckabee.
The Guardian has this:
With a reputation for selling ruthless conservatism to traditionally Democratic voters, Walker was leading the primary race not just in Iowa but in national polling too, easily upstaging the awkward-looking Jeb Bush and Donald Trump’s ominous security guards.
But by the time Walker took the reluctant decision to suspend his campaign on Monday – just 71 days after its formal launch – the dream of this tough new breed of purple state Republicanism lay in tatters.
Walker’s campaign didn’t even last long enough for Walker to file a single federal election commission (FEC) report, the Guardian notes. His human bobblehead announcement speech was perhaps a portent that there was never enough there for Walker to go the distance.
Local organizers held Bernie Bash 2015 Sunday afternoon. Some music, some food, and some Bernie Sanders swag. Lots of enthusiasm. (Some of the Bernie swag was homemade.) Whether any of it will translate into convention votes is another matter.
Anis Shivani at Salon believes Sanders’ next moves must include:
a) dramatic emphasis on minority outreach; b) expansion of his economic message to one of social harmony; and c) delegitimization of the negative populism pervasive in the Republican primary.
All good. But feeling the Bern won’t get supporters like those I met into the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. That will take credentials. Getting credentials will take Sanders winning delegates in the Super Tuesday primaries and his supporters getting elected as Sanders delegates per their state party’s procedures. Sanders supporters new to or ideologically opposed to participating in what some may consider a tainted, insiders’ game will be playing catch-up. Or else they won’t. Hillary Clinton’s supporters will know the process inside out. Vox provides an update on where that stands:
In which Latino voters flex their American muscle. And in which I agree with Team Trump. Politico reviews the part Latino voters will play in the 2016 elections:
Hispanic activists have two words for Donald Trump — thank you.
“I think the greatest thing to ever happen to the Hispanic electorate is a gentleman named Donald Trump, he has crystalized the angst and anger of the Hispanic community,” U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Javier Palomarez told POLITICO in an interview. “I think that we can all rest assured that Hispanics can turn out in record numbers.”
Let’s hope that’s true.
The Trump camp is not worried, and it says it sees more Hispanic voters as a good thing.
“I don’t hear any empirical evidence that that is going to happen,” campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said about the idea that more Hispanic voters could hurt his chances. “The more people that take part in the election process, the better, and I think it’s clear that Mr. Trump has invigorated people who aren’t traditionally participating in the process.”
I took her by her lily white hand
And dragged her down that bank of sand
There I throwed her in to drown
I watched her as she floated down
“Was walking home tween twelve and one
Thinkin’ of what I had done
I killed a girl, my love you see
Because she would not marry me
– from “Banks Of The Ohio” (traditional)
They love their country — it’s THEIR country — and if they can’t have her, nobody can.
Inside Beltway salons, that simply doesn’t compute.
Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?
We all know those as the words of Joseph Welch to Sen. Joe McCarthy during the infamous 1954 Army–McCarthy hearings. When Welch was done, the gallery burst into applause. It was the beginning of the end for McCarthy and his Communist witch hunt. The Senate censured him in December that year.
Our present (Muslim) witch hunt reached new heights of insanity this week with the arrest of 14 year-old Ahmed Mohammed in Irving, Texas. Known at school as “the Inventor Kid,” the son of Sudanese immigrants brought a homemade electronic clock to school to impress a teacher, only to find himself arrested and later suspended for – what? – inventing while Muslim?
The incident has brought the kid international fame and an even brighter future. Meanwhile, Irving’s mayor, whom the Dallas Morning News describes as “a hero among a fringe movement that believes Muslims — a tiny fraction of the U.S. population — are plotting to take over American culture and courts,” defends the action. And Irving’s police chief had to go on television to explain why officers arrested Mohammed as a suspected bomber, or as a hoax bomber, when they knew the clock was just a clock.
How many times in the last decades have we recalled Joseph Welch’s rebuke and wondered when some contemporary version of Welch would break the spell of the serial mass insanities, conspiracy theories, urban legends, and hoaxes that have beset this country for decades? And we’re not talking just Muslims post-September 11.
We’re talking about moral panic over ritual Satanic abuse in the late 1980s. Or fingerprinting toddlers against unseen abductors. Or a wave of false memory syndrome. We’re talking about the serial confabulations surrounding Bill and Hillary Clinton: the Clinton “body count,” the “hit” on Vince Foster, the Clinton “drug ring,” etc. We’re talking about the Birthers and the Truthers and all the others – including the leading Republican candidate for president – who have made it their business to traffic in the kind of propaganda that might make the KGB blanch. We’re talking about the popularity of reality TV that is anything but. We tune in for the spectacle. To borrow from the Bible, we have exchanged lies for truth.
Scholars have called this the “operational aesthetic”: a kind of spectacle in which the conversation surrounding the show becomes the show itself. And it was pioneered by P.T. Barnum in the decades prior to the Civil War, long before the showman became a senior partner in the Barnum and Bailey Circus.
What did this operational aesthetic look like in practice? Consider, for example, Barnum’s famous “Feejee Mermaid“: a stuffed monkey’s torso, sewn to the tail of a fish, that Barnum tried to pass off as a mythical sea creature – and which Americans flocked to see in vast numbers.
In Trump’s case, it’s his hair.
As Charlie Pierce says, “This is your democracy, America. Cherish it.” It is one in which there are bogie men under our beds, and bright, brown-skinned kids with science projects might be terrorists. The New York Times this morning observes of the Republican’s presidential field:
And that, America, is frightening. Peel back the boasting and insults, the lies and exaggerations common to any presidential campaign. What remains is a collection of assertions so untrue, so bizarre, that they form a vision as surreal as the Ronald Reagan jet looming behind the candidates’ lecterns.
It felt at times as if the speakers were no longer living in a fact-based world where actions have consequences, programs take money and money has to come from somewhere. Where basic laws — like physics and the Constitution — constrain wishes. Where Congress and the public, allies and enemies, markets and militaries don’t just do what you want them to, just because you say they will.
At long last, when will it end? Where’s Joseph Welch when you really need him?
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
Just as tall trees are known by their shadows, so are good men known by their enemies. – Chinese proverb
By all accounts I’ve seen, Britain’s new Labour Party leader is further to the left than Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. What they may have more in common than politics are the kinds of attacks they suffer at the hands of their adversaries. Sanders this week faces attacks that try to tie him to Corbin:
WASHINGTON — A super PAC backing Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is going negative, circulating an email that yokes her chief rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to some of the more controversial remarks made by Jeremy Corbyn, the United Kingdom’s new Labour Party leader, including his praise for the late Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan leader who provided discounted fuel to Vermont in a deal supported by Sanders.
Clinton’s camp has long said it has no plans to attack Sanders. But the super PAC, called Correct the Record, departed from its defense of Clinton’s record as a former secretary of state in an email Monday that compares Sanders with Corbyn. Correct the Record, led by Clinton ally David Brock, also has sent trackers after Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
The Guardian reports:
Sen. Bernie Sanders is scheduled to speak at Liberty University this morning in Lynchburg, Virginia, following in the steps of Donald Trump and others. That’s one way for Sanders to “generate widespread national media attention“:
Indications from local Democrats show that many Sanders supporters may try to fill in the seats not occupied by Liberty students. Katie Cyphert, the Lynchburg Democratic Committee chairwoman, said she has been fielding many phone calls and emails.
“This is not a Democratic Committee event,” Cyphert said. “By virtue of this being in Lynchburg, we are fielding an exorbitant number of phone calls.”
One of those students, Erin Kotlan, came to further her faith in Jesus and actually found him through Liberty:
Many of my conservative Christian peers are baffled by the idea that my political beliefs could be grounded in my faith in Jesus Christ; but I believe the best way to find any sort of concrete truth among the shifting cultures of Christianity is to go directly to the Bible. From my studies, I have concluded that the Bible clearly indicates all life is valuable. Jesus calls his followers to care for those on the fringes of society: the poor, orphans, immigrants, and other disenfranchised groups. His calling leads me to a strong passion for social justice and an interest in hearing Senator Sanders speak.
For me, applying these truths to my political life puts me somewhere in between the two political parties. There is not a candidate for the upcoming election with whom I fully agree; but the majority of Sanders’s political ideas seem to fit well with my faith. According to his campaign site, Sanders’s political focus is on issues such as strengthening the middle class, racial justice, women’s rights, and a better immigration policy. These types of policies help more people gain equal access to political, economic, and social rights. Sander’s economic policies have the potential to shift our countries’ mindset from profit motive to a focus on communal well-being and equality. A governmental focus on these policies could help America to create a more inclusive community; a community that would allow us to decrease the number of people left on the margins of society.
Oops. Liberty officials must be worrying if it’s contagious.
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)