Thursday, March 05, 2015


Hillary Clinton isn't my presidential ideal -- not by a long shot. Nevertheless, I've been on board with the idea that she'd sail to the nomination and be the favorite in the general election, simply because the Democrats I'd prefer don't seem to have what it takes to win a presidential election in 2016 in our horrible, debased political culture. Even with Email-ghazi, I still think that's true, and I was reminded why when I read Matt Bai's latest column for Yahoo News.

Bai wants someone to challenge Hillary in the primaries. That's fine -- but Bai sure as hell doesn't want a challenge to Hillary from a progressive. In the column, he says with a sneer that Bernie Sanders is "an avowed socialist," and Elizabeth Warren "sounds more like a Jacobin." That's in keeping with earlier columns like this one, in which he decries the party insiders' desire for a Hillary coronation while turning up his nose at others who are actually considering a run:
The current hope is that Clinton may not even have to risk debating in the primaries, unless someone really is crazy enough to run against her. (Um ... have you guys actually heard Bernie Sanders?)
Har har har! Yes, I have actually heard Bernie Sanders. I agree with him a hell of a lot. But he can't get heard in this political environment, even as lunatics on the right get taken very, very seriously, because people like Matt Bai are just too cool for progressivism.

And yes, as yet another Bai column demonstrates, that contempt extends to Elizabeth Warren:
Which brand of challenger do we really think Warren would be? We're talking about a Cambridge academic who doesn't want to just preserve entitlement programs in the face of retiring boomers, but expand them. Next to her, [Howard] Dean looks like Barry Goldwater....

Imagine ... how doctrinaire and lecturing Clinton would seem, by comparison, after sharing a debate stage with Warren for six months. Imagine how much of an exaggerator Clinton would appear to be after Senator Stands With a Fist got through explaining, for the 400th time, why she claimed to be Native American in a faculty directory.
This is the sort of condescension a progressive alternative to Hillary would face from all the oh-so-savvy, oh-so-insidery types in the Beltway punditocracy.

Bai wants Hillary to be challenged by someone who's, y'know, regular. Specifically, Joe Biden:
Biden’s a middle-class champion who makes the case for economic fairness with more conviction than Clinton and less vitriol than Warren. He’s a serious thinker on foreign policy who opposes rampant interventionism without sounding like a pacifist. He more than holds his own as a debater.
Yes, he doesn't frighten the horses the way Warren does, which is really the point for Bai.

Bai's main argument is that someone should challenge Hillary, because "there’s just something unseemly about the liberal reformers of the ’60s generation, men and women who fought to create a more democratic nominating process back in the day, now trying to back down anyone who would challenge the establishment’s candidate." Curiously, however, he doesn't want a challenge from anyone whose politics are similar to those of "the '60s generation."

Really, Bai wants there to be a challenge to Hillary for the sake of a challenge, just because she and the Democratic insiders need to be taken down a peg -- and also because she might give up in an amusingly embarrassing way if she's challenged:
But if a Biden gets in the race, suddenly that calculus is slightly different. Now, if you’re Clinton, you have to ask yourself: Are you really up for slugging it out in all those primaries all over again, with the nonstop debating and parrying and standing in the bitter cold at 5 a.m., all with the very real chance that you could lose? Do you really want to risk your hard-won standing as a stateswoman on a bruising campaign against the only politician who has a stronger claim to Obama’s legacy among liberal voters?
Um, Bai does remember that Hillary stayed in the 2008 race long after there was even a mathematical possibility of defeating Obama?

The point here is that Biden might genuinely humiliate Hillary, in Bai's estimation, which would be supremely satisfying. Bai has contempt for Sanders and Warren, but he also has contempt for Hillary. None of them seem as harmless, as eager to please, as Biden, so this is understandable.

The thing about Hillary is that she has the star power and the juice to win the presidency despite the contempt of the Matt Bais of the Beltway Village. I don't think Warren and Sanders can say the same, nor can Biden. So, for lack of a viable alternative, I'm sticking with Hillary for the time being.


DJK said...


Hillary negotiated the Israel-Hamas cease fire that prevented a 2nd Gaza War and saw peace between Israel and Hamas during her tenure. She was responsible for making women's rights and gay equality official US diplomatic and economic policy. She created the State Dept initiatives to 1) include energy independence in America's national security portfolio and to 2) combat digital terrorism, recognizing Bush admin neglect.

Hillary, along with Sec. of Defense Gates, was instrumental as a tag team in pressuring Obama to kill bin Laden and to remove Ghadafi. The cooperation between State and Defense during her tenure was unprecedented. She presciently warned House Republicans that cutting embassy security would expose ambassadors to threats.

As a private lawyer, Hillary chaired the American Bar Association group instituted gender bias reforms in the profession. She was the only Senator asked to advise the Defense Dept. As First Lady, she was the driving force behind bills to extend health insurance to millions of children and the adoption reform movement.

As First Lady of Arkansas, Hillary made Arkansas one of the first states to embrace early childhood education. She got Congress to triple the budget of Legal Services to aid the poor when she ran the program in the late 70s and early 80s, successfully fighting Reagan's attempts to cut it. She was named multiple times one of the nation's most influential lawyers in her private career.

Hillary is the recipient of countless humanitarian awards on behalf of her efforts for women, girls, and the poor worldwide. And she is still standing, thriving, and popular after two decades of relentless attacks from the media elite and from conservatives.

Bullcaca about private emails, nevermind that Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Colin Powell, Rick Perry, and George W. Bush are already on record as having used private email in their official roles -- I'm sure sexist selective outrage will sway voters hahaha #BENGHAZI

Victor said...

Bai so wants a rerun of 2000, with Hillary in the punching-bag role of Al Gore.

Instead of his brown suits and earnest sighs, we'll get BS about pant-suit wearing older bitches wanting to tell everyone what to do.

Jesus, she's not my favorite candidate by a long shot either, but she's better than anything (emphasis on "thing," not "one") the GOP will put forward!

Bai has always been an idiot. I stopped reading anything by him years ago.
He's as insipid as Bobo, and about as insightful as a combo of Friedman and Kristol - albeit, not as conservative as the latter.

petrilli said...

"...because people like Matt Bai are just too cool for progressivism."
Media critic Jay Rosen calls this the church of the saavy.

mlbxxxxxx said...

I love Joe Biden. Have since his 1st presidential campaign. I was out of work at the time and watched a lot of CSPAN. They had cameras just following candidates around. And the cameras hung around after events and caught some more or less candid moments of Biden talking to voters. I've never seen a politician who seemed as genuinely without artifice. Really real, I guess. His life story is pretty compelling, too. I sort of fell for him then and have wanted to vote for him ever since. It felt good to vote for him as VP and I think he'd make an outstanding president. Probably a fun one, too.

That being said, I don't want him to run against Hillary. Not Sanders or Warren, either. Warren should stay in the Senate in perpetuity or until a SCOTUS opening comes her way. I wish we could give it to Hillary by acclamation. I feel pretty pessimistic just now about 2016, but I think HRC is our best and, unfortunately, only hope.

Philo Vaihinger said...

On the issues I would prefer Sanders and then Warren.

But I agree with you we need to win and I agree why.

Biden and Sanders are Old White Guys who would not be powerful draws for the young, the female, and the not-white that Democrats can no longer win the White House without.

Is Matt Bai just another of the Democratic Hillary bashes who seem to have decided to let her have it over the last few days?

Everybody knows the Democrats have continued the trend of abandoning/alienating the white working class over Obama's presidency to the point where even a young white guy would probably lose the White House.

To have a reasonable shot the Dem candidate has to be a woman or a black.

Within that range, at the moment, everyone else is riskier than Hillary and, just as you say, a one-party GOP government would have only one job, dismantling as much of the progressive heritage as they could.

So all these attacks on Hillary with nary a Dem to rise to her defense are making me nervous.

Steve M. said...

To have a reasonable shot the Dem candidate has to be a woman or a black.

I don't buy that. I think you have to find a way to appeal outside of your own demographic categories. Bill Clinton did it. Barack Obama found a way to appeal to some whites, at least in '08. Hillary polls better among Rust Belt whites than Obama while also polling quite well among non-whites. And you can go back to the Kennedys -- how did these rich preppies appeal across class and racial lines? How did FDR?

Biden, if he'd stop clowning, might manage it -- when he's serious, he's eloquent on the importance of government working for ordinary people. I think that appeals across ethnic lines. And his personality may make him seem genuine to some people. But he needs to dial the goofiness down, and he doesn't seem able or willing to do that.