Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Mainstream pundits always feel the need to proclaim that Both Sides Do it, so they're telling us these days that the scary Donald Trump phenomenon on the right has an exact analogue on the left, namely the scary Bernie Sanders phenomenon. Never mind the fact that Trump is a literal know-nothing who's flirting with fascism, while Sanders is a political veteran whose policies would be considered moderate in a Western European nation. They're both terrifying! In exactly the same way!

But maybe lazy pundits won't say that for much longer. Soon, perhaps, pundits will pair Scary Donald and Scary Hillary:
Americans aren't just for or against presidential candidates this year: Color them scared.

In a national USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll, likely voters given the choice of four options -- enthusiastic, satisfied, dissatisfied or scared -- are most inclined to say the prospect of Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination or Hillary Clinton winning the Democratic one would leave them fearful.

... for Trump, 38% of likely voters would be scared if the real-estate mogul won the GOP nomination -- including not only 62% of Democrats but also 17% of Republicans. A third of independents, 33%, feel that way.

... And for Clinton, a former secretary of State, 33% would be scared -- including 60% of Republicans and also 8% of Democrats. Just over a third of independents, 35%, agree.
The non-conservative press could depict Clinton as the safe, color-within-the-lines sort of politician she actually is. But no -- if she and Trump are the nominees, we won't be told that one party is offering to put a steady, seasoned hand in charge of the ship of state, while the other party has chosen a Putin wannabe with narcissistic personality disorder. Instead we'll be told that they're both frightening in disturbingly similar ways. The mainstream press, taking its cue from the right, has made her into a monster, so she'll go into the general election as Trump's twin.

And yes, I still think Clinton will be the nominee. I know -- Sanders is in a virtual tie with Clinton in Nevada according to a new CNN poll, and yes, the two are effectively tied nationally according to a new Quinnipiac poll. But Clinton leads in ten of twelve early primary states according to Public Policy Polling, mostly by double digits, in large part because of support from African-American voters. So I still think it's her race to lose.

Mike Bloomberg probably won't run if Clinton beats Sanders. But if he were to run, I think he'd be the overwhelming mainstream-media favorite, the candidate who looks good enough at closing time to go home with after the Beltway press's mancrushes -- Rubio, Christie, Kasich, Ryan -- have either withdrawn from the race or, in Ryan's case, chosen not to run. And Bloomberg will definitely be the Rubio of the general election if he runs against Trump and Sanders.

I suspect that won't be enough to enable him to overcome his disadvantages -- lack of charisma, strictly regional appeal, reputation as a gun-grabber and nanny-stater -- but he'll absolutely be the favorite of the chattering classes. Not that that's been much help to Rubio, Christie, Kasich, or, for that matter, Jeb Bush.


AllieG said...

You buried your lede in the last paragraph, Steve. There's plenty of evidence that being the Beltway darling hurts a candidate rather than helps him/her.

Steve M. said...

It would help Hillary, because a lot of Democratic voters don't want to burn everything to the ground (like Trump or Cruz fans), nor do they think everything can change rapidly (Sanders fans). They'd like a steady hand at the tiller.

Victor said...

What Steve just said..

AllieG said...

Think 95 percent of the Beltway elite media would as soon drink paint as portray Clinton sympathetically.

Feud Turgidson said...

Allie G., I think that may be a little high (yet only a little), but that it's also important to understand the commercial incentives that would lie behind that opposition. IOW the chattering class, like everything in nature, tends to favor the lowest energy point - which, in case the of a President Hillary, would be overwhelming negative coverage of her presidency, regardless any objective or long view of whatever policy response she expresses or policy initiative she espouses.

It's way more thrilling to a beltway pundit to expend words and phrases at pretending to figure out the hidden values of a New New Fresh presidential animal, than it is to recycle old memes about a well-known personality.

Ten Bears said...

Given their attention I would conclude she is the media's darling. Has been for a long time. A regular cash... ahhh, machine.