Saturday, June 11, 2016

#DemsInDisarray

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Steve M. for inviting me to post here, mainly because after this it's unlikely he'll ever invite me back. Because this post is actually a little...(oh, this is so embarrassing)...optimistic.

But hey, we're in an extraordinary moment right now, and it's worth commenting on it.

On the Democratic side, all the anxious questions about what Bernie's endgame is may now have an answer: it doesn't matter. I think Steve M. had it right a week ago when he suggested that Clinton can probably win without the bitter-enders. On Thursday the Democratic party picked up and moved on to the general, leaving Sanders to work out his own issues on the sidelines. President Obama endorsed Clinton. Vice President Biden endorsed Clinton. Senator Warren endorsed Clinton. Jeff Merkley, the only Senator to endorse Sanders, endorsed Clinton. And everyone said very nice things about Sanders--Obama, as is his wont, was especially gracious--but the message was unmistakeable: with you or without you, we are doing this. All those endorsements mean Sanders is no longer in a position to drive the news cycle. And whatever President Obama said to him in their meeting (a lot of people are guessing it was something along the lines of "my offer is this: nothing"), Sanders seems to have at least started out on the path to concession.

But it wasn't the endorsements in themselves that mattered most. What really mattered was what they did with them, which is hammer the living shit out of Trump. This at the same time as Priorities USA launched a $25 million buy in swing states, starting with a devastatingly effective ad (more about that in another post). Timing is everything, and it thrills me to see the Democrats exploiting an opportunity that might not still be around in July.

That opportunity being the situation on the Republican side, which is summed up nicely in this tweet from Josh Barro (after Clinton's foreign policy speech): I don't recall ever seeing anything like the paralysis that currently grips the Republican party. Part of it is that much of the GOP establishment still clings to fantasies of dumping Trump at the convention (Oh yeah? Hugh and what army?); part of it is that a lot of the people who are resigned to Trump are under fire or looking for an escape hatch; part of it is that the campaign is broke. Meanwhile, Trump hasn't figured out yet that the general electorate isn't the party. They're trying to cut down on his off-the cuff racism with a TeleprompTer, with not entirely encouraging results, but he hasn't really changed his pitch; as Stuart Stevens says, he's "an Amway dealer selling to Amway dealers."

And the truly extraordinary thing is that for once in our lives the Democrats have the resources, the smarts, and the will to exploit this Republican moment of extreme weakness. If they succeed in defining Trump (as unstable and incompetent, as a sleazeball whose business model was screwing the little guy, as a crass and cruel bully), the way Republicans defined Dukakis and Kerry, it won't matter how Trump attacks between now and November.

And yes, we could still fuck it up. Bernie could incite riots in Philadelphia and then urge his supporters to write him in (though I don't think anything short of that would hurt too badly), or god knows what else. Democrats have been known to blow a winning hand before. But for now, I'm going to enjoy the moment.

17 comments:

Victor said...

Tom,
Being a conservative/Republican, means never having to say you're sorry.

Being a liberal/Democrat, means always having to say you're sorry!

This also means that, repeatedly, the Dem's snatch defeat from the very jaws of victory!

Oy!

Ernest Lamonica said...

Obama wont allow it. Its really that simple.

aimai said...

I really think we are going to be fine. I also think that the loudest voices, whether for Trump or Bernie, are ultimately going to fade away. There will be 27 percent of the people on either side, presumably, who will stick with voting for Trump but I honestly believe that many people will go into the polling booth and either not vote for him or not vote for anyone.

I think the thing that I've learned from watching Obama, and Hillary this time around, is not to sweat the things people say, or say they are going to do. Buyers are liars is a phrase realtors use to explain the way in which people will list out for you all their "must haves" in a house, their "bottom line." But routinely they end up buying a house which has few, or none, of those attributes. I think the same about the voters. There are people--lots of them--who have a lot of ego invested in being the kind of person with princpals A, B, or C. And they live in communities where being known as having that principal is very important. But voting is a private act and one in which you sometimes have to confront the reality which is that you say that ABC is life or death for you but really other stuff is just as, or more, important.

On the right side of the aisle a bunch of social conservatives, people who think that abortion or gays are the vital issue of the century, don't like overt racism, or are afraid of nuclear war. Those people will continue to say theyw ill vote against Hillary but I think many of them could end up not voting at all. Meanwhile the "low taxes for ever" people may want another Republican in the White House, but again, fear of a nuclear holocaust or busted trade deals may lead many of them to sit this one out. Even as they go down shouting "never Hillary!"

Tom Hilton said...

I'm inclined to agree, aimai.

Ten Bears said...

Folks that have hanging around here for more than a few months know that I called this for Clinton well over a year ago, well before Donald T Rump crawled into the clown car, and having resigned myself to that inevitability have never seen Her Dumpfuck as a viable candidate. It would surprise me if he garners twenty-five percent of the general vote. Indeed, I am still not at all unconvinced he isn't "campaigning" for her. As to Sanders, while he did manage to push socially progressive agenda into the limelight, in the grander scheme of things his campaign has been naught but an amusing distraction, and an enlightening if alarming study of the democrat id.

When people starting talk about Revolution I ask 'do you have a plan' for when we get to the other side of it?

Jim Sweeney said...

It may be the height of hubris to suggest this, but I don't see how this can go wrong. Trump is incompetent; much of the Republican establishment is aligned against him; the demographics are going the wrong way for team red. What does has he have going for him? Even a terrorist attack or a stock market collapse would work against him; the latter tends to favor reliably Keynesian liberals, and the former runs up against the Obama/Clinton scorecard of relentless terrorist elimination.

Trump shares all the weaknesses of Romney: just another heedless, careless, privileged exploiter, whose every instance of casual cruelty has been amply documented and will soon be more widely shared. We all enjoy monsters, but only up to a point. If the public hasn't crossed the line yet, it will soon.

aimai said...

Right on all counts, Jim Sweeney. I'd also like to add to your observation that "even a terrorist attack or a stock market collapse would work against him" that this election is really a one two punch to the eternal attempts by the Republicans to paint Democrats as too "soft" or "feminine" to defend the country. Bill and Hillary must be laughing at how badly the priviliged military school boy comes off next to Hillary qua foreign policy/CIC. Which leads me to another point I'd like to make which is that the Dems, I think, are not going to try to feminize Trump but they are going to try to represent him as a soft, whiny, bratty, toddler with gargantuan apetites, no ability to self censor, no ability to play with others, etc...etc...etc...

Never Ben Better said...

Oh, aimai, that toddler line of attack is perfect! Don't build him up as a big tough guy type of threat; make him a pathetic laughingstock! An oversized baby spattered with spit-up, furiously shaking his rattle and crying. The cartoonists will have a ball.

BroD said...

Agree that a Hillary victory (and likely a huge one is pretty certain (but let's not get complacent.) The challenge will be in the House and Senate. Understand that that's where the smart GOP money will go--I have no doubt that was the take-away from the "Romney Summit".

We've seen the damage an obstructionist Congress can wreak: it's infuriating that thousands of my neighbors here in Baltimore can't find work while our aging sanitary system leaks millions of gallons of sewage into the Chesapeake Bay.

We've got a major opportunity to forge a durable progressive majority but need a full court press to turn out the Democratic base, especially young folks and minorities, to vote in the House, Senate and State contests--and do it again in 2018!

sdhays said...

I slightly disagree with Jim's characterization of "much of the Republican establishment is aligned against him" - most of them have endorsed him and would like to back him, but they see him as a loser and he's not even trying to work with them on things like raising money and GOTV. Mitt Romney is pretty much the only exception to this that I can think of, and it increases my respect for him (from 0).

This is why "paralysis" is a good description. Most of the Republican establishment has no problem with Trump and aren't against him; they're just worried that he's going to lose and make a lot of other Republicans lose. So they don't know what to do, and they're flailing. Paul Ryan flat out calls Trump racist, and still says he's going to vote for Trump. McConnell says Trump is totally ignorant about everything, but he's still supporting him. Sure, some people here and there are still holding the flame for dumping Trump before the convention, but they're just being silly. The true anti-Trump faction in the Republican Party is ridiculously weak and inconsequential in terms of actual influence (but they get an out-sized megaphone which helps damage Trump and the Republican brand).

The Democrats have a clear path forward, but the Republicans seem unlikely to get past the dithering stage any time soon.

D. Hussein said...

This comment thread is an oasis of sanity. I find it very comforting and reassuring. Thanks to all.

Max said...

On the Democratic side, all the anxious questions about what Bernie's endgame is may now have an answer: it doesn't matter. I think Steve M. had it right a week ago when he suggested that Clinton can probably win without the bitter-enders.

Feh. The fact of the matter is that Bernie was never going to do any of that stuff. I know my man, he's been at this a long time - he can be sticky and determined but the notion he's going to try and screw things up for the Dems is goofy.

As for the 'bitter enders', it depends. The fact of that matter is there were a number of Bitter Enders for Hillary in 2008 and a few of them went on to loudly support John McCain and write columns for the Daily Beast detailing Obama's supposed uh, 'dark' perfidies ('Show us the birth certificate!'). They're back over here backing Hillary this year.

They'll be a few loud examples of people denouncing Hill and deciding to support Trump and it isn't going to matter very much. (There's been an argument over whether Bernie supporters are 'moderates' but that's about the fact that the white people in red states who supported the white woman over the black man in 2008 decided to support the Jewish guy over the white woman this year. In both instances they'll go over and support the R, just like they were always going to do.)

So I agree with you.

I don't recall ever seeing anything like the paralysis that currently grips the Republican party.

Wait til August when they start the roll out the annual election season crazy. (The scheduled one this year was eeeebil Mooslim terrorists, I think, but they may have to invent something new.) Won't matter much then.

If they succeed in defining Trump (as unstable and incompetent, as a sleazeball whose business model was screwing the little guy, as a crass and cruel bully), the way Republicans defined Dukakis and Kerry, it won't matter how Trump attacks between now and November.

That's a little optimistic. Defining him might help him a bit, God knows. What matters is turning out our guys.

Bernie could incite riots in Philadelphia and then urge his supporters to write him in (though I don't think anything short of that would hurt too badly), or god knows what else.

He isn't going to do that - he was never going to do that. Anymore than Hillary was going to do that in 2008. That's someone's hate fantasy.

Or projection.

But for now, I'm going to enjoy the moment.

What matters is the Wednesday after the second Tuesday in November. I'll be happy - or unhappy - then.

max
['The rest is just noise.']

Philo Vaihinger said...

Bernie is not a Democrat.

If he fucks it up it won't be a case of "we Democrats" fucking it up.

He is and has always been an outsider radical who hates Democrats and the entire American system of parties and of government as inherently corrupt because capitalism.

That's Bernie.

There are many, many things wrong with Hillary.

But fundamental and lifelong hatred of America and its republican form of government, anyway, is not among them.

Ten Bears said...

[A]n outsider radical who hates Democrats and the entire American system of parties and of government as inherently corrupt because capitalism.

Not to the degree with which I despise Republicans and the word 'hate', but otherwise I'll take it Philo, thanks!

In comments elsewhere I remind folks that of course the liquor store just north of The Rez is owned by white dogs because: Capitalism! Supply the demand, and if there's no demand supply it! 'Muerica, Fuck Yeah!

The dictionary definition of a republic is not democracy.

petrilli said...

The image of a crying baby Trump is especially apt given all the buzz about Gingrich lately. If Newt were chosen VP, They could be feature together in a double pram on the Daily News front page.

Chai T. Ch'uan said...

You and Steve are both right. It's not the handful of bitter, widely-sought-for-commenf Bernie supporters she has to worry about. It's the millions of young independents rarely quoted on teevee but who own the social media of the next generation, who overwhelmingly prefer Sanders' message and principles to either hers or Trump's, and for whom "Trump is worse" isn't really a rousing inspiration. Don't fool yourself -- them she does need. We'll see how well she does winning their votes.

Tom Hilton said...

I've seen a shitload of generational triumphalism like this, and I haven't seen nearly as much evidence to support it.