Friday, November 04, 2016


After some half-hearted denunciations of Donald Trump and the party that nominated him, Peggy Noonan, in her latest column, turns to the Democrats, and describes a party I'm struggling to recognize:
[Hillary Clinton] is the nominee because the Democratic Party, which used to fight about great issues of war and peace, of the deeper meaning of foreign and domestic policy -- it was a vital thing -- is now kept together by one central organizing principle: the brute acquisition of power, and holding on to that power no matter what. The worst members of the party appear to care almost nothing about what that power is used for, how it will be wielded to achieve higher purposes. They’re just making a living. They’re just on a team....

The Democratic Party and its lobbyist/think-tank/journalistic establishment in Washington have long looked to me to be dominated by people devoted mostly to getting themselves in the best professional position and their kids into Sidwell Friends School. They want to be part of the web, the arrangement. They want to have connections, associates, a tong. They want to be wired in.
I have several reactions to this. The first is to the last bit ("They want to have connections..."). The reaction is that I'm shocked, shocked, to see that back-scratching is going on in Washington. That's never happened before.

But to the rest of what Noonan writes here: Is this Democratic Party you recognize? We're at the end of an eight-year democratic presidency. What do you remember about it? A concern with the rights of women, LGBT people, and non-whites. An effort to bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows. A struggle to wrap up two wars, even if that struggle was often one step forward and two steps back. An end to government-sanctioned torture. A slow process of trying to close Guantanamo. A nuclear deal with Iran. Increased taxation of the rich. And, of course, Obamacare.

Really? None of that qualifies as "fight[ing] about great issues of war and peace, of the deeper meaning of foreign and domestic policy"? Preventing the privatization of Social Security and Medicare, which Democrats have done successfully for the past generation, doesn't count? Denouncing the racism and anti-Muslim bias of the opposing party and its nominee this year -- that doesn't count?

You can say that the Clintons are less principled. But Bill Clinton raised taxes on the wealthy, fought to provide universal health coverage, supported an assault weapons ban, and paid a serious political price for it. He weathered a government shutdown led by a Republican who, as Paul Krugman reminds us, sought Medicare privatization. His vice president went on to fight climate change in the face of widespread ridicule on the right.

I'm not saying that many Democrats in Washington aren't also self-serving insiders. But the party stands for something. The voters certainly do, and if there's been hesitancy about the presidential nominee this year, it's because voters have demanded that she live up to our principles. And she's insisted that she does -- her rhetoric hasn't tacked to the center.

We're a divided nation because we don't agree on abortion or gun control or whether Islam is a religion you're free to practice in America under the terms of the Constitution. There are Democratic positions on all these issues and more. What Noonan writes here makes no sense.


Victor said...

It's projection, Steve - and with Nooner's, too much sherry.
It's all they have left - and with Nooner's, no sherry left.

Conservatives can't look at themselves in the mirror, and see their own failings. So, they project those failings onto liberals and Democrats.

jp said...

Victor beat me to it--the projection is strong in this one. Which party is the one that only cares about power?

Philo Vaihinger said...

Everybody lies in politics, but the Republicans before and since Trump have been the really big liars.

How else can you sell bare-knuckle capitalism to the people who would be its victims?

So of course half the voters think Trump is the more candid and truthful, compared to Hillary.


Because he bellows she is a liar and a crook, as do all the Republicans, and as did Bernie, with great enthusiasm, for far too long.

So of course it must be true.

Even that blockhead ultra-leftist, Ron Chusid, echoes all those GOP hit points, and even brands her a dangerous Christianist, she who has for decades supported every feminist cause, abortion rights, gay rights, and the social and religious acceptance of the LGBT community.

Anonymous said...

On a job site yesterday some Dumpf uck asked me whay O thought of his "candidate". Told him it should hanging from the nearest with its clothes on fire.

Shut him right up,
Ten Bears

swkellogg said...

What Victor said. It really is always projection with the members of the party of personal responsibility.

Unknown said...

The Democrats stand for exactly the same thing as the Republicans. Namely, whichever corporate interest pays them the most.

Any belief that Democratic politicians are more principled, or that Democratic supporters are less hypocritical, is pure tribal loyalism.

Fiddlin Bill said...

"Unknown" seems to have gone directly to the comments without reading your clear and cogent argument.

Steve M. said...

So, Unknown, Obama's efforts to transfer as many prisoners as possible out of Gitmo, despite the vehement opposition of the entire GOP and much of the public, serves what corporate interest exactly?

Politicians are more than their lowest instincts (unless they're Republicans, in which case they generally have only their lowest instincts).

Jimbo said...

You forgot to mention the Paris Agreement on climate change, which is our last best hope of avoiding the end of human civilization.

The New York Crank said...

Gortbliktz from the Planet Nictu here.

You have had Peggy Noonan long enough. We want her back. The Sacred Mud Castles do not gel to the right consistency without her and our crystal balls have lost their infallibly brilliant murkiness.

Should you fail to return Peggy to us immediately, we will afflict your miserable planet with four years of our laboratories' latest creation, Donald Trump.

Unknown said...

Has she ever made sense?

Unknown said...

Has she ever made sense?

Ok said...

Unknown sounds to me like Ken Wrong's new account.

Peter VE said...

"What Noonan writes makes no sense" Fixed