Sunday, July 16, 2017

Poddy looks into the Kristol Ball of Counterfactuals

A-and socialism, kids! Just across the horizon! Well, maybe not quite. Image, late 19th–early 20th c., via Wikipedia.

Shorter John Podhoretz, "Hillary's White House would be no different from Trump's", New York Post, July 15 2017:
Trump hasn't done anything in office, other than nominating a Supreme Court justice and sending a raid to Syria, and Clinton wouldn't have been able to do anything either, with both Houses of Congress run by Republicans. Of course she would be more boring than Trump, since she is evil but not a sower of chaos, but we wouldn't know what we were missing. The Clinton family melodrama would resemble that of the Trumps in its ethical compromises, with Clinton Foundation donors hovering around the White House, which is identical to President Trump spending every weekend hovering around the golfers and hotel guests filling his personal coffers.
And the wealthiest appointments list in US history with a web of conflicts of interest that The New York Times and Pro Publica are as yet nowhere near finished covering? J-Pod is pretty clearly confusing the reality with the noise that Republicans would undoubtedly be accompanying a Clinton presidency with, as he sort of acknowledges:
Liberals are obsessed with the possible violations of the emoluments clause with the continuing existence of the Trump Organization — and conservatives would have been just as consumed with the question of the behavior of Clinton Inc. during a Clinton administration.
But they would be wrong, especially on the subject of the Clinton Foundation, which the Clintons promised would not exist in anything like its then form if she was elected, with Bill Clinton no longer involved in management or fundraising and no more corporate or international donations accepted (and they tend, imperfectly, to keep those promises, unlike certain persons whose tax returns have still not been released). This was pretty well publicized last August, and I'm not sure how Poddy missed it.

We'd hardly have the day-to-day revelations of personal and official misconduct in the campaign that we have for Trump and friends, because whatever there was was exhaustively covered during the campaign (as has been pointed out, WikiLeaks never had any material to sell on Trump), along with a great deal of whatever there wasn't, from Benghazi to the juvenile sex slavery ring Clinton and Podesta were said toward the end of the campaign to be running in a DC pizzeria (pretty sure one highly educated Trump voter of my acquaintance believed, or affected to believe, in that one). And she's not likely to have fired the FBI director, IF ONLY BECAUSE SHE'S AWARE THAT IT WOULD FUCKING LOOK BAD but also because her investigation was long ago finished, while the Trump campaign's investigation was just starting to get going.

And which foreign government tinkering with our electoral system through cyberwar would we be worried about? France and Germany, Canada and Mexico, Japan and South Korea may all be wishing they'd thought of it at this point, but they didn't.

Also, if we're talking about a universe where Clinton won the 2016 presidential election, I think we're probably talking about a world where Chuck Schumer is majority leader of the Senate, because a vote that favored her would have favored a pickup of three additional Senate seats. Katie McGinty lost to incumbent Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania by about 87,000 votes or 1.43 percentage points, and in an election where Clinton won (she lost by some 34,00 votes), McGinty would certainly have won as well. Our beloved Professor Russ Feingold sadly lost in Wisconsin to the imbecile Ron Johnson by 99,000, 3.4%, and was ahead in the polls, just as Clinton was, right up to November 3 or so (she lost by 23,000). In Missouri, the charismatic gun-toting Democrat Jason Kander lost to incumbent Roy Blunt by 78,258 or 2.8 percentage points, and was also ahead in polling right to the end, though there were still a lot of undecideds (Trump's winning margin in MO was twice as high as the RCP average, 18.5% instead of 9.5%); Clinton had no chance here, but Kander certainly ought to have won the Senate seat, and would have done so in a normal year.

Thus the Democrats (counting independents Sanders and King) would most likely have had a 51-49 majority in the Senate, plus Vice President Tim Kaine. Meaning a rebalanced Supreme Court, to begin with, featuring a Scalia replacement more assertively progressive than Merrick Garland. And with a Senate in the hands of somebody who knows how to count votes, Congress would be functioning to some extent, though I can't draw a picture where Democrats would have taken the House in 2016, thanks to the extremes of gerrymandering.

Also, unlike Trump using his executive power to harass and persecute immigrants, wreck health insurance for the individual market, retreat from the Paris agreement and despoil the environment, defund scientific progress, and threaten voting rights, she would be using hers to the opposite ends. Which would be a big difference indeed, to some of us, though perhaps not to John Podhoretz, who doesn't care much about such things and would be writing exactly the same garbage either way.

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names. Also see tweetstorm from Matthew Chapman.

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