Tag: Hillary Clinton

It’s time to start thinking about a realignment: 2 things for the left to do

I really don’t know how long this disaster can last. Every day, the crisis and chaos expand, geometrically. If it continues like this—that is, gets worse and worse, in ways we can’t anticipate—it’s critical that we on the left do two things.   First, make the connection between Trump and the Republican Party. The GOP tied themselves to this man; do not allow them to slip out of the noose they designed for themselves. I don’t simply mean they embraced Trump. I mean that he comes out of 50 years of their politics, and we have to make sure everyone remembers that. Do not make the same mistake Clinton made in the campaign.   Which brings me to the second […]

Welfare Reform from Locke to the Clintons

In a draft of his “Essay on the Poor Law,” Locke writes: Now no part of any poor body’s labour should be lost. Things should be so ordered that everyone should work as much as they can. That passage, which Locke ultimately deleted, came right after his complaint that women were staying home with their kids and not working. As a result, he wrote, “their labour is wholly lost.” Locke follows this observation up with a complaint about the existing poor laws in England: the problem with them is that “they are turned only to the maintenance of people in idleness, without at all examining into the lives, abilities, or industry, of those who seek for relief.” That is what […]

January Journal

As some of you know, more and more of my commentary now appears on Facebook rather than on this blog. If you’re not averse to joining Facebook, you can catch it there; I encourage you to do so, as the conversations can be quite lively and good, involving lots of different folks. I’m maxed out on friends, but you can follow me. But since a lot of readers don’t want to join Facebook, I’m going to try to make it a regular feature—monthly or semi-monthly—to catch you up to speed on what I’ve been saying there. I’m going to collect various Facebook posts and post them here as a kind of regular journal or diary. Some will be out of date […]

Where did I go wrong? Or, why Trump may be like Jimmy Carter

As readers of this blog well know, I predicted that Clinton would defeat Trump in November. I was wrong. Big time. Since the election, I’ve thought a lot about what I got wrong and why I got it wrong. Part of my failure, of course, was that I didn’t read the polls carefully enough. A lot of the polls, as my more attentive readers pointed out, showed Clinton’s margin over Trump, particularly in key states, to be well within the margin of error. That should have been a warning. But to be honest, I wasn’t so much influenced by the polls as I was by two other things: first, my understanding of conservatism as a reactionary movement of the right; second, […]

Sex, Dice, and the Trump Tapes

Yesterday, the Washington Post revealed that it had obtained a videotape featuring Donald Trump bragging, in the most graphic and ugly terms, about women he’s groped, harassed, demeaned, and more. Within 24 hours, the tape seems to have transformed the political landscape, with legions of Republican leaders now calling on Trump to step down from the ticket. 1. Across social media, people are wondering why this particular story has proven so explosive for Trump. Given that everyone already knew the vileness of his views on women and the viciousness of his behavior toward them—not to mention Muslims and Mexicans—what’s so different about this story? I suspect it’s the profanity. People forget this, but one of the things that most hurt Richard Nixon during Watergate was the release […]

Donald Trump’s one strength: He understands that we are a nation of conmen (and women)

The one moment in last night’s debate where I thought Trump might have had the upper hand was when Clinton suggested that he might not have ever payed federal income taxes and Trump interjected, “That makes me smart.” Now for the pundit class, Trump admitting, implicitly, that he never paid income taxes is the kind of bombshell that puts him forever out of the running of respectability (if he wasn’t out of that running already). Not paying your taxes is a no-no, a failure of civic duty, a sign of his diremption from the little people he claims to represent. I’m of two minds on this question. On the one hand, I can see how it might seem to the average […]

Donald Trump: The Michael Dukakis of the Republican Party

Two takes on last night’s debate, one from last night, one from this morning. 1. The single biggest impression I took away from tonight’s debate—beyond the fact that Clinton clearly dominated (with the exception of the opening discussion on jobs and trade)—is how thoroughly conventional a Republican Donald Trump is. On economics, Trump’s main platform is tax cuts and deregulation. On race and social policy, his main platform is law and order. On foreign policy, his main policy is, well, actually I don’t know. Something about good deals and fee for services. For all the talk of Trump as somehow a break, both in terms of substance and style, with Republican candidates past, virtually everything he said last night—again, with the exception […]

Tim Kaine, and Other Faith-Based Politics

1. Christ on a stick, this is what I didn’t count on with the Kaine pick as VP. The problem isn’t the pick itself: it is what it is (see #2 below). The problem is the ejaculations of joy it prompts among the pundit class and the Twitterati, who now have to sell it to us as the greatest choice of a second since Moses appointed Aaron. And not because the pundits are on the Clinton payroll: I’d have a lot more respect for them if they were. No, they do this shit for free. Out of love. Rapture. And bliss. 2. I’m not one of those people who cares much about a VP pick. I don’t think it tells you […]

The Second Time Around: James Traub on Neoliberal Technocracy

James Traub—last seen in the 1990s (when it was fashionable to shit all over public institutions that helped advance the cause of black and brown people) attacking Open Admissions at CUNY, which had done so much to make higher ed accessible to students of color—is back, calling, in the wake of Trump and Brexit, for a global realignment of political forces. In a blog post at Foreign Policy titled, “It’s Time for the Elites to Rise Up Against the Ignorant Masses,” Traub writes: One of the most brazen features of the Brexit vote was the utter repudiation of the bankers and economists and Western heads of state who warned voters against the dangers of a split with the European Union. … That is, chunks […]

Unintended Consequences

Thomas Nides, former deputy secretary of state under Clinton, offers a perfect summation of the creed (h/t Doug Henwood): Hillary Clinton understands we always need to change — but change that doesn’t cause unintended consequences for the average American. Off the top of my head, here’s a brief list of changes that caused unintended consequences for the average American (whoever that might be): The election of Abraham Lincoln. The passage of Social Security. The entrance of women into factories during World War II. Brown v. Board of Ed. Civil Rights Act of 1964 Asking an unknown state senator from Illinois to deliver the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic Party convention. Politics is the field of unintended consequences (“Events, dear boy, events.”) Don’t like unintended […]

Neera and Me: Two Theses about the American Ruling Class and One About Neera Tanden

A few days ago, I had a strange experience. I got trolled—some might say gaslighted—by the person who many think will be Hillary Clinton’s White House Chief of Staff. Her name is Neera Tanden. Tanden is the head of the Center for American Progress, the Democratic Party think tank that works closely with the Clintons. Though you may know of Tanden for other reasons. I’ll come back to that. It began on Tuesday afternoon, when I tweeted this. Take six minutes to watch Cornel West take on the DNC re Israel/Palestine, while Neera Tanden rolls her eyes. https://t.co/XZkQ5Moe4V — corey robin (@CoreyRobin) June 22, 2016 Cornel West represents Bernie Sanders on the DNC Platform Committee. Tanden represents Clinton. Electronic Intifada had excerpted some clips from the Committee’s […]

Race Talk and the New Deal

Hillary Clinton, in her 2003 memoir, on the Clintons’ decision to push for welfare reform: The sixty-year-old welfare system…helped to create generations of welfare-dependent Americans. Clinton is talking there about AFDC, a New Deal social program. It’s fascinating—given the recent fights on Twitter, social media, and elsewhere, about the racism of the New Deal—to recall this language of Clinton. Back in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, that kind of talk—”generations of welfare-dependent Americans”—was code for black people, who were thought to be languishing on the welfare rolls for decades, addicted to the drug of free money, living off the hard work of hard-working white Americans. That’s the kind of language that was used to attack the New Deal. Not only by Republicans but also […]

Love Me, Love Me, Love Me, I’m a Leninist

Now that they’ve discovered the notion that a political party, faced with a dangerous political enemy, should suppress all internal criticism of its putative leader lest she be “harmed” by that criticism, and that the party should refrain from fractious internal debates lest it be ill-equipped to defeat the enemy, I wonder if liberals are rethinking their views on Lenin. The principle of democratic centralism and autonomy for local Party organisations implies universal and full freedom to criticise, so long as this does not disturb the unity of a definite action; it rules out all criticism which disrupts or makes difficult the unity of an action decided on by the Party. Actually, by the standards of today’s liberal, Lenin’s strictures come off as relatively benign. He at least called […]

When Neoliberalism Was Young: A Lookback on Clintonism before Clinton

Yesterday, New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait tweeted this: What if every use of “neoliberal” was replaced with, simply, “liberal”? Would any non-propagandistic meaning be lost? — Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) April 26, 2016 It was an odd tweet. On the one hand, Chait was probably just voicing his disgruntlement with an epithet that leftists and Sanders liberals often hurl against Clinton liberals like Chait. On the other hand, there was a time, not so long ago, when journalists like Chait would have proudly owned the term neoliberal as an apt description of their beliefs. It was The New Republic, after all, the magazine where Chait made his name, that, along with The Washington Monthly, first provided neoliberalism with a home and a face. Now, neoliberalism, of course, […]

Trump Talk

1. At last night’s debate, Trump said of Rubio, “And he referred to my hands—if they are small, something else must be small—I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee you.” Lest you think we’re tumbling down a new rabbit hole here, it’s important to remember that once upon a time, the king’s body and the body politic were one and the same. Trump’s reference is more pre-modern than post-modern. Ernst Kantorowicz’s classic book on the topic, The King’s Two Bodies, was subtitled “A Study in Medieval Political Theology.” In any event, I’d rather hear Trump’s opinions about his penis than his views on Muslims and Mexicans. 2. The rhetorical brutality of Trump is unprecedented. Never before have we seen a candidate so cruel.   […]

Hillary Clinton and Welfare Reform

In 1996, Bill Clinton signed welfare reform into law. Here’s Hillary Clinton talking about her role in the bill’s passage seven years later, in her memoir Living History: The President eventually signed this third bill into law. Even with its flaws, it was a critical first step to reforming our nation’s welfare system. I agreed that he should sign it and worked hard to round up votes for its passage. Here’s the Washington Post talking today about the bill’s impact on the poor: Hundreds of thousands of Southern families are living on less than $2 in cash a day as a result of legislation President Bill Clinton signed in 1996, according to new research by Johns Hopkins University’s Kathryn Edin and University of Michigan’s Luke […]

See You in September

Last summer—otherwise known, in election time, as a long time ago, in a land far away—when Hillary Clinton unveiled her campaign, she was positioning herself as the inheritor of FDR, championing the little guy and inveighing against…economic inequality. Much to the applause of her defenders in the media: It’s not all that’s gutsy about Clinton’s latest roll-out, which she marked on Saturday with a lengthy, policy heavy speech. There’s also the fact that a mainstream Democrat is trying to become the first woman president by invoking Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Her speech, billed as her Campaign Kickoff, replaced recent Democratic simpering about Ronald Reagan and “reaching across the aisle” with jabs at trickle-down economics and a chilly invitation to cooperate with “willing partners;” that was refreshing. […]

Hillary Clinton: Still a Goldwater Girl After All These Years

It’s no secret that Hillary Clinton grew up a Republican. In ninth grade, she read Barry Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative. In 1964, at the age of 17, she was, as she wrote in Living History, a “Goldwater girl” who campaigned for the GOP candidate. But then things changed. Or did they? In her latest iteration as a defender of African Americans, Clinton has taken to criticizing Bernie Sanders for being a “one-issue candidate.” Because he focuses on, you know, the economy. Not unlike another presidential candidate of recent memory. Here’s what Clinton said about Sanders over the weekend: Not everything is about an economic theory, right? Sanders, you see, wants to reduce all social and political issues to the economy. But there […]

Every Movement Fails. Until It Succeeds.

I have friends on both sides of the Bernie-Hillary divide. And tonight on Facebook, they’re all posting articles that give the edge to their favored candidates, articles that anticipate alternative—and conflicting—futures. And that is as it should be. Politics is not a science of representing reality exactly as it is (that is, uni-dimensionally). It is an art that sees reality in all its flux, a mode of judgment that identifies multiple paths and possibilities, a mode of action that presses harder on some of those possibilities—pushes further along some of those paths—than others. Not because they’re more probable but because they’re more desirable. Which is why I have so little patience with the armchair strategists in the media, those political meteorologists who […]

Hillary Clinton: The Ultimate Outsider

Veteran Democratic Party strategist (and former Clinton 2008 adviser) Peter Daou: One of the prerequisites of Washington insiderism is disdain for Hillary Clinton. Hating Hillary is an industry among the political class and media elites… There’s much talk of populism in 2016, of establishment versus outsiders, of Trump and Bernie. But what’s more populist than a candidate beloved by the people and reviled by political tastemakers and media elites? Yes, Hillary is the true outsider, and yes, that statement torpedoes conventional wisdom. It definitely torpedoes something. Here is the number of Clinton’s endorsements*: Cabinet officials: 28 Governors: 42 Senators: 47 House Representatives: 192 Members of the DNC: 113 By way of contrast, here is the number of Sanders’s endorsements*: Cabinet officials: 1 Governors: 1 Senators: 1 House Representatives: 3 Members of the […]