- The American Conservative - http://www.theamericanconservative.com -

The Soul Of The Clinton Machine

Charles Krauthammer, explaining why he’s not voting for either Trump or Clinton [1], says this about Hillary, in light of the recent Wikileaks revelations:

The soullessness of [Clinton’s] campaign — all ambition and entitlement — emerges almost poignantly in the emails, especially when aides keep asking what the campaign is about. In one largely overlooked passage,Clinton complains [2] that her speechwriters have not given her any overall theme or rationale. Isn’t that the candidate’s job? Asked one of her aides [3], Joel Benenson: “Do we have any sense from her what she believes or wants her core message to be?”

It’s that emptiness at the core that makes every policy and position negotiable and politically calculable. Hence the embarrassing about-face [4] on the Trans-Pacific Partnership after the popular winds swung decisively against free trade.

So too with financial regulation, as in Dodd-Frank. As she told [5] a Goldman Sachs gathering, after the financial collapse there was “a need to do something because, for political reasons . . . you can’t sit idly by and do nothing.”

Of course, we knew all this. But we hadn’t seen it so clearly laid out. Illicit and illegal as is WikiLeaks, it is the camera in the sausage factory. And what it reveals is surpassingly unpretty.

Read the whole thing.  [1]

Who on the left is genuinely excited about voting for Hillary Clinton? Sure, there are some, but she strikes me as being a Democratic figure who’s a lot like Mitt Romney was on the Right: the perfect distillation of a kind of Establishmentarianism within their own party. (I hasten to say that whatever my disagreement with Romney over policy might have been, he always struck me as a thoroughly decent person. Hillary Clinton … not.) It is hard to think of two more different figures on the Right than Mitt Romney and Donald Trump — temperamentally and otherwise. Yet within four years, the GOP convulsed so much that it got Donald Trump. What Trump’s triumph over the GOP Establishment showed was its deep weakness. It just needed a strong push.

Might that be the case for the Democrats post-Clinton? Who is the Donald Trump of the Democratic Party? Where might he come from? I don’t think we can see him (or her) now, but I have a hunch that he’s out there. I find it hard to believe that the Democrats are not going to be immune to the same economic and cultural forces that dismantled the GOP. I could be wrong. Her sort of conniving, careerist, technocratic liberalism surely is not long for this world. Yes?

124 Comments (Open | Close)

124 Comments To "The Soul Of The Clinton Machine"

#1 Comment By G On October 22, 2016 @ 10:39 am

“Her sort of conniving, careerist, technocratic liberalism surely is not long for this world. Yes?”

No. Her election would be a significant leap in the progress to the Brave New World. Maybe the turning point of no return.

#2 Comment By Sheldon On October 22, 2016 @ 10:51 am

Wes: “Do you think it wise to have open borders and a massive welfare state?” Of course not. But nor do I think we can or should rely “mostly” – as you suggested – on platoons of voluntary almsgivers.

DG: “Krugman would wipe Clinton’s (and Obama’s) ass with his favorite shirt if given the chance.” I’m so glad we agree that some voters ARE enthusiastic for Clinton!

#3 Comment By Shameless Woman On October 22, 2016 @ 11:03 am

Democrats won’t ever have a Trump, because Democrats haven’t spent the last 50 years demonizing “the government.” Trump’s appeal is that he’s saying it’s all rigged–it’s messed up and that both sides have done this to you, the honest voter. You are a victim of a vast shadowy elite conspiracy that is picking your pocket and giving your stuff to brown people.

People who think the government is somehow out to get them respond to messages that support their beliefs. People who see a role for government in a functioning society will not respond to politicians whose messages are “government IS the problem” or “cut taxes so we can starve the beast.”

#4 Comment By Stefan On October 22, 2016 @ 11:18 am

Gretchen,

That has to be the most extreme yet completely unironic overidentification with a brand image I ever came accross. Are by any chance also lovin’ it, banking at the world’s local bank, thinking different, connecting people, and just doing it while believing impossible is nothing?

#5 Comment By bt On October 22, 2016 @ 11:36 am

“No one better”?!? At the time the Republicans could confidently feel that Dole had a good chance of winning”

That line nailed it. Reminds me of Mike Dukakis and the Massachusetts Miracle.

History loves the winners and buries the losers.

And, as hard as it may be to accept, Trump was perhaps a better bet to beat Hillary than the other 15. I don’t think Bush or Rubio could have won, for what it’s worth.

#6 Comment By Skip On October 22, 2016 @ 11:44 am

@Gretchen

If talking over and interrupting people in a debate is so triggering to you, I suggest you do not watch any of them. Were you scared for Mike Pence too?

#7 Comment By Evan On October 22, 2016 @ 11:48 am

“Clinton’s position on abortion is hardly unique or novel.”

Exactly. It’s probably the view held by most GOP politicians, if they had the luxury of being honest. Clinton’s position is consistent with that of an overwhelming majority of Americans. The right-wing grandstanding on abortion only makes sense in a context where there is zero chance of the Roe-Casey line of precedent being overturned. In that sense, it’s the perfect issue on which to practice virtue signaling. If Roe-Casey were reversed, the GOP would face a quandary. Pushing forward with efforts to criminalize abortion would face a massive political backlash. It would be the end of the GOP, and its leaders know it. For the present, the GOP establishment can pretend that it agrees with evangelicals because no one reasonably believes that Roe-Casey will pass away.

This is a tight-rope for the GOP. They need to keep the issue sufficiently in play so as to keep motivating evangelicals to flock to the polls every other November. But they have to keep victory sufficiently out of reach so as to avoid having to make good on the promises they’ve made to voters. After all, there’s very little of the GOP economic platform that’s likely to be attractive to most evangelicals.

I’m morally opposed to abortion, but have Constitutional objections to its criminalization. I feel like evangelicals and other pro-life Christians would be better served if they withdrew from the political fray on this issue, accepted that abortion is not going to be re-criminalized, and put their efforts into non-political efforts to persuade hearts and minds. Right now, pro-life folks are just being fleeced by Mitch McConnell and his billionaire friends–men whose economic policies actually accelerate the decay of middle-class family life and increase the likelihood that people may seek abortions.

#8 Comment By VikingLS On October 22, 2016 @ 12:41 pm

“Trump’s appeal is that he’s saying it’s all rigged–it’s messed up and that both sides have done this to you, the honest voter. You are a victim of a vast shadowy elite conspiracy that is picking your pocket and giving your stuff to brown people.”

Now change that to
” it’s all rigged–it’s messed up and that both sides have done this to you, the honest person of color/woman/LGBT. You are a victim of a vast cultural conspiracy that is deliberately sabotaging you and giving your stuff to give advantages to CIS-gendered white males” and you have the message progressives send to various constituencies.

A smart demagogue could work with that.

#9 Comment By Connor On October 22, 2016 @ 12:44 pm

“Shameless Woman says:
October 22, 2016 at 11:03 am

Democrats won’t ever have a Trump, because Democrats haven’t spent the last 50 years demonizing “the government.” Trump’s appeal is that he’s saying it’s all rigged–it’s messed up and that both sides have done this to you, the honest voter. You are a victim of a vast shadowy elite conspiracy that is picking your pocket and giving your stuff to brown people.

People who think the government is somehow out to get them respond to messages that support their beliefs. People who see a role for government in a functioning society will not respond to politicians whose messages are “government IS the problem” or “cut taxes so we can starve the beast.””

Have you not read all the Huffington Post anti-Clinton articles about how Wall Street and big corporations are holding our government hostage, and how Clinton is “their candidate.” Many “Bernie or Bust” supporters are essentially arguing that Trump should be allowed to win, because the fallout would produce a truly progressive candidate in 2020.

The anti-establishment fervor is not a GOP phenomenon. It is a global phenomenon.

[6]

[NFR: It is INCREDIBLY easy to imagine a left-wing Trump. Look at what’s happening on campus. The irrational, raging, aggressive identity politics on campus, appealing to the grievances of the masses, blaming a scapegoat for all our problems, etc., are a picture of the milieu that will produce a left-wing Trump, and indeed a picture of what that Trump will look like. — RD]

#10 Comment By jrm On October 22, 2016 @ 12:46 pm

[“That’s a whole lot of solidarity right there.”

That may be true, but Joseph said he’s voting for her because he doesn’t want things to change.

And where do you get off accusing Adamant of being some sort of Republican shill for calling Joseph on it?]

uh-oh, the comments policeman has arrived.

Look officer here’s the deal. Joseph, like millions of Americans, has noticed that the economy is actually doing very well. The stock market has nearly tripled since Bush. In 2012, Mitt Romney assured the country that he would cut unemployment in half, to 6%, in four years. That bumbling fool in the White House only managed to get it down to 5%. Housing prices have almost completely rebounded since 2008. Family incomes are up. Wages are up. Joseph noted that unremarkable fact.

That’s why, the Republican candidate for President in 2016 was doomed. The state of the economy is the single most important factor in most elections. The 2015-2016 economy was too good for the Republican to have a realistic chance of winning. The Republicans, for whatever reason, nominated Trump, who made the campaign into a contest of relative sleaziness between him and a non-candidate. He needed to do something because, as noted above, about 60% of the population is doing pretty well.

Trump’s Make America Great Again campaign bricks off the rim because America is already great. Are jobs moving offshore? Yes. But we are creating more than we are losing–14 million more jobs than lost overseas. 71 consecutive months of job expansion. Is uncontrolled immigration a problem? Yes. Do immigrants steal jobs? No! Those jobs stay right here. What happens is that immigrants will do those jobs for less money than a non-immigrant. How do we stop that? You punish the people underpaying the immigrants–like real estate developers building Florida resorts with illegal labor. Do Republicans actually intend to fine people and businesses who exploit illegal labor? Of course not–they’ll build a wall for theater.

Adamant accuses Joseph of “lack of solidarity” without evidence that Joseph was doing anything other than making a short comment that proceeding on the same track economically is probably a good idea–for the vast majority of Americans.

And why did you pull me over, officer? Go get wes for his felony S-chip solidarity violation.

#11 Comment By Myles On October 22, 2016 @ 2:13 pm

A Trump of the left? Sure, that’s possible. Jeremy Corbyn is as far removed from Trump in style and temperament as you can imagine, but the same conditions created him.

But there’s a paradox here. Bernie Sanders could do what he did because he has an Old Left approach based on class and economics. The problem with the ID politics now dominating American leftism is that there’s no unifying telos. It’s all based on dividing people up into smaller and smaller subcultures with competing claims. That’s why the LGBTQIA+ acronym keeps getting longer.

There’s definitely a fundamental contradiction between the Democrats’ base and their donor class that might provide the opening for a savvy populist. But I think they’ve been better able to withstand the shocks because they’re simply better at using the spoils system for their constituencies than the GOP is. Which is where a smart machine politician like Hillary can keep the lid on things… for the time being at least.

#12 Comment By Jesse On October 22, 2016 @ 2:45 pm

“[NFR: It is INCREDIBLY easy to imagine a left-wing Trump. Look at what’s happening on campus. The irrational, raging, aggressive identity politics on campus, appealing to the grievances of the masses, blaming a scapegoat for all our problems, etc., are a picture of the milieu that will produce a left-wing Trump, and indeed a picture of what that Trump will look like. — RD]”

So where was the liberal version of that after the 60’s? Don’t say McGovern – McGovern was liberal, but he was also respected by his peers in the Senate, a fighter pilot, and so on, even if he was too dovish and liberal for America in 1972.

Rod, you continue to do this – conflate what you see on Twitter and on college campuses as the entirety of the Left. Hillary Clinton and most of the Democratic Party doesn’t actually take those people seriously. Maybe that’s your problem – you’ve been a member of a party that actually listens to their crazy base.

As I’ve pointed out before, the DNC dosn’t do that – the DNC ignores the crazies and focuses on winnig elections.

The Left isn’t that – that Left in America’s base is actually middle aged African American women who work in unionized public sector jobs in Virginia, Hispanic’s working for casinos in Nevada, and progressive white collar workers in Colorado.

The problem for the Right is their base is actually largely racist white guys who think the world is ending.

Now, if by “identity politics” running rampant, you mean will trangender people be allowed to use the bathroom of their choice, will people be allowed to refuse business on the basis of their sexual orientation, will police officers have to wear body cameras, or will women be continued to control their own reproductive choices? Sure.

[NFR: Again, you’re being awfully naive here. Four years ago, very few people would have considered Donald Trump a conservative. And yet here he is, the GOP nominee for president, having defied the entire elite of the Republican Party. I still don’t think he’s a conservative at all, but he won the nomination fair and square. Lots of conservatives, both political operatives and leaders, as well as journalists, and even most non-conservative professionals, thought Trump was a joke. They (we, because I was one of them) kept assuming that he would flame out. Didn’t happen. And now the Republican Party is in shambles. You think it can’t happen to you too? Ask the Labour Party about this kind of thing. — RD]

#13 Comment By VikingLS On October 22, 2016 @ 3:01 pm

@jrm

First of all what’s with the “comment cop!” whining? If you have the right to criticize Adamant, Adamant has the right to criticize Joseph and I have the right to criticize you, that’s how this works. If you can’t take that, keep your thoughts to yourself.

The thing is that you tried to rebut Adamant by showing ways Hillary was trying to show solidarity to the poor. Adamant hadn’t said Hillary wasn’t showing solidarity with the poor, he said Joseph wasn’t. Then you went off on Republicans without any idea if Adamant is one, he didn’t say one word about Trump being preferable to Hillary.

You’re doing a lot of projecting here, that’s what I object to.

#14 Comment By Chris 1 On October 22, 2016 @ 4:40 pm

Trump arose in a petri dish of constant deception.

The GOP has still never grappled with its own lying to itself about its actions, and shows no signs of doing that. Trump, a serial philanderer, bankrupt and a man who cannot open his mouth without lying, called them out on their lies and became a white workingman’s hero.

There’s not a comparable condition among the Democrats. Hillary has always been corporatist, globalist and militarist in the way of the “bipartisan consensus.” The Democrats have long been the party of individual rights and social atomization. That’s not news, and it’s why so many young people supported Bernie Sanders. It’s also why Bernie was the only person to challenge Hillary, because everyone else in the Democratic party believes what she believes.

They’re not lying to themselves about themselves, but from the days of the Moral Majority the GOP has been lying to itself. That habitual lying creates a situation in which the lies come to be valued more than the truth, which is how the GOP wound up nominating its most pugnacious liar…a man who called out the GOP on its past lies, but built his campaign on a veritable mountain of new lies.

“Believe me” is the mantra of the con man, and he knows his marks.

#15 Comment By Eliavy On October 22, 2016 @ 9:35 pm

Why is Trump insulting Hillary enough to make unenthusiastic Hillary voters happy to vote for her? To stick it to Trump or because of female solidarity?

#16 Comment By DG On October 22, 2016 @ 11:51 pm

@Sheldon (again)

Sycophancy and “enthusiasm” are two different things, friend.

#17 Comment By creekmama On October 23, 2016 @ 7:19 am

Women wearing “Nasty Women Vote” pins.

Folks clad in “Deplorable” t-shirts.

Two sides of the same coin.

#18 Comment By jrm On October 24, 2016 @ 1:58 am

@VikingLS. Y have elected yourself the comment police. Don’t tell other people what to do.

Get your own blog if you want to do that. Rod ablely polices comments here.

Please respond to the substance of the comment…not who said what to whom.

#19 Comment By jrm On October 24, 2016 @ 2:08 am

@VikingLS. You have elected yourself the comment police. You are busy telling other commenter what they can and can’t do. This may come as a surprise to you but it’s not your blog.

Get your own blog if you want to do that tell commenters what they can and cannot do. Rod ablely polices comments here.

Please respond to the substance of the comment…not who said what to whom. Adamant is a big kid and can take care of him/her self.

Both Adamant and you are invited to address the substance of the fact that the economy has improved dramatically in the past 8 years. A vote for the status quo is a pretty reasonable one, under those circumstances.

Who was it who said, “It’s the economy, stupid!”?

#20 Comment By VikingLS On October 24, 2016 @ 9:08 am

@jrm

I’m not telling you you can’t do anything. I was telling you that what YOU said, doesn’t appear to be what Joseph said and that I think what you said to Adamant was unfair.

I have the right to criticize you, you have the right to criticize me, that’s how this works.

I have some familiarity with Joseph as a commenter, and he’s made his contempt for the poor clear in the past, so no I think you’re projecting a position he doesn’t hold, and all that what he said boiled down to was “I got mine, screw you if you can’t get yours”

As to the economy, it’s really not that simple, you’d have to look at where the growth is. Your argument, and I believe it is yours, not Joseph’s, sounds like the same trickle-down economics that I am skeptical of when it comes from Republicans.

#21 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 24, 2016 @ 12:15 pm

I’ve locked horns with VikingLS a few times, but nobody is trying to be “the comment police” by simply questioning the integrity of another comment. Its the people who intone “You have no right to post that here” or “get your own blog.” I note that the person whose name is on the blog has every right to “police” what they allow, not unlike each of us having the right to decide who we invite into our own living room. But nobody else should be castigating other commenters merely for being here, or for (horrors) questioning whether another comment has integrity or substance. That’s the coin of the realm in a public debate.

#22 Comment By VikingLS On October 24, 2016 @ 8:15 pm

@Siarlys

This is the second time in a few days I’ve said this.

Thank you for your kind words.

#23 Comment By jrm On October 24, 2016 @ 9:34 pm

VikingLS:

“And where do you get off accusing Adamant of being some sort of Republican shill for calling Joseph on it?”

“If you can’t take that, keep your thoughts to yourself.”

Siarlys Jenkins:

“But nobody else should be castigating other commenters merely for being here, or for (horrors) questioning whether another comment has integrity or substance.”

“I note that the person whose name is on the blog has every right to “police” what they allow, not unlike each of us having the right to decide who we invite into our own living room.”

Me: “Rod ablely polices comments here.”

I think we’re all on the same page, here. All three of us policed comments. None of that was needed. Back to your usual programming.

#24 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 24, 2016 @ 10:55 pm

Viking: I hope it lasts after the election. If I remember right, we both voted for Bernie Sanders, and neither of us was particularly thrilled with him.