If Donald Trump is the George McGovern of the GOP, what does that make Hillary Clinton?

by Corey Robin on May 4, 2016

I’ve been saying for months that Donald Trump is the George McGovern of the GOP, the fractious leader who so alienated the elders of his party that they deserted him in droves, handing the election to his opponent. We’re already seeing the signs.

From Talking Points Memo:

A former aide to John McCain, who served both as the Arizona senator’s chief of staff and a senior advisor on his 2008 presidential campaign, made clear Tuesday that he would vote for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in the general election.

“I’m with her,” Mark Salter tweeted, referring to Clinton’s campaign slogan, after noting the likely nomination of Trump, “a guy who reads the National Enquirer and thinks it’s on the level.”


From the Associated Press:

Already, aides say, a number of Republicans have privately told Clinton and her team they plan to break party ranks and support her as soon as Trump formally captures his party’s nomination.


“We have an informed understanding that we could have the potential to expect support from not just Democrats and independents, but Republicans, too,” said Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon. “There’s a time and place for that support to make itself known.”



Clinton has begun casting her candidacy in recent days as a cry to unify a divided country. After a series of victories last week, which all but ensured she will capture her party’s nomination, Clinton called on Democrats, independents and what she called “thoughtful Republicans” to back her bid.


Guy Cecil, chief strategist of Priorities USA Action, the super PAC backing her campaign, echoed that language Tuesday night, calling on “Democrats, independents and reasonable Republicans” to reject Trump’s “outdated ideas.”


While a vocal segment of the Republican Party has denounced Trump, few have been willing to go as far as saying they would back Clinton in the fall.


Ben Howe, a Republican strategist who has worked for Cruz, said he’d be actively working against Trump — a decision he recognizes means backing Clinton.


“Anything right now that would allow Donald Trump to become president is the wrong move, so the de facto result is that Hillary would win,” he said. “I don’t agree with Hillary Clinton. What I think is Hillary Clinton is more honest than Trump, and that’s saying a lot.”


Endorsements from prominent GOP backers could potentially pave the way for Republican voters to back Clinton, particularly woman.



In the same way that McGovern prompted an exodus from the Democratic Party—most visibly and prominently among elites, but also among rank-and-filers—so will Trump. Indeed, it has already begun. And it will only gain strength in the coming months.

But if Trump is the McGovern of the Republicans, what does that make Hillary Clinton? As the Associated Press notes:

There is some irony in Clinton playing the role of a unifier: She’s long been one of the most divisive figures in American politics. But while 55 percent of Americans said they had a negative opinion of Clinton in an Associated Press-GfK poll released last month, 69 percent said the same of Trump.

The same was true of Richard Nixon. Long before Watergate, Cambodia, and the Plumbers, Nixon was widely viewed, and loathed, as one of the most divisive figures in American politics. People forget, but Nixon had been on the front lines—and in the headlines—of partisan warfare since his days on HUAC. Indeed, if there is any precedent for today’s conservative hatred of Hillary, it is yesterday’s liberal hatred of Tricky Dick.

That moniker raises another parallel.

Not unlike Clinton, Nixon had trouble in the authenticity department.

In his 1960 Kennedy or Nixon: Does It Make Any Difference?, Arthur Schlesinger devoted several pages to the proposition that Nixon was perhaps the most inauthentic man in American politics. The book features Evelyn Houston claiming that Nixon suffered from a “pervasive and alchemic falsity,” that Nixon had “a veritable Midas touch for making ersatz of the real.” Schlesinger even resorts to David Riesman’s famous theory of the “other-directed man” to explain Nixon’s being “obsessed with appearances rather than the reality of things, obsessed above all with his own appearance, his own image, seeking reassurance through winning, but never knowing why he is so made to win or what he will do with his victory.” Sound familiar?

In fairness to Clinton—and Nixon—such charges of inauthenticity and shiftiness often dog what Steve Skowronek calls “preemptive” presidencies. That is, presidents who are opposed, at least in a partisan sense (ideologically, they are more ambivalent and ambiguous), to the dominant, still-resilient regime. (In Clinton’s case, the regime is Ronald Reagan’s.) Classic trimmers, these are presidents who must nip and tuck, constantly maneuvering between a restive base that wants to see an overthrow of the dominant regime and an opposition that is still strong enough to call the shots. These are presidents who never make anyone happy, least of all their own supporters. That is why, in their moments of crisis, they often find themselves deserted, without any friends or allies. That is also why I don’t envy Clinton, who’s about to face one of the biggest shitstorms of her already shitstorm-ridden career, once she wins the election in November. (Yes, if she wins the nomination, which it seems she will, she’ll most definitely win the election.)

Despite all these deficits, Nixon was able to repackage himself in 1972—with the aid of an extraordinarily unpopular opponent, who couldn’t muster the support of his own party (sound familiar), and a robust economy—as the great unifier. Indeed, he went on to defeat McGovern in one of the all-time greatest landslides in American history.

And we all know how that ended. As I said, I don’t envy Clinton.

A final word from the pages of history: There’s going to be an awful lot of Clinton liberals trying to present Clinton’s candidacy as the second coming of the Popular Front, that hoary moment in progressive history when all the forces of the good and the gallant on the left gathered together to defeat the forces of fascism on the right.

However you cast your ballot in November, please remember this: Léon Blum was and ran as a Socialist, and the Popular Front was not simply about defeating fascism, but about defeating fascism through socialism.

“He does not wish to speak of capitalism,” Max Horkheimer famously said, “should also remain silent about fascism.” I’m not exactly sure how that translates into the present moment, but of this I am certain: Don’t talk about Clinton and the Popular Front in the same breath.

{ 271 comments }

1

JHW 05.04.16 at 5:15 pm

“Léon Blum was and ran as a Socialist, and the Popular Front was not simply about defeating fascism, but about defeating fascism through socialism.”

Léon Blum “ran as a Socialist” in the sense that he was the leader of the SFIO. He did not run on a socialist platform, but rather one that focused on incremental reforms to improve the conditions of working people. (Unlike modern European socialist parties, the SFIO was very aware of the difference.) He governed with a coalition of the SFIO, the Communist Party, and the Radical Party, which was not socialist at all.

2

AcademicLurker 05.04.16 at 5:17 pm

If Donald Trump is the George McGovern of the GOP, what does that make Hillary Clinton?

Hitler. Duh.

3

bob mcmanus 05.04.16 at 5:40 pm

Strong opposition from youth, strong support from the establishment, somewhat hawkish…I have been looking at HRC as Humphrey in 1968.

4

Rich Puchalsky 05.04.16 at 5:44 pm

I’ll try to be clear about this before the inevitable sniping: I expect (and always expected) Clinton to win both the primary and the general election. This is one of the reasons why both Sanders enthusiasm and Trump panic seemed a bit overdone to me.

That said, what does it mean for the left when (as seems by most likely) Clinton wins? I don’t think that the Nixon comparison can be taken too exactly. Nixon was a habitual lawbreaker in a way that HRC seems to be too canny to be.

I expect the failure mode of an HRC Presidency to be party realignment. There are essentially three groupings in the U.S. (if you agree with John Quiggin’s analysis, which I do): left, neoliberal, right. They fit uneasily within a political system that, mechanically, demands only two main parties. Right now neoliberalism attempts control over both parties: the Democratic Party through business money plus neoliberalism’s support for gender/race/sexuality issues, the GOP through business money plus neoliberalism’s attack on traditional left power bases.

If the GOP ever does finally fracture off the moderates, and the Democratic Party ever loses its left flank, you’d be left with the GOP as the hard right, the Democrats as the middle, and some kind of left socialist party. The challenge then would be to make sure the left party picks up the other U.S. two-party slot instead of the GOP.

5

Corey Robin 05.04.16 at 5:54 pm

Rich: Doesn’t seem like sniping to me.

I agree re the Nixon parallel. Didn’t mean it would end in impeachment, or move for impeachment, for Clinton (though the absence of a Nixon-level of lawbreaking certainly didn’t stop the GOP from impeaching the first Clinton). Just that these are presidencies that tend to unravel in very unexpected ways. What particular form they take is anyone’s guess.

I’ve also wondered what form a realignment might take. Third parties, as you know, have a tough time. But it’s definitely the case that we needn’t think about the realignment that is coming strictly in terms of a Dem/Rep realignment. Just have no idea how it will break out.

6

js. 05.04.16 at 5:57 pm

If a Clinton presidency (assuming she wins) ends up being “preemptive” like Obama’s, I won’t just take it, I’ll happily order seconds.

7

PGD 05.04.16 at 5:58 pm

I think that ever since the DLC performed the neoliberal takeover of the Democratic establishment, they have been yearning for a firm identification of the Democrats as the ‘responsible’ business party — not much of a left party at all, but a party that would represent the thoughtful globalist business class. Running against Trump offers a golden opportunity to do just that. It is facilitated still further by the fact that the big business rejection of social conservatism is clearer than ever before.

8

bob mcmanus 05.04.16 at 6:14 pm

I liked Puchalsky’s 4

Just for grins, I am searching for “Berlusconi” in the Virno/Hardt Radical Thought in Italy, 1995

“The “Forza Italia” party, with Silvio Berlusconi, the media magnate, at its head, combines an ultraconservative discourse typical of the Thatcher government with the nationalist and populist rhetoric of the traditional Italian Right, forging links with the former fascists. This conservative revolution claims it will maintain the Welfare State and bring about an economic upturn that will lead to the reestablishment of almost full levels of employment. ” …Carlo Vercellone

Antonio Negri, op cit

“Silvio Berlusconi is not a fascist—he is a boss. Berlusconi is a new figure of the collective capitalist, an emblem of capitalist command over society: in him communication and production have become the same thing. The Italian “revolution” that brought him to power is not fascist, but reactionary.

He develops and perfects the new postmodern and communicative capitalism, showing Italian society what it has already become in the past twenty years: a society in which
the enormous corruption that involved businessmen and politicians was nothing
compared to the corruption that infiltrated the thought and ethical consciousness
of the multitude. It may be true, then, in these terms, that this reactionary “revolu-
tion” is laying the groundwork for a future postmodern fascism.”

A little more Negri

Postmodern fas-
cism seeks to match itself to the realities of post-Fordist labor cooperation, and seeks
at the same time to express some of its essence in a form that is turned on its head.
“In the same way that the old fascism mimicked the mass organizational forms of
socialism and attempted to transfer the proletariat’s impulse toward collectivity into
nationalism (national socialism or the Fordist constitution), so postmodern fascism
seeks to discover the communist needs of the post-Fordist masses and transform
them, gradually, into a cult of differences, the pursuit of individualism, and the
search for identity—all within a project of creating overriding despotic hierarchies
aimed at constantly, relentlessly, pitting differences, singularities, identities, and indi-
vidualities one against the other. “

But isn’t this Clinton?

9

JHW 05.04.16 at 6:30 pm

The McGovern comparison is badly off and so is the Nixon comparison. McGovern was a left-wing ideological candidate, the Democratic version of what Goldwater was and what Cruz would have been if he had secured the nomination. Trump is not a right-wing ideological candidate; he is right-wing populist of a pattern more commonly seen in Europe, combining ideological moderation on economics (and on abortion, at least in Trump’s case) with nationalist, racist demagoguery on immigration and Islam. The better comparison is something like the 2002 second-round French presidential election, only this time where the alternative to right-wing populism is a candidate of the moderate left instead of the moderate right.

There is a Clinton who is a worthy subject of Nixon comparisons, but his name is “Bill.” Like Hillary, he was widely suspected of being inauthentic (indeed, her reputation for this is largely derived from his); like Nixon, he was seriously threatened with impeachment, and unlike Nixon, he actually was impeached. But the difference between Hillary and Bill is sixteen years and a lot of political change. Bill Clinton’s presidency was preemptive. But now we have had eight years of Obama and his presidency does not look preemptive at all. He dramatically expanded the social safety net and created a new regulatory apparatus for Wall Street and consumer financial services, and both of his successors to the Democratic Party nomination pledged to defend and expand that work (and argued about who would do it better). Unlike in the 1990s, the Democratic Party is not in apologetic mode, eager to find ways to liquidate its political liabilities through compromises like the 1994 crime bill or the 1996 welfare reform legislation. Its basic tension, instead, coming out of the success of Obama, is over how far to push further. And faced with the threat of a reconstructed political regime–call it Obama Democracy–the Republican Party has so lost itself that it nominates… Donald Trump, who will in all likelihood lose easily.

That’s not Nixon. I don’t know what it is, there’s no great historical parallel, but Nixon it isn’t.

10

Cervantes 05.04.16 at 6:32 pm

I don’t know if Hillary is “authentic” and I don’t care either. But I do know that times have changed since the Bill Clinton administration. For example, no national Democrat is going to try to win back the Reagan democrats by pandering to their racism. She will continue Obama’s efforts to liberalize sentencing laws and wind down the war on some people who use some drugs. The ACA obviously isn’t going away and with a Dem senate and a closer house, it might even be possible to make some marginal improvements. Meanwhile, more states will give in and expand Medicaid. She’ll bully pulpit for social liberalism. As with mass incarceration, DOMA and don’t ask, don’t tell are water over the dam. (Not much about that is within the president’s purview anyway, it’s largely a state-level issue now that the military has been integrated and Obergefell, but still.) She’ll make decent Supreme Court appointments. Congress isn’t going to deliver meaningful financial reform anyway so it doesn’t matter if she’s best buds with Jamie Dimon, unfortunately. Anything that Elizabeth Warren does manage to get through, she’ll sign. She’s probably not going to bomb Iran or invade Libya, no matter her past. So I’m okay with it.

11

Rich Puchalsky 05.04.16 at 6:32 pm

CR: “Rich: Doesn’t seem like sniping to me.”

Sorry, I was unclear — I meant that the thread would probably descend into election-related sniping.

People are going to have to start thinking seriously about how to thread global warming action through an HRC Presidency. My guess is that she’s going to do worse than nothing, os possibly allow herself to be pulled by events a la Obama and gay marriage. I do expect business in general to throw fossil interests overboard.

12

LFC 05.04.16 at 6:56 pm

I read this OP through the lens of my personal recollections as someone whose first serious involvement in politics was as a teenage volunteer (15 years old when McGovern was nominated) in the McGovern campaign. I find it hard to reconcile aspects of the OP with those recollections or later thoughts about that campaign.

For one thing, Trump has gone out of his way to thumb his nose at his party’s elites. McGovern, though he ran as an anti-war and insurgent candidate, didn’t consciously try to alienate the Dem. elites, or such is my recollection. Anyway, Dem. elites were split in ’72. Most probably supported Muskie, but as his campaign faltered the elites went in different directions and there was, iirc, no obvs. establishment candidate after Muskie faded (though Birch Bayh might have tried to assume the mantle).

I understand the point Corey is trying to make by saying Trump is “the McGovern of the GOP”: it’s intended as a ‘structural’, not a personal, comparison. Even though I get that, I’m still bothered by the analogy. In terms of personal style, McGovern was the anti-Trump. McGovern did not make outrageous off-the-cuff remarks, but rather came across as, if anything, almost too earnest, too tied to his basic beliefs. That might not have made him a great presidential candidate, but it did endear him to a lot of people who passionately supported him. And actually, most Dem. elected officals, did, as I recall, eventually come around to McGovern, though some of that was lukewarm support. I don’t think it was like this year, when some Republicans are already announcing, even before the convention, that they will not support Trump.

I also think the Nixon-HRC comparison is a bit strained (Nixon was a more troubled, ‘inauthentic’ personality than HRC), but that’s a separate issue.

13

The Temporary Name 05.04.16 at 6:57 pm

People are going to have to start thinking seriously about how to thread global warming action through an HRC Presidency. My guess is that she’s going to do worse than nothing, os possibly allow herself to be pulled by events a la Obama and gay marriage.

A big part of this depends on how poisonous Trump is to the Republican ticket. I don’t really see Hillary blocking whatever tepid stuff might come through a Democratic house and senate. And FWIW this is her platform: https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/climate/

If she allows herself to be pulled, that’s fine: these changes aren’t political losers, so at her most cynical some reasonable things might happen.

I’m nevertheless glum.

14

bob mcmanus 05.04.16 at 7:07 pm

McGovern, though he ran as an anti-war and insurgent candidate, didn’t consciously try to alienate the Dem. elites, or such is my recollection.

The credentials committee threw out many state slates based on diversity challenges, and then installed their own. Alienation ensued.

15

Rich Puchalsky 05.04.16 at 7:12 pm

From the link to HRC’s climate issues page: “That’s why on day one, Hillary will set bold, national goals that will be achieved within ten years of her taking office […]” — that would be after the end of her possible second term. Let’s not go too fast here or make promises that we can’t keep! FDR had the first hundred days; we have the first ten years.

16

otpup 05.04.16 at 7:16 pm

Aren’t there inherent limits to what can be learned via a McGovern analogy. As much as can be made about McGovern’s effect on the DP establishment, isn’t it true that Nixon was over-determined to win even by a landslide in 72, not least by the state of the economy.

17

rea 05.04.16 at 7:22 pm

Donald Trump is the George McGovern of the GOP only in the sense that he won the nomination despite the disapproval of party elites. That does not make Hillary Clinton Richard Nixon any more than it makes her John Quincy Adams.

18

Lee A. Arnold 05.04.16 at 7:22 pm

I’m not so sure that we can always count Arthur Schlesinger Jr. to have been a disinterested reporter.

Nixon famously sweated at the debate and Kennedy was better on camera. But the 1960 election was still very close. Kennedy won the popular vote by a 0.17% spread, one of the closest in US history. And Nixon appears to have believed that old Joe bought the election for his son.

Nixon justly earned his high negative ratings only later.

By contrast, Hillary’s high negative ratings have been mostly manufactured by Fox News.

You youngsters forget that, as with Obama, the GOP started to block Bill Clinton from his very first day in office. Two years later Newt Gingrich became Speaker, by accelerating the false rhetoric into an official, mainstream media newsfeed. The year after that, 1996, Fox News began broadcasting, and they immediately adopted Gingrich’s incendiary language. The hammering on the Clintons hasn’t stopped since then.

The hammering on Hillary increased when she became Secretary of State, because the GOP realized that she would be running for Prez again.

It doesn’t mean that Hillary’s negatives are going away, any time this year. Negatives are hard to reverse. Which is why the GOP is freaking out about Trump, because his negatives are even higher.

The opinion polls over the coming weeks will be fascinating for a number of very different reasons; political, economic, even sociological reasons.

And, how high can Trump go? We already knew that about 30% of the total US electorate is completely crazy (the “crazification factor theory” puts it at 27-28%). But Trump has only gotten up to 20% to date (= 45% of the GOP, which he just hit very recently). We have no clue as to how much more he might pick up now that he is unopposed.

I sort of wish Kasich hadn’t dropped out. Kasich couldn’t win of course. But the percentage of Cruz’s voters that Kasich would have picked up, would be another interesting data point on the GOP electorate.

One of my interlocutors predicts Gingrich for Trump’s VP, by the way. I hadn’t thought about it, but it is unlikely to me.

19

LFC 05.04.16 at 7:28 pm

bob mcmanus @14
The credentials committee threw out many state slates based on diversity challenges, and then installed their own. Alienation ensued.

Good point. Still, I wonder whether that alienation was as deep and pervasive as the alienation of Repub elites is from Trump. Maybe it was.

20

sharculese 05.04.16 at 7:35 pm

“Strong opposition from youth,”

As an actual young person, I’m here to say that stories of our antipathy to Hillary have been vastly exaggerated by people who want it to be true.

21

sharculese 05.04.16 at 7:35 pm

“Strong opposition from youth,”

As an actual young person, I’m here to say that stories of our antipathy to Hillary have been vastly exaggerated by people who want it to be true.

22

Z 05.04.16 at 8:12 pm

He did not run on a socialist platform, but rather one that focused on incremental reforms to improve the conditions of working people. (Unlike modern European socialist parties, the SFIO was very aware of the difference.)

What a strange comment! It seems to oppose the Front Populaire and today’s European socialist parties because the former was incremental and the latter (presumably?) obsessed with radical demands to the detriment of concrete realizations.

If this reading is the correct one, then I think it is good to remember that just as the Socialist Party now in power in France celebrates the 80th year of the election of the Front Populaire by supporting a radical business-friendly (to be polite) rewriting of labour law that has brought unions and students in the streets for the last 8 weeks or so, the Front Populaire, as soon as it gained power, gave consequential new powers to unions which they in turn immediately used to negotiate an average 12% raise in wages for workers while at the same time using the legislative way to reduce the working week from 48 hours to 40 hours and to institute two weeks of mandatory paid leave.

Within its first month in office, the Front Populaire thus achieved an average 40% increase in hourly wages (if my math is correct). Wait a year, and significant parts of the industry are nationalized (trains and aeronautics, for instance) and the price of wheat is controlled. That, according to JHW, was an incremental, not socialist except perhaps in name approach.

In reality, of course, among governments democratically elected in normal conditions and which then went on to operate in normal democratic conditions throughout, the Front Populaire was probably the most socialist ever (at least the most socialist I can think of in any major country).

23

bob mcmanus 05.04.16 at 8:19 pm

21: I understand that the personal is political, and anecdotal and narrative evidence from one person is supposed to be dispositive, but thanks I will go with ABC Indiana Exit Polls instead, although it is hard to know how much to weight conflicting stories. Sanders : 74-26 under 45 years old. Now considering we are told the process is all over and Clinton has already won, that is a lot of energy expended on a lost cause, in Cruz’s dreams he couldn’t get that in opposition to Trump. To me, it shows that there is loathing that will endure.

Not on that site, but elsewhere 31% of Indiana Democrats say they will not vote for Clinton in the fall, which are numbers I have been seeing all along. You better hope she gets that down under 20%.

24

roger gathmann 05.04.16 at 8:24 pm

20, actually, I don’t think the Sanders support by the young is vastly exaggerated. Exit polls and other polls have consistently shown that Sanders vote relies heavily on the below 35 cohort. To say this is not to say that all young people hate Clinton, but to acknowledge, as Clinton’s campaign people have acknowledged, that Clinton loses the under 35 demographic. Even when Sanders is slaughtered, as he was in NY, exit polls showed he won the 29 and under group by 30 points. That is big.
This is from the Ultra-clintonite VOX: http://www.vox.com/2016/4/20/11466376/bernie-sanders-future-democrats

“Sanders is the overwhelming choice of young voters, scoring 67 percent of voters under 30 in New York even while losing overall amidst a set of election rules that were highly unfavorable to his cause. National Reuters polls now show him with a large 56-38 edge over Clinton with voters below the age of 40.”

25

bob mcmanus 05.04.16 at 8:34 pm

Sorry the 74-26 is white Democrats

ABC News: “As in some other Midwestern states, he ran competitively with Clinton among nonwhites younger than 45; 53-47 percent, Sanders-Clinton, in preliminary exit poll results.”

Whether the kids will turnout in sufficient numbers in N0vember is still open, but in any case this is disastrous Demographics, and reminds me of 1968.

Since Robin talks Nixon, I went searching for who the important conservative movement Republican youth went for in 1968, but with Reagan having a strong showing I couldn’t be sure. Maybe I need some Perlstein.

26

Cranky Observer 05.04.16 at 8:46 pm

= = = By contrast, Hillary’s high negative ratings have been mostly manufactured by Fox News. = = =

If HRC’s campaign team and the DNC want to win they need to brutally excise this narrative from any campaign team member who brings it up. I don’t think it is true personally (and I’m far from being a “youngster”) but either way it doesn’t matter: they have to fight with the HRC perception we have not the one some think she deserves.

27

Mark Jamison 05.04.16 at 8:52 pm

Trump is Lindbergh.
The Republican business elite have been playing with the Know Nothing/America First/ John Birch paranoid style for nearly 100 years. They blinked when it resulted in Goldwater but they salved their concerns with Nixon and later Reagan. GWBush was their perfect marionette. His ultimate abject failures left the doors open for the lunatics to run the asylum.
Maybe not the first clue but perhaps the most obvious that we were going to end up with a Trump was the selection of Palin. The pandering to and ultimate failure to control the Tea Party finalized the deal.
I would expect more of the same from the Republicans over Clinton’s term. Clinton Derangement Syndrome (the first time around) was driven at least partially by Bill’s inauthenticity. Obama Derangement Syndrome has been a refinement of the tactic with a large helping of racial animosity to drive the troops. The only question now is how creative and utterly obtuse the Republicans will be in pushing the next round of CDS.
The most important election of the next generation will be 2020. A Census year offers the opportunity to recalibrate state legislatures, address voter suppression, and solidify Progressive gains. There are three things Mrs. Clinton can and should do to have a successful administration:
1. Make solid Supreme Court appointments.
2. Make the Democratic Party competitive in state and local elections
3. Don’t let Bill do anything stupid (and perhaps harness her tendency towards defensiveness).

28

LFC 05.04.16 at 8:52 pm

Maybe I need some Perlstein

A bit OT, but a while back someone with whom I was having a brief dialog at Corey R’s blog raved about Perlstein’s Before the Storm in such glowing terms that I decided to read the book. Am currently on p.224 (the whole thing runs to slightly over 500 pages).

The research is first-rate — very impressive indeed — but I find parts of the book overwritten. He loves long sentences with multiple clauses and dashes, and while this sometimes works nicely, at other times it becomes something of a chore to read. Some of the sentences are so intricate and packed with detail that I have to read them more than once. I’ve only dipped into Nixonland briefly, so I don’t know whether Perlstein continued this narrative style in that book or whether an editor mustered the courage and sense to tell him that enough was enough.

Of course, reactions to prose styles are *very* subjective, so YMMV.

29

LFC 05.04.16 at 8:57 pm

p.s. I have to add that there are all kinds of interesting echoes for today from 1964 (prob in some ways more than ’72, I think)…

30

awy 05.04.16 at 9:07 pm

not sure why this heavy play on unfavorability rating as a personal characteristic when the rating is largely a reflection of particularly large misinformation/mood of the electorate. maybe she’s just a capable and hardworking candidate who is being treated unfairly by people for various reasons.

hillary is like the GMO of the democratic party, or broccoli?

31

The Temporary Name 05.04.16 at 9:08 pm

I understand the point Corey is trying to make by saying Trump is “the McGovern of the GOP”: it’s intended as a ‘structural’, not a personal, comparison. Even though I get that, I’m still bothered by the analogy.

Yeah. I saw McGovern campaigning for someone else in a small room once and my level of sympathy is such that seeing him as a Trump in any sense is very hard.

32

novakant 05.04.16 at 9:14 pm

#21

there’s no need for stories, you can just read the polls – ignore them at your peril

33

Peter K. 05.04.16 at 9:21 pm

I agree with Robin, but as he seems to say it’s not an exact match. Nixon employed the Southern Strategy to turn the former confederate South red. Hillary will be going after Republicans suburban housewives who hate Trump.

““He does not wish to speak of capitalism,” Max Horkheimer famously said, “should also remain silent about fascism.” I’m not exactly sure how that translates into the present moment, but of this I am certain: Don’t talk about Clinton and the Popular Front in the same breath.”

The Republican Party since Nixon sold their base a bill of goods. They did not deliver prosperity nor did they deliver social conservatism. They delivered a redistribution of wealth upwards to the one percent. And so the base has gone feral /fascist and nominated Trump their leader in part to give the finger to the party elite and to the mainstream media.

Likewise the Third Way neoliberal Democrats have done little to deliver prosperity. Their corporate trade deals and deregulation of finance have ended in disastrous asset bubbles. They too have helped turn the Republican base feral.

Seeing as Bernie won an upset in Indiana yesterday, more and more of the left want a real Popular Front with actual progress. What will a Hillary administration deliver*? More slow growth, stagnant wages and more discontent? More of the white working class turning fascist?

* Of course they’ll blame it on obstructionist Republicans.

34

Rich Puchalsky 05.04.16 at 9:23 pm

“National Reuters polls now show him [Sanders] with a large 56-38 edge over Clinton with voters below the age of 40.”

Remember the recent thread where people were telling us that generations and generational divides didn’t exist?

Mark Jamison:
“There are three things Mrs. Clinton can and should do to have a successful administration:
1. Make solid Supreme Court appointments.
2. Make the Democratic Party competitive in state and local elections
3. Don’t let Bill do anything stupid (and perhaps harness her tendency towards defensiveness).”

I don’t mean to pick on a single person, but look at that list above. Really. If you read that and you don’t either laugh or cry, something is wrong. That’s what you need for a successful administration: stay the course! Be solid and competitive and not stupid! Don’t accomplish anything!

It’s like when js upthread happily signs up for another Obama Presidency: we evidently don’t need to do anything, just hold off the bad guys. Yes, I know that the ACA was supposed to have been a huge accomplishment that makes the last 8 years a high triumph, and Democrats are going to be saying that far into the future just as GOP diehards will still be going on about how we were right to invade Iraq.

35

JHW 05.04.16 at 9:24 pm

#22: “What a strange comment! It seems to oppose the Front Populaire and today’s European socialist parties because the former was incremental and the latter (presumably?) obsessed with radical demands to the detriment of concrete realizations.”

? My comment opposed neither (I think the Popular Front was a good thing and I think European socialist parties are good things too). What I said is that while the SFIO was abstractly committed to socialism (real socialism, social ownership of the means of production), it didn’t see the Popular Front as a means of bringing this about, and indeed allied with political groups that explicitly opposed such an objective. My comment about European socialist parties was meant to suggest nearly the opposite of the meaning you attribute to it: because they have given up even a pro forma commitment to social ownership, they just redefine “socialism” in terms of their concrete policy aspirations. Both of these choices were reasonable under the particular circumstances in which the relevant political parties found themselves. You are reading evaluative content into my comment that is not there.

I don’t want to get into a long historical argument about the Popular Front and how transformative it really was. I am certainly not here to criticize its accomplishments. I just think it is false as a matter of historical fact to think that what it was about was defeating fascism by means of socialism. The whole point of Popular Front tactics was for leftist groups to ally with centrist (non-socialist) groups in support of non-socialist platforms of social reform and anti-fascism.

36

Tom 05.04.16 at 9:29 pm

Still OT, @LFC

Thanks to CT commenters, I also read Perlstein’s Before the Storm and thought it was excellent. I understood the conservative movement much better because of it. And, yes, seeing now the risk of a contested GOP convention made me also think of 1964. By the way, the description of the contested convention in the book is worth in and of itself.

Trump, however, is in a sense the anti-Goldwater. According to Perlstein, Goldwater ran on a highly ideological platform. Trump is Berlusconi: he’ll tell you anything if he thinks his supporters will be entertained by it. He can always half-retract later. On the other hand, the rage at the establishment that motivated many common US citizens to support Goldwater looks similar to the one motivating many to support Trump now. From what I understood, this seems in line to the analysis in Corey’s book on conservatism but I am not sure as I (culpably) have not read the latter.

37

awy 05.04.16 at 9:29 pm

there is quite a gap between sanders and correcting the wrongs of neoclassical prescriptions.

38

Corey Robin 05.04.16 at 9:33 pm

Peter K at 33: “I agree with Robin, but as he seems to say it’s not an exact match.”

Exactly. The point of a comparison is to bring two things that are unlike in many ways and to see what the points of contact might be. To multiply all the differences between Trump and McGovern or Clinton and Nixon — Trump is from New York! McGovern is from South Dakota! Trump is a douchebag, McGovern was as decent as they come! — is not really to answer the point of the comparison, which is that these are candidates and presidencies (or potential presidencies) that are structurally situated in *some* similar ways.

Why is it that when you say x can be fruitfully compared to y, people think you’re saying x equals y?

39

JHW 05.04.16 at 9:34 pm

(Because I can’t help myself, one historical point re: the Popular Front: while it did dramatically increase wages for many people, the rationale for this was just as much Keynesian–they didn’t use the term obviously, but boosting consumer demand at a time of economic trouble–as it was redistributive. If you want to think of the Popular Front in the historical context of its time, rather than as romanticized much later, think of Roosevelt’s Second New Deal and throw in a large amount of Keynes. And then imagine that the Supreme Court actually managed to break Roosevelt’s New Deal, and as a consequence he resigned and was replaced by a much more moderate and centrist figure.)

40

Peter K. 05.04.16 at 9:37 pm

@10 Cervantes, I hope you are right but I doubt it. I don’t see Hillary doing much for the left unless Sanders somehow extracts concessions. I easily see her bombing Syria or some other unfortunate nation. I can see her flip-flopping on TPP and TPIP and aligning herself more with corporate interests after bending to Bernie during the primary.

My hopeful scenario is that the economy continues to improve like the late 1990s with workers sharing in productivity gains b/c of tight labor markets and b/c the Fed doesn’t kill the expansion. The 90s expansion ended with the tech stock bubble but I don’t see any bubble in danger of popping besides possibly China.

Still an economy that finally delivers will help the left as the prosperous 50s and 60s saw the civil rights and anti-war movements and much else. We can elect more, better politicians.

Hillary’s campaign promises only plan for limited government spending and investment at $100 billion a year. This isn’t a enough, but a continued expansion with workers sharing in gains could help improve government budgets, with high tax receipts and less social spending. In 2000, Bush squandered a balanced budget on tax cuts for the rich and two wars of choice. Perhaps Hillary could be pushed to spend and invest more along the lines of Sanders’s campaign platform.

41

Mark Jamison 05.04.16 at 9:48 pm

Rich Puchalsky – sorry to amuse you or make you cry.

I’m not suggesting that the administration do nothing but good solid competent governance and consolidating gains from previous administrations – especially quashing the Right’s renewed attempts to relitigate the advances of the New Deal is not nothing.
ACA was a big deal, Dodd-Frank not so much but better than nothing, beyond that many of the gains, like gay marriage came through the courts and with coming vacancies across the Federal court system appointments need to be a primary focus – that’s where gains are consolidated and, as Heller vs DC proved that’s where new interpretations that have a tremendous impact on the culture originate. The Obama administration has been absolutely horrible on appointments in some regulatory agencies – two examples that I know well are within the Postal Board of governors and the PRC but there are others and for all the talk about Republicans blocking judicial appointments the administration was slow in getting appointments into the hopper.
It seems to me that one of Obama’s mantras regarding foreign policy was “Don’t do stupid shit” which, quite frankly was a pretty damn good distillation of the problems created by previous administrations.
I live in North Carolina and the asinine legislature we’ve got is directly a result of a) the Democratic Party’s chronic love affair with the presidency and neglect of local party building and b) a failure to understand just how important decennial elections are in terms of power and redistricting.
And if you aren’t just a little bit worried that a Clinton White House is going to end up spending a considerable amount of time cleaning up after something stupid that Bill Clinton does then you are either oblivious or hopeful.
Big splashy initiatives are great but you know what, I’d take a small initiative like restoration of enforcement funds for the IRS so they have the resources to go after corporate tax cheaters.
Making the Federal bureaucracy work better and more effectively and taking the point of Suzanne Mettler’s “Submerged State” that much of the benefit of the state goes unnoticed and unappreciated is not nothing.
So if that makes you laugh (or cry) all I can say is “Oh well”.

42

The Temporary Name 05.04.16 at 9:54 pm

Why is it that when you say x can be fruitfully compared to y, people think you’re saying x equals y?

In agreeing with LFC I was saying, as I read him saying, just that it grates, not that your analogy might be wrong. The noise of Douchebag vs. Decent to me gets in the way of the argument around structural similarities.

Anyway McGovern’s breaks with mainstream Democrats were not handled quite as oafishly as whatever it is Trump is up to in any interaction with anybody. You see? Just can’t get around it.

I’m hoping McGovern’s negative impact on the house and senate races (not so big if it was a factor at all – don’t remember) will be far outstripped by Trump’s. It’s a huge opportunity.

43

PatinIowa 05.04.16 at 10:05 pm

People under 35 who voted/caucused for Sanders did so because they liked Sanders. There’s a lot of antipathy for Clinton to be sure, but nothing like the revulsion my students (including one or two self-identified Republicans) demonstrate for Trump.

So do they stay home? Or come out for Clinton? My guess is that a higher percentage of the men stay home, while many of the women show up to vote for the first woman president. I can’t imagine many of them stomaching Trump’s bigotry, even if he tones it down over the summer.

And then the question is, how many of them does she need? I’ll bet the answer is not that many.

44

Lee A. Arnold 05.04.16 at 10:18 pm

Before the partisans here veer off into total insanity once again, two things should be pointed out.

1. Any President only gets one or two big, exciting things accomplished, at the most.

Why? Because it’s a lot of goddamned work, the existing System is complicated, and Presidents have term limits. This would be true also for Bernie, or whomever else.

2. No President is likely to solve the current economic problem.

Even economists can’t wrap their heads around it. So, it beggars the imagination as to how, or why, a politician would have the solution. Right now, most things addressing the situation are likely to be incremental patchwork.

Just remember: It’s not what you look like, when you’re doing what you’re doing — it’s what you’re doing, when you’re doing what you look like you’re doing.

Okay: back to dreamin’ on!

45

Tom Slee 05.04.16 at 11:01 pm

The prospect of a Trump presidency is so appalling that I can’t accept the premise of this post, in particular the first paragraph, even though I usually treat anything Corey Robin says as authoritative.

We’ve heard “we are already seeing the signs (of Trump’s failure)” and “we are now at peak Trump” and “today Trump went too far” so many times that The Onion is looking even more right than it usually is.

To be honest, from outside the US, I don’t care that much whether Sanders or Clinton gets in, but if Americans let Trump get the presidency the country will have a lot to answer for.

46

js. 05.04.16 at 11:02 pm

Just that these [i.e. preemptive presidencies—js.] are presidencies that tend to unravel in very unexpected ways. What particular form they take is anyone’s guess.

I had asked this in a previous thread but I don’t think I got an answer, so I’ll ask again: How exactly did Obama’s presidency “unravel”?

47

MilitantlyAardvark 05.04.16 at 11:10 pm

My comparison for Clinton is Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. With Trump in the role of Fernando Poe.

48

Rich Puchalsky 05.04.16 at 11:12 pm

It’s simply not true that all Presidents accomplish one or two big things at most. Just in the 20th century and off the top of my head, I can think of G.W. Bush (Medicare expansion, Iraq War, general surveillance/torture/War on Terrorism policies), Reagan (started a whole era of American politics, broke unions, war on drugs, contributed to end of cold war), Nixon (China policy, Vietnam War ending, wide-ranging governmental agencies and reorganization), Johnson (Great Society, Civil Rights, War on Poverty etc.), FDR (too many to count), Wilson (WW I, Federal Reserve, suffrage), Teddy Roosevelt (trust busting, conservation, Panama canal). Obama was not a very effective President, and the people who tell you “it’s complicated” as if it has never before been complicated are not being realistic or commonsensical.

49

Layman 05.04.16 at 11:12 pm

Rich P: “That’s what you need for a successful administration: stay the course! Be solid and competitive and not stupid! Don’t accomplish anything!”

I certainly grasp this criticism, but feel it has to be said: All you have, Rich, is criticism. Of prescriptions, and the means to achieve them, you’re (as usual) unforthcoming.

50

Layman 05.04.16 at 11:18 pm

And, @48, you’ve provided a lot of examples each of which amounts to 1 or 2 or at most 3 big things, once you strip out the accidents, the unintended things, the nebulous judgments of history, and the ‘etc’s.

51

Corey Robin 05.04.16 at 11:19 pm

js. at 46: The operative phrase there is “tend to.” It doesn’t mean they all do. Eisenhower didn’t, Nixon did. Clinton did, Obama didn’t.

52

Alan White 05.04.16 at 11:24 pm

To Corey (if I may) or anyone here more in the know than I: any room for a late 3rd party run this year? If not, why not; if so, then what likely effects?

I did use the present political atmosphere in the US to help explain Kuhn in my philosophy of science class last night, since he argued that scientific revolutions possess many characteristics of political ones.

53

Rich Puchalsky 05.04.16 at 11:28 pm

Oh yeah, I really shouldn’t comment on a blog unless I have the prescriptions needed to fix all our problems. And one or two big things accomplished at most is sort of the same as three or four. Who’s counting?

I’ve already written, in this very thread, about the overriding priority that the next President should address, and that Obama signally failed to address even through it’s the most important thing happening right now. I wonder what it is? The thread’s so long, how can people possibly read back so far? And no, defining people’s expectations down so that appointing good centrist judges is the standard of success is not really going to be sufficient.

54

js. 05.04.16 at 11:34 pm

CR @51:

Fair enough. Though I will note that the point is—at least appears to be—made far more strongly in the post:

These are presidents who never make anyone happy, least of all their own supporters. That is why, in their moments of crisis, they often find themselves deserted, without any friends or allies.

“Presidents who never make anyone happy, least of all their supporters [emph. added]” doesn’t exactly fit Obama’s net approval rating right now (e.g.).

55

Tabasco 05.04.16 at 11:37 pm

The presumption in this thread that Trump has no chance to win the election is delusional. A year ago, he candidacy was a joke among the know-it-alls, and look at him now. He did by picking off his rivals one by one by relentlessly attacking them ad hominem, irrelevant, stupid and fact free (see p*nis; small, See also energy; low). First he did it to Bush, then Rubio, then Cruz. He tore up the rule book. The insiders had no response, no counter attack, no nothing. Trump, a sinner par excellence from Gomorrah aka NYC, even won over the Indiana envangelicals. It has been a brilliant strategy.

Now he’s going to do it Clinton. There’s plenty of material for Trump to use. He doesn’t even even have to make stuff up, or at least he doesn’t have to make up new stuff. Here’s where the comparison with McGovern is really strained. McGovern couldn’t by his gentle nature lay a glove on Nixon. Trump is a street brawler who will knee Clinton in the metaphorical balls every day of the campaign.

Clinton might prevail in the end because suburban housewives in Virginia, Ohio and Florida find Trump abhorrent, or because Hispanics deliver to her Texas’ 38 electoral votes.

Or she might not.

56

Layman 05.04.16 at 11:38 pm

“Oh yeah, I really shouldn’t comment on a blog unless I have the prescriptions needed to fix all our problems.”

If there’s one thing you shouldn’t do, it’s respond bitterly to things which have not been said.

“I’ve already written, in this very thread, about the overriding priority that the next President should address”

Yes, I saw that. What should the next President do, exactly? How should s/he get it done in the face of legislative opposition? What plan can s/he pursue on climate change which will bring about a solution on your preferred timescale, which I gather is 100 days?

57

Corey Robin 05.04.16 at 11:38 pm

js.: I think part of the massive move to Sanders is prompted by people who were not terribly happy with Obama’s presidency. I’d have to back through all those exit polls but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a high correlation between people who say they want to continue Obama’s policies and Clinton voters and people who say they don’t want to continue those policies and Sanders voters. Anecdotally — and I stress that anecdotally — there have been quite a few stories on WNYC, where I live, interviewing younger voters whose first vote was for Obama who now feel a tremendous sense of disappointment in him.

58

Corey Robin 05.04.16 at 11:43 pm

Tabasco: I ordinarily don’t like the predictions game, but in a country where the majority of the electorate are women, where Latino/as are registering like crazy in order to counter Trump, where Latinos have a sizable presence in swing states like Florida, Nevada, and Colorado (not all of which Clinton even needs to win), where Clinton and Trump come in with an electoral map that already favors Democrats, it seems like a stretch, a big stretch, for Trump to win. For the record, I wasn’t one of those who thought Trump didn’t have a chance in the GOP primary. Precisely b/c I understood that it was the GOP primary. It’s a very different animal now. We can of course debate this all day and night. I’m fairly confident I’m right, but only time will tell. So we’ll see.

59

js. 05.05.16 at 12:01 am

I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a high correlation between people who say they want to continue Obama’s policies and Clinton voters and people who say they don’t want to continue those policies and Sanders voters

The thing is, if this is true, it’s really not helping your case. In terms of raw totals, Clinton’s gotten significantly more votes than Sanders in the course of the primary campaign. If the bit quoted here is right, this suggests that Obama is making significantly more of his supporters happy than not. Which is very much not the thing the bit quoted @54 is saying.

60

J-D 05.05.16 at 12:03 am

I don’t know whether it’s reasonable to describe Donald Trump as the George McGovern of the GOP, but taking the titular question purely as a hypothetical, the answer is easy: IF Donald Trump is the George McGovern of the GOP, what that makes Hillary Clinton is the next President of the United States.

61

js. 05.05.16 at 12:06 am

And for what it’s worth, I think @57 is close to true but not quite true. Anecdotally, I know plenty of reasonably satisfied Obama supporters who think Clinton will be worse and so are supporting Sanders. So I expect the set of satisfied Obama voters to be larger than the set of Clinton supporters—which would also fit the net approval ratings.

62

LFC 05.05.16 at 12:06 am

Tom @36
By the way, the description of the contested convention in the book [Before the Storm] is worth in and of itself.

Haven’t gotten there yet (only on p.225, as I said) but I’m planning to finish.

63

Tabasco 05.05.16 at 12:07 am

It’s a very different animal now.

But is it really? 50% of voters, more or less, are Republicans. Clinton is a wooden campaigner, with a lot of baggage, some real, some imagined, but in a campaign the distinction gets lost. The Bernie supporters might not vote. Trump’s central message, which is that the great mass of ordinary people have been screwed by the establishment system while the 1% have been enriched, is objectively true. Clinton’s central message is that she is competent. This is probably objectively true, but boring. Trump is anything but boring.

The electoral college arithmetic does favor Clinton and she will probably win. But it’s very easy to imagine scenarios where Trump wins.

64

Roy L 05.05.16 at 12:09 am

Hillary is not like Nixon, he was a better lawyer, and a pretty good politician, not to mention quite possibly he was to the left of her. He also ended more wars than he started, and while he is remembered for failing to get national Health he extended Medicare guarantees for such expensive treatment as dialysis and he tried to do so for cancer.

65

Ed 05.05.16 at 12:14 am

The historical political figure in the Americas that Trump most resembles is of course Getulio Vargas.

And that would make Hilary Clinton more like Julio Prestes.

66

js. 05.05.16 at 12:18 am

which would also fit the net approval ratings.

Meant to say “favorability ratings”.

67

Barry 05.05.16 at 12:27 am

Lee A. Arnold 05.04.16 at 7:22 pm

“Nixon justly earned his high negative ratings only later.”

He was a nasty Red-baiter from the late 40’s.

“By contrast, Hillary’s high negative ratings have been mostly manufactured by Fox News.

You youngsters forget that, as with Obama, the GOP started to block Bill Clinton from his very first day in office. Two years later Newt Gingrich became Speaker, by accelerating the false rhetoric into an official, mainstream media newsfeed. The year after that, 1996, Fox News began broadcasting, and they immediately adopted Gingrich’s incendiary language. The hammering on the Clintons hasn’t stopped since then.”

I would say that I’m surprised by Robin’s comparison of Clinton to Nixon, but I’m more dismayed. IMHO it’s a symptom of a loosening grip on reality.

68

otpup 05.05.16 at 12:27 am

Where Presidents bog down is in trying to accomplish things that require Congressional cooperation (i.e. things that need new legislation). The legislative process by design is easily derailed by minority blocs of legislators.

Obama came to office with an idiotic idea (perhaps just rhetoric) about bi-partisan cooperation. I particularly like the comment about (I think from CT) that Obama tended to pre-compromise. He also apparently bought into mainstream denial of Keynesianism early in the crisis.

Whatever his contribution, the fact that ACA passed has to be due to a widespread consensus in both parties that something had to be done to address the health care crisis. (I’ve always speculated about what if Obama had thrown political capital behind crisis recovery and stimulus early on, could the DP survived the midterms and done ACA second. Dunno but one can dream).

Btw, Eisenhower was one of the most popular presidents in history (both parties wanted to draft him) so he is fairly unique.

69

Layman 05.05.16 at 12:30 am

“50% of voters, more or less, are Republicans.”

Well, not really. Polls consistently show a higher rate of Dem identification than Rep, and Obama won the popular vote in 2012 by 51%-47%.

Not that this is the most important factor, because…

“The electoral college arithmetic does favor Clinton and she will probably win. “

Precisely. Any discussion about Trump’s chances has to focus on the state-by-state contests and identify the likely Dem states that Trump will steal to win enough electoral votes. There’s no obvious path.

70

Corey Robin 05.05.16 at 12:30 am

Tabasco at 63: “But is it really? 50% of voters, more or less, are Republicans.”

That’s not right. According to Gallup, 26% of the electorate identifies as Republican, 29% as Democrat, and 42% as Independent. When you throw in the “leaners” — independents who lean one way or another — the numbers change to 45% Democrat, 42% Republican.

On top of that, you’re talking about a candidate who has very high unfavorability ratings (higher than Clinton’s), who even now, with field down to 3, barely got a majority in Indiana. Within his own party!

71

LFC 05.05.16 at 12:31 am

The Temporary Name @42

In agreeing with LFC I was saying, as I read him saying, just that it grates, not that your analogy might be wrong. The noise of Douchebag vs. Decent to me gets in the way of the argument around structural similarities.

That’s exactly what I was saying: the analogy is not necessarily wrong in a structural sense, but it’s grating. It’s grating to me partly b.c, as I explained upthread, I volunteered in the McGovern campaign and actually spent a fair amt of time on it, and that was my first experience of being, to some extent, immersed in a campaign.

I would have thought Corey, whose blog posts often contain very sensitively expressed and thoughtful autobiographical reflections and details, would appreciate that sometimes personal experiences can influence how one sees particular political figures, and that a set of personal experiences that he could not have had, because he was five years old in 1972, might explain why I, or others, find the Trump/McGovern analogy grating in a way that he doesn’t.

72

Layman 05.05.16 at 12:34 am

“the fact that ACA passed has to be due to a widespread consensus in both parties that something had to be done to address the health care crisis. “

So widespread was this consensus in both parties that precisely 0 Republicans voted for the law.

73

Corey Robin 05.05.16 at 12:36 am

Barry at 66: “I would say that I’m surprised by Robin’s comparison of Clinton to Nixon, but I’m more dismayed. IMHO it’s a symptom of a loosening grip on reality.”

IMHO, you should look at my comment at 38.

74

Corey Robin 05.05.16 at 12:38 am

LFC at 70: “I would have thought Corey, whose blog posts often contain very sensitively expressed and thoughtful autobiographical reflections and details, would appreciate that sometimes personal experiences can influence how one sees particular political figures, and that a set of personal experiences that he could not have had, because he was five years old in 1972, might explain why I, or others, find the Trump/McGovern analogy grating in a way that he doesn’t.”

Okay, fair enough. Though I will say that sometimes being grating is not a bad thing.

75

Rich Puchalsky 05.05.16 at 12:38 am

Tabasco: “But it’s very easy to imagine scenarios where Trump wins.”

Writing that “I expect HRC to win” is not the same as writing that Trump can’t win. But imagining scenarios is not the same thing as it being likely.

76

J-D 05.05.16 at 12:43 am

The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor the electoral victory to the candidate who’s ahead in the opinion polls, but that’s the way to bet.

77

kidneystones 05.05.16 at 12:51 am

The OP and many of the comments suggest that very few are ready to remove the partisan blinders. The most useful comment is Bob McManus @8. Trump cannot under any circumstances be compared to any professional politician. He is still a good number of weeks away from completing his 12 months seeking political office. The magic number is June 16th. The OP, therefore, and all other comparisons linking Trump to any presidential candidate in US history, other than one, are worse than useless.

Bob’s Berlusconi comparison has already been made by Silvia Marchetti http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/04/donald-trump-2016-silvio-berlusconi-italy-213797 and Roger Cohen http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/15/opinion/the-trump-berlusconi-syndrome.html?_r=0

The critical point, for me, is that we are entering new territory. As useful as the Berlusconi comparisons are in helping us understand the appeal of a vulgarian capitalist to the masses, we cannot make many reliable predictions about what the future holds other than to say that Trump will find it far more difficult to defeat the entrenched interests of both political parties with his core group of zealous supporters alone. Another safe prediction is that Trump will make a number of errors on his path to the election. HRC and the Dems will do their best to exploit these. Another safe prediction is that the 64,000 negative ads and 78 million spent trying to derail Trump will seem like a modest sum before this is over.

My money would ordinarily be on the candidate who can marshal the resources of the rich and well-connected. That’s clearly HRC. This year, however, is a repudiation of the rich and well-connected by sizeable numbers of voters in both parties.

Given the spectacular failure of almost every one here to take Trump seriously throughout the primaries and the stakes involved, denying Trump any viable chance of victory in November seems an act of truly mind-boggling hubris. Trump is going to win.

Trump is going to win the largest percentage of the Democratic base since Reagan. Corey writes: “In the same way that McGovern prompted an exodus from the Democratic Party—most visibly and prominently among elites, but also among rank-and-filers—so will Trump. Indeed, it has already begun. And it will only gain strength in the coming months.” This is a remarkably bold assertion to make less than 48 hours after a candidate, any candidate, secures the nomination. More so, given that Corey evidently feels free of any responsibility to provide any evidence to support this claim.

Politicians are motivated by self-interest and being on the wrong side of Trump history is, contra David Brooks and George Will, is the wrong place to be. Trump isn’t done with his scorched-earth politics and he’s certain to recruit/attract some serious arm-twisters. Trump’s National Enquirer ploy was no accident. Nor was his very public post-victory meeting with Edward Klein. Thinkprogress and Esquire figure they’ve got some ‘scoop.’

Trump is serving notice to all his enemies ( a number that is certain to grow) of what’s in store. Trump will wage war on his enemies, proclaim himself a kind of Hercules charged by the gods and the voters to cleanse the stables/temples and restore ordinary Americans to their rightful place as full equal citizens of their own nation of laws. Dems will do everything they can to convince minorities that Trump is more of the same and that HRC is not.

Given that Trump has so far accomplished everything he set out to do, and that a third-term of Obama appeals only to parts of the Dem base (African-Americans-women-Wall Street), I still say it’s Trump’s to lose.

78

Layman 05.05.16 at 12:57 am

“I still say it’s Trump’s to lose.”

You do, but you should make an effort to describe the electoral path you see.

79

J-D 05.05.16 at 1:07 am

Rich Puchalsky @4

‘If the GOP ever does finally fracture off the moderates, and the Democratic Party ever loses its left flank, …’

Both of those eventualities fall within the scope of possibility; but there’s no realistic prospect of either of them being triggered by this year’s Presidential election.

80

J-D 05.05.16 at 1:09 am

Corey Robin @5

‘But it’s definitely the case that we needn’t think about the realignment that is coming strictly in terms of a Dem/Rep realignment. Just have no idea how it will break out.’

It’s not clear to me in what sense a development that leaves the Democrats and the Republicans as the two main parties could count as a realignment.

81

js. 05.05.16 at 1:11 am

Meanwhile, Iceland trolls the world.

(I am so so sorry. I just couldn’t help it.)

82

js. 05.05.16 at 1:16 am

It’s not clear to me in what sense a development that leaves the Democrats and the Republicans as the two main parties could count as a realignment.

Really? To take the obvious example—post–Civil Rights, Southern Whites breaking en masse from the Democratic party to the Republican counts as a major realignment that leaves the main parties nominally identical.

83

kidneystones 05.05.16 at 1:18 am

Hi Layman, Here’s a blast from the past –

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2016/05/04/flashback_june_2015_bill_maher__his_audience_laugh_at_ann_coulter_for_saying_trump_could_win.html

There are any number of paths to victory for both candidates. To win HRC has to convince voters who’ve known her for decades that’s she’s the job-creating innovator and Trump is professional politician. Ahem. That should give even the staunchest Donkey dunce a sense of the Everest HRC has to climb. Trump’s negatives remain higher, but not by much. You’re going to need to convince me that it will be easier for HRC to drive her negatives among both Dems and Republicans, down than it will be for Trump.

Like I said, Republican primary won, Trump will now work on winning over the Dem base. 13% of Sanders supporters are already considering Trump. 20-25 of registered Democrats in the east migrated just recently to propel Trump to a victory where he won every congressional district in all five states. Trump’s base is much stronger than HRC’s and his chances of pulling Dems much more meaningful than making enemies of George Will. Indeed, the brighter conservatives, like Rush, recognize that every denunciation from Jeb Bush, Will, inc. and threat to stay home from the GOP elites makes a Trump victory more likely.

Three guesses why many here would rather compare Trump to professional politicians rather than Berlusconi. Hit the link above again while you’re mulling that over.

84

Lee A. Arnold 05.05.16 at 1:20 am

Barry #66: “He was a nasty Red-baiter from the late 40’s.”

This apparently didn’t effect Nixon’s public approval ratings, because he received 49.55% of the popular vote in 1960. (Kennedy received 49.73%)

85

Layman 05.05.16 at 1:23 am

@kidneystones, here is the 2012 electoral college result. Where does Trump find another 64 electoral votes? Which states that Romney lost will Trump win?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ElectoralCollege2012.svg

86

Tabasco 05.05.16 at 1:26 am

Rather than seeing Clinton as Nixon (a stretch at best) the better analogy is George H.W. Bush.

Both sought/seek to succeed popular two term presidents from their own party; both hyper-establishment who have been around forever; both lost to said two term presidents in the primaries; both offered and accepted jobs in administrations of said presidents; both just a little bit critical of said presidents for product differentiation purposes; both present(ed) themselves as safe choices; both from the more to the center wings of their parties, but prepared to range far and wide to secure votes.

Of course, Trump is not Dukakis. But if Al Sharpton and run for and won the Democrat nomination in 1988, the comparison would be complete.

87

LFC 05.05.16 at 1:33 am

js. @81
Yes — in addition to a realignment of that kind, i.e. where a party’s bases of electoral support shift, occasionally of course the party system itself has changed (e.g. when the Repub Party comes into existence or the Whigs depart etc.), but are the latter called realignments? W/o looking it up, I don’t recall. I remember being taught about the first and second party systems etc., but if I were set a detailed essay question on this right now, I wd flunk.

88

Peter K. 05.05.16 at 1:36 am

@66

“You youngsters forget that, as with Obama, the GOP started to block Bill Clinton from his very first day in office. Two years later Newt Gingrich became Speaker, by accelerating the false rhetoric into an official, mainstream media newsfeed. The year after that, 1996, Fox News began broadcasting, and they immediately adopted Gingrich’s incendiary language. The hammering on the Clintons hasn’t stopped since then.””

Supporters of Hillary forget how badly Bill Clinton sold out the left in attempt to make “deals” with Republicans. Welfare reform. Crime Bill. Deregulation. Balancing the budget. He dropped his middle class spending bill after being elected. Alan Greenspan. NAFTA. WTO. And he was in negotiations with Newt Gringrich to cut entitlements when the Lewisnsky scandal broke.

I really don’t expect anything from Hillary. She’ll be worse than Obama who at least did health care reform.

89

kidneystones 05.05.16 at 1:39 am

Hi Layman, I could quibble about the wiki citation, but won’t.

Trump won’t win any, HRC will lose some/many. How? Where? Who knows. But she will. Key Trump states – Florida, Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania. States Trump could win – Washington, Oregon, and maybe NY.

So far, no major minority candidate, or Dem, has endorsed Trump. That’s certain to change. I expect a robust, creative campaign to win over minorities and women. Again, Trump will find it far easier to attract Dems in many constituencies than HRC to attract enough Republicans to offset these losses.

Trump will run as something completely new and apolitical, and make HRC an Obama third term. HRC can’t repudiate O policies, or risk losing the African-American base. Indeed, expect Trump to run effectively and sincerely (?) as a <i.Democrat as much as a Republican. Trump’s core supporters couldn’t care less if he runs in his under-pants.

He has a lot more wiggle room than HRC (don’t play too free with either image, please).

90

Tom West 05.05.16 at 1:41 am

As a Torontonian, I think of Trump as Rob Ford, our previous mayor, writ large.

Ford had an odd sort of bullet-proofness about him because his obtuse stupidity *was* his attraction. A lot of people felt looked down upon by the Liberal Urban Elites (and they weren’t particularly wrong), and this was their middle finger response to us.

Came as a heck of a surprise to those like me who didn’t know a single Ford supporter.

I do worry that Trump might manage a similar sort of victory, where every horrible thing he says gathers supporters simply because of the outrage it provokes in the rest of us.

91

J-D 05.05.16 at 1:45 am

Lots of Republicans not voting at all because of Trump would be a better result for the Democrats than if they turn out to vote against Trump, because if they turn out to vote against Trump they will probably still vote for down-ballot Republicans.

92

Cranky Observer 05.05.16 at 1:47 am

= = = kidneystones: “I expect a robust, creative campaign to win over minorities and women [for Trump]”= = =

Um, kidney dude, you aware this is not 1947 but 2016? Digital video recording systems are cheap and plentiful, and every single obnoxious insulting life-threatening thing that Trump has said about women, ethnic groups, members of minority groups, etc is in the archives and waiting to be cut into brutal TV commercials, YouTube posting, Tweets, etc. Sarcastic comedians will be out of work for 7 months as the cutting free stuff floats around and around and around..

93

J-D 05.05.16 at 1:49 am

Rich Puchalsky @34

‘Remember the recent thread where people were telling us that generations and generational divides didn’t exist?’

Cohort effects exist, but the generationeers typically vastly overrate their importance relative to other effects, notably including age effects.

94

J-D 05.05.16 at 1:53 am

js. @81

>>It’s not clear to me in what sense a development that leaves the Democrats and the Republicans as the two main parties could count as a realignment.

>Really? To take the obvious example—post–Civil Rights, Southern Whites breaking en masse from the Democratic party to the Republican counts as a major realignment that leaves the main parties nominally identical.

That’s a fair point and I accept it. If this election triggers a switch in the partisan allegiance of (the bulk of) a large bloc of voters, I can see in what sense that’s a realignment. It’s still not clear to me whether that’s what was meant by the comment I was responding to.

95

kidneystones 05.05.16 at 1:58 am

@89 Hi Tom, that’s a candid and welcome confession. I’m not from Toronto, but used to know a bit about Ontario politics. I’ll translate your observation (cruelly, I admit, but with no malice) because you’re sense of the dynamics at play absolutely correct, imho.

‘The jobless and those most vulnerable to globalization, NAFTA, etc live life far removed from urban elites. Urban elites have no knowledge of the problems these people face, or any interest in learning more about the challenges these people face. Our interest in their lives and concerns manifests itself only when we blithely expect them to show up at the voting booth to validate the decisions made on their behalf by their intellectual and moral superiors, irrespective of the actual impact of these decisions upon their lives.’

Yes, it’s a Rob Ford election, in a very narrow sense. The difference being Trump is a billionaire member of the elite running as a friend of the working class. Trump could never get elected.

And on that note, I’ll say so long. The general quality and tenor of the comments, in particular, has been particularly poor over the last few months. I very much look forward to an improvement. A good place to start might be: ‘I never thought Trump could win the nomination, but I guess the facts proved me wrong.’ No need for public statements, but internalizing that fact and giving greater thought to what else we might be missing might not be time wasted.

Cheers.

96

Layman 05.05.16 at 1:59 am

kidneystones: “Trump won’t win any, HRC will lose some/many. How? Where? Who knows. But she will. Key Trump states – Florida, Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania. States Trump could win – Washington, Oregon, and maybe NY.”

This is fabulous rubbish. Trump has just about zero chance of winning NY (Obama won by 30 points!), Washington (hasn’t gone to a Republican since 1984) or Oregon (1988).

Obama won PA by 7 pts, Michigan by 9.5.

Ohio and Virginia were closer – about 3 pts, and Florida is certainly in play. If Trump manages to win all three – not very likely, given the polls we see today – he still loses.

97

kidneystones 05.05.16 at 2:04 am

Given the polls today. Thanks Layman (really!) for the extraordinarily fine topic sentence. Such a wonderful intro to evidence that makes clear the opposite.

This is simply too good to be ignored: Vincente Fox apologizing to Trump and extending an invitation to visit Mexico. http://www.breitbart.com/2016-presidential-race/2016/05/04/president-fox-apologizes-invites-trump-mexico/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social

If this isn’t a hoax, it’s an extremely telling turn in the dynamics of the election.

Must go.

98

Cranky Observer 05.05.16 at 2:13 am

I was thinking “so long” would turn out to be 3 days, but in fact it was only 6 minutes.

99

J-D 05.05.16 at 2:22 am

Corey Robin @57

Large numbers of young voters who are disappointed in the performance of a President who was the first candidate they ever voted for?

Could not be more utterly routine.

100

kidneystones 05.05.16 at 2:22 am

97 It’s this, or grading. I turn now to…

The Clinton campaign must be shitting bricks over the Fox interview. Trump builds bridges with Fox, builds the wall, provides path to citizenship for all undocumented workers. It’s like Nixon going to China, only a Republican can provide full voting rights to 11 million in the US, but only under certain conditions. What conditions?

As we used to say in the car business: ‘Let’s find out!’

Good times!

101

MilitantlyAardvark 05.05.16 at 2:23 am

@Rich Puchalsky @53

“Oh yeah, I really shouldn’t comment on a blog unless I have the prescriptions needed to fix all our problems.”

Start by learning how the American political system works, what the constraints were on Obama – and how the US is now more deeply split into partisan camps than ever before.

102

J-D 05.05.16 at 2:25 am

otpup @67

‘Btw, Eisenhower was one of the most popular presidents in history (both parties wanted to draft him) so he is fairly unique.’

That makes him unique — there’s no ‘fairly’ about it. Even if you’re using ‘unique’ to mean ‘unusual’, as so many people (for no good reason) now do, the correct description is not ‘fairly unusual’ but ‘extremely unusual’.

103

MilitantlyAardvark 05.05.16 at 2:25 am

@kidneystones @99

“…only under certain conditions. What conditions?”

I am pretty sure that a blue moon is one of them.

104

kidneystones 05.05.16 at 2:31 am

Portrait of Integrity: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/erick-erickson-de-register-republican-trump-nominee

As many may or may not know, many of the main proponents of the Trump=KKK meme were #NeverTrump. Erickson reprises the same to justify recognizing the voters just told him and the rest of the conservative pundit class to take a leap.

Every time a conservative purist acts publicly to help the elites retain control, Trumps chances improve. Eric and company know that they are now officially out of work, the only way they know how to earn a buck is by preaching crap to the choir.

Good thing that never happens in academic circles.

105

js. 05.05.16 at 2:32 am

Cranky @91 — Have you been following his output though? I generally skip the comments, but then I read the quoted bits—and I’m clearly missing out!

——

Somewhat more seriously, re LFC @86 — I would certainly call the switch from the first party system to the second, or from the second to the third “realignments”. It seems strange to me *not* to call them that. But I’m not familiar enough with the literature to know if that’s common usage.

106

Tabasco 05.05.16 at 2:32 am

That makes him unique

There are probably many celebrities that both parties would happily draft, especially now that Trump has shown that celebrities can beat politicians at politics. Next election: Beyoncé v Oprah.

107

kidneystones 05.05.16 at 2:38 am

@102 First, repeat three times: ‘ I never seriously believed a political neophyte could defeat the entire professional class of either political party. I belong to a bubble and only process information filtered through the prism of ‘I am morally and intellectually superior to many others.’

Then, hopefully, you’ll be able to start answering part of your own question.

I mean this seriously.

Hint: the conditions will almost include vocabulary items such as ‘criminal record’ ‘work history’ ‘willingness to apply from territory outside the US’ and ‘letters of reference’.

108

MilitantlyAardvark 05.05.16 at 2:47 am

@kidneystones @106

I asked no question. I merely made an observation.

When you’ve managed to grasp basic English syntax, we can move on to more challenging tasks involving paragraphs and logical argument.

109

kidneystones 05.05.16 at 2:49 am

Howard Fineman at Huffpo, well-known pro-Trump site. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-general-election_us_57292c0ee4b0bc9cb0451202?

“Nor does the Electoral College map look that impossible for him. With the possible exception of Arizona, there are few, if any, red states from 2012 that he would likely lose.
There are also at least five large blue states in which he could compete, especially for the votes of those former Reagan Democrats. Those states are Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin and, yes, Pennsylvania. Together, they represent more than enough electoral votes to send Trump to the White House. Bob Casey will be working hard to keep his state out of Trump’s column, but there are no guarantees.”

When the Huffington Post produces better researched, better argued and better balanced commentary than people here, well….

Expect to be surprised again, and again, and again…and don’t forget to cite Wiki!

It’s a source!

110

Corey Robin 05.05.16 at 2:55 am

J-D at 79: The standard realignment elections in the literature are 1832, 1860, 1932, and 1980. There’s some debate about 1896. 1832, 1932 and 1980 did not bring new parties into being. Nor did 1896 if you think that was a realignment election. What they did do was to propel a new government orientation of ideology and interests, where a long-established set of ideologies and interests were repudiated in favor of a new dispensation. These repudiations and reorientation then become the dominant language of politics till the next realignment. That’s why, despite whatever innovations and reforms one may think Obama achieved, most political scientists still wouldn’t consider his a realignment presidency (though there was, briefly, some talk/hope of that).

Anyway, whether you agree with the literature or not, those are the standard realignment elections and, as I said, they most definitely do not require there to be the creation of a new political party.

111

Rich Puchalsky 05.05.16 at 3:01 am

I don’t expect the *election* to trigger any kind of realignment. On the contrary, I expect the left to fall in line and vote for HRC. Unlike a third party situation, where there is at least something positive you’re voting for (even though they may have no chance of winning), this election seems like it’s really going to be just a choice between HRC and Trump.

No, I mentioned realignment as the failure mode of HRC’s Presidency, not of her election.

112

J-D 05.05.16 at 3:02 am

kidneystones writes (@76) that ‘… we cannot make many reliable predictions’ (dull, but fair enough) ‘… other than to say that Trump will find it far more difficult to defeat the entrenched interests of both political parties with his core group of zealous supporters alone’. So there is one exception to our inability to make reliable predictions.

No, wait, there are two. ‘Another safe prediction is that Trump will make a number of errors on his path to the election. HRC and the Dems will do their best to exploit these.’

No, wait, there are three. ‘Another safe prediction is that the 64,000 negative ads and 78 million spent trying to derail Trump will seem like a modest sum before this is over.’

Our one safe prediction is surprise! And fear! Our two safe predictions are surprise and fear! and ruthless efficiency … sorry, our three safe predictions are surprise, fear, ruthless efficiency, and … sorry, we’ll come in again.

As if on cue, we’ve got a paragraph without predictions while the memory buffer resets. We can use this time to reflect that the safe predictions made so far are indeed modest ones. But in the next paragraph we come in again, and there’s another prediction (but is this supposed to be a safe one?): ‘Trump is going to win.’ (Am I the only one who feels that an exclamation mark has been omitted?)

Then the next paragraph predicts that ‘Trump is going to win the largest percentage of the Democratic base since Reagan’ and consecutively, with no paragraph break, as if in support of this assertion, quotes an assertion made by somebody else and concludes: ‘This is a remarkably bold assertion to make less than 48 hours after a candidate, any candidate, secures the nomination. More so, given that Corey evidently feels free of any responsibility to provide any evidence to support this claim.’

Corey feels free of any responsibility to provide any evidence. If somebody else does not provide evidence for a claim, does that absolve me of any responsibility to provide evidence for my claims?

The comment eventually winds up with ‘I still say it’s Trump’s to lose’, which is a more modest prediction than ‘Trump is going to win’ and ‘Trump is going to win the largest percentage of the Democratic base since Reagan’, so were those not supposed to be predictions after all? They sure look like predictions.

113

awy 05.05.16 at 3:13 am

i wonder how many here has read her platform

114

kidneystones 05.05.16 at 3:15 am

@ I’m listening to Matt Lewis and Bill Scher engage in fairly good discussion on recent developments and you and Military Aardvark are parsing sentences. Those like j.s. who avoid my comments may not be aware of comments on this thread and others that do provide a great deal of evidence to support the assertion that Trump will win more Dem votes than any Republican since Reagan. That’s not a difficult claim to make generally, but your complaint has some substance. The Huffpost linked piece does provide some evidence. Try opening your ears, really: http://bloggingheads.tv/videos/41250

115

Ed 05.05.16 at 3:25 am

As usual David Lindsay puts things quite succinctly:

http://davidaslindsay.blogspot.com/2016/05/in-your-heart.html

116

J-D 05.05.16 at 3:29 am

Corey Robin @109

I chose with care the expression ‘It’s not clear to me in what sense [it] could count as a realignment’. It wasn’t clear then. It’s a lot clearer now. Is there a particular set of long established ideologies and interests that you think may be repudiated, or a particular new government orientation of ideologies and interests that you think may be propelled to replace it?

117

J-D 05.05.16 at 3:44 am

kidneystones @94

‘Urban elites have no knowledge of the problems these people face, or any interest in learning more about the challenges these people face. Our interest in their lives and concerns manifests itself only when we blithely expect them to show up at the voting booth to validate the decisions made on their behalf by their intellectual and moral superiors, irrespective of the actual impact of these decisions upon their lives.’

I don’t know what expectations you hold, but I have no expectations (blithe or not) that anybody will show up at the voting booth to validate decisions made on their behalf by anybody else (superior or not).

But perhaps I don’t fall within the category of people you would consider elite and so am not meant to be caught within the scope of your observation. (There’s no question that I’m urban.)

118

Layman 05.05.16 at 3:51 am

@ kidneystones, you’re a funny guy. As evidence for your certainty that Trump will win, you offer a pundit who says it is possible for Trump to win, as if the latter was the point in dispute. Of course it’s possible for Trump to win; it’s just not the likely outcome. Maybe you should grade those papers now?

119

kidneystones 05.05.16 at 3:55 am

@ 116 No problem. That’s a response to conditions in Toronto and more broadly on the attitudes of urban ‘elites’ in Britain, the US, and Australia (six-figure households of professionals who also hold one or more degrees). Tom’s comment is commendably frank.

120

kidneystones 05.05.16 at 3:58 am

@ 117 To be fair to my students, I should probably lie down first. But that probably won’t help. Far too much from me already.

121

JHW 05.05.16 at 4:14 am

There are many, many problems with the blithe thought that Trump is the populist hero who will rally the people disadvantaged by globalization into revolt against liberal and conservative elites. Here are two. First, non-white people exist and the Trump campaign is overtly racist. Second, economically disadvantaged white people (who, contrary to many media narratives, tend to vote Democratic at higher rates than economically advantaged white people) have other policy priorities than anti-immigrant demagoguery and raw economic nationalism, and Trump is a poor competitor with Hillary Clinton on anything else. If you care about, say, paid family leave, raising the minimum wage, or health care access, Democrats are always going to be more credible than Republicans. Trump might be more credible than, say, Jeb Bush, but it’s not the Republican primary anymore.

122

LFC 05.05.16 at 4:17 am

kidneystones @76
Trump will … proclaim himself a kind of Hercules charged by the gods and the voters to cleanse the stables/temples and restore ordinary Americans to their rightful place as full equal citizens of their own nation of laws.

I think we’ve got the title for the campaign bio: Trump and the Augean Stables.

123

Anarcissie 05.05.16 at 4:39 am

To be overly succinct, Clinton’s theme is ‘No hope, no change, but at least I’m not Trump.’ This is a specific case of the standard Democratic mantra, ‘We can’t do much, but at least we’re not crazy.’ So Clinton’s fortunes depend almost entirely on the awfulness of Trump. But Trump doesn’t have to cooperate. I certainly would not make any assumptions about the outcome of the 2016 election just yet.

124

J-D 05.05.16 at 4:51 am

Layman @95

For both Oregon and Washington (and also New York), 1984 is the most recent year for ‘carried by a Republican Presidential candidate’; all three of them were carried by the Democratic candidate in 1988 (and in every election since).

125

J-D 05.05.16 at 5:03 am

kidneystones @113

One reason I parse your sentences is that I am trying to discern your meaning. If I can’t discover your meaning from your sentences there’s no other way I’m going to find it out.

I have been reading your comments on this thread, and I haven’t seen any evidence that Trump will win more Democratic votes than any Republican since Reagan.

126

kidneystones 05.05.16 at 6:08 am

@124 Fair enough. I’ve taken some time to compose a final post. And this is really is my final post

“How do you stop someone going ninety-miles an hour?”

“You don’t.”

Mika Brzezinki and Rush agree that winning votes matters more than delegates, or support from the media. Trump’s five victories following his smash 60 plus percent victory in NY stopped Ted Cruz dead. Wisconsin? Huh? More tellingly, as Rush notes, when could Ted expect to win big again? Like ever? Which leads to Hillary’s problems, problem Trump is certain to exploit. Here’s a preview of the Trump message to all voters, and Sanders voters in particular.

“The special interest fix was in from the beginning in both parties. It’s a rigged system. I [Trump] beat 17 men and women in a series of hard-fought contests. Governors, senators, Dr. Ben Carson, good people, some say the most competitive ever for either party.

Wall St., Goldman-Sachs, the big insurance companies who wrote, actually wrote, so much of the banking, trade, and health-care legislation for the Obama-Clinton democratic party, that made the rich far richer both in America and in China, are lined-up against you, the voter, behind Crooked Hillary Clinton, who shouldn’t even be allowed to run for office.

Crooked Hillary Clinton is the Jeb Bush of the Democratic party Low-energy, low. The difference is that Jeb isn’t crooked. But he’s the same candidate as Hillary. Everyone thought Jeb would win it all because no-nothing media types like George Will who nobody even reads said so. Didn’t happen. I didn’t want to run, but I had to. America needs to win again, another four years of failure, it’ll be too late.

Now it’s just down to two. I [Trump] beat all the other candidates and I did it, one by one by one. Until there were just three, well, really just one. And what a fighter. But even he fell in the end. Hillary only had to beat one – a socialist – and she couldn’t even do that, even with the 500 super-delegate advantage she had from the beginning. What a crooked system. Crooked Hillary is the candidate of a crooked system. Who chose Hillary Clinton? Nobody. Special interests chose Clinton, years ago as the Democratic candidate because they own her.

A year ago, the special interests thought they couldn’t lose. Clinton versus Bush – international companies win either way, their bets were covered. But then something special happened. Elevator ride boilerplate. And on the Democratic side, voters said wait a minute. We don’t want Hillary Clinton. That’s it? No choice? We don’t need Hillary Clinton. Democrats and Independents decided America needed someone who can’t be bought, someone who puts American jobs and Americans first, not people in China. Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton like a drum in primary after primary even when the system was rigged against him. In the end Goldman Sachs, Wall St. and the military hawks, and the political consultants stole Bernie’s votes and his victories, just like those protesters took the microphone away from Bernie at his own rally. Remember that? Bernie fought a good fight, but he was robbed. The people who voted for Bernie don’t matter to the special interests who paid for all those ads against Bernie and against me.

Won’t happen with me, folks. Won’t happen. Remember the former President of Mexico? The guy who dropped the f-bomb. When I first started talking about illegal immigration what did I say? We’re going to build the wall and Mexico is going to pay for it. When they told me about his f-bomb comment, what did I say? I said the wall just got ten feet higher. The know-nothing politically correct dishonest media went nuts. You can’t say that Guess what, the former president of Mexico just apologized, right about the same time voters chose me to defend America. He invited me to Mexico. That was very gracious of him. I’ll go. That’s what I do – I make deals. But I negotiate from a position of strength. I win. And that’s what America needs. America needs to win. That’s the kind of leadership America needs. America needs to win, again. Crooked Hillary, she would have apologized to foreign leaders, because she’s weak.

Does anybody really want 4 more years of NAFTAT, of TPPP, of American jobs going overseas, of stupid mistakes with Crooked Hillary who we know takes money from special interests and lies about it, and who claims to care about women, and then protects and enables the worst serial abuser of women in the WH ever? Is this what Americans want? Low-energy, no ideas, no jobs and no hope for their children? More wars? More young people in jail and on drugs because of a broken education system? No. America needs to win, again. We can do that. We can make America greater than it ever was before.

We’re going to make America Great again starting in November of this year.

Thank you. I love you. Don’t forget to vote.”

As Rush notes, the media loves Trump mostly because he sends ratings through the roof. Trump will continue to drive the media cycle. Even HRC supporters concede she’s a snore. Moreover, the most salient argument Trump has to offer is that HRC is the anointed candidate of an establishment hated and feared by many voters. Bernie is going to continue to push his issues right through to the convention, and HRC can’t win the general by running any/much further to her left. It’s a long post, but tis the last.

127

J-D 05.05.16 at 6:43 am

kidneystones @125

The fact that you are able to construct a statement of the appeal you think Trump will/could/might make to voters (will? could? might? still not clear) is not evidence that Trump will win more Democratic votes than any Republican since Reagan.

128

J-D 05.05.16 at 6:53 am

JHW @120

‘Second, economically disadvantaged white people (who, contrary to many media narratives, tend to vote Democratic at higher rates than economically advantaged white people) …’

Back in 2012, John Quiggin posted an analysis based on a dataset provided to him by Andrew Gelman, to this effect:
Non-white voters split 68D, 32R
White voters with annual incomes below $40K split 51D, 49R
White voters with annual incomes of $40k or over and with four-year college degrees split 53D, 47R
White voters with annual incomes of $40K or over and without four-year college degrees split 40D, 60R

(These four groups were constructed to be roughly equal in size; as far as I can tell from the pie chart John Quiggin provided, the three white groups are roughly equal in size and the non-white group somewhat larger — maybe 30-24-23-23?)

129

J-D 05.05.16 at 6:54 am

kidneystone @118

Still not sure whether I fall in your ‘elite’ category; I hold one or more degrees but I don’t know whether you’d qualify me as ‘professional’.

130

kidneystones 05.05.16 at 7:08 am

Van Jones explains why Trump will win. We hit some of the same points: https://www.facebook.com/vanjones/videos/vb.30042869909/10154143952024910/?type=2&theater

J-D Sorry, but I moved on from our short exchange at the beginning of 125. I’ve no interest in adding anything further.

131

JHW 05.05.16 at 7:39 am

J-D: That looks about right to me (Andrew Gelman is the right go-to person here). Democratic vote share rises with education and falls with income. Keep in mind, of course, that most Americans don’t have four-year college degrees.

132

J-D 05.05.16 at 9:19 am

kidneystones @131

Why do you say you’re sorry when you’re not?

133

MilitantlyAardvark 05.05.16 at 9:35 am

@kidneystones @114

“you and Military Aardvark are parsing sentences”

It’s worse than I thought. We need to work on basic reading before we try and take you through anything as interesting as syntax.

Militantly not yours,

Aardvark.

134

clefab 05.05.16 at 9:48 am

On the prediction game, I think Trump indeed has a better shot than most people think because lots of things can happen in 6 months and he has proven himself to be rather good at this game. However, there is a big difference between the general election and the primary. In the primary, pundits were dismissing him but he was at the top of the polls almost the all time. Now, pundits still dismiss him but he is definitely not at the top of the polls. So he may have a decent shot (30% chance ?) but, at this point, he’s far from being the favorite.

Although, one thing I wonder is the turnout effect. Turnout is extremely low in the US (55% in 2012 vs around 80% in France). So demographics may favor Clinton but, with such a low turnout, this advantage might not be as important as we make it out to be (if anyone has some insights on this).

Finally, @JHW made a parallel between Trump and the French National Front (FN). I think it’s way off base. Le Pen is a typical far right guy in a way that Trump just isn’t. For god’s sake, one was a para in the Algerian war and may have actually tortured people himself while the other probably never tied his own shoes. Le Pen President is an order of magnitude scarier than Trump President. On the other hand, I also think that Le Pen never really thought he could win and was mostly having fun with us so there’s that.

135

Barry 05.05.16 at 10:26 am

otpup: “Whatever his contribution, the fact that ACA passed has to be due to a widespread consensus in both parties that something had to be done to address the health care crisis. (I’ve always speculated about what if Obama had thrown political capital behind crisis recovery and stimulus early on, could the DP survived the midterms and done ACA second. Dunno but one can dream).”

In fact it was such a widespread consensus in both parties that no Republicans voted for it!

136

Barry 05.05.16 at 10:28 am

Barry at 66: “I would say that I’m surprised by Robin’s comparison of Clinton to Nixon, but I’m more dismayed. IMHO it’s a symptom of a loosening grip on reality.”

Corey Robin: “IMHO, you should look at my comment at 38.”

I did. I can’t see anything informative about that comment. IMHO, in politics, saying that X and Y are like A and B should have some meat behind it.

137

David 05.05.16 at 11:08 am

Late to this discussion but two points.
The Popular Front was an alliance of two parties that disliked each other (the Radicals and the SFIO) and was tacitly supported in parliament by the Communists, who loathed both of them but loathed the SFIO more. This was nothing to do with domestic French politics, but everything to do with the increasing threat from Germany, which made Stalin change his mind about the role Communist parties should play. So the comparison falls at the first hurdle (for all that it’s often made in France about the situation here).
As regards Clinton, I think it’s obvious that she’s really Louis XVI – the one Louis that no-one can remember, whose intransigence and refusal of reform brought about the Revolution and his own death. Clinton conforms to type -wealthy, powerful member of international elite who can’t understand what the plebs are complaining about, and sees no need for change. The US political system is on its last legs, and the choice lies between a quick death (Trump) and a lingering agony (Clinton). I leave our American friends to decide which.

138

JPL 05.05.16 at 11:58 am

Lee Arnold @44:

Just want to say, thanks for the Charles Wright quote. I recently graffitized it in our departmental hallway in riposte to a pretentious graffitizing of some other Charles Wright, a mere poetaster. (Just kidding)

Alan White @52:

“I did use the present political atmosphere in the US to help explain Kuhn in my philosophy of science class last night, since he argued that scientific revolutions possess many characteristics of political ones.”

Can you please expand a little on that? Interesting possibilities. (See Corey’s comment @110.) What exactly did you have in mind here? E.g., perhaps, a key component in the logical structure of a “theory of governance” is the conception of the role of government vis-a-vis the people: Hilary has a choice here. She can continue with the old neo-liberal theory wherein the role of government is understood as primarily to enable the rich to get richer, and to fall in line with whatever agenda the big corporations and rentiers want, or she can embrace Bernie’s revolution and reclaim the understanding of the role of government as (to use the expression Bruce Wilder mentioned twice in the other thread) a “countervailing force” to wealth and corporate power. But the idea of government as the means by which ethical principles are brought to bear on market interactions in defence of the powerless, who otherwise have no defenders, only becomes practically possible if a party’s winning of power is dependent not on the big donors, but on the people themselves (Bernie’s movement). I think it would be a big mistake if she chose to continue with the outdated “neo-liberal theory”. But I would be interested to hear what you and Kuhn were thinking about with regard to the nature of conceptual revolutions in the scientific and the practical political spheres. (And I think Bernie’s revolution is fundamentally a conceptual revolution.)

139

Lee A. Arnold 05.05.16 at 12:00 pm

Rich Puchalsky #48: “Obama was not a very effective President, and the people who tell you ‘it’s complicated’ as if it has never before been complicated are not being realistic or commonsensical.”

Hoo boy! George W. Bush didn’t start general surveillance and torture — some of you just found out about it at that time, perhaps because you never read the newspapers before the year 2000. And Bush’s Medicare expansion, although we should thank him for signing it, is hardly a “big” thing except in context (and it wasn’t blocked by the opposing party). Reagan “started” (but not really) a whole era of American political messaging that is now crashing, and also, his War on Drugs didn’t work. Johnson’s Great Society and War on Poverty didn’t work all the way, and didn’t last either — in fact these programs were major instigators to the start of Reagan’s era, via the reaction. Teddy Roosevelt encountered little domestic opposition to the Panama Canal; it was a headline achievement, but not much work for him.

Nixon almost qualifies for three lasting accomplishments, except that the gov’t wasn’t reorganized very much, and he didn’t WANT to end the Vietnam War.

Although I’ll thank you for the counterexamples of Wilson and FDR, who managed the US participation in complicated World Wars, while managing an economic downturn, and while enacting other significant policies that are still with us, for good and bad. Wilson had a very divided opposition however, and FDR had four terms.

But, other than Wilson and FDR, the strained contrivance of your list + denying a good report-card to Obama = a better illustration of “not being realistic and commonsensical”.

President Obama achieved the biggest expansion in social protection since the creation of Medicare & Medicaid under Johnson. After others tried and failed. It’s not perfect yet — but then, Medicare and Medicaid still aren’t perfect, yet.

Obama also managed econ policy through a very complicated financial crash, overhauled the student loan program, changed energy production policy, personally finalized the plan details to get bin Laden, okayed gays serving openly in the military, got rid of hidden credit card fees, and a lot of other technocratic tweaks for the better.

And Obama did all of this, in an era of obstruction by the opposition so total that it hasn’t been equaled since the 19th Century.

Indeed Obama also picked through a vast field of choices — perhaps a minefield of choices — to find the actions that helped, very effectively, to drive the wedges deep into the Republicans. Who thoroughly deserved this payback.

Yet you write, “Obama was not a very effective President.”

But, why aren’t Obama’s effective accomplishments as valid as your list containing so many headline items? (And so many which didn’t remain?) Do you think it requires more time and work to send gunboats to Panama, than to understand the details of a shadowbank financial crash?

I think that the people who tell you that: “the people who tell you ‘it’s complicated’ as if it has never before been complicated are not being realistic or commonsensical” — are not being realistic or commonsensical.

140

Anderson 05.05.16 at 12:45 pm

123: pretty sure HRC has a website where you could find out her message, as opposed to lazily making it up for her.

Barry: “would say that I’m surprised by Robin’s comparison of Clinton to Nixon, but I’m more dismayed. IMHO it’s a symptom of a loosening grip on reality.”

Yep.

141

Rich Puchalsky 05.05.16 at 12:55 pm

I’m trying to resist the temptation to debate 100 years of American history, and partly failing because your nitpicking response to my off-the-top-of-my-head list is wrong in so many details.

So I’ll just mention one detail. Bush’s Medicare expansion, if you measure by dollars spent, was a larger expansion than the ACA. CBO estimated the gross cost of it would be $410 billion over ten years, and that the net effect of ACA would be to save the government $140 billion over ten years. (Hmm, I wonder where those costs are being shifted to?) As for “he wasn’t opposed”, that’s part of politics, finding things you can actually do. Bush didn’t “start” surveillance and torture, and I never wrote that he did.

Nor do “big things” have to be successful by long-term historical standards, unless that was your criterion in the first place. If “big things” are rare then long-term successful big things are even more rare. But big things still have large effects on contemporary people. Obviously I didn’t list “big things” that I particularly supported as good ideas.

The rest of your response is special pleading. Obama “managed econ policy through a very complicated financial crash, overhauled the student loan program, changed energy production policy, personally finalized the plan details to get bin Laden, okayed gays serving openly in the military” etc. If we were going to compare accomplishments of this type, every President would have a much large list than the one I gave. For instance, you mention the creation of Medicare and Medicaid as if they are part of one big “expansion in social protection” under Johnson. As we get further away historically, accomplishments blur together in this way, and Obama’s term hasn’t had time to blur yet. But there’s no way you can count the items on your expanded list as big things unless you extend the same criteria to other Presidents, in which case Obama again comes up as not very effective.

142

Lee A. Arnold 05.05.16 at 1:21 pm

Rich Puchalsky #141: “the gross cost of it would be $410 billion over ten years”

The gross cost of what would be $410 billion over ten years?

143

Rich Puchalsky 05.05.16 at 1:45 pm

The gross cost of the new outpatient prescription drug benefit under the
Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (source).

144

JHW 05.05.16 at 1:54 pm

Rich Puchalsky at #141: “So I’ll just mention one detail. Bush’s Medicare expansion, if you measure by dollars spent, was a larger expansion than the ACA. CBO estimated the gross cost of it would be $410 billion over ten years, and that the net effect of ACA would be to save the government $140 billion over ten years. (Hmm, I wonder where those costs are being shifted to?)”

This is a really odd thing to say. The ACA represented a massive increase in social expenditures on health care access, so I’m assuming these numbers signify *net* impact on the federal deficit: the ACA reduced it and Medicare Part D increased it. Effectively, then, you are criticizing the ACA for being paid for. As to “where those costs are being shifted to,” part of the answer is individual and business taxpayers and part of the answer is health care providers via Medicare cost-cutting. Of course, the fact that Medicare Part D wasn’t paid for doesn’t mean that the bill never comes due, so we could ask the very same question about it.

The real significance of the ACA, of course, is not the dollars spent, but the expanded public commitment of the federal government to not just provide health care for the elderly (Medicare) or for the poor and disabled (pre-ACA Medicaid), but also to ensure that people with low incomes and people with expensive health care conditions can get health care coverage. There is lots that could be said about how the ACA could be much stronger in how it goes about accomplishing this goal, but presenting it as some sort of lesser analogue to Medicare Part D is, well, silly.

145

Rich Puchalsky 05.05.16 at 2:05 pm

JHW: “As to “where those costs are being shifted to,” part of the answer is individual and business taxpayers and part of the answer is health care providers via Medicare cost-cutting.”

And those health care providers don’t then shift those costs onto those people who do have to pay — costs are simply cut without services being cut or costs being shifted, because of magic.

JHW: “also to ensure that people with low incomes and people with expensive health care conditions can get health care coverage. “

And ensuring that the elderly are able to get meds (including 12.5 million people eligible for low-income subsidies in 2009) doesn’t count?

I’m not presenting one as a lesser analogue of the other: they do different things. But I don’t see any historical criterion by which one makes a successful President and the other was a minor achievement.

146

RNB 05.05.16 at 2:08 pm

But don’t we need a Popular Front against a candidate

who just accused China of raping the United States,

who for no apparent reason at all just vindicated via Bobby Knight the dropping of atomic weaponry in Japan,

who has called for a ban against any one of the world’s Muslims from entering the US

who has people chanting that they’ll humiliate Mexicans into paying for a wall that will keep their rapists selves out of the US,

who accused American Muslims of celebrating in the thousands the destruction of the Twin Towers and thus incited violent hatred against an American minority,

who has said that American women should be punished for having had an abortion.

Just because some rather nasty Republican elites may join such a Popular Front against this terrifying demagogue does not seem to be any reason not to form one.

147

LFC 05.05.16 at 2:25 pm

David @137
As regards Clinton, I think it’s obvious that she’s really Louis XVI – the one Louis that no-one can remember, whose intransigence and refusal of reform brought about the Revolution and his own death. Clinton conforms to type -wealthy, powerful member of international elite who can’t understand what the plebs are complaining about, and sees no need for change. The US political system is on its last legs, and the choice lies between a quick death (Trump) and a lingering agony (Clinton). I leave our American friends to decide which.

This is really over-the-top and quite absurd. Assuming it’s not meant as a wry joke, which it may be.

148

Lee A. Arnold 05.05.16 at 2:25 pm

Rich Pulchasky #145: “I don’t see any historical criterion by which one makes a successful President and the other was a minor achievement.”

Then how do you argue that “Obama was not a very effective President” (#48)?

149

RNB 05.05.16 at 2:26 pm

I would be a bit more cautious in predicting a Clinton landslide. We don’t know yet how Trump’s aggrieved white male nationalism will play against Clinton’s feminist multiculturalism.

150

Rich Puchalsky 05.05.16 at 2:42 pm

Lee: “Then how do you argue that “Obama was not a very effective President”?”

Obama has one and only one major accomplishment: the ACA. Bush Jr., if you evaluate his Presidency by the same general standards of major accomplishments, had three: Medicare expansion, the Iraq War, the extensive and lasting changes to surveillance/torture/War on Terror policy. Obviously this does not mean that I think that what Bush did was good.

Similarly, applying these same standards to other 20th century Presidents shows that quite a few of them had 3 or 4 major accomplishments. Going from Obama back to Teddy Roosevelt, there have been 19 Presidents (unless I miscounted) and the effective ones (TR, Wilson, FDR, LBJ, Reagan, Bush Jr., let’s leave out Nixon because of how he ended and Eisenhower and Clinton despite him in his way starting his own era and so on) have more than one big accomplishment. Even the ineffective ones often have one thing that they succeeded at.

151

Alan White 05.05.16 at 2:44 pm

JPL @138–thanks for the comment–

Kuhn in TSOSR really only gives the broadest kind of comparison between political and scientific revolutions–certainly nothing like Corey’s detailed references in @110. In some crucial ways they are disanalogous even as they are comparable: e.g., while I agree that generational differences prominently stand as a sociological reason for both, full-blown scientific revolutions take *at least* much of the time-frame of a single generation, while political revolutions appear (to me) to often take shorter time frames.

I agree with you on Bernie–voted for him here in WI. But even if he could be elected, putting his policies into place would be nearly impossible, except for executive actions.

152

Layman 05.05.16 at 2:53 pm

“Obama has one and only one major accomplishment: the ACA. Bush Jr., if you evaluate his Presidency by the same general standards of major accomplishments, had three: Medicare expansion, the Iraq War, the extensive and lasting changes to surveillance/torture/War on Terror policy. “

I think you’re going to have to offer some explanation of your criteria for ‘major accomplishment’.

153

JHW 05.05.16 at 3:21 pm

Rich at #145: “And those health care providers don’t then shift those costs onto those people who do have to pay — costs are simply cut without services being cut or costs being shifted, because of magic.”

Actually, to some extent, yes. The theory of the Medicare cuts is that we spend too wastefully on health care. So, without altering the Medicare benefits package, the ACA finds various ways to spend less (e.g., it tries to encourage health care providers to call for fewer expensive-but-medically-unjustified procedures, and it tinkered with the expensive Medicare Advantage partial privation scheme). Whether this will actually work remains to be seen, but initial signs are positive. Most countries spend vastly less money on health care than the U.S. does, and it’s most likely because those other countries have more government involvement in cost containment; the ACA probably doesn’t go far enough in this direction, frankly.

“And ensuring that the elderly are able to get meds (including 12.5 million people eligible for low-income subsidies in 2009) doesn’t count?”

Of course it counts. But it’s not the same thing. Think of it this way: Medicare Part D was the federal government following through on a commitment it had already made in response to problems with the implementation of that commitment. That’s why its basic goal was largely politically uncontroversial; most Democrats voted against the final plan, but mainly because they rightly thought it was too generous to pharmaceutical companies. The Affordable Care Act was the federal government making a new and quite substantial commitment toward a much broader goal of universal health care, which is why it was passed with no Republican votes and remains despised by the Right.

154

JHW 05.05.16 at 3:22 pm

re #153, “privation” should be “privatization”

155

RJ 05.05.16 at 3:24 pm

“Then how do you argue that “Obama was not a very effective President” (#48)?”

It is, to be sure, difficult to argue for anything when one’s side is constantly subjected to an expectation of an ultra-high burden of proof relative to the other. Mr. Puchalsky has tried, not always successfully, to articulate how this is done to him serially and constantly, by Clinton supporters on Crooked Timber. Mr. Arnold and others pick on Mr. P in this way, constantly and obviously. Discussion would improve if they stopped doing this.

To be fair, President O inherited some massive problems not of his making, and he also made some understandable mistakes.

Ineffective:
– prospects for world peace, not improved
– civil liberties of Americans, not improved
– health care coverage, improved but less than it could have been
– economic estate of Americans, not improved
– outsized corporate power, not attenuated

People may disagree with this characterization of ineffectiveness, but the constant out-of-hand rejection of these as argumentative points is unbecoming of a site which, once often and still sometimes, features intelligent, respectful argumentation between parties that disagree.

Crooked Timber did not used to have whipping-boys except maybe the libertarian. I’d like it to stop because it inhibits a salutatory function fulfilled by this group blog. I’m not anybody’s fanboi, but I can read. There are a number of commentators, some of them long-term, who really ought to stop it.

156

Corey Robin 05.05.16 at 3:33 pm

I would add to Rich’s last of Bush’s accomplishments at 150 the massive tax cuts he pushed through, some overwhelming percentage of which Obama then made permanent as part of his deal. This wasn’t just a victory on ideological or even material (enriching the wealthy) grounds; it puts a real constraint on all subsequent social spending. As I argued in my very first post here at CT, managing and rationalizing the profligacy of the dominant party has been, in the 20th century, the function of the subordinate party, indeed, the sign of its subordination. That’s how the Republicans found themselves in the unenviable position throughout most of the New Deal era of standing for balanced budgets and now Democrats do the same. The upshot is that the subordinate party — the GOP throughout the 20th century, the Dems since Reagan — winds up doing the opposite of what its base wants.

http://crookedtimber.org/2012/08/30/were-going-to-tax-their-ass-off/

157

js. 05.05.16 at 3:42 pm

I think we’re really undercounting Bush’s accomplishments here No one’s even mentioned Afghanistan! Waaaay more expensive than Medicare Part D. Huge accomplishment! And who can forget Katrina!? Major accomplishment!

158

Layman 05.05.16 at 3:43 pm

“It is, to be sure, difficult to argue for anything when one’s side is constantly subjected to an expectation of an ultra-high burden of proof relative to the other.”

Especially if one spends one’s time whining about being asked to explain oneself rather than, well, explaining oneself.

“Ineffective:
– prospects for world peace, not improved
– civil liberties of Americans, not improved
– health care coverage, improved but less than it could have been
– economic estate of Americans, not improved
– outsized corporate power, not attenuated”

None of these are remotely close to a slam dunk, which means you’ll need to argue them if you want them to be accepted. I imagine there are a good many LBGT people who think their civil liberties are improved, and correctly attribute the improvement to Supreme Court nominations made by Obama rather than McCain or Romney, and to executive decisions not to defend DOMA, etc. I imagine there are people who lost their jobs in 2008 and 2009, and who have jobs now, and believe that to have something to do with the efforts if the administration. I imagine there are Iraqis who are not now being killed by American soldiers and airmen, who would be so killed under some other administration. You’re basically claiming a better counterfactual world, without bother to argue for it.

159

David 05.05.16 at 4:00 pm

Ah, there’s me forgetting to include the tag.
Actually, though, there’s a serious point here. Clinton is the quintessential candidate of continuity, and a vote for her is a vote for a continuation of the status quo. History suggests that if the status quo can’t endure for ever, it won’t, and the longer it staggers on, the messier will be its end.

160

David 05.05.16 at 4:02 pm

Edit. I tried to write “irony” in html format but the system swallowed it. Serves me right.

161

Rich Puchalsky 05.05.16 at 4:11 pm

I was asked to explain my argument: I explained it, complete with lists of specific major accomplishments going back through the 20th century. If you can’t figure out from that what I mean by “major accomplishment”, then it isn’t worth my time to explain further. But in general a “major accomplishment” of a President is something that had a major effect on people that the President had a major hand in bringing about and that the President intended to happen.

Unintended consequences of accomplishments are something else. So, far instance, the Iraq War failed at whatever its goals were supposed to be, unless its goal was really destabilization. (I’ve argued in the past that a lot of U.S. foreign policy makes a lot more sense if you take destabilization to be the implicit goal.) But we can’t have a fair comparison of Obama to other Presidents by that means because we don’t know the unintended consequences of what Obama has done yet.

162

Ed 05.05.16 at 4:11 pm

“Obama has one and only one major accomplishment: the ACA”

No, he did more than that.

For better or worse, he went “all in” on the bailouts (the ACA itself was part of this) after 2008 more than even Bush. People weren’t even prosecuted for fraud, which the GW Bush and the Reagan Justice Departments both did after smaller financial meltdowns.

The right charges that Obama interfered to prevent the enforcement of immigration laws. I am certain a deliberate policy of non-enforcement was done with laws against financial fraud, but I’m genuinely not sure about immigration, and suspect this is myth. But this did fuel the rise of Trump.

Obama probably kept the United States out of a major war with Iran and Russia. Based on his public statements, if his 2008 opponent, McCain had been elected the US would have gotten into a major war with Iran. Again based on their public statements, there was at least a greater risk of something like this happening in a Clinton or Romney administration.

There was also a bunch of smaller, mostly overdue, housekeeping stuff like diplomatic relations with Cuba.

163

LFC 05.05.16 at 4:12 pm

Rich P.
Obama has one and only one major accomplishment: the ACA.

No, he has several others; at a minimum:
— Iran nuclear deal (in conjunction w other major powers)
— the opening to Cuba; major step toward liquidation (in O’s words) of the last vestige of the Cold War in the Americas
— finding (and killing) Osama bin Laden
— steering the economy, albeit somewhat bumpily, out of the ’08 crisis and ensuring that the auto industry did not go under
— pushing toward reform of policing, reform of sentencing, and reduction of incarceration rates

164

Ed 05.05.16 at 4:18 pm

One the main topic, looking at only major party US presidential candidates, the best parallel to Trump is probably William Jennings Bryan. Their personalities ara as different as you can get, as are their backgrounds, but their place in American politics of the time is pretty similar. But then their views on trade and probably monetary policy are polar opposites. Trump takes McKinley’s policies but gets politically positioned as Bryan. If there was an internet in 1896, and an 1896 version of “Crooked Timber” with the same types of commentators, all loyal to the Republican Party, you would be getting similar types of comments.

For Hilary Clinton, I’m stumped. Roscoe Conkling? But he was never nominated. Maybe Adlai Stevenson, which is more flattering. Or James Buchanan. But she is pretty much the continuity candidate in this contest.

165

Layman 05.05.16 at 4:26 pm

“But in general a “major accomplishment” of a President is something that had a major effect on people that the President had a major hand in bringing about and that the President intended to happen.”

In which case, you’ve left out the stimulus, you’ve left out gay marriage, you’ve left out the Iran deal, you’ve left out the withdrawal from Iraq. If invading Iraq was major, surely uninvading it was major.

166

Rich Puchalsky 05.05.16 at 4:32 pm

I’m really mystified that more than one person has now listed finding and killing Osama Bin Laden as one of Obama’s major accomplishments. Other Presidents may have made policy, shepherded great realignments, and thought up and carried out initiatives, but this President did better: under his direction we found and killed a terrorist. I have to go back to “Tippiecanoe and Tyler Too” for a cognate to this one. I guess that the American classics never get old.

167

Rich Puchalsky 05.05.16 at 4:35 pm

“In which case, you’ve left out the stimulus […]”

As I wrote above, if you want to include a long list of things as major accomplishments, then you have to create much longer lists of things for prior Presidents as well. They brought America semi successfully through economic crises, acceded to social changes that they had tepidly resisted throughout their term, and halfheartedly ended wars started by other Presidents as well.

168

Ed 05.05.16 at 4:35 pm

” I have to go back to “Tippiecanoe and Tyler Too” for a cognate to this one.”

Rumpsey Dumpsey, Rumpsey Dumpsey, Colonel Johnson killed Tecumseh.

169

Layman 05.05.16 at 4:41 pm

“As I wrote above, if you want to include a long list of things as major accomplishments, then you have to create much longer lists of things for prior Presidents as well.”

Yes, this is why I asked you to define your terms. What is the Bush accomplishment you’d add in exchange for adding the stimulus to Obama’s tally? From here, it looks like you’re fitting the accomplishment tally to your thesis.

170

Layman 05.05.16 at 4:42 pm

“and halfheartedly ended wars started by other Presidents as well.”

Isn’t this precisely what you credited Nixon for, in your original post?

171

LFC 05.05.16 at 4:47 pm

RP @166

I’m really mystified that more than one person has now listed finding and killing Osama Bin Laden as one of Obama’s major accomplishments.

Sorry for repetition — I missed Lee Arnold’s previous ref to Osama bin Laden. (Serves me right for reading thread selectively.)

172

awy 05.05.16 at 4:49 pm

imo the leftist crowd critical of obama would be more effective by focusing on a few key issues, such as the rent is too damn high problem.

173

Suzanne 05.05.16 at 4:54 pm

“There are any number of paths to victory for both candidates. To win HRC has to convince voters who’ve known her for decades that’s she’s the job-creating innovator and Trump is professional politician.”

@83: Uh, no. She has to remind voters that she has the chops and experience to defend and improve upon legislative accomplishments of Obama’s term like the ACA and Dodd-Frank, continue to work on an economy that still needs work, and Keep the Country Safe (that last will become especially important if there is another major terrorist attack overseas). Also that Trump is not only not a professional politician, he’s not a professional anything, unless you count reality show hosting. In other words, she says, “Yes, I’m a pro, which means I know what I’m doing and take responsibility for the words that come out of my mouth and the promises I make. He doesn’t and won’t.”

@28: I found large portions of Nixonland to be unreadable or nearly so. Haven’t had the intestinal fortitude to try anything else of Perlstein’s. IMO there’s better stuff on Nixon and the period to be found from the writings of people who were on the spot at the time – Nixon Agonistes, Mailer’s convention pieces, Andrew Kopkind’s stuff, the latter from a contemporary radical perspective.

Statistically Trump has the highest negatives within his own party for any national candidate since McGovern. The resemblance about ends there. Not a good precedent for the Donald, though.

@14: “Daley is the ballgame.” – Robert Kennedy.

174

LFC 05.05.16 at 4:58 pm

Then there’s the different criterion advanced by that great statesman [cough] H. Kissinger:

For men become myths, not by what they know, nor even by what they achieve, but by the tasks they set for themselves. (A World Restored, p.322)

175

LFC 05.05.16 at 5:02 pm

Suzanne @173
Re ‘Nixonland’ — noted

176

LFC 05.05.16 at 5:05 pm

I was wondering when Ze K would chime in with the view from Kim Jong Un, or something…

177

Ellie 05.05.16 at 6:34 pm

The Popular Front reference is interesting, but a much better French parallel is the 2002 presidentials, when Jean-Marie Le Pen got through to the second round. The right candidate Jacques Chirac (UMP), whom lots of people really didn’t like, won a landslide on the strength of even left-wing voters’ mobilization against the possibility of a far-right Front National president. And, God help us, Trump makes JMLP look almost reasonable!

178

Lee A. Arnold 05.05.16 at 7:42 pm

LFC #171: “previous reference to Osama bin Laden”

Perhaps I should have specified “positive and lasting social accomplishments” at #44 to avoid confusing Rich Puchalsky at #48.

I wouldn’t call the elimination of bin Laden a major accomplishment (although, if there occurred recovery of information that may have a significant impact, it might be, how would I know). I was just trying to figure out the criteria by which Rich includes some things, and excludes others.

So let’s try it from a different angle. Let’s say that the Iraq War is indeed a major accomplishment, along with the other examples he listed at #48 that meet the “general standards of major accomplishments” (his phrase, #150).

(Now, I wouldn’t normally call the Iraq War a major accomplishment. Or at least, I wouldn’t normally claim this, to a bunch of educated readers. Because then, we’d be obligated to entertain useless inferences, such as maintaining that George W. Bush was more accomplished than Barack Obama.)

But let’s adopt Puchalsky’s usage that major accomplishments can be good or bad.

So then the question is: what are Rich Puchalsky’s “general standards” for these “major accomplishments”?

Is it changes in government expenditure? No, Obama did that — but he doesn’t meet the standards.

Helping or hurting people? Obama did — but he doesn’t meet the standards of enacting Medicare 2003.

Starting, ending, avoiding big wars? Obama avoided at least one (with Iran, a war which the GOP wanted badly) — but he doesn’t meet the standards.

Deal with big economic issues? Obama did — but he doesn’t meet the standards.

So what are the possible “general standards of major accomplishments” which remain?

Generating headlines? Being listed in an elementary-school history book? The acclaim of pundits? Notice or notoriety, in short?

Well then, eliminating bin Laden might qualify…

But alas, that cannot be it, either.

After Rich Puchalsky triumphantly absconded from the illuminating the mystery with his dizzying fait accompli at #161 — “If you can’t figure out what I mean by ‘major accomplishment’, then it isn’t worth my time to explain further” — he came back to inform us at #166 that he is “really mystified that more than one person has now listed finding and killing Osama bin Laden as one of Obama’s major accomplishments.”

Therefore, the “general standards of major accomplishments” do not include widespread notice or notoriety, either.

Mystification, all around!

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Stephen 05.05.16 at 8:15 pm

With apologies to HL Mencken:

Democracy is the system under which, out of more than 300 million US citizens, of whom many are honest and attractive, and some are also highly intelligent, you end up with a choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

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Suzanne 05.05.16 at 8:59 pm

@18: “And Nixon appears to have believed that old Joe bought the election for his son.”

Nixon thought then and later that he wuzrobbed, and put it about that while the election had been stolen from him in Illinois, he nobly Put the Country First and did not dispute the end result. In fact the GOP disputed the result vigorously in the courts and the press, without success. Nixon distanced himself from these efforts, but his aides were heavily involved and there was no way he was unaware or otherwise discouraged said efforts. “Old Joe’s” determination to put his son in the White House kept Nixon out of there for another eight years, so we have him to thank for that.

181

RNB 05.05.16 at 9:12 pm

@181 To what do you attribute what you perceive as the poor quality of the contenders for high office in the US?

With apologies to Tocqueville via Jon Elster, is it

a. that qualified people do not run office because 1. they don’t want any part of politics and/or 2. they can’t get the financial backing to make a go of it;

b. the electorate is too envious of capable people to vote them into office;

c. the electorate does not have cognitive discernment perhaps due to media culture to figure out who the truly good candidates are?

Something else entirely or some combination of the above?

182

PatinIowa 05.05.16 at 9:26 pm

JHW upstream:

“There are many, many problems with the blithe thought that Trump is the populist hero who will rally the people disadvantaged by globalization into revolt against liberal and conservative elites.”

Here’s another: the people voting for Trump aren’t the people disadvantaged by globalization, exactly: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-mythology-of-trumps-working-class-support/

He may want to present himself as on the side of the little guy, but the real appeal, as far as I can tell, is to white male resentment. That resonates with the Republican base, and Trump got a lot of help from Republican elite bungling. It boggles the mind to think that it might work with the electorate as a whole. Whatever HRC’s deficiencies, I don’t think she’s as inept as the Republicans were this time around. (Pretty sure Reagan would clean her clock, but he’s dead.)

I’ve had my mind boggled too many times by the American electorate to say never, but damn, it would be a thing to see. Glad I kept my Canadian citizenship.

183

JimV 05.05.16 at 9:56 pm

As several commenters have already written, I don’t think HRC vs. Trump rhymes very well with McGovern vs. Nixon. That is, I don’t think the personalities, personal histories, or issues match. (See Hunter Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, 1972” for a good albeit not scholarly portrayal of the latter.)

While I’m being contrary, I saw the Nixon-Kennedy televised debate and my visual impression of Nixon was not that he was sweaty and unshaven, but that his body language was that of a beady-eyed, shifty liar who was not expressing personal convictions but rather what he had calculated as most likely to appeal to the most voters. Subsequent events confirmed this opinion. “Used-car salesman” seemed like a very apt description to me, not only then but at every press-conference and speech.

In other words, the people like myself who saw the debate, versus those who heard it on the radio, were not making superficial judgements but rather judgements based on more information.

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roger gathmann 05.05.16 at 10:19 pm

There is one similarity between Trump and McGovern: both are the most electable of the candidates vying for their party’s nomination. McGovern was much more popular, in all the polls of the time, than his rivals, Humphrey and Muskie. This is slightly less true of Trump – even in May, Kasich still wins, supposedly, over Clinton, which is something that Trump has never done. On the other hand, Kasich loses to Sanders, which I take to mean that eventually he’d lose to Clinton. 1972 was Nixon’s year – the odd thing about the paranoia that sparked watergate is that Nixon could, for once, be comfortable in an election. But that was impossible for him to do. In that sense, Nixon might be a bit like Clinton. I am hoping that, for the general, she takes cues from Obama.
This should be a walk.

185

RJ 05.05.16 at 10:27 pm

I wasn’t whining about anything. I was pointing out the provable fact that Obama’s and Clinton’s defenders, here at Crooked Timber, systematically hold their opponents to unreasonably high standards to which they do not hold themselves. The very first, incoherent and sneering reply, proved my point. Along with the obligatory, unsolicited insult.

I concede that Clinton and Obama are both worlds better than Romney or Bush or Trump. So what? I concede that probably people are better off economically under O than they would have been under Romney. What of it? Basically, anyone with a pulse would have been better than another Republican.

O did not intend to recognize the civil rights of gays. If he give him credit for this, then he gets debited for negative unintended consequences of his work. If he deserves credit for pro-gay legislation, then also ISIS is on him.

The murder of a man, even a very bad man, is no ‘accomplishment’. I thought the bloodthirsty people went to Red State and Stormfront. Guess I was wrong.

Don’t have to agree with me. But don’t patronize me or say I have no reasons, or that I have some kind of unreasonably high standards. Unless you can argue for that. With a footnoted treatise on metaethical and ethical standards.

I stand by my claim that pro-Clinton people are treating their critics unfairly and should stop.

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dr ngo 05.05.16 at 10:34 pm

Footnote to JimV (#185): I heard the debate on the radio (we didn’t have a TV) and I thought Nixon won. Less information.

As for earlier comments on Nixon-hatred – although he got almost 50% of the vote in 1960, he always generated more animus than most of his contemporaries; no one _hated_ JFK or Stevenson or Ike or Lodge or Rockefeller or even LBJ (then) with the same intensity. And by 1962, when Nixon lost the California gubernatorial race (and then lashed out at the press “You won’t have Nixon to kick around any more”), college students were sitting around singing (to the tune “Delia’s Gone,” as performed by Bud and Travis, IIRC) “Nixon’s Gone, One more Round, Nixon’s Gone, One more round . . .” His recovery between 1962 and 1968 adumbrated his almost equal recovery after 1974 – you gotta admire the man’s resilience!

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Layman 05.05.16 at 10:46 pm

“I was pointing out the provable fact that Obama’s and Clinton’s defenders, here at Crooked Timber, systematically hold their opponents to unreasonably high standards to which they do not hold themselves.”

Describing your opinions as ‘provable facts’ does not make them so. Also, though it may have escaped your well-honed powers of observation, I don’t like Clinton one bit. I’m disappointed in Obama, but that isn’t a reason to downplay his accomplishments.

Rich’s original piece credits Nixon with ending the Vietnam War, while denying any credit to Obama for ending the Iraq war. It credits Nixon with normalizing relations with China, while ignoring Obama’s thus-far successful overtures with Iran and Cuba. These kinds of discrepancies cry out for some explanation of his criteria; which, tellingly, he thinks don’t need discussion.

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bruce wilder 05.05.16 at 11:00 pm

When the U.S. finally withdraws from Iraq, we can decide then who to credit.

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Layman 05.05.16 at 11:04 pm

@ bruce wilder, I think that approach is hard on FDR and Truman…

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JeffreyG 05.05.16 at 11:10 pm

@184
Sorry but this is not at all accurate.

First – just because most of the people doing X are not Ys does not mean that Ys are not overwhelmingly doing X. Even if Silver is correct in his analysis, it doesn’t prove his thesis. Second, let us remind ourselves that Silver’s record this election cycle has been spotty – at best. Personally I think this cycle has been an embarrassment for him and his team. And the analysis you link to is nothing better. Most of his analysis breaks down once you properly account for the the relevant denominators (e.g. he compares absolute vote totals from a 2 way race to those in a many way race) and group identities (e.g. he compares incomes of most older trump voters to mostly younger sanders voters as if this was on face instructive, or his total failure to take the R-D divide seriously).

But more significantly: working class is not equivalent to low income, not even by proxy, and the implication here that it does derails the whole piece.

Regarding globalization:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/31/upshot/donald-trumps-strongest-supporters-a-certain-kind-of-democrat.html

I don’t think you can explain those geographic patterns without accounting for trade and globalization (which keep in mind also mean something different to your average Trump voter than they likely do to you). If it is true that “the people voting for Trump aren’t the people disadvantaged by globalization” then who are the people disadvantaged by globalization voting for? Clinton?

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/13/upshot/the-geography-of-trumpism.html

Look at the findings on non-HS diploma, mobile homes, and labor force participation rate. Just as our theories about trade preferences would suggest: Trump has support from the low-skill worker most vulnerable to foreign competition.

The general finding has been that the strongest levels of support for Trump come from the demographic segments and geographic areas of America that have seen absolute declines over the medium term (in terms of life expectancy for the former, and social-economic conditions for the latter). Given this, your comment is an encapsulation of the sort of dismissive perspective that rallies support to Trump. You state that his support derives from “white male resentment” as if that were strictly incompatible with him having support from “the little guy.” The fact of the matter is that there are a lot of white males who consider themselves among that latter category, and no amount of ‘awareness’ of white privilege or whatever is going to restore their dying and depressed communities.

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bruce wilder 05.05.16 at 11:15 pm

Layman @ 191

Is it? WWII was over for the U.S. in under 4 years. Tell me how long have we been fighting in Afganistan?

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JeffreyG 05.05.16 at 11:16 pm

Also I want to strongly echo the argument that killing Osama bin Laden was NOT a major accomplishment.

How is the global War on Terror doing, on balance? Would you say that we have increased or decreased the dangers and incidence of terrorism world-wide?

Reflect on this before you decide to buy into the propaganda.

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Anarcissie 05.05.16 at 11:40 pm

RNB 05.05.16 at 2:26 pm @ 150:
I would be a bit more cautious in predicting a Clinton landslide. We don’t know yet how Trump’s aggrieved white male nationalism will play against Clinton’s feminist multiculturalism.

Don’t forget class war. The proles are restless. This might be a class war year.

194

PGD 05.05.16 at 11:53 pm

Jeffrey@192 — great comment

In thinking about Obama’s accomplishments, you have to put it in the perspective of the historical moment he came to power. By some kind of ‘normal times’ yardstick, he was a pretty good president — no big scandals, some significant if not historic legislative accomplishments, etc. (I don’t think that in the long run the ACA will appear historic — it increased subsidies to health insurance for the individual market and low-income people, but didn’t fundamentally change the health care system).

But he came to power just as the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression was happening, a disaster that could be seen as fundamentally discrediting a lot of the shibboleths of capitalism and neo-liberal governance and opening the door for something new. He came to power with very large majorities in both houses of Congress.

Overall, his policies and governance had quite a lot of continuity with neo-liberal Clintonite policies of the 1990s (he hired the entire crowd) and frankly even with GW Bush’s domestic policies. It’s not that he was a bad president, but he didn’t shift course fundamentally on the bad direction the country was moving in, when it appeared the financial crisis and the loss of the Iraq war might have offered the opportunity to do so.

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roger gathmann 05.05.16 at 11:59 pm

194, keeping Osama bin Ladan alive and safe whilst he was ensconsed near our ally’s major military base and pretending to search for him- that was a major accomplishment. I have to give it to Bush on that one.

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J-D 05.06.16 at 12:28 am

JeffreyG @192

Both the sources you cite give some support for the view that racial resentment is a significant source of Trump support.

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js. 05.06.16 at 12:36 am

Two charts. (And you might even call the first one a major accomplishment!)

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JeffreyG 05.06.16 at 12:44 am

I don’t think anyone here is denying that racial resentment is a significant source of Trump support. I don’t follow?

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Rich Puchalsky 05.06.16 at 12:48 am

I long ago decided that since some people were never going to understand no matter how much I explained, that I’d feel free to stop once one person understood. Corey Robin @157 obviously understands what I meant (which is not surprising — judging politicians by how well they are able to carry out their agenda is fairly standard).

Layman: “Rich’s original piece credits Nixon with ending the Vietnam War, while denying any credit to Obama for ending the Iraq war.”

Yes. And if you thought about the two situations, you might even understand why.

Does anyone even remember how Obama ended the Iraq War? How he wanted to stay, but was locked into the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement signed by the Bush administration that he didn’t have the political power to break, and couldn’t convince the Iraqis to give U.S. troops legal immunity in Iraqi courts, so that when the Iraqis told the U.S. to go, that was it? If you want to hold that up as an Obama accomplishment, I guess that you can.

200

JimV 05.06.16 at 2:13 am

My impression of President Obama (worth of course what nobody has paid for it) is that as the first Black President at a time when racial divisions are still bitter, one of his primary objectives was not to give conservatives and racists any ammunition to further those racial divisions, by meeting them more than halfway in legislative negotiations; not appearing vindictive towards domestic political opponents nor soft towards foreign opponents; and not pursuing any radical policy changes. He didn’t want to give them any plausible excuse to say, “See, having a Black President is a terrible catastrophe. Let’s never do this again.” Or so I think, maybe because that would my greatest fear if I were the first Black President of the USA. So I am inclined to consider his moderately successful tenure in office as a significant historical accomplishment – not as great as, but analogous to, that of Jackie Robinson.

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Marc 05.06.16 at 2:17 am

Bullshit Rich. Obama opposed the Iraq War, campaigned on ending it, and people on the left who hated his guts – like you – made up a story that he had a secret plan to stay in that was foiled by the crafty Iraqis. As if the Machiavelli that he’s supposed to be couldn’t pressure a puppet state to do his bidding.

He faced down tremendous pressure to escalate military force in many contexts. No one before him could end the foolish Cuba sanctions or thaw relations with Iran, which he did. He re-invigorated the enforcement of civil rights and environmental law, appointed solid supreme court justices, and has done a lot with executive power in the last 6 years in the face of an intensely hostile legislature. He’s been, in short, a consequential president on a lot of fronts. I haven’t agreed with him on everything, but someone refusing to give him credit in Iraq is a dead giveaway that they are not going to be willing to admit that he’s done anything worthwhile.

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Layman 05.06.16 at 2:23 am

“I long ago decided that since some people were never going to understand no matter how much I explained”

Someone with a bit more self-awareness – or substantially less arrogance – might begin to suspect that the problem was closer to home. You’re a smart guy, Rich P, but you’re an ass, too. Some of what you have to say is interesting, but a good deal of it is right up there with taking your ball home if you don’t like how the game is going.

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LFC 05.06.16 at 2:25 am

@RP
How he wanted to stay

Actually Obama wanted to end the US combat role in Iraq and retain an advising/training presence. McCain and Lindsey Graham criticized Obama unrelentingly b.c they claimed if only he had negotiated a little longer with Maliki he would have been able to persuade the latter to sign an acceptable agreement that wd have let US soldiers stay (in a training role). As others have pointed out, a lot of US contractors and others remained largely in Baghdad (and spec. the Green Zone), so in that sense the US never left. But Obama promised in the ’08 campaign to end the US combat role in Iraq and though it took a few years, he did.

(Note some wd see a slow resumption of such a role vs. ISIS, e.g. a Navy Seal recently being killed in what the Pentagon insists was not combat but he was, as I understand it, on what count as the front lines. That is a separate pt however.)

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LFC 05.06.16 at 2:36 am

Btw giving Richard Nixon “credit” for ending the Vietnam War is at best dubious and actually pretty absurd, considering he and Kissinger, in the name of “peace with honor,” prolonged the war for a few years after taking office at the cost of approx. 20,000 additional US soldiers killed and a much higher number of Vietnamese and Cambodians (via inter alia the secret bombing and then invasion of Cambodia). Kissinger and Le Duc Tho shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the ’73 agreement, something that I think prob tarnished the prize for a quite a while. Given Nixon and Kissinger’s “priors” and worldview and assumptions about US ‘credibility’ blah blah, they cdn’t have pulled out instantly, but the whole thing was prolonged in an agonizing way. No pt relitigating the Vietnam War, but really.

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Rich Puchalsky 05.06.16 at 2:53 am

The “secret plan to stay in” was Obama’s open statement that he wanted to stay in, and negotiations to that effect. All of which are matters of public record. Of course the troops were supposed to be there in an advisory capacity, which I guess is supposed to mean something.

Bungling a negotiation and being forced into doing something that you don’t want to do because of a commitment made by a prior President *could* be ten dimensional chess, I guess. It *could* be Obama’s secret plan to give himself cover for what he might have really wanted to do and could have done in the intervening years if he’d wanted to. Or — and I’m afraid that history is going to have to go with this one, unless amazing new evidence turns up — it was simply a failure. Of course I think it’s good that the war ended, but it didn’t end because Obama wanted to end it at that time except in the most symbolic and meaningless kind of way.

LFC: “Given Nixon and Kissinger’s “priors” and worldview and assumptions about US ‘credibility’ blah blah, “

In other words, they chose a course of action in keeping with their agenda, and were able to carry it out. It must be fun to rate Presidents based on whether you agree with the goals of their actions. If you’re on the left, just rate all the left-leaning ones up and the right-leaning ones down, and vice versa.

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JeffreyG 05.06.16 at 2:53 am

I think we need to differentiate between ‘major accomplishment’ in terms of overcoming domestic political resistance, and ‘major accomplishment’ in terms of geopolitical/policy success, defined in terms of outcomes.

Also LFC is on the nose wrt Nixon in Vietnam. There were many times when he chose to prolong the war for political expedience; at least one of those cases arguably amounted to treason.

207

Jake 05.06.16 at 3:26 am

Rich, do you also believe that Obama really wanted to cut Social Security but was prevented from doing so by the Republicans in Congress?

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MilitantlyAardvark 05.06.16 at 3:32 am

@Rich Puchalsky

“I long ago decided that since some people were never going to understand no matter how much I explained…”

When your “explanation” fails to deal with basic political, economic and social realities, the audience ain’t the problem.

209

js. 05.06.16 at 3:50 am

I will say I’m just the tiniest bit unclear how losing a war and being driven out counts as a major accomplishment.

210

J-D 05.06.16 at 3:57 am

PatinIowa (@84) wrote:
‘He may want to present himself as on the side of the little guy, but the real appeal, as far as I can tell, is to white male resentment.’

JeffreyG (@192) wrote:
‘Sorry but this is not at all accurate.’

I (@198) wrote:
‘Both the sources you cite give some support for the view that racial resentment is a significant source of Trump support.’

JeffreyG (@200) wrote:
‘I don’t think anyone here is denying that racial resentment is a significant source of Trump support. I don’t follow?’

I think it’s odd, when you’re contradicting somebody, to cite in support references that largely agree with the person you’re contradicting.

211

JeffreyG 05.06.16 at 5:37 am

J-D
Yeah if you took the time to actually read my post, it was abundantly clear that – “the people voting for Trump aren’t the people disadvantaged by globalization” – was the statement that I took issue with.

Re-reading my post again: it could not be more clear, I think that your misreading is intentional, and I will now go on to ignore you.

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PatinIowa 05.06.16 at 6:19 am

To JeffryG at 192:

A couple of questions. I am genuinely curious.

With respect to the first article from the Times: “The estimates reflect the race as it was on Dec. 21, when Mr. Trump led a surging Ted Cruz, 33 percent to 20 percent.” Has anything about Trump voters changed since then? The percentages certainly have.

The article also analyzes Trump’s appeal as follows:

“His geographic pattern of support is not just about demographics — educational attainment, for example. It is not necessarily the typical pattern for a populist, either. In fact, it’s almost the exact opposite of Ross Perot’s support in 1992, which was strongest in the West and New England, and weakest in the South and industrial North.

But it is still a familiar pattern. It is similar to a map of the tendency toward racism by region, according to measures like the prevalence of Google searches for racial slurs and racist jokes, or scores on implicit association tests.”

I’m not exactly sure what’s going on there. I’m guessing that the data about class rings to you and that the data on their racial attitudes (which has its flaws) doesn’t. Is that so? How come?

The later Times article is more up to date, and explicitly downplays racial animus, so a little more on point. But to take West Virginia for example, is it globalization that’s harmed them as opposed to mechanization and de-unionization of extractive industries? (I imagine many believe that it’s globalization. But is it true? And if it isn’t true, does that matter?)

Meanwhile, to the question, “If it is true that “the people voting for Trump aren’t the people disadvantaged by globalization” then who are the people disadvantaged by globalization voting for? Clinton?”

40% of the American working class is Latino or African American. African Americans and Latinos are voting for Clinton in droves, and many of them have been hammered by globalization just as badly as the rest of the working class, arguably worse. Not many working class women are voting for Trump. So yeah, it would seem people disadvantaged by globalization are voting for Clinton. It would be really interesting if we saw Trump attracting some non-white working class votes. Think it will happen? If it doesn’t, how does that affect the “Trump’s appeal is to the losers in the globalization of the US economy” thesis?

Among white working class Democrats who voted in the Democratic primaries, Sanders did especially well. I found it interesting that Sanders got more white working class votes in New Hampshire (as an absolute number) than Trump did, even though more Republicans voted in their primary than Dems did. I have no idea what that means. I have no idea if it’s true in other states, as the number of Republican candidates diminished. Do you?

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kidneystones 05.06.16 at 9:08 am

@ 214 Hi Pat. I like your stuff usually.

Ze ke put his/her finger on it “…assuming establishment rot doesn’t stop, the next time you’re likely to get another (or the same) Trump, and he or she will get more support…” Whether the next Trump does actually get more support is very much an open question. Ze ke is exactly right in focusing on the phenomena itself, rather than the individuals, or the reporting.

Corey, for example, writes both as a polemicist and as an academic. This piece here may be purely academic. It may be necessary rather than expedient for Corey to compare the current Republican nominee currently on a big roll to a Democrat politician who lost the election. There’s enough evidence to justify a comparison, despite my own quibbles and those of others. Indeed, I’m sure Corey is sincerely interested in promoting a discussion of which politician HRC most resembles in this context. The fact that Corey compares the current surging Republican to a former candidate who lost is a happy accident.

Folks here may be unaware that the NYT is doing such a fine job of selling its own biased coverage that the venerable Grey Lady is moving into fast-food sales/home delivery meals. You can read about it in the Korea Times because the crap the NYT is selling isn’t paying the bills. The point is that the NYT and TNR long ago lost a substantial number of subscribers (I formerly subscribed to both) because the paper ceased to be a reliable source of news and became a mouth-piece for a particular agenda. I’d never subscribe to the Washington Examiner, or the Wall St. Journal, or the Economist for similar reasons.

Whatever we read from NYT and most other print media sources will be in some form or another an argument to put another Democrat in the WH, and to turn as many down-ticket ballots blue as possible. That’s a given. That’s not to say that the NYT is entirely without value. Quite the opposite. But it’s important to understand that nothing we read from the Examiner is ever going to make a reader more likely to pull the lever for a Democrat, and nothing in the NYT is going to do anything but propagate Dem memes.

On everything but politics, the NYT is a more or less reliable source. Political polling? Forget it. We can claim that racism undergirds every part of American life and there’s enough truth in that to justify the claim. But suggesting/implying that racism is the principal or constant driver in decision-making for large numbers of people exclusive of all other factors is simply wrong. My own guess is that if all Trump supporters were earning a decent living wage with the prospect of their kids making more, he’d be back in his penthouse instead of speaking to packed houses who are absolutely certain to vote.

Both candidates to have paths to victory. My bet is that HRC has nothing to offer voters but ‘let them eat confetti.’ Might work, but I very much doubt it.

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Lee A. Arnold 05.06.16 at 10:27 am

It’s emotion and mood affiliation, all the way down the thread.

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Rich Puchalsky 05.06.16 at 10:43 am

Jake: “Rich, do you also believe that Obama really wanted to cut Social Security but was prevented from doing so by the Republicans in Congress?”

I think that when he offered to do so as part of a deal, he was actually offering to do so as part of a deal, and would have followed through insofar as he could if the GOP had actually taken that deal. The ten dimensional chess theory that holds that Obama claimed to want to do all sorts of things that he knew he’d actually be prevented from doing has some problems at this stage. First, he spent most of his Presidency on it, and it’s unclear why he would have needed to do so if he hadn’t actually wanted to make these deals. Second, when his administration has control over things that he doesn’t need to make deals with opposing politicians about, it’s reliably neoliberal. See e.g. HAMP, TTIP.

216

Cranky Observer 05.06.16 at 12:07 pm

= = = I will say I’m just the tiniest bit unclear how losing a war and being driven out counts as a major accomplishment.

The PNAC “stir the beehive” theory was to pick a likely candidate nation in the Middle East and smash it utterly to serve as an example to others. Mission Accomplished I’d say; that the war suppliers billed $750 billion or so to the USG was just a side bonus. Too bad the 2nd half of the concept – to rebuild the smashed nation as a shining example of libertarian governance – didn’t quite work out as hoped, but one has to keep one’s eye on the main goal.

I do agree with Rich P. and CR that the inability to objectively assess what the Bush/Cheney administration achieved against their goals is a blind spot in the self-styled reality-based community. Once Cheney self-selected himself for Vice President and the ‘compassionate conservative’ line was rolled out they never talked about what those goals were again, but based on what Cheney and the groups surrounding him wrote/said in the 1995-2000 period Bush/Cheney/Addington/Rove were clearly one of the most successful administrations in US history.

Unfortunately the goals they set out to achieve have IMHO (and I suspect the opinion of most posters here) been disasters for the long-term future of the United States and its general population, but (1) they achieved those goals (2) Dick “Smash the World to Alleviate My Fear” Cheney would disagree (3) the beneficiaries of the incredible concentration of wealth in the 1% / 0.1% over the last 15 years would certainly disagree.

As you can tell above I tend it think that the 43rd Presidency was really the Cheney/Addington administration, with Bush serving the one purpose that those two could never achieve: being elected in a free vote. However it was clear that Bush himself did want to privatize Social Security and thus destroy it by draining all the money to his social peers, and in this he was thwarted. Still, plenty of draining and transfer of government functions and cash to private interests did occur.

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Layman 05.06.16 at 12:30 pm

“I think that when he offered to do so as part of a deal, he was actually offering to do so as part of a deal, and would have followed through insofar as he could if the GOP had actually taken that deal.”

I completely agree with this. Presidents get seduced by the notion of their legacy, and
Obama clearly wanted to go down in history as the President who reached across the aisle to his enemies and ‘saved’ Social Security.

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js. 05.06.16 at 1:58 pm

Cranky @219 — I actually had Vietnam more in mind, but sure, it works in both cases.

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rootlesscosmo 05.06.16 at 2:22 pm

Another entry in the analogy sweepstakes: Ted Cruz’ vision is “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Donald Trump’s is “Day of the Locust.”

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Rich Puchalsky 05.06.16 at 2:35 pm

I think that Cranky Observer @219 substantially has it right. It’s not helpful, when evaluating politicians as politicians, to say “How effective were they at achieving my goals [as a leftist]?” Because the politician had their own goals, and that’s what they were working towards. Nixon got away with treason, continued a war when it suited him and ended America’s engagement in it when it suited him and got a Nobel Peace prize for his minion and escaped military defeat without it destroying him politically, and if that isn’t a political achievement, I don’t know what is. It certainly meets the criteria of having a major effect on people, being something that the President had a major hand in, and being something that he intended to do.

To review: Lee claimed that Presidents only got to do one or two big things, I claimed that many Presidents did 3 or 4 big things, and that Obama hadn’t been a very effective President since he did one big thing at the most (the ACA). People who don’t get this had better get used to the recurring puzzlement they’re going to feel as this becomes the accepted historical judgement of his Presidency.

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js. 05.06.16 at 2:56 pm

I do think waiting 20 years before proceeding any further with this discussion is the right move.

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bruce wilder 05.06.16 at 3:34 pm

Yes, because understanding the present is never a good idea. It might interfere with any number of leisure time activities. While understanding the past is best attempted after a long period of forgetfulness or by people, who were never there.

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Rich Puchalsky 05.06.16 at 4:11 pm

The reason why it’s important to understand Obama’s Presidency is because if people don’t, they’ll be played for suckers in the exact same way by HRC. I particularly like the way that people are already saying that gay marriage or gays in the military were Obama achievements. I mean, between thinking that a collection of activists achieved something and between thinking that a charismatic President achieved something, there’s no question there about which one most people would rather remember.

Well, actually, I don’t really think it’s important, because I think that people will be suckers forever.

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Trader Joe 05.06.16 at 5:38 pm

One accomplishment that Obama may end up getting “credit for” (if that’s the right word) is significantly expanding the role of the Presidency via executive action. It will likely crucially depend on whether the next President follows in that example or not, but the track record is now established and even if the courts block some of it, its a tool available for future holders of that seat.

This is perhaps the ultimate example of a tool that you love in the hands of a leader you support but hate in the hands of one you don’t. Either way, its a genie which for the time being Obama has let out of the bottle.

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Jake 05.06.16 at 5:45 pm

218: that’s a pretty impressive non-answer. You claim that Obama wanted to keep American troops in Iraq but was prevented from doing so by the Iraqis. Is your claim also that he wanted to cut Social Security but was prevented from doing so by the Republicans in Congress?

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bruce wilder 05.06.16 at 6:33 pm

Jake @ 228

This is getting really annoying.

No one but Obama knows what Obama “really” wanted, because no one but Obama has direct, unmediated access to Obama’s mind.

We do have evidence in the form of actual policies and offers to negotiate policy enactments, and Rich has told you how he has constructed inferences from some of that evidence. His rules of inference have been made transparent and he cannot do more than that.

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Rich Puchalsky 05.06.16 at 6:35 pm

Jake: “that’s a pretty impressive non-answer”

If you can’t read, then every answer is a non-answer.

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Donald 05.06.16 at 6:55 pm

I think Rich P is correct– Obama wanted to cut SS and the evidence for this is that he proposed it. The burden of proof should be on the 11 dimensional chess aficionados to show that he was really just showing how unreasonable the Republicans were. Of course the problem with that,, even if it were true, is that he reinforced the Very Serious People claim that SS cutting is what serious people want.

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Jake 05.06.16 at 7:22 pm

Obama campaigned heavily on the concept that the Iraq war was a huge mistake and should be ended as soon as possible. US troops were withdrawn from Iraq. Now it’s true that this was not accomplished by Obama forcibly imposing his will upon America and the world. Yet it happened anyway.

In most circles the concepts of “ask for more at the beginning than you’re ultimately willing to accept” and “let the other guy feel like they got something out of the deal” are considered Negotiating 101 rather than 11-dimensional chess. Maybe the inability to accept this is part of why the left is generally ineffectual.

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Cranky Observer 05.06.16 at 7:58 pm

= = = In most circles the concepts of “ask for more at the beginning than you’re = = =

Which is not the same thing as “offer to give up substantially more at the beginning of the negotiation than you will ultimately be willing to give away”. Not from the perspective of logic, rhetoric, or negotiation theory. Once you make that offer to give away in a 2-party negotiation you are guaranteed any final agreement you sign will be for that – or more likely less.

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Layman 05.06.16 at 8:06 pm

Rich P: “I particularly like the way that people are already saying that gay marriage or gays in the military were Obama achievements. I mean, between thinking that a collection of activists achieved something and between thinking that a charismatic President achieved something, there’s no question there about which one most people would rather remember.”

Well, this is just silly, because (like most things) they can’t be attributed to just one person’s actions. There doesn’t seem to be any doubt about Obama’s personal views on LBGT rights. And, no one in their right mind thinks that there was a legislative path to overturning DOMA. Yet, it’s gone, and the constitutional right of gays to marry is settled law. How did that happen? It took an administration which was hostile to the law, and two votes on the Supreme Court which came from justices appointed by this
President, almost certainly in part because of their views on this particular issue. And this is the leading edge of a whole range of constitutional protections for LGBT people to come, ending what has been an environment where employers, etc, are free to discriminate in a manner they can with no one else. How can that not be an achievement for which Obama gets some credit? The fact that it was legislatively impossible makes the achievement loom even larger.

Also, Rich, at some point you need to factor the very different legislative environment we face today when making these comparisons.

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Jake 05.06.16 at 8:09 pm

Once you make that offer to give away in a 2-party negotiation you are guaranteed any final agreement you sign will be for that – or more likely less.

How does this explain the lack of cuts to Social Security? We know Republicans wanted to cut it, Obama offered proposals that included cuts to Social Security, yet somehow it didn’t end up getting cut.

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Cranky Observer 05.06.16 at 9:14 pm

Jake – ??? The Grand Bargain was never signed. As noted up thread the Lesser Bargain that was approved included brutal cuts to social programs, handcuff-generating tax cuts, and a promise of future military funding cuts. The military funding cuts of course never materialized in net. Thank Gaia there was never a 2nd round of negotiation on Social Security.

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Jake 05.06.16 at 9:27 pm

Ah, OK.

So my theory is that there was no Grand Bargain to be had because the two parties were too far apart, and the Republicans in congress were opposed to an agreement on principle. And that Obama knew this, so figured that the best he could get was to make the lack of a bargain appear to be solely the Republican’s fault. And that the best way to do that was to make an offer that seemed to give them a bunch of what they wanted but that he knew that they would never accept.

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Cranky Observer 05.06.16 at 9:39 pm

Jake @ 9:37: that’s the 11-dimensional chess argument. If you think it is supportable great: you’re in good company. Many including myself think the weight of evidence is that Obama supports Bowles’ theory that Social Security needs to be “reformed”. Where “reformed” = chopped. There is strong agreement with that theory among the DC-NYC class who work until age 80 – at $500,000/year jobs with full medical benefits in air conditioned offices.

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JeffreyG 05.06.16 at 9:44 pm

Pat, couple of things:

First – racism has been with us for quite a while, so if you want to explain a novel outcome with a factor that has been present for centuries, you need some thesis about how that factor is in flux or changes. Additionally, racism is not (and never has been) a static thing – the logic readily shifts to meet local political needs. That is to say, we need to be attentive to how racism is implicated by political and/or economic factors. I don’t think it is either analytically satisfactory nor politically productive to sit with the notion that the energy behind Trump’s campaign can be largely explained by this thing ‘racism’. Even if racism does most of the work, what informs that racism today? My thesis is that the decline of the white working class seen with the precipitous decline in manufacturing over the past 2 decades is a significant part of this story. I think that the sort of anti-foreign bias that can arise from opposition to globalization dovetails quite smoothly with the fundamental logic of racism, potentially to a compounding effect.

Second – the ‘working class’ includes patterns of employment that are exposed to foreign competition to differing degrees. Due to a variety of reasons – especially including white racial bias in the unions themselves – manufacturing was (and still is) heavily dominated by whites. The whole promise of a middle class lifestyle open to the HS educated in the manufacturing sector was largely reserved for whites, and white communities (built around the model). Minorities were often excluded from this path to upward mobility, and thus the loss here is much less salient in those communities. Instead, minorities have been much more concentrated in the services, which have geographic specificity and thus are less vulnerable to foreign competition compared to manufacturing. I tried to find statistics on this sort of service-manufacturing split yesterday, but I don’t think this is in any of the exit polls.

Third – I am taking as a given that Trump is a Republican candidate, and therefore will be associated with and himself espouse many ideas and policies that are actively off-putting to select demographics. Any trends that we talk about have to take the party lines into account – i.e. the relevant comparison group for Trump’s support is not his Democratic opponent, but instead former Republican candidates (those with different perspectives on globalization/trade). FWIW this was one of my major problems with Silver’s analysis above – it acts as if party ID was highly fluid, and I don’t think we have evidence for that supposition. The implication here is that if we take party ID to be fairly sticky, I don’t see the lack of significant support from minorities to be much of a problem with my thesis, because (in addition to pt 2) I take that lack of support to be a given so long as Trump identifies as an R. Especially so with the African-American community – Trump’s birthirism against Obama combined with the strong support among the AfAmerican community for the Democratic Party is sufficient explanation here.

Fourth – related to the above, we are actually seeing a surprising amount of support for Trump among Latinos. From what I gather, much of this is actually about immigration, with Latino-American citizens having a more conservative approach to immigration and thus finding Trump appealing. This trend is strongest among Mexican-Americans in the Southwest. All of this is in spite of his rhetoric! But this makes sense from the perspective of simple material class interest, and supports the thesis that support for Trump derives from concerns about globalization and foreign competition. Pay attention to this in the general: I think this is the true test of my thesis here, because theoretically this should be the camp where we see some of the greatest pro-Trump sentiment by way of material interest, yet his prior rhetoric & associations make this something of a hard case.

Fifth- I ask you to take a read of the end of this interview of Sanders by NPR: http://www.npr.org/2016/05/05/476767525/transcript-nprs-interview-with-bernie-sanders ; and go along to the click-through about PA. Basically they ask S about some areas of PA that have voted Dem fairly consistently, but now look as if they might turn to Trump. They don’t have good statistics on this, but my guess is that trade/globalization helps explain this sort of shift from Sanders->Trump (now that Sanders looks to be non-viable). Again, this is something to pay attention to as we get better info from PA.

Finally – I think that it is tempting for leftists and liberals to reduce Trump to racism as much as possible in order to minimize their responsibility for his rise. Clinton and NAFTA are a major part of the story here, as is the pro-finance agenda that liberal democrats have championed. As satisfying as it may be to explain Trump as the product of racism, this does not allow for a productive political analysis in a number of ways. 1) it satisfies our inherent biases by letting the blame fall almost entirely on Trump supporters for their moral wrong (racism, sexism); thus 2) distracting us from the critical enterprise of discerning how our own failures have played a part in the phenomenon ; while also 3) contributing to a poisoning of our political discourse – making Trump support seen as inherently toxic to a certain set of liberal voters, further impeding productive political discourse.

I worry most about (3) in the long term. Back in college, my friends and I would rest assured that the answer to ‘what do you do about all the racists’ was ‘well they will soon all be dead’. But when I got out into the real world, I realized how stupid that really was. The thing is, these people are not going anywhere. We can’t completely write off a large segment of the country – it is politically unsustainable. Consider the sort of contempt that is shown towards these people, from both the left and the right, and then consider Trump’s ability to command attention and his rebuke of ‘political correctness’. Part of the Trump phenomenon is related to this feeling that ‘normal Americans’ struggle to get their voices heard in the national discourse. You can come at this thinking that if people think Donald Trump is championing something close to their interests, then people must be fools (or worse). But also consider that that judgement about Trump is a relative one: if ‘normal Americans’ find themselves closer to someone like Trump than any of the relevant alternatives, what does it say about those alternatives on offer?

I worry about the future of this country. I think that the US is on a decline in the macro-historical sense, with financialization and the concentration of wealth among elites as some of the symptoms/signs. The combination of institutional failure and the ‘shrinking pie’ associated with oligarchy proper prepares the ground for some terribly reactionary politics. If the left cannot articulate a viable alternative to the current model of financial capitalism, then the right alternative will likely win out.

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JeffreyG 05.06.16 at 10:27 pm

Regarding Obama and Iraq – I don’t think it is at all clear that he ended the Iraq war.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American-led_intervention_in_Iraq_(2014%E2%80%93present)
https://twitter.com/AndyComics/status/727932561280933889

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kidneystones 05.06.16 at 10:30 pm

@ 239 This is generally very good. Van Jones (linked above) argues that a critical mass of rust-belt African-American voters in states devastated by NAFTA will find Trump the better candidate. Your own suggestion re: Mexican-American support for Trump is provocative. I’m very curious to see how that plays out.

“If the left cannot articulate a viable alternative…” Why this needs repeating speaks volumes about this cycle. And you’re completely right to do so. My point is that the political left, such as it is, has done precisely that. Moreover, the left has a winning candidate in Bernie Sanders. The only possible way forward, you argue, is for the left to present a ‘viable alternative to the current model of financial capitalism’ Yes. Yes. Yes.

When Ted Cruz attempted to engage a Trump supporter Cruz was asked “Where’s your Goldman Sachs jacket?” That’s this killer question and the election in a nut-shell. Cruz’s undeclared low-interest loans from Goldman Sachs, his wife’s career in banking, and his dishonesty in general killed Cruz’s credibility with voters. Sanders carries no such baggage. Unfortunately for the Democrats and despite every effort from the GOP elite, an avowed anti-NAFTA nationalist and socially-liberal democrat wants the WH. If Dems do not present “a viable alternative” (the key term being viable), the outcome in November is clear.

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bob mcmanus 05.06.16 at 11:04 pm

If the left cannot articulate a viable alternative to the current model of financial capitalism, then the right alternative will likely win out.

Today Trump is quoted as saying that bondholders might need some upsetting, and the liberal blogosphere acted liked he said both the n and c words.

Sorry. Obama has made the Democratic Party and liberalism a wholly owned subsidiary of Goldman Sachs who believe their very existence depends on keeping the bond market happy. No0oo more crashes. And they like it.

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Cranky Observer 05.06.16 at 11:24 pm

Many voters are not super-excited about the financialization of the economy or the Democratic Party’s role therein, TPP, etc. But to combi-quote PT Barnum and HL Mencken, if the American people are so easily fooled as to elect Trump they deserve to get it good and hard.

I don’t expect that to happen.

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Rich Puchalsky 05.07.16 at 12:46 am

The 11 dimensional chess theory is classic conmanship. The people who believe it are “savvy” and they “know” that the deal is being offered only to make the GOP look bad. And whenever the left complains, they are told that we know that Obama is only doing this to make the GOP look bad etc. But somehow the GOP doesn’t know. And any voters who actually care about budget BS don’t know. Because if they also know, then it doesn’t prove anything about the GOP that they reject a deal that’s only being offered to make them look bad and that would have to be rejected if they agreed to it. So the fake deal is supposed to be obvious to everyone except that it means nothing if it’s obvious to everyone.

As usual, the people who are actually being conned are the ones who think that they are inside the con.

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kidneystones 05.07.16 at 1:42 am

@242 I’m slightly curious about which blogs. I’ve been reading the right this morning and the big story is Ben Rhodes feeding ’27-year old reporters who literally know nothing’ the O party line’ (Rhodes word’s evidently). Noted earlier, Trump’s promise to blow-up the existing system is now finally being seen for what it is – an imminent existential threat to those who gather at the trough to purchase influence and disseminate the reasons why ‘nothing can be done’ to change the irrevocable course of more of the same only worse.

@243 This is better from you, but Clinton and the Dems didn’t ‘play a role’ in NAFTA, or the removal of Glass-Steagal, any more than O ‘played a role’ in HAMP, sidelining Volker, or preserving the Cheney-Bush financial and security apparatus.

Let the strong-arming begin. The lobbyists who funnelled millions into NEVERTRUMP are now making it perfectly clear to rank and file members that the money tap will be turned off permanently to anyone (Dem or Republican). The division between GOP elites, and their financial enablers is going to see the bright light of day, a development I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. Romney, McCain, and a host of others are planning to stay away from Cleveland. Jeb Bush promises to help elect HRC by refusing to support the GOP nominee. This is wonderful stuff and a wonderful moment.

Obama would have given his back teeth to be one to save Social Security. The challenge many Democrats will face is whether they can pull the lever for a GOP candidate who wants the same thing, and who can actually get it done. Sanders remains far and away the better choice. Like Trump, Bernie’s skills have been persistently undervalued and derided.

The elites of both parties, banking, and the media live in a world completely removed from that of ordinary Americans, especially households earning less than 100k a year. HRC must convince voters that she’s somebody new, not the figure tightly-linked to O’s disastrous foreign policy failures – the Iran deal, Libya, etc. Blood-thirsty liberals (yes, such beasts exist) brag about HRC’s Libya regime-change, the immense increase in drone strikes under the Dems, and other odious features of the Cheney-Clinton solution to world problems.

This year, I suspect, the voters get it.

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bob mcmanus 05.07.16 at 1:51 am

Josh Marshall TPM and Yglesias but it is very early and they guarantee its spread

Looking thru the Thoma blogroll, Financial Times has picked it up, Dean Baker, Beverly at Angry Bear, Kevin Drum

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J-D 05.07.16 at 2:11 am

Ze K @215

‘“A map of the tendency toward racism by region” sounds like bs.’

What Seth Stephens-Davidowitz reported was an analysis of the percentage of Google searches (from 2004 to 2007) which used the word ‘nigger(s)’. The regional variation he found, whatever you call it, can be mapped.

‘And even if does somehow reflect this alleged ‘tendency’, perhaps you need to dig deeper and find the underlying reasons for it.’

There must be some explanation for why people from some regions are more likely to use the term ‘nigger(s)’ in their Google searches than people from other regions. ‘There is a higher proportion of racists in those regions’ may not be the only explanation, but it is one possible explanation (and if it’s correct, it raises the question of why there is a higher proportion of racists in some regions than others).

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Layman 05.07.16 at 2:27 am

“And that the best way to do that was to make an offer that seemed to give them a bunch of what they wanted but that he knew that they would never accept.”

This amounts to saying you believe John Boehner’s account of the breakdown – that, at the 11th hour, Boehner agreed to the deal, so then Obama changed his demands in order to kill the agreement. At least, you believe that Obama would have done this, since (you say) he didn’t really want the deal he was offering.

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J-D 05.07.16 at 2:27 am

kidneystones @216

‘On everything but politics, the NYT is a more or less reliable source. Political polling? Forget it.’

In 2012 there were people insisting that the published poll results were systematically distorted in favour of the Democratic candidate and that the Republican candidate’s chances were vastly greater than the published poll results suggested. Res ipsa loquitur.

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Jake 05.07.16 at 2:45 am

248: pretty much.

244: there were plenty of people who are perfectly happy with what Obama delivered and didn’t really expect anything more. I don’t think these people feel conned.

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Layman 05.07.16 at 2:51 am

@ Jake

So, when Republicans say that Obama didn’t try to deal with them fairly, you think they’re right? You agree that he didn’t bargain with them in good faith?

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Jake 05.07.16 at 3:02 am

I think that he bargained with them in good faith for a long time, eventually realized that there was no deal to be had, and started trolling them instead.

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J-D 05.07.16 at 3:12 am

If I’m casting a vote, and if my choice lies between a candidate who will probably try to do mostly beneficial things if elected but will probably mostly fail to achieve them and a candidate who will probably try to do mostly harmful things if elected but will probably succeed in achieving them, then I’m going to vote for the former over the latter. It’s important to know what kind of things a candidate will attempt if elected. Unfortunately it can be hard to tell. History tells me that what candidates say they will do is of strictly limited value as a guide. In the specific case of a US Presidential election, the best guide I know of is found in the past activities of Democratic Presidents and of Republican Presidents. I note that both parties have changed over time, so I would give more weight to recent Presidencies than to past ones.

In 2016, I have the feeling that a Trump Presidency would deviate from past Republican precedent more than most Presidencies do. But there’s not much evidence to indicate which particular kinds of deviation to expect (having appropriately discounted what the candidate says, because of the past experience of how little value that kind of evidence has). So basing a comparative evaluation of the two possible outcomes on the past records of the two parties still seems the best option available, whatever its limitations.

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J-D 05.07.16 at 7:38 am

If Trump is elected President, it is extremely likely that he will be nominated again in 2020. But if he loses — even if he loses narrowly, but even more so if he loses by a wide margin — the probability that he, or anybody resembling him, will be nominated in 2020 is small — nonzero, but very small.

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Layman 05.07.16 at 11:14 am

Jake: “I think that he bargained with them in good faith for a long time, eventually realized that there was no deal to be had, and started trolling them instead.”

You’re aware we’re talking about events in 2011, right? How long is ‘a long time’?

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Rich Puchalsky 05.07.16 at 11:47 am

Jake: “I think that he bargained with them in good faith for a long time […]”

Then you agree that he was actually offering to cut Social Security as part of a deal.

Jake: “[…] eventually realized that there was no deal to be had, and started trolling them instead.”

Trolling isn’t a technique for getting anything done. A President who trolls is not an effective President.

Not that I believe that he was actually ever trolling. It doesn’t fit his biography, his prior political history, what he’s ever said about his actions, or (as above) really seem to have any political point. I think that the whole 11 dimensional chess theory is a way for suckers to avoid the bad feelings of realizing that they were used. And of course they “don’t feel conned” even as Obama blithely pushed for and passed TTIP.

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Pat 05.07.16 at 5:07 pm

“If Donald Trump is the George McGovern of the GOP, what does that make Hillary Clinton?”

Well, she can’t be Nixon. Daniel Ellsburg already said that Edward Snowden is Ellsburg, which makes Obama Nixon (which is far too eerie of a parallel for those of us who supported the president, even though Cambodia isn’t Syria and Kent State isn’t the Occupy sites).

So… Ford? Does anyone know if SNL is doing a good Hillary Clinton?

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bruce wilder 05.07.16 at 6:21 pm

We are back to the dual tensions: the difference between “effective President” and “President I like” on the one hand, and on the other, the murkier business of distinguishing the person-operating-a-powerful-office-for-good-and-ill from the times and their challenges and opportunities.

I do not know that it is even useful to resolve those tensions. The OP proposes historical analogy as a catalyst for analysis. To the extent people are informed about the past, that can be useful as a way to bring in something of the rich complexity of any central figure amidst her times. But, it invites us to do what history always does with what it only dimly understands: write a narrative. All historical sequences look like epic novels in retrospect. I dare say any of us can look back at our lives and narrate the events as a novel, complete with dramatic foreshadowing of critical events, the unfolding of character into destiny and the all important meaning of things. Even those of us who might feel themselves a bit the antihero in a tragicomedy can get something like a coherent account, complete with a sense, however ambiguous, of how the next chapters might unfold. It is how humans think: we are storytelling animals, seeking the dramatic meaning of things.

Most of us have rarely if ever had the experience of executive leadership in an organization of significant size and scope. Some may feel they have had a glimpse from the corridor, as an aspirant, advisor, minion or part of some committee or council. For a thoughtful and reflective person, I expect it must seem alternately terrifying and absurdly easy. The machine beneath you mostly runs itself, but it is also too complex for you to fully understand; what are the levers you hold in your hands and what are the consequences if you pull this one or push that? The greatest risk is that you might stop the machine altogether or send it into some self-destructive spiral. The “levers” are ambitious, jealous, resentful, idealistic and cynical humans, scheming and hopeful, depressed and resigned, foolish and clever.

I have been told by psychologists who have studied them that the most effective CEOs often resemble great novelists in their thinking about what goes on about them. Like Tolstoy, they manage their cast of characters, and guide events by carefully imparting ambiguous meanings, while remaining somewhat detached emotionally.

And, somewhere behind the curtain on the stage where the drama unfolds there’s the functional machinery of state and economy, the technical capacities of command-and-control regimes. Drama has an ambiguous relationship with technical necessity. We wish those we love “success” which is a confession of sorts. We want virtue to be its own reward and are not quite sure if we want crime to pay — our crimes surely, but not the crimes of strangers.

The great and some of the near-great Presidents have been in charge in crisis, when the machinery of state seemed at risk of failing: Lincoln facing civil war or FDR at the nadir of the Great Depression or preparing the country against its will for world war. We remember their success in imparting meaning to those events: Lincoln’s elegant and laconic statements uniting Union efforts or FDR’s fireside chats and magnificent oratory.

Still, Lincoln struggled to find a general and FDR nearly did himself in with his faith in the magic power of a balanced budget.

Nixon was in the shadow of FDR as Obama has been in the shadow of Reagan. That is a statement about meanings. The machinery of the New Deal and the international order was breaking down in important ways, and Nixon responded. Bretton Woods, oil, Vietnam, even the country’s ethnic balkanization which was much older than the New Deal — these were coming apart and that coming apart had to be managed.

Obama has done a creditable job in some ways of preserving and extending the neoliberal world system. Whether it was wise to do so as he did remains to be seen. That the competence of elites is being called into question is salient. I was going to look up how many years people in the U.S. have thought the country was “on the wrong track”, but I got lazy. That is a measure of meaning. But, beneath that is a military that cannot win a war and a financial system that depends on frauds and usury. Oh yes, and looming behind it all is climate change and resource limits.

My sense is that Trump and Sanders are a proof of concept for a anti-neoliberal politics, emerging at a time when Clinton’s politics is running out of road. The split in the Democratic coalition is far more consequential than the inability of the Republicans to come up with a candidate acceptable to its establishment (which is basically satisfied with Obama and Clinton). But, more significant than partisan alignments is that there are no good technical options, at least not with the current neoliberal hierarchy in place.

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Jake 05.07.16 at 7:13 pm

256: Obama tried to negotiate with the Republicans on many subjects besides the future of Social Security.

And if both the House and the Senate are controlled (or blocked) by a party that has effective discipline then there’s not much the President can directly do. His only option is to try to crack the other party’s united front, and “trolling” to put pressure on the most loosely attached members of the other party is a way of doing that. Turned out it didn’t work as well as hoped, but it’s not clear what alternative there was.

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Jake 05.07.16 at 7:18 pm

The anti-neoliberal proof of concept idea is an interesting one.

The recent approach has been to build support for unpopular neoliberal policies by catering to white resentment; it’s not clear that angry whites couldn’t be ditched in favor of oppressed racial and sexual minorities.

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Rich Puchalsky 05.07.16 at 7:36 pm

BW: “And, somewhere behind the curtain on the stage where the drama unfolds there’s the functional machinery of state and economy, the technical capacities of command-and-control regimes.”

And somewhere behind *that* there’s a completely inhuman machinery — a system that humans have huge inputs into, that we only vaguely understand — that the human state and economy depends on. Technical capacities at least are created by people who share an idea of storytelling: natural ones are really unconcerned with storytelling at all.

People don’t understand how much we lucked out — “lucked out” is of course a storytelling term, which is kind of unavoidable — with CFCs and the ozone layer. In one sense, it always had to work out so that when we stopped emitting lots of CFCs, the problem slowly went away, because that’s how physics turned out to work. In another sense, we had no idea that physics worked that way when we caused the problem in the first place. If the physics had always been different there would have been very little we could have done.

People have no general idea how to prioritize what’s important when threats are so far out of the area of the usual human ability to respond to threats. “Our next leader may turn out to be a bad tyrant” — that one has been around since the earliest tribal groupings, I’d imagine. It’s immediately understandable. “The rich are screwing over the poor.” If you go back to, say, the Book of Amos, written somewhere around 750 BC, you’ll find the source of many of the same social justice tropes used today. These things are important, though it’s almost certain that someone will misread this to claim that I’m saying that they aren’t important. But they are not the critical crisis of our time (the concept of a crisis is, again, storytelling, etc.)

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Donald 05.07.16 at 7:50 pm

I think there are a lot of people who so strongly identify with a given politician that they will change their opinions on issues to conform to what the politician does. If Obama had gotten his grand bargain, it would be portrayed as the best achievable way to save SS. Since the Republicans rejected it, it was Obama’s clever way to win over the good will of centrists who favored cutting SS and could now see the Republicans as the villains, while at the very same time liberals who opposed SS could believe Obama knew it would never go through.

Obama as Rorschash test. ( I usually expect my iPad to fix my spelling, since it jumps in and changes my words when I don’t want it too. Maybe I spelled Rorschash correctly.)

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Rich Puchalsky 05.07.16 at 7:53 pm

Here’s a poem that’s pretty much about the whole storytelling thing.

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bob mcmanus 05.07.16 at 9:03 pm

And if both the House and the Senate are controlled (or blocked) by a party that has effective discipline then there’s not much the President can directly do.

If allegiance to the system makes necessary change impossible, such allegiance is immoral.

The Constitution is not a suicide pact, and if it is closer to a license to kill, and allegiance to and protection of the Constitution requires the sacrifice of millions of lives, the moral choice is to be on the front lines and to be very discriminating about who is sacrificed.

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Rich Puchalsky 05.07.16 at 9:19 pm

Jake: “Turned out it didn’t work as well as hoped, but it’s not clear what alternative there was.”

Sometimes I amuse myself by imagining how FDR would have handled his crises if the only alternatives really were those alternatives imaginable by current Democrats. “The Supreme Court is ruling against me — there’s nothing we can do.” “People are saying I’m a socialist. I’d better back down: I can’t be divisive.” “”The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it; if it fails, admit it frankly and then try nothing else.”

bob mcm: “If allegiance to the system makes necessary change impossible, such allegiance is immoral.”

Yep. Too bad non-alleegiance to the system doesn’t make necessary change possible either. It does let you stop defending the system, though.

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Brett Dunbar 05.07.16 at 9:59 pm

Defaulting on bonds is an incredibly bad idea. Firstly a lot of the bondholders are things like investment trusts and pension funds, so you are directly hurting a lot of ordinary members of the public who were looking for a safe investment. Secondly it will make the long term c0st of borrowing much higher. Currently the risk premium is very low. The USA has a record of never defaulting so currently the risk premium is basically determined by inflation expectations. US debt is in dollars and can always be monetised, that carries an inflation risk but that is far less damaging than a default which would throw the world financial system into chaos.

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Jake 05.07.16 at 11:37 pm

If the current democrats had defeated an incumbent president by winning 57% of the popular vote (and 90% of the electoral vote!) they’d probably be willing to consider many more drastic alternatives.

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Rich Puchalsky 05.07.16 at 11:59 pm

Obama won his first election with 53% of the popular vote and 68% of the electoral vote and, of course, the Democratic Party had control of both the House and the Senate. But that 4% of the popular vote and 22% of the electoral vote difference just made it impossible to do anything other than the ACA. Who could blame him? I mean, FDR had 4% more of the popular vote.

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Layman 05.08.16 at 12:02 am

” I mean, FDR had 4% more of the popular vote.”

…and a not-insane Republican Party.

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Layman 05.08.16 at 12:03 am

“Sometimes I amuse myself by imagining how FDR “

That’s a shame, then, because you’re too smart for this tendentious crap.

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Jake 05.08.16 at 12:58 am

Hmm… FDR had well over twice the margin of victory. And then his party gained seats in the midterm election, giving him two-thirds majorities in both houses.

But the reason Obama didn’t get more done is because he was too scared to rock the boat. Right.

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bruce wilder 05.08.16 at 2:38 am

Obama and Congressional Democrats might bear some responsibility for losing the mid-term elections.

Just a thought.

Here’s another: it is all inside baseball

There’s a really interesting profile of one of Obama’s speechwriters and foreign policy advisors, Ben Rhodes, in the Sunday’s New York Times Magazine — interesting in particular for what it has to say about elites and about the mechanics of manipulation thru the media. Lots on the power of narrative.

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Anarcissie 05.08.16 at 4:34 am

bruce wilder 05.08.16 at 2:38 am @ 272:
‘There’s a really interesting profile of one of Obama’s speechwriters and foreign policy advisors….’

So, who are supposed to take that story seriously, and who are supposed to laugh up their sleeves?

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bruce wilder 05.08.16 at 6:37 am

It does seem to be a cry from an inmate who finds himself unexpectedly running the insane asylum.

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