Posts Tagged ‘Clinton’

Evita

Monday, 14 November 2016

A few years ago, in the title of an entry discussing the implications for the world of the failing health of Hugo Chávez, I alluded to a motto that ends leave a beautiful corpse[1]. That entry considered an observed practice:

When a charismatic leader dies aburptly while still in power, his or her supporters quickly begin building a mythology of what would have been accomplished had he or she lived.

I drew attention to how this mythologizing bears upon social policy:

The mythological episode of such leadership is treated as having the same standing for purposes of comparison as does historical fact. When an opponent tries to construct an argument founded on logic and general fact against policies associated with that leader, supporters treat the mythology as if it is a disproof by counter-example. What’s really happening then is that Faith is being mistaken for empirical data.

While death significantly amplifies the power of the mythologizing of a leader who was not given full opportunity to effect the programmes that he or she chose, death isn't essential for there to be some mythologizing; I noted that there was a developing narrative of what President Obama would have done had his party retained a majority in both chambers of Congress for the whole of his terms.

As it happens, charisma is also inessential, though it very much helps. And an odd substitute for direct charisma has been demonstrated. Barack Obama inflamed so much inverted narcissism on the part of his followers that a great many of them chose to treat his successor, Hillary Rodham Clinton, as if she were magnificent though she is signally lacking in charisma.

At the same time, her health is failing her, and had she been elected to the Presidency, she would not likely have served through a full term. There would have been an odd sort of race between how rapidly she did things that repelled those who had been her supporters, and when she left office. Depending upon the outcome of that race, she might have left a beautiful corpse.

But Ms Clinton has lost the race for Presidential Electors. Although a few of her supporters cling to an implausible hope that the Electoral College will not merely turn its back on the detestable Donald John Trump but will elect Clinton (as opposed to some Republican other than Trump), she will not be President. And the mythologizing is already under-way, even to the level of having Ms Clinton imagined as rather prettier than she is. [image of Kathryn McKinnon Berthold in the rôle of Hillary Rodham Clinton, singing 'Hallelujah']

One does not have to regard Mr Trump as even tolerable to resist the mythologizing and to see Ms Clinton for what she has been. She has repeatedly been one of the people causing the United States military to engage in the slaughter of innocent people, for stated goals that haven't been obtained because they haven't been obtainable. She has engaged in calculated support of domestic policies such as the War of Drugs and aggressive incarceration policies that have literally led to many thousands of deaths and to the ruin of many thousands of other lives. She and her husband have got rich exactly as brokers of political influence. She has privately spoken against some policies as corrosive while publicly supporting them — or vice versa — depending upon the expected flow of dollars and of votes. She has casually disregarded laws, in the expectation (thus far vindicated) that her connections will insulate her from being charged, let alone convicted.

If Ms Clinton is to be made into a beautiful corpse, it is rather fitting that this transformation be effected while she is undead.


[1] In full, the motto is Live fast; die young; leave a beautiful corpse. It is an elaboration of an earlier motto of live fast and die young. A popular variant is Live fast; die young; leave a good-looking corpse.

Hark! Hark! The Pols Do Snark!

Monday, 10 September 2012
And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades.

A decade is of course a period of ten years, so that decades would refer to twenty or more years. Now, perhaps President Obama was allowing that problems had continued to build-up during his term, though it would seem more likely that he meant to refer to twenty or more years before he took office; but, in any case, he must have been referring to a period that began no later than 1992.

I'm not seen the main-stream of the media nor the right-wing alternative take note of the implication here. President Obama has once again given part of the blame for the present economic situation to the 1993–2001 Administration of President Clinton.

During the 2008 campaign, I noted

There had been a sort of forced nostalgia for Bill Clinton, but once Obama came over the horizon, Democrats became more willing to look critically at Clinton and at his Presidency;
The base of the Democratic Party were imagining Barack Obama as a leader who would show, after all, that Clinton had been mistaken to declare The era of big government is over, that instead a considerably more humane nation and world could be shaped by extending still further the sort of management by the state of economic resources which had characterized the New Deal and the Great Society. As a candidate, Mr Obama had even at one point gone so far as to assert that some of the foundations of economic problems in 2008 had been laid by the Clinton Administration (though Mr Obama quickly retreated from that claim in the face of outrage from the Clinton camp).

But as the economic crisis continued through the Administration of President Obama, there has been a return to that forced nostalgia, noting of course that President Clinton were a Democrat, and not paying a great deal of attention to what had determined his policies.

(Mr Clinton ran as a New Democrat — one with a more skeptical eye towards state intervention. But, once elected, he tacked to the left. One of the political results was that the Democratic Party lost control of Congress in the next mid-term elections. It was after these losses that President Clinton gave the speech in which he declared the death of big government. For the most part, he thereäfter chose his policies by discerning where things were going, and running out in front, pretending thus to lead. One notable exception to this approach was in his support for adjustive discrimination (affirmative action), which appears to be something to which he had a genuine commitment.)

For his part, Former President Clinton has been glad to be called for help. William Jefferson Clinton enjoys the game of politics. He enjoys playing the game. He enjoys demonstrating, to those who can see what he does for what it is, how good he is at it. He very much enjoys coming to the rescue of Barack Obama, as proof that Mr Clinton is better at this game than is Mr Obama. Mr Clinton has not forgot that the Obama campaign and its allies treated the Clintons as, well, Republicans during the 2008 race; that Mr Obama took the nomination from Hillary Clinton; nor that episode of laying some of the blame for the economic crisis on Mr Clinton's door-step.

Mr Obama recognizes this motivation, and would resent his dependence upon Mr Clinton's greater present popularity even were Mr Clinton not seeking to rub Mr Obama's nose in it. And, while part of his reference to challenges that have built up over decades was simply because challenges that have built up over the previous eight years doesn't sound nearly so persuasive, there was a deliberate slap at Mr Clinton there. Mr Obama had already got a speech out of Mr Clinton, who would be unlikely to try, somehow, to take it back. And it wasn't Mr Clinton's best effort anyway.

On the other hand, as the Woman of Interest noted when I was talking about this slap, Mr Clinton may be many things, but he is not too stupid to see that what Mr Obama did. So it's not likely that there will be much more help from Mr Clinton, without some sort of profound obeisance from Mr Obama. Barack Hussein Obama may come to regret his act of petulence.

Mating Game

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

The media is buzzing with the meme that Barack Obama has chosen or is on the cusp of choosing his Vice-Presidential running-mate.

I think that Obama has taken far longer than was in his interest to make this choice. Although it developed that there would be a second-choice advantage for the two major-party Presidential candidates in their selection of running-mates, each had to make a selection before or during their respective conventions, and the Democrats had already scheduled their convention before that of the Republicans. While there may have been some tiny hope that the McCain camp would toss-away the advantage, the principal effect of Obama's delay has been to allow Hillary Clinton to hold onto attention that would otherwise have gone to his choice of running mate (on the assumption that it were not her). And the Clintons plan to exploit the Convention as much as possible for their own aggrandizement, not-withstanding the costs to the Obama campaign in particular and to the Democratic Party more generally.

Hillary Clinton might be Obama's running-mate. Certainly, if he delays until the convention is under-way, the Clintons will do everything in their power to make it seem as if she has a sort of right to that spot. But Obama will look even more like Just Another Politician if he selects her. Perhaps the buzz about him nearing announcement of a running-mate comes from an awareness on the part of his camp that he needs to head-off the convention.

He has been encouraged to select a Yeehaw as a running-mate, the notion being that this would balance the ticket; I think that it would be a major mistake. A integral aspect of Obama's appeal is that he's not a Yeehaw.

Part of the reason that the Democrats have been comparing Obama to John F. Kennedy is that they want to look past the last three Democratic Presidents — Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and Lyndon Johnson. There had been a sort of forced nostalgia for Bill Clinton, but once Obama came over the horizon, Democrats became more willing to look critically at Clinton and at his Presidency; Jimmy Carter was an even more incompetent than is the current President; and Johnson is largely remembered for the Viet-Nam War. Looking past those Presidents to Kennedy is looking past three Yeehaws (the most distant a Cowboy-Yeehaw) to a Yankee. It doesn't do much good to point-out that Kennedy chose a Yeehaw as his running-mate, 'cause that running-mate was Johnson, later one of the Democratic Presidents past whom these Democrats now want to look. And the highest profile Democrat Yeehaw under some consideration this time was John (Epic Fail) Edwards.

Meanwhile, for the last 14 or more years, the public faces of the Republicans have been largely Yeehaws — men such as Jesse Helms, Newt Gingrich, Trent Lott, and of course G.W. Bush. (Karl Rove is arguably a faux Yeehaw, but he manages to sound like one.) Democrats are alienated from these Yeehaws because they are Republicans, and Democrats, Republicans, and Independents are alienated from these figures because by a great many measures they have been very great failures. When Republicans look back, it is to Reagan, a man who liked to play the Cowboy, but who was raised in the Midwest and rose to importance in California.

As far as balancing the ticket goes, Obama isn't in a great spot. While many Yeehaws really themselves don't want a Yeehaw, they also don't want their nose rubbed in the political mess. Obama might do best to choose a Cowboy, as Yeehaws tend to blur the distinction (hence, for example, the conflation of American country music with that of the Old West), though the rest of the country doesn't place Montana or Arizona in the South.

McCain, who has long positioned himself as a Cowboy, can more easily balance his ticket. Regionally, he can choose a Yankee or a Yankee-Midwesterner. He probably shouldn't choose a plain-vanilla Midwesterner, as then his ticket will be mocked as white-bread.

Post-War Presidential Elections

Tuesday, 5 August 2008
YearWinnerRunner-Up
NameAffiliationNameAffiliation
1948TrumanYeehaw-MidwesternerDeweyYankee
1952EisenhowerMidwesternerStevensonYankee-Midwesterner
1956EisenhowerMidwesternerStevensonYankee-Midwesterner
1960KennedyYankeeNixonCalifornian
1964JohnsonCowboy-YeehawGoldwaterCowboy
1968NixonCalifornianHumphreyYankee-Midwesterner
1972NixonCalifornianMcGovernYankee-Midwesterner
1976CarterYeehawFordMidwesterner
1980ReaganFaux-Cowboy Midwesterner-CalifornianCarterYeehaw
1984ReaganFaux-Cowboy Midwesterner-CalifornianMondaleYankee-Midwesterner
1988Bush, GHWWannabe-Cowboy-Yeehaw YankeeDukakisYankee
1992ClintonYeehawBush, GHWWannabe-Cowboy-Yeehaw Yankee
1996ClintonYeehawDoleMidwesterner
2000Bush, GWCowboy-YeehawGoreFaux-Yankee Yeehaw
2004Bush, GWCowboy-YeehawKerryYankee

McCain has chosen to be a Cowboy, and Obama a Yankee-Midwesterner, though neither of them seems to have been raised thus. Nancy Pelosi is pressing Obama to accept a Cowboy-Yeehaw as running-mate.

Conscripted Campaign Contributors

Tuesday, 15 July 2008
Hillary Clinton Asks To Keep Donor Money for 2012 by Jason Horowitz of the New York Observer
Hillary Clinton's campaign is sending out letters to donors asking permission to roll a $2,300 contribution to Clinton's 2008 general election coffers to her 2012 senate election fund instead of offering a refund.

Famously, HDRC has a large campaign debt, which she and her husband are demanding Obama help retire. I'm not sure, then, how it is that she would be in a position to offer refunds. In any event, she is asking that money which would otherwise be refunded be contributed towards her 2012 Senate campaign, instead of being used to retire her debt.

It isn't really plausible that HDRC will pay-off her Presidential campaign debts in-full; instead, creditors will receive pennies-on-the-dollar, with the Clintons representing such settlements as-if they are payment in-full. If the Clintons channel monies that could have gone to the repayment of debt instead to her 2012 Senate campaign, then those creditors will in effect have been compelled to contribute towards that Senate campaign.

A Gander Stews in the Sauce

Sunday, 29 June 2008
Bill Clinton says Barack Obama must kiss my ass for his support by Tim Shipman of the Telegraph
It has long been known that Mr Clinton is angry at the way his own reputation was tarnished during the primary battle when several of his comments were interpreted as racist.
It's My Party, I'll Cry If I Want To by Thomas B. Edsall at the Huffington Post
He is still bruised from the trail, really hurt about the racist charges leveled against him, and convinced the Obama campaign fomented it, said another source familiar with the former president's attitude. What he would really like is for Obama to apologize, but on one level he knows that is never going to happen, a third source said.

Very simply, Bill Clinton felt that he and Hillary were entitled to be treated by the mainstream media as the media generally treat… uhm, Democrats. Instead, the mainstream media treated Barack Obama as they do Democrats, and treated the Clintons as they do… Republicans. Bill Clinton's conviction that Obama's campaign was able to foment charges of racism speaks to the relationship that has long existed between the Democrats and the mainstream media, through which the Republicans haven't been able to do much fomenting in the last half-century. (Republicans have only been able to foment by way of alternate channels, such as talk radio, Fox News, and the right-wing 'blogosphere.)

I'm not voting for her because she's a bitch!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

In a protected entry, an LJ Friend linked to

a couple of days ago. She didn't give her own assessment of the article, beyond saying that it was interesting. I've decided to make a few comments on it.

The principal thesis of the article seems to be that a significant source of support for Obama amongst social democratic (progressive) males is really founded in sexism. Now, I've seen plenty of hypocrisy amongst social democrats, but consider that Margaret Thatcher became the leader of the British Conservative Party in 1975 and their Prime Minister in 1979, and served until 1990. Do we really want to even suggest that sexism is going to be more of a determinant amongst Democratic voters in 2008 than it was amongst British Conservative voters in 1975, or than it was amongst Britons more generally in 1979?

There are a few revealing passages in the article that I think merit special attention:

Valenti continued, Because their friends were not being specifically sexist, or saying something that was tangibly misogynistic, they were having a hard time talking about the sexism of it. Valenti confirmed that this Feminine Mystique-y problem that has no name was familiar to her. I spoke to a guy friend who said, You're being ridiculous. I'm not not voting for her because she's a woman; I'm not voting for her because she's a bitch! He could not see the connection between the two things at all. Valenti said he explained away his comment by declaring, I mean a bitch in the sense that she's not good on this or that issue.
People use the word bitch to mean a number of things. But when Hillary's opponents call her a bitch, they don't typically mean that she is tough in a way with a peculiarly significant relationship to her sex (distinctive or inappropriate); they instead mean that she is sanctimonious, hypocritical, and vicious. (If you want a clear sense of these perceptions, then read The Tall Tale of Tuzla by Christopher Hitchens in Slate or the milder A Hillary Clinton Presidency by Carl Bernstein at CNN.)

A couple of paragraphs later,

Valenti continued, I pinpoint sexism for a living. You'd think I'd be able to find an example. And I hate to rely on this hokey notion that there's some woman's way of knowing, and that I just fucking know. But I do. I just know. When it comes to feminism, she continued, so much proof is required to convince someone that sexism exists, even when it's explicit and outrageous. So when it's subdued or subtle, you don't want to talk about it.
Note the epistemology here. She cannot produce any evidence, but she's insisting that the attitude of these men must be sexist. And she acts as if the reluctance of some people to accept even the plainest of evidence is an excuse for making a charge with no evidence. I would suggest that if Ms Valenti perceives a difference of opinion whose cause must be sexism, and she cannot produce evidence of sexism on one side, then perhaps she ought to be looking for it on the other side.

The article is very right about one thing: A great many social democrats — and a great many people who are not social democrats — have developed unreasonable expectations for Obama:

You already see this idealistic longing projected on Obama, Bruch said. People talk about him as a secular messiah who will bring us political salvation. There's no sense of what is plausible.
Unless McCain makes missteps extraordinary even for a Republican, he will win the general election. And the sorts of domestic programmes and foreign policy that Obama has been advocating would bear very bitter fruit, in some cases very quickly, causing the nation to lurch to the political right.

Ringer

Sunday, 24 February 2008

I can offer a few theories as to why Ralph Nader has announced that he will once again run for President.

The first, and that to which I subscribe, is that he takes some sort of perverse pleasure in functioning as a spoiler. Whatever were his intentions in 2000, he was a spoiler for Gore, which resulted in the election of George Walker Bush. Nader had less of a chance to spoil things for the Democrats in 2004, and certainly less of a chance to move the Democratic Party to the political left, but he could and did spoil things for the Green Party, destroying them by running against their candidate. In 2008, Nader doesn't have a good chance of spoiling things for the Democratic nominee, but it's better than were his chances in 2004; McCain is not as loathed by the left as was Bush.

An alternate theory would be that Nader is trying to give Obama some center cred, on the presumption that Obama will indeed be the nominee. Seeking first the nomination of the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton and Obama have each positioned themselves significantly to the left of where the last successful Democratic Presidential nominee, William Jefferson Clinton, did when he was running. McCain is a war-hawk, and a conservative on some issues, but he is a centrist or even to the left of center on other issues. To win the election, the Democratic nominee will have to seem more centrist than presently does Obama or Hillary Clinton. On top of some rhetorical restyling by the candidate, it could help if Nader provided apparent contrast.

Of course, Nader is more likely to function as a spoiler if Hillary Clinton is the nominee, because she has at times been a war-hawk, and there is less expectation that she would withdraw troops aggressively from Iraq than that Obama would do this. So it is possible that Nader has announced when he has in order to further weaken the Clinton campaign. In that case, we have Nader acting as a spoiler of some sort for Clinton (and possibly for the Democratic Party), and positioning himself to make Obama look more centrist should he gain the nomination.