The House will almost surely swing back to the Democrats. But our criminal president Trump is still in charge, and winning at everything. And his last victory, the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, is his biggest yet. He has broken the judiciary branch, just as he has broken the executive branch. The House is currently broken, so at the moment, Trump controls all three branches of government through the end of 2018.
We have already forgotten about the GOP resistance to Trump. There is none. Instead, we have a GOP that has been completely remade in Trump’s image, while the GOP base serves as the "anti-anti Trump". His supporters don't really care about policies or issues so much, but they love driving those who despise Trump crazy. They see liberal sophisticates as their contemptuous enemies, and anything or anyone who upsets them must be good. That makes Trump their hero.
If there was any doubt that the Right Wing has any sense of shame or decency in them, that too is annihilated. Here were are, in 2018, and credible character witnesses that would have sunk an Associate Justice nomination 10 years ago are totally ignored now. Hell, 13 years ago Republicans called out an unqualified nominee from their own party. We’re in a new era now.
Don't you just love the arguments these right wingers make today? We love the life-time appointment of judges who will faithfully complete the task of handing what's left of our democracy to the corporations, and of course we applaud the destruction of the environment and the wrecking of employee's health in the name of untaxed profits. And isn't the bloated and grotesquely out of control military budget wonderful? The rich and powerful have gotten richer beyond the dreams of avarice, and the plutocrats who fund the Republican Party run the economy and the nation to suit themselves. To these anonymous right wingers, all of this is unalloyed good. Unfortunately, the president who has delivered all of these wonderful goodies is so boorish, so vulgar, so embarrassing! If only he would stop tweeting, and become more presidential. Then, life for the Republicans would be perfect!
Some sort of backlash is coming now. But I fear it won’t be powerful or angry enough. The loss of the judicial branch out to send thousands of people into the streets in protest. I fear the majority of Americans, while opposed to Trump, are demoralized and deflated. A new period of national malaise is settling in as our big problems -both economic and environmental- become much worse.
Think about it: Russia, Israel and the UAE (and probably also Saudi Arabia and Turkey) assisted in whatever way they could to get their preferred candidate into the White House. Aside from Russia, all of those nations didn’t stand to lose anything with Clinton. But with Trump, they stood to get more than Clinton was willing to give (such as an embassy in Jerusalem). They got greedy and preferred Trump because they correctly thought that Trump likes oppressive regimes, and hates the European Union.
From what I can tell, hundreds of millions of US citizens don’t care about this destructive minority rule. They don't think about it, just as they didn't think about the temporary DHS policy to separate migrant children from their parents, creating up to hundreds of orphans. If they thought about it, they thought, “That won’t be me. I’m not a migrant.” That mural of Trump in one of the boys detention centers is somehow not surprising. Federal departments reflect the president at the time. And the sitting president is a fascist dictator, who looks to other dictators -friends and foes alike - as role models on how to appear strong. He likes them all. From Egypt and Saudi Arabia to China and Russia. In his first week in office, he lashed out at the Prime Minister of Australia. What did we think he was going to do in the 8 years to follow?
During Trump's time in office, Republicans have gone from distancing themselves from his conduct, to fully embracing him. Again, he is doing a fine job maintaining the GOP's minority rule. His Gallup approval rating among Republicans is now at an all-time high of 90%. Trump knows he’s going to get away with the illegal campaign assistance he received from Israel, Russia and the UAE in 2016. Trump is about to set up the Supreme Court to protect him and the party that put 5 Justices in their seats. Trump knows that his dirty tactics and white nationalist dog whistles will win him re-election in 2020. And I wonder if he thinks he can make himself a president for life. At the very least, he won’t move out of the White House on the day he’s supposed to move out. He’ll be in his bathrobe tweeting away while the next president is being inaugurated.
But now, we must acknowledge that Trump has already destroyed what's left of this republic for the lower 90%. No future administration can repair the damage that he has caused in just 18 months. And with a Supreme Court repeal of Roe v. Wade looming sometime in the 2020s, I'd say the USA is over. It's finished. And we liberals let it happen. We underestimated the anti-abortion movement to remain strong for over 40 years. We underestimated Newt Gingrich's platform. We let partisan politics infect the Supreme Court and steal an election for Bush 43. And we underestimated Trump and let him turn the presidency into a authoritarian platform. We didn't challenge him while he weakened our republic, or legal protections, the WTO, NAFTA, NATO, and our positive relationships with our allies. All we did was march on his first day on the job. And now it is all over.
When Rage Against The Machine debuted their first album in 1992, on the eve of Bill Clinton's election, I thought why all the anger and warnings about the government? Why all the calls for a revolution just as awareness of white privilege, the value of diversity, and the evils of sexual harassment were just being adopted by college-educated Americans? Now I know why. When citizens miss their chance to revolt, the next chance can be decades away, or never. I am leaning towards never in the case of the USA after Trump.
My head is still spinning from the news this past weekend. I consider myself someone who can keep up with all the big stories surrounding the corruption of the Trump administration and the criminal conspiracies of the Trump 2016 campaign. But I can no longer keep up. A conspiracy wall the size of a soccer field couldn't hold it all. My brain hurts.
But this latest development is unfolding in a most terrifying way. First, let's accept the fact that most Americans don't care. That's terrifying in itself. Bush v. Gore shattered the republic. The endless war on "terror," the permanent state of fear, and the Patriot Act shattered it some more. The Republican-led Senate preventing a sitting president from filling a Supreme Court vacancy set fire to the house. Now, while the fire spreads to all the rooms under president Trump, most Americans are either too broken or simply not engaged to care. The disengaged post-Watergate future scholars warned us about is here. That sets the stage for even more, permanent oppression.
In 2017, tweets like this were met with some eye rolling and some gasps from Mika Brzezinski. It seems to me that this past weekend a large portion of the news media finally woke up and realized that these tweets are official presidential statements, and need to be taken seriously. Despite typos, misspellings and occasional humor, Trump has followed through on most topics he has tweeted about. From his "travel ban," to exiting the Iran deal, to starting trade wars, Trump eventually remembers what he's angry about and acts on it. And so, we have to assume that he is going to try to end the Special Counsel's investigation again soon. His staff might talk him away from the ledge, or he might take the dive, but as Trump always says before he does something big, "we'll see what happens."
In 2017, Trump reserved his angriest tweets for Saturday mornings. Now his manic, angry, desperate tweets are sent almost every morning - usually before 07:00 DC time.
Trump's tweets are bad enough. But Trump has found the recipe for motivating his base of 60 Million white supremacist supporters. His blistering, endless condemnation of NFL players who do not stand for the Star Spangled Banner before games is white nationalism wrapped in public patriotism, and it stirs his base into a frenzy. It is Trump's most successful tactic as president. No president has ever succeeded in doing this. Reagan came close, launching his 1980 campaign at the Neshoba County Fair in Mississippi, the same county where three civil rights activists were murdered in 1964. Ronald Reagan gave his base white nationalism packaged as an argument for "states rights." He demonized the poor and anyone who collected public benefits of any kind, claiming that they were a burden on working people, and that government, by aiding the poor, was too big and too intrusive. That was terrible at the time, coming on the heels of a dark but progressive era that brought bipartisan support for legal abortion, some equal rights, and even some environmental protection polices and causes (think Superfund sites and No Nukes). Reagan represented a right wing backlash to all that.
Trump represents an even stronger backlash to that, as well as all the social and economic changes that have come since the early 1990s. The USA is more Hispanic. The USA has many more people living in poverty. Our local law enforcement agencies are more militarized and use even more force against young black men and women. And the US has a furious white population, fueled by 22 years of Fox News, ready to go out as loudly and with as much violence and destruction as they can muster. If there ever is a serious attempt to remove Trump from office, there will be civil unrest.
For quite a long time now, Democrats have behaved as if they didn't have a base of supporters whose views they needed to consider when casting votes in Congress. And even after Trump's first month, I sense a lack of commitment from Democrats to fire-up their base. Believe me, Republicans NEVER forget their base! The one thing they always fear is being challenged, from the right, by an ever more radical, anti-government crank. Democrats, like Obama, often take a perverse view of their political situation. Some are actually PROUD of disappointing the most loyal party members, as if that proved their bipartisan credibility. And when the Democratic base rebels, these people seem genuinely puzzled by the outrage they've provoked.
Democrats have enormous decisions to make this month. They can choose to help or impede the House in raising the Federal debt ceiling. They could fight to delay the Judge Gorsuch confirmation hearings, or let them move forward.
Each week of the Trump presidency has brought bad news, often at night as major newspapers print stories on the administration. The Democrats can't fight every breaking news story. But they lack a messaging machine to tell their base what to fight against. There's no motivation or organization at the top. It's all been from the bottom. When this happens, the top gets overthrown. Time will tell.
The differences between the Democratic party and the GOP continue to dwindle. The Democrats are sponsored by Wall Street, have abandoned the idea of taxing the rich, and have even abandoned questioning the size of the military-security complex. Meanwhile, Republicans are embracing marijuana legalization and marriage equality. The biggest differences left are really Social Security, science, and medicine (the GOP is against all three). Otherwise, that's pretty much it, folks. We can summarize this nation like this: declare war on the world, give every break and perk to the rich people, spy on everyone, and ignore the man-made environmental catastrophe. The longer we keep these two parties in power, the further this nation is ruined. Considering it has been this way for nearly 20 years, it is probably too late to save the USA.
Later that same day, Barack Obama announced that a "deal" had been reached with the Republicans over the expiring 2003 top bracket income tax cuts. The fact it was called a "deal" was itself a lie. Heck, the 2003 tax cuts were passed under the ridiculous name, "Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act." How were the twenty-hundreds to you and your family? If you were an average American, you probably didn't get a pay raise while working the same job. However the big lie was delivered by the President himself:
I have argued that we can't afford [to extend the top bracket tax cuts] right now. But what I've also said, we have to find consensus here because a middle-class tax hike would be very tough not only on working families, it would also be a drag on our economy at this moment.
That's a complete lie. There is no reason to link the expiration of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans with a tax hike for the middle class. None. They should be separate issues. In fact, the president should have had the upper hand here. He should have gone into these talks with the intent of letting the clock run out, and allowing all tax cuts to expire, not to work out some sort of "deal" with Republicans.
The president's logic seems to be that he was boxed into renewing the Bush tax cuts because the 2009 middle class tax cuts were given the same expiration date (12/31/2010). The talking point from the president's advisors is, "not all the tax cuts were Bush's." Okay. But the unfortunate decision to have the middle class tax cuts expire at the same time as the top tier tax cuts is the fault of the Democrats. But as president, Obama could very easily let it all expire. He could ask Congress to send him a bill to reinstate tax cuts for the middle class (which he won't get). But he would have plenty of political cover because he wouldn't ask for an extension of the top bracket cuts, nor would he have to sign such a bill if it reached his desk. He has the upper hand, and apparently doesn't understand it.
Extending the top bracket tax cuts only increases the chances of them becoming permanent under the next Republican president. In my lifetime, we've gone from a 50 percent tax rate to a 35 percent tax rate for individuals netting more than $300,000 (net, mind you, after all charitable donations designed to help affluent people avoid the highest tax rate). Amazing. Where's the 15 percent decrease for New Yorkers paying income taxes to three governments, and whose water bills have risen over 10 percent each year for the last three years?
But instead of letting the clock run out, the president is promoting a Republican-led bill that would extend the top tier tax cuts another 24 months, presumably when another president and congress will have to sort it out.
And then it got worse. On Wednesday, the President doubled-down, saying that if the drafted bipartisan bill was not passed, the country might slip into another recession. Fortunately, over 50 House Democrats called bullshit and have pledged to vote against the bill.
This latest failure of the President to battle the Republicans opens the door to a question that a lot of Liberals have been asking lately - does Barack Obama even want to be president? This immediate capitulation, when all he had to do was run out the clock and veto tax cut bills in 2011, is the clearest evidence yet that the president either does not know his job or doesn't want it. Does he already want to pack up and go home to Chicago? Why did he betray a major campaign promise so quickly?
In my opinion, Obama is a very tired man. He realizes now that his great charm and intellect will not win him political battles. And since he is not a fighter, he is simply going to avoid battles altogether. He just wants to go back to Chicago. He's as discouraged and deflated as the rest of us. However, he gets to go home. We're left still needing a strong, progressive leader. He'll be left with free healthcare, paid speeches, and personal security for life. That's not a victory. That's a tragedy. After years of advancement, hard work, and success, Barack Obama finally stalled and failed when his country needed him most.
The president is well read. Did he ever read this quote by Mahatma Gandhi?
All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.
And Keith Olbermann makes what should be one of his final Special Comments about this president. There really isn't much more to be said with 22 months remaining. Here's Keith on December 7th, explaining in 12 minutes, how Obama officially betrayed his base, once and for all:
David Patterson may have ruined his political future this month, not to mention put a Democratic US Senate seat at risk in the 2010 election. I can't re-hash the entire story. But I can offer some highlights and reactions.
Let's begin with an event that the vat majority of NY State residents have forgotten - the governor's State of the State speech. According to insiders, the Governor spent over 60 hours writing and memorizing the speech, which the governor later confirmed. After it received mainly bad reviews, the governor publicly stated that he was ill the day he delivered the speech.
Allow me to put-aside the poor judgement and lack of politician-grade speaking skills ('you know') of Caroline Kennedy. And I'll put-aside the governor's selection of Congresswoman Kristen Gillibrand.
Here's just a sample from the mainstream NY press on how Patterson's month began with a forgettable speech and ended with him putting both a Democratic Senate seat and his own tenure as Governor at risk.
NY Daily News: Caroline Kennedy was in over her head, but Gov. David Paterson crew stoops low
If Paterson looks indecisive, he has no one to blame but himself. Within a single seven-hour span, he told reporters in Washington he had a "good idea" who he would pick, then told Katie Couric he was "not totally sure," then assured one contender he had not made up his mind.
Paterson's brain trust didn't think to circulate a 28-page questionnaire to the candidates until early January. Later, though, the governor admitted he had not read the answers.
He refused to share a blank copy of the form with the public. Yet when a world-famous candidate filled one out, her sensitive answers got to the press.
In the aftermath, many top Democrats and even friends of Mr. Paterson see his governorship as reeling and troublingly disorganized. They believed that this was to be his defining year, one in which he could move beyond the unusual circumstances of his ascension to high office and prove he could lead the state through a perilous fiscal crisis.
Some were unusually open in questioning the approach — and judgment — of the governor and the people around him.
Paterson said that Kennedy had called him to say she was having second thoughts and "he asked her to wait a day and he thought she had agreed," another attendee recalled.
Then, he said, he couldn't get her on the phone for hours.
"He was absolutely frustrated that he couldn't reach her," the guest said of how Paterson described the scene. "He thought maybe she was sick. He felt she was being nasty to him, that she showed great disrespect."
Miscommunication happens at all levels in this advanced electronic age. But in retrospect, if Governor Patterson needed to track-down Ms. Kennedy at a critical time, he had several options and resources available to him. He has staff in New York City who could have tracked her down. He knew her address. He even has a private train that can transport him to Penn Station in just over 2 hours. For him to be upset that he couldn't call her back, then make his selection anyway, and then allow his staff to insult Ms. Kennedy as the process came to a close is simply unacceptable, and may surely cost the governor his first formal bid for election in November 2010. For a man who has a reputation of being professional, humorous, and fair, this month has shown us a David Patterson who has been anything but.
I'll give Caroline Kennedy credit for her first, genuine, ad-hoc press conference on 125th Street today. But I have to say it - she did not explain why she wants Hillary's Senate seat, or what she has to offer other than a reliable Democratic vote in-line with Charles Schumer. In fact, she is rather flat when she's unscripted. Can you count the number of caution flags in these comments?
"I come at this as a mother, as a lawyer, as an author, as an education advocate and from a family that really has spent generations in public service." ... "I feel this commitment, and this is a time when nobody can afford to sit out. And I hope that I have something to offer." ... "I have, you know, quite a lot to learn, but I feel like I bring a lot with me, as well."
I think I speak for many Democrats when I say that we need more than a legacy who brings only her vote and her ability to do fundraising. I also think it is safe to say that Caroline Kennedy is not a politician. She raises money for good causes, and she sits on the boards of various non-profits. But she hasn't had a full-time job as a lawyer in years. Hillary was similar, but at least she was elected to the Senate. Kennedy is asking to be appointed. To appoint a non-politician to the US Senate would be a risky move.
And assuming that Rudy Giuliani will be the Republican nominee for the seat is a mistake. He's happy on the speech circut as his political career is over.
Where to begin? Is it a news flash that either party has legacies?
Barack Obama's path to the presidency included beating what had been one of the nation's most powerful families. But, in an unusual twist, his election last month is helping accelerate the trend toward dynasty politics.
His secretary of state will be Hillary Clinton, the wife of the former president. The Senate seat she’ll vacate is being pursued by Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of a president and the niece of two senators. Joe Biden’s Senate seat may go to his son Beau. Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar, Obama’s pick for interior secretary, could end up being replaced by his brother, Rep. John Salazar.
That's right. Barack opened the floodgates to a giant wave of Nepotism. Is this author serious?
The U.S. Senate could end up looking like an American version of the House of Lords – and Republicans have begun to take notice.
There was once a senator named Paul Wellstone who made that point over 10 years ago. And he was a Democrat.
“Democrats seem to lack a common man who can just win a good, old-fashioned election,” said Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.), the former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
While Obama’s election and subsequent Cabinet appointments may have accelerated the trend toward dynasty, he’s hardly responsible for it. There is a rich bipartisan history of dynasty in American politics that dates all the way back to the Founding Fathers; Obama-Biden actually represents the first winning ticket since 1976 without a son or a grandson of a U.S. senator on it.
Oh, so midway through the article, Mr. Mahtesian puts things in perspective. It weakens his argument, but I'm sure it must be central to his point.
Almost everyone agrees that the high cost of elections is making the world’s most exclusive club seem even more exclusive. According to some estimates, the cost of winning Clinton’s New York Senate seat in the special election in 2010 and the general election in 2012 will be in the neighborhood of $70 million.
“There are three issues behind this trend,” said Bob Edgar, the president of Common Cause and a former Pennsylvania congressman. “Money is issue number one, money is issue number two and money is issue number three.”
“It’s an enormously expensive process to run for the United States Senate,” added Edgar, who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 1986. “And once someone [wins] a Senate seat, there is a sense of ownership.”
Again, Paul Wellstone made speeches about this very issue, and he taught me and many others that the Senate is a millionaires-only club, for better or worse. Paul Wellstone and Ted Kennedy taught me more about the workings of the Senate than anyone else in my lifetime.
And before we declare this to be a new era of nepotism and legacies because Sweet Caroline wants her late uncle's NY Senate seat, let's pause and acknowledge that there are many smart Democrats who are against her appointment.
...from the Al Franken call center in Nebraska. His campaign is soliciting donations to the 'Al Franken Recount Fund'. That seemed odd, so I have an odd (perhaps even silly) question.
Why would either Franken's or Coleman's campaign need funds for the recount? Aren't Minnesota taxpayers picking up the tab?
It turns out that Franken needs cash to pay his lawyers in case this recount winds-up in court. It also turns out that Mitt Romney has donated $5,000 to Coleman's recount fund. And unlike donations for the campaign, there is almost no limit on how much individuals can contribute to these recount funds.
But we little voters are maxed out, Al. Doesn't Soros have cash to give you? How about Alec Baldwin? I gave you my cash already.
Just because you couldn't win big doesn't mean I owe you a penny more.
Just win, Al. That's all I asked when you began your campaign. You can raise the cash after you are in the Senate. Let's get real.
And the sad thing is, he doesn't have to do anyofthis. I don't think he's winning any more votes by wearing the US flag lapel pin, making big promises to evangelicals, failing to stop telecomm immunity, or slapping General Wes Clark for rightly attacking John McCain. Hey, Barry, Clark was right to slap McCain. Where was McCain when the Wingnuts accused Senator Kerry of wounding himself in Vietnam? Barry, stop this madness. Your base is not happy with you at all.
He didn't cut in line. There is no such thing in a free and fair election. In job promotions, it exists. In chairing a congressional committee, it exists. In presidential appointments, it exists. But in a fair election, there is no such thing.
Take 1960 for example. John F. Kennedy seemed to come out of nowhere and defeat Lyndon B. Johnson for the Democratic nomination. LBJ had been a member of Congress since Kennedy was 19 years old. He was the Senate Majority Leader at the time of the election. LBJ represented the Democratic establishment, while Kennedy represented a new generation, promising modest change and a new direction for the nation in the Cold War era. His appeal ultimately prevailed. Then, as we know, he had to defeat another establishment candidate, sitting Vice President Richard M. Nixon. For similar reasons, he won by a nose.
Now did he cut in-line before two future US presidents? Does history record it that way?
I think not.
We can accuse Obama of being cocky. We can call him a rock star. Some can call him an asshole. But he did not cut in line. There is no such thing in a democratic and fair election.
It's how politics works. And we are seeing a shifting of gears and the rise of a new leader for the Democratic party.
The past few days may have been worrying for Obama supporters. On Saturday, Harold Ickies threatened to take Hillary Clinton's case to the DNC Credentials Committee at the end of this month, to appeal the 'hijacking' of four of her delegate votes. On Sunday, both Ickies and Clinton campaign chair Terry McAuliffe, hinted that Senator Clinton would not be congratulating Senator Obama on Tuesday night. This morning, Senator Clinton said that the nomination race is not over until it is over, and that "her political obituary is yet to be written."
Well, she is correct about that last point. See, her political obituary would be written if she didn't get behind Barack Obama in the general election. And that's not even an issue. It's not because Obama will extort her support. It's not because the rabid Obama supporters will scream and yell. It's because Clinton will follow the standard political playbook for the Democratic party. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's take a brief look at the nightmare scenario that we've heard from Obama supporters.
Senator Clinton has long argued that Senator Obama is not as electable as she is. That could be interpreted to mean that if the Democrats nominated Obama, he would have a greater chance of being upset by John McCain than Hillary would. Taken further, it could mean that if Obama were nominated, then Hillary would be in a position to say, "I told you so," if Obama lost in November. And taken even further, it could mean what many ordinary Democratic voters have recently speculated - that Senator Clinton wants Obama to lose in November, so she can stage a run in 2012. This topic was debated back in March by several bloggers and pundits.
The argument goes like this. Hillary reluctantly endorses Obama and campaigns for him, but she secretly (or not so secretly) hopes he loses to John McCain. Then Hillary can stage a successful 2012 campaign for a nation weary of 12 years of Republican rule, high gas prices, and the occupation of Iraq in its 10th year.
There is a huge problem with this argument. It assumes many things that have little or no chance of happening:
1. It assumes that Democrats will be just as receptive to a Hillary campaign in 2012 as they were in 2008.
2. It assumes that there will be no other up-and-coming Democrat who would want to defeat John McCain, should McCain win this November. After all, Obama wasn't on the radar in early 2006. Ariana Huffington foresaw a Gore vs. Clinton 2008 nomination race, and wrote about it in October 2005 and January 2006. Barack who?
3. And most important, it assumes that there would be no blame assigned to Clinton in the event of an Obama loss.
That sinks the argument. Think about what Clinton has said since her 11-state losing streak (which essentially killed her campaign). She said that McCain was qualified to be president, and in the same breath refused to give Obama the same pat on the fanny. She floated the talking point that Obama was doomed to lose, like Gore and Kerry, because he is an elitist. She made sure to use the word "hard working" before the word "white" in describing the demographic in which she defeated Obama in the Appalachian states. Never mind that the core of the Democratic base nationwide consists of liberals and African Americans. She suggested that Obama give-up and become her running mate as VP after he had won 11 contests in a row. And let su not forget the unforgivable assassination remarks. Hillary and her campaign managers have said too many negative things about Obama to be spared any blame if he loses in November. That's not a threat from this or any Obama supporter. That's not a threat from Mr. Obama. That's just the way politics works in the Democratic party.
Bill Clinton has been the de-facto leader of the Democratic party since winning the nomination in 1992. He filled a power vacuum that was left when Gary Hart dropped out of the 1988 nomination race. He remained the leader of the party through 2008. And it seems that tomorrow, June 3rd, Bill Clinton will lose that title. He seemed to understand that possibility today when he spoke in Milbank, South Dakota.
Naturally, the Clintons don't want to lose their leadership position in this great party. People in power do whatever they can to keep it while they are still playing within the rules. In this case, there are no term limits. The unwritten rule is that the next major Democrat to win the nomination and subsequently the presidency will become the leader of the party. Obama is poised to replace Clinton in that role. In fact you could argue that the party belongs to Obama beginning Tuesday.
Losing their leadership position is painful enough. But they would be throwing everything away if they set-up Obama to lose to John McCain, an old, uninspiring, ignorant man who by most accounts is too angry, too conservative, and too much like George W. Bush to beat a Democrat in November. Hillary Clinton would be putting her senate seat and political legacy at risk if she left Obama twisting in the wind.
Meanwhile, Senator Obama is telling his supporters that he is looking forward to working with Hillary on the campaign trail. She might need a vacation and some private time. But she will campaign for Obama. The second place finisher in a nomination race doesn't have a choice. Obama and Clinton supporters who think that she has options need to settle down, and give it time. Give it time, and soon all of us will jump on the team and come on in for the big win.
For standing up to the Clinton sponsors on the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee, and convincing the committee to support the ,Osman petition. Here is his full presentation and Q&A session, in three parts. Note the beautiful smackdown of Harold Ickes in part 2. Part 1
Another beautifully written, and wonderfully entertaining post by Driftglass. When does he not disappoint?
The end was ordained...
...Or, rather, I stopped letting myself being baited into fights that were now meaningless. Like arguing over some trivial debt at a funeral, or shrieking on and on about the feng shui of the chairs in a burning house, the ridiculousness of it suddenly lifted me up and out of myself. And after that, regardless of the size and throw-weight of the ragebombs being fired in my direction, they no longer affected me. The words being shrieked at me with such calculated venom and the constantly furious person out of whom they flew began to feel surreal, preposterous and very far away.
“If anybody can put their arms around the party and say we need to be together, it is Bill Clinton,” a senior Obama aide said.
“He’s brilliant, he has got heart and he cares deeply about the country. It’s tricky because of his position as Hillary’s spouse, but his involvement is very important to us.
“Bill Clinton will give permission to Hillary supporters to come into our camp and become one party. He is critical to this effort.”
I only wish. What I do know is that Hillary is so bitter and angry, that I don't expect her to be at the Denver convention unless Bill makes peace with the Obama camp. It could happen. In fact, it might be the only way Obama can win the support of Hillary's voters. It's frustrating, but the key to Obama's November victory is making sure a majority of Hillary's supporters vote for him. A few months ago, I assumed that was guaranteed. But it is clear that a large percentage of Hillary's supporters have no desire to vote for Obama in November. Those in the red states might switch their vote to McCain.
What we need in the Democratic party is unity. Obama can't win without those who voted for Clinton in the primary. Obama has a delicate task of seduction ahead of him this summer.
Surely all of us know by know what happened Friday afternoon. Hillary Clinton repeated a comment she made in March regarding how anything could happen in the month of June that would remove Obama from the Democratic nomination contest. The example she used then and yesterday was the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in June 1968. She made the comment during a private interview with the Argus Leader newspaper in Sioux Falls, North Dakota.
I let the comment go when I first read it at CNN/Time in March, assuming that she would quickly regret it. Also, I assumed that she would quickly realize the incredible implications of such a remark. It is unthinkable that a Democratic candidate for President of the United States would publicly comment that a possible route to the nomination would be the death (or murder!) of her opponent. It's the kind of comment that suggests that Clinton has spent a little time thinking or wondering about it. I dare not say she fantasized or hoped for it. She has not and will not.
We live in a nation that enjoys a high degree of freedom of expression. Surely, Hillary Clinton has the right to talk about RFK's assassination, and how it derailed a charismatic, star candidate, who looked poised to win the nomination and excite the nation. She herself is in a desperate, must-win situation. She must somehow derail a similar candidate, who has more momentum, more campaign cash, and more votes than RFK ever did, in a 50-state primary system (which didn't exist in 1968).
However, presidential candidates do not have the luxury of being able to say whatever they want in public. And the potential assassination of an American political candidate or elected official is one of them. Imagine if a Senator or Congressman had made such a comment about George W. Bush. She or he could have said, "He's in the final days of his second term. He's probably home free. But anything can happen between now and January 20th. He wouldn't be the first president to assume he was going to live-out his tenure. Lincoln was assassinated early in his second term. So was McKinley. We could have a late second-term event. It's not impossible." I would assume that hypothetical politician would be censured for such a remark.
There are certain topics that American politicians cannot touch. One of them is the assassination of a rival or colleague. It just cannot be touched, ever.
But why is that? After all, Hillary Clinton was only repeating a historical fact. Hillary was only stating the truth. And the truth is that the only way she can win the Democratic nomination is if Obama becomes seriously ill, dies, or quits the race. That's the truth. And besides, she was talking about RFK, not Obama. Right?
Wrong. It's all about context. Clinton was being asked why she was being hounded by party insiders and Obama supporters to quit the race. She was asked why people are trying to push her out. Her response was that it made no sense, especially when other races were not resolved at this point on the calendar. She raised two examples. First, she said that her husband didn't secure the nomination in 1992 until the California primary in June. (Her interviewer seemed to verify that answer, but it is in fact inaccurate. While Jerry Brown did not drop-out of the race until June, Bill Clinton secured the 1992 Democratic nomination in April.) Second, she brought up the 1968 race, which was just heating-up in June when New York Senator Bobby Kennedy won California.
And she could have said just that, and it would have been fine. But no. She said something else:
We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California.
When I first saw this, I froze as soon as the words "Bobby Kennedy" left her mouth. I thought, 'where on earth is she going with this?' I still don't know. She had nothing to gain by mentioning it. And I don't think she was trying to impress the interviewer with her knowledge of 20th Century US history.
I will say again, she wasn't openly expressing a wish to see Obama die. I do think she is wishing Obama to quit or otherwise go away. But the way it came out. Why? Why, when there are so many other historic examples to draw from? The 1984 Democratic nomination was very close. The 1988 race wasn't settled until July 4th, when Jackson and Dukhakis brokered a deal to make nice. The 1976 race was extremely close as well. Why 1968? Why 'assassination'? Why?
She said something no American politician should ever talk about, unless it is a remembrance, an anniversary, or a part of a history lecture. Surely there will be members of Congress who will mark the 40th anniversary of Robert Kennedy's death with a few words on the Senate or House floor. But in the context of a political race, the mentioning of an assassination as an example of how the race can dramatically change late in the calendar, is completely unacceptable. This is because political assassination is one of this nation's darkest and most traumatic legacies (along with the Civil War, reconstruction, racism, and our involvement in Vietnam). Speaking about an American assassination as if it were a possibility to level a political contest is totally beyond the pale. It has no place in our national discourse, particularly among the candidates involved in the political race in question. And that's because any of the three candidates in the race could themselves become a victim of an assassin's bullet. It's a possibility we don't treat lightly and don't talk about in public. Rational Americans don't wish it on even their most hated politicians or political enemies. Most Americans don't even think about it.
And yet, there was Hillary Clinton, speculating why she was being pressured to leave the race. And in her verbal thoughts, she mentioned the assassination of RFK as an example of why she should remain in this race. Because, who knows, something awful could happen to Senator Obama. It was a cold, brutal, and utterly disgusting moment. It is right here:
And then there is Keith Olbermann's passionate, and very angry response less than 5 hours later. Perhaps this was a bit too harsh. But I trust Keith to be a rational man. And as this Saturday rolled on, I found myself becoming just as angry as Keith did Friday night. Here's Keith telling his viewers, "This, Senator, is TOO MUCH."
Asked if her continuing fight for the nomination against Senator Obama hurts the Democratic party, Sen. Hillary Clinton replied, "I don't. Because again, I've been around long enough. You know, my husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. You know, I just don't understand it. You know, there's lots of speculation about why it is. “
The comments were recorded and we showed them to you earlier and they are online as we speak.
She actually said those words.
Those words, Senator?
You actually invoked the nightmare of political assassination.
You actually invoked the specter of an inspirational leader, at the seeming moment of triumph, for himself and a battered nation yearning to breathe free, silenced forever.
You actually used the word "assassination" in the middle of a campaign with a loud undertone of racial hatred - and gender hatred - and political hatred.
You actually used the word "assassination" in a time when there is a fear, unspoken but vivid and terrible, that our again-troubled land and fractured political landscape might target a black man running for president.
Or a white man.
Or a white woman!
You actually used those words, in this America, Senator, while running against an African-American against whom the death threats started the moment he declared his campaign?
You actually used those words, in this America, Senator, while running to break your "greatest glass ceiling" and claiming there are people who would do anything to stop you?
Senator - never mind the implications of using the word "assassination" in any connection to Senator Obama...
What about you?
You cannot say this!
The references, said her spokesperson, were not, in any way, weighted.
The allusions, said Mo Uh-leathee, are, "...historical examples of the nominating process going well into the summer and any reading into it beyond that would be inaccurate and outrageous."
There is no inaccuracy.
Not for a moment does any rational person believe Senator Clinton is actually hoping for the worst of all political calamities.
Yet the outrage belongs, not to Senator Clinton or her supporters, but to every other American.
Firstly, she has previously bordered on the remarks she made today...
Then swerved back from them and the awful skid they represented.
She said, in an off-camera interview with Time on March 6, "Primary contests used to last a lot longer. We all remember the great tragedy of Bobby Kennedy being assassinated in June in L.A. My husband didn't wrap up the nomination in 1992 until June, also in California. Having a primary contest go through June is nothing particularly unusual. We will see how it unfolds as we go forward over the next three to four months."
In retrospect, we failed her when we did not call her out, for that remark, dry and only disturbing, in a magazine's pages. But somebody obviously warned her of the danger of that rhetoric:
After the Indiana primary, on May 7, she told supporters at a Washington hotel:
"Sometimes you gotta calm people down a little bit. But if you look at successful presidential campaigns, my husband did not get the nomination until June of 1992. I remember tragically when Senator Kennedy won California near the end of that process."
And at Shepherdstown, West Virginia, on the same day, she referenced it again:
"You know, I remember very well what happened in the California primary in 1968 as, you know, Senator Kennedy won that primary."
On March 6th she had said "assassinated."
By May 7 she had avoided it. Today... she went back to an awful well. There is no good time to recall the awful events of June 5th, 1968, of Senator Bobby Kennedy, happy and alive - perhaps, for the first time since his own brother's death in Dallas in 1963... Galvanized to try to lead this nation back from one of its darkest eras... Only to fall victim to the same surge that took that brother, and Martin Luther King... There is no good time to recall this. But certainly to invoke it, two weeks before the exact 40th anniversary of the assassination, is an insensitive and heartless thing.
And certainly to invoke it, three days after the awful diagnosis, and heart-breaking prognosis, for Senator Ted Kennedy, is just as insensitive, and just as heartless. And both actions, open a door wide into the soul of somebody who seeks the highest office in this country, and through that door shows something not merely troubling, but frightening. And politically inexplicable.
What, Senator, do you suppose would happen if you withdrew from the campaign, and Senator Obama formally became the presumptive nominee, and then suddenly left the scene? It doesn't even have to be the “dark curse upon the land” you mentioned today, Senator. Nor even an issue of health. He could simply change his mind... Or there could unfold that perfect-storm scandal your people have often referenced, even predicted. Maybe he could get a better offer from some other, wiser, country. What happens then, Senator? You are not allowed back into the race? Your delegates and your support vanish? The Democrats don't run anybody for President?
What happens, of course, is what happened when the Democrats' vice presidential choice, Senator Thomas Eagleton of Missouri, had to withdraw from the ticket, in 1972 after it proved he had not been forthcoming about previous mental health treatments. George McGovern simply got another vice president.
Senator, as late as the late summer of 1864 the Republicans were talking about having a second convention, to withdraw Abraham Lincoln's re-nomination and choose somebody else because until Sherman took Atlanta in September it looked like Lincoln was going to lose to George McClellan.
You could theoretically suspend your campaign, Senator.
There's plenty of time and plenty of historical precedent, Senator, in case you want to come back in, if something bad should happen to Senator Obama. Nothing serious, mind you.
It's just like you said, "We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California."
Since those awful words in Sioux Falls, and after the condescending, buck-passing statement from her spokesperson, Senator Clinton has made something akin to an apology, without any evident recognition of the true trauma she has inflicted.
"I was discussing the Democratic primary history, and in the course of that discussion mentioned the campaigns both my husband and Senator Kennedy waged California in June in 1992 and 1968," she said in Brandon, South Dakota. "I was referencing those to make the point that we have had nomination primary contests that go into June. That's a historic fact.
"The Kennedys have been much on my mind the last days because of Senator Kennedy. I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation, particularly for the Kennedy family was in any way offensive, I certainly had no intention of that whatsoever."
"My view is that we have to look to the past and to our leaders who have inspired us and give us a lot to live up to and I'm honored to hold Senator Kennedy's seat in the United States Senate in the state of New York and have the highest regard for the entire Kennedy family. Thanks. Not a word about the inappropriateness of referencing assassination.
Not a word about the inappropriateness of implying - whether it was intended or not - that she was hanging around waiting for somebody to try something terrible.
Not a word about Senator Obama.
Not a word about Senator McCain.
Not: I'm sorry...
Not: I apologize...
Not: I blew it...
Not: please forgive me.
God knows, Senator, in this campaign, this nation has had to forgive you, early and often...
And despite your now traditional position of the offended victim, the nation has forgiven you.
We have forgiven you your insistence that there have been widespread calls for you to end your campaign, when such calls had been few. We have forgiven you your misspeaking about Martin Luther King's relative importance to the Civil Rights movement.
We have forgiven you your misspeaking about your under-fire landing in Bosnia.
We have forgiven you insisting Michigan's vote wouldn't count and then claiming those who would not count it were Un-Democratic.
We have forgiven you pledging to not campaign in Florida and thus disenfranchise voters there, and then claim those who stuck to those rules were as wrong as those who defended slavery or denied women the vote.
We have forgiven you the photos of Osama Bin Laden in an anti-Obama ad...
We have forgiven you fawning over the fairness of Fox News while they were still calling you a murderer.
We have forgiven you accepting Richard Mellon Scaife's endorsement and then laughing as you described his "deathbed conversion."
We have forgiven you quoting the electoral predictions of Boss Karl Rove.
We have forgiven you the 3 a.m. Phone Call commercial.
We have forgiven you President Clinton's disparaging comparison of the Obama candidacy to Jesse Jackson's.
We have forgiven you Geraldine Ferraro's national radio interview suggesting Obama would not still be in the race had he been a white man.
We have forgiven you the dozen changing metrics and the endless self-contradictions of your insistence that your nomination is mathematically probable rather than a statistical impossibility.
We have forgiven you your declaration of some primary states as counting and some as not.
We have forgiven you exploiting Jeremiah Wright in front of the editorial board of the lunatic-fringe Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
We have forgiven you exploiting William Ayers in front of the debate on ABC.
We have forgiven you for boasting of your "support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans"...
We have even forgiven you repeatedly praising Senator McCain at Senator Obama's expense, and your own expense, and the Democratic ticket's expense.
But Senator, we cannot forgive you this.
"You know, my husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California."
We cannot forgive you this -- not because it is crass and low and unfeeling and brutal.
This is unforgivable, because this nation's deepest shame, its most enduring horror, its most terrifying legacy, is political assassination.
Martin Luther King.
And, but for the grace of the universe or the luck of the draw, Reagan, Ford, Truman, Nixon, Andrew Jackson, both Roosevelts, even George Wallace.
The politics of this nation is steeped enough in blood, Senator Clinton, you cannot and must not invoke that imagery! Anywhere! At any time!
And to not appreciate, immediately - to still not appreciate tonight - just what you have done... is to reveal an incomprehension of the America you seek to lead.
This, Senator, is too much.
Because a senator - a politician - a person - who can let hang in mid-air the prospect that she might just be sticking around in part, just in case the other guy gets shot - has no business being, and no capacity to be, the President of the United States.
This is not a question to be asked lightly. Hillary Clinton's campaign has done nothing remotely close to George H.W. Bush's Willie Horton ad of 1988. Her campaign has not explicitly said that a vote for Obama will result in the rapes of white women or hordes black hoodlums in our streets. But if we examine what her campaign did say explicitly, then we can draw the conclusion that racist impulses in Appalachian voters were, shall we say, encouraged. And that is not a charge to throw around lightly, either.
Let me try to explain.
I was openly wondering why there was such a difference in results between Kansas and Kentucky. Kansas was a big victory for Obama. Kentucky was a landslide victory for Clinton. Both states are over 90% working-class caucasian. Both states are in the heartland (Kansas more so). Both states are predominantly Christian, specifically Protestant. Both states are almost assured to vote for John McCain this fall. But both states have independent voters, who have tended to favor Obama in the primaries. So what happened? My girl chimed in: "There's a big difference between Kansas and Kentucky."
Indeed there is. What is it with Appalachia? I found two great posts from Driftglass and LowerManhattanite. Both are outstanding, even if Drifty is a little bitter. But he has history on his side. The inherent racism of white Appalachia is well-documented, and it is a shameful history. It is the birthplace and legacy of Jim Crow.
Enter Senator Hillay Clinton's campaign into West Virginia and Kentucky. For months (since March, I believe) Clinton, her advisors, spokespeople and campaigners have been making the argument that Senator Clinton is more electable against John McCain in the general election. The reasons for this argument seem clear. Clinton is a major brand name. Middle America hardly knows Obama. Clinton is a more conservative Democrat, known for taking a stand against violence in video games, a stand for the war in Iraq, and a brief stand against flag burning. More electable, sure. But when the campaign entered West Virginia and Kentucky, the 'more electable' argument underwent a subtle transformation. Analysts can point to a single Clinton quote in Kentucky back on May 7th:
"I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."
Clinton only said "white Americans" once, but it was enough to plant the theme that she was on the side of "hard-working", white voters, while Obama, somehow, was not. Essays and books have been written that decode the use of "working" or "hard-working" in addition to the word "white people" or "white Americans." It implies a lot in just a few words. White people work hard. People who don't look like them presumably don't work hard. Cenk Uygur explains further:
The second way they gave their voters permission to be racists is by using thinly veiled code words like, "I'm looking out for people like you." The very thin veil on these code words was lifted when Senator Clinton flat out said she was looking out for "hard working white Americans." And presumably Obama wasn't. And why is that? You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand the implication that he wasn't looking out for people like them because he wasn't one of them.
So, when the voter in Kentucky stepped into that booth, he didn't necessarily think, "I'm going to vote against Barack Obama because he is black and I'm racist." He thought, "Hillary Clinton is looking out for people like me. Obama cares more about his own people. And besides which he's going to lose in the general election because who would elect a black guy as president?"
This is the art of encoding and decoding in communication. It was subtle and effective, not blatant and egregious. Clinton's campaign didn't run a TV ad darkening Obama's face (a-la OJ Simpson on various TV networks) or try to make white voters frightened of Obama. It was more of an arm around their shoulder - a reminder that Clinton can be trusted because she connects with poor and working-class white people who don't have college degrees (Obama's support among college-educated whites is very strong, by the way). It was almost as if Clinton's campaign was saying, "Look, we know Obama's support among blacks is very strong. They side with him because of his race. It's OK for you to vote with Clinton because she is white. They are doing it, so we can do it too. And since we are the majority in this country (the silent majority, perhaps, like Reagan's supporters), we know we can override their votes and beat their candidate. It's white people like you who will decide this election."
Ampersand, over at Atlas Blog, compiled an excellent sampling of how the Clinton quote was interpreted, and it is clear that it worked as intended. Elrod has a similar summary of how "hard-working" plus "white" made her comment a classic, southern 'dog-whistle' moment. We coffee-drinking, urban, liberal intellectuals aren't making this up. Clinton delivered a specific, encoded message to the white voters of Kentucky on May 7th. She gave them a green light to vote against the black man on the basis of racial prejudice.
That's a much different message coming from a Clinton, a member of a family that might not have enjoyed two terms in the White House if it wasn't for a solid base of support among African Americans. Listen to the Clinton quote again, straight from Clinton's teleconference with USA Today. Note how she makes sure to say "hard-working." It seems to be a carefully-chosen word by her campaign.
One of the problems I perceive with this tactic is that black Americans are not voting for Obama solely because he is black. The driving force behind Obama is his charisma, the promise of dramatic change, and the fact that he is slightly more liberal than Clinton and against the occupation of Iraq. Those qualities have attracted more votes than Clinton nationwide. But Clinton's strategists and managers must have thought that they had an opportunity to exploit a large population of people who deep down, don't want to see a black man become president. They tapped into it, and it has worked in Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia, and Kentucky.
To her credit, Clinton later told CNN/Time that she regretted that remark. But that was after she had won Kentucky.
Cenk Uygur and E.J. Escow explain this conclusion, that Clinton gave voters in West Virginia and Kentucky permission to vote on their racial prejudices.
Keith Olbermann and Dana Milbank discuss the Clinton quote the week it happened.