Salon's "Liberal Case For Donald Trump" mirrors the implicit NeverTrump case for Hillary: Congress will check him or her, Trump is no more a true conservative than Hillary is a true progressive, and President Hillary's eventual embarrassments and betrayals would set back the progressive movement just as President Trump would crush the conservative brand.
Interesting, but I'm still not voting for her. Then again, with my vote or without it, she will be carrying my slice of My Blue Heaven.
And I think a Hillary Presidency will be poor to disastrous but in ways we have seen before and can endure again. The crony capitalists will remain in charge; lacking a credible progressive agenda, President Hillary will rely on contrived, inflammatory, divisive gender and race wars to motivate her base. In other words, four more years like the last six (I'm giving Obama health care back when he had total Congressional control, although climate change, immigration and gun control all were allowed to slide).
Trump, on the other hand, has the potential to be a disaster in ways Obama has merely foreshadowed. Trump just blurts out foreign policy ideas, from 'let Putin handle ISIS' to 'I'll bomb the tar out of ISIS' with no discipline or apparent grasp of the issues. Heaven forbid we should have yet another President routinely doing stupid things such as talking about red lines and then failing to enforce them.
Andrew Ross Sorkin goes back to the West Wing to listen to Obama whinge about the lack of respect he gets for his brilliant management of an epic recovery from a mostrous economic disaster. My goodness - so much to mock and so little time.
Obama has a couple of theories as to why the public has disappointed him yet again by failing to grasp his greatness. First, he was so busy being awesome that he didn't take the time to communicate his awesomeness:
Asked if he was frustrated by all the criticism, Obama insisted that he wasn’t, at least not personally. “It has frustrated me only insofar as it has shaped the political debate,” he said. “We were moving so fast early on that we couldn’t take victory laps. We couldn’t explain everything we were doing. I mean, one day we’re saving the banks; the next day we’re saving the auto industry; the next day we’re trying to see whether we can have some impact on the housing market.”
The result, he said, was that he lacked the political capital to do more. As his presidency nears its end, this has become an increasingly common refrain from Obama, who, despite his prodigious skills as an orator, has come to seem more confident about his achievements than about his ability to promote them. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ok. Marijuana is decriminalized in DC, so we see where that is coming from.
Obama's then blames evil Republicans, Fox News and that nasty Rush Limbaugh:
“How people feel about the economy,” Obama told me, giving one part of his own theory, is influenced by “what they hear.” He went on: “And if you have a political party — in this case, the Republicans — that denies any progress and is constantly channeling to their base, which is sizable, say, 40 percent of the population, that things are terrible all the time, then people will start absorbing that.”
Hmm. If only Obama had a media that would be willing to cheerlead for him a bit. But all he had going for him was the NY Times, the LA Times, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, and all of Hollywood. The Republicans had Fox, Rush and Sarah Palin's Facebook page, so what's a poor guy to do?
And of course, Obama's theory kind of overlooks the fact that we have a major party screaming that most of us have been left behind while in this rigged economy the income gains go to the 1 percenters. Sorkin explains that to his readers and seems to have mentioned the Occupy/Sanders critique to Obama as well:
But as Obama also acknowledged, the public anger about the economy is not without empirical basis. A large swath of the nation has dropped out of the labor force completely, and the reality for the average American family is that its household income is $4,000 less than it was when Bill Clinton left office. Economic inequality, meanwhile, has only grown worse, with the top 1 percent of American households taking in more than half of the recent gains in income growth. “Millions and millions and millions and millions of people look at that pretty picture of America he painted and they cannot find themselves in it to save their lives,” Clinton himself said of Obama’s economy in March, while on the campaign trail for his wife. “People are upset, frankly; they’re anxiety-ridden, they’re disoriented, because they don’t see themselves in that picture.”
Sorkin even addresses a bit of Obama's rich fantasy life:
It is this disconnect that haunts Obama. He has, by his own lights, managed the recovery as well as any president ever could, with results that in many cases exceeded his own best hopes.
The recovery exceeded expectations? Who can forget the famous projection of unemployment maxing out at 8 percent? Not Sorkin!
At first, the results of the stimulus were just as feeble as a stalwart Keynesian might predict. The economy needed a big injection, but it got only a medium-size one, so it continued to falter. A January 2009 report from the president’s Council of Economic Advisers projected that the stimulus would keep unemployment below 8 percent. Instead, it climbed to 10 percent in 2009 and only fell back below 8 percent in 2012, leading to criticism that the stimulus was ineffective.
Well, yes, critics gonna critique. And since the topic is failed economic forecasts from Team Obama, let me reprise yet again the Mankiw-Krugman smackdown of 2009-2013. Briefly, Mankiw wondered whether the CEA forecasts were overly optimistic, Krugman denounced Mankiw, tossing around words like "evil" and "obtuse", Brad DeLong explained that slumps are followed by recoveries, Mankiw suspected that DeLong's evidence was somewhat ironic since it was primarily driven by the Reagan tax-cut boom of the early 80's - oh, it was a jolly brawl.
Cruz constantly reminds me of the old Hollywood aphorism - "the key to this business is authenticity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made". I don't think Trump is particularly authentic and he is utterly unconvincing as a pretend-conservative but he has been projecting this egomaniaical blowhard persona for what, thirty years, so people think that much is real. To be fair, Kasich probably deserves authenticity points too, but getting behind a guy who authentically believes the Republican Party doesn't like ideas is a big ask.
Well. On the other side, Dems are wrestling with the battle between their Establishment Construct and a real human. So far, their establishment is managing the cram-down pretty well.
CARLY'S THE TWO! If this NR reports holds up, no one can say Cruz didn't throw the ball down the field.
Obama and Merkel were talking up the Trans-Atlantic trade deal still being negotiated. The Times includes this bit of weirdness:
Yet even as he expressed confidence that a deal would be reached this year, Mr. Obama acknowledged that “time is not on our side,” and he offered a thinly veiled warning that a deal could be doomed if politicians like Hillary Clinton, who opposes the accord, are elected this year.
“If we don’t complete negotiations this year, then upcoming political transitions in the United States and Europe could mean this agreement won’t be finished for quite some time,” Mr. Obama said, not mentioning Mrs. Clinton, his former secretary of state, directly.
I haven't checked but I will go out on a limb and guess that Bernie Sanders does not support this deal either. I mean, obvi - if he supported it Hillary would too, right?
And what other politicians might Obama or the Times have in mind? Does Trump support this deal being negotiated by non artist of the deal Obama? Does Cruz?
Hmm, Kasich probably does support it, since he is a predictable Chamber of Commerce Republican. Is Obama backing Kasich then? On this one issue, probably yes.
As to Trump's latest - he sensibly notes this should be a matter left to state and local governments. Of course, that completely dodges the history of the North Carolina bill - Charlotte passed a local ordinance that the state overturned.
This is from commentary provided by "Gail Heriot and Peter Kirsanow, speaking in our capacities as two individual members of the eight-member U.S. Commission on Civil Rights":
North Carolina is one of the few non-home rule states.7 Among other things, the North Carolina Constitution does not permit the state or local governments to enact ordinances governing labor and employment in a local area. See N.C. Const. art. II, §24.8 This was an effort—by creating a single set of laws governing employment—to create a business climate that would produce more jobs for North Carolinians. In the past, some local governments made efforts to circumvent the policy by imposing labor and employment requirements on their public contractors. That practice was then prohibited by the North Carolina legislature, which was also keen to prevent North Carolina from becoming a patchwork of different ordinances.
One can easily imagine reasons for that back in 1971. Setting labor laws at the state level could prevent retrograde communities from attempting to maintain backdoor Jim Crow laws. Of course, it could also prevent avant-garde communities from moving North Carolina into the 22nd century. More broadly, it could save each community from the prospect of being dragged into a bidding war with other communities in an attempt to attract businesses. An out-of-state company might be delighted to shop for the lowest minimum wage laws, for example - the North Carolina constitution would prevent that.
So Trump's suggestion to leave it to the state and local governments answers nothing about the issue. It does answer (yet again) the question of whether Trump actually understands any of this stuff or simply runs his mouth, assesses the reaction, and repeats.
There is a smug style in American liberalism. It has been growing these past decades. It is a way of conducting politics, predicated on the belief that American life is not divided by moral difference or policy divergence — not really — but by the failure of half the country to know what's good for them.
Wait, is this an essay or the Vox mission statement? Pressing on.
The development of the smug style ties in to the Democratic abandonment of the white working class, which itself has some history:
Richard Hofstadter, the historian whose most famous work, The Paranoid Style in American Politics, this essay exists in some obvious reference to, advanced a similar line in writing not so well-remembered today. His then-influential history writing drips with disdain for rubes who regard themselves as victimized by economics and history, who have failed to maintain correct political attitudes.
But 60 years ago, American liberalism relied too much on the support of working people to let these ideas take too much hold. Even its elitists, its Schlesingers and Bells, were tempered by the power of the labor movement, by the role Marxism still played in even liberal politics — forces too powerful to allow non-elite concerns to entirely escape the liberal mental horizon. Walter Reuther, and Bayard Rustin, and A. Philip Randolph were still in the room, and they mattered.
As to the new members of the Democratic coalition, well...
The consequence was a shift in liberalism's center of intellectual gravity. A movement once fleshed out in union halls and little magazines shifted into universities and major press, from the center of the country to its cities and elite enclaves. Minority voters remained, but bereft of the material and social capital required to dominate elite decision-making, they were largely excluded from an agenda driven by the new Democratic core: the educated, the coastal, and the professional.
I would say this smugness piece is sailing in similar waters to those charted earlier by Jonathan Chait in his piece on the return of PC culture and the progressive thought police:
But it would be a mistake to categorize today’s p.c. culture as only an academic phenomenon. Political correctness is a style of politics in which the more radical members of the left attempt to regulate political discourse by defining opposing views as bigoted and illegitimate. Two decades ago, the only communities where the left could exert such hegemonic control lay within academia, which gave it an influence on intellectual life far out of proportion to its numeric size. Today’s political correctness flourishes most consequentially on social media, where it enjoys a frisson of cool and vast new cultural reach. And since social media is also now the milieu that hosts most political debate, the new p.c. has attained an influence over mainstream journalism and commentary beyond that of the old.
Lots to take in. And a certain type of smugness is hardly the exclusive possession of the left. Just off-hand, the "makers and takers" dichotomy alluded to by Romney in 2012 is not a particularly empathetic way of thinking about the large numbers of people for whom the American system of schools and jobs has not working.
The two hometown winners beamed throughout their victory speeches, but it was Mr. Trump who particularly seemed like a different candidate. As he spoke in the lobby of Trump Tower, there were no freewheeling presentations of steaks and bottled water, as in the past. There was no reference to “Lyin’ Ted” or “Crooked Hillary”; he called his opponent “Senator Cruz” instead, and made no mention of Mrs. Clinton. He also took no questions from the news media.
And his speech sounded more presidential than any other he has given on an election night — a focused, tightened message about trade and the economy as he prepares to campaign in states hit hard by manufacturing industry losses. The speech reflected the growing influence of Paul Manafort, whom Mr. Trump empowered to help him win the nomination and who has taken on a greater purview, including messaging.