Fret and the world frets with you; smile and you smile alone. That, at least, is the advice offered to Team Hillarity! by two NY Times columns today. From the left, Frank Bruni:
The Trouble for Hillary
That included President Obama, who answered Trump’s shockingly gloomy vision of America with a stirring assurance that we have every reason to feel good. Clinton forcefully amplified that assessment. She peddled uplift, not anxiety.
Some polls suggest they may not be:
But she nonetheless faces possible troubles, and the potential mismatch of her message and the moment is a biggie. She has to exploit the opportunity of Trump’s excessive bleakness without coming across as the least bit complacent. That’s no easy feat but it’s a necessary one. The numbers don’t lie.
In a Gallup poll two weeks ago, just 17 percent of respondents said that the country was on the right track, while 82 percent said it was on the wrong track. In an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shortly before that, the corresponding figures were 18 percent and 73 percent.
Well, now. In 1992 her devoted hubby ran against twelve years of Bush/Reagan oppression during a weak economic as the Man from Hope. Of course, he also represented a change from the prior regime in a way that Hillary surely does not. The Clinton message in '92, like the Reagan message in '80 or the Trump message today, is that things are bad can can be fixed by a change in leadership. Hard for Hillary to adopt that while also running as Obama's heir.
Ramesh Ponnuru has a guest piece making a similar point:
Why Hillary Should Fear Optimism
Instead of reasons for hope, the Democrats offered these voters bromides about optimism: America’s best days are always ahead of it, etc., etc. These bromides came with a liberal spin, the genius of America being defined as its closer and closer approximation of egalitarian ideals. The idea that American patriotism consists of loyalty to a future country clearly speaks to many of our citizens. Will it be enough in an anxious era, when Americans are deeply dissatisfied with their politicians? And when Mr. Trump is offering a more pointed explanation of that dissatisfaction than the Democrats are?
Mr. Ponnuru makes another point also emphasized by regular Times columnist Ross Douthat - Hillary tried to woo Republicans unhappy with Trump by offering them... nothing other than a commitment to be Not Trump. Mr. Ponnuru:
As much as the Democrats of Philadelphia invited Republicans to join them, though, they did little to make themselves attractive to them. The Democrats insist on hurtling to the left on issue after issue.
Pro-lifers are less welcome than ever in the party, which is now more firmly committed not to the maintenance of the status quo on abortion but to the elimination of restrictions on taxpayer funding for abortion that have been in place for decades.
At the Democratic convention four years ago in Charlotte, N.C., Bill Clinton spoke about the federal government’s long-term debt problem. That candor was absent in Philadelphia, where speakers, including Hillary Clinton, talked about expanding Social Security instead of fixing the shortfall it is already projected to have.
And Ross Douthat:
Liberalism’s Big Bet
THE key pivot point in the Democratic convention arrived during President Obama’s speech on Wednesday, when he told the throng of Democrats that Donald Trump’s baleful convention rhetoric “wasn’t particularly Republican — and it sure wasn’t conservative.”
With that olive branch to anti-Trump Republicans, he shifted his party’s convention from the mission of its first two days (shoring up the base, mollifying Berners) to the mission of its grand finale: the appropriation of conservative tropes and themes — God and country, the flag and 9/11, the founding fathers and the Constitution — in the service of symbolic outreach to Republicans and right-leaning independents.
As a gesture, it was immensely powerful. Anyone who came of age with Ronald Reagan found more to recognize in the Democratic Party’s rhetoric last week than in Donald Trump’s self-aggrandizing George Wallace imitation.
But it was also just a gesture. Yes, the convention’s showmanship was strikingly unifying, bipartisan, moderate — but Hillary Clinton’s domestic agenda is not. She’s running as a liberal, full stop, with a platform well to the left of where her party stood five or 10 or 20 years ago.
She’s happy to make right-leaning voters feel a little better about fleeing Trump, but she isn’t offering them substantive concessions, or seeking a grand centrist coalition. Instead she’s telling them: It’s me or Trump, and you know you can’t put the nuclear codes in his undersize hands, so my offer is … nothing.
Abortion, immigration, fiscal sanity - her message was 'go left of go home'.