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Why Clintons Beat The Press


Hillary-Clinton-laughing-glasses

Jack Shafer has a shrewd take on why “Team Clinton Will Beat the Press—Again.”

[W]hile reporters operate in insect time, buzzing over facts and queries that may have a life of hours, days, or weeks before expiring in a natural death, the Clintons operate in geological time. She and her campaign staff have a 20-month-long runway in front of them, and like a glacier they will patiently grind their opponents into gravel by applying time and pressure. In the Clinton team’s Machiavellian view, directly responding to the press corps’ questions on the press corps’ timetable will only give greater longevity to the story. The longer Hillary Clinton sits tight and allows the email collection and vetting “process” to work in the background, issuing assurances that she’s now in complete compliance, the better off she will be. The press insects will lose interest and move on to other, more juicy sources of meat. A reporter can’t write something about nothing very many times before editors and readers rebel.

Clinton’s political foes and the press tend to view her glacial strategy as stonewalling—without acknowledging that good stonewalls make good politics and sometimes even better press coverage. Everybody knows the press has a short attention-span. Even when binging on Adderall, reporters will allow today’s news stories to rot to dust if they think they can squeeze more nutrition out of tomorrow’s news. As an inordinately lucky politician, Clinton knows from her husband’s experience that some foreign disaster or domestic crisis can be relied upon to ride to her rescue and dislodge the email story from the dailies’ front pages. The only time you need to “get ahead of bad news” is when you can’t avoid doing so.

[…]

However naughty Hillary Clinton’s email habits—and I’m as scandalized as most about violations of the Federal Records Act—nobody expects a special prosecutor to assist the Republicans’ rescue with a never-ending investigation. They’ll have to do their own work with their congressional committees. Will it amount to much? Unless a smoking gun is found in the Clinton emails, probably not. Six weeks hence, when asked about the emails, Clinton and her staff will flick their hands and say, as they often do, “Oh, that’s old news.”

That’s exactly right. The Clintons have been remarkably good at riding out scandals, real and otherwise, and turning them into “old news.”

But Hillary Clinton lacks something that her husband does: likability. She’s at least as talented a policy wonk as Bill and is certainly much more disciplined. But he possesses a legendary ability to charm all but the most hardened opponents while she leaves even supporters cold. Because of that, she’s much less able than him at overcoming the nagging sense of shadiness.

After losing the nomination to Barack Obama in 2008, she enjoyed an amazing surge of popularity during her tenure as Secretary of State. She immersed herself in the job and was simultaneously a loyal servant of the president and the most visibly competent member of the administration. Her favorability ratings surged into the low 60s and stayed in the high 50s for some time. About two years ago, they began to plummet and her unfavorability ratings began to surge. She’s currently at 46.9% favorable and 46.1% unfavorable in the HuffPo average.

Now, it’s true that she’s not only the runaway favorite to win the Democratic nomination but has a solid lead over any potential Republican rival. But here’s the thing: she and Joe Biden are the only truly known quantities in the race. A Gallup survey taken last July showed a full 91% having an opinion about her. The next closest was Biden, who registered 80%.  Most of the Republicans were polling in the 30s and 40s. Only Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, both coming in at 65%, had very high recognition–and that’s just a “familiarity” rating. Clinton has been in the national spotlight continuously since the 1992 primaries—a full 23 years. None of the others comes anywhere close.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Hal_10000 says:

    I’ve developed a grudging respect for Clinton over the last few years. She’s smart, politically savvy and determined. But, apart from my opposition to her polices, I’m really getting tried of these political dynasties. The last time we had an election without a Bush or a Clinton involved was 1976.

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  2. michael reynolds says:

    You inevitably end up looking at them as a plural, as a couple. The Clintons, Bill and Hillary. The funny thing is in a lot of ways it’s an ideal marriage. They have each other’s backs, and they’re both strong enough for that to mean a lot. That’s the essence of a good marriage: two capable people who support each other, defend each other and complement each other. They are a tough, survivable unit.

    We were listening to her speech to Emily’s List and both my wife and I were groaning, wondering if we could tolerate 4 or even 8 or God help us 10 years with campaigning, of Hillary’s leaden humor and teacher voice. It’s going to be tough after Mr. Obama and his Fred Astaire act. I had a hard time listening to the belligerent stupidity of George W. Bush who followed the ever-charming Bill. So maybe this is a rhythm in American politics. Maybe we’re going to alternate cool and uncool in the post-Watergate world. Reagan the Easy, Bush the Awkward, Rock Star Bill, Dumbo, Cool Obama, Hillary the Tedious.

    I have the woman’s bumper sticker on my car, and I suspect if her health holds up she’ll win, but it’s hard to work up much enthusiasm. It’s like when mom decides to hang out with you and your friends. I mean, it’s nice, right? But no fun will be had.

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  3. An Interested Party says:

    It’s like when mom decides to hang out with you and your friends. I mean, it’s nice, right? But no fun will be had.

    Better mom than the bratty neighbor kid who likes tea and is always trashing the place…

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  4. DK says:

    “But Hillary Clinton lacks something that her husband does: likability..he possesses a legendary ability to charm all but the most hardened opponents while she leaves even supporters cold.”

    So much wishful thinking, spoken like someone who’s never met a Hillary Democrat. They are just as, if not more, rabid than Obama Democrats — and therefore just as scary for Republican hopes in 2016.

    These made-up stories about how Hillary is unlikeable don’t comport with reality. She might be unpopular with the press, but that’s the not same thing, and since the press is itself unlikeable and unpopular with the American people, the media’s Hillary problem is not a political liability for her. And it won’t be in 2016. I’m guessing many will figure out that their anti-Hillary pathology is not shared by their friends and neighbors around the time Hillary swamps Obama’s electoral vote total on election night.

    The reality is among the American people, she has consistently for two decades polled as the most admired woman in the country. The reality is she has almost as often polled as the most admired woman in the world. The reality is for an active politician to be both as well-known as she is and have a favorable rating near the mid-century mark is unprecedented. The reality is she received more raw primary votes than any candidate ever, and only lost in 2008 due to her relative neglect of the delegate count, especially in caucus states. In every big, populous primary state she won more votes than he did — and that was back when the party was divided and she had much less public goodwill.

    If this is “unlikeable” it’s time to redefine the word. Which unknown quantity Republican is going to end up so charming that as the share of voters who fit Republican demographics continues to shrink he still manages to flip in 2016 states that voted for Obama in 2012? Bland as chalk amnesty flip-flopper Scott Walker? George W. Bush’s brother? Gay is a choice because prison Ben Carson?

    The public does not care about emails. They do not care about endless Benghazi ambulance chasing. They don’t care about blue dresses, or about middle-aged reporters who need to see therapists to deal with the ways Hillary reminds them of their mom causing them to obsessively lash out at her.

    The public cares about a fairer tax code. They care about keeping America competitive and growing economically and educationally. They care about building a more just, more healthy, more tolerant, more free, more equal world for themselves, their loved ones, and their children. So the way to defeat Hillary Clinton is for her opponents to explain why her policy vision will not create the world Americans based on the things American voters care about. And why their preferred candidates will.

    But both Bill and Hillary Clinton have long since learned their opponents (save Barack Obama in 2008, who got it) do not have the intelligence, the vision, nor the discipline to do anything but keep reassuring themselves that Hillary’s “unpopularity” will magically do her, while scandalmongering and witch hunting over things voters trying to survive in a hostile world are far too busy to care about.

    That’s why the Clintons win, and likely will again. Will the media and conservatives allow a candidate disciplined enough to talk directly to voters about that which matters? I’m betting everybody will distract themselves with email/Benghazi/Whitewater-revival silly season while Hillary cakewalks to the Presidency.

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  5. wr says:

    Whitewater — invented scandal, no crime.

    Mena Airport — invented scandal, no crime.

    Travelgate — invented scandal, no crime.

    Benghazi — invented scandal, no crime.

    Poor Jack Schafer. The press keeps doing great work by inventing terrible scandals for the Clintons, and shockingly, just because they’ve committed no crime they refuse to acknowledge their obvious guilt and resign in shame the way the reporters want them to.

    The one time the press was able to do serious damage was over a consensual sex act, which the president stupidly lied about. But every time they invent a scandal and the Clintons don’t get punished for it, somehow that just proves how sneaky they are.

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  6. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Shafer is falling into the trap that many journalists seem to be falling into – referring to the situation as though it is established fact that Clinton violated the FRA.

    Without seeing the entirety of the emails in question, there is virtually no way to establish that any which constitute records have been held back. Seeing that entirety will require a warrant compelling their production, but establishing probable cause to justify the warrant is close to impossible without seeing the emails. It’s a catch-22. It’s akin to a judge allowing the police to search your house in order to find something that establishes probable cause for searching your house. Unlikely to ever happen.

    As far as section 2911, she didn’t violate that. At all. She couldn’t have – it didn’t exist during her tenure as SOS.

    Legally, she’s almost certainly free and clear – so until a violation has actually been established, folks like Shafer need to learn a new word – alleged.

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  7. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Hal_10000:

    The last time we had an election without a Bush or a Clinton involved was 1976.
    ReplyReply

    Or, 2012. But I’m sympathetic to your greater point. :-)

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  8. michael reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    She may be legally free and clear. But this kind of fast-and-loose crap builds up and begins to create a frame. She needs to knock it off. She needs to cut the paranoia – even though it is largely understandable – and be more transparent. You cannot go on forever leaving a bad taste in people’s mouths. She’s got an election to win and then, hopefully, a country to govern. This is bigger than whether she’s legally clear.

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  9. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Oh, I agree. Them optics matter as much, or more, than the legalities. She needs to get out in front of this and neuter it. I just get tired of conviction by the media / viewing public, neither of which are mostly even qualified to form an opinion on the question to begin with.

    It’s especially galling coming from Shafer, given his erstwhile obsessive focus on what he depicts as a lack of precision and rigor in journalism.

    “Physician – heal thyself” indeed …

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  10. al-Ameda says:

    As far as section 2911, she didn’t violate that. At all. She couldn’t have – it didn’t exist during her tenure as SOS.
    Legally, she’s almost certainly free and clear – so until a violation has actually been established, folks like Shafer need to learn a new word – alleged.

    The so-called liberal media has yet to bring up the fact that 2911 was not in effect when Clinton was doing her job.

    I was visiting my father a few days ago and he has FoxNews on all day every day. Basically the Fox people are all over this, it’s their Jonestown – Kool Aid Time. Their anchors and correspondents are practically soiling their suits over this. Needless to say, I’ve invested in Dry Cleaning Futures.

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  11. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “But this kind of fast-and-loose crap builds up and begins to create a frame. ”

    The frame was created 20 years ago. It’s you who are taking various data points and putting them inside that frame. Not that you’re alone on this — the entire Republican party and about 99% of the media is doing it as well.

    It’s the Clinton rules — anything they do is proof of corruption. And if you can’t realistically suggest how some new incident proves them corrupt, that’s just proof of how good they are at covering things up.

    Here’s a hint — if Hillary does something that many, many others in high levels of government have done, and the fact that she’s doing it makes her corrupt while the others are not corrupt for doing exactly the same thing… the problem isn’t her.

    There may indeed turn out to be major problems with Hillary as a candidate. And if that’s the case, then they need to be explored. But we don’t have to turn everything into a crisis.

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  12. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:
    Yeah, except that this email thing is not nothing. She had absolutely no business using her own server. It was reckless. She was the Secretary of State, her emails are our property not hers, and they were unsecured which is just nuts.

    I think this is a mole hill not a mountain, but it’s not nothing, either.

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  13. Tyrell says:

    @DK: Bill can work a crowd better than any president in modern times. Give him a restaurant or just a street corner and watch a master at work.

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  14. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: I’m with you that it’s a mole hill. I choose not to participate into elevating into a mountain, that’s all.

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  15. Gustopher says:

    I am just so sick of hearing about Clintons. I was glad they were gone in 2000, and then she had to run for Senate, and then be Secretary of State. I know it’s 90% bullshit, but I just don’t want either of them around any more.

    So, either the Republican smear campaign is working, if even a liberal like myself has tired of Clintons, or I just want a new variety of bullshit. Maybe if she was actually liberal it would be worth the bullshit.

    I’ll vote for her in the general election, but that’s more because I would never vote for a Republican. I worry that if I am tired of Clintons, people who don’t say things like “I would sooner vote for a pedophile than a Republican” feel the same way, and they will either stay home or (shudder) vote for a Republican.

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  16. CSK says:

    I could be wrong, but I wonder if the Democratic ticket will end up being Webb-Warren. I’m not altogether sure HRC is inevitable.

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  17. Clifford Spencer says:

    Kenny Lay was a convict!
    Remember ENRON?
    Anyone see the e-mail between him and Bush and Cheney?
    Illegal?
    Remember the Watergate breakin while Kissinger was Secretary of State?
    Successful?
    Remember Vietnam?

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  18. michael reynolds says:

    @CSK: @Gustopher:

    Webb comes off as testy and impatient. I could be wrong, but he doesn’t feel like a good candidate.

    I’m torn on the Clintons. They’re very entertaining in that kind of suspenseful, when-will-the-next-shoe-drop kind of way. And you know she’ll put Bill at State, which will be great fun, or DOJ which will be less fun.

    But yeah, it’s not good to contemplate a Clinton-Bush race. That’s a whole lot of tedious speechifying. The zombie race.

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  19. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Yes, Webb does appear testy at times. BUT–and I think it’s a big but–he’s a self-professed redneck, he’s a major supporter of the Second Amendment, he’s a southerner, and he’s a military man, all of which is going to appeal strongly to a demographic that Hillary has no chance of winning.

    And they might regard the testiness as an asset, too, seeing it as strength. They’re always complaining that Republicans have no “cojones.” The possession of cojones, I gather, means having a public temper tantrum.

    I wouldn’t be astonished if things shook out the way I predicted.

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  20. DK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    “Yeah, except that this email thing is not nothing.” Says you.

    “She had absolutely no business using her own server. It was reckless.” Says you.

    “…they were unsecured which is just nuts.” Says you.

    None of the above is based on law or established fact. It’s all opinion and speculation, and wishing something to be so does not make it so. Which is why this weekend, the Clinton hunters in the media are already having a sad as they come to the realizing that their latest episode of torches and pitchforks is already fizzling.

    It is true that those emails which were used for official business belong to the American people through their government which is why I’m guessing she and her staff turned over 55,000+ pages of them. It would be legit to complain about why she herself gets to do handle that process — IF anybody had complained when Colin Powell did the same with his private emails, or when George W. Bush, Karl Rove, and Dick Cheney did the same with their private emails, or when Jeb Bush did the same with his also perfectly legal private email server (“whither the accusations of him hiding Florida business from Florida voters”), or when/if Scott Walker ever turns over the private emails he’s used as governor.

    The media has made a lot of noise about this, but politicians have been very quiet. Because they all use private email at times.

    If Hillary has an optics problem, she is not alone: that her critics only seem to take to the fainting couch when its the Clintons is precisely what enables the Clintons to convince the public to dismiss all this as a partisan witch hunt. It’s the same optics problem they had during Lewinsky — Americans were never comfortable with Bill Clinton being under oath for a private affair at the behest of Congressmen who were themselves cheating on their wives. Similarly, Americans don’t understand why Benghazi is worth endless million-dollar investigations, but the spate of embassy/diplomatic attacks under Reagan/Bush/Bush weren’t.

    Selective outrage about emails is not going to derail Hillary 2016. And I wonder if unltimately it’s not good for the Clintons that Hillary is being primaried by the media.

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  21. stonetools says:

    The good thing about the Clintons is that they are used to the Republican media onslaught-the fake scandals, the blog swarms, the ginned up outrage over every minor thing. I used to think that the Clintons were peculiarly susceptible to this kind of RW media assault but after 6 years of Obama , I now see that EVERY Democratic presidential candidate will face the same BS-Warren, Webb, O’Malley, Malloy-whatever. There is no Democratic candidate pure enough that they won’t face an unending stream of false accusations from the right wing BS Machine, so we should give up that dream and focus on how best to defend against the inevitable sh!tstorm.

    The Obamas have been good, but even they have had to face down one fake scandal after the other. It’s the way of the world today.

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  22. MBunge says:

    1. People were convicted of actual crimes in connection to Whitewater.

    2. I believe Bill Clinton did break the law by lying under oath in the Paula Jones case.

    3. Putting 1 and 2 aside, what kind of a world is it when the best a rabid Clinton supporter can say is “They’re not criminals”?

    4. Some grad student in psychology is missing a golden opportunity to do their thesis on the intense partisan devotion to the Clintons given that neither have ever done much to advance the liberal agenda and that a big element of Bill Clinton’s Presidency was distancing himself from/screwing over his fellow Democrats.

    I can understand the afterglow of prosperity coloring people’s feelings and I can understand preferring the Clintons to the alternatives, but there’s something off about the Reaganization of the Clintons.

    Mike

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  23. stonetools says:

    @MBunge:

    i’m certain that the Clintons were and imperfect, so no intense partisan loyalty here. I’m equally certain that EVERY Democratic candidate will be found to be imperfect in certain ways and their imperfections will be magnified, repeated and made the basis of a demonization campaign by the right wing BS machine. That’s the problem, right there.
    Warren, Webb, etc. will get precisely the same treatment, much to the horror and anger of their supporters, who are going to wonder what could have been done to prevent such an onslaught and think maybe things would have been easier if we had picked someone else. It most likely will be the same result, regardless of whoever is the candidate.

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  24. wr says:

    @CSK: “Yes, Webb does appear testy at times. BUT–and I think it’s a big but–he’s a self-professed redneck, he’s a major supporter of the Second Amendment, he’s a southerner, and he’s a military man, all of which is going to appeal strongly to a demographic that Hillary has no chance of winning.”

    And that’s exactly the kind of Democratic loser-think that gets Republicans elected. Webb appeals strongly to a demographic that’s going to vote for the Republican anyway — while losing any chance of real support from the Democratic base.

    You might as well run Joe Manchin. Remember, if people only have a choice between an actual Republican and a Democrat pretending to be a Republican, they’re going with the real thing.

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  25. wr says:

    @MBunge: “1. People were convicted of actual crimes in connection to Whitewater.

    2. I believe Bill Clinton did break the law by lying under oath in the Paula Jones case.

    3. Putting 1 and 2 aside, what kind of a world is it when the best a rabid Clinton supporter can say is “They’re not criminals”?”

    1. Yes, but none of those people were Clintons, and the Clintons were not involved in any of the shady business.

    2. He did break the law. It was a deliberate trap and he fell into it because he didn’t want to admit he was cheating on his wife. Now please explain if you feel this is an appropriate question to put — under oath — to every sitting president and whether its answer or lack thereof has any bearing on the running of the nation.

    3. It’s not “the best a rabid Clinton supporter” — whoever that might be — can say. It’s the appropriate response when some right wing troll says “the Clintons are criminals.”

    If this is the reasoning by which you choose your candidates, I do hope you will consider sitting out the next couple of elections.

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  26. Rafer Janders says:

    @CSK:

    BUT–and I think it’s a big but–he’s a self-professed redneck, he’s a major supporter of the Second Amendment, he’s a southerner, and he’s a military man, all of which is going to appeal strongly to a demographic that Hillary has no chance of winning.

    That demographic is the South, and the South will largely vote for the GOP, regardless of how personally appealling Webb might be. So in the end his appeal is useless, since it won’t translate into one extra electoral vote.

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  27. Gustopher says:

    @CSK:

    I could be wrong, but I wonder if the Democratic ticket will end up being Webb-Warren. I’m not altogether sure HRC is inevitable.

    Roughly no chance of Warren going for a VP spot. It’s a step down from the Senate. She is 65 — she doesn’t have unlimited time in this world, and she wants to get things done. I could see her taking a cabinet position, maybe, but not VP. VP is pretty much a dead end job — barring a death in office or resignation, has any VP become president or done anything of note afterwards in the past 50 years other than George Herbert Walker Bush?

    Biden went from the Senate to the VP, but that was special — there has never been a man more amazingly vice presidential than Joe Biden. I think I could get enthusiastic for a Clinton-Biden ticket, actually.

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  28. Stonetools says:

    @wr:

    I think Webb might be a decent VP candidate, and might be selected for that position in an attempt to get more of the southern white male vote. I doubt he will help with that much. Those people are going to vote Republican regardless.
    Julian Castro may be a more far sighted choice, there.

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  29. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Stonetools:

    in an attempt to get more of the southern white male vote

    I’m just not sure there is any point in pursuing that bloc. If we’ve proven anything over the last 8 years, it’s that we no longer need the South to win elections.

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  30. DK says:

    @MBunge: What’s off is the tiresome demonzation of the Clintons by the fringe right and fringe left which has made — and will continue to make — the Clintons far more sympathetic than they have any right of being. From the right we are told that they are liberal commie Demon-crats guilty of fraud, raoe, kidnapping and murder. From the left we are told they are hopelessly anti-progressive corrupt warmongerers. You can forgive the public for having long since tuned out this simplistic extremism, because both can’t be true.

    The revisionist history which suggests Bill Clinton’s Presidency was not in any way progressive does not compute with the 90s the way I or most voters remember them — and it has less to do with afterglow than with facts, something that is always missing from left- and right-wing rants about the Clintons.

    You are only as progressive as the next man is regressive and Bill Clinton was progressive enough for the time. It is simply not realistic to expect Bill Clinton to have campaigned and governed like Huey Long cum John Maynard Keynes at at time when the electorate itself was deeply conservative. There’s a reason Bill Clinton didn’t end up in the electoral dustbin like McGovern and Mondale — and his election was good for progress and progressives coming off 20 out of 24 years of Republican control of the Presidency from Nixon to Bush I.

    Hillary introduced the most progressive and forward-thinking healthcare reform plan in the nation’s history. It failed to pass given the general conservatism of the era — but it setup Obama to successfully push through the ideas the Republicans introduced to counter her plan. Is Obamacare liberal? I don’t think so, but it’s progress isn’t it? Hillary was also instrumental in the passage of S-CHIP, the largest expansion of health care since Medicaire. When she chaired the help-for-the-poor Legal Services during the Reagsn years she passionately battled his attempt to gut the program. But “progressives” never remember any of that.

    Bill Clinton raised taxes on the rich and paid dearly for it in the 1994 midterms. DADT is remembered as a bugaboo by “progressives” who never seem to recall that the alternative was a full ban on gays in the military period, point, blank. Same with DOMA, nevermind that at the time opposition to gay marriage was upwards of 70% and a constitutional ban had 2/3 veto override support in the Senate. So pick your poison — incremental compromises or full on regressive measures? Bill Clinton picked the former and progressives should be glad he did.

    No, the Clintons are not perfect and make mistakes. The Glass-Stegall repeal was a major mistske and one that progressives should demand Hillary pledge to fix as part of her platform. Liberals certainly should hold Democrats’ feet to the fire, which is why I hope Warren will run. But I’m sick of progressives whining about the alleged conservatism of the Clintons and Obama while ignoring all the good they did and have done. Let’s nominate Kucinich and see how well that works out. After four years of President Scott Walker maybe they’ll remember what a truly anti-progressive Presidency looks like.

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  31. Loviatar says:

    @DK:

    Well said, thank you.

    Its gets tiresome to hear the complaints about the Clintons particularly from the left. While neither are the most liberal/progressive of politicians when compared to what came before and after Bill Clinton’s administration I wish the left would STFU about the Clintons supposed failures.

    P.S.

    Obama is no more liberal/progressive than the Clintons yet we don’t hear these complaints.

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  32. CSK says:

    @Rafer Janders: @Stonetools:

    With respect to southern white men who love their guns voting reflexively Republican: You’re forgetting one thing. They HATE Jeb Bush. Hate him worse than they hate Obama. They think Jeb’s a socialist who wants to flood the country with brown people. They think he’s a Clinton-worshipping Democrat.

    So…a self avowed gun-loving redneck southern ex-military man like Webb might seem a lot more palatable, particularly if they keep their vow to vote Democrat to teach the Republicans a lesson.

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  33. Stonetools says:

    @CSK:

    Would disagree that they hate Jeb Bush more than they hate Obama. Romney was a Jeb Bush type, and they overwhelmingly voted for him. For the southern white, white supremacy is always job one, which is why they’ll overwhelmingly vote Republican in 2016, regardless of who is on the Democratic ticket.

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  34. wr says:

    @CSK: No, they’ll yap about this, and they might even tell pollsters they’re going for Webb. But when they get in that booth, they’ll go Republican just like they always do. Believing otherwise is a fool’s mission worthy of the worst of the DLC crowd.

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  35. MBunge says:

    And here’s where the psychological analysis would be useful.

    How is it “demonizing” to bring up the truth? Like NAFTA? Or welfare reform? Or “triangulation”? How about bombing the Balkans when there wasn’t a bit of US national security at stake? And let us not forget about making damn sure a mentally retarded man got executed to burnish Bill Clinton’s reputation on crime.

    Are you unhappy with the influence of Corporate Money on the Democratic Party? No one is more responsible for opening that door than Bill Clinton.

    Are you disgusted with the U.S. use of torture? I believe it was Bill Clinton who instituted the policy of “rendition” where we shipped people to other countries where they could be tortured on our behalf.

    And then there’s a certain New York Senator’s vote for the Iraq War and the fact that she STILL pretty clearly subscribes to the same “always be hawkish” attitudes that led to such a vote.

    And I’ve got to call straight BS on two points.

    1. The Clinton Health Care Reform didn’t fail because the 1990s were somehow more conservative than the late 2000s. It failed because the Clintons screwed it up. I’m not saying jagoffs like Andrew Sullivan don’t deserve some blame but when a Democratic President can’t get a Democratic Congress to even vote on an historic policy initiative, responsibility for that starts at the top.

    2. To suggest that Bill Clinton signed DOMA to help gays is flatly dishonest. Clinton could have vetoed the bill. The result would have been Congress overriding his veto and DOMA becoming law. IT WOULD NOT have been the passage of some anti-gay Constitutional Amendment. Bill Clinton signed DOMA because he didn’t want to have to take any heat on the issue, even though he was crushing Bob Dole in all the polls at the time. He threw gays under the bus to smooth his path to re-election. On the “bad for the gays” scale, it hardly ranks among the worst things ever done by a politician. But to suggest Bill Clinton was doing anything other than giving in to anti-gay sentiments for his own political advantage is, again, flatly dishonest.

    And again, I can certainly understand championing the Clintons over the alternatives of the 1990s. But this is 2015 and several posts in this thread demonstrate that support for the Clintons can be as mindlessly tribal as anything coming out of the Tea Party.

    Mike

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  36. DK says:

    Yes, psychological analysis would be useful for people who can’t find one good thing to say about the Clintons but who nevertheless insist that doesn’t reveal their own mindless tribalism. The broad center-left coalition where the Clintons find their sweet spot is far less reflective of the unrealistic purism of the Tea Party than is the the fringe Daily Kos left.

    There’s just as many posts here demonstrating my point that the screeching criticism of the Clintons from the left because corporate/NAFTA/Iraq War/[insert liberal bugaboo buzzword here] is just as as empty and unconvincing as the “Because Jesus!” and “Small gubmit!” and “Jawbs!” sloganeering on the right.

    “What about NAFTA and welfare reform and triangulation?” Yeah, exactly what about it? *crickets* No facts, no context. “They screwed up health care reform!” Oh, really. How? Why? And in what way that makes them enemies of progressivism? *crickets* No facts, no context.

    Politics is the art of the possible, not the perfect. I concede that when I point out that the Clintons are imperfect. How someone could read into my stated assertion that Glass-Steagall was a major mistake that needs reversal and then suggest that I have no reservations about corporatist influence is demonstrative of the inflexible extremism of Clinton critics that makes them impossible to reason with. They see no gray areas and concede nothing ever, which is how you get obviously false butt-over-foot assertions that the Clintons have never done anything ever for progressivism (nothing “flatly dishonest” about that, right?). I’m not happy with influence peddling, but I also know that without “corporate” donations we’d have President Dole or President McCain or President Romney — would you have been happier with that?

    To pretend that ethnic cleansing in the Balkans isn’t a global security concern is ridiculous. Just as pretending that Hillary’s Iraq War vote along with that of so many others was simply due to unrepentant warmongering instead of being lied to by the Bush administration.

    It is easier to simply agree to disagree with the Clinton Deranged because the difference in worldview is intractable. They “know” that a President should be able to push any legislation he wants through Congress if his party controls controls, while I “know” this is false based on common sense and historical review because parties are not ideological monoliths. They “know” that signing DOMA means Bill Clinton was homophobic or self-serving or both, and I “know” from having been alive at the time that if he had not agreed to “triangulate” on gay marriage a permanent amendment against gays would have been more likely.

    No one is above criticism, and neither are the Clintons. Their critics should absolutely promote candidates they think are better. But given that so much flat dishonesty is spewed about the Clintons from both shady political extremes, it appears to me that they must be doing something right. Judging on Hillary Clinton’s electoral prospects next year, most agree.

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  37. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @DK:

    Look, you like them. We get that. I don’t hate them. On the same token I’m not thrilled by them either. Given the choices, I’ll probably vote for her, but you’d have to be living under a rock to pretend that there isn’t a hint of an odor emanating from Chappaqua.

    Nothing disqualifying, to be sure, but an odor nonetheless.

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  38. Tillman says:

    Am I the only one who, ever since I read (while stoned) one of those huge, mind-numbingly large posts made by that pro-gun nut who copied and pasted every damn thing he posted, and he posted over and over again because I kept poking him because how could you not, his kind of trolling was such a fascinating breed with such repetition and yet such rhyme and beauty to the structure therein… anyway, am I the only one who ever since that guy popped in for a weekend just straight up skips gigantic posts made by the same person in the same thread if I’ve never seen their name before here?

    I have a difficult time believing HL92 went to the trouble of reading everything DK wrote, is what I’m saying. I gave MBunge a pass because that’s a name I’m familiar with hence the upvote.

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  39. William Stacy says:

    James, in your final paragraph you point out the relatively low public recognition (as Gallup defines the term) of the majority of the Republican presidential field.

    I know that many commentators seize on this number to contrast it with Hillary Clinton’s ratings in this area, and use it to bolster their contention that Clinton is in a good position.

    But I view this number as next to meaningless, especially 21 months before election day.

    The nature of modern presidential campaigns is about building a hype machine. Whoever is finally chosen on the Republican side in Cleveland in July 2016, be it a currently well-recognized Republican like Jeb Bush or Chris Christie, or a lesser-known candidate, will have his name and accomplishments amplified to gargantuan levels in the public mind by this hype machine.

    And when the contest finally comes down to hombre versus hombre (or man vs. woman as the case may be here) in the final few months before November 2016, the vast majority of likely voters will have no trouble recognizing the Republican candidate.

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  40. Tillman says:

    @MBunge:

    How is it “demonizing” to bring up the truth? Like NAFTA? Or welfare reform? Or “triangulation”? How about bombing the Balkans when there wasn’t a bit of US national security at stake?

    Well, those are in The Consensus as Good Things.

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  41. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Tillman:

    I skimmed it. There is a point where trying to digest “wall of text” just becomes an issue of diminishing returns.Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

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  42. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @William Stacy:


    the vast majority of likely voters will have no trouble recognizing the Republican candidate.

    Hence their electoral problems when it comes to the presidency …

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  43. Loviatar says:

    My belief is that Hillary hate is some combination of the following 5 components; mix and match percentages to fit you personality

    1) CDS = irrational hatred of all things Clinton. Used to be Republicans only, now also has a strong minority of Obama supporters

    2) Sexism = self explanatory. Hardest one to admit

    3) beaten Democratic syndrome = so overwhelmed by the constant and repetitive Republican/media message that its becomes accepted truth (see the term Liberal).

    4) Clinton fatigue = just tired of the Clintons, Bushes, etc. Want a new face

    5) Ignorance of History and Facts = self explanatory. usually Republicans, surprisingly or maybe not, a lot of young Democrats and not so young ones just don’t know their history.

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  44. @CSK: Jim Webb offers a sucker’s bet. There simply aren’t enough working class white men to justify ignoring issues that matter to women and people of color, and that’s what Webb does. That the media insist he’s a contender says more about the demographic makeup of the U.S. media than it does about Webb’s actual potential as a Democratic Party presidential candidate.

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  45. Tyrell says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “no longer need the south” : Let’s re-think that. The national Democratic party has a base support mainly in north east, far west urban areas. I have been a loyal member of the southern wing of the Democrat party since the ’60’s. I only strayed from the ranch once and that was in ’72 when I voted for Nixon over George McGovern. Sen. McGovern was a good man and a WWII combat veteran, but his campaign was a train wreck and the national Democratic party had been taken over by radicals and extremists. They wrote the south off. I am here to tell everyone that the southern Democrat party is alive and well: at the local levels. In our county we haven’t had a Republican elected for anything, including dog catcher, since “Reconstruction” . I would doubt the local elections register even has a Republican book.In most southern states the city councils, county commissions, judges, and state legislatures are still mainly southern Democrat. If Clinton gets elected we can certainly live with another term with Bill in there. Hillary might be abrasive and about as charming as a rattlesnake with warts, but I think she is tough and certainly won’t put up with ISIS or Putin very long. And I don’t think she will run around to all these foreign countries apologizing like the current president did. The Clintons are more in tune with southern values and culture.
    There will be a day when the south again elects a president, someone in the mold of Johnson, Ervin, Connally, Russell, Fulbright, Mills, Hollings, and Carter.

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  46. Loviatar says:

    And I don’t think she will run around to all these foreign countries apologizing like the current president did.

    He had me going for a little while and then he let his mask slip.

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  47. michael reynolds says:

    @CSK:

    Sorry, no. Hillary has the female vote. Webb could lose same. That is not a good trade for us, we don’t want to give up a majority of the majority (female voters) in a possible trade for a slice of the redneck vote.

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  48. wr says:

    @MBunge: Maybe we could simply agree that Clinton did some good things and some bad things, that on the whole he was better than any Republican would have been, and decide for ourselves whether he was a net positive or negative? I think all you criticisms are valid — particularly the fraud that was “welfare reform” — and yet I don’t share your passionate distaste for him… if only because we saw the alternative after he left office.

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  49. Crusty Dem says:

    Sorry, Webb is a terrible candidate and anyone thinking he has a chance are out of their damn mind. If you like Webb, congratulations on being an older white centrist male who probably served in the military. Hillary could drop out tomorrow and he has 0 chance. Warren was HRC’s only threat (and a fairly weak one at that) and she’s out, unless there’s a sudden health scare. No one else is even running to win.

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  50. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Tyrell:

    Let’s re-think that.

    No need to. In 2008, the only ostensibly Southern states carried by Obama were Florida, North Carolina and Virginia, contributing 55 electoral votes. If Obama had lost all three states, he still would have been elected president by a 40 vote margin.

    In 2012, he carried Virginia and Florida. Again, losing both would have resulted in him being elected president by a 20 vote margin.

    I realize that the concept is a blow to Southern pride, but the simple fact is that Democrats no longer need the South to win presidential elections. It’s nice from a “running up the board” perspective, but it’s not needed to win.

    There will be a day when the south again elects a president,

    Perhaps when it chooses to join the rest of us in the 21st century. Until then, these reactionary antics it (still) chooses to engage in will just increasingly slot it as an outlier, woefully out of step with the rest of the country. The simple fact is that, more and more, that rest of the country is wishing that the South would just go away. It’s useful only as a negative example.

    The Clintons are more in tune with southern values and culture.

    Which is why, after leaving office, they headed for New York as fast as they could get there. Methinks you may be romanticizing the extent of their ties to the South.

    Hard truth – for much of the rest of the country, those values and that culture are a punchline. Something to be reviled, not something to be celebrated.

    See: Roy Moore …

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  51. DK says:

    @Loviatar: You forgot MC = mom complex.

    There is something deeply Oedipal about the irrationality of some Hillary-hate by some whites — it often reminds me of the eye-rolling fury some of my friends direct to their mothers. You’ll notice that other ethnic groups do not react to Hillary this way. Blacks, for example, only abandoned the Clintons in 2008 because Obama presented a once-in-three-centuries opportunity: the chance to elect a black male, who also had the right vision and politics, not to mention competency and the support of a good swath of whites. They will be squarely behind her next year should she run, which is bad for people dealing with their mom issues through Hillary.

    Of course I’ve pulled this amateur psychology out of my butt, but, what the hey, it smells good to me!

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  52. An Interested Party says:

    How much longer will the whole country have to pay for the mistake of Reconstruction not going far enough? I mean, I’m not one of those types who thinks the South should simply leave the country but, certainly from a political angle, so much of what comes out of the South is toxic and antediluvian and does nothing to help the country move forward…

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  53. stonetools says:

    I think a big problem liberals have with Clinton ( and Obama too) is that liberals tend to think of a Democratic President as a liberal superhero, capable of bending Congress to enacting a liberal legislative agenda through sheer force of will or by resorting to that magical device called the “bully pulpit.” They also seem to regard every liberal surge as a “permanent realignment. ” Wrong and wrong.
    It seems me that :

    1. Every liberal surge is impermanent, and will be followed by a conservative counter surge.
    2. A Democratic President is only as liberal as their options.

    Both the Clinton and Obama Administrations followed that pattern, and liberals in each case blamed the President for not somehow forcing Congress to pass legislation, bringing up the Johnson Myth of LBJ bullying Congress to pass the CRA. (they forget that LBJ had massive Democratic majorities at the time, and when those majorities shrank after 1966, LBJ passed little).
    In a HRC Administration, liberals are going to be disappointed again. All signs point to a divided Congress after 2016, with the Democrats regaining the Senate and the Republicans keeping the House. That means that no liberal legislation will pass (sorry, immigration reform and anything environmental) and that HRC will spend most of her Administration playing defense against repeated Republican attempts to dismantle the ACA and Dodd-Frank.I also expect to see a lot more use of executive orders, to the despair of the the anti-“imperial presidency” types. Most importantly , HRC will appoint lots of the liberal judges, including (hopefully) a fifth liberal judge to the SCOTUS. If she does that last, I’ll count her Presidency a success.

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  54. Tyrell says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I appreciate your reply. Judge Moore does not speak for everyone and is not supported by most. The southern politicians that I so often mention and remember were people I read about in the newspaper and saw on the news. They were our heroes. They were not all. Hubert Humphrey, Ev Dirksen, Truman, John Kennedy, and Ford were others.

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  55. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Tyrell:

    Roy Moore took 52% of the vote in his most recent election, despite previously having been thrown off of the bench for official misconduct.

    Make of that what you will, but it sounds to me like they are pretty fond of him down there …

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  56. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @stonetools:

    including (hopefully) a fifth liberal judge to the SCOTUS. If she does that last, I’ll count her Presidency a success.

    Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia are both 78 years old. Scalia is a heavy smoker.

    Ruth Ginsburg is 81, and her health problems are obvious. Stephen Breyer is 76.

    We have 4 justices at least somewhat likely to need to be replaced over the next 8 years. If she can replace all four of them with moderate / liberal justices, the younger the better – even if that’s the only thing she accomplishes – I’ll consider her presidency to have been a success. It’ll lock down the tenor of the court away from – and out of reach of – the right for a generation.

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  57. Socraticsilence says:

    @Loviatar:

    I think there’s a 6th factor: triangulation- I feel that the Clintons made a strategic choice to sell out the left of the party in order to appear more moderate, regarding Hillary specifically, I feel she is worse on virtually all of the things the left objects to Obama on: lack of transparency, aggressive foreign policy, corporatism, civil liberties (she sponsored a flag burning amendment for gods sake), etc.

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  58. C. Clavin says:

    Here is a fantastic piece of insight to whats wrong with our fourth estate and our political punditry today…The Media is Really Stupid.
    http://www.salon.com/2015/03/09/the_vast_right_wing_conspiracy_is_still_real_also_the_media_is_really_stupid/
    Key point in relation to this post….none of the Clinton scandals in the last 25 years have amounted to anything…yet here we are again…

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  59. C. Clavin says:

    @Tyrell:
    I don’t think the rest of the south lives in the same world you do. Whatever world that is.
    They live in the world of Roy Moore and Rick Scott and Booby Jindal…radicals who want to re-make the world in their radical vision…a vision they sell as nostalgia…but that has never, ever, existed anywhere before.

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  60. KM says:

    @wr:

    He did break the law. It was a deliberate trap and he fell into it because he didn’t want to admit he was cheating on his wife. Now please explain if you feel this is an appropriate question to put — under oath

    This is where the rubber met the road. So many people who wouldn’t have been sympathetic or able to relate suddenly found themselves in the supremely uncomfortable position of thinking about whether or not they’d ever be pushed in court to admit wronging their spouse or punished for it. We joke about it (see the recent commercial with the husband hooked up to lie detector being asked about his sister-in-law) but the very idea that you could go to jail for not wanting to talk about or admit it was a step too far. The nation reared back, went “WTF, that could be me!!” and thus the tide turned for Clinton. Perceived entrapment hits a button deep in our group psyche.

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  61. Loviatar says:

    @DK:

    You forgot MC = mom complex.

    I lump mommy issues in with Clinton fatigue and ignorance of History and facts.

    Most people are tired of listening to their moms and are ignorant of the history and facts of what their moms have done for them.

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  62. Loviatar says:

    @Socraticsilence:

    I think there’s a 6th factor: triangulation

    ignorance of History and Facts. see any of DKs posts for a honest portrayal of the Clinton’s actual record on the issues.

    I’ll say again; are the Clinton’s more moderate than me, HELL YES. However, when compared to what came before and after Bill Clinton’s administration, I’m sorry there is no comparison.

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  63. Barry says:

    @michael reynolds: “We were listening to her speech to Emily’s List and both my wife and I were groaning, wondering if we could tolerate 4 or even 8 or God help us 10 years with campaigning, of Hillary’s leaden humor and teacher voice. ”

    Would you like to spend 8 years listening to one of the Horror Klownz of the right?

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  64. Barry says:

    @DK: “These made-up stories about how Hillary is unlikeable don’t comport with reality. She might be unpopular with the press, but that’s the not same thing, and since the press is itself unlikeable and unpopular with the American people, the media’s Hillary problem is not a political liability for her. ”

    Remember, the press were unhappy with Clinton, joyous with Dubya, and eager to report any and all lies about Obama.

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  65. Barry says:

    @michael reynolds: “But this kind of fast-and-loose crap builds up and begins to create a frame.”

    The press created that frame in 1993, and will maintain it.

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  66. Barry says:

    @CSK: “I could be wrong, but I wonder if the Democratic ticket will end up being Webb-Warren.”

    No way in H*ll. Warren seems to be happy with being in the Senate, and Webb is really a Republican who had a brief fling with being a Democratic politician. In the recent VOX interview, he spouted BS about Obama, showing that he’s a fool, or an Obama hater. Either way, that’s not the way to get the nomination.

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  67. Barry says:

    @CSK: “With respect to southern white men who love their guns voting reflexively Republican: You’re forgetting one thing. They HATE Jeb Bush. Hate him worse than they hate Obama. They think Jeb’s a socialist who wants to flood the country with brown people. They think he’s a Clinton-worshipping Democrat.”

    The second that you have any evidence that they’ll vote ‘DemonoKrat’, please post it.

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  68. Barry says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “..but you’d have to be living under a rock to pretend that there isn’t a hint of an odor emanating from Chappaqua.”

    Tell ya what – you find me that squeaky-clean candidate, and get right back to us now.

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  69. Barry says:

    @HarvardLaw92: @stonetools:

    “including (hopefully) a fifth liberal judge to the SCOTUS. If she does that last, I’ll count her Presidency a success.”

    HarvardLaw92: “Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia are both 78 years old. Scalia is a heavy smoker.

    Ruth Ginsburg is 81, and her health problems are obvious. Stephen Breyer is 76.

    We have 4 justices at least somewhat likely to need to be replaced over the next 8 years. If she can replace all four of them with moderate / liberal justices, the younger the better – even if that’s the only thing she accomplishes – I’ll consider her presidency to have been a success. It’ll lock down the tenor of the court away from – and out of reach of – the right for a generation.”

    This is really, really important. If Clinton is elected and serves only one term (highly likely), there’s the likelihood that (a) the next Democratic Justice retiring/dying is replaced by another, and (b) the next Republican Justice retiring/dying is replaced by a Democratic Justice.

    That would give us a majority (and maybe a 6-3 majority!) for the first time in decades. That would give a good chance of getting through the next GOP president while still holding a majority.

    We’ve seen how politicized the GOP justices are.

    Meanwhile, a GOP president in ’16 has an excellent chance of 8 years of SCOTUS and other federal judge appointments. That would cement a 5-4 and likely a 6-3 majority for at least twenty more years – 20 or more years in which the GOP SCOTUS majority has gotten away with being a GOP bench.

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  70. Barry says:

    @KM: “…but the very idea that you could go to jail for not wanting to talk about or admit it was a step too far. The nation reared back, went “WTF, that could be me!!” and thus the tide turned for Clinton. Perceived entrapment hits a button deep in our group psyche.”

    And for the first time in over a century, a second-term mid-term election resulted in president’s party picking up seats.

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  71. Barry says:

    …and now I’ll butt out.

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