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“It’s All Over, And It’s All Just Beginning”: Hillary Clinton’s Next Challenge: Bury Trump And Stay Out Of The Gutter

So the last Sanders argument, like umpteen others, has come around to bite him.

He’s spent the last two weeks talking about the “momentum” he was going to have after winning California, but as the primaries draw to a close, the momentum is on Hillary Clinton’s side.

She exceeded expectations in California, with her victory called early Wednesday (what was up with those polls that had Bernie Sanders beating her among Latinos? They always smelled fishy to me). She demolished him in New Jersey, won New Mexico, and even pulled off a stunning (if small-potatoes) win in South Dakota, which came out of nowhere.

Speaking of nowhere, there’s nowhere for Bernie to go now. He ran an impressive race in many ways, and annoying in others, but he lasted a lot longer than almost anyone thought he would. But today the story isn’t him. It’s the nominee.

It’s a huge historical marker, as Clinton noted in her speech. “Thanks to you, we’ve reached a milestone, the first time in our nation’s history that a woman will be a major party’s nominee,” Clinton said. “Tonight’s victory is not about one person—it belongs to generations of women and men who struggled and sacrificed and made this moment possible.”

It’s also a huge personal moment for Clinton. For all the arrows, justified and not, she’s absorbed for the last quarter-century, she’s made it. She’s made history in a huge way. If you read biographies of her, you’ve read about the people who thought back when she was at Wellesley that maybe she had it in her to be America’s first woman president. It’s an expectation that has hovered over her for many years, and she’s now in a position to achieve it.

The Democratic Party has now nominated in succession the country’s first African American and its first woman. This is a great sign of progress, but more tellingly it’s a sign of what the two major parties have become over the course of the past 20 years. The Democrats are the party of multicultural America, while the Republicans have become in essence a white ethno-nationalist party. Yes, it has some nonwhites, but it’s a party whose raison d’etre is increasingly to save white America from the new hordes, a point made clearly by its collective decision to reject two Latino nominees and instead elevate the first openly racist major-party candidate since maybe Woodrow Wilson.

So now it’s (almost) officially Clinton vs. Trump, the question is, what will it look like? Big-time ugly. Trump, in his speech, said he’s giving a speech next Monday about the Clintons and corruption, signaling what his campaign is basically going to be about. And Clinton already showed us last week in that San Diego speech on Trump and foreign policy, and reminded us again in splashes Tuesday night, that her main argument is going to be that temperamentally and otherwise, Trump just doesn’t belong in the Oval Office. Every election, people like me say, “This is going to be the nastiest presidential election ever,” and, every time, it turns out to be true—each one has been a little nastier than the last. But this one is going to be hyper-space nasty.

The key challenge for Clinton is going to be one of tone and balance—she’ll need to find a way to trade punches with Trump without letting him get in her head and without reducing herself to his drooling level. This is what the other Republicans could never get right. Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz let Trump get inside their heads, toy with them the way Ali used to toy with the bums of the month he was fighting in 1963. Marco Rubio made the mistake of lowering himself to Trump’s level, trading insults. As I tweeted at the time, the two of them came off like Don Rickles and Joan Rivers. Rubio was good at it, but it wasn’t what people wanted out of him, and it certainly isn’t what voters want out of Clinton.

She found the sweet spot in that San Diego speech. She shredded his dignity but managed to maintain, and even augment, her own. Trump is going to be continually trying to take her down into the gutter from which he operates. She needs to stay out of it while staying on the attack. That won’t be an easy thing to do.

And in the near-term, she has an intra-party issue to attend to: How will she woo the Sanders voters? It’s mostly on Bernie, especially the way the air went out of the balloon Tuesday, to do the right thing. Maybe the fact that he requested a meeting with President Obama is a sign that he’s ready to. But it’s incumbent upon Clinton to handle this right, too, not for Sanders’s personal sake, but for the sake of his voters. She needs those voters in November, and they probably represent the future direction of the Democratic Party.

Clinton’s had a great couple of weeks—the terrific San Diego speech, the better-than-expected performance Tuesday night, and most importantly Trump’s self-immolation around Judge Curiel, which led to members of his own party calling him a racist. There’s no way she could have hoped for a better start to the general-election campaign. But she’s still barely ahead, and every week isn’t going to be like these last two.

Back when this was just getting started, I thought that yes, Clinton is going to win, which places a special burden on her to run a better race than she did in 2008 and not blow this. Given who she’s running against, that’s a lot truer now than it was when I first thought it.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, June 8, 2016

June 9, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Momentum Is Irrelevant”: Why Bernie Sanders Supporters Can’t Accept The Grim End Of Their Crusade

It’s hard to say goodbye to something you love — and there are a lot of people right now who absolutely love Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. As well they should. It has been one of the most remarkable happenings in the recent history of American politics, as a rumpled, crotchety 74-year-old socialist put together a serious challenge to the Democratic Party’s anointed candidate, raising over $200 million and energizing young people across the country for a revolutionary crusade to remake American politics.

So you can understand why Sanders supporters have trouble accepting that there’s just no way for him to be the party’s nominee. Part of it comes from the fact that, technically, it’s still possible for Sanders to prevail. Yes, it would require him to persuade nearly every remaining Democratic voter to cast a ballot for him, and then get all the superdelegates now supporting Clinton to flip as well. So who knows?

Here’s the brutal truth, though: No matter how the big prize of California comes out next Tuesday, Clinton is still going to have a majority of the delegates and is still going to be the Democratic nominee. As Harry Enten has observed, it’s a near-certainty that Clinton will officially pass the number of delegates she needs when New Jersey closes its polls at 8 p.m. eastern on Tuesday. Even though the California primary looks to be extremely close — the widely revered Field Poll shows Clinton leading Sanders by a margin of 45 percent to 43 percent, and other recent polls have found similar splits — since Democrats allocate delegates proportionally, the two candidates will gain similar numbers of delegates. It won’t matter at that point who nosed out who in that last big contest.

But tell that to a Sanders supporter, and you’ll likely get an earful of protestation. That’s not because they aren’t rational people, it’s because they have so much invested in his campaign — often financially or in terms of the time they’ve spent, but mostly emotionally. Bernie has promised them so much, and the campaign has accomplished so much, that saying, “Oh well, we gave it a good shot but it didn’t work out” must seem like a betrayal of everything they’ve been fighting for.

Hillary Clinton has offered her supporters little in the way of grand dreams and glorious visions of transformation. She’s a pragmatic politician presenting a pragmatic program. Sanders, on the other hand, is a candidate of revolution. He asked his supporters to believe in something epic, to change their thinking about what’s possible in politics. If you Felt the Bern, you yourself were transformed. To admit that the campaign is over means admitting that the dream is dead, and that person you wanted to be — hopeful, committed, optimistic — was wrong about what was possible.

Add to that the fact that Sanders supporters have convinced each other that the system is rigged, which means that any outcome other than Sanders winning is not just unfortunate but fundamentally illegitimate. If you believe that, it means that once you assent to a Clinton victory you’ve assented to corruption.

While Sanders himself has gotten some criticism for not bowing out already or acknowledging that it’s all over, you can’t blame him — and when you watch him being interviewed in recent weeks, you can see his internal struggle. He surely feels that at the very least, he has an obligation to stay in the race long enough for all his supporters to have the chance to cast their ballots for him. And it would be weird to say, “I’m still in the race, even though I know I’ve lost.” So he can be forgiven for putting the best face on things, even if it sometimes means he has to stray into fantasyland. “If we win California, and if we win South Dakota, and North Dakota and Montana and New Mexico and New Jersey, and the following week do well in Washington, D.C.,” he told rapturous supporters this week, “I think we will be marching into the Democratic convention with an enormous amount of momentum.”

Which is, of course, ridiculous. First of all, he’s not going to win all those places. But even if he did, Clinton will still have passed beyond the majority of delegates she needs. After all the voting is done, “momentum” is irrelevant. It’s like saying that even though your team lost the game 5-4, the fact that you scored a run in the ninth inning means you ought to be considered the winner.

Even after all the TV anchors and newspaper headlines declare that Clinton is now the nominee of the party, there will be a few Sanders supporters who refuse to accept it (and those few will surely have no problem finding cameras into which they can air their grievances). They’ll say Bernie can still make his case to the superdelegates, that they’re holding out for the FBI to indict Clinton, that it was never a fair fight to begin with. If you feel the urge to mock, consider sparing a sympathetic thought for them.

They’ve come a long way, and their idealism is something our system needs. And eventually, even if it takes a while, they’ll make their peace with defeat.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Week, June 3, 2016

June 5, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Californication”: Sanders Taking A Free Ride On Other Peoples’ Character Defamation

Earlier today, I observed that if Bernie Sanders wins this Tuesday’s closed Democratic primary in Kentucky, “Sanders and his supporters will likely take advantage of a win here to promote the idea that there are still plenty of Democrats who aren’t comfortable with Clinton, and that the ‘Democratic establishment’ should agree to all of his demands at the Democratic convention even if he ultimately fails to win the nomination.” Speaking of primaries and the convention, what if Sanders manages to do the seemingly impossible, and actually pulls off an upset victory over Clinton in the June 7 California primary?

It is unlikely that Sanders would be able to defeat Clinton by a significant margin in the Golden State primary (which is open to Democrats and those who have no stated party preference), which means that even if he also wins (by presumably close margins) the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and North Dakota caucuses and the Oregon, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota and District of Columbia primaries, he will still come up short in the pledged delegate count. However, a victory in California, even by a close margin, would provide political momentum to Sanders and his supporters going into Philadelphia, where the self-professed democratic socialist plans to ask superdelegates to, in essence, void the votes of those who supported Clinton and declare him the Democratic nominee. MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki explained Sanders’s apparent thinking Tuesday night:

Sanders would certainly have the right to make his case to those superdelegates–but how strong of a case would that be? As MSNBC’s Chris Hayes suggested on May 11, the argument that Sanders should be declared the nominee because he currently performs better than Clinton in head-to-head polls against Donald Trump is rather questionable (it certainly doesn’t factor in the power of the right-wing noise machine).

I wouldn’t be surprised if Team Sanders tries to convince superdelegates that he would perform better against Trump in the general-election debates than Clinton would: Trump’s presence will guarantee that the debates will be ratings bonanzas, and the argument that the Democratic candidate must thoroughly dismantle the bigoted billionaire in these debates is compelling. However, can anyone seriously argue that Clinton cannot hold her own in debates?

I fear that the case for awarding the Democratic nomination to Sanders rests upon a dynamic that Paul Krugman explained a few weeks ago:

As I see it, the Sanders phenomenon always depended on leaving the personal attacks implicit. Sanders supporters have, to a much greater extent than generally acknowledged, been motivated by the perception that Clinton is dishonest, which comes — whether they know it or not — not from her actual behavior but from decades of right-wing smears; but Sanders himself got to play the issue-oriented purist, in effect taking a free ride on other peoples’ character defamation. There was plenty of nastiness from Sanders supporters, but the candidate himself seemed to stay above the fray.

But it wasn’t enough, largely because of nonwhite voters. Why have these voters been so pro-Clinton? One reason I haven’t seen laid out, but which I suspect is important, is that they are more sensitized than most whites to how the disinformation machine works, to how fake scandals get promoted and become part of what “everyone knows.” Not least, they’ve seen the torrent of lies directed at our first African-American president, and have a sense that not everything you hear should be believed.

What will Sanders say to voters of color who overwhelmingly supported Clinton, and who will obviously feel shafted if Sanders is successful in convincing superdelegates to hand the nomination over to him? I imagine that Sanders will simply quote Warren Beatty’s remarks to aggrieved African-American churchgoers in Bulworth: “So what are you gonna do, vote Republican? Come on! Come on, you’re not gonna vote Republican!”

If Sanders wins the California primary, even by a small margin, he will have earned the right to petition superdelegates for a redress of his grievances. However, something tells me that after he does so, he’ll still have grievances.

 

By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 13, 2016

May 16, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Sanders Supporters | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“An Extremely Troubling Development”: Trump Picks White Nationalist Leader As Delegate

Mother Jones reported today that William Johnson, chairman of the white nationalist American Freedom Party, is now an official delegate for Donald Trump in California’s upcoming Republican Primary. In order to become a delegate, Johnson had to apply to the Trump campaign with a signed pledge to support Trump at the Republican National Convention. Johnson will vote for Trump in Cleveland, should he be elected by California voters.

The American Freedom Party represents the interests, its website says, of “European Americans” and “White Americans.”

Johnson was behind the widely-reported white supremacist robocalls supporting Donald Trump that flooded Wisconsin phone lines before the Republican primary there. Johnson orchestrated the calls as a publicity stunt, saying in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at the time, “I want people to hear, to feel comfortable with, the term ‘white nationalist,’”

In an interview with Mother Jones today, Johnson echoed that sentiment: “I just hope to show how I can be mainstream and have these views,” he said.

The Trump campaign surely knows who Johnson is: In February, Trump said he would return a donation Johnson had given the campaign in October, in response to a question from a town hall attendee in New Hampshire. Johnson has been widely written about as a public face of white nationalist Trump support.

Mother Jones also reports that Johnson included all of his pro-Trump, pro-nationalist political activity in his application to become a Trump delegate.

In 1985, Johnson authored the Pace Amendment, which would have abolished the 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution and restricted citizenship to “non-Hispanic white[s] of the European race.” Non-whites of child-bearing age would be financially incentivized to leave the country, Johnson wrote at the time.

In 2010, Johnson said in an interview with the nationalist The Political Cesspool radio show that “The initial basis of our own upstart organization is the racial nationalist movement. It has been in disarray for the last 20 years so there’s not as large a base for us to draw on.”

The Trump campaign’s selection of Johnson as a delegate in the California primary is an extremely troubling development. Trump has widely received the support of the white nationalist community, but this is by far the most explicit endorsement — and this is an endorsement, until the Trump campaign says otherwise — of the racist and nativist ideology.

 

By: Matt Shuham, The National Memo, May 10, 2016

May 11, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Republican National Convention, White Nationalists | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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