Commentary Magazine


Topic: Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton’s Evaporating Support

When former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton returned to the scene of the bitterly contested 2008 Democratic presidential primary’s most divisive battleground, South Carolina, she found that tensions had not entirely abated over the years. State Representative Boyd Brown, an outspoken supporter of Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, described Clinton’s support in his state as “a mile wide but it’s only an inch deep.” It was a prescient observation, albeit not Brown’s alone. Clinton has campaigned aggressively for a nomination that should, by rights, already be hers. She has contorted herself wildly, recanted her past policy preferences, and all but condemned her husband as a sellout to the cause; all in pursuit of the elusive support of the liberals who robbed her of the nomination once already. And, yet, that seemingly unnecessary posturing has not solidified her support among Democrats. In fact, it appears to be ebbing. Read More

When former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton returned to the scene of the bitterly contested 2008 Democratic presidential primary’s most divisive battleground, South Carolina, she found that tensions had not entirely abated over the years. State Representative Boyd Brown, an outspoken supporter of Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, described Clinton’s support in his state as “a mile wide but it’s only an inch deep.” It was a prescient observation, albeit not Brown’s alone. Clinton has campaigned aggressively for a nomination that should, by rights, already be hers. She has contorted herself wildly, recanted her past policy preferences, and all but condemned her husband as a sellout to the cause; all in pursuit of the elusive support of the liberals who robbed her of the nomination once already. And, yet, that seemingly unnecessary posturing has not solidified her support among Democrats. In fact, it appears to be ebbing.

The Democratic Party’s leftward drift over the course of the last 15 years has been observable both in anecdotal and quantitative terms. Speaking with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell in September of last year, a roundtable of Iowa Democrats uniformly expressed reservations about Clinton’s perceived closeness to Wall Street and her hawkish approach to matters related to foreign affairs. “I’m looking for someone that’s a little more liberal,” one politically active student told Mitchell.

That student is in good company. “In 2015, the proportion of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who said they were both socially liberal and economically moderate or liberal reached 47 percent,” wrote Real Clear Politics analyst Matthew Disler this month. “Thirty-nine percent of participants in this group answered similarly in 2008, and only 30 percent did so in 2001.”

Many speculated that Clinton’s massive lead over her prospective challengers has been amassed by default. Not only was it “her turn,” as former Obama campaign advisor Jim Messina once said, but she was also easily the most electable candidate in an otherwise lackluster Democratic field. Some suspected that, as a result, Clinton’s support among liberals was ephemeral or even illusory. They might have been right.

Despite Clinton’s theatrical attempts to placate her party’s restive left flank, her support in the key early primary states appears to be fleeting.

A shocking CNN/WMUR survey of New Hampshire’s Democratic primary voters released this week revealed that the most attractive alternative to Clinton for liberals, the self-described socialist Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, is surging. In the state that Clinton’s team views as her backyard, the place where she managed to stage a comeback win after Barack Obama and John Edwards stole both first and second place finishes in Iowa in 2008, Clinton secured just 43 percent support compared with Sanders’ 35 percent. Against her primary competitor, a politician with far less political acumen or general appeal than Obama circa 2008, Clinton’s 52-point lead in February has been cut down to just 8 points. Only 13 percent of Granite State Democrats said they had planned to support Sanders as recently as May.

“Believe it or not,” ProPublica reporter Alec MacGillis observed, “Hillary’s lead over Sanders in WMUR/CNN poll in NH is narrower (43-35) than her lead was over Obama in June ’07 (36-22).” Among Democrats, only 54 percent of respondents said they had permanently determined which candidate they planned to vote for – down from 76 percent in February. 11 percent of Democrats in New Hampshire said they would not vote for Clinton under any circumstances while just 6 percent said the same of Sanders. “Clinton’s net electability score is +31%, followed closely by Sanders at +29%,” WMUR’s write-up read. “No other Democratic candidate has net favorability ratings above +2%.”

This phenomenon is not merely isolated in New Hampshire. In every survey taken of likely Democratic caucus-goers or registered Democrats in Iowa since February, Clinton’s net lead over her nearest competitors had never fallen below 41 points – until this week. For the first time, a Bloomberg survey conducted by the respected Selzer & Co of Des Moines found Clinton with only a bare majority of support – 50 percent – compared to Sanders’ 24 percent. On issues like “will take on Wall Street” and “is authentic,” Hawkeye State Democrats backed Sanders over Clinton by double-digit margins. The two candidates were statistically tied when voters were asked which candidate “will fight for the average person” and “cares about people like me.” Only on matters related to general electability did Clinton maintain her formerly prohibitive advantage over Sanders.

Few believe that Clinton could lose her party’s nomination, let alone to a marginal figure like Sanders. But what once looked like a coronation has become a fight. It’s clear that Democrats are simply not that enthusiastic about Clinton’s candidacy. If this trend continues, the Democratic Party will have to confront the fact that the primary process is going to yield a battered candidate who had to lurch much farther to the left in order to secure the nomination they would probably have preferred.

June-2015-Promotion_animation

Read Less

The Beatification of Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton’s effort to run among the most anodyne, milquetoast campaigns for the presidency in American history is apparently paying off. A candidate who dares not speak much, and when she does says only aphorisms universally beloved by the left-leaning constituents she is courting, should inspire frustration among those tasked with speaking truth to power: namely, the political press. Instead, when Clinton dares to open her mouth on even a modestly controversial subject, she is lauded as a figure of unparalleled bravery and poise. Meanwhile, those candidates who have traversed objectively stormy seas, navigated political minefields, taken legitimately controversial stands, and stared down their constituents are given sideways glances by their chroniclers in the media. The latest example of this phenomenon from the Washington Post is nothing short of a disgrace. Read More

Hillary Clinton’s effort to run among the most anodyne, milquetoast campaigns for the presidency in American history is apparently paying off. A candidate who dares not speak much, and when she does says only aphorisms universally beloved by the left-leaning constituents she is courting, should inspire frustration among those tasked with speaking truth to power: namely, the political press. Instead, when Clinton dares to open her mouth on even a modestly controversial subject, she is lauded as a figure of unparalleled bravery and poise. Meanwhile, those candidates who have traversed objectively stormy seas, navigated political minefields, taken legitimately controversial stands, and stared down their constituents are given sideways glances by their chroniclers in the media. The latest example of this phenomenon from the Washington Post is nothing short of a disgrace.

Reporters often loathe being accused of crafting or husbanding a “narrative.” For obvious reasons, they would prefer to think of themselves as neutral arbiters of facts and stewards of balance. But the disbelief one is required to suspend to maintain that fiction while reading Washington Post reporters Phillip Rucker and Anne Gearen’s latest dispatch is too much to suffer. Their latest, “While GOP candidates stammer, Clinton directly confronts race,” is not inaccurate so much as it is a transparent hagiography of the prohibitive Democratic presidential nominee. Her accomplishment? Nobly committing to endure the absolute minimum level of discomfort expected of a presidential candidate.

In assessing the political impact of the aftermath of the atrocity in Charleston, South Carolina perpetrated by an anachronistic racist terrorist, Rucker and Gearen make no pretense of their cause: They came to praise Clinton and to bury those Republicans vying to challenge her next year.

Noting, also not inaccurately, that Republican 2016 hopefuls largely “stammered and stumbled,” or even “lacked sensitivity” when addressing the violence, these Washington Post reporters maintained that Clinton “has forcefully initiated a conversation about race and bigotry.” Quite the “contrast,” they add in a piece that is ostensibly straight reportage.

“The candidates have been balancing the political imperative to present a welcoming face to minority and moderate voters with hesitancy to turn off conservative white voters who see the Confederate flag as a representation of their family heritage and Southern traditions,” The report added. “Clinton’s allies said that her focus on race relations was in keeping with her life’s journey. She grew up during the 1960s civil rights movement and has said that going to see the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. speak in Chicago as a teenager was a formative moment.”

It’s almost as if that “contrast” these reporters are observing is one that they are also committed to enabling.

At no point in this piece did the reporters note the Clintons, too, have a complex relationship with the Confederate flag. A Clinton-Gore button from 1992 graced with the Confederate battle flag has led many to wonder if Hillary Clinton’s husband’s campaign endorsed it. But the likely Democratic standard-bearer’s campaign has thus far refused to comment on that matter. How courageous.

There are reasons to believe that Bill Clinton might have embraced this and other campaign buttons that cast him and his Tennessee-based running mate as sons of the South. As governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton  signed a bill affirming that one of the stars on his state’s flag would stand in commemoration of the Confederate States of America. Even former Clinton advisor Paul Begala insisted that Hillary Clinton “absolutely” has to answer for standing by her husband’s decision on that matter all those years ago. The Post, however, seems unconcerned with Clinton’s silence on this issue, too.

As narratives go, the Post’s reporters made a conscious effort to embrace one over another equally compelling version of the aftermath of the Charleston shootings. The reporters spent an inordinate amount of time, perhaps reluctantly, noting that Clinton was forced after lagging behind events to praise Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for having the real courage to defy her constituents and demand that the rebel flag be furled forever. Haley is, after all, a Southern Republican governor — a woman and a minority — taking down the flag that was erected first by one of her Democratic predecessors in 1962. Republicans purged the South of the scourge of slavery amid a bloody civil war; Republicans oversaw the dismantling of Jim Crow and the desegregation of the Deep South; and now Republicans, from South Carolina to Mississippi, are flouting some of their more recalcitrant voters and ridding the South of that symbol of rebellion once and for all. The last time Clinton called for the Confederate flag to be lowered in the South was, her campaign insists, 2007. Such bravery.

This narrative didn’t seem to interest the Post’s neutral and dispassionate political reporters. Instead, what captured their imaginations was a speech Clinton gave to a room full of liberal supporters where she lamented persistent racial tensions and gun violence in America. What courage is there to be found in a liberal telling a room full of like-minded fellows what they already believe? It takes an empirical, objective political reporter to see it. For Rucker who was among the many reporters seen celebrating at the wedding of a Ready for Hillary staff member and her campaign’s director for grassroots engagement over the weekend, you would think he would display a bit more decorum. Apparently, modesty and an adversarial relationship with those on whom you are required to report is no longer a value that the nation’s journalistic class is prepared to uphold or enforce with much vigor. Unless, of course, that subject is a Republican.

The Post is not alone in effusively praising the pabulum on race that passes for courage from Hillary Clinton. New York Times reporter Amy Chozick averred yesterday that “frank discussions” on race have characterized Clinton’s whole career in politics, and she will continue those discussions this week. Assertions from Clinton like her pledge to make “voting easier” for African-Americans and her lament that “America’s long struggle with race is far from finished” are not brave displays, as Chozick contends. They are, in fact, rather unsubstantial polemics. There are real hard questions and thorny issues relating to race in America. On specific and potentially alienating policy preferences that would be required to address them, Clinton has largely chosen to remain silent. It should now be clear that this is a feature, not a bug, associated with Hillary Clinton 2.0.

Republicans like Haley, Senator Tim Scott, and Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn who are telling their voters that they are wrong, that they have made a virtue of vice, and to suffer the associated consequences is truly courageous. To preach shibboleths before roomfuls of the already converted is something else entirely. For reporters in desperate need of a story that paints Clinton in a favorable light, however, the latter will do in a pinch.

June-2015-Promotion_animation

Read Less

Can Hillary Face the Truth About Iraq?

In the New York Times yesterday, former Marine Owen West, who served two tours in Iraq including one tour as an adviser to an Iraqi battalion, said flat-out that President Obama’s current strategy of limiting U.S. personnel to serving as trainers on bases will fail to achieve its objective of defeating ISIS. “Mr. Obama has declared that advisers are not combat troops,” he wrote. “But in fact, to influence battlefield performance, the adviser’s first job is to set the example in combat. The goal is to instill in the local force a sense of professional aggression — of seizing the offense — that must be demonstrated firsthand. Put simply, if the president wants to destroy the Islamic State, he will eventually renege on his ephemeral pledge not to engage in ground combat.”

Read More

In the New York Times yesterday, former Marine Owen West, who served two tours in Iraq including one tour as an adviser to an Iraqi battalion, said flat-out that President Obama’s current strategy of limiting U.S. personnel to serving as trainers on bases will fail to achieve its objective of defeating ISIS. “Mr. Obama has declared that advisers are not combat troops,” he wrote. “But in fact, to influence battlefield performance, the adviser’s first job is to set the example in combat. The goal is to instill in the local force a sense of professional aggression — of seizing the offense — that must be demonstrated firsthand. Put simply, if the president wants to destroy the Islamic State, he will eventually renege on his ephemeral pledge not to engage in ground combat.”

What West is saying reflects little more than battlefield reality—the hard logic of war that can’t be wished away with airy political rhetoric. And it is a reality acknowledged even by some prominent Democrats such as Michele Flournoy, a former under secretary of defense who is widely believed to be a leading candidate for secretary of defense in a Hillary Clinton administration. She told CNN, “We need to provide more stuff for training and advising down to the battalion level rather than just at the division level. We need to provide more fire power support, more intelligence surveillance ….” She further called for “providing operational support on the battlefield. Enablers, air cover and so forth.” That certainly sounds like a commitment greater than the one President Obama has made, which Flournoy criticized for being “under-resourced.”

It would be interesting to hear what Hillary Clinton thinks of Michele Flournoy’s observation. Clinton has recently said, “I basically agree with the policies that we are currently following,” adding, “There is no role whatsoever for American soldiers on the ground to go back, other than in the capacity as trainers and advisers.”

Clinton is, of course, trying, as best she can, to eradicate memories among Democratic voters of how she supported the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003 before jumping ship to opposing the surge. That may be good politics in a Democratic primary—but it’s bad policy. The same could be said of her refusal to endorse the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade accord that she supported as secretary of state.

The hope of Clinton’s more hard-headed supporters—including, one suspects, Michele Flournoy—is that she is merely throwing out political red meat to win the White House and that once in office she will tilt to the center. But if Clinton won’t utter unpleasant truths in a laugher of a primary, in which her closest rival is Bernie Sanders, there is good cause to wonder if, once in office, she will take hard, unpopular but necessary actions—such as allowing U.S. personnel in Iraq to take the calculated risks necessary to beat the Islamic State.

Read Less

The “New Hillary” Reboot Changes Nothing

Saturday’s rally for Hillary Clinton was supposed to re-launch her presidential candidacy and if the goal of the Roosevelt Island event was to garner massive media coverage, it was a great success. Though she had previously announced her intention to run, the first months of her campaign have been so disastrous that a reboot was clearly necessary. But though she didn’t stumble in her remarks, Clinton’s sharp left turn on virtually every issue in a speech that was more a laundry list of concerns for focus groups than anything else reinforces the impression of inauthenticity that has already caused so much trouble. Clinton has flipped on a host of issues from the more centrist stances she adopted in the Senate and before that as a key player in her husband’s administration. Emphasizing the “new Hillary Clinton” who will “fight” for left-wing causes may seem like the smart play to Clinton and her handlers who are now acting as if the Democratic nomination is up for grabs. But while they may think they can reboot again next summer once the general election campaign begins, this strategy not only diminishes her chances of being elected, it is exactly why polls tell us most Americans don’t trust her.

Read More

Saturday’s rally for Hillary Clinton was supposed to re-launch her presidential candidacy and if the goal of the Roosevelt Island event was to garner massive media coverage, it was a great success. Though she had previously announced her intention to run, the first months of her campaign have been so disastrous that a reboot was clearly necessary. But though she didn’t stumble in her remarks, Clinton’s sharp left turn on virtually every issue in a speech that was more a laundry list of concerns for focus groups than anything else reinforces the impression of inauthenticity that has already caused so much trouble. Clinton has flipped on a host of issues from the more centrist stances she adopted in the Senate and before that as a key player in her husband’s administration. Emphasizing the “new Hillary Clinton” who will “fight” for left-wing causes may seem like the smart play to Clinton and her handlers who are now acting as if the Democratic nomination is up for grabs. But while they may think they can reboot again next summer once the general election campaign begins, this strategy not only diminishes her chances of being elected, it is exactly why polls tell us most Americans don’t trust her.

Like past attempts by politicians to re-imagine themselves (“new Nixon”), Hillary’s second start to her campaign was to a large degree a sleight of hand maneuver. Her problems stemmed from blows to her reputation from revelations about her bizarre use of private emails and the ethical questions that arose once the press began scrutinizing the Clinton Family Foundation. Clinton’s inability or unwillingness to candidly address these issues dovetailed with her refusal to speak to the press after she began her campaign to give her the impression of a woman trying to run for president in a bubble.

Clinton is supposed to start giving interviews to local press outlets this week while still shunning more aggressive national reporters. But the problem goes deeper than whether she’s dodging the press altogether as opposed to giving canned and evasive answers to questions. If Clinton’s trust and favorability ratings are under water, it’s not because she hasn’t given interviews. It’s because the public understands that she is a chameleon who will change her positions as often as she changes her accent. Her willingness to adopt a southern drawl in the south and then drop it when north of the Mason-Dixon line is one of the most obvious and shameless bits of pandering by a politician since Thomas Edison first recorded sound. But while that might be forgiven, the country has also noticed that Clinton has made a hard left turn on both foreign and domestic issues that gives the lie to her pose as a “fighter.”

The most obvious instance this past week was her steadfast refusal to take a stand one way or the other on the trade bill that failed in the House last Friday because rank and file Democrats opposed President Obama. Clinton had been on record supporting this concept throughout her time as secretary of state and before that in the Senate. But she stayed silent as Obama went down to a humiliating defeat and then said nothing about it the next day in her speech. Subsequently, she tried to play both ends against the middle by saying she wanted a modified trade bill. This does nothing to further the cause she once supported and also fails to satisfy the unions that flexed their muscles last week on the vote.

That her reboot that aims to show her as a “fighter” happened on the very days that her backers were busy rather fruitlessly trying to spin her cowardice as principle on the cable news shows was bad luck. But the new emphasis on personal biography isn’t likely to help her overcome that setback.

We’re told we’re going to hear a lot about how Mrs. Clinton’s mother’s humble beginnings and struggles influenced her. But Clinton’s decision to run against the same Wall Street that backed her in 2008 by slamming the chutzpah of hedge fund managers making more than kindergarten teachers also opens the former First Lady up to the same sort of scrutiny. The problem with the Clinton Cash scandal is not just that it raised serious conflict-of-interest questions that haven’t been answered. It’s that it reminded voters that the Clintons have grown wealthy by giving speeches and profited handsomely from a foundation that is more a political slush fund than anything else.

The left loves Clinton’s new emphasis on soaking the rich. But this is the same Hillary who claimed to be “dead broke” the year she and her husband received $18 million in book advances. It’s the same Hillary who made hundreds of thousands of dollars per speech. This marks her as a hypocrite on income inequality. The biography she wants to run on tells us the only operating principle in her political career is opportunism. That’s why she changed positions on foreign policy (Iraq, Cuba); social issues like gay marriage, immigration, abandoning her husband’s stances on crime and, of course, trade.

The new Hillary is talking more like a left-winger to ensure that no one gets to her left in the next year as she waltzes to the Democratic nomination. But she’s still the same politician that voters view with unease even if they’d like a woman to be president and are unsure about her potential GOP rivals. This is a dilemma no amount of repackaging can fix and in fact efforts to do so only remind us of her former stances. Clinton’s shady ethics and shifting positions indelibly mark her as a politician no one outside of her party base can trust. Just as Republicans were rightly chided for forcing Mitt Romney so far to the right that it hurt him in the general election in 2012, the new Hillary is an unforced error that may come back to haunt the candidate in the fall of 2016.

Read Less

The Left’s War on Informed Voters

The founding generation was keenly aware of the fact that the public they had empowered to shape the destiny of their new republic might be primarily composed of simpletons.

“A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or perhaps both,” wrote James Madison in an 1822 letter advocating expanded access to publicly funded education in order to ameliorate the condition he outlined. “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance. And a people who mean to be their own Governors must arm themselves with the Power that knowledge gives.” For the left, it increasingly seems, knowledge is overrated. Read More

The founding generation was keenly aware of the fact that the public they had empowered to shape the destiny of their new republic might be primarily composed of simpletons.

“A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or perhaps both,” wrote James Madison in an 1822 letter advocating expanded access to publicly funded education in order to ameliorate the condition he outlined. “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance. And a people who mean to be their own Governors must arm themselves with the Power that knowledge gives.” For the left, it increasingly seems, knowledge is overrated.

The Father of the Constitution and America’s fourth president was not alone in fearing the world that the willfully ignorant would vote themselves. Of course, the Constitution’s drafters also understood that not everyone would participate in the system they had crafted even if they were eligible to do so. Either out of disgust, or indifference, or simple ignorance in the affairs of state, the Founders afforded to Americans the freedom to disengage from the political system.

“Political ignorance in America is deep and widespread,” Cato Institute scholar Ilya Somin averred. It would be a mistake to presume that this remark is meant as a disparagement. In many ways, it is a complimentary observation that many Americans prioritize matters that are of more relevance to their daily experience than the trivia occupying the minds of policymakers in a far-flung national capital.

“[P]olitical ignorance is actually rational for most of the public, including most smart people,” Somin added. “If your only reason to follow politics is to be a better voter, that turns out not to be much of a reason at all. That is because there is very little chance that your vote will actually make a difference to the outcome of an election (about 1 in 60 million in a presidential race, for example).”

For all their wisdom, the Founders were not especially fond of enfranchisement. Subsequent generations of Americans have sought to correct for this over-caution and most municipalities now err on the side of inclusion when it comes to voting rights. Great wars and incredible social upheaval was endured so that the right of African-Americans, women, and those of military service age to vote was enshrined in the Constitution. In general, Americans are supportive of extending the right to vote to those who are of majority age and are stakeholders in the system.

Recently, however, the left has become infatuated with conflating the rights associated with enfranchisement with the exercise of that franchise. This is a fallacy. Of late, progressives have embraced extending voting rights to demographics with a dubious grasp on civics and often conflate choosing not to participate in the electoral process with being prevented from doing so.

“Lowering the voting age to 16 in [San Francisco] is not about redesigning adulthood but redesigning civic participation,” declared San Francisco District 11 Supervisor John Avalos on Twitter with the accompanying hashtag “#Vote16SF.” That’s right: A proposal to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in that city has been tabled until next year when city council members could approve putting the measure on the November, 2016 ballot.

The Bay Area isn’t the only progressive enclave expanding the franchise out to those who might not have a sound command of the issues. While a variety of American municipalities have in the past expanded the right to vote out to non-citizen permanent residents, the right to vote has primarily been exclusively reserved for those who are citizens or have achieved legal status. Until recently, that is. This year, the New York City council drafted a measure making it just one of eight municipalities (six in Maryland and the seventh the city of Chicago) to extend the right to vote in local or school board elections to illegal immigrants.

“Noncitizen voting would probably enhance the power of Democrats — not that they particularly need it in this city,” Baruch College professor Doug Muzzio said of the measure that was too extreme even for the Los Angeles Times editorial board.

But many progressives view expanding access to the ballot as a half measure. Full enfranchisement can only be realized if participation in the electoral process is made mandatory. “Other countries have mandatory voting,” President Barack Obama said in March, demonstrating once again his uniquely tenuous grasp on the concept of American exceptionalism. “It would be transformative if everybody voted — that would counteract money more than anything.”

The president added that countries like Australia and Belgium have instituted compulsory voting, and the failure to participate in elections can result in fines or even prison sentences. “The people who tend not to vote are young, they’re lower income, they’re skewed more heavily towards immigrant groups and minority groups,” Obama said. “There’s a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls.”

Obama is not advocating for expanded access but compulsory participation. He has defined a freedom as complete only if it is enjoyed at gunpoint.

The president’s statement is of a kind with a comment made by Hillary Clinton who recently endorsed the far-left’s hobbyhorse of mandatory and automatic voter registration.

“The need to register to vote is just about the most modest restriction on ballot access I can think of, which is why it works so well as a democratic filter: It improves democratic hygiene because the people who can’t be bothered to register (as opposed to those who refuse to vote as a means of protest) are, except in unusual cases, civic idiots,” National Review’s Daniel Foster wrote in opposition to Clinton’s proposal. “If you want an idea of what political discourse looks like when you so dramatically lower the burden of participation that civic idiots elect to join the fray, I give you the Internet.”

Interestingly, Foster added that he favors expanding voting rights to a class that might want to vote but has been denied that privilege: former convicts. Championing the voting rights of some ex-cons who long ago paid their debts to society is a measure that has been supported by Democrats and Republicans alike. And while expanding this group’s access to the polls would likely augment Democratic vote totals, it has been embraced by GOP icons like Senator Rand Paul because they believe these individuals are endowed with the civic virtue required of a voter.

One could argue that expanding the right of minors and illegal immigrants to vote and instituting a policy of mandatory voter registration are designed to increase access to the ballot for those who want to participate, but the president let the veil slip when he endorsed frog marching those reluctant voters to the polls. None of this is about enfranchisement; it’s about enhancing one party’s political clout unburdened by having to sell their policies to an informed electorate. By giving groups like minors, non-citizens, and the disinterested access to the ballot, the left has inadvertently confessed that they are increasingly unable to pitch their policy preferences to the system’s traditional stakeholders. Rather than address this deficiency, they have determined that new stakeholders must undergo forcible ascension.

It is increasingly becoming taboo to stand in defense of those who take the rights and demands of citizenship seriously, educate themselves, and endure basic hardships like registering to vote and knowing when Election Day is. It will never be popular to oppose extending voting rights to what Daniel Foster calls, perhaps uncharitably, “civic idiots,” but there is something to be said for privileging the informed voter.

If the left had their way, the informed and civic-minded would have their vote diluted by the newly enfranchised 16-year-old undocumented immigrant who is only voting in order to avoid paying a penalty. That is the true injustice.

June-2015-Promotion_animation

Read Less

The Scorched Earth Hillary Clinton Campaign

For partisan Democrats, the Hillary Clinton campaign is an unstoppable juggernaut and has the potential to upend virtually every foundational assumption about American politics. But Clinton’s approach to campaigning for the presidency should cast doubt on the supposedly preternatural abilities of this figure that we have been so often told is a natural campaigner and a political virtuoso. Read More

For partisan Democrats, the Hillary Clinton campaign is an unstoppable juggernaut and has the potential to upend virtually every foundational assumption about American politics. But Clinton’s approach to campaigning for the presidency should cast doubt on the supposedly preternatural abilities of this figure that we have been so often told is a natural campaigner and a political virtuoso.

2014’s pro-Republican tsunami did little to temper the expectations shared by Democratic operatives that Hillary Clinton’s acumen would shift America’s political center of gravity measurably in the Democratic direction. In mid-November of last year, Mitch Stewart, President Barack Obama’s battleground state director and a senior strategist for the pro-Clinton PAC Ready for Hillary, was certain that the former secretary of state would not only win in 2016 but expand on even Barack Obama’s 2008 electoral map. States like Arizona, Missouri, Arkansas, and Georgia were in play, he told Talking Points Memo. “Where I think Secretary Clinton has more appeal than any other Democrat looking at running is that with white working-class voters, she does have a connection,” Stewart averred. “I think she’s best positioned to open those states.”

Team Clinton is today scaling back its lofty set of initial targets, but Democrats remain convinced that the former secretary is still best positioned to win the election in 2016 and take more than a handful of her fellow Democrats with her into high federal office. That inference can be drawn from the fact that the Democratic Party’s 2016 senatorial slate is composed of a number of top-tier candidates. When Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, Illinois Rep. Tammy Duckworth, and former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold revealed their intention to run for U.S Senate in 2016, they also indicated that they think Hillary Clinton will have coattails.

But the sincere confidence outwardly displayed by partisan Democrats contrasts mightily with what neutral observers are seeing from her admittedly nascent campaign.

It now seems like a fancy of wide-eyed liberal consultants that Hillary Clinton’s legacy last name and her presumed appeal to working-class white voters, last observed in the wild circa 2008, would possibly turn states like Arkansas blue. In fact, according to some reporting, Clinton’s campaign anticipates losing ground among white voters in 2016 even when compared with Barack Obama’s relatively poor showing among this demographic.

“[Clinton’s] strategy relies on calculations about the 2016 landscape, including that up to 31 percent of the electorate will be Americans of color — a projection that may be overly optimistic for her campaign,” the Washington Post’s Anna Gearan observed last month. That’s not merely optimistic; it’s sanguine to the point of naïveté. Only 28 percent of the 2008 electorate was made up of minority voters, and the minority share of the electorate declined by two points four years later. “Clinton will have to expand Hispanic support, increase turnout among independent women and still hold on to a large share of black voters who were drawn to the first African American major-party nominee,” Gearan noted. And that’s precisely what Clinton has been doing.

As Jonathan Tobin noted, one of the central pillars of Clinton’s effort to revive Barack Obama’s coalition consists of fanning the flames of fear surrounding Republican support for voter identification laws. It doesn’t matter to Clinton that voter ID was upheld by the Supreme Court and is wildly popular, even among minority voters, she has cast these and other efforts as “voter suppression” and equated them to Jim Crow era efforts to disenfranchise black voters. The fact that Clinton is deploying a tactic this cynical before she has even secured the nomination should not be inspiring confidence in Democrats.

Some Democratic strategists are starting to concede that Clinton’s pathway to the White House will be a narrow one. “If you run a campaign trying to appeal to 60 to 70 percent of the electorate, you’re not going to run a very compelling campaign for the voters you need,” Barack Obama’s former campaign manager, David Plouffe, told the New York Times.

That admission, one that implicitly dismisses rural voters and traditionally Republican states, is troubling for those historians who fretted to the Times reporters that President Hillary Clinton will not enjoy the mandate she needs to govern if she does not run an inclusive and broad-based campaign for the presidency. Indeed, writing off a large portion of the electorate is what landed former GOP nominee Mitt Romney in hot water following the exposure of his now infamous comments about the “47 percent” of the electorate that receives federal benefits and thus would never support a Republican.

The Times noted that Clinton will have to run Obama’s campaign but, being unable to run as a post-partisan unifier in the way that Obama did in 2008, her path to the White House consists of driving Democratic base voters to the polls.

Mrs. Clinton and her husband expressed concern last year when Democratic turnout fell precipitously. Recognizing that Democrats had to be galvanized to show up at the polls, Mrs. Clinton’s advisers used surveys and focus groups to assess the risks of running a strongly liberal campaign. They concluded that there were few.

So she is embracing the central lesson of the Obama school: that voters turn out when they believe that an election makes a difference and that their party’s standard-bearer is a champion on issues important to them.

Clinton is already signaling that division and tribalism will characterize her run for the White House. If Democrats do buck historical trends and secure a third consecutive term in the Oval Office, it will be by narrow margins. Recognizing this, Clinton is ready to run the scorched earth campaign that Barack Obama ran in 2012. But hers might even be more divisive and factional, pitting one demographic against another, in order to knit together a modest majority of American presidential voters. But what kind of a country will she inherit after such a dangerous and callous effort? What will be left to govern after Hillary Clinton has set fire to national comity in service to her insatiable ambition? We might soon find out.

June-2015-Promotion_animation

Read Less

Hillary Needs a Faux War on Voting Rights

Hillary Clinton was in Texas on Thursday doing what she usually does: not taking questions from the press while seeking ways to energize the Democratic base. In this case, her focus on highlighting a key issue for Democrats: voting rights. But contrary to the overheated rhetoric she and other members of her party are employing, this has little to do with fighting actual efforts to stop minorities from voting and everything to do with creating a sense of crisis, particularly among African-Americans, that Republicans are seeking to put them “back in chains.” The main focus of this effort is to invalidate laws requiring voters to have photo IDs while seeking to institute weeks-long periods of early voting. Neither of those measures has much to do with ensuring that Jim Crow never returns. To the contrary, the effort to hype this into a fight for racial equality is about Clinton’s fear that the African-Americans that turned out in record numbers to elect and then re-elect Barack Obama won’t show up for her next year. And if takes a cynical waving of the bloody shirt of the Civil Rights era to convince them that Republicans are out to get them, Clinton is demonstrating that she will stoop as low as it takes to get blacks sufficiently alarmed about a possible GOP victory in 2016.

Read More

Hillary Clinton was in Texas on Thursday doing what she usually does: not taking questions from the press while seeking ways to energize the Democratic base. In this case, her focus on highlighting a key issue for Democrats: voting rights. But contrary to the overheated rhetoric she and other members of her party are employing, this has little to do with fighting actual efforts to stop minorities from voting and everything to do with creating a sense of crisis, particularly among African-Americans, that Republicans are seeking to put them “back in chains.” The main focus of this effort is to invalidate laws requiring voters to have photo IDs while seeking to institute weeks-long periods of early voting. Neither of those measures has much to do with ensuring that Jim Crow never returns. To the contrary, the effort to hype this into a fight for racial equality is about Clinton’s fear that the African-Americans that turned out in record numbers to elect and then re-elect Barack Obama won’t show up for her next year. And if takes a cynical waving of the bloody shirt of the Civil Rights era to convince them that Republicans are out to get them, Clinton is demonstrating that she will stoop as low as it takes to get blacks sufficiently alarmed about a possible GOP victory in 2016.

As the New York Times points out, the Democrats tactic is to target every state that has passed a voter ID law or that seeks to pull back on early voting and to tie them up with litigation so as to ensure that nothing impedes their efforts to turn out their base. But the legal controversies about voter ID or early voting are actually second to the political purpose of this issue.

Voter ID opponents are fond of arguing that there are few cases in which mass voter fraud has been proven. That’s true, but that talking point is undermined by the realization that, in states and cities where parties control law enforcement and election commissions, even the most suspicious voting patterns are not investigated. Of course, assuming that there is no such thing as voter fraud forces us to forget everything we know about American political history as well as human nature. But even if we accept the premise that efforts to prevent fraud are more about possible rather than actual threats to the integrity of the vote, the same argument can be turned around on liberal opponents of such efforts.

Whatever one might think about voter integrity laws — and the vast majority of Americans have always believed they are both reasonable and legal — the notion that they are a threat to voting rights is a lie made out of whole cloth. In a nation where photo IDs are required for virtually any business transaction, travel, or interaction with the government, it stands to reason that voters ought to be able to meet the same minimal requirement of self-identification. The analogy made between discriminatory Jim Crow laws and voter ID are bogus because the former was about obtaining a fraudulent outcome while the latter is about ensuring the opposite result.

It is true that statistics can be found to show that fewer minorities have photo IDs than other groups but, as liberal blogger and election guru Nate Silver pointed out in 2012, there is no reason to believe the vast majority of those who fail to make the effort to obtain such a document from the state are also willing to inconvenience themselves to register or vote. The same year a Washington Post poll found that nearly two-thirds of African-Americans questioned supported voter ID laws while three-quarters of all Americans agreed. There is no proof that anyone who really wants to vote is being turned away or stopped from doing so. Instead of trying to prevent states from ensuring the integrity of the vote, or damning a system of voting in which the body politic would decide the outcome in a common time frame that would encompass the entire campaign rather than merely a portion of it, Democrats should be concentrating their efforts on getting more people registered and out to vote.

Minorities are no more incapable of getting a photo ID or showing up on Election Day (or a shortened period of voting) than anyone else. None of the measures Clinton and other Democrats are protesting bears the slightest resemblance to segregationist tactics. Both parties are always seeking to game the system, and Clinton’s proposal for automatic national registration, a scheme that sounds better in principle than it might be in practice, should be understood in that context. Seen in that light, the idea that this issue is a civil rights crisis or a threat to voting rights is a farce.

Why then are Democrats hyping a non-existent crisis? The same reason they sought to create the impression that Republicans were waging a non-existent “war on women” in 2012 and 2014. Creating the impression that African-Americans are being targeted by Republicans is the only way she can be sure that this most Democratic of demographic groups will turn out in the numbers she needs to win next year, even though Obama will no longer be on the ballot. If doing so means cloaking herself in the mantle of Rosa Parks and making wild, unsubstantiated claims about blacks being deprived of the right to vote, then so be it. But whether or not this faux “war on voting” works, and it might, let no one misunderstand her purpose. This is about politics and manipulating the fears of African-Americans, not a genuine threat to their rights or those of any other voting group.

June-2015-Promotion_animation

Read Less

The Unbearable Lightness of the 2016 Democratic Field

With the West losing a war against an abhorrent foe abroad, one that seeks to convert Americans in order to terrorize the United States from within, and an anemic economic recovery at home, there is a wealth of gravely serious issues for the immense field of aspiring 2016 candidates to tackle. You would not know that, however, from the conspicuously frivolous matters that appear to occupy the minds of the 2016 field of Democratic presidential candidates. Read More

With the West losing a war against an abhorrent foe abroad, one that seeks to convert Americans in order to terrorize the United States from within, and an anemic economic recovery at home, there is a wealth of gravely serious issues for the immense field of aspiring 2016 candidates to tackle. You would not know that, however, from the conspicuously frivolous matters that appear to occupy the minds of the 2016 field of Democratic presidential candidates.

On Wednesday, Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democratic former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee announced a quixotic bid to challenge the inevitable Hillary Clinton for his party’s presidential nomination. Naturally, he launched his underdog campaign by focusing on the issue at the forefront of American minds: the nation’s stubborn refusal to adopt the metric system.

Chafee’s resurrection of an issue so dear to President Jimmy Carter’s heart might not be such a bad way to ingratiate himself to his fellow Democrats. After all, America would be just another metric nation rather than an exceptional one that embraces customary units had Ronald Reagan not disbanded the U.S. Metric Board in 1982.

Chafee insisted that his proposal was a way in which the United States might make amends to the rest of the world for its stumbles in the realm of foreign policy over the last 14 years, but he immediately proceeded to make one of his own. In his speech, Chafee refused to rule out the prospect of preemptively surrendering to the Islamic State insurgents and their expanding Islamic caliphate. “We’re coming to grips with who these people are and what they want,” Chafee said. “Let’s wage peace in this new American century.” The moral vacuity of Chafee’s call for a retreat from the halfhearted war President Obama only reluctantly committed to fighting in the face of genocide, slavery, and the wanton destruction of shared human heritage in the Middle East is breathtakingly pusillanimous.

But in advocating capitulation, Chafee is at least addressing great issues of statecraft. That’s more than you can say for many of his competitors.

Tilting at long forgotten windmills appears to be a favored pastime for Democratic presidential aspirants. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and self-described socialist Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are equally concerned with refighting the battles of the past. Both have stressed the injustice of the fact that no one in the financial sector was convicted or even charged in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Just what those charges would be and whom they might have sought indictments against will, however, remain a mystery. When they are not railing against the weather, these candidates have also devoted extensive time and energy to denouncing the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement and the trade promotional authority the Senate recently provided to their party’s leader upon request. In this way, Sanders and O’Malley get to litigate the residual grievances that have festered since the NAFTA free trade agreement went into effect 22 years ago. Never mind the fact that two polls released at the end of the month show that majorities are both favorable toward this agreement and believe free global trade benefits the country as a whole.

But it is former Secretary of State Clinton, her party’s most likely standard-bearer, who traffics most frequently in trivialities and vagaries. In lieu of interviews, Clinton continues to give “groundbreaking” speeches in which she makes wild calls for solutions to problems that simply don’t exist. “Her speech will be her interview,” Clinton’s press team gallingly informed reporters this week ahead of yet another grand oration. To keep the media’s attention, she issues unrealizable calls to action galvanizing her supporters for a fight against a momentous injustice they hadn’t known existed until Clinton invented it.

On Thursday, in yet another landmark address, Clinton will call for extended early voting that would last no less than 20 days prior to an election. But why 20? Why not a full month? Or maybe two months? After all, the great scourge of voter intimidation and disenfranchisement may not be ameliorated with such an arbitrary cut-off period.

Predictably, Clinton’s call to arms will inspire approbation from the traditional centers of Democratic self-validation. The New York Times editorial board or the like will spring to action, wonder why they had never recognized the marginalization of voters who can’t remember when Election Day is or to secure their absentee ballot within two weeks of that constitutionally-mandated voting period, and declare Clinton the civil rights champion of her time for confronting this underrated issue.

But this isn’t the only grand pronouncement candidate Clinton has delivered on the trail in which she declared the greatest scourge of our generation was one that you had carelessly overlooked. She also occupies her time making lofty demands on lawmakers or the culture in general that will never be realized.

Clinton has called for a constitutional amendment to limit the freedoms in the First so that anyone who wants to make a movie critical of her 60 days out from an election will be prohibited from doing so. Unseemly? Sure. Unrealistic? Absolutely. Such a proposition couldn’t pass a Democratic-led Senate, much less secure two-thirds of the vote of Congress and be ratified by 37 states. But it is not your lot to reason why. In another speech, Clinton called for the end of the era of “mass incarceration,” a blight ushered in by the criminal justice reforms her husband signed into law and for which she lobbied for as first lady. But what does that even mean? And how is this proposition to be achieved? Those and other valid questions were drowned out by the crowd’s deafening applause.

These are not serious policy proposals; they’re positioning statements. Sound bites designed to generate favorable press coverage without all the hassle of having to explain what they mean and how they will be achieved in necessarily granular detail.

Polls have consistently shown that issues like the stalling economic recovery, the federal debt and deficit, the unsettled fate of ObamaCare, education policy, terrorism, the deteriorating international security environment, and illegal immigration dominate the minds of most voters. You might think the slate of Democratic presidential candidates would deign to convince voters that they are the most competent and serious-minded figure in the field. The fact that they are aggressively avoiding these issues is an indication of the headwinds the president’s party will face in their effort to secure a third consecutive term in the White House.

Read Less

The Unkindest Cut: Obama Is Now Less Popular than Bush

Barack Obama has largely, although not entirely, given up the bad habit of blaming the suboptimal state of affairs at home and abroad on his predecessor. While he might like to continue the practice, the efficacy of the president’s blame shifting for his failures onto the shoulders of a president seven years out of office has understandably diminished. Even if Obama has stopped blaming Bush, he surely took some measure of solace in that the public viewed him more warmly than they did his predecessor. Until today. Read More

Barack Obama has largely, although not entirely, given up the bad habit of blaming the suboptimal state of affairs at home and abroad on his predecessor. While he might like to continue the practice, the efficacy of the president’s blame shifting for his failures onto the shoulders of a president seven years out of office has understandably diminished. Even if Obama has stopped blaming Bush, he surely took some measure of solace in that the public viewed him more warmly than they did his predecessor. Until today.

The result of a CNN/ORC survey released on Wednesday reveal that Barack Obama isn’t just more unpopular than George W. Bush, the architect of the Iraq War, but that the current president is the least popular living commander-in-chief.

“Bush is seen in a favorable light by 52 percent of those surveyed, compared with 43 percent who still view the 43rd president unfavorably. Americans are split on Obama, with 49 percent responding favorably and unfavorably,” Politico revealed. The Washington Post’s Philip Bump indicated that this survey also indicates that George W. Bush’s favorability rating now exceeds even Hillary Clinton’s. Both George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton are viewed positively by 64 percent of the public, with Clinton drawing a slightly higher unfavorable rating.

Those who would claim that distance and time make the heart grow fonder must contend with the fact that only 56 percent of survey respondents have a favorable opinion of Jimmy Carter (a president that, bizarrely, 6 percent of respondents had never heard of). What’s more, George W. Bush’s favorability isn’t all that dissimilar from Bill Clinton’s, despite the latter’s ubiquity in 2012 when Democrats touted his virtue as the administration’s “explainer-in-chief.”

Furthermore, the notion that all former presidents are rehabilitated in the minds of voters once they are out of office, and the present occupant of the Oval Office in the latter half of his second term will always be regarded poorly by voters, also lacks historical support. According to the Washington Post’s Scott Clement, other recent public opinion polls indicate that Obama’s “popularity numbers are running well behind historic norms.”

Historically, Obama’s standing is below the 56 percent average of presidential approval ratings in Washington Post/ABC News and Gallup polls dating back to the 1930s. His 45 percent mark is also just below average for other two-term presidents at this stage. He is significantly higher than George W. Bush (35 percent) and Harry Truman (24 percent) but lower than Ronald Reagan (52 percent), Bill Clinton (59 percent) and Dwight Eisenhower (64 percent) at this point in their presidencies.

A bigger challenge for Obama’s personal legacy is the sheer intensity of disapproval, which was also seen under George W. Bush. Nearly four in 10 (38 percent) strongly disapprove of his job performance, while 22 percent strongly approve.

Even if these polling results will have little impact on how voters determine to cast their ballots in the next election, the president’s vast ego must be a little bit deflated today.

June-2015-Promotion_animation

Read Less

Do Hillary’s Bad Poll Numbers Matter? Yes.

Hillary Clinton and her supporters are probably telling themselves not to be alarmed by the latest CNN/ORC poll. They must acknowledge that the headlines will rightly trumpet the fact that in just two months the former First Lady has gone from a net plus 11 percent positive rating to a negative four percent in terms of her favorability. Just as bad if not worse are the numbers that tell us that clear majorities of Americans don’t consider her honest, trustworthy, care about them, or inspire confidence. But Clinton still has a staggering 46 percent lead over any other Democrat and leads all Republican contenders in head-to-head matchups, although not by the same large margins that she once enjoyed. That means that no matter what most Americans think about her, she is certain to be the Democratic nominee and head toward November 2016 with, at worst, an even chance of winning the presidency. That’s not a bad place to be for any presidential candidate 17 months before the election. But the more one drills down into Hillary’s numbers, the less confident Democrats should be.

Read More

Hillary Clinton and her supporters are probably telling themselves not to be alarmed by the latest CNN/ORC poll. They must acknowledge that the headlines will rightly trumpet the fact that in just two months the former First Lady has gone from a net plus 11 percent positive rating to a negative four percent in terms of her favorability. Just as bad if not worse are the numbers that tell us that clear majorities of Americans don’t consider her honest, trustworthy, care about them, or inspire confidence. But Clinton still has a staggering 46 percent lead over any other Democrat and leads all Republican contenders in head-to-head matchups, although not by the same large margins that she once enjoyed. That means that no matter what most Americans think about her, she is certain to be the Democratic nominee and head toward November 2016 with, at worst, an even chance of winning the presidency. That’s not a bad place to be for any presidential candidate 17 months before the election. But the more one drills down into Hillary’s numbers, the less confident Democrats should be.

The Clinton camp will say that once their campaign cranks up and begins spending up to $2 billion on selling the country on Hillary’s greatness and trashing Republicans, the current slide will be reversed. To some extent, they may be right. As President Obama proved in 2012, if you are able to define your opponents with ads that slime their reputations as well as negative coverage from a helpful mainstream liberal media, half the battle will already be won.

But Hillary’s rising negatives point to the basic problem facing Democrats in 2016. We have been endlessly lectured that the Democrats’ main advantage was and remains a demographic one with women and minorities voting for them in numbers sufficient to offset any GOP strengths elsewhere. That’s true, but focusing solely on that breakdown ignores the fact that the Democrats’ real advantage was in having a candidate that a majority of Americans liked and, to some extent, trusted. Though his charms were lost on most Republicans, Barack Obama was and, to some extent still is, a magical political figure. He was not only liked by most voters he also made them feel good about themselves because of his historical status as our first African-American president. Hillary may hope that being the first female president will have the same resonance, but that may be more wishful thinking than hard analysis. As much as her identity as a woman will be a huge positive factor for her candidacy, that enthusiasm is tempered by the negative view that most Americans have about her personally. Though liberals keep telling us that the Clinton Cash scandals, Benghazi, and other Clinton problems are right-wing media conspiracies, they appear to have taken a toll on Clinton’s image.

Unlike most of the Republican candidates who must struggle to become better known and then try to avoid being defined by Democratic attacks, Hillary’s not only has universal name recognition but her identity is so fixed in the public imagination that it’s not clear that negative ads would even do all that much damage to her. Large numbers of Americans like her and nothing will change that. At the same time, an equally large group dislikes her so intensely that virtually nothing could make them support her. That puts her in a far less formidable position than Obama had in either of his presidential runs. Even if we concede that the Democrats start out with a stranglehold on 247 Electoral College votes to the Republicans having 206 with only 85 toss-ups that will determine the outcome.

Winning those key swing states will require the sort of enthusiasm that Obama inspired among the base. Can Hillary have the same sort of appeal? Since hard-core Democrats don’t care about the Clintons’ scandals, the answer is maybe. But Clinton will need to do more than mobilize her base. The most discouraging numbers in the CNN poll isn’t so much those terrible numbers about trustworthiness. It’s the fact that her favorability among independents is so poor, with a 54-41 negative result.

There are some other interesting facts to be gleaned from the CNN poll on the Republican side. In terms of who is ahead among the huge GOP field, the results are as useless as that of any other national poll. The leading candidates are all bunched together with only a few percentage points separating them and those on the bottom, like Carly Fiorina and newly declared candidate Lindsey Graham barely registering any support. That tells us nothing about who is set up to do well in the early voting states or which of them has any real advantage over the others.

What is significant is that Jeb Bush, the person many anointed as the Republican frontrunner and the one best suited to win a general election, is doing worse against Clinton in head-to-head matchups than any of the others. Even worse is the fact that poll respondents identified Bush more with the past than the future by a 62-34 percent margin. That has to be extremely frustrating for him, as he hasn’t held office in over 8 years and Clinton who has played a key role in the last two Democratic administrations gets a pro-future rating by a puzzling 51-45 percent margin. It seems obvious that a lot of people are confusing him with his older brother or father, but it may also be another piece of evidence that a lot of Americans don’t like the idea of a third Bush in the White House. That puts the conventional wisdom about the inevitability of a Bush-Clinton general election very much in doubt.

Marco Rubio had better news since he not only led the pack with an admittedly meager 14 percent but was also the most popular second choice. He also had the highest rating of being identified with the future of any candidate from either party.

Taken as a whole, none of this data should change our evaluations of what sets up to be a Clinton coronation for the Democrats, a confusing scrum for the GOP, and a general election in which both sides have a chance. That’s not terrible news for Clinton, but it shows that this will be a much more competitive election than the last two presidential contests. That means Democrats who think they can’t lose the presidency need to think again.

Read Less

Team Hillary Testing How Much Hypocrisy the Left Can Endure

Based on the ebullient headline, the results of the latest New York Times/CBS News survey were precisely what the Gray Lady’s editors wanted to see. “Poll shows Americans favor overhaul of campaign financing,” the Times boomed. Implicit in the survey’s results was a rebuke of the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United, an opinion that found elements of 2002’s sweeping campaign finance reform legislation in violation of the First Amendment’s protections on speech and a decision that ushered in the era of Super PACs as we know them today. The Times apparently determined that it had won the argument, even if it lost the court case. But Democrats and their party’s likely standard-bearer ahead of the 2016 presidential race might find that adherence to principle could handicap their performance in the coming election cycle. Read More

Based on the ebullient headline, the results of the latest New York Times/CBS News survey were precisely what the Gray Lady’s editors wanted to see. “Poll shows Americans favor overhaul of campaign financing,” the Times boomed. Implicit in the survey’s results was a rebuke of the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United, an opinion that found elements of 2002’s sweeping campaign finance reform legislation in violation of the First Amendment’s protections on speech and a decision that ushered in the era of Super PACs as we know them today. The Times apparently determined that it had won the argument, even if it lost the court case. But Democrats and their party’s likely standard-bearer ahead of the 2016 presidential race might find that adherence to principle could handicap their performance in the coming election cycle.

The New York Times/CBS News survey found that voters tend to regard money in politics as generally corrupting, are mistrustful of the influence wielded by the wealthy, and are predisposed to look favorably upon the left’s policy prescriptions for reforming campaign financing. But delve deeper into the survey’s results and you’ll find that the issue is not as cut-and-dried as the Times portrayed it.

Respondents were asked an absurdly elaborate question about the nature of the private financing of political activity, which Times reporters summarized as “Are changes needed to the way political campaigns are funded in the United States?” In reality, the question was far more complex:

**Which of the following three statements comes closest to expressing your overall view of the way political campaigns are funded in the United States: 1) On the whole, the system for funding political campaigns works pretty well and only minor changes are necessary to make it work better, or 2) There are some good things in the system for funding political campaigns but fundamental changes are needed, or 3) The system for funding political campaigns has so much wrong with it that we need to completely rebuild it**

The 52 percent of respondents who answered 1 or 2 could be considered either wholly opposed to the status quo or mildly supportive of it (or, perhaps, simply resigned to the present reality). Only the 46 percent of those who selected answer 3 are unambiguously opposed to the post-Citizens United status quo. A reader would not know that from reading the Times dispatch, which averred that the 52 percent of respondents who chose answer 1 or 2 back either “minor changes” or “fundamental changes” to present campaign finance regulations.

The Times write up of this survey also did not make much note of the fact that those who think the wealthy have more influence over the process than they should dropped 9 points from just one year ago. The reporters preferred instead to remind readers that two-thirds continue to believe wealth imparts undue influence over the political process.

The quibbles with the poll and the Times/CBS poll’s wording aside, one aspect of this survey did disquiet those who favor dramatic campaign finance reforms: Only the most committed progressives care about the issue. While the public might be predisposed to gripe about campaign financing, less than one percent of respondents see it as a pressing issue.

“Democrats have long puzzled over how to make campaign finance matter to voters,” The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent observed. “They’ve wrestled the problem by trying to come up with ways to tie it to a broader argument against plutocracy, making the case that big money in politics is why the political process is paralyzed in the face of an economic playing field that is rigged for the rich and against the middle class. But plainly, this conundrum has yet to be cracked.”

Former Secretary Clinton has joined President Barack Obama and Sen. Bernie Sanders in backing a constitutional amendment to limit the freedoms in the First, if only to curtail the influence high-dollar donors have over the political process. Few non-conservative observers have noted that Citizens United was a case in which the Supreme Court determined that it was unconstitutional for McCain-Feingold finance laws to criminalize the release of a movie critical of Hillary Clinton 60 days out from an election. Fewer still have remarked on the inherent unseemliness of the former secretary’s desire to see the Constitution amended so that it might once again be illegal to criticize her. Perhaps that admission would compel the left to endure an unwelcome critical self-examination of their anti-Citizens United crusade’s presumed moral righteousness.

For now, liberals remain steadfastly committed to the notion that big money should be forcibly removed from the political process. Unfortunately for Democrats, the left’s high-dollar donor class agrees. According to a David Brock-authored memo obtained by Politico, pro-Clinton forces are busily attempting to assuage liberal donors’ concerns about Clinton’s progressive bona fides and cajoling them to open their pockets so that she might compete against the likes of the omnipresent Koch brothers next year.

The contradictory nature of Team Clinton’s approach is self-evident: In order to get big money out of politics, you have to put some big money into it. Just this once, of course. But anyone who has been following the Clinton Foundation’s ethically challenged fundraising practices, Hillary Clinton’s thinly veiled quid pro quo solicitations, or Bill Clinton’s income-shielding shell company should already be sufficiently suspicious of the Clinton family’s commitment to ridding the world of money’s devious influence.

“How can we stand up here and expect to be taken seriously talking about what they are doing when we are doing the same thing?” read one of the Brock memo’s illustrative Frequently Asked Questions.

“We will play by the existing rules in this election because we cannot unilaterally disarm – too much of what we care about is at stake,” the memo answered. “People in this room are not motivated by personal gain, and often work against their own self-interest.”

This is the kind of self-flattery to which the left has come accustomed, particularly from friendly outlets like the New York Times and Brock’s various pro-Clinton vehicles. Surely, there will be those principled liberals who subordinate their deeply-held values to what they have convinced themselves is the greater good and open their wallets for Hillary. But how many Democratic donors will remember Barack Obama’s aborted pledge to campaign only with the aid of public financing in 2007, or his broken promise to avoid using Super PACs in 2012 out of principle? How many Democrats will refuse to allow themselves to not be fooled twice by those liberals who pay lip service to the problem of unaccountable money in politics but never seem to act on their promises to address it? Only a handful, perhaps. But that handful will decide that there are better things to do with their income than contribute it to another broken promise in the making.

June-2015-Promotion_animation

Read Less

Hillary Clinton’s Other Mitt Romney Problem

According to NBC News, Hillary Clinton has a “Romney problem.” The prohibitive Democratic presidential nominee has apparently exposed herself to justified attacks on her wealth similar to those that dogged the former Massachusetts governor in the last presidential cycle. “With the election still more than a year away, Hillary Clinton is trying to avoid making her wealth a liability, like Mitt Romney in 2012,” MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell said on Sunday’s Meet the Press. It’s true that Romney’s success captivated the imaginations of narrative-setting political reporters, and those in the press would be guilty of observing a double standard if they didn’t note that Clinton has shown that she is just as self-conscious about her family’s income. But that’s not the only “Romney problem” that could prove vexing for Clinton in 2016. Read More

According to NBC News, Hillary Clinton has a “Romney problem.” The prohibitive Democratic presidential nominee has apparently exposed herself to justified attacks on her wealth similar to those that dogged the former Massachusetts governor in the last presidential cycle. “With the election still more than a year away, Hillary Clinton is trying to avoid making her wealth a liability, like Mitt Romney in 2012,” MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell said on Sunday’s Meet the Press. It’s true that Romney’s success captivated the imaginations of narrative-setting political reporters, and those in the press would be guilty of observing a double standard if they didn’t note that Clinton has shown that she is just as self-conscious about her family’s income. But that’s not the only “Romney problem” that could prove vexing for Clinton in 2016.

In a recent column, National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar took a critical look at the phenomenon of presidential candidate and self-described socialist Senator Bernie Sanders, and his apparent appeal to those Democrats who are not “Ready for Hillary.” Sanders’ viability as a Democratic standard-bearer is not derived from his compelling speaking skills or credible policy positions, Kraushaar submitted, but it’s his unashamed support for far-left dogma that appeals to a progressive element within the Democratic Party that is no longer isolated on the party’s peripheral fringes.

“Sanders’ early prominence is not a reflection of Sanders himself,” Kraushaar wrote. “Instead, he’s serving as the avatar for the emboldened attitude of the party’s progressive wing.”

And the socialist from Vermont who honeymooned in the Soviet Union is starting to generate a substantial amount of support from the Democratic Party’s far-left primary voters. “Judging from Mr. Sanders’s trip here last week, there is real support for his message,” a recent dispatch from Iowa in the New York Times read. “Even before Mr. Sanders drew unexpected levels of support at this Iowa event, advisers to Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign were emphasizing that they expected the caucuses to be competitive.”

Indeed. On Monday, Clinton’s campaign forwarded to reporters background information talking down the former secretary’s prospects in the early states. “[N]o Democratic candidate for president has ever received more than 50% of the caucus vote unless they were a sitting President or Vice President, or incumbent Iowa Senator,” Clinton’s campaign averred. “In New Hampshire, no Democrat in a contested primary in the last 25 years has won by more than 27,000 votes or received more than 50% of the vote.”

Why all the expectation setting? Perhaps because Sanders isn’t as marginal a threat to Clinton as he should be, given his immoderate policy preferences. While Clinton retains her status as the likely caucus winner according to the findings in a new Bloomberg poll of Hawkeye State Democrats, Sanders has more than tripled his support among Democratic primary voters since January. The Vermont senator now draws 16 percent support from liberal Iowans while another 47 percent have a favorable view of him.  Although this is a paltry amount of support compared to Clinton 57 percent, she is not taking the threat from her left flank lightly.

Progressive Democrats long ago declared their intention to pull Clinton to the left, and they have largely succeeded. Today, when she is not avoiding the press, Clinton spends most of her time denouncing the achievements of her centrist husband, the 42nd President of the United Sates. Real Clear Politics analyst Sean Trende observed that Clinton’s leftward drift is measurable. What’s more, it might be shrewd politics; maintaining the integrity of Barack Obama’s electoral coalition will be crucial if Clinton hopes to secure a third consecutive term for Democrats in the White House.

This leads us to Kraushaar’s next astute observation, which could be considered Clinton’s other Mitt Romney problem. “Sanders is poised to play the same role as Mitt Romney’s 2012 GOP tormentors, a motley cast of characters who stood no chance of winning the nomination but gradually pushed Romney to the right,” he wrote. “After all, Romney’s infamous line about ‘self-deportation’ was a reaction to the fear that he was vulnerable on his right flank from the likes of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.”

Truly. Those Republicans who are consumed with worry over the crowded GOP field and the prospect that the stacked primary debate stage could force the eventual GOP nominee too far to the right while Hillary Clinton is pandering to voters seduced by a reformed Soviet sympathizer are fighting the last war.

If the press was convinced that Mitt Romney had lurched too far to the right when he advocated for “self-deportation,” what can the commentary class honestly say of Clinton’s advocacy for a constitutional amendment to limit the freedoms in the First other than that it is genuinely extremist?  If Clinton has been compelled to renounce her husband’s criminal justice reforms and praise one-term New York City Mayor David Dinkins’ approach to quality of life policing, how can Clinton possibly retain her claim to represent the moderate middle?

“The big story here is that an avowed socialist who voted with the Democratic Party in the Senate, but wouldn’t join it, now feels comfortable seeking its presidential nomination,” Washington Post opinion writer Charles Lane observed. “This says a lot about the party’s long-term ideological trajectory, and Clinton’s compatibility with it, or lack thereof.”

Clinton will emerge from this primary process a candidate pushed farther to the left than those concerned with her electability might like. It will be incumbent on an establishment political press that implicitly blamed GOP primary participants for Romney’s failure to connect with a majority of general election voters to observe that Clinton is running a similar risk. Of course, it goes without saying that expecting that display of consistency from the media a dubious prospect.

 

June-2015-Promotion_animation

Read Less

The Reason Why Bernie’s Booming

Maybe the New York Times is getting ahead of itself with its article today that proclaims, “Bernie Sanders Gains Momentum in Iowa.” The latest Bloomberg/Des Moines Register poll of likely Democratic in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses shows that Hillary Clinton leads the race with 57 percent with Sanders still far behind at 16 percent. But, it must be conceded that for a candidate with little money and no realistic chance of actually winning the nomination, the Vermont senator is doing pretty well, especially when compared with former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley who declared his candidacy over the weekend yet is stuck at a paltry 2 percent in the same poll. Sanders is drawing relatively large crowds and, if he continues to gain ground in the polls, will attract more money. What’s putting the wind in the sails of the Socialist-turned independent running as a Democrat? The answer is simple: Though Democrats don’t want a messy primary, everybody likes a principled underdog. And Sanders is an underdog straight out of central casting.

Read More

Maybe the New York Times is getting ahead of itself with its article today that proclaims, “Bernie Sanders Gains Momentum in Iowa.” The latest Bloomberg/Des Moines Register poll of likely Democratic in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses shows that Hillary Clinton leads the race with 57 percent with Sanders still far behind at 16 percent. But, it must be conceded that for a candidate with little money and no realistic chance of actually winning the nomination, the Vermont senator is doing pretty well, especially when compared with former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley who declared his candidacy over the weekend yet is stuck at a paltry 2 percent in the same poll. Sanders is drawing relatively large crowds and, if he continues to gain ground in the polls, will attract more money. What’s putting the wind in the sails of the Socialist-turned independent running as a Democrat? The answer is simple: Though Democrats don’t want a messy primary, everybody likes a principled underdog. And Sanders is an underdog straight out of central casting.

Those who have noticed the fragility of Clinton’s candidacy are almost certainly wrong if they think she will collapse before she is anointed at their national convention next year in Philadelphia. The Clinton machine isn’t to be underestimated. The lack of a credible challenger in the mode of a Barack Obama means the narrative about the former First Lady becoming our first female president is an irresistible force that will not be turned aside.

But even if we understand that there is no way she is losing the nomination, the notion that the primaries will be a cakewalk for her is equally mistaken. There are enough left-wing Democrats who rightly see Clinton as an unprincipled chameleon bereft of principles other than an all-consuming ambition to fuel a serious challenge. Moreover, the inevitability of Clinton’s ultimate victory makes it all the more attractive for Democratic voters to cast protest votes that will, they think, send a message to the candidate, not to move too far to the center once the general election begins. The stage is set for someone to give Clinton a run for her money while not having much of a chance to actually beat her short of a complete implosion on her part. And even then, it’s not clear how badly she would have to blow herself up in order for her candidacy to completely collapse.

That only leaves the question as to who is the Democrat who can play that role?

Given the long odds, it’s understandable that not many have volunteered to be Hillary’s sparring partner. Despite his burning desire for the presidency, the bereaved Vice President Biden appears to understand that he can’t win. Other prominent Democrats, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren, the darling of the left and perhaps the most credible of all possible anti-Hillary possibilities, also lack the appetite for tilting at the Clinton windmill.

O’Malley is interested and his challenge is logical if you consider him as beginning an effort that could eventually lead to victory in a future election cycle. An attractive, charismatic liberal with a good record as a mayor and a governor, O’Malley has a resume that ought to make him the most likely person to benefit from resentment of Clinton’s inevitability as well as unrest on the left. But he’s discovering that his calculation was incorrect. In fact, it is his credibility and Sanders’ lack of presidential stature that makes the latter a far better candidate to play the role of potential spoiler.

It’s likely that no one in the Sanders camp, least of all the candidate himself, thinks he can be nominated let alone win the presidency. But it’s his unsuitability that will allow him to be an effective gadfly against a certain winner. Since no one thinks Hillary can lose, that frees up anyone who has a complaint about Clinton, or the party establishment, or anything to vote for Sanders without believing they are actually putting him a step closer to the White House.

It should be noted that the underwhelming response to the revelation that Sanders wrote an article speculating about female rape fantasies could be traced in part to this same factor. Let’s concede that if a Republican had written anything like the bizarre piece the Vermont socialist penned, they would be given the Todd Akin treatment on every front page in the country and likely drummed out of public life while the story would be used as a cudgel in the Democrats fake “war on women” campaign. Instead, the mainstream liberal press has largely smirked, buried the story, and moved on from it as they generally do when their side is caught with their pants down.

But in an odd way Sanders’ rape fantasies play into the idea that he’s a quirky original with idiosyncrasies should be winked at. If so, that says something troubling about Democrats and the culture. But it is also a problem for Hillary, since it shows that there is nothing that Sanders can do to be disqualified from a perch from which he can endlessly flay her over lack of authenticity and chronic flip-flopping. The crazier Sanders appears, the more her carefully scripted and utterly fake approach to campaigning (illustrated so aptly by the astonishing and brazen way she changes her accent depending on which region of the country she is in at the time) looks.

No, Sanders can’t beat Hillary in Iowa or New Hampshire. But he is set up to win the expectations game in every contest and make her life miserable. That will be frustrating for her as well as O’Malley. But given the fact that there is nothing the Clinton attack machine can say or do that would undermine him any more than the things that come out of his own mouth and record, there’s nothing she will be able to do to stop him from becoming a left-wing folk hero. The Bernie momentum story will last far longer than she or most Democrats would like.

June-2015-Promotion_animation

Read Less

Labor’s Languid Revolt

Organized labor’s ebbing political clout is perhaps best exemplified by AFL-CIO boss Richard Trumka’s plaintive appeal for attention this weekend in the form of an ultimatum to his erstwhile allies in the Democratic Party. In a direct threat aimed at the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee, Hilary Clinton, Trumka insisted this weekend that she might forfeit the endorsement of the largest labor union in the United States if she does not show some spine and join with the left wing of her party in condemning the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal. It’s a sad and hollow threat, a “red line” that the union president is likely to regret drawing. The political forces compelling Clinton to be coy about the TPP are far more compelling than anything the AFL-CIO can muster. Read More

Organized labor’s ebbing political clout is perhaps best exemplified by AFL-CIO boss Richard Trumka’s plaintive appeal for attention this weekend in the form of an ultimatum to his erstwhile allies in the Democratic Party. In a direct threat aimed at the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee, Hilary Clinton, Trumka insisted this weekend that she might forfeit the endorsement of the largest labor union in the United States if she does not show some spine and join with the left wing of her party in condemning the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal. It’s a sad and hollow threat, a “red line” that the union president is likely to regret drawing. The political forces compelling Clinton to be coy about the TPP are far more compelling than anything the AFL-CIO can muster.

Of course, former Secretary of State Clinton has in no uncertain terms already endorsed the TPP. She called it the “gold standard in trade agreements” and argued in her 2014 autobiography, Hard Choices, that the deal “would link markets throughout Asia and the Americas, lowering trade barriers while raising standards on labor, the environment, and intellectual property.” But Clinton began to moderate her position on the trade deal when her party’s vocal progressive elements began to oppose it. Faced with a genuine hard choice in the form of either standing on principle or placating the Democratic Party’s left wing, Clinton has succumbed to paralysis.

“She will be watching closely to see what is being done to crack down on currency manipulation, improve labor rights, protect the environment and health, promote transparency and open new opportunities for our small businesses to export overseas,” read a statement released by Team Clinton when it became clear her support for the TPP might add fuel to yet another 2008-style liberal mutiny against her.

For his part, Trumka remains unimpressed.

“She’s going to have to answer that,” the labor boss told USA Today’s Susan Page. “I think she won’t be able to go through a campaign without answering that and people will take it seriously and it will affect whether they vote for her or don’t vote for her.”

“It will be tougher to mobilize working people,” Trumka added. “It’ll be tougher to get them to come out excited and work to do door-knocking and leafleting and phone-banking and all the things that are going to be necessary if she is the candidate and we endorse her to get elected. It will make it far more difficult.” According to Page’s reporting, Trumka even hinted that it was “conceivable” for the AFL-CIO to withhold its endorsement in 2016 if Clinton did not get religion on free, global trade – and soon.

Trumka’s threat is an empty one. The rapid deflation of the power of the organized labor movement in America is one of the most fascinating political trends of the 21st Century, and Trumka’s halfhearted challenge is reflective of that phenomenon. In early 2013, the New York Times observed that the “contained expansion” of manufacturing in nonunionized states (read: Right to Work) has shrunk labor union membership to a 97-year low at just over 11 percent of the American workforce. Private sector labor union membership has continued to decline over the last two years, and the decrease would be more pronounced if it were not artificially inflated by compulsory public sector unionization.

“It’s time for unions to stop being clever about excuses for why membership is declining, and its time to figure out how to devise appeals to the workers out there,” a distraught Clark University industrial relations professor told the Times in 2013. But labor has responded to this newfound adversity as it always has; by using its remaining influence to compel lawmakers to erect contrived barriers that protect its sway over the American worker.

But much of labor’s leverage is gone for good. 25 states are now without compulsory unionization laws, including places where the labor movement in the United States began like Michigan and Wisconsin. Only the nation’s bluest states continue to resist the tides of change.

Can anyone truly imagine Trumka and the AFL-CIO sitting 2016 out if the Republican Party nominates Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker?  The governor humbled national organized labor by winning two statewide elections even after he gutted the prohibitive power of labor in the Badger State. Would Trumka’s organization implicitly acknowledge its own marginalization by failing to endorse, thereby risking the possibility that no one would care?

“What the labor movement now has to ask itself is: How could it lose three times — in 2010, a 2012 recall vote and now in Walker’s 2014 re-election — to the nation’s most blatantly anti-union governor?” Politico’s labor editor Timothy Noah asked after Walker’s most recent statewide victory. “How especially in Wisconsin, cradle of the early 20th-century Progressive movement and birthplace of public-sector unionism? If not here, where?”

For all their lost influence, the Democratic Party cannot afford to lose labor just yet. The progressive populist backlash to the TPP and unions’ significant campaign contributions ensure that organized  labor remains relevant. But Trumka will find that his attempt to press those advantages labor still enjoys an ill-fated exercise.

The scale of labor’s humiliation is so dramatic that even Trumka’s friends in the Senate have turned their backs on him. “Thirteen Democrats left their base,” he said of the Democratic senators who reluctantly voted to provide Barack Obama with trade promotional authority. “They’ll be held accountable; there’s no question about that.”

Again, Trumka’s failure to appreciate his own tenuous position would be laughable if it weren’t so sad.

June-2015-Promotion_animation

Read Less

An Heir But No Spare

The slow drip of scandal surrounding the Clintons continues apace.

Yesterday, a federal judge ordered the State Department to release the 55,000 emails that Hillary Clinton turned over as being concerned with official business on a monthly basis, all of them by next January, before the first primary. The 300 emails that the State Department released late on Friday afternoon last week (just before a three-day weekend, a classic ploy to minimize attention) proved more than newsworthy, so one can only wonder what is in the remaining 54,700.

Read More

The slow drip of scandal surrounding the Clintons continues apace.

Yesterday, a federal judge ordered the State Department to release the 55,000 emails that Hillary Clinton turned over as being concerned with official business on a monthly basis, all of them by next January, before the first primary. The 300 emails that the State Department released late on Friday afternoon last week (just before a three-day weekend, a classic ploy to minimize attention) proved more than newsworthy, so one can only wonder what is in the remaining 54,700.

It has also come out that Bill Clinton formed a shell company in Delaware as a pass-through to receive income. Even more interesting is the fact that it was formed on December 3rd, 2008, two days after President-elect Obama named Hillary as his secretary of state.

And yesterday as Swiss authorities were rounding the upper echelons of FIFA, which governs professional soccer, for decades of corruption, it turns out that one of the major donors to the Clinton Foundation (between $250,000 and $500,000) is (wait for it!) FIFA. As Paul Mirengoff of Power Line puts it, “where’s there’s corruption, there’s the Clinton Foundation.”

Candidates can suddenly become non-viable. In 2002, Senator Bob Torricelli of New Jersey was running for re-election when it came out that David Chang, who had ties to North Korea, had made illegal campaign contributions to him. He had no choice but to withdraw and be replaced on the Democratic line by former Senator Frank Lautenberg.

Could it happen to Hillary? You bet. There is an ever-growing legion of reporters, sniffing blood, looking into the Clintons’ tangled affairs. The slow drip could turn into a torrent and Hillary might have no choice but to decide to spend more time with her grandchildren.

So it seems to me that the Democratic Party should follow the traditional plan of royalty and have both an heir and a spare.

But who could the spare be? Joe Biden? He would dearly love the job, but he’ll turn 74 in November, 2016, far older than any previous president’s first election, and he’s generally regarded as a bit of a joke. Elizabeth Warren? She’s no spring chicken herself at 65, and she’s so far to the left that she’d be George McGovern in a pants suit. Bernie Sanders? He’s announced, but he’ll be 75 on Election Day and he’s an avowed socialist who advocates a 90 percent tax rate for high earners. Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland? Well, at least he’s not receiving Social Security (he’s 52).  But his own lieutenant governor couldn’t carry this deep blue state in last year’s election, despite O’Malley’s energetic campaigning for him. Jim Webb, former senator from Virginia? He’s a centrist, which means the Democratic base would go ballistic (not to mention stay home on Election Day).

Who else is there? I really can’t think of anyone.

The Democrats, in their own self-interest, had better start looking for a spare, in case the heir implodes.

Read Less

Does Hillary Clinton Think Bill Clinton’s Presidency Was a Disaster?

If and when journalists get the chance to sit down across from Hillary Clinton, they will have a bear of a time picking and choosing the subjects on which to grill her. From her private email server, to her family foundation’s myriad improprieties, to the increasingly deteriorating global security situation that began its backwards slide under her watch as America’s chief diplomat; reporters have an embarrassment of riches in the form of issues on which to press Clinton. But the Steve Krofts of the world like to take a 30,000-foot perspective in the gauzy profile packages to which American television audiences will be privy, and the granular details above might seem to Clinton’s interlocutors minutia that won’t capture the viewer’s attention. In order to sate the press’s desire to both make news and to ensure the viewing audience doesn’t tune out, I’d submit the following question: Does Hillary Clinton believe her husband’s presidency set the Democratic Party back?

Read More

If and when journalists get the chance to sit down across from Hillary Clinton, they will have a bear of a time picking and choosing the subjects on which to grill her. From her private email server, to her family foundation’s myriad improprieties, to the increasingly deteriorating global security situation that began its backwards slide under her watch as America’s chief diplomat; reporters have an embarrassment of riches in the form of issues on which to press Clinton. But the Steve Krofts of the world like to take a 30,000-foot perspective in the gauzy profile packages to which American television audiences will be privy, and the granular details above might seem to Clinton’s interlocutors minutia that won’t capture the viewer’s attention. In order to sate the press’s desire to both make news and to ensure the viewing audience doesn’t tune out, I’d submit the following question: Does Hillary Clinton believe her husband’s presidency set the Democratic Party back?

Of course, Clinton’s reflexive answer would be an emphatic “no.” She might also posture indignantly for effect, a road-worn tactic that nevertheless retains its inexplicable ability to spook reporters into apologetic retreat. But there is precious little evidence that Clinton really does believe her husband’s presidency was a success. In fact, there are many indications that would lead a neutral observer to conclude that Bill Clinton’s presidency is anathema to modern Democrats.

Bill Clinton was elected to office as a Southern Democratic centrist with the aid of the Democratic Leadership Council, a policy shop designed to help rehabilitate a party brand that was at the time still reeling from the Jimmy Carter-era perception that it had become too liberal to represent the nation. Political observers had every reason to believe that, despite his 370 Electoral College vote victory, Clinton’s election was no mandate for Democrats but rather a rejection of George H. W. Bush. Clinton won merely 43 percent of the popular vote in a three-way race, and only won his party’s nomination after a come from behind victory over the more doctrinaire liberals seeking the nomination. If Clinton had a mandate, it was to govern from the center. With the exception of his pursuit of a significant tax hike in 1993, that’s precisely what he did.

Fast-forward to today, and Hillary Clinton has been compelled on a variety of occasions to renounce her husband’s greatest achievements. In the wake of the unrest in Baltimore last month, Clinton delivered a speech in which she advocated for an end to “mass incarceration” in America. Inherent in that address was her contention, one shared by her husband, that the landmark 1994 crime bill was discriminatory.

During his tenure, Bill Clinton signed into law measures that expanded the death penalty, promoted longer prison terms, funded the construction of new prisons, eliminated inmate amenities, barred felons from living in public housing, and discouraged judicial discretion. “We went too far,” Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin lamented on May 1 when reflecting on the Clinton presidency’s approach to crime and justice. “I think that the results,” Hillary Clinton said of the justice reforms that she lobbied for strongly in 1994, “have been an unacceptable increase in incarceration across the board.”

Surely, only a handful of Democrats lamented the demise of the Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law just weeks before Bill Clinton was easily reelected. In 2013, former President Clinton expressed regrets for signing that law, but not for running campaign advertisements on Christian radio stations in 1996 bragging about that achievement. Moreover, Clinton’s decision to sign into law federal restrictions on allowing HIV-positive travelers to enter the United States, a ban only lifted in 2009 by Barack Obama’s administration, has long been regarded by the gay and lesbian community as a betrayal.

In a contentious interview with NPR host Terry Gross last year, Clinton lashed out when she was asked why she only came out in support of same-sex marriage after both Barack Obama and Joe Biden. In that argumentative interview, Clinton insisted that DOMA was designed to prohibit the Congress from enacting sexually discriminatory laws by kicking the issue down to the states. As The Atlantic’s Connor Friedersdorf noted, however, Clinton had “distorted” the history of DOMA. “I have long opposed governmental recognition of same-gender marriages,” Bill Clinton said in 1996, “and this legislation is consistent with that position.”

And what of the signature welfare reform bill that Bill Clinton deftly negotiated with a newly GOP-dominated Congress? That measure was presaged when the 42nd President declared in his 1996 State of the Union address that the “era of big government is over,” and, a decade later, was responsible for a marked decline in poverty rates. So what does Hillary Clinton have to say about this landmark reform? No comment. “A Clinton aide declined to answer whether Clinton still supports her husband’s welfare reform law,” Vox’s Jonathan Allen reported after noting that minority Democrats were and remain suspicious of that package of reform laws. A simple “yes” would have sufficed if that is what she believed. Apparently, the answer Clinton would like to give is more complex than that.

Don’t even ask about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). That controversial free trade agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico has only grown more controversial for those on the left as progressives condemn President Barack Obama and his pursuit of a similar arrangement with a variety of Asian nations. Clinton once vocally supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but she has since moderated her position on the issue by insisting she doesn’t have one.

But what of Hillary Clinton’s preferred approach to foreign crises? Bill Clinton’s approach to containing Saddam Hussein’s post-Gulf War Iraq was to launch attacks on government targets in 1993, 1996, and 1998. Hillary Clinton now insists it was a mistake to topple that vile regime, and she regrets voting to provide George W. Bush with that authority even if the world is better off without Hussein.

Clinton’s husband pursued a policy of rapprochement with Iran by compensating the Islamic Republic for the deaths of over 250 Iranians who died after an American naval vessel in 1988 shot down their plane and by essentially apologizing for the 1953 CIA-assisted coup that overthrew former Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddiq. Today, Hillary Clinton ostensibly supports Barack Obama’s efforts to seal a mutually beneficial nuclear deal with Iran, she is “skeptical that the Iranians will follow through and deliver.” Don’t sweat the cognitive dissonance.

Formerly a vocal supporter of the once vogue academic notion of America’s “responsibility to protect” civilian life (R2P), Clinton justified intervention in the Libyan civil war by noting America has a moral imperative to protect noncombatants when and where it can. This was logic similar to that which her husband applied before committing to multinational foreign intervention in the former Yugoslavia in 1995 and 1998. Clearly, that formerly preferred praxis went out of style the moment Bashar al-Assad began deploying chemical weapons against his own civilian population. While Hillary Clinton has insisted that she would have vetted and armed moderate Syrian rebels faster than the Obama administration, she opposed to introducing American boots into the Syrian conflict as recently as last autumn.

While it takes a fair bit of inference to identify Clinton’s stances on these issues, seeing as she is fond of maintaining vague and amorphous policy positions, it’s clear that Hillary Clinton does not regard her husband’s presidency as one replete with successes. That’s not a personal conviction, of course; you would be hard pressed to identify any sincerely held and necessarily constricting values espoused by the former secretary of state. Her disparagements of her husband’s legacy are solely designed to appeal to an influential subset in the Democratic Party that has veered wildly leftward in the interim 15 years. If Hillary Clinton is to win the White House, it seems that her fellow Democrats will make sure that she is compelled to renounce all her husband’s works in the process.

Read Less

Will Hillary Jump Start Fiorina’s Candidacy?

Yesterday, Carly Fiorina went to Columbia, South Carolina intending to ambush Hillary Clinton who was there for a speaking engagement. Clinton was, as is her usual practice, not offering any press availability. So while the crowd of journalists following the former First Lady offered Fiorina a large media audience, they vented their frustration on her and subjected the former Hewlett-Packard CEO to the kind of tough questioning that Clinton has so far evaded. It made for a difficult few moments for Fiorina and the encounter left some observers wondering whether she was hurting herself more than helping by seeming to shadow Clinton. In a race with up to 20 candidates competing for the Republican presidential nomination where all are fighting for attention, it appears that being the scourge of Hillary has become both Fiorina’s political identity and her only shot at edging her way into contention. Will that be enough?

Read More

Yesterday, Carly Fiorina went to Columbia, South Carolina intending to ambush Hillary Clinton who was there for a speaking engagement. Clinton was, as is her usual practice, not offering any press availability. So while the crowd of journalists following the former First Lady offered Fiorina a large media audience, they vented their frustration on her and subjected the former Hewlett-Packard CEO to the kind of tough questioning that Clinton has so far evaded. It made for a difficult few moments for Fiorina and the encounter left some observers wondering whether she was hurting herself more than helping by seeming to shadow Clinton. In a race with up to 20 candidates competing for the Republican presidential nomination where all are fighting for attention, it appears that being the scourge of Hillary has become both Fiorina’s political identity and her only shot at edging her way into contention. Will that be enough?

Heading into 2015, Fiorina’s candidacy seemed to be pointless. She had no political experience other than an unsuccessful run for a California Senate seat in 2010. Nor had she a claim on the loyalty of any of her party’s key constituencies like the Tea Party, social conservatives, foreign policy hawks or the establishment. But over the course of the last several months, she has parlayed a tart speaking style and clever barbs aimed at Hillary Clinton into some attention if not good poll numbers.

There’s no question that her reception at campaign cattle calls and on the stump has been good. Republicans seem to like her. And they love her ability to call out Clinton. Her stock attack lines about the former secretary of state needing to learn that “flying is an activity, not an accomplishment,” has made her something of a GOP star.

The fact that liberals are starting to attack Fiorina and deriding her as lacking the qualifications for the presidency and merely being a GOP version of affirmative action shows that her arrows have found their target. The resentment against Fiorina from liberals, and especially liberal women, is visceral. Their ire is not so much about her views on the issues as it is the fact that Fiorina’s gender allows her to take shots at Clinton in a manner that no man could do without being excoriated for sexism.

That makes her a useful weapon in the GOP arsenal. But is it enough to make her candidacy viable? The jury is still out on that question.

So far, all the good press she’s gotten hasn’t yet translated into a surge in the polls. The latest Quinnipiac Poll that was published today shows her with just two percent support. That’s not laughable in a field that big and with there being a five-way tie for first place. Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee all have just ten percent. But it still leaves her in a statistical tie for tenth place trailing Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie and even the comical Donald Trump ahead of her. Ohio Governor John Kasich, who has neither campaigned nor declared his intention to run, is tied with her at two percent.

Being ahead of Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry and Lindsey Graham is not a negligible achievement but it also means she is in great peril of not finishing in the top ten and being, therefore, ineligible for the first GOP debate on Fox.

Thus, while it is fair to say that merely being the Republican’s designated hitter on Clinton doesn’t do much to highlight Fiorina’s case for the presidency, it does get her some attention that she might otherwise never get. The problem is that there is a difference between assuming the role of the thorn in Clinton’s side and being a serious presidential contender.

Fiorina is an impressive speaker and the more she gets a chance to appear on national forums, the better she is likely to do. But that doesn’t change the fact that she hasn’t got a core group of voters or base within the party. So long as that is true most political observers will continue to believe that she is really running for the vice presidency or a Cabinet post in a future Republican administration.

But right now, her goal is to get on the stage at the Fox debate in August. If she keeps hitting Clinton hard while also avoiding gaffes, she has a fighting chance of making the first cut and raising enough money to continue her effort. Whether or not Democrats like it, Fiorina’s anti-Hillary barbs have been hitting home. They may be enough to keep Fiorina in the race until the voting starts next winter. Though it may not provide her with a path to the nomination, let alone the presidency, Hillary is jump-starting Fiorina’s campaign.

Read Less

Why Hillary’s Listening Tour Is a Mistake

Not everything is going as planned in Hillary Clinton’s world. The putative Democratic presidential nominee’s listening tour is intended to ease her transition into the race providing her with maximum visibility and minimal exposure to press scrutiny. However, the controversies over her emails, the Clinton Cash scandal, and her Sidney Blumenthal connection and questions about the former First Family’s ethics have overshadowed her campaign appearances. Her refusal to grant even occasional press availabilities also turned into a story. Just as problematic is the fact that the dog-and-pony shows that were set up for her have a phony feel to them that has done little to shake off her political rust or to convince voters she really cares about them. But there are a couple of other serious problems to ponder here as she sits and listens to people recruited to talk to her. One has to do with the listening tour idea itself, and the other is how it is affecting her campaign.

Read More

Not everything is going as planned in Hillary Clinton’s world. The putative Democratic presidential nominee’s listening tour is intended to ease her transition into the race providing her with maximum visibility and minimal exposure to press scrutiny. However, the controversies over her emails, the Clinton Cash scandal, and her Sidney Blumenthal connection and questions about the former First Family’s ethics have overshadowed her campaign appearances. Her refusal to grant even occasional press availabilities also turned into a story. Just as problematic is the fact that the dog-and-pony shows that were set up for her have a phony feel to them that has done little to shake off her political rust or to convince voters she really cares about them. But there are a couple of other serious problems to ponder here as she sits and listens to people recruited to talk to her. One has to do with the listening tour idea itself, and the other is how it is affecting her campaign.

Let’s start by granting that there is something appealing about a powerful person deigning to listen to the concerns of the people. Americans like their politicians to at least pretend that they care about them. Some, like Hillary’s husband Bill, turned it into an art form. But unlike her spouse, Hillary isn’t very good at the show of “feeling the pain” of others. Though she asks questions and listens intently, these photo ops have the feel of an audience with a queen rather than a politician humbly asking for support.

More to the point, instead of Democrat central casting providing peasants and villagers as props for Clinton, the notion of a candidate who only listens or pretends to do so, is counter-intuitive to the presidential election process. What citizens in a democracy need from our candidates is not so much the opportunity to tell a monarch our problems as to know what they think and want to do if we give them the power they are asking us for.

This is especially true for Clinton who has never seemed as comfortable in her own skin as better politicians like her husband or Barack Obama, the man who beat her in 2008, the last time her party was about to hand her their nomination on a silver platter. Is Hillary the tough centrist that ran eight years ago? Or is she a rebooted Elizabeth Warren clone who can rally the left wing of a party that thinks of her being as too close to Wall Street donors for their comfort?

We don’t know the answers to those questions and we’re not likely to get any so long as she is posing as the nation’s listening post.

But while a listening tour was a reasonable tactic during a period of the campaign in which she would do best to merely tread water, Clinton’s response to the people she meets is accentuating the authenticity problem.

As the New York Times reports, Clinton is bombarding her policy shop headquartered back in Brooklyn with ideas that come up as a result of her encounters in Iowa. One day, she’s fascinated with helping small businesses in what appears to be a case of her adopting the Republicans “you built that” theme from their 2012 national convention. The next, she’s back to talking about student loan debt. Then it’s back to health care, her first national political disaster.

These are all things we want our candidates to know about, but one gets the impression that Hillary is using these audiences with her public in a way that isn’t entirely healthy for her campaign. It’s not just that her campaign is short on concrete ideas and proposals. It’s that her lack of core beliefs and willingness to say whatever people want helps create an incoherent narrative that undermines any sense that she has a coherent vision of what her presidency would stand for.

Perhaps Clinton is so well-known a political brand that, unlike other candidates, she doesn’t have to convince people to identify her with a particular set of beliefs or stands on the issues. But what comes through in her listening tour is the idea that she’s taking notes on what worries voters, and she’ll get back to us later on how to incorporate those concerns in her rhetoric. The Clinton candidacy isn’t so much listening, as it is a marketing firm for a product conducting focus groups in order to mold their commodity into something people would buy.

For a candidate whose greatest flaw is a lack of authenticity, this is the worst possible strategy that can be imagined. Clinton can’t feel our pain with sincerity any more than she can tell us why she is running for president other than to give us our first woman commander-in-chief. That’s not an unworthy goal, and might be enough to win her the presidency if the Republicans field a weak candidate to oppose her. But at a stage of the election cycle when she should be establishing her identity, all she seems to be doing is reminding us that she’s still working on creating one.

Read Less

The Left’s Shaming of Scott Walker

For those on the left, there is a crisis in America: A crisis of judgmentalism. Among the class of liberal activists, it seems as though no offense to sensibilities is as unpleasant as the articulation of one’s disapproval of socially objectionable behavior.

Read More

For those on the left, there is a crisis in America: A crisis of judgmentalism. Among the class of liberal activists, it seems as though no offense to sensibilities is as unpleasant as the articulation of one’s disapproval of socially objectionable behavior.

Liberals are aware of the acute health emergency posed by obesity and are foursquare behind taxpayer-funded efforts to regulate and monitor the public’s calorie intake, but don’t you dare “fat-shame.” Similarly, most liberals would concede that the transmission of STDs and profligate pregnancy outside wedlock are nothing to be proud of, but “slut-shaming” is the height of hypercritical disparagement. It’s certainly not advisable to imbibe to a point where you might become unaware of your surroundings and endanger yourself and others, but only a despicable scold would indulge in “drunk-shaming.” Competition is key to success and students should be encouraged to perform their best, but posting a class’s test grades for all to see is a gross example of “grade-shaming.” And don’t you dare question the validity of the shaming above lest you be accused of “shame-shaming.”

“If it feels good, do it” has been appended to include the addendum, “with impunity.” Freedom from consequence has become the paramount goal, even if the actions in question are deleterious to society. The ironic twist to all this is that the left’s antipathy toward those deemed overly judgmental is, in fact, being judgmental. I know, I know; consistency, hobgoblins, small minds, and all that.

There are, however, some examples of shaming that the left continues to find noble. It is no accident that the targets of their censure are exclusively conservative, the ultimate offense meriting a scolding. The latest target of the left’s lofty discrimination is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. According to a prominent Hillary Clinton donor, Walker’s failure to graduate college with a degree renders him intellectually incapable of occupying the Oval Office.

In an interview with The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff, Clinton donor and Florida-based attorney John Morgan unloaded on Walker and the fundamental trait that should disqualify him from holding office higher than the chief executive of a state.

Warning: Salty language to follow:

“Walker would be the first president with a GED,” Morgan said, alluding to the fact that the Wisconsin governor doesn’t have a college degree. “We just cannot have a dumb shit as president. Total dumb shit.”

Walker’s team didn’t comment on the “dumb shit” characterization.

Morgan went on to call former Hewlett-Packard CEO “Cruella de Vil,” substantiating the cliché that doctrinaire liberals are compelled to caricature their Republican opponents as either evil or stupid.

But this refreshingly unguarded comment exposes even more structural problems with which the present incarnation of the Democratic Party is coping. Long ago lost is the coalition of voters that sent Roosevelt, Kennedy, Carter, and even Clinton to the White House. In a recent mea culpa for National Journal, Emerging Democratic Majority co-author John Judis acknowledged that the Republican Party has emerged as the preferred party for those without a college degree. The 2014 midterm results indicate that the GOP is making substantial inroads with those who have only a four-year degree, while those who have a post-graduate degree or higher remain stalwart Democratic supporters. That is, however, a small pool from which to draw unflinching supporters.

At a time when millions of American families are struggling to send their children to four-year institutions, and with still more millions of Americans rediscovering the value of vocational education and blue-collar career paths, it is perhaps ill-advised to be insulting those who decline to attend college. That is doubly true for Scott Walker, who only failed to graduate with a degree because he left his university a few credits shy when he received a lucrative job offer in the middle of his senior year. And as for those liberals who would object to suggesting that the comments of one donor are indicative of the party’s thinking on this issue, they would be advised to turn to Charles and David Koch for comment.

Read Less

Carly Fiorina’s Choice

Carly Fiorina is about to become the Democratic Party’s favorite Republican.

The honor of being the Republican held in high regard by the left is reserved primarily for the members of that political party who have either lost a high-profile race, died, or both. The former CEO of Hewlett-Packard might, however, earn Democratic esteem by virtue of being excluded from the group of top-tier GOP debate participants when the 2016 presidential primary race begins in earnest.

Read More

Carly Fiorina is about to become the Democratic Party’s favorite Republican.

The honor of being the Republican held in high regard by the left is reserved primarily for the members of that political party who have either lost a high-profile race, died, or both. The former CEO of Hewlett-Packard might, however, earn Democratic esteem by virtue of being excluded from the group of top-tier GOP debate participants when the 2016 presidential primary race begins in earnest.

Jonathan Tobin noted how Fox News Channel and CNN’s plans to either cut underperforming candidates off or to establish a two-tiered system in which floundering candidates will compete in their own separate but equal debate will make for a long, hot summer for the GOP. No fewer than five prospective Republican presidential candidates are polling so poorly that they may not meet the required threshold of support in the average of recent surveys to join the top tier candidates on the debate stage. Only one of those candidates, however, has captured the media’s attention, and it is no secret as to why.

If the debates were held tomorrow, a variety of qualified candidates would be excluded or relegated to the also-ran stage. Many are perfectly well qualified, and their exclusion should inspire some introspection among Republicans. Likely candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich is the chief executive of a must-win state in which the party will hold its nominating convention. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry governed one of the largest states in the Union, a border state and one in which the most influential mass of GOP voters reside, for three terms. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum was the last candidate standing in 2012 before Mitt Romney secured the delegates required to win the nomination, and he only conceded his loss after carrying 11 states. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is the youngest Republican candidate in the field, the Indian-American son of immigrant parents, and the candidate perhaps best positioned to represent the GOP’s evangelical base. But only Fiorina’s exclusion will inspire hand-wringing thought pieces and fiery cable news panel segments, and that has everything to do with Hillary Clinton’s gender-centric presidential campaign.

It is not preordained that Fiorina will be unable to generate enough support in the coming months to secure a coveted spot on the GOP debate stage. The former candidate for U.S. Senate in California is a skilled communicator, a deft campaigner, has been positioning herself as uniquely able to neutralize Clinton’s advantages, and has chosen to fundraise rather than whine in the face of the adversity presented by her modest support in the polls. If, however, the debates were held tomorrow, Fiorina would be relegated to the kids’ table.

Predictably, the left and their allies in the press will frame this as a snub. Both the Republican Party brass and the base of GOP primary voters have rejected their only female candidate, they’ll note. By inference, the media will imply that Republican voters’ rejection of Fiorina is as unthinking as will be their rejection of Clinton in November, 2016. With varying degrees of subtlety, the implication will be made that the obstacles Fiorina’s campaign encountered are due to the brutish bias of those to whom she was attempting to appeal.

When Fox News revealed that its criteria would exclude some highly qualified candidates from the debates, a series of headlines made note of the suboptimal optics associated with the likely exclusion the GOP field’s only female candidate. It is perhaps unsurprising that this instinct merely reflected the thinking inside Democratic circles. “At this point the Republican clown car isn’t big enough for the only girl clown, and that shows you why Hillary Clinton will be the next president,” an unnamed Democratic operative told the Daily Mail.

If Fiorina fails to make the cut ahead of the Fox and CNN debates, the former CEO will find herself at the center of a media melee. It will certainly be tempting for the unloved presidential candidate to bask in the newfound attention, generate some publicity and much-needed name recognition ahead of the primaries, and perhaps entertain the notion that her inability to appeal to the Republican voting base has its roots in something other than reason. If she took this approach, Fiorina would do her candidacy, her party, and her country a great disservice. Fiorina is, however, likely to take a much more productive approach to contending with this hardship.

In the media, Fiorina’s attacks on Clinton’s qualifications for the presidency have apparently grown quite irksome. Former GOP strategist Nicolle Wallace recently advised Fiorina to back off what she saw as increasingly “personal” attacks on the former secretary of state. Yahoo’s Katie Couric, too, questioned whether Fiorina’s “unkind words” for Clinton, including critiquing her accomplishments, was ill advised. Fiorina smartly replied that her qualifications for the presidency are based in merit rather than her title or her gender. If she is excluded from the debate stage, Fiorina should maintain that this is the result of a meritocratic process based on objective polling data.

If Fiorina declines to wallow in self-pity amid inevitable prodding of reporters in that direction, she will sacrifice her position as media darling and the spike in name recognition that accompanies this condition. To do so would, however, be the nobler course of action. It would also demonstrate why Fiorina deserved to be on that stage in the first place.

Carly Fiorina may soon have to make that choice, and it won’t be an easy one. But if her past actions are any indication of future performance, she can be expected to make the right call.

Read Less




Pin It on Pinterest

Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.