Commentary Magazine


Topic: Hillary Clinton

Beau Biden Story Means Democratic Race May Be About to Get Interesting

For the last year, most Democrats approached 2016 with an air of smug confidence. Their assumption was that while the scrum of Republican presidential candidates would tear each other to pieces as they did in 2012, Hillary Clinton’s coronation as their nominee would enable their party to sit back and calmly await the GOP winner. That would allow the Clinton campaign machine to act as if she was an incumbent thereby saving money and allowing her to stay above the fray and continue freezing out the press. That scenario has been looking shaky as, burdened by scandal, plunging favorability and trust numbers in the polls as well as an unexpectedly vigorous challenge on the left from Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton has begun looking very beatable lately. But her problems may have only just begun. If reports about Vice President Joe Biden seriously considering a presidential run are true, the Hillary coronation will become the fight of her life.

Read More

For the last year, most Democrats approached 2016 with an air of smug confidence. Their assumption was that while the scrum of Republican presidential candidates would tear each other to pieces as they did in 2012, Hillary Clinton’s coronation as their nominee would enable their party to sit back and calmly await the GOP winner. That would allow the Clinton campaign machine to act as if she was an incumbent thereby saving money and allowing her to stay above the fray and continue freezing out the press. That scenario has been looking shaky as, burdened by scandal, plunging favorability and trust numbers in the polls as well as an unexpectedly vigorous challenge on the left from Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton has begun looking very beatable lately. But her problems may have only just begun. If reports about Vice President Joe Biden seriously considering a presidential run are true, the Hillary coronation will become the fight of her life.

This week the stories about Biden associates meeting with contributors fed the rumors about the vice president considering a third try for the presidency. But today’s column in the New York Times from Maureen Dowd in which she claims that the veep’s late son Beau urging his father to run for the presidency from his deathbed not only gives the Biden boomlet urgency, it also creates a tragic back story that may seize the imagination of the public.

Though nothing could be more natural than an incumbent vice president looking to succeed his boss, the strength of the Clinton juggernaut seemed to shelve that notion. President Obama also appeared to be lending his blessing to Clinton’s candidacy. But if Biden had any lingering ideas about one last try for the Oval Office, most observers thought the tragic death of his son earlier this year ended that possibility. But, if Dowd is to be believed, the Beau factor may be what is driving Biden to run.

Dowd may be the queen of liberal snark and is rightly despised by conservatives. But it should be remembered that she won her Pulitzer with columns that directed her trademark snark at the Clintons back during l’affaire Lewinsky. Her contempt for the former First Family is barely disguised. She may also relish assuming the role, as Howard Fineman put it in the Huffington Post, of the “living bard” of “the last of the old breed” of Irish politicians that gave us the Kennedys.

Of course, the mention of the Kennedys brings to mind Bobby Kennedy’s run for the presidency in 1968. Kennedy didn’t dare challenge President Lyndon Johnson until Eugene McCarthy’s left-wing insurgency showed that LBJ was mortal. Sanders is currently playing the role of McCarthy to Clinton’s Johnson. While an elderly bloviator like Biden is ill-suited to channel the charismatic Kennedy, it may be that his ambition will fill in the gap.

Those who think Biden needs much persuading to get him to throw his hat in the ring don’t know much about the vice president. On “Meet the Press” today, Chuck Todd quoted people close to the vice president as saying this is the “first time he felt prepared to be president because of his experience at the center of power during the last six and a half years. But though many dismiss him as a goofy, loquacious gaffe machine, he has always thought of himself as presidential material. Indeed, while many dismissed his 2008 run as a “last hurrah” for his career, I saw it as the longtime Delaware senator giving the American people one last chance to do the right thing and make him president.

There are still some formidable obstacles to a successful Biden campaign. He would be starting very late in the cycle with most of the big-money Democratic donors already committed to Clinton. Moreover, even a happy warrior like Biden who loves the rough and tumble of politics has to regard a tussle with the Clinton attack machine with some reservations.

But though most Democrats have been pooh-poohing the Hillary’s email and latest Clinton Cash scandals as insignificant, they understand that she is already damaged. They’ve also noticed that her inauthentic and phony campaign style is an ominous sign of weakness that has fed her poor poll numbers. They know she is vulnerable to criticisms from the left that she is unwilling to take stands on their core issues like the Keystone XL pipeline controversy. They may think they can beat anyone that emerges from the Republicans, a belief that has gotten much stronger as Donald Trump has risen to the top of the heap, but they know Hillary isn’t the unbeatable candidate they hoped for.

But if anything can convince Democrats to pass up on the opportunity to try to elect our first female president, the Beau Biden story might just do it. The phrase “What would Beau do?” has the potential to become a powerful theme that makes Biden, who is already seen with great sympathy by liberals, an attractive candidate who could deliver the kind of coup de grâce to Clinton that Sanders won’t manage. The Beau Biden tale means the Democratic race may be about to get very interesting. That’s the worst news Hillary Clinton could get.

Read Less

Hillary Clinton’s Privilege

Among the more charming preoccupations of the modern left is its newfound interest in a mock social science that involves divining forms of “privilege” allegedly enjoyed by otherwise undeserving individuals. The Appalachian family of five in the hills of West Virginia living on a logger’s salary and food stamps might be surprised to learn that they are the beneficiaries of “white privilege,” but that is the supposedly dispassionate assessment of their classifiers toiling away at this or the other coastal opinion journal. Similarly, men, heterosexuals, those who identify as the gender of their birth, et cetera, et cetera, are also presumed heirs to a legacy of privilege that yields them unwarranted advantages. This is not a study characterized by the empiricism that typifies genuine scholarly discipline; more often, it is grievance and resentment in pursuit of a methodology that legitimizes base acrimony. What exposes this unhealthy myopia as something less than objective analysis is that so few of those consumed with identifying and condemning privilege cannot see it where it is most prominent: namely, with those who occupy positions of power. The very embodiment of unearned privilege is running for the presidency in 2016, but so few on the left seem equipped or willing to acknowledge that Hillary Clinton has been afforded leeway that anyone else in her present position would be denied.  Read More

Among the more charming preoccupations of the modern left is its newfound interest in a mock social science that involves divining forms of “privilege” allegedly enjoyed by otherwise undeserving individuals. The Appalachian family of five in the hills of West Virginia living on a logger’s salary and food stamps might be surprised to learn that they are the beneficiaries of “white privilege,” but that is the supposedly dispassionate assessment of their classifiers toiling away at this or the other coastal opinion journal. Similarly, men, heterosexuals, those who identify as the gender of their birth, et cetera, et cetera, are also presumed heirs to a legacy of privilege that yields them unwarranted advantages. This is not a study characterized by the empiricism that typifies genuine scholarly discipline; more often, it is grievance and resentment in pursuit of a methodology that legitimizes base acrimony. What exposes this unhealthy myopia as something less than objective analysis is that so few of those consumed with identifying and condemning privilege cannot see it where it is most prominent: namely, with those who occupy positions of power. The very embodiment of unearned privilege is running for the presidency in 2016, but so few on the left seem equipped or willing to acknowledge that Hillary Clinton has been afforded leeway that anyone else in her present position would be denied. 

The appearance of malfeasance that burdens Clinton’s political ambition as did Jacob Marley’s chains has lost much of its shock value if only because new revelations about her alleged misconduct are a near daily occurrence. In just the last week alone, a variety of disclosures regarding Clinton’s past and present behavior have exploded onto the headlines. Their impact has, however, been muted.

Shortly after Clinton was sworn into office as secretary of state in 2009, the IRS began an investigation into Americans who held secret accounts in the Swiss bank UBS. Clinton intervened, a move the Wall Street Journal characterized as “unusual,” and negotiated a settlement that provided the IRS with just 10 percent of the account information it had sought. In the following months, donations from UBS to the Clinton Foundation increased from less than $60,000 in 2008 to $600,000 in 2014. What’s more, the financial institution joined the Foundation to launch a multi-million dollar inner-city loan program and paid President Bill Clinton $1.5 million to participate in a handful of Q&A sessions with one of the bank’s administrators. There is no overt indication of wrongdoing here, but the Journal noted, “Her involvement with UBS is a prime example of how the Clintons’ private and political activities overlap.”

Involvement in Swiss banking activities, much less potentially shielding tens of thousands of secret American accounts from IRS scrutiny, used to be a fixation of the American left. Barack Obama’s reelection campaign and its allies spent countless man-hours creating the impression that Mitt Romney had avoided paying taxes by stashing his funds in a Swiss bank account. Vox.com writer Matt Yglesias, who wrote for Slate at the time, speculated that Romney might have been a beneficiary of the 2009 “Swiss bank account amnesty.” He speculated that this might have been one reason the GOP’s 2012 nominee declined to disclose his income tax filings. “But even though the amnesty would eliminate any legal or financial liability for past acts, it would hardly eliminate political liability,” Yglesias wrote. As Romney might say, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. By rights, liberals should perceive Clinton’s “political liability” as even more perilous than Romney’s, seeing as she was something of an architect of this “amnesty.” And, yet, to attack her as she deserves would be to handicap further Democrats’ chances of retaining the White House in 2016. Thus, Clinton is spared due censure.

And what of the latest developments in the sprawling email scandal that has robbed Clinton of the voters’ trust? For partisan Democrats, the news just keeps getting worse.

On the heels of a recommendation to the Department of Justice from two independent inspectors general requesting an investigation into the likelihood that Clinton mishandled classified information on her “homebrew” email server, more evidence has emerged that indicates Clinton flagrantly lied to the public when she contended that she neither sent nor received sensitive information via electronic mail. This week, an investigation conducted by McClatchy reporters revealed that, of the emails that had not been destroyed and to which the IGs had access, several of them contained classified information. In fact, Clinton had allegedly mishandled sensitive documents from U.S. intelligence agencies including the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Central Intelligence Agency. Furthermore, Clinton attorney David Kendall, a civilian apparently without appropriate clearance, is currently in possession of the 30,400 emails Clinton declined to delete on a thumb drive. Senate Judiciary Chairman and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley requested the FBI and the DOJ investigate this potential breach of national security, but you would be well advised to not hold your breath while awaiting their compliance.

When pressed by U.S. Senate investigators on the prospect that sensitive information is not only in the hands of a civilian but is unaccounted for, Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill replied merely, “the thumb drive is secure.” He declined to elaborate, according to McClatchy. Nothing in Kendall’s public biography indicates that he is cleared to handle classified information, even if it was appropriate to keep those documents on a keychain flash drive. Anyone else in this position (including former CIA Director and U.S. Army General David Petraeus) would be subject to prosecution.

And what has been the Hillary campaign’s response to this brazen and unprofessional conduct and breach of the public trust? To attack the news outlets that initially misreported the bombshell. On Thursday, the Clinton campaign made public a letter they forwarded to New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet excoriating his outlet for initially reporting that the IGs had recommended to the DOJ that Clinton herself be criminally investigated. Team Clinton accused the Times of “egregious” errors and an “apparent abandonment of standard journalistic practices.” This overwrought reaction to a minor error in an otherwise accurate story is a reflection on her candidacy; it is a transparent effort to shift the focus of this story away from Clinton and onto the reporters covering her. The left’s cheering section has predictably taken the bait.

“In sports and politics, when athletes/candidates are complaining about the refs, it usually means they are losing. And it is NEVER becoming,” Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd wrote regarding Republican candidates complaining about the biases of the political press. Surely, this admonition applies to Clinton’s effort to misdirect the focus from her misconduct onto those media outlets that report on it. Perhaps Todd believes it does, but he has not yet said as much.

The political much less legal consequences for Hillary Clinton’s actions would be dire were she anyone other than Hillary Clinton. The former secretary’s status as the anointed heir to Barack Obama, the only Democrat with the ability to win the White House and secure his legacy, and her stature as the most prominent woman in American political life affords her the kind of privilege denied mere mortals. Somehow, progressives who obsess over barely perceptible or outright invented privileges that lurk behind every dark corner have failed to see the most glaring of double standards that fester right under their noses.

Read Less

Will Republicans Fumble Their Planned Parenthood Victory?

The release of yet another video exposing Planned Parenthood’s macabre culture of callous disregard for the bodies of aborted fetuses and the marketplace for their dismembered body parts represents another blow to the organization’s status as privileged recipient of taxpayer funds. Planned Parenthood is panicking, acting erratically, employing crisis communications professionals, and concocting flimsy exculpatory narratives aimed at impugning the motives of their critics. That’s a far cry from just three years ago, when Planned Parenthood’s celebrity president, Cecile Richards, addressed the Democratic Party’s presidential nominating convention in prime time. The organization’s erstwhile Democratic allies are getting squeamish. The way is clear for the GOP to deliver the coup de grâce; momentum is on their side. Only Republicans can rob their party of a long-sought political victory. But as much as pro-life activists might hope to see the GOP act hastily at this moment, such injudiciousness would be self-defeating. Read More

The release of yet another video exposing Planned Parenthood’s macabre culture of callous disregard for the bodies of aborted fetuses and the marketplace for their dismembered body parts represents another blow to the organization’s status as privileged recipient of taxpayer funds. Planned Parenthood is panicking, acting erratically, employing crisis communications professionals, and concocting flimsy exculpatory narratives aimed at impugning the motives of their critics. That’s a far cry from just three years ago, when Planned Parenthood’s celebrity president, Cecile Richards, addressed the Democratic Party’s presidential nominating convention in prime time. The organization’s erstwhile Democratic allies are getting squeamish. The way is clear for the GOP to deliver the coup de grâce; momentum is on their side. Only Republicans can rob their party of a long-sought political victory. But as much as pro-life activists might hope to see the GOP act hastily at this moment, such injudiciousness would be self-defeating.

Just over 24 hours ago, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told one of New Hampshire’s leading newspapers that the revelations contained in the Planned Parenthood videos were “disturbing.” She could not have known how right she was. On Thursday, a fourth installment in the series was released, and it was as repulsive as anything that has yet been revealed to the public.

In the video, Colorado-based Planned Parenthood Vice President Dr. Savita Ginde is featured explaining how her organization violates the spirit if not he letter of the law prohibiting institutions from profiting in the trade of human organs obtained through abortion. “Ginde also admits on video that some of the organ harvesting takes place on babies delivered intact and potentially alive first, which would violate the federal Born Alive Infant Protection Act,” HotAir’s Ed Morrissey recounted.

“It’s another boy,” one medical technician exclaimed in mock celebration after extracting another aborted fetus from the mother’s womb. “I just want to see one leg and one foot,” the technician added. “It’s a baby,” Dr. Ginde remarked as she observed the dismemberment of one of the extracted bodies.

In that moment, in which the aborted fetus is referred to as “a baby,” Planned Parenthood’s supporters’ most effective argument was shattered. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Christian Schneider has observed that the abortion industry’s defenders have conspicuously avoided making note of the fact that the byproducts of Planned Parenthood’s harvest are human body parts. In fact, they’re inclined to scold anyone who deviates from their preferred linguistic parameters:

Of course, we all know that in abortion lexicon, a fetus cannot be considered a “baby,” because ending a “baby’s” life is far less palatable than, say, “terminating a fetus.” Abortion advocates often denigrate human life by calling the child a “clump of cells” or an “embryo.”

In fact, the entire abortion industry coasts on a game of linguistics. In an article that forever euthanized satire, the New Republic called aborted babies “products of conception” and said referring to “baby parts” was an attempt to “anthropomorphize” the human fetus. “The term baby is medically incorrect as it doesn’t apply until birth,” said the article’s author, Dr. Jen Gunter.

Dr. Gunter has been undone, and by an ally no less.

As Planned Parenthood’s supporters begin to wither in the face of overwhelming if circumstantial evidence that grotesque inhumanity has become the defining feature of that institution, momentum is building in Congress to finally end the flow of taxpayer subsidies to the abortion provider. The bill to defund Planned Parenthood, written by freshman Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, directs all its funds toward other institutions that provide women’s health care-related services, like community hospitals and clinics. “There will be no reduction in overall federal funding available to support women’s health,” Senator Mitch McConnell said after promising to hold a vote on the measure before the August recess.

The reaction to the GOP’s move from traditional Democratic supporters of the abortion services provider has been surprisingly muted. Far from launching into a tirade of garment-rending lamentations about the GOP’s anti-women bigotry, Clinton called the Republican effort to defund Planned Parenthood “regrettable.” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest repeated the condemnation of the videos and the surreptitious methods used to obtain the damning footage. When pressed as to whether the president would veto such a measure, however, Earnest said Barack Obama opposed the bill but declined to say if he would veto it.

For the time being, the political moment favors Planned Parenthood’s opponents. The revelations that have been exposed over the last month are so abhorrent that few prominent Democrats appear willing to stand by the organization. But the obstacles to passing a defunding measure and sending it to the president’s desk where Obama would face the hard choice of either vetoing it outright or pocketing it are not pro-choice liberals but Republicans and centrist Democrats. GOP Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois have already gone on record saying they will not support a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. Democratic Senators Bob Casey and  Joe Manchin, too, have said they will not back such a bill.

With the House having already adjourned for the summer recess, the Senate has few incentives to pass such a controversial measure. To allow it to fester and generate controversy over the course of August would do the defund effort no favors — particularly considering that there is now talk of a new government shutdown over the defund effort. Even if there are enough votes in both the House and the Senate to pass a defund bill after the August recess, it’s unclear that the provision would even be legal. “The laws governing Medicaid – the health insurance program for low-income families – prevent states from excluding certain providers solely because of other medical services they provide, like abortions,” CBS News reported. “Those laws also say Medicaid recipients must be allowed to seek treatment from anyone who is qualified to perform the services. This is sometimes called a ‘freedom of choice’ provision.” The report added that a 2011 Indiana law that sought to prevent Medicaid recipients from obtaining services from Planned Parenthood did not survive scrutiny in the courts.

But these delays may be a blessing in disguise. A Los Angeles area court recently granted an injunction request that prevents the release of further videos featuring Planned Parenthood administrators behaving ghoulishly. However, as Popehat blogger Ken White noted, the order may allow for plaintiffs to pursue satisfaction for damages done after the videos have been released, but it almost certainly cannot preempt their release entirely. That is especially true if the group behind the videos, the Center for Medical Progress, has already provided them to a third party. Therefore, expect the many repulsive videos to keep coming – as many as eight more are reportedly on deck. And every one that comes out forces one more prominent Democrat to soften his or her support for Planned Parenthood. Drip, drip, drip; over the course of a sleepy August in which the only game in town is the increasingly rote and boorish performance art piece masquerading as a presidential campaign, the revelations about Planned Parenthood’s conduct will find their audience.

The tide is perceptibly turning. Republicans would be foolish to let the pressure on Planned Parenthood lapse, but neither should they make themselves the focus of this story. Republicans should avoid being drawn into a convoluted debate on the legal merits of the defund effort, or its viability in the courts. They would also be well served if they were to ignore arcane whip counting and decline to opine on the politics of a presidential veto. As long as the debate is a philosophical one over whether we as a society should allow this kind of barbarism, conservatives will find themselves on the winning side. In the meantime, let the videos flow and enjoy watching Planned Parenthood supporters squirm in the sunlight.

Read Less

Hillary Clinton Pours Salt in Planned Parenthood’s Open Wound

Since the moment that the videos featuring Planned Parenthood officials haggling over the discarded aborted infant body parts began trickling out, each one more morbid than the next, pro-choice activists have contended that they are simply not newsworthy. Planned Parenthood defenders who actually watched the videos (a surprising number of those backing the organization confess after sufficient prodding that they’ve not seen the footage firsthand) insist that all that has been revealed is a bit of desensitization; professionals who have grown inured to how laymen view their perfectly legal and morally unambiguous work. But Planned Parenthood’s behavior and those on the left who depend on the organization’s largess betray the significance of the slow-motion scandal by downplaying it. This week, an unlikely source, Hillary Clinton, delivered a blow that could ultimately prove fatal to Planned Parenthood’s privileged status as a beneficiary of taxpayer subsidization. Read More

Since the moment that the videos featuring Planned Parenthood officials haggling over the discarded aborted infant body parts began trickling out, each one more morbid than the next, pro-choice activists have contended that they are simply not newsworthy. Planned Parenthood defenders who actually watched the videos (a surprising number of those backing the organization confess after sufficient prodding that they’ve not seen the footage firsthand) insist that all that has been revealed is a bit of desensitization; professionals who have grown inured to how laymen view their perfectly legal and morally unambiguous work. But Planned Parenthood’s behavior and those on the left who depend on the organization’s largess betray the significance of the slow-motion scandal by downplaying it. This week, an unlikely source, Hillary Clinton, delivered a blow that could ultimately prove fatal to Planned Parenthood’s privileged status as a beneficiary of taxpayer subsidization.

For those who decline to watch the gruesome videos featuring unspeakably brutish callousness toward humanity – infants, no less – you’ll be spared the details of the videos. Suffice it to say that they feature Planned Parenthood officials revealing the scope of the marketplace for organs from aborted fetuses. National Review’s Ian Tuttle summarized one macabre moment the latest installment in the multipart series of investigative videos:

At the 10:22 mark of the Center for Medical Progress’s latest video, released today, there is a picture of a hand. By the curve of the thumb and the articulation of the fingers, one can see that it is a right hand. It was formerly the right hand of an 11.6-week-old fetus; it is now part of the various organic odds and ends being sifted through on a plate in the pathology lab of a Planned Parenthood clinic.

In the latest video, while opining on whether her organization would prefer infant organs individually or in bulk, Dr. Savita Ginde, Vice President and Medical Director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM) in Denver, Colorado, tells her interlocutor she would prefer them in their most profitable form. “I think a per-item thing works a little better, just because we can see how much we can get out of it,” she says.

If there were truly no profit motive at work here, as the law stipulates there must not be, then there would be no incentive to “see how much we can get out of it.” It’s entirely possible that Planned Parenthood is not abiding by the letter of the law, but even if it were there is clearly a market for human organs that the public would surely be interested to learn more about. Sadly for the public, the press is utterly incurious.

Despite the fact that these videos set off a firestorm, despite that a push is underway in Congress to deprive Planned Parenthood of its taxpayer funding, despite the fact that Planned Parenthood executives are implicating themselves in immoral practices prompting the head of that institution to apologize for their cold-bloodedness; there has been precious little coverage of this rolling scandal in major media outlets. It’s not hard to see why.

This week, Planned Parenthood secured the services of the famous Democratic public relations firm SKDKnickerbocker to manage this crisis. It is a highly capable firm that is replete with former Democratic officials and reporters who left journalism in pursuit of a paycheck. It is telling that their first course of action was to reach out to news outlets to suppress the further dissemination of these damning videos. “The group circulated a memo to reporters and producers late Monday that discouraged them from airing the undercover videos, arguing that they were obtained under false identification and violated patient privacy,” Politico reported. “Those patients’ privacy should not be further violated by having this footage shared by the media,” the memo read, despite the fact that patients were not featured in these videos. Still, the tactic might be effective. It is not hard to envision media outlets jumping the flimsy excuse provided to them by their friends and former associates at SKDKnickerbocker to not report on a story they’d prefer to see buried in the first place.

Those defenders of Planned Parenthood who have mustered the courage to watch the videos have offered only unconvincing defenses of the organization. Calling the exposé a “hit job,” the often-thoughtful Mother Jones blogger Kevin Drum insisted that there was simply no substance to the latest Planned Parenthood video. After comparing the queasy feeling a human being should experience while bearing witness to haggling over dismembered infant parts as though they were chicken gizzards on display in a Marrakesh bazaar to the same feeling one gets while dissecting a frog in seventh grade science class, Drum insisted the practice was no different from organ donation.

“This is no different,” Drum insisted. “It’s every bit as altruistic and admirable as harvesting useful tissue from adults. Period.” At the risk of reopening an argument Drum surely thought he had concluded with the declarative addition of the word “period” to that sentence, there most certainly is a difference. Organ donation is consensual. The dismemberment of another human being in utero is, by definition, not consensual. This contention opens a whole new philosophical debate about the agency of the unborn and whether or not they deserve rights similar to those provided to their mothers. It’s a debate worth having. While those on the left can be reasonably certain that unpopular and legally problematic personhood laws would not be its result, such a debate might result in more restrictions on the marketplace for fetal organs. When it becomes a question of whether or not we should as opposed to whether or not we can, the terms of this debate will no longer favor Planned Parenthood.

Which leads us to Hillary Clinton. In an interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader, Clinton was asked about the Planned Parenthood videos. “I have seen pictures from them and obviously find them disturbing,” Clinton said. She noted that Planned Parenthood does good work in providing a variety of services that are not abortion-related, but she also did not criticize Republican efforts to investigate the institution. “And if there’s going to be any kind of congressional inquiry, it should look at everything and not just one (organization),” Clinton added, presumably referring to the nefarious types who had the temerity to observe Planned Parenthood officials behaving ghoulishly.

The earthquake in Clinton’s comments is that she found the videos “disturbing.” Those media outlets that were burying the Planned Parenthood story or framing it as just another peculiar conservative fixation have lost that cover. Hillary Clinton stole it from them. If they are to report on Hillary Clinton’s comments, they must also report on what she is commenting upon. To ignore what amounts to a denunciation of a liberal taxpayer-funded organization by someone soon to be the nation’s most prominent Democrat would be to embrace a level of unalloyed corruption that any journalist with a conscience would reject. News outlets are now obliged to either show the videos or to describe them in all their lurid detail.

The coming days will be clarifying. They will prove whether we have an objective press or merely a class of aspiring Democratic public relations professionals.

Read Less

Hillary Clinton’s Worst Fears Are Coming True

The national political press is fixated on the chaotic and contentious Republican presidential primary, and not without good reason. But in devoting so much focus to the race for the GOP nomination, the Democratic side of the aisle has been getting short shrift. Over the course of the summer, a left-wing revolt against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has evolved into an insurgency, and her campaign is gradually imploding, albeit at a cosmically languid pace. But that tempo is set to accelerate. The tipping point may have been reached on Thursday when one of the presumptive Democratic nominee’s worst fears was realized.  Read More

The national political press is fixated on the chaotic and contentious Republican presidential primary, and not without good reason. But in devoting so much focus to the race for the GOP nomination, the Democratic side of the aisle has been getting short shrift. Over the course of the summer, a left-wing revolt against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has evolved into an insurgency, and her campaign is gradually imploding, albeit at a cosmically languid pace. But that tempo is set to accelerate. The tipping point may have been reached on Thursday when one of the presumptive Democratic nominee’s worst fears was realized. 

Hillary Clinton’s campaign team was surely reveling in the national media’s distracted focus on the messy Republican presidential primary late Thursday night when they got the news. Immediately, her campaign team sprang into action and began the familiar process of muddying the waters and misdirecting reporters with a magician’s mastery. The New York Times had revealed that two independent inspectors general requested that the Justice Department open a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton for possibly jeopardizing national security by handling classified information on her personal “homebrew” email server. By morning, however, the Times story had been edited several times. Struck from the account was the contention that Clinton had “mishandled sensitive government information” and in its place was the claim that “information was mishandled” by… someone. The lead reporter on that story confessed that the alterations were made at the Clinton campaign’s “reasonable” request. The Associated Press dutifully followed the Times lead and noted that the IG’s referrals do not suggest wrongdoing by Clinton personally – merely her subordinates at the State Department.

Several hours later, the Justice Department indicated that the referrals they received were not criminal, leading to pushback from New York Times reporters who claimed that their sources were solid. Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the Inspector General’s office is standing by the contention that classified information that was designated as such was sent to Clinton’s private email address. Something bizarre is happening.

All that is clear at the moment is that a classic bit of Clintonian obfuscation skillfully executed by Hillary’s rapid response shop and her campaign’s press secretary, Nick Merrill, is afoot. Reporters and commentators immediately began litigating the story as reported in the Times and not the revelation that Clinton’s email practices are now a criminal matter. The story isn’t the story; the reporters who exposed the story are the story. It’s only a matter of time before Republicans “pounce” and probably “overplay their hand.”

The matter of whether Clinton personally behaved criminally or whether her subordinates did so without malice aforethought is, quite intentionally, beside the point. At the heart of this revelation is that Clinton’s unique emailing practices, which she said she followed out of deference to her own privileged sense of “convenience,” possibly jeopardized American national security. Reporters who suggest cheekily that there is perhaps a way in which Clinton might be absolved of personal fault for this lapse of judgment are being disingenuous. “There is no classified material,” Clinton averred unsolicited at her March press conference in the United Nations. The use of the present tense form of the verb “to be” is entirely intentional because, in all likelihood, there “was” classified material in her insufficiently secured private email account — at least, there was before she deleted over half those emails as House investigators were preparing to subpoena them.

Any reporter that has dealt with the State Department’s FOIA office knows that Foggy Bottom has a habit of over-classifying information as a means of evading transparency laws. Of the emails that Clinton handed over to the State Department for review and eventual release to the public, only a fraction have been disclosed. Of those, 25 were redacted because they contained information deemed classified after the fact. Even some congressional Democrats have acknowledged the obvious. “All of her official emails should be released to the American people,” said Illinois Representative and U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Duckworth. “There are going to be some that are classified and those that are classified — then show those to a bipartisan group of members of Congress.”

As for national security, the Secretary of State’s emails were likely the subject of intense interest by foreign actors and her improperly secured email account probably provided anyone with the capabilities a way to penetrate American diplomatic information security. Despite being discouraged from doing so, Clinton used at least one of her personal mobile devices while abroad to access emails on her private server, creating plenty of opportunities for foreign agents to compromise her account.

This is no small matter. On the heels of Edward Snowden’s revelations, American informational security has been harmed like never before. “The experts warned that the entire U.S. national security clearance system could be compromised,” read a chilling Fox News report published on Friday in the wake of the hacking of the Office of Personnel Management, “that future senior government leaders and advisors could be targeted even before taking office, and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of government officials might successfully be blackmailed, bribed or otherwise manipulated in the future into handing over still more sensitive information.” How can someone who, through carelessness or indifference, imperiled American national security serve as the nation’s commander-in-chief?

There are many reasons to suspect that the IG’s recommendation will come to nothing. Even if DOJ attorneys want to pursue this investigation, they will come under considerable political pressure from the White House to let it go. This is perhaps worse for Clinton. In that case, the allegations against her and her staff will never be resolved, and exculpation will forever be beyond her reach.

But even if the DOJ does take up the IG’s recommendation and investigates Clinton’s behavior criminally, the former secretary of state’s image would remain tarnished regardless of that investigation’s outcome. Clinton’s team is quick to brush off the significance of her collapsing polling and particularly those findings that indicate the voters no longer trust her. They contend that former President Bill Clinton was twice elected with sagging trust ratings, but Hillary Clinton is no Bill. She struggles in public settings, eschews retail politics, rarely projects imperturbability or self-assuredness, and she is viewed by many as manipulative and scheming. The recommendation that Clinton’s behavior be criminally investigated will only reinforce and cement that impression among voters.

Even despite the media’s myopic focus on the GOP primary race, Hillary Clinton’s standing in the polls continues to erode. Despite her low-profile campaign, voters are paying attention to Clinton’s conduct, and they do not like what they see. For the likely Democratic nominee, this latest development is a disaster.

 

Read Less

The Donald is Still Hillary’s Best Friend

Hillary Clinton has long had good reason to like Donald Trump. The real estate mogul-turned-reality TV star-turned-Republican presidential candidate was a major donor to her campaigns for the Senate. He also gave $100,000 to the thinly-disguised political slush fund that is the Clinton Family Foundation, giving him the unique status as both a potential Hillary opponent and an enabler of the Clinton Cash scandals. But the former First Lady has even more immediate reasons to be grateful to The Donald. Trump’s domination of the news cycle the last few weeks has not only sucked all the oxygen out of the room for other Republican candidates. The relentless coverage of his every move and outrageous statement has also had the effect of obscuring the slow motion implosion of her presidential campaign. Had he stayed on the sidelines to kibitz as he has in previous election cycles, it might have been Hillary’s horrific poll numbers and her increasing weakness against an implausible Bernie Sanders candidacy might be leading the cable news shows. Instead, we’re treated to daily analyses of Trump putdowns of fellow Republicans and coverage of his appearances as if they were global summits. If this keeps up — and at this point, there’s no reason to think it won’t — Hillary may be able to ride out the summer and the fall without too much attention being paid to her troubles.

Read More

Hillary Clinton has long had good reason to like Donald Trump. The real estate mogul-turned-reality TV star-turned-Republican presidential candidate was a major donor to her campaigns for the Senate. He also gave $100,000 to the thinly-disguised political slush fund that is the Clinton Family Foundation, giving him the unique status as both a potential Hillary opponent and an enabler of the Clinton Cash scandals. But the former First Lady has even more immediate reasons to be grateful to The Donald. Trump’s domination of the news cycle the last few weeks has not only sucked all the oxygen out of the room for other Republican candidates. The relentless coverage of his every move and outrageous statement has also had the effect of obscuring the slow motion implosion of her presidential campaign. Had he stayed on the sidelines to kibitz as he has in previous election cycles, it might have been Hillary’s horrific poll numbers and her increasing weakness against an implausible Bernie Sanders candidacy might be leading the cable news shows. Instead, we’re treated to daily analyses of Trump putdowns of fellow Republicans and coverage of his appearances as if they were global summits. If this keeps up — and at this point, there’s no reason to think it won’t — Hillary may be able to ride out the summer and the fall without too much attention being paid to her troubles.

There’s no point denying that Trump is the most entertaining presidential candidate we’ve had in a long time even if he’s also the least thoughtful and most vulgar. Every Trump event, such as the chaotic dog-and-pony show he put on at the border in Laredo, Texas yesterday, is transformed by the sheer unpredictability of his behavior into a global news event covered obsessively by the cable news networks. The same goes for every interview as pundits and journalists wait for Trump to insult one of his GOP rivals or to hint, as he has this week to the horror of his party, that he might run as a third-party candidate next year if the Republican National Committee offends him with “unfair” treatment.

For the moment, all this has the effect of leaving all the more credible would-be GOP opponents of Hillary flailing in frustration at Trump’s antics, insults and ability to rise in the polls. The more they hit back the more Trump likes it since it feeds his image as a “fighter” who is out to knock off a failed political establishment. But the cooler heads among them have to know that it can’t last. Sooner or later, Trump is going to start being scrutinized the way presidential candidates are examined and his record of support for liberals and liberal causes will start to take the air out of his balloon. Trump’s negatives are too high to allow him to be a legitimate threat for the nomination let alone the general election. Republicans should also be confident that his buffoonish persona is also bound to trip him up enough times to ultimately undermine any notion that he ride the support of a populist surge and anger about illegal immigration to the nomination.

But the help all of this is giving to Hillary is priceless. Trumpmania has enabled her to fly beneath the radar even when she weighs in on hot button issues. Her defense of Planned Parenthood in the face of their infant body parts sale scandal may impress the liberal base of the Democratic Party, but it also exposes her to attack. Yet no one is talking about Hillary allowing her to get away with continuing to refuse to talk to the press.

More important, the Trump factor has also almost silenced discussion of Hillary’s toxic poll numbers in battleground states against possible GOP opponents as well as the terrible results she gets on whether people trust her. In a normal political year, this would become the number one story lending further momentum to the surprisingly effective challenge to her coronation by Senator Bernie Sanders or even tempting other more plausible candidates like Senator Elizabeth Warren or Vice President Joe Biden into the race.

Clinton also has to hope that Trump is so enjoying the ride he’s on that he won’t want to get off even when he fails to win primaries next winter and spring. It’s easy to imagine Trump manufacturing some feud with the RNC and attempting a third-party run next summer and fall. Of course, that would be the ultimate favor for Hillary and the Democrats since it would more or less guarantee her election as president no matter how weak a candidate she proved to be.

The extension of the Trump campaign well into 2016 is the ultimate nightmare for Republicans, but there is little they can do about it other than to try and ignore him and hope, as they should, that the overwhelming majority of voters reject his brand of faux conservatism. In the meantime, he will continue to give aid and comfort to the Clinton campaign that is far more valuable than his past financial support for their fake charity or her Senate campaigns.

 

Read Less

Hillary Clinton May Have to Scorch the Earth to Win the White House

Polls at this point in the presidential race do not mean a thing. That is, of course, except when they do. The latest Quinnipiac University poll of three swing states – Virginia, Iowa, and Colorado – is one such poll. In all three states, the poll shows that Clinton’s favorability ratings have plummeted, voters no longer trust her, and, against three of the GOP’s top-tier candidates, she is losing. No, polls at this stage of the race are not predictive, but they do set expectations and they focus the minds of the donor class who don’t want to throw good money after bad. If this survey is a portent of things to come, it foreshadows a general election campaign that will make the president’s brutal, no-holds-barred 2012 reelection effort appear the height of cordiality by comparison.  Read More

Polls at this point in the presidential race do not mean a thing. That is, of course, except when they do. The latest Quinnipiac University poll of three swing states – Virginia, Iowa, and Colorado – is one such poll. In all three states, the poll shows that Clinton’s favorability ratings have plummeted, voters no longer trust her, and, against three of the GOP’s top-tier candidates, she is losing. No, polls at this stage of the race are not predictive, but they do set expectations and they focus the minds of the donor class who don’t want to throw good money after bad. If this survey is a portent of things to come, it foreshadows a general election campaign that will make the president’s brutal, no-holds-barred 2012 reelection effort appear the height of cordiality by comparison. 

It’s not the head-to-head matchups in Quinnipiac’s latest survey that should trouble Democrats – it’s the rapid deterioration of Clinton’s image among voters. Even in the state that proved definitively for the left that demography is destiny, Virginia, majorities have an unfavorable opinion of Hillary Clinton. Substantial majorities told pollsters they do not trust the prohibitive Democratic presidential nominee. But the worst numbers, the one that is surely prompting bouts of hushed panic among Democratic operatives, were the responses generated when voters were asked if Clinton “cares about the needs and problems of people like you.” Among swing-state voters in Iowa, Virginia, and Colorado, solid majorities believed that Clinton did not care about them. By contrast, the 2012 exit polls revealed that Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama on every issue with the exception of the intangible matter of caring more about the little guy. Obama beat Romney on that issue by an astounding 63-point margin, and he rode that perceived empathy all the way into another four-year term in the White House.

Hillary Clinton has been a prominent figure in American politics for a quarter-century. She is already, perhaps unalterably, defined in the minds of voters. The Republican candidates, meanwhile, are not. Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter observed that Clinton and her fellow Democrats would do all within their power over the course of the nearly yearlong presidential campaign to define the nominee in negative terms. The natural headwinds confronting Democrats in their effort to secure a third consecutive term in the White House will ensure that the process of “defining” the GOP nominee is a pitiless one. But those natural headwinds are compounded by the fact that Hillary Clinton is not the political talent that Obama was.

It’s a bit trite, but it’s worth considering the substantial “coolness” deficit that Democrats are about to face. After almost eight years of branding itself as a vibrant, youthful institution whose leader was as apt to be seen in the Oval Office as he was on the set of a late-night comedy program, Democrats are about to hemorrhage some of that accumulated hipness. The tortured effort by some young progressives in the media to craft a trendy brand around the octogenarian Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg exposes the terrifying shallowness of the left’s bench of fashionable political figures. Democrats who watched a recent video released by Hillary Clinton, in which the candidate hawked her campaign’s branded “chillery” beer cozy and declared that she was “just chilling” herself, must have cringed; an android in a Philip K. Dick novel struggling to mimic human emotion could display more charisma and sincerity. Like the 82-year-old “Notorious R.B.G.,” Clinton will require a transparently fabricated campaign to be perceived as current and something that appeals to a younger generation. Among Democrats with ample national name recognition, only Joe Biden effortlessly projects the kind of approachability and nonchalance that drew young voters to Barack Obama, and he is not in the race. Yet.

If Clinton sacrifices even a modest amount of support among young voters, that must be made up on other fronts. The demographic perhaps most amenable to Clinton’s overtures are women, and the former secretary of state has already ramped up the gender-centric attacks on her adversaries. Speaking to a group of Kentucky voters, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently observed that Clinton pitch relies extensively on the candidate’s gender and has focused conspicuously on women’s issues. “You may recall my election last year,” McConnell said of his vanquished opponent, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, “the gender card alone is not enough.” Clinton’s team responded by playing the gender card with even more reckless abandon.

“There is a gender card being played in this campaign,” Clinton wrote on Facebook. “It’s played every time Republicans vote against giving women equal pay, deny families access to affordable child care or family leave, refuse to let women make decisions about their health or have access to free contraception.” Her team followed up with a web-based advertisement featuring McConnell’s remarks and scolding several members of the GOP’s 2016 field for supporting measures Clinton’s campaign dubbed “anti-women.”

The other pillar of Barack Obama’s coalition that Clinton must ensure remains intact if she is to win in 2016 are the minority voters who turned out in substantial numbers to ensure the nation’s first African-American president won two terms in the White House. The time will come when the Clinton campaign must turn the Hispanic community against the Republican nominee – a substantial task if the GOP nominates Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio – but, for now, the former secretary of state is focused on her support among African-American Democrats.

In June, Clinton called voter identification laws and efforts to curtail early voting to within two weeks of Election Day “a sweeping effort to disempower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people and young people from one end of our country to the other.” She went further by contending that Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, and Rick Perry were “deliberately trying to stop” black voters from exercising the franchise. “Note the language here,” Fox News analyst Chris Stirewalt observed. “It’s not a misguided effort with an unfortunate result, it is a deliberate effort to prevent minorities from voting. That’s not just racist, that’s evil.”

This is a theme that you can expect the likely Democratic nominee to pound repeatedly over the course of her campaign in the uphill effort to ensure African-American turnout in 2016 matches the rates set in 2008 and 2012.

The stakes are high in 2016 – more so for Democrats than they were in 2012, when Barack Obama’s allies went so far as to accuse Mitt Romney of complicity in negligent homicide. We may come to look back on that campaign as an epoch of civility. If the GOP nominates a competent candidate, and they have a variety from which to choose, Hillary Clinton and her allies will have to scorch the earth in order to win. The torches are already lit.

 

Read Less

The Democrats’ Worst Fear

Republicans are obsessed with the Hispanic vote. It’s an understandable disorder considering how critical that vote has become. In the last two presidential elections, the Hispanic vote, among all minority voting blocs, was by far the most substantial as well as the most potentially amenable to the Republican message. In 2008 and 2012, Republican presidential candidates failed to win a substantial number of Hispanic voters – a project made infinitely more difficult by the presence of a minority candidate at the top of the Democratic ticket. In 2016, Barack Obama isn’t on the ballot, and the GOP could very well have a Hispanic or a fluent Spanish speaker at the top of the ballot. And yet, Republicans are still fighting the last war. They are fixed on peeling off just enough Hispanic voters to win the White House. The GOP and Republican presidential hopefuls alike should also be aiming to lay siege to the commanding heights of the Democratic Party’s “coalition of the ascending,” the central pillar of which is the African-American vote.

Read More

Republicans are obsessed with the Hispanic vote. It’s an understandable disorder considering how critical that vote has become. In the last two presidential elections, the Hispanic vote, among all minority voting blocs, was by far the most substantial as well as the most potentially amenable to the Republican message. In 2008 and 2012, Republican presidential candidates failed to win a substantial number of Hispanic voters – a project made infinitely more difficult by the presence of a minority candidate at the top of the Democratic ticket. In 2016, Barack Obama isn’t on the ballot, and the GOP could very well have a Hispanic or a fluent Spanish speaker at the top of the ballot. And yet, Republicans are still fighting the last war. They are fixed on peeling off just enough Hispanic voters to win the White House. The GOP and Republican presidential hopefuls alike should also be aiming to lay siege to the commanding heights of the Democratic Party’s “coalition of the ascending,” the central pillar of which is the African-American vote.

It would be wise for the GOP to prepare for the possibility that it’s efforts to attract a critical mass of Hispanic voters could fail. All the Latino friendly Republican candidates in the world may be unable to repair the damage done by a primary that seems set to turn on antipathy toward Hispanic immigrant culture. The left and the allies in the press will eagerly try to conflate the GOP’s frustration with an administration that flouts immigration law with xenophobia, but the rhetorical overreach displayed by a select few self-descried Republicans has made that undertaking lamentably easy. A robust and comprehensive Republican strategy that sets its sights higher than securing a safe 50 percent plus one in November of next year would be a smart, conservative approach to minority outreach. For Republicans, the black vote presents an almost entirely untapped well. What’s more, if Republicans were even modestly successful in appealing to African-Americans, it would make winning elections substantially more difficult for Democratic politicians.

“It’s tough to overstate just how critical black voters have become to today’s Democratic coalition, particularly when it comes to the Electoral College,” Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter observed last week. She noted that Barack Obama’s entire margin of victory in 2012 in four key states that command nearly 50 electoral votes came entirely from African-American voters. “According to our number crunching, had ZERO Latinos voted in 2012, Obama would have lost the popular vote but still would have won the White House with 283 Electoral votes,” Walter discovered. She added that Hillary Clinton would not be doomed by pre-2008 levels of Democratic support from black voters (George W. Bush won the support of 11 percent of African-Americans in 2004). Her margins for error would, however, be considerably reduced.

And Hillary Clinton knows that her victory will hinge on whether she can inherit Obama’s coalition of voters and cement it into a Democratic coalition. With that in mind, Clinton has worked tirelessly to maintain the trust and support of black Democrats. “If African-American enthusiasm for Clinton comes close to matching Obama’s, then the base-first approach will pay dividends down the road,” National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar noted. “But if she’s winning non-white voters in the primary by default — running against old white men with limited ties to the rising Democratic electorate — she could face a rude awakening next November.”

Republicans candidates have by and large done their party a disservice by focusing on electoral math that could yield the GOP national victories even without a substantial number of African-American voters. That tendency to overlook the African-American vote has yielded a rift that will not heal in just one election cycle. What’s more, Republican voters might be so discouraged by the daunting prospect of winning back black voters’ support that they may feel their energy is better spent elsewhere. A study published in Political Research Quarterly in May revealed that even black Republican candidates fail to generate much enthusiasm among African-American voters. But the key to convincing Democrat-leaning African-American voters to take another look at the GOP platform is not to attempt to play the game of identity politics better than Democrats, even if such an outcome were possible. That project will hinge on whether Republicans are speaking to and of the African-American experience.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul deserves unqualified praise for inaugurating and sticking with the project of reaching out to black voters on their terms. The senator was mocked by those on the left who are threatened by the prospect of effective GOP minority outreach, but Paul deserved to be gently chided for giving Howard University students a trite history lesson. “Did they all know that the NAACP was founded by Republicans?” Paul asked a roomful of African-American students in 2013, all of whom rolled their eyes and responded with an exhausted “yes.” Condescension won’t convince anyone. African-American voters don’t need a history lesson.

The summer of 2015 has been pivotal. The long, hot summer of racial violence that many anticipated would materialize following the violence in Baltimore and Ferguson in the last six months has thus far failed to materialize. In the Deep South, Republican officeholders are furling the Confederate flag; the party of emancipation and desegregation has dealt another deep wound to the legacy of institutionalized racism. Some of the GOP’s 2016 candidates, like Texas Governor Rick Perry, have delivered masterful addresses on the nature of racial disparity. In doing so, the governor scolded his party’s 1964 nominee, Barry Goldwater, over his antipathy toward the Civil Rights Act. “Too often, we Republicans – myself included – have emphasized our message on the Tenth Amendment but not our message on the Fourteenth,” Perry emphasized. Would that the GOP-led Congress could devote some energy to reforming the gutted Voting Rights Act with conservative and federalist principles in mind (while they still have the opportunity). That, too, would go a long way toward restoring some trust.

It was not that long ago that African-American dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party was palpable. The Washington Post observed in 1998 that the perception among black voters that were being taken for granted sparked “outright rebellion and open flirting with the GOP to growing rumblings of discontent.” The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina combined with Barack Obama’s ascension put a halt to that process, but that may be changing. In 2014, Republican candidates won 10 percent of the African-American vote – the best GOP showing with this demographic since 2006. Perhaps most worrying for Democrats was in pivotal Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott outperformed most of his fellow Republicans by winning 12 percent of the black vote.

The substantial number of black voters who identify as liberals will always have a home in the Democratic Party, but those with less firm ideological affiliations could be willing to take a second look at the GOP. It’s up to Republicans to give them something worth looking at.

Read Less

The Progressive Regression

This fascinating quote from Havas Media’s Tom Goodwin has been frequently cited, even in this space, but it is so eye-opening that it merits repeating yet again. “Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles,” he wrote in March. “Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.” Anyone who marvels at the pace of human innovation should by rights appreciate the inventiveness of this wildly successful economic strategy. For those who purport to embrace “progress,” however, this ongoing revolution is a grave threat. It is not without irony that those who call themselves “progressives” have no greater objective than enforcing and preserving the status quo – at least, beyond the realms of gender and identity politics. Rarely, however, has the contrast between conservatism’s support for modernism and progressivism’s retreat from it been as unambiguous as it is in regards to the advent of the sharing economy.  Read More

This fascinating quote from Havas Media’s Tom Goodwin has been frequently cited, even in this space, but it is so eye-opening that it merits repeating yet again. “Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles,” he wrote in March. “Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.” Anyone who marvels at the pace of human innovation should by rights appreciate the inventiveness of this wildly successful economic strategy. For those who purport to embrace “progress,” however, this ongoing revolution is a grave threat. It is not without irony that those who call themselves “progressives” have no greater objective than enforcing and preserving the status quo – at least, beyond the realms of gender and identity politics. Rarely, however, has the contrast between conservatism’s support for modernism and progressivism’s retreat from it been as unambiguous as it is in regards to the advent of the sharing economy. 

Last month, gangs of disaffected Parisians wrapped bandanas around their faces and took to the streets where they tipped over cars, smashed windows, set tire fires, assaulted tourists, threw objects from overpasses, and barricaded the highways linking the French capital to Charles de Gaulle Airport. Were these the estranged and alienated youth tormented by fabricated phenomena like “income inequality” that haunts the imaginations of American liberals? Hardly. These rioters were the employed, unionized livery workers of Paris who have seen a fraction of their business lost to the upstart cab sharing company Uber. In response to this modest economic challenge, Paris’s cab drivers chose to indulge in an orgiastic tantrum of masochism and property destruction. In the end, the French capital caved to the hostage takers’ demands and kneecapped the cab sharing firm’s ability to do business in that restive city.

The Parisian riots generated little coverage in the United States; they represent a dark portent of things to come in America if those who are busily trying to prop up failing livery unions by hobbling services like Uber and its competitor, Lyft, have their way. And those who do seek to handicap these and other novelties of the sharing economy are invariably members of a clan that has the unmitigated gall to call itself “progressive.”

Likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has sought to stave off a challenge from a self-described socialist by seeking to put a human face on the left’s preferred totalitarianism. When she outlines her economic philosophy this week, the former secretary of state will reportedly take dead aim at these and other innovations; and all in the name of “progress.”

“Clinton’s aide said she will discuss some of the structural forces conspiring against sustainable wage growth, such as globalization, automation, and even consumer-friendly ‘sharing economy’ firms like Uber and Airbnb that are creating new relationships between management and labor (and which now employ many Obama administration alumni),” Politico reported. “But she will argue that policy choices have contributed to the problem, and that she can fix it.”

“She will propose to expand on Obama’s high-income tax hikes, while also pushing measures to fight wage theft, raise the minimum wage, encourage profit-sharing for workers, and support collective bargaining by unions,” the report added.

Much of Clinton’s economic platform can be written off as constituency maintenance. As the power of organized labor in the United States has contracted amid unfavorable economic realities, this paranoid and cornered institution has grown rabidly protective of the privileges it earned in the 20th Century. Democrats are more than happy to take advantage of the organizational muscle and campaign contributions that they can exploit from labor unions, even if that means sloughing off its image as the party of tomorrow.

It was this impulse that led President Barack Obama to lament the “structural changes” in the economy that have replaced bank tellers with automatic teller machines and airport ticketing agents with kiosks. The left has always regarded the creative destruction inherent to capitalism as a problem to be managed and guided (or abolished altogether). But this fundamental aspect of market economics can only be leashed for so long before it must be suppressed through state-sanctioned coercion. Democrats who are consumed with the project of hiking the minimum wage will be shocked to discover that those states and municipalities that pass wage hikes have only incentivized and accelerated the process of automating rote tasks. And to inhibit this innovative evolution further, the left must again appeal to the power of the state. Only the threat of force can compel the tides of history to recede.

Rarely have Republicans been in such an advantageous position, blessed as they are with an opposition party that is so consumed with the preservation of unearned privilege and the maintenance of special interests. While the left stands athwart history, yelling “stop,” they victimize the millions of average Americans who benefited from cheaper taxis, no-frills hospitality services, and reduced retail prices as a result of a lack of brick-and-mortar overhead. The modern “progressive” wants nothing more than to roll back the clock to the turn of the 20th Century. If Republicans cannot make the case for advancement better than the spooked Luddites who today dare call themselves “progressives,” they should clear the field for those who can.

Read Less

Who Will Pay For Hillary’s Era of Big Government?

Democrats are right about one thing. There is more to Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy than her lies about obeying government rules for her emails, destroying evidence demanded by Congressional subpoenas, and conflicts of interest between her family foundation and her work as secretary of state. Granted, it’s hard to get past Clinton’s sense of entitlement about the presidency and her arrogant resentment of the notion that she ought to be held accountable for her actions. But, influenced by the shift to the left in her party’s base, Clinton is also offering a rather ambitious agenda for the nation. Like the similar yet even more radical proposals put forward by her chief Democratic rival, Senator Bernie Sanders, the Clinton plan for America is offering a lot of free things as well as traditional liberal talking points. But the problem with all this free stuff is, of course, that is not free to the taxpayers who will be required to pay for it. While pundits have said the right’s ability to force GOP candidates to avoid the center is hurting their ability to win a general election, the ability of the left to pressure Clinton into calling for a new era of big government that could set America on the same path that eventually sank Greece in an ocean of debt won’t help her in November 2016.

Read More

Democrats are right about one thing. There is more to Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy than her lies about obeying government rules for her emails, destroying evidence demanded by Congressional subpoenas, and conflicts of interest between her family foundation and her work as secretary of state. Granted, it’s hard to get past Clinton’s sense of entitlement about the presidency and her arrogant resentment of the notion that she ought to be held accountable for her actions. But, influenced by the shift to the left in her party’s base, Clinton is also offering a rather ambitious agenda for the nation. Like the similar yet even more radical proposals put forward by her chief Democratic rival, Senator Bernie Sanders, the Clinton plan for America is offering a lot of free things as well as traditional liberal talking points. But the problem with all this free stuff is, of course, that is not free to the taxpayers who will be required to pay for it. While pundits have said the right’s ability to force GOP candidates to avoid the center is hurting their ability to win a general election, the ability of the left to pressure Clinton into calling for a new era of big government that could set America on the same path that eventually sank Greece in an ocean of debt won’t help her in November 2016.

Clinton’s plans are so ironic that even the New York Times couldn’t resist bringing up her husband’s famous statement in his 1995 State of the Union address that “the era of big government is over.” What was interesting about that line is that it was, of course, a reaction to the GOP’s 1994 midterm landslide. Unlike Barack Obama, who was rebuked in two such electoral thumpings in 2010 and 2014 but refused to try and deal with Congress, Clinton embraced Republican ideas and made them his own. The result was that a lot got done, and the Democrat was able to claim ownership of welfare reform and a balanced budget that had been forced upon him by his opponents.

But that sensible moment in American history might as well as happened a century ago as far as Mrs. Clinton is concerned. Given her chameleon-like ability to shift her stands on a host of issues on both domestic and foreign policy, it’s hard to say what her real principles, if she has any, are, other than, that is, a relentless ambition. But whatever is at her core, Clinton understands that if she is to mobilize her party’s base and get the large minority turnout that Obama could count on and which she desperately needs, a shift to the left is required.

That’s behind the laundry list of liberal big government programs that Clinton is prepared to roll out. She wants free college tuition, kindergarten and child care, not to mention a vast jobs bank and bonds sales to pay for free infrastructure projects, new legal protections for illegal immigrants and an expanded bureaucracy to monitor gun sales. As the Times points out, the price tag for all of this is impressive. Several hundred billion dollars would be needed to get it going and even more to sustain them.

That sounds good to liberal Democratic primary and caucus voters, though Sanders’ even pricier ideas sound even better to them. Like Sanders, Clinton plans to tell Democrats that she can pay for it by taxing the rich. But, as the Times notes, there is no evidence for a vast shift to the left on the part of the bulk of the electorate. Most Americans still think government is too big and intrusive. They also know the country is already sinking in debt that has grown exponentially on President Obama’s watch as he expanded government principally via ObamaCare.

While Clinton ran for president in 2008 as a centrist determined to revive her husband’s policies and return the country to prosperity, the 2016 version is going to be very different. It’s a subject for debate as to whether, as the Times indicates, that this reflects her true political orientation as an activist liberal in the mold of Franklin Roosevelt.

But surely even left-wingers know that the politics of the New Deal or even Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society don’t offer much help for an American economy and society that has changed fundamentally since then. What “New Democrats” like Bill Clinton understood in the 1990s was that their party had to adapt to a post-liberal age in which Americans wanted an effective and compassionate government but not the sort of intrusive federal leviathan that had caused so much damage as a result of Great Society excesses. Yet that is exactly where Clinton is heading with her proposals. The Greek example may seem far-fetched, but that is the inevitable fate of any society that writes entitlement checks that cannot be cashed.

Liberal Democrats may think their moment is returning but, like all parties in thrall to their ideologues, they are blind to the political costs of a swing to the extremes. Only the far left really believes that higher taxes on the rich can pay for their big government dreams. It is precisely those middle-class Americans that Clinton talks about representing that will pay most heavily for more government. The lurch to the left may help Clinton fend off a feeble challenge from the implausible Sanders, but she may pay a high price for a campaign that is a formula for defeat in a general election.

Read Less

Hillary Clinton’s Lies

Hillary Clinton entered this race treating the press like a nuisance at best; marks whom she could easily distract with a bit of misdirection. When she’s not corralling photographers in their allotted, roped-off stations, she’s mocking their efforts to cover her serial mendacities. In March, while delivering the keynote address during the awarding of the Toner Prize for excellence in journalism, Clinton issued a self-effacing series of jokes joking about her own penchant for paranoid secrecy and her unfolding email scandal. It was a display of arrogance and chutzpah that would make Donald Trump blush. “Too many of our most important debates occur in what I call an evidence-free zone,” she told a roomful of reporters, counseling them to pursue their craft with vigor in 2016. Indeed, they should. In every one of the minimal interactions the former secretary of state has had with the press, she has made a series of debatable or outright falsifiable statements. The political media would do well to internalize just how little the prohibitive Democratic nominee thinks of their institution or their individual talents.  Read More

Hillary Clinton entered this race treating the press like a nuisance at best; marks whom she could easily distract with a bit of misdirection. When she’s not corralling photographers in their allotted, roped-off stations, she’s mocking their efforts to cover her serial mendacities. In March, while delivering the keynote address during the awarding of the Toner Prize for excellence in journalism, Clinton issued a self-effacing series of jokes joking about her own penchant for paranoid secrecy and her unfolding email scandal. It was a display of arrogance and chutzpah that would make Donald Trump blush. “Too many of our most important debates occur in what I call an evidence-free zone,” she told a roomful of reporters, counseling them to pursue their craft with vigor in 2016. Indeed, they should. In every one of the minimal interactions the former secretary of state has had with the press, she has made a series of debatable or outright falsifiable statements. The political media would do well to internalize just how little the prohibitive Democratic nominee thinks of their institution or their individual talents. 

Clinton’s Toner Prize address occurred in March, just days after the snowballing effect of the scandal involving her email practices compelled the former secretary to abandon caution and finally address the press. Over the course of a news conference at the United Nations and a Q&A period, Clinton disseminated a convincing defense of her behavior. Though the first handpicked questioner attempted to contend that Clinton’s travails were the result of latent American sexism toward the most powerful woman in U.S. history, the remaining reporters asked admirably cutting questions and elicited some informative responses. But as the ensuing days passed, many of the assertion’s Clinton made in that presser came into question.

“The server contains personal communications from my husband and me,” Clinton said of her private “homebrew” system on which she kept her emails. This, she contended, was one of the reasons why she summarily destroyed over half of the emails she sent to the State Department for vetting and eventual release. But according to Clinton’s husband’s spokesperson, the former president had sent a total of two emails in his entire life and both of those were fired off while Bill Clinton still occupied the Oval Office.

“Going through the emails, there were over 60,000 in total, sent and received. About half were work-related and went to the State Department, and about half were personal,” former Sec. Clinton contended before the United Nations lectern. Not so, according to emails provided to House investigators by longtime Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal. Clinton withheld emails from State related to Benghazi, oil contracts in post-war Libya, and the NATO-led intervention in that North African country. What’s more, Blumenthal’s correspondences indicated that some of the emails that she did provide to the State Department had been altered with some portions removed.

Hillary Clinton claimed that she only used one mobile device on which she checked her emails because it would be “easier” – a practice that is discouraged by the State Department due to the increased likelihood that foreign intelligence services can gain access to those devices. That, too, was not true. “Hillary Rodham Clinton emailed her staff on an iPad as well as a BlackBerry while secretary of state, despite her explanation she exclusively used a personal email address on a homebrew server so that she could carry a single device,” the Associated Press revealed in March.

“The vast majority of my work emails went to government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department,” Clinton insisted. She had to be aware that the agency she led was unprofessionally lax about its archival practices. “[In 2011], Department employees created 61,156 record emails out of more than a billion emails sent,” a recent State Department Inspector General’s report read.

Clinton also insisted that her email communications contained no classified material. In the latest tranche of 3,000 emails State released last week in response to a court order, the department revealed that 25 of them were redacted because they contained information reviewers deemed classified. This should come as no surprise to reporters who cover the State Department and are regularly frustrated by the culture of over-classification in that agency that allows diplomatic personnel to skirt transparency laws.

You might expect at least one of these discrepancies to have come up in Clinton’s much-anticipated interview with a bona fide member of the press corps this week, but CNN’s Brianna Keilar failed to note that a variety of assertions Clinton made in March have since proven dubious. So why wouldn’t the former secretary continue to mislead?

“I’ve never had a subpoena,” Clinton contended when asked about her decision to delete 33,000 allegedly personal emails. But she did receive a subpoena after House investigators drew one up in March. “This letter will respond to (1) the subpoena duces tecum issued by the Benghazi Select Committee to the Hon. Hillary R. Clinton and served by agreement on March 4, 2015,” read a letter addressed to House Select Committee on Benghazi members. Clinton’s supporters in the campaign and in the Capitol Building contend that she understood the question Keilar asked to pertain only to December, when that subpoena was only pending and when the emails at issue were deleted.

“Everything I did was permitted,” Clinton further averred. “There was no law. There was no regulation. There was nothing that did not give me the full authority to decide how I was going to communicate.” In order to support this contention, Clinton and her abettors cite an interim directive issued in October of 2014 that advises State employees to take only “personal papers” and “non-record materials” with them when they leave the agency. But, as the Washington Post noted, State’s Foreign Affairs Manual made it perfectly clear that “correspondence or e-mail received or sent in an employee’s capacity as a Department official is not personal.” That guideline was issued well before Clinton ever joined the State Department.

“In reality, Clinton’s decision to use a private e-mail system for official business was highly unusual and flouted State Department procedures, even if not expressly prohibited by law at the time,” the Post’s fact-checkers admonished. “Moreover, while she claims ‘everything I did was permitted,’ she appears to have not complied with the requirement to turn over her business-related e-mails before she left government service. That’s a major misstep that she has not acknowledged.” Clinton earned three out of four “Pinocchios” for this particular fib.

At some point, the political press has to tire of being used and underestimated by Hillary Clinton. Until that time, she will continue to flagrantly mislead the press and the public, making a mockery of the journalistic profession in the process.

Read Less

Carl Bernstein’s Journey From Journalist to Liberal Apologist

I suppose one could do this a dozen times a day, but this particular example stood out to me. It’s a CNN interview with Carl Bernstein, one half of the most famous journalistic duo (Woodward and Bernstein) in American history. The subject is Hillary Clinton, someone Bernstein has written a book about. Read More

I suppose one could do this a dozen times a day, but this particular example stood out to me. It’s a CNN interview with Carl Bernstein, one half of the most famous journalistic duo (Woodward and Bernstein) in American history. The subject is Hillary Clinton, someone Bernstein has written a book about.

Here’s what struck me about this interview. Mr. Bernstein concedes what any reasonable person has to: Mrs. Clinton “has had a difficult relationship with the truth” since the Arkansas years. But here’s what’s known in poker as the “tell”: Bernstein spends the rest of the interview making excuses for Clinton’s prevarications. There are reasons for her dishonesty, you see, and they have to do more with Mrs. Clinton’s critics than with Mrs. Clinton. Let’s see if we can follow the bouncing ball.

Mrs. Clinton has been the object of “attacks” because she’s been “at the heart of the cultural warfare in this country over the last 30 years” — and “the demographics today reflect that she is on the right side of this cultural warfare.” This is a non sequitur. What does this have to do with Mrs. Clinton being dishonest on issue after issue? Answer: Nothing. She dissembled because of her flawed character, not because of the culture wars.

But Bernstein isn’t done yet. He points out that Hillary Clinton is a politician and fudging the truth is endemic among them — though he’s quick to add that she’s become “a specialist at it.” (How euphemistic. She’s a “specialist” at “fudging” the truth rather than, say, a chronic liar.)

And the reason she’s become a specialist at it? Why, it has to do with the “peculiarities of the Clinton’s situation.” It has to do with Bill Clinton’s relationship with other women and the fact that “she’s had to defend him.”

“It’s been very difficult to do with the whole truth and all the truth and nothing but the truth,” according to the man who made his career covering and then fiercely condemning a president had great difficulty tell the whole truth, all the truth, and nothing but the truth.

Bernstein sums up his case this way: “She’s been in a very difficult position.” What we need to appreciate about Mrs. Clinton are her “complexities.” She’s “sui generis” — the “most famous woman in the world” and “all over the world this morning, people are having the discussion we’re having around their breakfast tables (!). It’s remarkable, this phenomenon.” So, you see, we have to “look at this election in a little bit different terms, and her in a little bit different terms than anybody else.”

Now think about how the Bernstein case could have applied to oh, say, Richard Nixon. Mr. Nixon had a difficult relationship with the truth — but the reason for that, you have to understand, was that he was a key figure in the culture war fight over Alger Hiss. And what Nixon did in Watergate wasn’t right — but then again, it wasn’t all that unusual. Those kinds of dirty tricks had been going on forever, including during the Johnson and Kennedy administrations. And remember: Nixon didn’t give the approval for the Watergate break-in; he fudged the truth in order to protect underlings who had done something without his approval. Sure it wasn’t right, but at the heart of this case was a two-bit burglary. And in any event, Nixon was a great foreign policy president — and the first from Yorba Linda — so you have to look at what he did in a little different terms, and him in a little bit different terms.

Carl Bernstein is a regrettable case — a journalist who helped expose a scandal and who has now, for ideological reasons, become something of an apologist for scandal. His liberal political biases have blinded his ability to speak with any dispassion on matters, including Mrs. Clinton. His CNN interview was a perfect example of motivated reasoning, and evidence of much of what is wrong with the press these days. Carl Bernstein isn’t really a journalist so much as he’s a liberal advocate. That’s his right, but we shouldn’t pretend he is what he’s not.

Read Less

Arrogant Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Have to Bother With the Truth

After months of shielding herself from the press via staged events and rope lines, Hillary Clinton finally sat down to talk with a member of the national media yesterday. But anyone thinking that a new more open, honest or humble Hillary would be unveiled in the interview with CNN’s Briana Keilar was bound to be disappointed. Much like her stilted performance back in March when she had a press conference to deal with questions about her email scandal, Clinton’s appearance did nothing to silence questions about either her trustworthiness or her political instincts. Her responses to even the softball questions lobbed into her by Keilar were not merely high-handed and clueless. They were also brazenly false and presented a portrait of an arrogant Hillary Clinton to the country that shows she believes herself to be entitled not only to the presidency but to be treated as if the normal rules of law and conduct don’t apply to her. While this shaky performance may not cause most members of her party to question her inevitable coronation as their presidential nominee in 2016, it should embolden both her Democratic challengers and potential Republican opponents to think she remains deeply vulnerable.

Read More

After months of shielding herself from the press via staged events and rope lines, Hillary Clinton finally sat down to talk with a member of the national media yesterday. But anyone thinking that a new more open, honest or humble Hillary would be unveiled in the interview with CNN’s Briana Keilar was bound to be disappointed. Much like her stilted performance back in March when she had a press conference to deal with questions about her email scandal, Clinton’s appearance did nothing to silence questions about either her trustworthiness or her political instincts. Her responses to even the softball questions lobbed into her by Keilar were not merely high-handed and clueless. They were also brazenly false and presented a portrait of an arrogant Hillary Clinton to the country that shows she believes herself to be entitled not only to the presidency but to be treated as if the normal rules of law and conduct don’t apply to her. While this shaky performance may not cause most members of her party to question her inevitable coronation as their presidential nominee in 2016, it should embolden both her Democratic challengers and potential Republican opponents to think she remains deeply vulnerable.

The first thing to be understood about this interview is that it was as favorable a setting as she could have hoped for. Rather than press Clinton to answer tough questions about her emails or the conflicts of interest that investigations of her family foundation have brought out into the open, Keilar largely let the former First Lady get away with murder. At no point did she follow up with pointed rejoinders seeking details or ask about Sidney Blumenthal’s involvement in both her family foundation and Libya policy. Nor did she challenge Clinton on her numerous false assertions, especially where it concerned the emails. Even on policy questions, Clinton was allowed to merely voice generalities rather than specifics and given free rein to take gratuitous pot shots at her potential rivals.

But Keilar did do the country one service when she asked Clinton whether she understood why polls show that a large majority of Americans didn’t trust her and whether she took any responsibility for this. Her answers to these queries told us more about her character and her view of her place in the world than any policy speech or personality profile could possibly do:

KEILAR:  I’m wondering if you can address a vulnerability that we’ve seen you dealing with recently.  We see in our recent poll that nearly six in 10 Americans say they don’t believe that you’re honest and trustworthy.

Do you understand why they feel that way?

CLINTON:  Well, I think when you are subjected to the kind of constant barrage of attacks that are largely fomented by and coming from the Right and –

KEILAR:  But do you bear any responsibility for that?

CLINTON:  – well, I – you know, I can only tell you that I was elected twice in New York against the same kind of onslaught.  I was confirmed and served as secretary of state and I think it’s understandable that when questions are raised people maybe are thinking about them and wondering about them.  But I have every confidence that during the course of this campaign people are going to know who will fight for them, who will be there when they need them and that’s the kind of person I am.  And that’s what I will do, not only in a campaign but as president.

KEILAR:  Trusting someone to fight for them and trusting someone, these are two different things.

Do you see any role that you’ve had in the sentiment that we’ve seen, where people are questioning whether you’re trustworthy?

CLINTON:  I can only tell you, Brianna, that this has been a theme that has been used against me and my husband for many, many years.  And at the end of the day, I think voters sort it all out.  I have great confidence.  I trust the American voter.  So I trust the American voter 100 percent because I think the American voter will weight these kinds of accusations.

I mean, people write books filled with unsubstantiated attacks against us.  And even admit they have no evidence.  But of course, it’s your job to cover it.  So of course that’s going to raise questions in people’s minds.

But during the course of this campaign, just as in my two prior campaigns and in my other years of service, I have a lot of confidence that the American people can sort it all out.

KEILAR:  Would you vote for someone that you don’t trust?

CLINTON:  Well, they – people should and do trust me.  And I have every confidence that that will be the outcome of this election.

Boiled down to its bare essentials, these answer show that Clinton appears to have learned nothing since her time in the White House when she attributed the national dismay about her husband’s personal conduct to the workings of a “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

In point of fact, liberal outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post, not conservative publications, have largely carried out the investigations of the Clinton Foundation. Nor was the Clinton Cash book by Peter Schweizer unsubstantiated. To the contrary, it was dense with disturbing questions about the Clinton’s conduct and the way their raising of funds from foreign sources seemed to hinge on those donors expectations about the Clintons doing them favors. But rather than address ethical questions head on, she simply dismisses all the charges as political. In Clintonworld, personal responsibility is something for other people, never for Bill and Hillary.

A better politician like her husband could have disarmed these questions with humility and an admission of mistakes.

That was especially true when she was asked about her bizarre use of a private email and home server while serving as secretary of state and the fact that she withheld these communications from the government and then deleted tens of thousands of emails and wiped the server clean when asked by a House committee for the documents.

Everything I did was permitted by law and regulation.  I had one device.  When I mailed anybody in the government, it would go into the government system.

Now I didn’t have to turn over anything.  I chose to turn over 55,000 pages because I wanted to go above and beyond what was expected of me because I knew the vast majority of everything that was official already was in the State Department system.

These are all blatant falsehoods. The administration she served set up such a regulation in 2009 that would have mandated her handing all of her communications over to the government. Her withholding of documents and then their destruction did violate the rules. As did her home server. As did her choice of which to give to the government and which to withhold and then destroy. But in Clintonworld, it is apparently okay to lie brazenly and then blame the controversy on critics.

The point here isn’t just that she behaved wrongly and won’t own up to it. It’s that she still seems to consider the very act of answering questions about her conduct to be beneath her dignity. The defensive and surly tone with which she made these statements not only reeks with arrogance, it shows that the first months on the campaign trail haven’t done much to improve her political skills. Though she was never much of a natural politician, the rust that seems to have accumulated during her time as secretary of state not only remains but also appears to have grown thicker.

She has lived the last 22 years at the pinnacle of American public life lived inside the cocoon of Secret Service protection along with the trappings of the vast wealth she and her husband have accumulated through a supposed charity that operates more like a political slush fund. All this seems to have stripped her of both the common touch but also of any notion of public accountability. From her current frame of reference, the American people are simply not allowed to distrust her or even to question her ethics. She owes them no explanations or apologies even when caught in misbehavior. They must simply accept all criticisms of her as illegitimate.

Given Clinton’s enormous advantages in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, it’s not clear that even several more months of similarly dismal performances would be enough to allow a clearly implausible challenger like Bernie Sanders to beat her. But even her most ardent supporters must today be wondering why she is unable to bend even a little bit when it comes to showing a trace of humility or willingness to admit fault. They must know it all stems from a sense of entitlement that a better politician would be at pains to hide. For all of her natural gifts, Clinton’s demeanor and defensiveness screams vulnerability against a tough opponent. It remains to be seen whether someone so bereft of basic political skills can be elected president.

Read Less

Why Hillary Clinton Is Revising Expectations Downward

“I’m baaaack!” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced as she took the stage in Iowa at former Senator Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry event in September of last year. Presidential campaigns are replete with bizarre moments, but perhaps none were as curious as Clinton implicitly comparing herself to the poltergeist that torments little Carol Anne in the classic flick of the same name. For a campaign that is itself haunted by the ghosts of failure, it would have been in the best interests of the inevitable Democratic nominee to make the case for candidacy beyond her own prohibitive stature within her Party. If that pillar were to collapse, Clinton’s viability as Barack Obama’s successor would soon follow. Today, as the specter of a modestly competitive Democratic primary looms, Clinton’s campaign is at work setting back expectations for how well she will perform in the early primary states and, in doing so, is chipping away at the central pillar holding her candidacy aloft. Read More

“I’m baaaack!” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced as she took the stage in Iowa at former Senator Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry event in September of last year. Presidential campaigns are replete with bizarre moments, but perhaps none were as curious as Clinton implicitly comparing herself to the poltergeist that torments little Carol Anne in the classic flick of the same name. For a campaign that is itself haunted by the ghosts of failure, it would have been in the best interests of the inevitable Democratic nominee to make the case for candidacy beyond her own prohibitive stature within her Party. If that pillar were to collapse, Clinton’s viability as Barack Obama’s successor would soon follow. Today, as the specter of a modestly competitive Democratic primary looms, Clinton’s campaign is at work setting back expectations for how well she will perform in the early primary states and, in doing so, is chipping away at the central pillar holding her candidacy aloft.

In an appearance on MSNBC on Monday, Clinton campaign communications director and former White House communications official Jennifer Palmieri conceded that the former secretary’s campaign had become formally “worried” about the insurgent challenge to her inevitability mounted by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. “He will be a serious force for the campaign, and I don’t think that will diminish,” Palmieri confessed.

When the New York Times investigated the thinking inside the Clinton campaign, reporters discovered that there was emerging consensus that the coronation had been abruptly called off. “I think we underestimated that Sanders would quickly attract so many Democrats in Iowa who weren’t likely to support Hillary,” an unnamed advisor told the Times. Apparently, that fear was confirmed by other similarly well-placed sources. Ultimately, the Times report suggested what former Democratic advisor Joe Trippi contended outright: “She could lose Iowa.”

Clinton’s support has ebbed in recent weeks, particularly in Iowa among likely Democratic caucus-goers. The most recent Quinnipiac survey of Democrats in the Hawkeye State showed Sanders support had more than doubled since May to 33 percent while Clinton’s had ebbed some from 60 to 53 percent. In a caucus state, in which energy and enthusiasm are the central elements of victory, the candidate with the most animated supporters can engineer an upset – as Clinton, who came in third in Iowa in 2008 behind Barack Obama and John Edwards, would attest.

And if Clinton’s support is ebbing, she only has herself to blame. Clinton’s campaign has not substantially adapted to changing political circumstances in almost a year. “[H]er remarks were neither exceptional in what she said nor particularly passionate in how she delivered them,” Washington Post columnist Dan Balz wrote after digesting Clinton’s steak fry performance. “They were safe and largely predictable, a kind of Democratic Message 101 heading into the most important stretch of the fall campaign.”

But the midterm campaign came and went and Clinton’s tactics failed to evolve. Her campaign remains safe and predictable; she projects the air of a candidate who is allergic to unscripted events and substantial contact with unscreened voters. Clinton’s aversion to exposing herself to press scrutiny neared cartoonish levels when she was photographed perambulating down a New Hampshire street amid a Fourth of July parade with the media gaggle almost literally in tow, straining at the ropes that held them at a safe distance from the lofty figure in their midst.

So why would Clinton’s campaign want to shed her formerly cultivated air of inevitability? Even Trippi concedes that Clinton would merely shrug off an unthinkable loss in Iowa and go on to win the nomination anyway. Why would the campaign that has spent so much energy and capital to stave off a reprise of what she described in her memoirs as an “excruciating” defeat in the Hawkeye State embrace the prospect that history might repeat itself? Perhaps because Sanders is the best challenger that Clinton could have hoped for.

A fringe politician with a small but fanatical following who once held radical and deeply impolitic social views poses about as much challenge to Clinton as former Texas Rep. Ron Paul posed to Mitt Romney. Clinton is in no danger of losing her party’s nomination to Sanders in the same way she would, say, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. But if Clinton appears soft in a primary and, ultimately, beatable in a general, those beads of sweat dotting the brows of Democratic Party elders will soon grow into a cascading torrent. Draft efforts that failed to draw Warren, or any other credible Democrat, into the race will be resurrected. Democratic careerists who dared not challenge their party’s anointed heir will think twice about whether they made the right move, and a late entry into the race might spark a stampede among skittish and unenthusiastic grassroots Clinton supporters. It is in Clinton’s interests to cast Sanders as the best that the anti-Clinton elements in her party can do.

Is Hillary Clinton truly vulnerable in Iowa? Perhaps. A narrow loss is easy to envision. Might Sanders rob her of her party’s nomination? That’s far harder to imagine; at least, harder than it would be to see another credible Democrat with broader appeal and proper left-wing bona fides pulling off a successful coup. That’s probably the true nightmare scenario that Clinton hopes to stave off by feigning injury.

 

Read Less

Has the Sanders Factor Flushed Out Hillary?

After running a stealth campaign that largely insulated her from annoying questions from the national press, Hillary Clinton is finally breaking her silence today with an interview on CNN. While her apologists are presenting this as a carefully calculated slow roll out of her presidential effort, Clinton’s decision to surface at this moment betrays a hint of something that might be described as concern, if not yet panic. With Senator Bernie Sanders exciting the Democratic base, attracting large crowds and polls demonstrating that he might be able to compete in New Hampshire and Iowa, the Clinton coronation may not be as certain as everybody assumed. If nothing else, the Sanders surge is drawing Clinton out into the open. The Sanders factor may create the kind of pressure that will make it difficult, if not impossible, for her to avoid taking stands on controversial issues. Though her camp is counting on the former secretary of state being able to handle this challenge, if she does prove unable to answer questions without flubbing or fibbing as she has so frequently in the past two years, the former first lady may be in more trouble than she or even her sternest critics believed.

Read More

After running a stealth campaign that largely insulated her from annoying questions from the national press, Hillary Clinton is finally breaking her silence today with an interview on CNN. While her apologists are presenting this as a carefully calculated slow roll out of her presidential effort, Clinton’s decision to surface at this moment betrays a hint of something that might be described as concern, if not yet panic. With Senator Bernie Sanders exciting the Democratic base, attracting large crowds and polls demonstrating that he might be able to compete in New Hampshire and Iowa, the Clinton coronation may not be as certain as everybody assumed. If nothing else, the Sanders surge is drawing Clinton out into the open. The Sanders factor may create the kind of pressure that will make it difficult, if not impossible, for her to avoid taking stands on controversial issues. Though her camp is counting on the former secretary of state being able to handle this challenge, if she does prove unable to answer questions without flubbing or fibbing as she has so frequently in the past two years, the former first lady may be in more trouble than she or even her sternest critics believed.

The assumption in the Clinton camp is that their candidate is their best asset. Love her or hate her, Clinton is a smart woman with decades of experience in politics as well as a deft command of the issues after having spent so much time at the center of power in Washington. But the instinct to play it safe that dictated her refusal to take a side in the debate over a trade bill that she championed while secretary of state hasn’t been as smart a play as she thought. It exposed her to abuse from Sanders and other Democratic challengers and has caused even some of her supporters to wince as her designated surrogates on cable news shows dodged and weaved in a vain effort to convince Americans that Clinton wasn’t a flip-flopping Washington politician determined to say only what she thought people wanted to hear.

The net effect of her freezing out the press in which she not only refused to answer questions but literally roped them off from access to Clinton did nothing to instill confidence in her ability to avoid gaffes. On the plus side, after bombing on her 2014 book tour and then doing equally poorly in her attempt to silence questions about her email and Clinton Foundation scandals, expectations are so low for Clinton that anything short of an on-camera meltdown will be interpreted as a victory by her supporters. But the problem here goes deeper than whether or not she makes a fool of herself with new versions of gaffes like her claim that she was broke when she left the White House or claims that corporations don’t create jobs.

Once Hillary is in the crosshairs of serious journalists, she will be forced to come up with answers about her lack of transparency, conflicts of interest, email hijinks, Benghazi and the family charity that operates as a thinly-veiled political slush fund. Just as important, Clinton is going to have to do something more than prevaricate when asked about trade or even the deplorable Iran nuclear, especially as she seeks to portray herself as a better friend to Israel than President Obama.

There are opportunities here for her campaign but her camp’s reluctance to allow the press anywhere near her demonstrates that they know that every time she opens her mouth during the coming year, there is a chance something deeply embarrassing may come out of it. Even worse, if she wanders away from the left-wing talking points she’s been trotting out in an effort to show her party’s base that she is as liberal as Sanders or even Elizabeth Warren, there is a chance that the Sanders boomlet will become a genuine threat to her being nominated rather than just an annoyance.

With a huge financial advantage and most Democratic officeholders and party officials rightly fearful of the wrath of the Clinton attack machine, the odds are still overwhelmingly in her favor against Sanders or any other Democrat. But just as Clinton’s problems and her lack of authenticity helped create the Sanders campaign as a viable entity, so, too, does the possibility of further gaffes promise to make the coming months just as miserable for Hillary. In the last few months, all Sanders and other Democratic rivals wanted was to get her out in the open. That is now about to happen. The jury is still out as to whether that will be just a bump in the road for Hillary or just the start of another presidential nightmare for her.

 

Read Less

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.

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.

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




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.