Thursday, June 01, 2017

Can't Keep Her Down

With a commencement speech at her alma mater and a string of interviews, Hillary Clinton continues her tour, one in which she refuses to fall on her sword. This has annoyed many folks on the right and the left,  but not Charlie Pierce, who remarks

Right now, as far as I can see, HRC is the only one completely free to hammer away at the extraordinary events that conspired to put Donald Trump in the White House. As the investigations continue to accelerate, the country needs somebody outside of the Congress and outside of Department of Justice to keep the country at large focused on the real cost of having abided by the Clinton Rules while an election was hijacked from afar. Might as well be her.

It might as well be her because no one else is in the enviable position of being both credible and free to speak truth to power, which- after eight years of Barack Obama- is in the hands of the Republican Party everywhere.

In an interview given on May 31, Clinton made several important points, including "The Republicans have to be constantly pushed to put country above party."  Digby links to a piece by syndicated conservative radio host Dennis Prager, who wrote

I have concluded that there are a few reasons that explain conservatives who were Never-Trumpers during the election, and who remain anti-Trump today. 

The first and, by far, the greatest reason is this: They do not believe that America is engaged in a civil war, with the survival of America as we know it at stake. While they strongly differ with the Left, they do not regard the left–right battle as an existential battle for preserving our nation. On the other hand, I, and other conservative Trump supporters, do. 

This is not someone who is placing country over party but who sees America as a failed nation, one which cannot be preserved unless a civil war is fought and won. Trump, as we observed throughout the campaign and even since he was elected, sees the nation as one beset by "carnage" and is no longer great, but must be made "great again."

Nevertheless, Clinton's most intriguing remark was "I inherit nothing from the Democratic party. It was bankrupt. It was on the verge of insolvency. I had to inject money into the [DNC] for it to keep going."

That's a damning indictment but whether the defendant (the Democratic National Committee) is guilty is unknown.  It's a charge which unfortunately has gone both largely unrebutted and unconfirmed, even as Barack Obama undermined party unity by successfully blocking the candidacy of Keith Ellison as Democratic National Committee chairperson. However, as Ezra Klein explained in January

By the end of the campaign, the public had enough information to make basic judgments about who Clinton and Trump were. Trump’s flaws weren’t hidden by Clinton’s mistakes — if she was good at anything, it was goading Trump into error and overreaction. Voters knew what he was when they voted for him.... And it's worth remembering that before Clinton ran against Trump, 16 other Republcans ran against him- a group that observers thought to be the most talented field the GOP had seen in decades. And every one of them was routed.

Democrats during Obama's tenure were routed in US Senate, US House, governor, and state house races. However, the losses were within historical norms for when a party controls the presidency for eight years. Nonetheless as noted by Five Thirty Eight

 “We didn’t do any of the grassroots work over the eight years that Barack Obama was president,” Dean said of the party under a leader who had once been a community organizer. Organizing For America (later Organizing for Action), the project intended to rally the president’s supporters primarily around health care and the Affordable Care Act, was, in Dean’s estimation, “a huge mistake.”

In bringing Obama to power, Democrats understood the importance of not just his proud progressivism but his distinct identity and the certain mythology that would come to surround him. He was a candidate who not only had the right message for the party, but who seemed anointed by the political gods.

There are plenty of suspects and many perpetrators in Clinton's loss, including the interference by both the Kremlin and the FBI in the election. The nominee herself bears some of the responsibility- but far less than the GOP and her opponents in the Democratic Party imagine.  Hillary Clinton has told some hard truths. It's particularly important for others to tell these, as Howard Dean has with the shortcomings of the DNC.  But if it takes Hillary Clinton to do it largely by herself, by herself it will have to be.

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