Off all else, this is the takeaway:
Three more weeks.
Oh, to be of many minds:
Mind1: The bug-eyed conspiracists certain that Hillary Clinton is hiding, I dunno, a tumor/mainstream pundits who are more than happy to indulge the, well-this-certainly-plays-into-the-appearance-of-dishonesty are shoveling enough shit to cover the prairies from Kansas to Saskatchewan.
Woman has pneumonia, got dehydrated while standing in a crowd, had to be helped into SUV, is apparently recovering. Bummer for her, not a big deal.
Mind2: Hillary Clinton, if elected, will be the second-oldest person (after Reagan) to begin her first term. This doesn’t mean that she’s enfeebled now or will be during either (Inshallah) of her terms in office—but it does mean that she is, to be grossly generalistic, less robust than someone 20 years younger.
This is a legitimate concern—not an emergency, not a disqualifier—but, yes, a legit concern.
(And no, that Trump is a year older than her doesn’t make Clinton “young”, even in comparison.)
Mind3: That pundits and conspiracists (and, yeah, one of my neighbors who is terrified of Trump and so highly concerned about Clinton’s health) are keening into the high winds about both her health and her alleged penchant for dishonesty makes me wanna holler She’ll be fine! She’ll be fine! Her doctor says she’ll be fine!
It also sets me to muttering that no matter what she says or authorizes her doctor to release, she’ll be accused of lying.
Mind4: She probably will be fine; I doubt she’s lying.
That said. . . whether or not the so-called narrative of Clinton’s dishonesty—isn’t that a nice way to call someone a liar by implying Oh, look, everyone thinks she’s a liar—is accurate, it has, in fact, taken hold. While it’s possible-to-likely that a more comprehensive summary of Clinton’s current health (i.e, past few-t0-5 years) wouldn’t satisfy those who refuse to be satisfied, it also wouldn’t be a bad move, if only in giving her a ready answer to questions about her health.
Given that Trump is shameless, there’s no way that her release of info would shame him into releasing his. Nope, any Clinton release would be a defensive tactic against the press and, perhaps, a kind of reassurance to her supporters (including my anxious neighbor).
Mind5: Did you notice what I did, there? I doubt she’s lying. Gliiiiiiided right past that.
I went fairly hard the other day about tossing aside all concerns other that politics, thereby brushing away concerns about Clinton’s alleged dishonesty, not least because I do think the whole “narrative says so” is bullshit.
But I didn’t stress enough that I really don’t know. I mean, she’s been involved in politics for a very, very long time and seems as sincere as a politician could be, but it’s also clear that she’d rather not share every last bit of info about her doings, please and thank you.
What does that mean? I dunno. Since she’s on my side of the field I’ll be voting for her, regardless; if she were on the other side this would be yet another reason not to—but, honestly (snerk), this wouldn’t be the thing I’d latch onto about that opponent.
I mean, that Trump hasn’t released his tax returns isn’t in the top 50 of the worst things about him.
Mind6: Is it fair that Clinton’s getting her bell rung by the press and Trump isn’t?
As I’ve banged on about repeatedly, there’s nothing fair about elections, winning is the only thing that matters, etc., etc.
Besides, in this case, the unfairness may be less that the press expect Clinton to answer their questions about her health but that they don’t expect the same from Trump.
Mind7: In other words, it is not unreasonable to expect candidates for the presidency to release information about their health.
A full release of all of their health records is unnecessary and, likely, unwise, but, again, a comprehensive summary should give manage to drive the screamers back to the fringes from whence they came.
As for those who think the candidates’ own docs can’t be trusted? Well, I like the ideas put forth by some doctors and ethicists for a (voluntary) independent evaluation of the candidates by a doctor or panel of doctors. How to go about this would need to be worked out, and it might need some tweaking over successive elections, but this would likely be an improvement over the ad-hockery (and ad-hackery) of the current non-system of health disclosure.
Mind8: Even as I write that it’s reasonable to want some reliable info on the candidates’ health, I am uneasy with that expectation.
Again, most powerful person on the planet, but I think even the most powerful person on the planet deserves some privacy.
Not total privacy. Not total transparency. Something in between. I don’t know what that in-between would be. Something about recent (and relevant less-recent) past health, current health, yes. Chronic conditions. Medications.
What about psychotherapy? Marriage counseling? Would pastoral counseling count?
That’s too much, isn’t it? I mean, maybe not the fact of counseling itself, but certainly not any details. . . and, frankly, wouldn’t it be nice for that as-yet-unnamed panel of doctors to recommend a psychiatrist or psychotherapist be assigned to the White House as a matter of course? Is that already the case? Too much of a tangent. . . ?
And what about genomic testing? I mean, Jesus, that seems way too far, but what happens when (and it is a when, not an if) everyone is tested as a matter of standard medical protocol? Hell, a lot of people are already paying out of pocket for their own partial genomic profiles; what should be the response to demands that candidates be tested?
That’s just. . . oh, man, that would be a terrible idea—which is, of course, no barrier to its adoption.
All of these minds cannot be successfully melded; I have, in the end, only questions: How much privacy should a candidate, a president, have? What do we, as citizens, deserve (as opposed to merely desire) to know about those who would lead us?
I may wax and wane in my enthusiasm for voting for Hillary Clinton, but I am firm that I’ll vote for her.
And whatever waning there is, doesn’t mean I think I’m voting for “the lesser evil”.
Greater and lesser evils in politics: such horseshit.
Bernard Crick argued that politics requires pluralism, which in turn creates the conditions in which politics may flourish: that there are differences requires some mechanism for negotiating amongst those differences, and politics (as opposed to technocracy or totalitarianism) provides an open, inclusive, and non-violent way for a citizenry to deal with itself.
Politics is more than this, of course, but that notion of conciliation and compromise are key: if factions are only ever maximalist, only ever all-or-nothing, only ever my-way-or-else, then politics will be ground out of existence.
Which is where my evilism-is-horseshit stance comes from: someone is decried as a lesser evil because she isn’t perfect, is compromised, is too willing to compromise, adheres too closely or not closely enough to the party line, will disappoint, will likely fail.
All politicians fail. Good politicians fail well, bad politicians fail badly, but if politics is about advancing an agenda against competing agendas, then the old cliché sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you means that even the greatest advances will contain losses.
It also means that to advance your position, you’re likely to have to settle, to give something to get something. To compromise.
Yeah, sometimes you can hold the line, and those hard-liners do have a place (tho’ not in leadership) in politics, but if your political adversaries are present in enough numbers to get in your way (which is almost always the case, if not at any one moment then certainly over a relatively short period of time), you’re going to have to pay attention to them. You’re going to have to deal.
As with failing, you can be a good (moves you closer to your goals) or bad (moves you further from your goals) dealer, but if you don’t deal at all you’re not much of a politician, much less a political leader.
To deal is to be political, not to be evil, so any assessment of a politician should not be Does she deal or not but Is she a good dealer or bad dealer?
Again, none of this means candidates, even ones one is waxingly enthusiastic about, are above criticism—criticize away! But criticize them on their politics, not on the fact of their imperfections.
*It’s not that evil doesn’t exist at all in politics—if you’re a genocidal dictator you pretty much fit the definition of an evil leader—but that in ordinary or functioning politics, the evil quotient is going to be pretty low. (I could go full Crick and state that genocidal dictators are anti-politics by definition, and thus fob off evil on the upside-down, but that’s a little too convenient.)
Since I’ve used the lyric, I gotta use the pic:
Some specific observations:
Some general commentary on the specific observations:
I have other policy differences (mainly in foreign policy and the national security state) with her, and I think her approach is sometimes too incrementalist, too conciliatory, but I also think the positions she does hold are not insane, and that sometimes the only way to make any gains at all is to conciliate, and to take the inch when you can’t reach the foot.
I also think she’s tough as hell, and when she gets that inch she will not yield it, and that she actually does give a good goddamn about governing well.
I don’t think she’s a criminal, and while I would have liked to have seen the speeches she gave to various financiers—I’d guess she was entirely too conciliatory toward their feelings and interests—I have a hard time getting worked about her alleged corruption.
I mean, “take the money and run” isn’t exactly a high-minded, um, principle, but in a society in which everyone is encouraged to monetize everything all the time (she said with just a wee exaggeration), I’m not shocked that she cashed in. I’m not crazy about it, but I’m also not seeing how it’s made any difference to her policy proposals.
Some specific commentary on specific observations:
Now, regarding #s 4 and 6: I absofuckinglutely understand her bitterness at having to shovel herself out from under the piles of bull-, horse-, and chickenshit tossed her way. One of the reasons I can’t get too worked up about the server thing is my sense that if it weren’t the emails, the press and Republican adversaries would have found something else on which to launch a thousand investigations.
Have you heard of Benghazi?
There are legit questions to be asked about the server and about policy decisions and about the Clinton Foundation, but it’s like fucking Groundhog Day with the punditocracy: in the morning the questions get asked, by the evening she answers them, and the next day, the same goddamned questions get asked all over again.
No wonder she’s pissed off.
Hell, I’m pissed off and I’m the kind of person who thinks that if you’re running for the presidency of the most powerful nation on the planet you should just suck it up: whatever the pundits or even the Congressional back-benchers fling at you is nothing compared to what’s going to get tossed at you by the world itself.
Some tentative conclusions:
Clinton, of course, knows this, so whether her resentments get in the way or spur her on—whether her jaw is clenched in anger or determination—she’s shown she’s able to keep grinding her way towards the White House.
And once she’s there (oh Apollo, she’d better get there), I’m guessing that she’ll take a breath, straighten her jacket, and get to work.
Hillary Clinton for president, 2016.
I’m a fan of President Obama’s cool-competence approach to governing, and think he’s right to wait a bit before visiting flooded Louisiana (or burnt-over California): aid before optics.
That said, optics do matter, and some extended public remarks by the president (and candidate Clinton) about these disasters beyond a tweet or two wouldn’t interfere with the recovery, and might help to soothe some (although certainly not all) distressed people.
Material help matters, a lot, but so does recognition.
Is the Trump statue body-shaming?
Yeah, maybe, probably. From a cultural-studies point of view, the critics of the statue (and of many mirthful reactions to it) are likely correct.
But I’m reading this less from a cultural perspective than a political one, and that political one says, Look at this ridiculous man who thinks he should be president.
Is it nasty? Absolutely, as are the Hillary nutcrackers, as are most political paraphernalia aimed at political opponents. They allow Us to smirk at Them, to cut them down, to reduce the other side’s champion to a joke; it’s not elevating, but then, put-downs rarely are.
There’s a lot that Carl Schmitt missed about politics, but he also nailed an aspect of it the more genteel would prefer to ignore: politics is a fight, and anything that can be weaponized, will be.
Have you listened to this old audio of Hillary Clinton’s Wellesley address?
She sounds so relaxed, so confident.
So unlike how she sounds today.
It was another online writer—who I can’t find—who first pointed out how at ease she was back then in front of a microphone. She was direct and open and conversational and even inspirational. She is as yet unbroken.
It’s tough to think of her, likely 45th president of the most powerful nation on earth, as broken, but I think the decades of political battering have shattered some bones. And while I admire those who, like Obama, seem to glide right past whatever hits are directed their way, there’s something to be said for the scrappers.
In any case, that she has been shattered doesn’t mean she hasn’t recovered: she is hardly fragile. But she is scarred, and that her experiences have toughened up has meant she’ll likely never be as easy and open as she was as that 21-year-old graduate.
There’s no tragedy in that—many of us grow wary as we grow older—nor any pity. It’s just the cost of experience.
Sorry, little but little bits:
*I don’t care about Pokémon Go, and don’t care that others care about Pokémon Go.
*Melania Trump’s plagiarism was a) not that big a deal in and of itself, but because it was b) an easily avoidable error, it c) plays into an already-existing narrative that the Trump campaign is a mess. While this might not matter to his supporters, he can’t win the election unless he picks up new supporters, who might side-eye such chaos; thus, d) Melania Trumps plagiarism matters.
*That said, political scientists (yes, the same folks who argued that Trump wouldn’t win the nom, but, moving on. . .) aren’t sure how much campaigns matters.
*I like gin sours more than gin sours like me.
*PSCUNY has finally managed to wrest a contract from the state. Some are opposed, but, man, I don’t know that we can do better than this. It actually more of the past than the future—it deals with 2010-17—so whatever the weaknesses, well, the union’ll be back at the table for the next round soon enough. I’m voting yes.
*Unlike last year, I did stuff my air conditioner into the window and am using it—tho’ not enough to please my cats.
*I have no idea who Hillary Clinton will pick as VP. I’d like to see a pol (not a general), but I’m sure s/he’ll be fine.
*This will haunt me to the end of my days:
And now there are two.
Bernie Sanders put up a hell of a fight, and I don’t know that anyone, including he, thought he’d last into June. And if he wants to go thru the DC primary, well, why not? He’s earned it.
Side note1: Bernie gets to be a little pissed off about losing and given a little time to get over his pissiness. As others have pointed out, he ran a hell of a campaign, but wasn’t prepared to go the distance against someone who has been all kinds of prepared since long before 2008.
I was ambivalent, for different reasons, about both Sanders and Clinton, but of course I am not at all ambivalent about the choice between the two-time senator and former secretary of state and the burnt sweet-potato french fry and real estate brand man. There will be no reluctance whatsoever in ticking off her name in November.
I’m also about as worried about Bernie-or-busters as I was about the PUMAs in 2008: not at all. Sure, some will hold out, but most will shrug and sigh and maybe mutter a curse or two as they, too, pull the lever/punch the ticket/connect the arrow next to Clinton’s place on the ballot. Doesn’t matter: a reluctant vote counts as much as an enthusiastic one.
Side note2: Some political scientist have floated various voting reforms which would allow someone to register the intensity of the vote—say, give each voter 5 points and allow her to allot them as she sees fit. I don’t have an opinion one way or another about this, but, as every fervid backer of every losing candidate has been pained to discover, pulling that lever extra hard doesn’t make your vote count more than once.
Still, it sucks to lose, so I’ll wait a week or so before telling the Busters to pull their heads out of their asses and vote against the giant orange bathroom troll.
I have no idea what will happen over the summer or how the vote will go in the fall. I didn’t think Trump had the organizational stuff to pull off a nomination win, but he did, so I don’t know what to do with stories of his lack of organization for the general. I think it’ll matter, but how much? I ain’t guessing.
I do think Clinton will put together a pretty fucking good general campaign. Her husband was arguably a net negative during the primary—he can get surly when arguing with the left—but he’s golden when going after the right. I think Sanders will continue to burn it down in college towns, even if he mentions his own agenda more than Clinton.
And then there’s the little matter of a generally popular president who is crazy popular with the Left Set. If only out of self-interest (and I’d guess, probably a bit than that), he’ll campaign for the person who can protect and extend his achievements.
So: the preliminaries are over. Let the games begin.