Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Saturday, January 16th, 2016.


View from the Bleachers

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Obama Administration

First, the Democratic nomination race: In the past month or so there has been a big shift in national polls toward Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton is still the front runner, but by a much narrower margin. A CBS News/New York Times poll that had the pair at 52 and 32 percent in early December has them at 48 and 41 percent in early January.  Philip Bump writes at The Fix that HRC’s lead is slipping faster now than at the same point in the race in 2008.

I think it’s still HRC’s race to lose, but she seems capable of losing it.

Perhaps the most astounding mistake Clinton has made, in recent days, is the way she’s gone about competing with Sanders on the issue of health care. Sanders favors a single-payer, Medicare-for-all system. Clinton would prefer to make incremental expansions to Obamacare.

But instead of convincing voters that she’d be the more politically effective candidate in this situation, Clinton’s gone all the way ’round the bend and has decided to ramp up unnecessary fearmongering, dispatching her daughter to New Hampshire to darkly warn that Sanders is gonna take everyone’s health care away:

“Sen. Sanders wants to dismantle Obamacare, dismantle the CHIP program, dismantle Medicare, and dismantle private insurance,” she said during a campaign stop in New Hampshire. “I worry if we give Republicans Democratic permission to do that, we’ll go back to an era — before we had the Affordable Care Act — that would strip millions and millions and millions of people off their health insurance.”

Hillary Clinton herself doubled down on her daughter’s comments on ABC News Thursday morning, and campaign aides have done the same. Of course, this is not true. Under a single-payer system, everybody gets health care. That’s the entire point, as Hillary Clinton well knows. Chelsea Clinton knows it too. As Alex Pareene points out: “Chelsea Clinton has a masters degree in public health from Columbia. She knows exactly how what she’s saying obfuscates the issue.”

This is well beyond the level of vitriol that is needed in the primary. More importantly, it’s stupid. The Democratic Party has been advocating for a single-payer health care system since the Truman era. …  Politicians don’t win races by trying to pull the wool over their potential supporters’ eyes about core policy beliefs they have held for decades.

Even more weirdly,  the article continues, HRC has been claiming that Sanders would be too soft on Big Banking. The Washington Post reports that the negative campaigning  has resulted in an avalanche of campaign donations — for Bernie Sanders.

It’s probably overstating the case a bit to say (as Van Jones did) that the Dem base is in “full-on rebellion” against Hillary Clinton. Both candidates have strongly partisan supporters who will stick to their candidate no matter what, and everybody else probably is waiting to see how the early primaries go before making up their minds.  But my sense of things is that Clinton’s biggest liability among Democrats is the fear that she’s likely to be too accommodating to the Right, and to Wall Street and Big Banks also. Attacking Sanders from the Right just reinforces that perception. It was stupid.

The Republican nomination race: The Republican establishment may have finally found the way to stop Donald Trump: support him.

Somebody at Red State claims the GOP establishment is going “all in” for Donald Trump. No less a spokesperson for American Reactionary Derp than Erick (son of, etc.) also said,

I said the other day that they’d rather go all in with Trump than nominate Ted Cruz. They hate him. They think that Trump is an opportunist they can cut a deal with while Cruz is the true blue conservative.

Got this? They think they can suck up to Trump, cut deals with him, and accommodate each other. They think if Cruz came in the status quo would get rocked and they could possibly find themselves shut out of power.

The Republican Establish is more afraid of losing power than they are saving the country and reducing government.

So there it is. If Trump becomes the establishment guy in the minds of wingnuts, will that be the end of him? I doubt it; my sense of things is that the right-wing voter base cares less about “true blue conservatism” than they do about all the fear and vehemence clanking around in their ids, and Trump plays that like a fiddle.

The establishment is reconciling itself to a Trump-Cruz race. All the polls show Trump first, Cruz second, with Trump considerably ahead. However, a recent NBC / Wall Street Journal poll of Republican primary voters asked for a preference if the only people running were Trump or Cruz, and in those polls Cruz surpassed Trump. In other words, people supporting Carson, Rubio or Christie, or the couple of guys still holding out for Toast!, are more likely to switch to Cruz when their guys drop out.

Be afraid.

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