Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Thursday, July 28th, 2016.


The Problem With Great Expectations

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Democratic Party

So far the Democratic convention has gone much better than I’d feared. I thought the speeches last night were particularly good. If this last day goes smoothly enough Clinton should get a nice bounce in the polls. And I think once more Americans focus on the general election and consider their options, Clinton shouldn’t have that much trouble staying ahead of Trump.

That’s mostly because of Trump. He’s unhinged. He’s in way over his head. The debates are going to be painful and/or a laugh riot, depending on how much you enjoy watching someone embarrass himself. Watch him try to get out of them.

However, I want to talk about expectations and projections. I wrote recently that I hoped there would be a roll call vote at the DNC for the sake of the Sanders supporters, and there was. But then I ran into a conversation in social media among Sanders supporters who were complaining that they didn’t like the way the roll call vote was conducted.

First, they didn’t like that the superdelegate votes were added into the state tallies. But that’s when they are added in, some of us explained. They don’t count until the convention, but now we are at the convention. Now they count. Apparently this was news.

They also didn’t like the cheesy little speeches the spokesperson for each state gave, especially the ones that praised Clinton. Sorry, but that’s the way it’s always done, we said. If you didn’t know that, adjust.

Sometimes, if things don’t turn out the way you expected, you need to honestly admit to yourself that your expectations were wrong. Stomping around being mad isn’t going to change anything.

A bigger howler is by Amanda Marcotte at Salon. Amanda thought President Obama’s speech last night was “meh.” I watched the speech and thought it very good. Maybe a little too long, maybe not the absolute best he ever gave, but on the whole I thought he did a good job reminding Democrats why they are Democrats, knocking Trump, and praising Hillary Clinton. But Marcotte didn’t like it.

It’s hard to put a thesis statement into Barack Obama’s speech. He roamed around, hat-tipping Black Lives Matter and Clinton’s hard work, but one never got the sense, from him, of Clinton as a friend. Michelle Obama sold Clinton that way, portraying her as an older woman she had grown close to and come to admire. Bill Clinton had done it, portraying his wife as she frankly, as a human, deserves to be seen: As a kind-hearted woman who loves her child and can set human male hearts a-flutter. …

… Most of us wanted to hear the real story of how these two former foes became friends. Obama could have told that story in style, and made history while he did it. His failure to do so is on him.

First, who says they are friends? I’ve never gotten the sense that Obama and Clinton were friends. They appear to have had a good working relationship and mutual respect and all that, although for all we know they can’t stand each other and just put on a good act in public. But in this case, Marcotte was upset because Clinton was insufficiently praised, somehow, even though I felt Obama did quite a good job of selling Clinton as the best possible candidate for POTUS. Not that I bought it, but it was a good pitch. But the speech didn’t meet Marcotte’s expectations, so she felt let down.

Many of the Sanders die-hards who were certain he was going to be awarded the nomination at the convention are now certain that the REVOLUTION (these people do love the caps lock button) will happen in November when Jill Stein of the Green Party either wins or takes a lot of states or otherwise screws with the status quo.

Stein is currently polling at 3 percent, which is down from 4.8 percent at the end of June, according to Real Clear Politics.

The tendency to see your side as absolutely pure and blameless and the other side as evil incarnate is on full display. There actually is a strong circumstantial case that Vladimir Putin is connected to Trump and the timing of the Wikileaks email releases. I have no doubt that the Clinton team is working overtime right now to dig up more evidence, and they will find it if it’s out there. But many once-Sanders-now-Stein people are dismissing the Putin allegations as so much propaganda.

And while I’m more or less reconciled to Clinton being the next POTUS, the DNC still needs a thorough shaking out. The Wikileaks emails give us plenty of evidence that the Clinton campaign and the DNC were unfairly working together to kill the Sanders candidacy. They’ve got to be held accountable for this so that it doesn’t happen again. However, the purge is going to have to wait until after the general election.

Going back to President Obama’s speech last night, I liked Andrew O’Hehir’s comment:

His long speech wove its way through and around the central issue of this convention: the unpredictable infusion of new activist energy brought by the Bernie Sanders campaign, and the question of whether that is an asset or a liability when it comes to defeating Donald Trump. I remain amazed, and quite frankly insulted, that so many Democrats seem determined to crush internal dissent and insist on a happy-talk spectacle of enforced conformity. What party do they think they belong to, and what do they know about its history? It’s an insult to the collective intelligence of the broader left-liberal tradition in this country, delivered by well-meaning people who claim to be its defenders and ought to know better.

A lot of the young folks who have just been introduced to presidential politics by working for Bernie Sanders are now thoroughly disgusted with the Democratic Party and want nothing to do with it. But I think the Dems are salvageable once we can pry it out of the hands of the Clintons and their neoliberal cohorts. That’s going to be awhile, unfortunately.

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