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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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. c u n d gulag  •  Jul 28, 2016 @7:03 pm

    Meh?
    MEH!
    Meh?

    I love her writing, and overwhelmingly agree with Ms. Marcotte, but WTF?

    Obama’s speech wasn’t just poetic political theater, it was a 45-minute civic’s lesson!

    He handed-off the baton.
    Now, it’s all up to her!

  2. Jymn  •  Jul 28, 2016 @7:19 pm

    Amanda Marcotte used to be someone I read with great interest. However, she seems to now see everything almost exclusively through a feminist prism. I’m sorry that Obama didn’t talk about the things you wanted him to, Amanda. This reminds me of 2008 when feminists accused the Obama camp of sexism towards Clinton. It’s become a redundant argument. His speech last night was all over the place… but he kept bringing it all back to Hillary. Brilliant. Wingnuts are fuming with jealousy. Pissing off wingers is fun but confusing them so they have no substantial retort – priceless. Verdict: wonderful speech that did what it was supposed to. Sorry Amanda.

  3. freetofu  •  Jul 28, 2016 @8:28 pm

    Maybe I read too many Sanders boosters on twitter, but my impression of Marcotte is that she’s consistently been the worst kind of pro-Hillary/anti-Sanders hack. But I didn’t even watch the convention so whatever.

  4. maha  •  Jul 28, 2016 @8:38 pm

    Marcotte has indeed been the worst kind of pro-Hillary/anti-Sanders hack. She’s not happy until she can bash Sanders supporters as stupid sexist bros at least twice a day. She’s obviously furious with Sanders for challenging Her Majesty at all and spoiling the coronation. I’ve lost all respect for her.

  5. csm  •  Jul 28, 2016 @9:23 pm

    She sounds like she’s still holding a grudge from 2008.

  6. Dan  •  Jul 28, 2016 @9:47 pm

    “…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.”

    Um, “expectations” much?

    This whole system was put in place, with purpose and deliberateness, (in a manner in both Parties) to prevent the total outsider from waltzing in and taking over without “HUGE” support. Trump and Obama and others have pulled that off, Bernie (“Sanders?” – no disrespect intended) did not – he couldn’t get a majority of the elected delegates. Nothing in the leaks is news, except to Bernie’s supporters.

    What Bernie tapped into was a bunch of young and inexperienced newbies. I remember back when I was that demographic, and I was disappointed as well. I’m much more disappointed these days that my cohort has totally dropped the ball on liberalism. I actually thought Bernie got quite a fair shake – a lot more fair than Donald.

    Dumb as they are, Republicans are very clever and carry out a long term plan, sometimes with unintended consequences. Who would have thought anyone (-coughTea Partierscough-) would actually take Republican election rhetoric seriously? From the Tea Party blossoms The Duck.

    I actually lean toward Bernie, but would find it hard to imagine any candidate that wouldn’t be better than anything the Republicans could scrape off their shoes. But, Congress is the real boogieman. We need a President to counter Republicanism, but nothing will go forward without a filibuster-proof majority in both houses. Did I say Republicans are clever…

  7. maha  •  Jul 28, 2016 @9:59 pm

    Dan — Nothing in the leaks is new to me, but apparently you haven’t grasped what happened yet.

  8. moonbat  •  Jul 28, 2016 @10:15 pm

    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.

    Are you kidding me? Trump is salivating at the chance to be on the national stage with Hillary Clinton and crush her to pieces. He’s dispatched every other opponent so far. You clearly don’t understand how the mind of a dominance-driven egomaniac works.

    Whether he does so or not is an open question. But this is the same country that elected George W Bush, not once, but twice. And I take no pleasure in the fact that Trumps numbers are well beyond where they should be in the polls, even given his convention bounce.

    It’s way too early to talk about cleaning up the DNC. I’ll be thankful (and amazed frankly) if we won’t be holding a funeral for it come November 9.

  9. laura koerber  •  Jul 28, 2016 @10:17 pm

    I tiry to be understanding of the young people who are temper-tantruming over Bernie’s loss, but it is hard. I felt that way in 1968, The issue was Viet Nam. There were riots outside the convention and Mayor Daily inside. I was fifteen.

    I have been following Democracy Spring on Facebook, but I think I will quit them. Too sophomoric. Today they were chortling and back slapping each other over their way cool sit-in and getting arrested because to show how upset they are over super delegates. I got made and commented that they were just wannabes, that if they were not anything like the people who sat-in for rights during Freedom Summer. Their perspective is so selfish: fighting for democracy by expressing displeasure over super delegates, an issue of importance to a minority within one political party! If hey really cared about democracy, they would be sitting in in North Carolina in protest of voter suppression laws. I guess I just got old, because this kind of narrow self-serving self-aggrandizment just gets on my nerves. I voted for Bernie, BTW. I am not particularly happy about Hillary, though the Bernie deadenders make me like her better every day.

  10. laura koerber  •  Jul 28, 2016 @10:18 pm

    I’m going to have to figure out some way to increase the font size if I ever comment here again. I might as well be typing with invisible ink.

  11. JBM  •  Jul 28, 2016 @10:49 pm

    Trump may indeed be salivating, but has never debated someone as experienced and knowledgeable as HRC. One on one, not a chance. But maybe he’ll shout about how much he wants to hit her. That would be entertaining,

    We did re-elect W, just as Kansas re-elected Brownback, but Louisiana switched to Edwards. There’s more than a good chance that sanity will win the day.

  12. KC  •  Jul 29, 2016 @12:31 am

    President’s speech was excellent. And Sanders lost because he didn’t win enough states or delegates. If people don’t want to be part of voting for the first female president then so be it. Me, I’m sticking with the party that elected the first black president and is working to elect the first female one, without reservation. I will not help Trump, just as Bernie Sanders. After all, if you want a progressive budget, Bernie is likely to be chair of the budget committee, but he can’t do it without a partner in the White House and a different House speaker.

  13. csm  •  Jul 29, 2016 @11:19 am

    “Are you kidding me? Trump is salivating at the chance to be on the national stage with Hillary Clinton and crush her to pieces. He’s dispatched every other opponent so far. You clearly don’t understand how the mind of a dominance-driven egomaniac works.”

    Trump’a propensity to salivate before he speaks, paired with an inability to control his impulses has been his been his biggest problem. Salivating and subsequent loudmouth protestations and preening is all he does, and his supporters either confuse that as somehow “smart” or are so consumed with hate it doesn’t matter.

    Any debate opponent of his with a good grasp of the facts, a grip on reality, will expose Tiny as a fraud. Trump has yet to face an opponent like that, but he will in Clinton.

    I have no doubt Clinton will wipe the floor with him, however the biggest concern is the media, as always, putting its thumb on the scale for the Republican to lower the bar and define down what it takes for the candidate to have won, i.e. “if he doesn’t trip and fall off the damned sta

  14. csm  •  Jul 29, 2016 @11:52 am

    “Are you kidding me? Trump is salivating at the chance to be on the national stage with Hillary Clinton and crush her to pieces. He’s dispatched every other opponent so far. You clearly don’t understand how the mind of a dominance-driven egomaniac works.”

    Trump’a propensity to salivate before he speaks, paired with an inability to control his impulses that exposes his stunning ignorance has been his biggest problem. Salivating and subsequent loudmouth protestations and preening is all he does, and his supporters either confuse that as somehow “smart” or are so consumed with hate it doesn’t matter.

    Any debate opponent with a good grasp of the facts, a grip on reality, will expose Tiny as a fraud. Trump has yet to face an opponent like that, since an attribute of a republican these days is the ability to be completely unhinged from reality. But he will have such an opponent in Clinton.

    I have no doubt Clinton will wipe the floor with him, however the biggest concern is the media, as always, putting its thumb on the scale for the Republican to lower the bar and define victory down, i.e. all he has to do is not trip and fall off the stage, and he wins!

    Its already happening. Here’s David Muir interviewing Elizabeth Warren at the democratic convention:

    DAVID MUIR (HOST): After your speech, Donald Trump sent out a tweet calling you “Pocahontas.”

    ELIZABETH WARREN: I’m shocked.

    MUIR: Saying it was sad to watch. Is that racist?

    WARREN: Donald Trump has proven that he is a thin-skinned racist, and —

    MUIR: But, is that calling him a name too?

    WARREN: No, it fits the facts. Come on.

    And here’s Chuck Todd talking with Clinton adviser Joel Benenson:

    BENENSON: They already have serious questions about his fitness to be commander-in-chief. He’s been praising Putin for months, but today he’s gone further than anybody ever imagined basically by not only condoning but inviting a foreign power to commit espionage on the United States.

    TODD: By the way, we do try to do espionage against Russia as a country. Should we be shocked that Russia tries to come after us the way we come after them?” Todd added.

    BENENSON: We should be shocked that a nominee of a major political party is inviting them in. We try to stop them! We don’t invite them in, we try to stop them.

    Todd and Muir are not stupid; these are blatantly willful attempts to normalize Trump’s ignorance, extremes, and penchant towards criminality in order to have their “horse race.” The easy test is to imagine the response if a democratic candidate had invited a foreign government to perform an electronic Watergate break in for their own political advantage.

    Trump will be his same a**hat self in the debates, but the media will give him points for it and cast it that way for the viewers to support those stupid post debate “who won” polls. As long as he doesn’t walk across the stage and slug Hillary, he won!

    Hillary will need several “governor, please proceed” moments. And given Trump’s idiocy, she should have several opportunities.

  15. Swami  •  Jul 29, 2016 @4:23 pm

    Trump is a big salivating bag of shit!

    I think Cory Booker summed it up best. “It’s going to come down to a referendum on our values”
    Hillary might be a bitter pill to swallow, but Trump in any degree would be fatal to the America I know and love.

  16. goatherd  •  Jul 30, 2016 @8:39 am

    The comments raise a question that seems in the background of most of our views. To what extent is the “debate” actually a debate? If you look back, some of the events that brought us here seem apparent. I think the abandonment of the Fairness Doctrine was one. It allowed for the creation of propaganda mills like Fox News.

    One of my teachers offered an observation regarding corruption. “A thing is corrupt when secondary characteristics become more prominent than primary characteristics.” What used to be the nightly news has become infotainment. Scandals are pumped and political horse races are engendered and maintained because they sell, and produce revenue. The dull and dour act of gathering facts and assessing them has been overtaken by a glitzy, entertaining spectacle. In a relatively short space of time, many of us have become incapable of penetrating the surface, or lost the desire to penetrate it

    In a real debate, I think HRC would mop the floor with Donald Trump, but in the insidiously superficial world that pours through our TV screens, it’s anyone’s guess. Donald Trump referred to the RNC as a “show.” Parts of it were packaged like a WWF special event. As unlikely as it seems, he might be being honest. The “debates” and the political process have largely taken on the nature of professional wrestling. In that world, “Gorgeous George,” AKA Donald Trump, could put on the winning performance.

    For me, the consequences seem too horrible to contemplate. My one advantage is that I gave up on expectations a long time ago. But young people, however bright and assiduous, tend to be more expectant and optimistic, and less willing to compromise than jaundiced eyed codgers like myself. So, I can see where they are coming from, I’ve been there, just a few short decades ago. Maybe there is some consolation in the notion that the democracy functions through a “wisdom of the crowd” phenomenon. The young and idealistic balance out the old and world weary. We get a little of what we want from time to time, and we avoid disaster, most of the time. Let’s hope we can achieve that in this election.

  17. Tom_b  •  Jul 30, 2016 @11:23 am

    “In a real debate, I think HRC would mop the floor with Donald Trump, but in the insidiously superficial world that pours through our TV screens, it’s anyone’s guess.”

    Other than Obama’s one bad night, he mopped the floor with hid opponents in the TV debates. “Please proceed…”

    HRC is less charming than O, but she’s sharp and VERY (thanks Benghazi committee) used to speaking to hostile audiences. The best Trump can do is name-call, and, later, tweet. Old stuff– I think everyone’s heard the phrase “crooked Hillary” by now.

    The possibility of the Russians dropping more “bombs” via wiki leaks is very real, and likely, but they are also likely to overplay their hand. It is already pretty obvious Putin wants his badly coiffed puppet to win; this won’t play well if they keep it up. And it really adds to the pressure on T to release his tax returns, which, CLEARLY, will be full of bad stuff.

  18. csm  •  Jul 30, 2016 @1:19 pm

    The debates are as “real” as they can get with overly scripted, packaged candidates, hemmed in within the debates by high-dollar donors who’ve bought them both lock, stock and barrel. As cynical an analysis as that may be, its the truth. For all the good any candidate may do, or may be intending to do, like a WWF match, the die is already somewhat cast. For all the good Obama has done, and he’s done a lot, thanks to this reality he remains stubbornly out of step with many in his party, including the nominee, insisting on TPP. This dynamic puts real constraints on having a “real” debate.

    Pair that with the infotainment organizations relied on to report on these debates, offering “opinions” setting rules based in pure nonsense to determine the winner (“who would you like to have a beer with?”) and then the narratives they use to create these horse races purely for ratings. Viewers weaned on this “reporting” over the years have been conditioned to be unable to command facts or apply any critical thinking making them totally reliable on being told who won.

    Obama wiped the floor with Romney, and Gore clearly outpointed a fact-challenged W in 2000, and yet the media found a way to cast Obama’s victory as questionable, and Gore a “sore loser.” Trump is clearly no match for Clinton, but better believe his ignorant name-calling, preening and bullying will be credence against real facts and intelligence.

    What with the Russians and Wikileaks likely to drop more damaging emails, and the media’s propensity to look past the criminality and Trump’s association with it (just imagine if the RNC had been hacked and Clinton was begging the Russians to do more??) Clinton is going to have to devastate Trump in each debate and leave no doubt for even the lowest of information viewers that Trump is truly the dangerous moron he really is.

  19. goatherd  •  Jul 31, 2016 @10:21 am

    “Trump is clearly no match for Clinton, but better believe his ignorant name-calling, preening and bullying will be credence against real facts and intelligence.”

    That’s basically how I see it. Trump knows his audience, as any good conman knows his mark. At present, he seems “totally teflon.” When someone asks a question, and he is doesn’t have an answer, he mirrors the sentiments of the questioner with a phrase like, “we’re looking into that.” The questioner comes away with the idea that Trump “speaks for them,” and is applying considerable effort and intelligence to their concern. In reality, he just told them nothing. Also, notice how often he uses phrases like “trust me” and “believe me.”

    Regarding the teflon, even this Putin thing hasn’t hurt him so far. Trump seems to be playing with the right’s love for “Bid Daddy” authoritarians. For some conservatives, Putin evokes a love that cannot speak its name. He is both the bad guy and the object of desire. Trump is selling himself as the good guy wrestler who will take on the bad guy Putin, the other side of the same card. As someone mentioned above, in professional wrestling, the wrestlers are in cahoots and the outcome is a done deal.

    Other than that, I have to admit that the sensibilities of those who viewed the Bush/Gore debates and went on to vote for Bush, are fairly incomprehensible to me, unless I paint them with a broad brush.
    Many years ago, I had a friend who was a boxer. One evening he made the observation, “Knowing how to box by the rules is great, but, if you get into a street fight and you box the way you do in the ring, you’ll get killed.”



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