In his column today, Paul Krugman explains why the GOP is losing the support of Big Business and Big Corporations, and I’d like to comment on that later today. But here’s the down side —
According to data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics, in the current election cycle every one of the top 10 industries making political donations is giving more money to Democrats. Even industries that have in the past been overwhelmingly Republican, like insurance and pharmaceuticals, are now splitting their donations more or less evenly. Oil and gas is the only major industry that the G.O.P. can still call its own.
The sudden burst of corporate affection for Democrats is good news for the partyâ€™s campaign committees, but not necessarily good news for progressives. …
… Right now all the leading contenders for the Democratic nomination are running on strongly progressive platforms â€” especially on health care. But there remain real concerns about what they would actually do in office.
Hereâ€™s an example of the sort of thing that makes you wonder: yesterday ABC News reported on its Web site that the Clinton campaign is holding a â€œRural Americans for Hillaryâ€ lunch and campaign briefing â€” at the offices of the Troutman Sanders Public Affairs Group, which lobbies for the agribusiness and biotech giant Monsanto. You donâ€™t have to be a Naderite to feel uncomfortable about the implied closeness.
Iâ€™d put it this way: many progressives, myself included, hope that the next president will be another F.D.R. But we worry that he or she will turn out to be another Grover Cleveland instead â€” better-intentioned and much more competent than the current occupant of the White House, but too dependent on lobbyistsâ€™ money to seriously confront the excesses of our new Gilded Age.
Candidates Most Likely to Turn Into Grover Cleveland are, IMO, senators Clinton and Biden. Biden has little chance of being the nominee, however, so let’s talk about Senator Clinton.
Although I will support her if she’s the nominee, I’ve still got my fingers crossed that she isn’t. And I ask myself if I’m being unfair to her, or if I’ve been subliminally influenced by wingnut propaganda, and I honestly don’t think so. In fact, the animus the wingnuts have for her would tend to make me like her more, if anything.
A paragraph from a Gail Collins column (“None Dare Call It Child Care“), speaks volumes:
This is Hillary Clintonâ€™s Womenâ€™s Week. On Tuesday, she gave a major speech on working mothers in New Hampshire, with stories about her struggles when Chelsea was a baby, a grab-bag of Clintonian mini-ideas (encourage telecommuting, give awards to family-friendly businesses) and a middle-sized proposal to expand family leave. Yesterday, she was in the company of some adorable 2- and 3-year-olds, speaking out for a bill on child care workers that has little chance of passage and would make almost no difference even if it did. Clinton most certainly gets it, but she wasnâ€™t prepared to get any closer to the problems of working parents than a plan to help them stay home from work.
Clintonian mini-ideas! That should become an established catchphrase. Bill was good at those too, as I recall. Bill was a good manager and a political genius, but an FDR he was not.
But this is what I fear from a Hillary Clinton Administration: She’d be an effective manager of the office and certainly would patch up much of our soured international relations, but her domestic policy would amount to tweaks. And Big Business and Big Corporations would love her, for the obvious reasons, and the rest of us would benefit from the crumbs of whatever goodwill they feel moved to sprinkle upon us.
And if he’s still around, Ralph Nader would no doubt pick up votes in 2012.
I admit none of the nominees look like FDR to me, but Edwards and Dodd have the potential to be FDR Lite. It’s harder to say if Obama or Richardson would turn out to be other than corporate-sponsored tweakers. (I’m sorry to say that, for all his good intentions, I have major doubts about Kucinich’s management abilities, so I can’t take him seriously as a candidate. And I’m not entirely sure what planet Mike Gravel is from, although I’d love to have a beer with him.)
Eugene Robinson writes in his column today that lots of women across America are drawn to Clinton because she would be the first woman president. I wish I could share that excitement, but I don’t.
Update: Prairie Weather —
The Democratic party is both empty and overbearing. It lacks, as Matt Bai pointed out, a central “argument,” a driving ethos, any social and political passion that relates to America’s needs. Rove-like, the party has come to depend on stealing some issues from the Republican right and to mimic the hopes and passions of its own left. But that leaves an empty center. Most Americans have not the slightest clue whether Democrats can be trusted to do any more than a little better than George W. Bush.
This was not always true of the Dems, mind, although you have to be damn old to remember when it wasn’t. I wrote about how the change came about in “How the Democrats Lost, Period.”