Out of the Fire, Into the Frying Pan

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 party’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 — especially on health care. But there remain real concerns about what they would actually do in office.

Here’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 “Rural Americans for Hillary” lunch and campaign briefing — at the offices of the Troutman Sanders Public Affairs Group, which lobbies for the agribusiness and biotech giant Monsanto. You don’t have to be a Naderite to feel uncomfortable about the implied closeness.

I’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 — better-intentioned and much more competent than the current occupant of the White House, but too dependent on lobbyists’ 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 Clinton’s Women’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 wasn’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.”

19 thoughts on “Out of the Fire, Into the Frying Pan

  1. So is there anything we can actually do? I mean the Dems collapse on command to the facists and corporatists–have the little guys just lost?

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  4. “Mini-ideas” sums it up for most of the candidates except for John Edwards (who used the term “baby steps” in an interview with Josh Marshall, explaining why he prefers bold ideas). Edwards seems to be the only candidate truly focused on the middle class and the people who live in rural areas. When I heard that Hillary was having a fundraiser called “Rural Voters for Hillary” in a Washinton, D.C. lobbyist’s building, sponsored by Monsanto, while Edwards is meeting directly with 100 Iowa voters in a small town, it seemed to underscore that Hillary’s campaign is all about ego and personal power, not about the people who may vote for her. That’s why, when Edwards says that the current system is rigged against average Americans, it really resonates with me.

  5. When I visited my brother’s family in Kansas City in August, the birthday lunch turned into a political discussion. Sister-in-law (public school teacher) and I both spoke up for John Edwards, much to my brother’s (public relations exec) disdain. Bro never did come out and say which Dem he supports, but I suspect it would have sounded like a cat shedding a hairball: “Hack! Hack! [whispered] Hillary.” Someone should tell Sen. Clinton that the women are comin’ out agin her. Eugene Robinson is wrong.

  6. At the family reunion this summer I was surprised when a couple of my cousins spoke up enthusiastically about Hillary, but these are women who don’t know politics from flea repellent.

  7. My preference for the Democratic candidate is John Edwards because I think he would use the office to repair the damage done these past seven years. He may not be FDR; but, I am not sure FDR could pull this country out of this mess without four terms, which he wouldn’t get this time around. But, I do think that Elizabeth Edwards is very close to being an Eleanor Roosevelt. If Hillary is the Dem candidate, I will vote for her because the alternatives will be much worse. However, I still believe that there are too many Americans who are not ready to vote for a woman for President; just as they are not ready to vote for a black man. However, I do believe the Republican voters are so disaffected by the present candidates that some won’t vote or there may be a third party that will split the vote. The other Democratic candidate who I think would govern well is Christopher Dodd, who would get all the left and center left votes; he just has to overcome all other candidates leads. Who knows, though, maybe if Hillary wins, she will change overnight and do most of the right things we need.

  8. I don’t agree that Clinton’s policy would amount to tweaks. She certainly isn’t the candidate for change, however. But I think that’s a good thing – even though I think we do need some serious change.

    The way I see it, President Hillary Clinton would “stop the bleeding” in American policy. That will require a lot of work because there is a lot of bleeding to stop – Iraq, torture, surveillance, unitary executive, financial solvency of our health care systems and social security, climate change/environment, trade deficit, budget deficit, on and on and on…. To ask her, as President, to BOTH stop the bleeding AND create bold new initiatives is unrealistic, in my opinion. She will be using up a lot of goodwill, political capital, energy, time, etc., just doing the short-term fixes that need getting done now. After Clinton can help the country stabilize itself again, we’ll be ready for some real change. That’s one reason why I wish Obama had chosen not to run this time, because he’d be a good post-Clinton-fixes-everything President.

  9. John Edwards was my senator. I voted for him for the senate and I will vote for him in the primaries, except in the unlikely event that Gore enters the race.

    I have the persistent, but foolish hope that we that we are on the verge of a rebirth like the one that Kennedy started. So we need an FDR with a bit of Kennedy. That’s a long shot, but if I am going to hope I might as well do it on a grand scale.

  10. I am a bit more hopeful about what a democratic president would do, even senator Clinton.
    If the Demacratic control of congress expands, as seems likely, and the new additions are more progressive, as also seems likely, then any president will be pulled to the left. Perhaps allowed to be more leftish would be a better way of saying it.

    The main impediment to progressive legislation is and always will be the liberal media.

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  12. Maha ,

    speaking as one who knew the Clintons here in Arkansas and voted for Bill for Governor,,, I can tell you one thing … the Clintons are NOT motivated by money … I know this is a hard concept for Americans to understand , I am amazed still by how much Americans make a ” god ” of the dollar . They are motivated by pride, ego, legacy , power seeking of course too … but the dollar is not a factor . They are not attracted to luxury or outrageous lifestyles . Look what Bill Clinton has done with his new found wealth post presidency …. he has started a Foundation … what has Bush 41 done ?

    Hillary is no Leona Helmsley , give her some credit . She has been active in childrens issues and womens issues for decades . She is the reason that we do not allow genital mutilation ( female ) in this country . She is playing center until she gets elected, but in her heart she is a liberal , this I know .

  13. She is playing center until she gets elected, but in her heart she is a liberal , this I know .

    Now would be the time to prove it. She really has spent more time kissing up the big corporate donors than some of the other candidates, which is not reassuring.

  14. Maha

    as did her husband … but he had a Republican opposition to deal with , she will have the whole enchilada a Dem house and Senate ,
    if we vote it so , this is a too good a chance to pass up , she is our future , there is no PERFECT candidate out there , we have to run with what we have , and she is the best we have , the very best in my opinion .

  15. Money is the root of all evil.
    It’s also the fertilizer for politicians.

    I’d love to take you at your word. And, I have some hope that Clinton, if elected (as an insider), can make changes. I’m just not holding my breath…

    After what he did last week, I’m supporting Dodd. I’ve waffled from Edward’s to Obama for too long.

    Dodd is the only one who stands behind The Constitution. That’s what he’s basing his candidacy on. And that’s enough for me!

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  17. lets face facts here,

    no matter what the outcome ,Dems will be blamed for it , esp about Iraq , which is a quagmire we HAVE to exit from.

    This Pres has set the country back 20 yrs both domestically and in foreign relations …. the next Pres. will need a great deal of goodwill if we are to heal in any way …. now is not the time to go with the unknown or , untested, its almost, like , Karma in my opinion , we have to get a Clinton back in the Whitehouse . We have to get Europe back on our side , we have to have a real dialog with the rest of the world …. only the Clintons can do this .
    They are really really intelligent people , please let them lead us away from this horribly stupid Admin ….

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