View from the Bleachers

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.

14 thoughts on “View from the Bleachers

  1. Hillary Clinton is a highly capable person at many, many things.
    I just don’t see (at least not yet) that retail politics is one of those things.

    To amend that just a bit, she became a better, more likeable politician in 2008, just as Obama was threatening to run away with the nomination.
    So, she looks like she has it in her.
    Unfortunately for her, it’s not her default position – like it was for her husband, and Obama.
    She only let’s us see that, when her back is to the wall.

    I like both Hillary and Bernie – and O’Malley, too.
    So, I’m still undecided.

    What I’m not undecided about, is that I’d prefer a dog-catcher from a small town who’s a Democrat, in the White House, than either the Billionaire psychopath, or the Theocratic psychopath – or any of the other incompetent GOP Loons!

  2. I’ll vote for Bernie if I can, and Hillary if I must.
    As for Trump and Cruz; one of them is despicable and the other one is disgusting, I forget which one is which. Both appeal to the “base”, which is a word also meaning despicable and disgusting.

  3. It may be Hillary Clinton’s race to lose, but she is just so ham-handed at politics, that these inept moves against Sanders are about what I’d expect from her. You had her as Senator from NY, think what she’d be like as President… Trump is going to have a lot of fun with her in the debates – I predict TV ratings in the stratosphere – and he’s getting so much debate practice duking it out with his GOP primary contenders. Debating Hillary will be a cakewalk for him – kind of the most popular average kid in school debating an overschooled nerd.

    I’m not surprised at the establishement’s coming to reality realization with Trump – he’s someone they could do business with, whereas Cruz is truly frightening. Trump’s followers will just see it as one more bit of evidence that their boy is no fool and can sucker anybody, a feather in his cap, a brilliant play to amp up the Donald’s momentum.

  4. I’m sure Cruz is the despicable one.. He’s got characteristics similar to a toenail fungus.

  5. Cruz is a theocrat, and the god he worships is falsehood. His promises are scary; fortunately he never means anything he says. I nominate Martin Shkreli as his Veep, to lock up the smug vote.

    Trump brags that he can’t be bought, and that’s true because he’s the one doing the buying. He’s not a trick, he’s a john. His achievements include four yuuuge bankruptcies, and he will bring that skill-set into managing the federal budget.

  6. Swami,
    Toenail fungus, my ass!

    Teddy Cruz-ader is like an incurable case of a jungle rot that first destroys your genitals, and then your mind.
    Or, in the case of conservatives, pretty much simultaneously – since sex, and how other people might actually be enjoying it, and whose genitals are with whose, seems to be about all that’s on those tiny little minds.!

  7. Hmmm.
    I remember my history, of a politician the establishment thought they could make a deal with after he was selected…

  8. I am the first to concede Clinton’s credentials, and she earned them as a Senator and as Secretary of State. She’s played the long game with an eye on the White House. No problem with that. Along the way, she’s lined up power to win by raising money in large sums.

    Obama raised money in large amounts with small donations – so is Sanders. All the GOP candidates are either a billionaire or a billionaire has the first mortgage on the campaign. Big money can read an electoral college map – I predict a shift in super-PAC money to HRC.

  9. I live in a state where voters do not register by party. This year, we’re thrown in with the other Super Tuesday states. While the Repubs are requiring a “loyalty oath” (my signature below verifies that I am a Republican, or something like that), it is totally unenforceable.

    So the question for a Dem primary voter becomes whether to vote for the Dem you prefer, the Repub you’re least terrified of, or the Repub that you’re most certain you Dem preference can beat in November.

    We’ve been caught in this conundrum before and IIRC have decided differently in different election years. There are four primaries/caucuses (Iowa, NH, SC, Nev) before we hit Super Tuesday on March 1. I hope those events help clarify which way we should jump.

  10. Kind of tangential, but germane in terms of the big picture:

    I watched a BBC doc on the Punic wars. (“Carthage, the Roman Holocaust”) In the last episode, after a summation of the strongpoints of the Carthaginians, he noted one Roman strength that helped them prevail. Where the people of Carthage had a very advanced, rich society, that had given rise to them seeing themselves more as individuals living in close proximity, in contrast to the Romans, who had a much more collective, unified concept of their society. Let’s put aside for the moment that they were more or less the archetype for Fascism and consider the fragmentation at the opposite end of the spectrum, the fragmentation that plagues us today. The voices that call for “greatness” and stop just short of calling for empire, are the voices of division who deride collective effort and compromise.

    It often seems to me that many self-labelled experts on the Constitution never read more than the Preamble and the first two amendments. But, that should be enough.

    “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,[note 1] promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

    All the goals cited in the Preamble are collective goals. They all require the unity that we lack now lack.

  11. Now my cranky laptop is not allowing me to read your articles, just the comments! wtf?? I hope I can figure this out!

  12. How dare President Obama get Iranian hostages freed, they should have been left to Rot! Watching the coverage on the cables it is so obvious that our main stream news media’s allegiance lies with Israel, they do not give this President one inch when it comes to dealing with Iran, it is shameful and outright fucking un-American!

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