Let’s Stop Being Weenies

I am literally getting out of a sickbed to write this, as I have a stomach flu, but you know nothing rouses me like being pissed off.

So I’m huddled in bed reading political commentary and social media on my Kindle. And it’s pissing me off. I read one thing after another saying, oh, Walter Mondale lost in 1984 and Mike Dukakis lost in 1988 — most of ’em don’t go as far back as my first presidential candidate, George McGovern, who lost in 1972 — and because we lost then we must choose a very safe candidate and not anybody too radical because the Right is all-powerful and very mean and they will beat us to death, or something.

I remember the words of my favorite dead white guy, Ulysses S. Grant. During the Battle of the Wilderness, an officer came to him babbling anxiously about what Robert E. Lee would do to defeat them. And the General said,

“Oh, I am heartily tired of hearing about what Lee is going to do. Some of you always seem to think he is suddenly going to turn a double somersault, and land in our rear and on both of our flanks at the same time. Go back to your command, and try to think what we are going to do ourselves, instead of what Lee is going to do.”

None of the weenies seem to remember that we all settled on John Kerry in 2004 because he seemed to be the “safe” candidate. I don’t recall that he won. But that was then.

Nixon is dead and Reagan is dead and Lee Atwater is dead. Karl Rove is out howling in the wilderness raising money for a Super-PAC that can’t elect candidates. Fox News and the National Review threw everything it had at Donald Trump, to no avail. The Republican establishment has completely lost control of the process, and IMO none of the current GOP front-runners could be elected POTUS if you spotted them 50 electoral college votes. And I can’t wait to see the train wreck that will be the GOP National Convention.

It ain’t 1972 any more. It ain’t 1980 or 1984 or 1988 or 2000. Lots of stuff has happened. The national mood is very different now. The electorate is very different now. The GOP is very different now.

Most of the hand-wringing is coming from people who assume Hillary Clinton is electable, but IMO that is an untested proposition. She’s doing best among a demographic that probably will turn out for the Republican — old rich people. She’s expected to win primaries in a bunch of solid-red southern states that she will not win in the general. So how is she electable?

As my friend Jeffrey Feldman wrote on his Facebook page,

I’m fascinated by this argument that it’s necessary to NOT vote for Sanders now because he cannot win in the general. There’s a broader logic at work, but in its most basic–it is saying: you must vote for the candidate who cannot win this primary election because that is the candidate who can win the general election. The loser must win for us to ultimately win. Totally bizarre to be on the receiving end of this attempt at persuasion.

I think neither of our Dem front-runners would have had a prayer in 1980, 84, 88, 00, or 04. If the financial collapse hadn’t happened, I don’t know how 2008 would have gone. In 2012, the Republicans ran their “safe” candidate, Mitt Romney.

So much for “safe” candidates.

The hand-wringers are telling us we have to modify our views and run the allegedly safe candidate, because the Evil and All-Powerful Right can be expected to turn a double somersault and land in our rear and on both of our flanks at the same time. Frankly, I don’t think they’ve got it in them this year.

Yes, down-ticket elections. Why are we thinking about electing someone who turns off nearly every demographic? Don’t you want a bunch of enthusiastic leftie voters to actually, you know, show up at the polls? Do you think leftie, progressive voters are going to get confused and vote for right-wing Republicans down ballot? Duh.

Let’s stop modifying our views and negotiating with ourselves and running scared because we’re afraid of what those other people are going to do. What are we going to do?

If you plan to vote for Hillary Clinton because you sincerely believe she is the best candidate for the job, and because you agree with her positions on issues, that’s fine. But stop claiming we all have to vote for Clinton whether we want to or not or the sky will fall. I’m not seeing it.

Let’s listen to another great American who won a tough election in 1948 —

“Carry the battle to them. Don’t let them bring it to you. Put them on the defensive and don’t ever apologize for anything.”  — Harry S Truman

50 thoughts on “Let’s Stop Being Weenies

  1. I do prefer Bernie Sanders.
    However, his age is a real concern for me. But, then, so is Hillary’s, since she’s only a few years younger than him.

    But, whether he is our candidate or not, he’s served a great purpose:
    Not only moving the Democratic Party to the left, but, if she does win, Hillary Clinton along with it.
    And that last part, is no easy task!

    Timidity doesn’t bring the voters out in droves.
    Boldness does.

    I still have time to make up my mind.

  2. I just turned on TCM and found Casablanca. It’s a great movie. Maha, hope you get feeling better soon.

  3. I think you have presented our predicament-because-Dem-elites-say-it-is-so quite well. I have used the phrase “expedient incrementalism” to describe HRC before. I think it is still very much on target. The Bernie rally early early on in Greensboro was an eye-opener: wide age range, wide variety of cars in the parking lots, lots of warmth and conversation among the crowd, just a happy, hopeful place. We need those folks and that attitude.

  4. Thank you! This is exactly how I see it. Ridiculous, isn’t it?

    Where your friend Feldman wrote: “you must vote for the candidate who cannot win this primary election because that is the candidate who can win the general election. The loser must win for us to ultimately win.”

    I have been thinking of it in a different permutation: “In the primary, don’t vote for the candidate you actually prefer, because if you do, he might actually win, and then of course he will lose.” With no reference to the mood of the country or what we are actually seeing.

  5. As much as I try to warm to Hillary every time a read a criticism of her my confidence in her gets shaken to the core. I don’t know who she is. And if she were my prospective bride I think I would break off the engagement because my heart is not all there.
    I can discern legitimacy, and weather a lot of the attacks and criticisms against her, but there are overall concerns of trust and a common vision that I find very troubling.
    I’ve already switched from Independent to Democrat to vote in Florida’s primary. I’m voting for Sanders because that is the closest I can get to seeing my hopes realized. And if Hillary does win the nomination at least I know I did all within my power to work toward bringing about the hopes of young Democrat voters who want to break with the status quo and move America in a direction that is more equitable for them.
    I reminded of a sentiment expressed by Thomas Paine in Common Sense. In essence he said something to the effect about the moral imperative of not putting a battle to be fought on the shoulders our children that rightfully belongs to us. That sentiment applies to many of the issues that Sanders has taken up as his cause. It’s not about us..It’s about our children and future generations..

  6. What gets to me is the idea that we should elect Clinton because she gets things done. Leaving aside her relatively minimal record of actual legislative achievement, where’s the evidence that she will get any cooperation from the GOP without giving away the store to them? I don’t see that she’s going to be any better than Sanders and I fear that her timidity and appetite for centrist bipartisanship will make her a sucker for the siren lure of empty or damaging “achievements” – just as it did with her husband. Bernie may have his faults/limitations, but I don’t think he’d let us down that way. First do no harm.

  7. ‘Fortune favours the bold’, wrote Vergil — not the ‘safe’. With the Republicans now in such disarray, now is the time to strike.

  8. There’s was o pocket billiards champion for many years, Willie Mosconi – whose coach was asked why he was so nearly unbeatable. “Ya see”, he explained, “Willie’s opponent is always playing Willie, and Willy’s always playing pool.”

    There’s plenty of evidence that Bernie will do better than HRC would in a general election against Trump or Cruz. An old friend (he hired me to my first job when I was in HS) is writing an article for Daily Kos on the numbers. Independents who don’t like the GOP frontrunners approve of Bernie much more than HRC because they trust him. (Bernie kills in that metric.)

    In this election every candidate except Bernie looks like a Borg where the collective is the money link – except for Bernie, they are all drones differing in height and gender but without a will of their own on any issue which affects the fortunes of their corporate masters.

    Resistance is not futile.

  9. I second grannyeagle in wishing you a speedy recovery, Maha. In my own defense, the only reason I forgot that in my previous comment is you wrote such a damn good post.

  10. I will set a record with three successive comments by proposing that both democratic candidates publicly declare that if the Senate does not act on Obama’s nominee for USSC by the time they are elected, they will withdraw that nominee and propose Barack Obama for Supreme Court Justice as soon as they are installed.

    Obama should decline comment on whether on not he would consider the job. And let the GOP stew over the choice for a year.

  11. I follow the arguments here (and BTW I think “expedient incrementalism” is a nicely dharmic turn of phrase). I’m just remembering the really, really unpleasant campaign that played out in 2008, with Clinton and Obama beating each other up, their respective supporters savaging one another, the PUMA movement by some of Clinton’s disappointed supporters…and I’m seeing the same damn thing happening all over again. Oh, not here: the tone on this blog is not nasty, but look elsewhere. Perhaps the lesson for me is simply that I should tune out, but is anyone else concerned?

  12. Doug,
    Sorry I spoiled your attempts at MY record. 😉
    I believe it was 4, quite a few years back.

    I like your suggestion a lot!

    I’d still prefer he name Anita Hill first, so that right after that news comes out, and Thomas’ head explodes, he can fill TWO conservative seats!

  13. if the Senate does not act on Obama’s nominee for USSC by the time they are elected, they will withdraw that nominee and propose Barack Obama for Supreme Court Justice as soon as they are installed.

    Sir, you are a tactical mastermind. But I already knew that.

  14. Stomach flu… the WORST. Stay hydrated if you can. Stay Buddhist if you can.

    After things settle, drink Ensure or Boost as a restorative. Wishing you a speedy recovery!

  15. Chicken soup!

    I remember hearing a story on NPR many years ago about a young Buddhist traveling through Indonesia. She took a detour with an Asian friend, for the opportunity to meet the Dalai Lama. On the way, she came down with a very bad flu. By way of consoling her, her companion looked at her and said, “Well, this will be good practice for dying.”

    Sometimes the flu feels like just that. Did I mention the chicken soup?

  16. I am laughing as I read the comments because my son-in-law who is a gun collector (responsible, by the way) reads the forums on the internet and there is this rumor that if HRC gets elected, she will get Obama on the Supreme Court and he is going to take away everyone’s guns. My intuition tells me that Obama is through with politics, at least officially and Michelle would probably not let him do it if he wanted to.
    I disagree with drinking Ensure or Boost, they are mostly sugar. W

  17. The monkeys are messing around with my computer. I wasn’t finished with my comment. Water, tea, fruits, veggies will do more for cleaning out the system and getting back to normal. Ok, chicken soup is good too if it’s not too salty. By the way, stomach “flu” is a misnomer. It can be a virus infection but not influenza.

  18. My reasoning is that a good deal-maker asks for the best and settles for the good. Ask Trump for details. The right wing has known this for decades.

    So I figure that if we elect Bernie then we will in effect get Hillary; but if we elect Hillary then we will in effect get Rubio.

  19. Okay, this will work, GROG!!

    2 oz dark rum
    4 oz very hot water
    1 oz lime juice
    honey or brown sugar to taste (something else if you have high blood sugar)
    dash of cinnamon

    It’s best to start out with it pretty hot like a cup of tea. You’ll be right as rain before you finish the fourth or fifth one!! Trader Vic’s has a more complicated recipe, but who wants to go shopping when under the weather?

  20. Ask Trump for details.

    Yeah,one of the interviewers asked Trump how he was going to bring back the practice of waterboarding seeing how it’s against the law. Trump responded by saying he’d just “declassify” it.

  21. Bernie is too old. He was born in 1941, like me. Reagan, who was already showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s when he ran for re-election in 1984 was 73, two years younger than Bernie and I will be this year. People claim to be surprised when they find out how old I am. I hike, lift weights, and until two years ago ran 10K every other day. I walk my dog a minimum of three miles a day, and this isn’t counting on long hikes. However, I stand by saying Bernie is too old, as I am, regardless of how peppy we seem on the surface.

    • I agree age is a concern, which is why the vice presidential pick is going to be very important. But it is what it is. You do know that Alzheimer’s is a specific disease and not something everybody gets because they age, right?

  22. Berney is 74, Trump will be 70 in June. Hillary is 68. I’m 76 and am jealous of the energy of all of them. I think the youngest candidate is Rubio. It does seem it’s always older people who run for president. And if they are young like Obama, the experience seems to age them beyond normal.

  23. Bernie is not too old..He’s not going to be doing jumping jacks or squat thrusts, but his brain is working just fine.. I think it’s more important to focus on the message rather than the messenger. If he were to drop dead on his first day in office, the message he would be carrying from the American people would still remain.. That would be progress.

  24. Dare I hope that either of our Democratic choices make Elizabeth Warren their VP candidate?

    I also would love Sherrod Brown, or either of TX’s Castro brothers, as VP’s.

  25. Sweet pea, you’re being a weenie. Such an elegant and grownup word, I realize — it must have been a stretch for you to reach it. After watching this election, I am startled at the number of trucks carrying turnips through this great land — must be because there are so many of you who just fell off one. I’ll just attach a few things, but on the whole? I think you should wait for adulthood to set in because you tackle politics.

  26. My first vote for president was in 1972, for George McGovern. It was obvious to us all that he would win. The Vietnam was was a terrible thing, and all the young men our age were registered for the draft and terrified of going, and tens of thousands of them did go, and died. McGovern was a WWII war hero, and he was going to stop it. How could he lose against all that blood and carnage. But lose he did, by 49 states. The Republican attack machine made that war hero seem like a flower-sniffing hippie.
    Michael Dukakis was a smart, accomplished New Englander who never faced a serious challenge. When he was asked flat out what he would do if someone raped his wife, and faced with Willie Horton ads, he fumbled. Then the Republicans worked on making him look weak, and he lost badly.
    I like Bernie Sanders. But he’s a life-long New Englander who has never faced a serious challenger, never mind one willing to play dirty. He thinks it’s important to run a positive campaign. Whoever runs against him will run ads about how he never married the mother of his only son, mine his many speeches as a socialist, and dig up every bit of dirt and every word he’s said that can be distorted to smear him, and it will all stick because it will all be new and Sanders has never dealt with that, and doesn’t know how. Once he learns, it will be too late and we’ll have President Cruz or Trump.
    The Republicans have been digging dirt and throwing slime at Clinton for 20 years, and she’s still standing. Why was Bill Clinton a Third-Way, Centrist Democrat? Because that was exactly aligned with his ideas? No. He watched McGovern, and Mondale, and Dukakis, slimed as peacenic hippies, and the damage their opponents caused when they won, and realized that this was how to win and make things at least somewhat better. Hillary has learned that lesson, and Bernie has not. I’ve seen this movie before, and know how it turns out. Please don’t send this country into the arms of a Republican yet again because this time, unlike all the others, purity and honor will carry the day.
    Hillary isn’t my ideal candidate, but she’s by far the one that has most of what it takes to win. There’s too much at stake in this election to take a chance on anyone but the one with the best chance at winning. She’s smart, she’s accomplished, she’s knowledgable, she’s tough, and she has what it takes to fight every attack she’s going to face. Bernie fails on that score.

    • Peggy, one more time — it’s not 1988 any more. It was Lee Atwater who killed Mike Dukakis’s campaign, and Atwater is dead. Today’s Republican Party is in shambles; it’s at war with itself. They have never been more vulnerable. You’re whole comment reeks of learned helplessnes; we can’t have nice things, we just have to accept what little we can get. Stop being such a weenie.

  27. Cund gulag: I don’t think either Warren or Brown are interested in leaving the Senate. And Warren’s wheelhouse is finance. She does great things in the Senate when she can concentrate of that, as she would have done had she been allowed to run the Bureau which was her idea. She’s not that interested in or knowledgable about foreign policy or many of the other things that a president has to deal with, so I don’t understand why everybody wants to keep moving someone who is an expert doing great work where she is, into something else. And Sherrod Brown’s departure would open up a competitive Senate seat that he holds pretty handily. Just like Obama took our Kansas governor, Kathleen Sebelius, to run Health and Human Services during the healthcare fight, and left us here open to Sam Brownback. Thanks, Obama. He could have chosen someone else who was more easily replaced by another Democrat in their home state.

  28. Maha, Atwater is dead, but his legacy is alive and well. I caucused for, volunteered for, and voted for Obama against Clinton in 2008, and voted for him again in 2012. If Clinton had an opponent like Obama I’d seriously consider voting for him/her. I’m was glad Sanders got into the race and pulled her to the left. Now I’m starting to worry that he may actually win, and that scares me, because I don’t think he would win. Sander’s pitch is that he will bring more people into the process and that is how he will win, but fewer Democrats voted in Iowa and New Hampshire this year than did in 2008, so that’s not supported by the facts yet. One of Obama’s problems was that he really thought he was transformational and could get people to cooperate with his, and he wasted time trying to cooperate when he should have been fighting. Sanders’ whole pitch is that he is transformational, so I fear he would do the same thing. Cinton is under no such illusions. She has practice and skill fighting these people, and as the Republican Party is more insane than it was in 2008, that skill will be important. Either will still have a Republican house, and possibly Senate to deal with, and Sanders hasn’t explained how he will get anything through given that fact. It’s not learned helplessness. It’s not wanting to repeat mistakes when the stakes are so high.

    • Peggy — personally, I suspect this year a Democratic ham sandwich would be competitive against whatever the Republicans nominate, which increasingly looks like Donald Trump. The Republican shit machine is broken. They’re as nasty as ever, but the old discipline is completely gone. I think the real mistake, long term, would be to elect Hillary Clinton to the White House. and watch … nothing happen. You want to drive young people away from the Democratic Party? That would do it.

      See Why the Dems Need Bernie

  29. I have to admit I am suspicious of names I don’t remember seeing ever before with what certainly look like canned anti-Bernie arguments. Let’s follow the money for a moment. You see, it’s getting out that DWS abandoned the DNC ban on corporate & lobbyist money and put up the ‘Democratic Presidency for Sale’ sign. The sign has Hillary’s picture on it. And they’re lining up with money.


    At the end of the year the DNC was 1.5 million in debt, compared to the RNC 16 million in the black. An anemic debate schedule which was custom-made to preserve Clinton’s initial lead reduced the party exposure that could have helped raise funds. In fact, there was serious question how the party would pay for the Democratic Convention.

    Enter HRC and her corporate donors. She’s paying for her own coronation with Wall Street money. From Washington Post –
    “Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, has set up a joint fundraising committee with the DNC called the Hillary Victory Fund, which raised $26.9 million through the end of 2015. ”

    The HRC Borg drones can stick it up their wazoo. There’s a HUGE difference between Sanders and Clinton. It’s the money. She and the DNC sold us out decades ago. The young people smelled this rat back in ’08 and the stench is only worse now.

  30. Now I’m starting to worry that he may actually win, and that scares me, because I don’t think he would win.

    In a primary you throw caution to the wind. You vote for the candidate who will champion the ideas and ideals that are closest to your own. Winning is not the ultimate goal. Expressing your hopes for the society we should become should be the primary consideration.
    I’ve used the cutesy phrase of saying, I’ll hold my nose and vote for Hillary”, but the reality of that expression is that my true choice for where I believe America should be headed has been determined for me. At this stage of the election process I’m holding fast to support Sanders..Not for the person, but for the ideals he professes. Que sera, sera!
    All we can do is our best..Give sober consideration to the direction we think America should go.And then go with it.

  31. Well, General Grant, it seems that Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia is going to self-destruct. His commanders are bickering amongst themselves and they are spending more time polishing their boots and spiffing up their uniforms than they are in maintaining their rifles and artillery.

    Electability is not an end in itself; effective governing is the end to which that is a means. And overall, it seems that Hillary has more depth in foreign policy than anyone else in the race, since Bernie is just not all that much into the details thereof.

    It is extremely likely that the next president (or possibly this one) will be confronted with some kind of crisis on the Korean peninsula in which the North goes into a meltdown of its unsustainable system. This will create a hairy situation which will call for someone in the Oval Office who can look at all parts of a rather large chessboard and track a rapidly changing political terrain and anticipate the probable side effects of any proposed set of actions.

    It would be very nice to have a better field of candidates for this office. Even the most economically enlightened president will be so boxed in by Congress that the legislative branch will dominate events in that arena. Foreign policy is different, and it matters a whole lot who is in the White House situation room. Clinton is likely to grasp quickly what her advisors are telling her and is likely to be able to ask the pertinent questions which might not occur to anyone else to ask.

  32. Ed – I don’t know about you, but I don’t live in Korea, North or South. I’m worried about domestic policy first – and for me, the first item is driving the money changers from the temple. The US Capitol Building is my temple of democracy and HRC will continue the downward spiral of corporatism.

    News flash – Lobbyists and PACs are being approached by the DNC to contribute to HRCs superfund – to foot the bill for the convention. You think HRC sin’t going to pay them back? DWS in collusion with HRC has made the convention an event as commercial as the Super Bowl.

    Bernie gets it. North Korea is not the problem. The sovereign state of Haliburton in the problem – and all tho other parasites who are sucking this country dry like vampires. Excuse me for being direct but your concern about a 2-bit dictatorship is misdirected to the point of delusional.

  33. CUNDgulag, Swami you guys have the talent to come up with a memorable “I shall no longer be a weenie” pledge. I’ll sign on if it’s funny enough.

  34. Doug:

    Hope there is nothing delusional about thinking that presidents have more actual control over foreign policy than domestic. Korea is only one example of the need for multidimensional thinking in dealing with international politics. If Bernie showed deeper interest in this stuff, I would feel a lot better about him. It is not delusional to think that Congress is a co-equal branch of government which will have the power to circumscribe any president’s proposed legislative agenda with respect to the stuff that Bernie understands very well. Either he or Hillary can defeat whoever ends up with the other party’s nomination, assuming that voters want someone in the Oval Office who knows how to behave him or herself in public. I will donate whatever I can afford to either of them in the fall. But it makes sense to stress the aspects of government that the president actually controls, and to consider who is better versed in the subtleties of how complex factors interact in the world arena. And this is related to who has done the relevant homework in more detail over a longer period of years.

  35. North Korea isn’t the issue here. Ultimately, they’ll do what China lets them do – and there are limits to what China will permit in the area of foreign policy follies. What we are seeing from North Korea is the usual attempt to get attention by making threats and looking tough. In practice, South Korea has already overreacted by closing the Gaeseong/Kaesong complex in a rush, probably because President Park isn’t especially popular and is trying to look tough for her electorate. I very much doubt that anything further is going to occur. There will be the usual exchange of leaflets over the border, plus some protests about this, that and the other, but it will all simmer down and we shall go back to business as usual. I live in Seoul six months of the year and I can assure you that nobody here is too worried about the North.

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