Bob Schwartz

Tag: Hillary Clinton

What if Hillary had to face these contenders for the Democratic nomination in 2016?

This is a thought experiment.

Back in 2008, Hillary Clinton presumed that she would be the front runner for the Democratic nomination and would be the eventual winner. Then along came the phenomenon of Barack Obama, who wrestled the nomination from her because…well, because Hillary is no Obama.

In 2016, it was planned that Hillary Clinton would have little opposition for the Democratic presidential nomination. Maybe a token opponent to make it look competitive and democratic, but little more than that. Somehow, the most un-Obamaish candidate imaginable came along to almost spoil the party for her again. Bernie Sanders didn’t make it, Hillary became the nominee. Being less than the perfect candidate, Hillary was unable to close the deal in the general election, even against the most reprehensible Republican candidate—one who went on to be the most reprehensible president.

What if we retroject all the current Democratic candidates for the nomination back to 2016—including Joe Biden (who didn’t run against her) and Bernie Sanders (who did)? Do you think she would have still won the nomination?

There are reasons to think she might not. One thought is that her unique status as the only woman candidate would be immediately gone; six women are currently running, two of them high in the polls. Another thought is that while Hillary was severely tested by Obama in 2008, she faced less testing in 2016 before she faced Trump as the candidate. Would she have withstood the attacks that are natural from such a huge field? Would the Democratic Party establishment have been able to “protect” her and still seem fair-minded and even-handed?

Making America Crazy Again: How to Survive and Thrive After the Election

make-america-crazy-again

You don’t want to hear this, but things may get crazier after the election.

If Hillary Clinton wins, she will be the least liked, least trusted President to ever take office. All the assumptions and suppositions about how the Clintons’ good intentions have been mixed with and compromised by expedient centrism, ambition, greed, secrecy and overall ugliness have been confirmed.

Progressives who tried an insurgency within the Democratic Party will learn that if they have a place at the table, it will be set with modest meals, if not mere crumbs.

Republicans will be gleeful at the prospect of obstructing everything and unwinding anything, without much of a plan of their own. Their glee is misplaced, since there is no Republican Party left, not one recognizable as such. Instead, it is merely the shaky platform for another set of would-be Presidents to start jockeying for position as the candidate in 2020.

And then of course there’s Donald Trump, whose hat should have first read Make The GOP Crazy, then Make The Election Crazy, and finally Make America Crazy Again. He is good at each of these. There is no doubt, whatever form his public pathology takes, he will help make 2017 a year we will not forget, just as 2016 is an election we will not forget, no matter how we try.

And so, some suggestions for getting on with our lives, not just surviving, but thriving, after the election.

  1. Religion, spirituality, philosophy, or something like them. Principled views of reality and the world can be very helpful. There is nothing inherently wrong with making stuff up as we go along. Except that when the wind blows, which it does pretty much all the time, and sometimes with hurricane force, we might want to have something to keep us steady.
  1. Media diet. When I see the ad for that cheeseburger with six strips of crisp bacon on top, something in me wants one. Except I don’t eat cheeseburgers any more, don’t eat bacon anymore, and if I did, I don’t think it would be in that particular configuration, since I plan to live a long and healthy life. The news media, even the supposedly respectable ones, are mostly offering us the equivalent of 1-pound burgers with an entire package of bacon on top, hour after hour. If you don’t want to be crazy unhealthy, please watch what you eat.
  1. Learning. You don’t have to learn about anything or anyone. You can learn exactly as much as you need to get on with your life and through the day. If you do choose to be interested in something, including public affairs, do try to learn and discern. We have spent the past year in a storm of misinformation and disinformation, lies and nonsense. That is not going to stop after the election. In fact, it could get worse, hard as that is to believe.
  1. Silence.

How to Prepare Spiritually for the Debate

The Clinton-Trump debate is taking place tonight, if you hadn’t heard. People will watch for a whole lot of different reasons. Some to see the candidate they like succeed, some to see the candidate they don’t like that much succeed, some to see the candidate they really don’t like be destroyed, some because they just like to watch twisted spectacles and disaster movies. Sharknado, maybe?

The term soul-sucking may be colloquial, but there’s real truth in it. Some things just seem to draw the life force right out of you, creating a spiritual vacuum. Depending on your perspective, this debate could be one of those.

Here are three optional steps for dealing with this.

  1. Don’t watch. Estimates are that over 100 million people may watch this. This might include friends and loved ones, and it might include you. Which makes it unlikely that you won’t watch a little of it, or the whole thing. Friends don’t let friends watch alone.
  1. Prior to watching, read something or do something that will settle you firmly on the ground and in reality. This may already be part of your regular practice. If not, this may be a good time to start.
  1. After watching, you will notice seemingly millions of talking heads trying to spin what you’ve already seen and heard, or trying to prove how smart they are by repeating what you’ve already seen and heard, and then telling you about it, attempting to impart meaning to what you may regard as meaningless. At that point, if you insist on listening to them, repeat Step 2.

Hillary Clinton Has the Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu

Huey "Piano" Smith

Hillary Clinton and her campaign aren’t known for their grasp of pop culture. Back in 1992, the Clintons chose Fleetwood Mac’s Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow as the campaign theme song. As much as you might like Fleetwodd Mac, by that time it wasn’t the height of hip. (Note however, that Hillary never did stop thinking about tomorrow. It’ll soon be here.)

Admittedly, Huey “Piano” Smith’s R&B classic Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu is not exactly new school. But it never stopped being cool.

So don’t you think the whole Hillary pneumonia thing could be going much better for her if she had just explained:

It’s true, my doctor told me on Friday that I had the rockin’ pneumonia and the boogie woogie flu. Yes, I wanted to jump but I was afraid I’d fall. But now, I wanna scream, I want you all to know that I feel better than fine.

I don’t know about you, but that’s all the medical report I would need.

Worst Job in the World: Defending Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump

Terrible jobs can have their rewards. In the case of supporting political candidates, it’s some combination of money, power, friendship or being a true believer.

Even with those possible rewards, you have to think that defending, excusing, explaining or just talking about some of the things that Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump do or say, or have done or have said, has got to be one of the worst jobs in the world. So to those who have taken on that job, we can only guess what you go through, and we hope it’s worth it.

Govern a nation as you would fry a small fish

Sardine

A message to candidates and voters from the Tao Te Ching. It is the first line of chapter 60, in various translations. Please read and feel free to interpret as you like. Comments are welcome.

If I were moderating a presidential debate, I would simply recite this line and ask Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump what this means to them. What illuminating fun that would be.

Govern a nation as you would fry a small fish.

Directing the flow of affairs of a large country
Is like cooking a small fresh fish.

Govern great nations
like frying small fish.

Ruling a large country is like cooking a small fish.

Political Expediency and Conscience

Marcellus and Butch - Pulp Fiction

Now the night of the election, you may fell a slight sting, that’s conscience messin’ wit ya. Screw conscience! Conscience only hurts, it never helps.
Loosely adapted from Pulp Fiction

Political pragmatism is a messy business, especially when it looks like pure expediency. That goes for candidates who are not trusted or liked, and for supporters and enablers who overlook obvious shortcomings and transgressions for the sake of some higher goal. (For Democrats and Republicans who think this is only about the other, think again.)

The best movie moment about expediency comes from Pulp Fiction. Those who know this great movie may know the scene. Those who haven’t seen it should, for entertainment and for Tarantino’s willingness to take on interesting moral and ethical questions. Be advised that the movie is rough, as is the language in this scene.

Boss Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) is bribing aging boxer Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) to take a dive:

MARSELLUS WALLACE:

I think you’re gonna find ­ when all this shit is over and done ­ I think you’re gonna find yourself one smilin’ motherfucker. Thing is Butch, right now you got ability. But painful as it may be, ability don’t last. Now that’s a hard motherfuckin’ fact of life, but it’s a fact of life your ass is gonna hafta git realistic about. This business is filled to the brim with unrealistic motherfuckers who thought their ass aged like wine. Besides, even if you went all the way, what would you be? Feather-weight champion of the world. Who gives a shit? I doubt you can even get a credit card based on that.

Now the night of the fight, you may fell a slight sting, that’s pride fuckin’ wit ya. Fuck pride! Pride only hurts, it never helps. Fight through that shit. ‘Cause a year from now, when you’re kickin’ it in the Caribbean you’re gonna say, “Marsellus Wallace was right.”

Politics and People of Conscience

Conscience of Conservative

There’s talk of Barry Goldwater in the context of the current election cycle. I’ve written about him before—as it turns out, a few times, here, here, and here. It’s not that I’m a fan of conservative politics; it’s that I’m a fan of conscience.

Goldwater’s unlikely and iconoclastic nomination for President at the Republican National Convention in 1964 was predicted to be a disaster. It was, as he was crushed by Lyndon Johnson in the election. On the other hand, his political philosophy lived on in the party—coming into full flower with Ronald Reagan and, more than fifty years later, is still the touchstone of conservative Republican politics.

Goldwater’s famous book was a manifesto called The Conscience of a Conservative. Focus on that word “conscience.” It means principles that are grounded in the deepest part of your beliefs, principles that are often difficult to stand by. On one side is the temptation of expedience. On the other is being criticized for standing in the way and being outcast. Or in Goldwater’s case, for leading the party into a (temporary) black hole.

In both parties right now, conscience is being tested.

Paul Ryan and others are speaking their mind about Donald Trump, even in the face of calls for unity over conscience, for party above principle. Other Republicans, seeing the same candidate, admit he is flawed in ways they have trouble abiding, but a unified party has a shot a victory, while a splintered one has none.

Among Democrats, even some Hillary Clinton supporters, in candid moments, admit that they have deep reservations about her on fundamental grounds of honesty, integrity, and transparency, but say that winning is everything, and that she is the path to victory—whatever her shortcomings.

We shouldn’t indict those who compromise their conscience, in politics or elsewhere. Each of us does it or has done it, and we live with it. Maybe sleeplessly sometimes, but we live with it. What we should do is praise those who manage to know their conscience and follow it, often at a price. This is what we try to teach our children. This is what we should suggest to our politicians.

Some Disingenuous Republicans Are Waiting for Trump to “Change His Style”

Republicans who honestly support Donald Trump are entitled to do so. This is America and it’s a free country. But some disingenuous Republicans are saying that they are holding off support to see if Trump “changes his style.” Which is a dishonest and cowardly position.

You can support Trump because you like him and think he would be a great President—the greatest ever. You can support him because you dislike the Democrats and Hillary Clinton.

You can oppose Trump because…well, so many reasons.

But waiting for Trump to change his style is absurd. Not because he can’t or won’t—though he probably won’t—but because his problem is substantive, not stylistic. It is about who he is. And everybody on the face of the earth knows who he is, because he has been compulsive about telling us for years, especially during this campaign.

So if you hear about some politician waiting for Trump to change his style, don’t believe it. It’s just another skittish and not particularly brave politician blowing in an ill wind.

John Lewis clarifies comments on Bernie Sanders

UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 11: Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., behind him, arrive for a news conference at the DNC where members of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, February 11, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

John Lewis is the latest elder statesperson to have experienced some difficulties in speaking on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

First it was former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who apologized for seeming to suggest that young women who didn’t support Hillary were going to “a special place in hell.”

Then it was feminist pioneer Gloria Steinem, who apologized for saying that young women were flocking to Bernie Sanders because that is where the boys are.

Now it is the turn of civil rights era leader and legend John Lewis. On Thursday he suggested that he knew the Clintons from way back in the movement days, but he had never seen nor heard from this Bernie Sanders guy.

Today he apologized for misspeaking.

”If you take a look at a transcript of my statement, you will find I did not say that I met Hillary and Bill Clinton when I was chairman of SNCC in the 1960s. My point was that when I was doing the work of civil rights, led the Voter Education Project and organized voter registration in the South in the 1970s, I did cross paths with Hillary and Bill Clinton in the field. They were working in politics, and Bill Clinton became attorney general of Arkansas in the 1970s as well. That began a relationship with them that has lasted until today.”

As for Bernie Sanders:

“I was responding to a reporter’s question who asked me to assess Sen. Sanders’ civil rights record. I said that when I was leading and was at the center of pivotal actions within the Civil Rights Movement, I did not meet Sen. Bernie Sanders at any time. The fact that I did not meet him in the movement does not mean I doubted that Sen. Sanders participated in the Civil Rights Movement, neither was I attempting to disparage his activism. Thousands sacrificed in the 1960s whose names we will never know, and I have always given honor to their contribution.”

In fact, Bernie Sanders had been involved in the movement almost as early as John Lewis was. Sanders’ sacrifice included going to jail for trying to desegregate the University of Chicago dorms.

Everyone is entitled to zealously support preferred candidates, and zeal sometimes crosses over into exaggeration. But when icons like Albright, Steinem and Lewis get caught overreaching so far that they are forced to furiously backpedal, especially all in one week, you have to wonder what exactly is going on.