Sunday, May 08, 2016

Is Hillary going "Clintonian"?

I've been on vacation and my posting hasn't been as regularly the last several days. So I have a bit of catching up to do.

I'll start by linking to this discouraging report from Amy Chozick, Hillary Clinton Targets Republicans Turned Off by Donald Trump New York Times 05/06/2016:

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is trying to seize on the turmoil Donald J. Trump’s ascent has caused within the Republican Party, hoping to gain the support of Republican voters and party leaders including former elected officials and retired generals disillusioned by their party’s standard-bearer. ...

More broadly, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign is repositioning itself, after a year of emphasizing liberal positions and focusing largely on minority voters, to also appeal to independent and Republican-leaning white voters turned off by Mr. Trump. ...

The campaign expects to assemble a “Republicans for Hillary” group, and Mrs. Clinton has, from her days in the Senate and as secretary of state, cultivated strong relationships with prominent Republicans and their top staff members. Mark Salter, a top adviser to Senator John McCain, this week expressed his support for Mrs. Clinton on Twitter minutes after Mr. Trump clinched his party’s nomination. Mrs. Clinton has also enjoyed a strong relationship with former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, a Republican, who described her as “a superb representative of the United States all over the world.”

In the past, Mrs. Clinton has praised David H. Petraeus, former director of the C.I.A., who is a Republican. In February, he said that Mrs. Clinton would be “a tremendous president.”
This is disappointing, but not surprising. Hillary Clinton apparently intends if she becomes President to continue Barack Obama's Wall-Street-friendly approach: economically moderate-to-conservative; nominally pro-labor but also dedicated to more corporate-deregulation trade treaties; liberal but not a leader on social issues; talk a nice game on issues like the Citizens United campaign-financing system but make no real effort to change it. On foreign policy, she will look to be more hawkish, escalate direct US involvement in the Syrian civil war, take a more supportive positive on the Netanyahu government in Israel, support of "institutional coups" or worse in Latin America to insure neoliberal policies there for the convenience of Wall Street and America corporations no matter the cost to ordinary people or democratic governance.

None of those are good things.

And Clinton doesn't even have the Democratic nomination yet.

At the moment, all the polling results show that Trump's candidacy will be disastrous for the Republican Party at all levels. in that light, it's hard not to see this as a conscious decision to not push for a mandate for the Democratic policies she claimed to support during the primary campaign. And, instead, to go for a "centrist" mandate that leaves us with largely paralyzed government. That also means that emphasis on base turnout may not be as a high a priority as it should be, to put it mildly.

And it means that a 50-state party-building strategy for the Democratic Party is exceptionally unlikely to happen under Clinton's leadership. Because if your pitch to your own party is At Least She's Not A Republican while the Republicans have majorities in Congress, it really isn't convenient to go after the seats of Republicans that might occasionally vote for some of your "moderate" proposals. Like, say, updates of some of her husband's famous compromises. Welfare "reform," for instance. Or the famous Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 which Hillary hoped would bring those "super-predators" to heel, as she put it. Or abolishing the Glass–Steagall separation between commercial and investment banking. Of course, she won't need to do the latter again, because she still opposes such a separation.

Another thing to remember is that in general, the Republicans most likely to make those "moderate" deals with a new President Clinton are those from highly competitive districts. And those districts are the ones that would be the best prospect to flip to the Democrats. So if she needs them to support the conservative pro-corporate legislation that her mega-donors would like to see - though of course those contributions have no influence on her! - and needs a Republican majority in one or both Houses of Congress to make At Least She's Not A Republican an excuse for the Democratic base, it would be convenient to go after too many of those vulnerable Republicans seats.

Which brings me back once again to the one decent piece of political analysis I've ever heard of David Frum making: "while Republican politicians fear their base, Democratic pols hate theirs." (Gibbs on the Left FrumForum 08/10/2010)

Sadly, it still appears to be true for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

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