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Sunday, September 04, 2016


Stealing Trump's thunder

by Tom Sullivan

An Allen Clifton post from a couple of weeks ago set in relief how nuts the anti-Clinton fever of the last quarter century has been. Problem is, the propaganda campaign has largely worked. Relentless repetition has a way of creating its own reality. It may not have worked for Bush II's minions, but it has worked against the Clintons. After soaking in decades of propaganda, I don't even trust what I think I think about them. Except to be convinced so much of it is bullshit.

Clifton writes at Forward Progressives:

To believe anti-Clinton critics, you would think Bill and Hillary Clinton were more powerful, evil and diabolical than even the most over-the-top villain in your stereotypical spy movie. The Clintons have been accused of:
  • Being serial killers. (No, seriously, there are individuals out there who think they’ve killed well over 90 people.)
  • Money laundering and racketeering.
  • Covering up multiple rapes.
  • Raising Chelsea Clinton as their daughter — when she’s not really their daughter.
  • Running a drug-smuggling ring while Bill was governor of Arkansas.
  • Ordering Chelsea to get pregnant before Hillary ran for president to make her seem more likable.
  • Fixing a primary election via voter fraud, and also forcing minority voters to overwhelmingly support Hillary Clinton.
  • Rigging an FBI investigation with a director of the FBI who’s not only a Republican, but worked for the Bush administration.
There are many more, of course, as Clifton notes. But as to the controversy du jour over their charity, the Clinton Foundation, Clifton marvels:
Then, even though the Clintons obviously knew that anyone who wanted to see the donation records of the foundation could do so, they went ahead and decided to use the foundation with their name on it to supposedly launder money from foreign countries and other shady characters who donated money expecting to “get something” from them in return.

Now, maybe I’m just a little “nuts,” but if I were someone capable of covering up multiple murders; rigging FBI investigations; fixing primary elections; and the whole host of other horrific things the Clintons have been accused of, I think I would find something a little more “subtle” to set up a “pay-for-play” scheme centered around international crime that could potentially be linked all the way to the White House. You know, at least slightly more subtle than a foundation with my last name on it!

But that’s just me.
Yet coverage of the Democratic candidate for president hovers — when it hovers at all — around these serial conspiracy theories and the distrust the public has been carefully taught. Meanwhile, the payaso running on the Republican ticket puts on such a colorful daily show for the press that he consumes all the press attention not devoted to whatever faux scandal GOP smear merchants are peddling about Clinton.

I know, it's a helluva way to select a national leader, and not a situation Hillary Clinton should simply try to ride out because polls look so favorable. David Horsey of the Los Angeles Times wonders the same thing:
Clinton needs something close to a landslide if she hopes to have any kind of mandate and if she hopes to bring a more friendly Congress into office with her. To get such a large margin of victory, she must do more than let Trump beat himself. She needs to steal the attention from him and get more people enthused about the idea of having her as president.

Right now, in his erratic way, Trump is doing a good job of reinforcing the pervasive right-wing caricature of Hillary as dishonest, corrupt and even criminal. As preposterous as his rhetoric may be, it is being heard day after day while Clinton’s voice is largely absent. The upcoming presidential debates offer a vitally important opportunity to project an appealing image of competence and command of issues, but, given that Clinton will face a very unpredictable opponent on the debate stage, she cannot be certain those three battles of wits will work in her favor.

If Clinton wants to grab the spotlight, she must confront very directly and very effectively the bad image that so many people have lodged in their brains — a tough task that carries with it plenty of risk. The temptation will be to play it safe and coast on current momentum to a slim victory. But barely beating the most absurd candidate Republicans have ever nominated will not give Clinton the clout she will need in the toxic political battles certain to come once the votes are counted and the hard work of governing begins.
A frightening article on coastal flooding in this morning's New York Times makes clear just how much political capital will be needed for any progress to take place during the next administration. Robert Frank makes a plea at the New York Times for Clinton to work harder and to spend more money to take back the U.S. House from the T-party climate denialists now in charge and more vulnerable than ever:
But because a campaign’s budget is not a fixed sum, the trade-off may be more apparent than real. As economists have long stressed, the amount that people are willing to pay for something depends on what they expect to get in return. Democratic donors understand that their biggest concerns can’t be addressed until Republicans lose their congressional majorities. They also understand that if the House doesn’t flip this year, there will be virtually no chance of it flipping in the 2018 midterm elections. And until Democrats win enough seats in state legislatures to undo Republican gerrymandering — which could take decades — a wave election is the only near-term hope.

The candidacy of Donald Trump offers a unique opportunity. If Mrs. Clinton made the case clearly in these terms, many donors would step up. Democrats could compete for every vulnerable Republican seat without diverting a single dollar from the Electoral College battle.
But first she has to get their attention. That will be a tall order and take Hillary Clinton well out of her comfort zone. For all our sakes, let's hope she is up to it.