Greg Sargent gets it right: Clinton tried last night to return the definition of ‘progressive’ to the traditional ‘women’s-and-children’s’ issues that have been her calling card for decades. The pundits’ kudos notwithstanding, I doubt it will work, because ACTUAL progressives these days have a different idea.
Until last night, the Democratic presidential primary had largely been viewed through a simple frame: Bernie Sanders represents the full-throatedly populist and progressive wing of the party on economic issues, and Hillary Clinton occupies a more moderate, less populist, less-overtly redistributive zone, while edging in Sanders’ direction in order to obscure economic differences between them in the eyes of Democratic voters.
This analysis of the race had mostly taken shape around the preoccupations of the “Elizabeth Warren wing” of the Democratic Party, spurred on by ongoing debate over (among other things) how far to go in raising the minimum wage, taxing the wealthy to fund massive new social spending, and confronting the size and power of major financial institutions.
In last night’s debate, Clinton may have broken this frame.
It has been widely observed that Clinton went on offense against Sanders by sparring with him over his unabashed socialist vision and his weakness on gun control, while simultaneously defending her economic policies as being even tougher than his. But what is crucial to understand is that Clinton also sought to redefine what counts as “progressive” in this race on her own terms, by making women’s and children’s issues — and family-oriented workplace flexibility policies — more central than the other candidates did.
In other words, Clinton answered Sanders not only by debating him over whether she is progressive enough on the issues he has tried to own, but also by laying claim to issues such as paid family and sick leave and early childhood education. In so doing, she staked out her own progressive turf, rather than fighting on his alone.
— Greg Sargent, Washington Post, today
Actually, though, I would amend that last paragraph to say that Clinton tried to lay claim to issues such as paid family and sick leave and early childhood education, and that in so doing, she tried to stake out her own progressive turf, rather than fighting on his alone. Not all jujitsu moves succeed, and I’m betting that this one will not.
Clinton’s attempt to lay claim to paid family and sick leave and early childhood education is, in progressive circles, like trying to lay claim the air around us. Clinton hasn’t copyrighted it, although if she has she should sue Sanders and many other progressives for copyright infringement. It’s a basic part of Sanders’ policy statement, and mentioned routinely in his stump speech. I mean … seriously; how stupid do Clinton and her consultants think progressives are?
No, not pundits; actual progressives.
Clinton’s mega-donors certainly approve of paid family and sick leave and early childhood education, but maybe not, say, universal healthcare, tuition-free public colleges and universities. And not, maybe, that raise taxes substantially on wealthy individuals and corporations, to a still-lower rate than when Clinton’s father started and operated his successful small business in the 1940s, ‘50s, and 60s. And maybe not that reinstate-Glass-Steagall thing, either.
Sargent goes on to say:
When CNN’s Dana Bash pushed Clinton by asking whether paid family leave programs would hurt small businesses, she pushed back hard, making a wonky case that such programs can be smartly designed to avoid the downsides Republicans predict from such policies.
Actually, of course, a wonky case already has been made by, say, Denmark. And Sweden and Norway. And Germany. Y’know, countries with no middle class, high rates of poverty, and no innovation because businesses there are owned by the government. Which by definition explains the lack of entrepreneurship.
You can, it’s true, fool some of the people all the time. And all, or most, of the people some of the time if the people you’re out to fool are political pundits and analysts.*
*Sentence typo-corrected [i.e., the missing words were inserted.] 10-14 at 5:38 p.m.
I think you should stick to more substantial critiques when you want to push Bernie over Hillary. There is no doubt, despite her self-labeling last night, that he is more progressive than she is on most issues (gun control being perhaps the sole exception). It is certainly totally reasonable to note that and pound on that.
But this sort of personalistic slime coming out of you is really beneath contempt. Did she not mention that her first job out of law school was with the Childrens’ Defense Fund? She has been at this particular group of issues for her entire career, a long time now. Did she invent them? No, but she certainly has been involved with them for a long time in a very serious way, and dissing her on that makes you look really really off the deep end.
So, this is an area that is a strong point for her to offset her greater conservatism (or “moderation”) on a whole bunch of issues regarding foreign policy, the economy, and the environment. Poke at her on those rather than trying to denigrate an area where she has legitmate strength.
And, oh, on your claim that she does not know much about anything, she did not miss one beat last night. She is not only very very smart, but very very knowledgeable, probably ahead of all other candidates in both parties, even Bernie, on both of those scores.
You really need to deal with and accept this last point, or darned close to it (if you want to say Warren knows more than her, on some issues probably yes, but EW is not running, and Bernie certainly knows more than her about some issues, such as vets affairs). Criticize her for her positions, or her questionable personal ethics, but not on her brains or her knowledge.
“Criticize her for her positions, or her questionable personal ethics, but not on her brains or her knowledge.”
Are you kidding? In her 1995 testimony before Congress, she answered “I can’t recall” about fifty times. I’ve seen better heads on lettuce.
Actually, Barkley, I’m not saying that the traditional women’s-and-children’s issues are unimportant. And I’m not saying that Clinton is a Jenny-come-lately to these issues. I’m saying just the opposite, in fact. On both points.
What my post says pretty darn explicitly is that current progressives have a far broader agenda in mind, one that certainly includes those issues but that also includes a slew of other issues: reinstatement of Glass-Steagall; a much more progressive tax system; universal Medicare-like healthcare insurance; tuition-free public colleges and universities; doubling the minimum wage; increasing Social Security benefits for those who need it, rather than raising the eligibility age; and public funding of elections, and the reversal of Citizens United.
Clinton’s adopted several of these positions, but certainly not all of them. But she’s done this as afterthoughts, or as not-full-thoughts at all; she’s never specific about much of anything. And I have yet to hear here speak in more than a-sentence-or-two soundbites about the dramatically growing income and wealth inequality and that most of the income gains in the last several decades have gone to a tiny, tiny fraction of the public.
But these are the things, ALONG WITH the traditional women’s-and-children’s issues, that are what the current progressive movement is about. It’s not just about paid family and medical leave, and universal pre-school, and equal pay for equal work—and she certainly is not the only one who speaks passionately about those issues; Sanders does, too. So, I believe, does O’Malley.
One thing she doesn’t get about the current progressive movement is that most of us who are part of it don’t really care about her gender. She’s fixated on it, and so are some women of her narrow age group. But most people don’t give a damn about it. They give a damn about several specific policy proposals, some which she passionately supports, some which she just seems to be giving lip service to, some which she doesn’t support.
But the proposals that she does support passionately all are the traditional women’s issues, the ones she’s made her name advocating for decades, are just not the end-all-and-be-all of current progressivism in this country.
What is the difference between Warren and Clinton? Do we need another conciliatory president who will go down the middle for banks and business at the expense of main street?
Well, Bev, that’s a great point. If the object of feminism is equality between men and women, then Sec. Clinton’s sex should be completely irrelevant.
Her “I do not recall” multiple times was not a matter of lack of brains, far from it. It was about her lack of ethics, which is a serious issue.
Note that I am not at all claiming that she is as progressive as either Sanders or O’Malley. I am saying criticisizing her for supposed lack of brains or knowledge (or progressiveness on the few issues where she has been consistently progressive, such as those involving women and families) is wrong and misguided.