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.