Is it just me, or is the Clinton campaign’s take on how to appeal to African-American voters really demeaning?
It’s worth noting that Clinton has an interesting built-in advantage here. Clinton is campaigning as the candidate of continuity, at least in the sense that she is promising to build incrementally on the Obama agenda, while Sanders is implicitly arguing that the change of the Obama era has been woefully insubstantial when compared with the scale of our challenges. Clinton’s positioning as the steward of the Obama agenda may alone give her an edge with nonwhite voters.
— Hillary Clinton is placing a huge bet on nonwhite voters, Greg Sargent, this morning
To me, one of the most striking things about Clinton’s campaign is the ships-that-pass-in-the-night feel between the very nature of her campaign and the public mood, generally but certainly among a very large swath of Democrats and Dem leaners. Mostly, her campaign is about her. A week or two ago, I clicked a link to a video of an event in New Hampshire a day earlier in which Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s introduction of Clinton, as the latter stood nearby waiting to take the stage, consisted (at least in the clip I saw) of reminding the crowd of how awesome Clinton was throughout that 11-hour Senate-committee Benghazi hearing. As if that absolutely, definitely, for sure indicates that she will cow Republican senators and House members into enacting progressive legislation she wants.
It really fascinates me that so many prominent Democrats and progressives think that’s the end-all-and-be-all as an indicator of a successful Hillary Clinton administration. These folks really should get out more. To, say, well, almost anywhere outside of Washington, DC or New York City.
No surprise that Clinton talks incessantly about herself. On Tuesday it was that SHE WON THE IOWA CAUCUSES. Earlier it was that she’s now a grandmother. And in between these persuasive arguments was an equally persuasive one: That she knows how it feels to be the one to have to decide whether a presidential inauguration public ceremony should go on in the face of a credible threat of a terrorist attack.
That link is to a post of mine from two weeks ago in which I also said this:
What worries me more than anything else about a Clinton general election campaign is her propensity to say obviously silly things. Elsewhere in that speech, in Clinton, IA on Friday, she again repeated her (and her daughter’s) complaint—without any hint of recognition of irony—that Sanders’ single-payer healthcare insurance plan would kill Obamacare. As if it weren’t the very purpose of a single-payer healthcare insurance system to eliminate private healthcare insurance for the benefits that the single-payer plan provides. As if the purpose of Obamacare was to create some living monument to Obama, rather than to provide healthcare insurance to people who had no access to it, and provide decent insurance to people who had policies that provided almost no coverage.
Which I think makes the point that that quote above from Greg Sargent highlights: Clinton believes that African-Americans think the purpose of Obamacare was to create some living monument to Obama, rather than to provide healthcare insurance to people who had no access to it, and provide decent insurance to people who had policies that provided almost no coverage. And that they think that everything else Obama did must be preserved in granite because, well … Obama.
They like him and support him. And aren’t as discriminating in their analyses as, y’know, whites. Or at least as whites who don’t feel that very same way about Ronald Reagan (a rapidly diminishing crowd now, although the Republican Establishment hasn’t noticed).
I just don’t know about that. Me? I suspect that most African-Americans know well that Obamacare was a necessary comprise, and know that there are still many millions of people who have no healthcare insurance. And that large premiums to private insurers, and large co-payments and deductables requiring very significant personal expenditures, don’t make for a situation in which huge numbers of Americans aren’t pervasively in fear of needing expensive medical care, or of being unable to pay the premiums, or both.
And that citizens of no other wealthy Western-style democracy live this way.
Clinton’s marketing pitch is that she is a progressive who gets things done. “I come to you with a lifetime of service and advocacy and of getting results,” was, as noted by Dana Milbank in a commentary post that otherwise itself misses the ship, “her less-than-soaring pitch” at a community college in Nashua yesterday. But what results exactly has she gotten? She’s never specific, except about foreign-policy achievements as secretary of state. And either are her many boosters among the mainstream-commentary crowd, although they recite this mantra regularly.
Milbank worries about what he says is Clinton’s tendency to get bogged down in the details of her policy proposals when she speaks at events, boring her audience. (Maybe it’s the policy proposals themselves that are the problem.) But from where I sit, which is not at a Clinton campaign event, the problem is the opposite of too much detail. It’s the incessant two-or-three-sentence soundbite stupidities she repeats, again and again.
Like that she wants to raise incomes, not taxes. (A winner!) Or that we don’t want to subside college tuition for Donald Trump’s grandchildren. (Sanders doesn’t either; he plans to tax Donald Trump enough to pay Trump’s grandchildren’s public college tuition, should they deign to attend a public college, and have a bit left over to subsidize others’ grandchildren’s college tuition, to boot!)
The New York Times reported yesterday that some supporters close to Clinton (read: her husband, I’m betting) want her to demote the campaign’s manager, Robby Mook, whose strength is in organizing and implementing get-out-the-vote drives. But unless he also is the one who feeds her those soundbites and tacks—and I’m betting he’s not—replacing Mook would be as effective as killing the messenger. Mook got out the vote. It’s Clinton who didn’t.
And it’s not promising that Clinton and some people close to her apparently don’t see this.