Trump Is Making the Same Mistake that Clinton Did: He’s Already Ignoring Working-Class Rust Belt Whites. Progressives Need to Start Illustrating This by Highlighting His Planned Court and Cabinet Nominees. Now.

There are several excerpts from the news media since Tuesday night that help drive home the point I make in that title about Trump and the Democrats in the immediate future.  But the excerpts are about Clinton, not Trump:

There are several excerpts from the news media since Tuesday night that help drive home the point I make in that title about Trump and the Democrats in the immediate future.  But the excerpts are about Clinton, not Trump:

There are vast rural, small-town or post-industrial areas of the country where Barack Hussein Obama will have greatly outperformed Clinton

— of Pro Publica, Nov. 8, late evening


The left-behind places are making themselves heard, bigly

— of Pro Publica, Nov. 8, late evening


From Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, industrial towns once full of union voters who for decades offered their votes to Democratic presidential candidates, even in the party’s lean years, shifted to Mr. Trump’s Republican Party. One county in the Mahoning Valley of Ohio, Trumbull, went to Mr. Trump by a six-­point margin. Four years ago, Mr. Obama won there by 22 points.

Donald Trump Is Elected President in Stunning Repudiation of the Establishment, Matt Flegenheimer and Michael Barbaro, New York Times, yesterday


Clinton and her operatives went into the race predicting her biggest problems would be inevitability and her age, trying to succeed a two-term president of her own party. But the mood of the country surprised them. They recognized that Sanders and Trump had correctly defined the problem—addressing anger about a rigged economy and government—and that Clinton already never authentically could. Worse still, her continuing email saga and extended revelations about the Clinton Foundation connections made any anti-establishment strategy completely impossible.

So instead of answering the question of how Clinton represented change, they tried to change the question to temperament, what kind of change people wanted, what kind of America they wanted to live in. It wasn’t enough.

Using Trump as a foil and a focus, she hit on a voice and an argument for why she should actually be president that perhaps only she could have, and that she’d struggled for so long to find on her own. That wasn’t enough either.

Meanwhile, her staff harnessed all the money and support they could to out organize, first in the primaries and then in the general, grinding out victories while her opponents had movements.

None of it was enough, though all of it should have been, and likely would have been for another candidate. She couldn’t escape being the wrong candidate for the political moment.

Interviews over the closing weeks of the 2016 campaign with members of Clinton’s innermost circle, close advisers and other aides reveal a deep frustration with their failure to make a dent, a consuming sense that their candidate’s persecution paranoia might actually be right, and a devastating belief that they might never persuade Americans to vote for her.

“There was no way to generate momentum,” one top adviser said.

Any positive storyline from Clinton “was always fragile,” admitted that adviser, and issues related to the emails inevitably stripped away any uptick in Clinton’s favorable ratings.

Inside the Loss Clinton Saw Coming: Publicly they seemed confident, but in private her team admitted her chances were ‘always fragile.’, Edward-Isaac Dovere, Politico, yesterday


To several top aides, the best day of this whole campaign was a year ago, before the Sanders headache or the Trump threat really materialized, when the House of Representatives hauled Clinton and her emails in with the single aim of destroying her candidacy over Benghazi. …

She delivered tirelessly [that day], knocking back the Republicans one by one, complete with facial expressions that have launched GIFs that have been all over Democrats’ Facebook and Twitter feeds ever since. She renewed her shaken team’s faith that she was the leader they wanted to follow into what was already shaping up to be a dejecting primary battle.

“It reminded people of everything they like about her,” said one of her senior advisers. “It’s toughness, but also a calm, adult presence of someone you can actually see being president of the United States.”

Inside the Loss Clinton Saw Coming: Publicly they seemed confident, but in private her team admitted her chances were ‘always fragile.’


Bill Clinton had his own problems, but never that one [his gender], and neither did Trump, who openly disparaged women throughout his campaign and still prevailed. The result was at once unfathomably difficult for the Clintons and yet not entirely surprising to Bill. He saw the signs all along the way of this campaign. He knew the people who were voting for Trump, and also the people who during the primaries were voting not for his wife but for Bernie Sanders. He saw the anger and the feelings of disconnection, but he did not know how he, or his wife’s campaign, could connect to it effectively without resorting to demagoguery or false populism, something Hillary was not good at even if she was disposed to try.

The Clintons were undone by the middle-American voters they once knew so well, David Maraniss, Washington Post, today


Last year, a prominent group of supporters asked Hillary Clinton to address a prestigious St. Patrick’s Day gathering at the University of Notre Dame, an invitation that previous presidential candidates had jumped on. Barack Obama and Joseph R. Biden Jr. had each addressed the group, and former President Bill Clinton was eager for his wife to attend. But Mrs. Clinton’s campaign refused, explaining to the organizers that white Catholics were not the audience she needed to spend time reaching out to.

As it became clear on Tuesday night that Mrs. Clinton would lose to Donald J. Trump, supporters cast blame on everything from the news media to the F.B.I. director’s dogged pursuit of Mrs. Clinton over her personal emails, and to a deep discomfort with electing a woman as president.

But as the dust settled, Democrats recognized two central problems of Mrs. Clinton’s flawed candidacy: Her decades in Washington and the paid speeches she delivered to financial institutions left her unable to tap into the anti­establishment and anti­-Wall Street rage. And she ceded the white working­-class voters who backed Mr. Clinton in 1992.

Though she would never have won this demographic, her husband insisted that her campaign aides do more to try to cut into Mr. Trump’s support with these voters. They declined, reasoning that she was better off targeting college­-educated suburban voters by hitting Mr. Trump on his temperament.

Instead, they targeted the emerging electorate of young, Latino and African-American voters who catapulted Mr. Obama to victory twice, expecting, mistakenly, that this coalition would support her in nearly the same numbers. They did not.

Hillary Clinton’s Expectations, and Her Ultimate Campaign Missteps, Amy Chozick, New York Times, yesterday

And then there is this:

Clinton picked Mook, instead of promoting a campaign manager out of loyalty from her own inner circle. She persuaded Podesta, who had kept his distance in 2008 because he didn’t get along with polarizing top strategist Mark Penn, to join as the guiding hand and the buffer for all the “friends of” who streamed in with advice and second-guessing.

But that didn’t mean there weren’t serious problems. Bill Clinton complained throughout that Mook was too focused on the ground game and not enough on driving a message-based campaign. Without a chief strategist in the mold of Penn or David Axelrod, the campaign was run by a committee of strong-willed aides struggling to assert themselves in the same space. Longtime consultant Mandy Grunwald and Palmieri grappled at points over message control as Palmieri worked her way into the inner circle. Mook and strategist Joel Benenson barely spoke to each other for the month of April, battling over their roles.

Inside the Loss Clinton Saw Coming: Publicly they seemed confident, but in private her team admitted her chances were ‘always fragile.’

And here it is, in summation of all of the above:

Whoever takes over what’s left of the Democratic Party is going to have to find a way to appeal to a broader cross section of the country. It may still be true that in the long term, Republicans can’t win with their demographics, but we found out Tuesday that the long term is still pretty far away. Democrats have to win more white voters. They have to do so in a way that doesn’t erode the anti-racist or anti-sexist planks of the modern party, which are non-negotiable. If only there were a model for this. [Link in original.  Do click it.]

The few Democratic leaders who remain are going to say that it was just a bad note struck here or there, or the lazy Bernie voters who didn’t show up, or Jim Comey, or unfair media coverage of Clinton’s emails, to blame for this loss. I am already seeing Democrats blaming the Electoral College, which until a few hours ago was hailed as the great protector of Democratic virtue for decades to come, and Republicans were silly for not understanding how to crack the blue “wall.” They will say, just wait for Republicans to overreach. Then we’ll be fine.

Don’t listen to any of this. Everything is not OK. This is not OK.

The Democratic Party Establishment Is Finished, Jim Newell, Slate, yesterday

Among all the email exchanges leaked from Podesta’s hacked email account—the ones I read; I read a couple of articles quoting from each group of releases—the most revealing, in my opinion, were two sets of exchanges released about a week before the Comey outrage.  Both were from early 2015, a few weeks before Clinton was scheduled, finally, to announce her candidacy in mid-April.

One shows newly hired campaign manager Robby Mook asking for John Podesta’s and Huma Abedin’s help in persuading Clinton to ask her husband to cancel a $225,000 speech to Morgan Stanley scheduled for a few days after her announcement and while she was scheduled to be in Iowa on her inaugural campaign trip.

The difficulty wasn’t resistance from Bill; it was resistance from Hillary, at whose instance the speech had been arranged.  The email exchanges indicate that Hillary could not be persuaded to all the cancellation, because it had been arranged personally by her and Tom Nides, a top aide to Clinton at the State Dept. and by then a top executive at Morgan Stanley.

Finally it was decided that Abedin would get Bill to agree to cancel the speech, and she would tell Hillary that Bill (who apparently did have qualms about the speech) was the one who decided to cancel it.  Abedin reported back to Podesta and Mook that Clinton was angry about it for a couple of days but then moved on.

The other one is from about the same time and is somewhat similar. This series of exchanges was among Mook, Abedin, Podesta and Neera Tanden, and concerned Hillary’s appearance in early May, shortly after her campaign announcement, at a massive Clinton Global Initiative gala in Morocco paid for by the king of Morocco, a friend of Clinton’s, who all told would donate $12 million to the foundation.  This, too, had been arranged by Hillary, and was not strongly supported by Bill or anyone else at the foundation.

Abedin’s emails suggest (without saying outright) that she and perhaps others had tried to dissuade Clinton from arranging this, and then, once Clinton had set the date of mid-April for her campaign announcement, tried to persuade Clinton to cancel it.  But by the time of this email exchange with Mook and Podesta, Abedin said it was so late and Clinton had had earlier opportunities to cancel but instead had assured her presence there, that it will break a lot of glass” (or some such phrase) for Clinton to cancel.  Mook did manage to get Clinton’s agreement to have Bill attend instead of her.

These instances illustrate what was a constant throughout: Mook and two or three others, including Podesta, having to put on a full court press to stop Clinton from acting as though she weren’t a candidate for president.  Or a candidate for anything.  Both Podesta and Tanden complained about Clinton’s “instincts,” a euphemism for “I’m completely unaware of the overarching mood of the public in this election cycle.  Or, I don’t give a damn about the overarching mood of the public in this election cycle.  And I certainly don’t give a damn about down-ballot Dems.  Or about Dems.  Or about anything other than what I want to do.”

Clinton arranged to clear the Democratic field of anyone thought in early 2015 to have chance against her in the primaries. She just wasn’t willing to swear off anything else she wanted, besides the presidency, in order to reduce the chance that she would lose the general election.

This wasn’t Lent, after all.  And anyway, Clinton isn’t Catholic.

Had Mook not killed that $225,000 speech to Morgan Stanley by Bill Clinton in April 2015, Bernie Sanders—whom Clinton could not clear the field of until June 6, 2016—would have won the nomination and would be president-elect now, accompanied by a newly elected Senate, and maybe House, Democratic majority. That fee would have been identified in the Clintons’ tax returns, filed presumably in last April and (presumably) released shortly afterward.

In early 2015, when Hillary was arranging for Bill to give that speech—undoubtedly arrangements made shortly after Elizabeth Warren removed any doubt that she would run—Clinton looked to be free of any challenge from the left.  So it didn’t bother her one whit that this would be revealed during the primary season.

Nor, since she expected her general election opponent to be Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, did it concern her that this would be known during the general election campaign.  It wasn’t as if Bush wasn’t a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street.  Or Rubio owned by other highly unpretty financial interests.

And even if it did, well, it was worth the risk.  After all, after the general election, the gravy train for both her and her husband would stop. And it wasn’t blue collar workers in the Rust Belt who were her target votes, so it wasn’t all that big a risk anyway.

So we were saddled with a Democratic presidential nominee whose decades in Washington and the paid speeches she delivered to financial institutions left her unable to tap into the anti­establishment and anti­-Wall Street rage. Someone who had to cede the white working­-class voters who backed Barack Obama in 2008 and again in 2012, because the only way someone who’d taken so very much money from Wall Street as personal income for doing so very little—someone who was selling her anticipated presidency to Wall Street—had no avenue with which to connect effectively with working class Rust Belters without resorting to demagoguery or false populism, something she was not good at even if she was disposed to try.

The answer then was to highlight her high status and the importance she placed on connections with celebrities and the pillars of the establishment in various venues, by campaigning hardly at all, by spending August secluded in the Hamptons, by parading with entertainment celebrities at the few rallies she had.

And by incessantly rolling out ever more names of the most elite establishment people to endorse her or at least make clear that they, too, recognized that her opponent is unfit to hold the office of the presidency.  Because even though the targeted audience has access to the same information on that the elite establishment did, and were reminded by Clinton and her ad campaign of these lowlights so often that they lost their resonance, there might be a few people whose decision would turn on the opinion of these elites.

They just weren’t the people the blue collar Rust Belters who, it seemed clear all along would play an outsize role in the outcome of the election.  As they had in 2008 and 2012.

Nor, apparently, did she have any avenue to point out whom Trump’s financial campaign backers actually were, who was writing his budget and regulatory proposals, who was selecting his court and agency-head nominees, his SEC, FTC and NLRB member nominees, and why.  They’re not people with labor union backing, nor do they have the interests of blue collar folks at heart.  Their interests are diametrically opposite those of blue collar workers.  And Trump wasted not so much as a day in handing over to them the entire panoply of powers of the federal government.

But having sold her avenue for informing people of this, to Wall Street and any other huge-money interest waiving a mega-check around in exchange for a 45-minute-long speech by or question-and-answer session with, the likely president she was limited to reminding voters of what they themselves saw, and assuring them that elites viewed him just as they did.  Which may be why her campaign manager, Mook, wasn’t as focused on messaging as Bill Clinton wished.  Normally, a candidate has one. This candidate had foreclosed to herself the message she needed to have, and had nothing much filling in for it. That wasn’t Mook’s fault.

Trump wasn’t going to co-opt Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.  Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell were going to co-opt Trump.  All the indications were that that is what would happen. And that, Trump has made unabashedly clear now, is what will happen. Our nominee couldn’t—or at least wouldn’t campaign on this anything resembling consistency.

The way to contain this is for high-profile Democrats to make clear to the public what is happening.  And to threaten massive campaigns on this in none other than the Rust Belt, in the 2018 election cycle.  And to start very, very soon. People who supported Obama in 2008 and 2012 aren’t Donald Trump’s base.  Most of them would have flocked to Sanders or to Elizabeth Warren in this election.

The latter should be shoved in anyone’s face who starts blathering about sexism hurting Clinton among the hoi polloi. The former should answer the question about whether racism was part of the appeal to the voters who put Trump over the top, by one per cent, in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and came within barely more than a point of doing son in New Hampshire and, of all states, Minnesota.  All states went comfortably for Obama, and all except Pennsylvania went for Sanders in the primary, as did Indiana.  And had Warren instead of Sanders been Clinton’s primary challenger, she like Sanders would have voted for her.

People who claim otherwise on either point don’t know the region.  It is not the South and it is not the Southwest. Trump’s racism and xenophobia did not win those states for Trump.  Nor did Clinton’s gender.

The first step is to appoint a strong Sanders backer in charge of the DNC.  Jeff Weaver, maybe.  Or Jim Dean.  No war for the soul of the party.  That ship sailed on Tuesday.

Recognize that.

And join me in wishing Hillary and Bill Clinton a happy jaunt in their retirement as they luxuriate in the massive wealth that, while possibly still not quite enough to sate them, we are about to pay very dearly for.


Links to be added later today.