Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

The Democratic Establishment Thinks the Lesson of This Election Is That the Way For Democrats to Win Over White Voters In the Industrial Midwest Is to Switch Sides in the Culture Wars. I Guess. [Updated.]

The race to be the next head of the Democratic National Committee has quickly turned into a proxy fight between liberals and establishment types about where the party needs to go in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s stunning loss at the hands of Donald Trump on Tuesday.

Liberals are insistent that Clinton’s defeat was the result of nominating a candidate who failed to excite the party’s base of progressives, African Americans and Hispanics. Establishment voices fret that nominating a liberal to run the party misses the point of an election in which Clinton’s loss can be directly traced to her inability to win over white voters in the industrial Midwest.

“The next DNC chair needs to understand what became painfully obvious in the election — that there are two different Americas and that Democrats are really struggling to bridge the gap between the two,” said Mo Elleithee, a longtime Democratic operative who runs the Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Public Service. “The fundamental problem is that the party stopped really communicating what it means to be a Democrat.” …

“This is suddenly a really important gig as one of the centers of opposition,” said one longtime Democratic strategist who spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly assess the DNC race. “You can’t do it part time, and you shouldn’t do it while sitting inside one of the most despised institutions in the country.”

What the DNC chair race tells us about the fight for the Democratic Party’s future, Chris Cillizza, Washington Post, yesterday


The chant echoed through Donald Trump’s boisterous rallies leading up to Election Day: “Drain the swamp! Drain the swamp! Drain the swamp!”

“We are fighting for every citizen that believes that government should serve the people, not the donors and not the special interests,” the billionaire real estate developer promised exuberant supporters at his last campaign rally in Manchester, N.H.

But just days later, there is little evidence that the president-elect is seeking to restrain wealthy interests from having access and influence in his administration.

It’s not just corporate lobbyists who are playing early, visible roles in the new power structure. Some of Trump’s biggest political donors are shaping the incoming administration, including Rebekah Mercer, a daughter of billionaire Robert Mercer, who is figuring prominently in behind-the-scenes discussions, according to people familiar with the transition.

Mercer is among four major donors appointed by Trump Friday to a 16-person executive committee overseeing his transition. The others are campaign finance chairman Steven Mnuchin, New York financier Anthony Scaramucci and Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel.

Meanwhile, top campaign fundraisers and a raft of lobbyists tied to some of the country’s wealthiest industries have been put in charge of hiring and planning for specific federal agencies. They include J. Steven Hart, chairman of the law and lobbying shop Williams & Jensen; Michael McKenna, an energy company lobbyist who is overseeing planning for the Energy Department; and Dallas fundraiser Ray Washburne, was has been tapped to oversee the Commerce Department.

Billionaires who served as Trump’s policy advisers, such as Oklahoma oil executive Harold Hamm, are under consideration for Cabinet positions.

Donors and lobbyists already shaping Trump’s ‘drain the swamp’ administration, Matea Gold and Tom Hamburger, Washington Post, today

LOL. LOL.  So how about a new chant for protesters: DRAIN THE SWAP!?

Why not begin this in, say, Youngstown?  With people who display their driver’s licenses bearing their Ohio addresses?

Funny what doormats Trump & Friends think Democrats are that next election they won’t campaign on this.  On second thought, why would they care?  The damage will be done by then, and Trump will still be president anyway.

But Sanders and Warren and others still need to start telling the public about this now, since it will otherwise get no attention even if the news media does focus on this like they did on Clinton’s emails.  Which they won’t.




Asked about the tensions, and about Kushner’s role in the leadership change at the transition team, Trump spokesman Jason Miller said, “Anybody seeing today’s news about the appointment of Vice President-elect Mike Pence to run the Presidential Transition Team realizes that President-elect Donald J. Trump is serious about changing Washington whether the town likes it or not. This might ruffle the delicate sensitivities of the well-heeled two-martini lunch set, but President-elect Trump isn’t fighting for them, he’s fighting for the hard-working men and women outside the Beltway who don’t care for insider bickering.”

It’s not uncommon for rivalries to emerge inside campaigns and administrations as advisers jockey to place allies in key roles and advance their policy priorities. But the level of internecine conflict during Trump’s drive toward the GOP nomination was so extreme that it sometimes resulted in conflicting directives for even simple hiring and spending decisions.

Trump team rivalries spark infighting, Kenneth P. Vogel, Nancy Cook and Alex Isenstadt, Politico, late last night

This is about as Orwellian as anything I’ve ever heard.  This is profoundly sick.

I’m done posting on this.  There’s nothing more for me to say.  Other than this: Does anyone really think that the public would not have known about these people and their role in funding Trump’s campaign and their getting what they were paying for, if Sanders had been the nominee?


Excuse me. But … seriously?

Anyone who reads this post should also read this.  I feel like spiking a football.  (And then kicking it in a few people’s faces.)




Anyone who played a role in “clearing the field” for Hillary Clinton—anyone who did—should be categorically removed from consideration as DNC chair.  And the idea that Clinton herself should weigh in during the selection process is disgusting.   She couldn’t forgo her and her husband’s speaking engagement to Morgan Stanley scheduled for after her announcement of her candidacy until she was intensely pressured by members of her campaign, and the $225,000 speaking fee, because of her close ties to some top Morgan Stanley executive, who’d worked for her State.

And she was limited to a campaign based mostly on Trump’s insults and temperament and sexual assault admission, because she couldn’t credibly campaign on much of anything else—least of all on the Democratic Party platform—because she was paid huge speaking fees by a Goldman Sachs and some foreign banks in the two years after she left State.

She wanted so badly to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling.  She just wanted those speaking fees more.

She barely campaigned, except privately with moderate Republican donors, beginning the very morning after she secured the delegates for nomination by winning the California primary in early June, and except to troll for endorsements from high-profile Republicans.

That absence campaigning extended to never submitting to, say, a Sunday-talk-show interview or interview with any other journalist, in which she could have, maybe, mentioned some of those Platform proposals, explained them, and then used them at, like, rallies—for fear of being asked about, say, those speaking fees.  Her own or her husband’s.  Or the $18 million her husband received over a period of four or five years from a for-profit university I exchange for the university using his name as a board member.

I’ll grant that she herself apparently has given no indication that she wants to weigh in on the issue of the choosing the next DNC chair.  That’s someone else’s comment, not based on anything other than, I guess—well, gee, it’s just too hard for all of us political types and political journalists to ween ourselves from the Clintons.

But don’t.  Just. Plain. Don’t.  Clinton won the popular vote, by about two million votes, apparently; not a tiny margin.  But she didn’t win the Upper Midwest, nor Pennsylvania, because she just couldn’t run as a populist change agent, because she so, so wanted those speaking fees.  So she didn’t win the White House.


UPDATE: I just signed this petition, and wrote in the comment field that many, many of those Midwesterners who put Trump over the top in the Electoral College  will in the next day or two that they were conned, and will want a Mulligan in the form of an Electoral College vote that reflects the popular vote, which Clinton won by about two million votes, apparently.  I supplied the link to this article.

I invite you sign it, for the same reason I did.  Or for any of the other reasons connected to impropriety, Comey and the FBI/Giuliani fabricated FBI leak being just one possible one.  Another is the treatment of Black voters and those who attempted to vote, in North Carolina and Wisconsin.

Go for it, folks.

Update added 11/11 at 5:19 p.m.


SECOND UPDATE: I just read this Politico article posted last night, titled “Clinton aides blame loss on everything but themselves,” and subtitled “‘They are saying they did nothing wrong, which is ridiculous,’ one Democrat says.”  It’s chock full of dumbfounding information, but one thing that repeats what I’d read elsewhere is this:

And some began pointing fingers at the young campaign manager, Robby Mook, who spearheaded a strategy supported by the senior campaign team that included only limited outreach to those voters — a theory of the case that Bill Clinton had railed against for months, wondering aloud at meetings why the campaign was not making more of an attempt to even ask that population for its votes. It’s not that there was none: Clinton’s post-convention bus tour took her through Youngstown, Ohio, as well as Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, where she tried to eat into Trump’s margins with his base. In Scranton and Harrisburg, the campaign aired a commercial that featured a David Letterman clip of Trump admitting to outsourcing manufacturing of the products and clothes that bore his logo. And at campaign stops in Ohio, Clinton talked about Trump’s reliance on Chinese steel.

But in general, Bill Clinton’s viewpoint of fighting for the working class white voters was often dismissed with a hand wave by senior members of the team as a personal vendetta to win back the voters who elected him, from a talented but aging politician who simply refused to accept the new Democratic map. At a meeting ahead of the convention at which aides presented to both Clintons the “Stronger Together” framework for the general election, senior strategist Joel Benenson told the former president bluntly that the voters from West Virginia were never coming back to his party.

I don’t get it.  Why did these people think that blacks and Latinos and millennials and college-educated whites weren’t interested in the economic and power-structure changes that white working class Midwesterners are interested in?  Don’t all those groups like Elizabeth Warren’s primary message?  And, point by point, don’t most people who comprise those groups like most of Sanders’ points and agenda?

West Virginians did’t vote for Obama.  Either time.  Blue collar whites in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Pennsylvania did.  Both times.  Was it Bill Clinton who was confused, and wanted Clinton to campaign in West Virginia?  Or was it Clinton herself, and her campaign folks, who were confused and thought that blue collar whites weren’t key parts of the Obama coalition in the Rust Belt and elsewhere in the Midwest?

Here’s a new one to me, and it really did stun me, although it shouldn’t have because it’s really standard Hillary Clinton:

“They spent their time protecting her, explaining her, defending her, with all these issues, the speeches, the Foundation, the emails — that became the energy of the campaign,” sighed one longtime Clinton confidante.

The paid speeches and the glitzy fundraisers, they said, did not paint a picture of a woman connected to the real suffering in the country. But that, they said, was just who Clinton was after so many years in the spotlight. “Her outlook is, ‘I get whacked no matter what, so screw it,’” explained one longtime confidant. “I’ve been out here killing myself for years and years and if I want to give the same speech everyone else does, I will.”

That first sentence, of course, is what we all knew and heard and saw.  But it did bring back that feeling of mystified anger that this stuff, rather than policy issues (including structural ones), was what her campaign really was about, month after month, including during the primaries, but thoroughly during the general election campaign.  That stuff and her attacks on Trump that rarely actually touched on economic and fiscal policy or anything much of substance, but instead just reiterated, again and again, what everyone knew as well as she did.

But that quote inside the quote in the second paragraph is crazy.  She didn’t want to run for president again, at this stage of her life.  And she had no particular overarching message to run on, other than “It’s time to break the glass ceiling,” as if this was what was of uppermost concern to most women, or something.

So why the hell did she?  Why the hell did she?

This article is a fascinating account of absurdity.  Still … I’m glad I signed that petition.

Update added 11/11 at 6:49 p.m.

Hey, Midwestern and Rust Belt Blue-Collar Voters: How’s THIS Workin’ Out for Ya So Far?



President-­elect Donald J. Trump, who campaigned against the corrupt power of special interests, is filling his transition team with some of the very sort of people who he has complained have too much clout in Washington: corporate consultants and lobbyists.

Jeffrey Eisenach, a consultant who has worked for years on behalf of Verizon and other telecommunications clients, is the head of the team that is helping to pick staff members at the Federal Communications Commission.

Michael Catanzaro, a lobbyist whose clients include Devon Energy and Encana Oil and Gas, holds the “energy independence” portfolio.

Michael Torrey, a lobbyist who runs a firm that has earned millions of dollars helping food industry players such as the American Beverage Association and the dairy giant Dean Foods, is helping set up the new team at the Department of Agriculture.

Trump Campaigned Against Lobbyists, but Now They’re on His Transition Team, Eric Lipton, New York Times, today

What?  No steelworker?  No auto-plant worker?  Not even a family farmer?  Might y’all have been had?

Who’d a thunk?

Bernie and Elizabeth to the rescue.  Now, pleaseNow.

But, hey, white blue collar folks: You get what you vote for.  The problem for me is that I get what you vote for.  I said roughly 540 times here at AB in the last year: Trump isn’t conquering the Republican Party; he’s the Republican Party’s Trojan Horse.  What was that y’all were saying about wanting change so badly?  Here it is.

Welcome  to the concept of industry regulatory capture. Perfected to a science, and jaw-droppingly brazen.  LOL. Funny, but Bernie talked about this.  Some of you listened.  Then.  Elizabeth Warren has talked about it, a lot. Some of you listened.  Back then.  But she wasn’t running for president.  Hillary Clinton was, instead.  And she couldn’t talk about it because she had needed all those speaking fees, all the way up to about a minute before she announced her candidacy.

Aaaaand, here come the judges.  And of course the justices.  Industry regulatory capture of the judicial-branch variety.

I called this one right, in the title of this post yesterday.  I mean, why even wait until the body is buried?  No reason at all.

So he thinks.  But what if he’s wrong?

Anyway … can’t wait for the political cartoons showing Trump on Ryan’s lap, with Ryan’s arm showing reaching up under Trump’s suit jacket.

Edgar Ryan and Charlie Trump.

Oh, and I do want to add this: If one more liberal pundit or feminism writer publishes something claiming that Clinton lost because of all those sexist men out there who couldn’t handle the idea of a woman president, or claims she ran a remarkable campaign cuz of all that tenacity and stamina she showed in the face of what was thrown at her from wherever, see, or makes both claims (if not necessarily in the same columns or blog posts or tweeter comments), and I read so much as the title of it, I’m gonna … something.

It’s effing asinine.  Everyone’s entitled to their little personal delusions, but why the obsessiveness about this patent silliness?  What exactly is the emotional hold that Hillary Clinton holds on these people? It’s climate-change-denial-like.

Elizabeth Warren would have beaten Donald Trump in a landslide.  So would have Bernie Sanders.  And brought in a Democratic-controlled Senate and House.  Because either of them would have run a remarkable campaign, under normal standards, not standards with a special low bar.

That’s the efffing truth.



UPDATE:  From a new blog post by Paul Waldman titled “If you voted for Trump because he’s ‘anti-establishment,’ guess what: You got conned“:

An organizational chart of Trump’s transition team shows it to be crawling with corporate lobbyists, representing such clients as Altria, Visa, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Verizon, HSBC, Pfizer, Dow Chemical, and Duke Energy. And K Street is positively salivating over all the new opportunities they’ll have to deliver goodies to their clients in the Trump era. Who could possibly have predicted such a thing?

The answer is, anyone who was paying attention. Look at the people Trump is considering for his cabinet, and you won’t find any outside-the-box thinkers burning to work for the little guy. It’s a collection of Republican politicians and corporate plutocrats — not much different from who you’d find in any Republican administration.

And from reader EMichael in the Comments thread to this post about 35 minutes ago:

OH, it will be worse than that, much worse.

Bank regulation will go back to the “glory days” of the housing bubble, and Warren’s CFPB will be toast.

Buddy of mine works HR for a large bank. He has been flooded with resumes from current employees of the CFPB the last couple of days.

Yup.  HSBC ain’t in that list for nothing.  But, not to worry.  Trump’s kids will pick up lots of real estate on the (real) cheap, after the crash.  Their dad will give them all the tips, from experience.

And the breaking news this afternoon is that Pence–uh-ha; this Mike Pence–has replaced Christie as transition team head.  Wanna bet that Comey told Trump today that Christie is likely to be indicted in Bridgegate?

Next up, although down the road a few months: rumors that a grand jury has been convened to try to learn how, exactly, Giuliani got all that info from inside the FBI two weeks ago.  Once the FBI inspector general completes his investigation.  Or once New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, begins looking into violations of NY state criminal law.

How downright sick.  And how pathetic.

Update added 11/11 at 3:19 p.m. 

At least as of yesterday morning, the Democratic establishment still didn’t get it. Then again, as of late yesterday, neither did the Republican establishment. And neither did Donald Trump. [UPDATED]

CHUCK SCHUMER’S TOUGH BALANCING ACT: CNN reports on an interesting dynamic to keep an eye on:

“For Schumer, the challenges will be formidable. He’ll have to listen to the vocal and outspoken progressive wing of his caucus, led by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who have legions of supporters. But he also has five red-state Democrats in states Trump won convincingly — Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia — up for re-election in 2018. And if Schumer takes his caucus too far to the left, he’s bound to could put his moderates in a difficult political spot.”

Worth watching: Whether those red state Democrats claim the party has moved too far to “the left” when it resists Trump’s agenda.

The first big political war of Trump’s presidency will be explosive, Greg Sargent, Washington Post, yesterday at 9:55 a.m.

Late yesterday I received a listserve email from Bernie Sanders’ new organization, Our Revolution, asking what we most wanted the organization to do immediately.  I haven’t responded yet, but my message will be a plea that it begin an intensive effort to inform the public in the Rust Belt states, and the Midwest generally, of what exactly the Conservative Legal Movement was, and is, up to regarding handing control of the federal courts, and federal law, to billionaires and mega-corporate interests.

That’s what Citizens United was really about.  But it’s also what a slew of other 5-4 Supreme Court rulings have been about since the Conservative Legal Movement gained that majority on the Court.  And during the three decades when it thoroughly controlled the federal appellate and trial-level courts.

The Supreme Court effectively rewrote the Federal Arbitration Act to forced-arbitration clauses in almost every aspect of employment, consumer (including banking and credit card law), and securities law.  It also rewrote that Act so that it uses those forced arbitration clauses to effectively eliminate class actions.

It literally rewrote the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure, Rule 8(a), that sets the parameters for what lawsuit complaints, the legal pleading must state

It has been extremely hostile to labor unions; Samuel Alito openly invites the filing of litigation whose very goal is to undermine or outright eliminate them.

Every single one of these attacks, and many others, were born and grew up through a precision pipeline system of think tanks and so-called legal foundations, small, non-profit (thus “Foundation” as part of their title) law firms, all funded by extreme economic self-styled libertarian (the Madison Avenue-inspired ideological label they use) billionaires, including the Kochs, financial-industry billionaire families that include the Mercers and the Ricketts and who were top funders of Trump’s general-election campaign, and oil-and-gas billionaires, including top funders of Trump’s general-election and primary campaigns.

And that includes, extremely significantly, the Federalist Society, cofounded in about 1980 by Antonin Scalia, and whose most aggressive and unabashed members include Alito, Clarence Thomas and a slew of high-profile members of the federal appellate bench.  John Roberts also apparently was a member, although very quietly, throughout his career as a lawyer.

What I want most, and most immediately, for Our Revolution to do is to begin a major public-awareness push to tell all those Midwesterners and other Rust Belters—including those in rural areas and small towns—what exactly Trump was saying when he promised during the campaign to appoint justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia.  And who, exactly—who, exactly—is feeding him the names on list of possible Supreme Court nominees.  And who exactly will be feeding him recommendations for lower federal court appointments.

Suffice it to say, it ain’t the Rust Belters and Midwesterners who brung him, late in the game, to this dance because they support the Paul Ryan fiscal plan whose goal is to all-but-eliminate both taxes on the wealthy and the social safety net programs, such as food stamps and Medicaid, that many of them rely upon for, literally, survival.

Nor was it because they salivate at the thought of industry lobbyists writing legislation to be fed quickly through Congress and onto President Trump’s desk for him to sign.

Nor, I’ll venture, was it because they want the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts to be proxy arms of economic-winger billionaires and industries ranging from Wall Street to Walmart to communications to chemical and pharmaceutical, to Big Ag, to fossil fuel and lumber industries.   As they were for roughly three decades.

Mitt Romney received the votes of the deplorables, without whose support Trump would not have won.  But Romney isn’t president.  Barack Obama is.  Trump’s bizarre efforts beginning in 2011 to change that fact, notwithstanding.

Yet throughout the day yesterday, the news was filled with Ryan’s and McConnell’s exaltation at their expectation that President Trump will effectively be President Ryan.  Puppet Trump, in other words.  They’ll serve him avalanches of legislation to sign.  And they will control the key appointments to every single federal agency and commission that they want to control.  Which is almost all of them.

Including the SEC and the NLRB, the FDA, the FTC and the FCC.  As well as the Interior Dept., which they presume now will simply hand over to the lumber and fossil fuel industries massive amounts of federal lands.

Which brings me to this: Every bit as important as informing the public of this, for Our Revolution, for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, for Democracy for America, and the reconstructed, soon-to-be-Sanders-supported DNC—and for Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren themselves—to do, right now, is to begin a massive public information campaign about this that targets House members and Senate Republicans up for reelection in 2018.  In their states.  In their districts.  Including seemingly safe ones in the Rust Belt and the entire Midwest.

We have their number.  As we do Donald Trump’s.  And we have the grass-roots movement and the social-media networks to determine their latitude for installing these virulently anti-working class, pro-billionaire, pro-mega-corporate, pro-mega-powerful-industry cooptation of each of the three branches of the federal government.  Including that professed savior of the working class, Donald Trump.

I still remember looking that the map of Michigan’s counties the day after the primary last March, showing how each county voted in each of the two primaries—and being utterly stunned looking at the one for the Democratic primary.  If I recall correctly, every single county except Wayne (home to Detroit) and Genesee (Flint and surrounding area)—both counties largely African-American—voted for Sanders.  The Republican stronghold counties in the western part of the state all the way along or near Lake Michigan, went heavily for Bernie.  And, had African-Americans in Wayne and Genesee voted for Clinton roughly 3-1, as projected, instead of roughly 2-1, as they did, Bernie still would not have beaten her.

Apparently Chuck Schumer is unaware of this.  Bernie should tell him.  The old sheriff is gone, run out of town, or more accurately, the country, on Tuesday.  There’s a new sheriff in the country.  Named economic populism.

It could have been our sheriff; thanks to folks like you, it wasn’t.  But we can make due with the one who is not ours.

One side of this divide—the wealthy Republican and corporate elite, proxied by Ryan, McConnell, and the Federalist Society, or the folks responsible in such large part for bringing Trump to the dance—will control the federal government.  Puppet Trump. Puppeteers Ryan, McConnell, Wall Street and other industry lobbyists, and the Federalist Society.  On the other side, Rust Belt and Midwestern blue-collar voters.  Including labor union members.

And if it’s the former, it will last only until January 2019.  Believe me.

Better yet, believe Bernie Sanders.



UPDATE:  Holyyyy macaroni.  Chuck Schumer’s gotten the message now.  It took two and a half days.  But he’s gotten it now.

See “Schumer throws his support behind Keith Ellison for DNC chairman,” posted about an hour ago on the Washington Post’s website.


So the first big political war turned out to be a two-and-a-half-day-long skirmish.  And this is why.  The times, they are a-changin’.  Really, really quickly.  In the Democratic Party.

Updated added 11/11 at 11:19 a.m.  Just past the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.  It’s Veterans’ Day, folks.  Not to equate the two events, of course.  Just to acknowledge the meaning of Veterans’ Day, which originally was called Armistice Day.

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.

Krugman expresses his hope … and mine

Paul Krugman Verified account‏@paulkrugman

My hope is that soon I can start writing, finally, about what a sensible person in the WH should do, and have anyone myself incl care 4/


There are a few legal-issues posts I hope to post soon–one in particular.  (Although actually I have been posting on legal issues in the last 10 days, haven’t I?)

Breaking: David Axelrod Switches Gig From CNN to Fox

David Axelrod 


Now Ds who were savaging Comey a few days ago will praise him & GOPers who were behind him will turn on him again. 

3:38 PM – 6 Nov 2016

Um … no.

No.  No:

Mark Harris 


-James Comey in a crowded theater

4:32 PM – 6 Nov 2016 · Manhattan, NY, United States

Mr. Axelrod, do update us on all those Ds who are praising Comey.  From your new perch at Fox. Twitter waits breathlessly.

And, just to avoid, well, comments of a certain type: The title of this post is facetious.


Anyone still think that Comey and, separately, the NYC FBI ‘indictment’ fabricator DIDN’T violate the Hatch Act?* [UPDATED BY EDWARD SNOWDEN. SERIOUSLY.]

If so, Kellyanne Conway is not among you.

How many of those spiking early votes by Republicans last week in Colorado, especially, but also in Nevada and Arizona, can be attributed to Comey and the NYC FBI leaker?  Apparently, Conway has a pretty damn good idea.

So do I.  There’s an extremely close contest for Colorado’s 6th District House seat between uber-winger Mike Coffman and uber-progressive Morgan Carroll that I’ve been watching pretty closely.  How much did Republican voting spike in that district between Oct. 28 and, well, yesterday?

One thing I’ve noticed in all this talk about whether Obama can, as a matter of practical politics, fire Comey, and if he does not, whether Clinton can—as a matter of practical politics—is how starkly ingrained it is in American political culture to consider only the right’s political grievances.

But, guess what?  That’s now changed.  BIGLY.


And if the Dems do gain control of the Senate, the Judiciary Committee should hold hearings into this.  Comey should be accompanied by a lawyer.

And the questions should not be limited to matters directly related to Clinton.  This guy has some really strange views of the law itself. And not just the law concerning the actual legal mandate of the Director of the FBI, although he truly does.  He also seems confused about the very concept of evidence.

And then there’s that problem that, accepting him at his word, he doesn’t know what the meaning and the purpose of testimony “under oath” are.  (Which will be a convenient defense against Hatch Act violation allegations.)  I mean … good grace.

For starters.


*I inserted the word “separately” into the title after initial posting, because Comey’s acts are distinct from that NYC agent’s. By last Wednesday, when that agent leaked that fabrication, Comey already was in the middle of the hurricane he had started the Friday before, and surely played no role in that leak.  Added 11/7 at 11:56 a.m.



UPDATE: Update.

The FBI took its sweet time in updating Comey, or Comey took his time in updating Congress. Seems like a fielder’s choice.

This while early voting was underway in most states.

Updated 11/7 at 12:07 p.m.

Here’s a more comprehensive update, by William Oremus at Slate, posted about an hour ago.

Updated 11/7 at 3:18 p.m.