Update appended below.
After a two-and-a-half-month hiatus from regular blogging here—most of my few posts this summer related to my passion about animal rescue and animal welfare—I’m once again feeling like posting about politics, at least more regularly than I posted this summer. (And maybe soon I’ll once again feel like posting about legal issues, but I don’t yet, so y’all who’ve been waiting for that with bated breath, well ….)
I wanted a break from all-politics-and-law-all-the-time, and (mostly) took one. My active reentry here at AB began with two posts within the last few days—one that I thought would get some attention, but did, not; the other that I thought would get little attention, but got more than a little.
After reading emailed Greg Sargent this afternoon an embarrassingly long… eeeek … rant about that post of mine that got little attention—and, while I was at it, about two of my current political obsessions: the silly Hillary Clinton presidential-nomination anointment, by the press and (unwittingly, I think, courtesy of the press) the Democratic Party; and the silly six-year failure of our current White House standard bearer to ever trouble himself to … y’know … like … engage in any refutation of misinformation by … y’know … stating facts, coherently and specifically—I jumped all-in (to use an “in” cliché that really annoys me, but fits here) today.
But since emails from no-names are treated, I’m sure, as emails from no-names, and because, well, I’m just really in the mood right now, I’ll share my rant with all you AB readers, should any of you actually be interested:
Greg, you write this morning in the Morning Plum:
“REPUBLICANS AND THE ‘LAZY JOBLESS’: Paul Krugman’s column today marvels at the ways GOP lawmakers continue to suggest the unemployed are choosing their plight, even as benefits have been slashed and we’re treating them with “unprecedented harshness.” But why?”
The answer to your question is, of course, that most people have no idea that unemployment compensation benefits have been dramatically slashed and are, as Krugman highlights, far lower than they have been in relation to the level of involuntary short-term and long-term unemployment in many decades.
Just as most people have no idea about one after another after another other facts concerning public policy—in Florida, for example, there is a TV ad asking people to vote for Rick Scott against Charlie Crist because “Obamacare has raised healthcare costs” and is “taking money from your pocket,” or words to that effect.
And of course most people think government employment—federal, state, local—has increased during Obama’s presidency; of course, actually, it has decreased, dramatically.
And on and on. Which has been the case throughout Obama’s presidency. Neither of our two current Democratic national standard bearers, Obama and Hillary Clinton, would be caught dead actually educating the public about, y’know, actual facts; neither one will speak in anything other than banal generalities. Clinton, who probably could actually educate the public about such things as facts, instead talks incessantly about how excited she is about her daughter’s pregnancy—because, y’know, we’re all so deeply interested in this–and makes childish jokes about her failure to declare an intention to run for the presidency, deigning to add a few banalities about such things as income inequality so that we all know that her heart is in the right place.
And because the punditry insists that Dem presidential candidates are fungible, Clinton’s home free. Clinton, Warren, and male longtime progressives such as Sherrod Brown, who can’t run because, well, Hillary Clinton probably will run, are all the same; one’s as good as the other. After all, didn’t Clinton say in some speech back in November 2007 that, yeah, maybe income inequality has become a problem? I mean, who needs any more evidence that she’s an economics progressive than that?!
Giving speeches is, of course, what Clinton does. In November 2007 she had been a senator for nearly seven years. During which she voted for a really bad bankruptcy bill, and did nothing at all, at least to my knowledge (or, I think, to anyone else’s), that could matter to, say, people who aren’t upscale women trying to break corporate-hierarchy glass ceilings and such.
I’m a contributor to the blog Angry Bear, and last Friday, after learning about Boehner’s comments from Krugman’s mention of it on his blog, I posted an item about it titled “John Boehner Says the Obama Economy Has Eliminated Involuntary Unemployment! Seriously; that’s what he said. The Dems should use this in campaign ads.” The title was not facetious; I pointed out that Boehner’s representation of fact necessarily presumes a thriving economy in which jobs are available for anyone who wants one; in other words, we really have full employment now. My post gained no attention, best as I can tell, so I’d like to see someone whose blog posts do get attention make the point—because it is an important one. Isn’t it? My post is [here].
Apologies for this lengthy rant.
As for Obama, coherency and specificity, which require actual explanation rather than sound-bite-speak, are just not his thing; I understand that. By which I mean that I understand that that is so—and by which I don’t mean that I understand why it is so, although I suspect that the culprit is a stunning lack of mental agility coupled with an apparently overriding belief that he need not do anything by way of outreach, education and persuasion, that he doesn’t really feel like doing.
As for Clinton … well … speaking in specifics is not her thing, either. It doesn’t pay well, and policy specifics would entail her actually learning specifics (better late than never, but, whatever) and maybe even proposing specifics of her own. Okay, specifics that someone in her quarter-century “orbit” (the media’s euphemism for closed circle of decades-long Clinton operatives) learning specifics. Sorta like what Warren and Sherrod Brown have done by themselves!
We’re all, of course, tremendously happy for Clinton and her husband that they’re about to become grandparents. It’s just that we’re interested in other things, as well. And just that other thing that she’s interested in: ridiculous, cutesy, will-she-or-won’t-she games.
I’m a progressive who cares about more than 1980s-and ‘90s-era women’s issues. (And not just because I’m aware that it is no longer the 1980s or ‘90s; some of those issues remain potent and important, but they are not the end-all-and-be-all of progressive economic concerns, some of which actually have to do with men as well as women.) I don’t want any more generic, look-at-who-I-am-rather-than-what-I’ve-actually-done theater-of-the-ridiculous. Been there, done that. (Okay, I was never a big fan of Obama, but supported him against Clinton because I feared another triangulator president—one who would be hemmed in by her husband’s 1990s policy choices, no less. One who still is hemmed in by her husband’s 1990s policy choices.)
I’ll end this rant by asking this question: Why have the progressives who want so badly to see a Warren draft not trying to encourage, say, a Sherrod Brown draft? Wrong gender? Really?? Warren’s popularity comes not from her gender but instead from her economic population and deep knowledge of, emersion in, and passion for actual specific policy issues. Brown has that, too. And he, unlike Warren, may simply be waiting for someone to ask him to run.
Take a look, progressives. I’m serious. It’s time now to support an economic progressive who’s the real deal, not someone’s who really just a political celebrity. My dream ticket is Brown and Jeff Merkley. Both have been in the economic-progressive trenches for decades. Neither is the spouse of a former president, even a popular and still-popular one who actually knows how to make a point without using a denegrating, condescending manner to do it.
That said, if what Dems are looking for, and if Dem presidential candidates really are fungible, then how about Kim Kardashian? Who knows? She may even be a genuine economic progressive.
We economic progressives finally have the ear of a large segment of the population. And we’re going to squander it by nominating for president someone who’s little more than just a professional political celebrity? Why? Seriously; why?
UPDATE: Turns out that I’m a few days late to this party, at least as it’s host. Molly Ball posted a piece on Sept. 19 on The Atlantic’s website titled “Does Hillary Clinton Have Anything to Say?” Ball reaches the same conclusion that I do: The anwer is, no.
But there are, as I noted above, national politicians in addition to Elizabeth Warren, who do.
I mean, look: Just because your husband was a popular president in the 1990s doesn’t mean that you get to be the Democractic presidential nominee yourself. Your prsumption to the contrary notwithstanding.
Although Molly Ball, Bernie Sanders and I are, thus far, the only partiers. Want to join us?
Updated 9/22 at 4:10 p.m.