Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Keep hope alive!

Via Tracy Viselli/Feminists Will Kick Your Ass.
Mr. Pierce is out there concern-trolling Hillary Clinton, or that's really the wrong way of putting it, because his concern is plainly sincere (he's glad to say that she's "the only sane and plausible choice available" and that the added benefit of electing a woman president is a "genuinely big honking historic deal"), and sort of meaningless in that he doesn't seem to doubt she'll win in any case, but the effect is trollish all the same:

as a seeker of votes, as an applicant for the world's most powerful temp position, for the second time in a row, she's proving to be something of a mediocrity. I realize that the results last night in West Virginia will not mean very much down the road. They are products of skewed demographics and the playfulness of a number of voters who would not vote Democratic in the fall if you paid them in gold to do so. I realize that a large part of the difference between her winning margin in 2008 and her losing margin Tuesday night can precisely be measured as the difference between running against the "black guy" and having worked for the "black guy." I also realize that she only lost the delegate count to Bernie Sanders 16-11, which does little to slow her grim and inexorable march to the podium in Philadelphia this summer. But, dear god, she really leaves West Virginia with a very clean clock.
How clean? Well, Jesus, Charlie, 234,027 voters showed up (in an open primary) to vote for a Democrat, giving Bernie Sanders 51% of the vote to 36% for Clinton (the bulk of the balance going to local attorney Paul T. Farrell, Jr., representing the zombie coal industry, insisting if you keep pretending it's not dead it might turn out to be alive). Whereas in 2008, there were 359,910 voters in the Democratic primary splitting 67% for the same Hillary Clinton and 26% for young Barack Obama. That latter is what I would call a dear-god clock-cleaning. Whatever happened to young Obama, by the way? Did he find some more friendly career opportunity where he wouldn't have to depend on that vote-getting?

(1) Some folks are going to tell you that this is one of those big turnouts of energized voters, but they can only sustain that argument by refusing to look at the numbers. Turnout is down 35% for West Virginia Democrats since the last time they had a primary interesting enough to vote in, see previous paragraph. Sanders got (just) less than half the total votes Clinton received eight years ago (obviously she got much less than half, too), and far fewer votes than Trump got even though there's no suspense on that side; Republican turnout was up by 60%, from 117,945 in 2008 to 188,138 in 2016. Contrary to what Sanders keeps saying, more often than not, when the turnout is low is when he wins.

(2) What else happened in the Democratic primary is the elevation of West Virginia's only billionaire, the climate change–denying coal baron Jim Justice, to the state's gubernatorial candidacy. West Virginia's richest man took about the same percentage of the Democratic vote, 51%. as socialist Bernie Sanders, and it's hard not to think that they might have been to some extent the same voters. They're not voting against Clinton because they think she's a right-winger, but because there's some sense, whether it's about abortion, guns, or the coal industry, where they think she's to Sanders's left.

(3) Meanwhile in Nebraska, the counter-message received some more confirmation: Sanders does better in narrower contests, to which only the activists make it, Clinton in broader ones where ordinary people turn out: in the March 5th caucus, she lost 14,340-19,120, and in the Tuesday primary (a beauty contest with no delegates awarded, so discouraging turnout by its nature, but nevertheless attracting three times as many voters as the caucuses did), she won 41,829-36,714. (Not easy to find those numbers, either.)

(4) There are a bunch of people—not including Charlie—suggesting that Clinton lost the West Virginia primary through an excess of honesty, telling the voters that coal companies were going to be closing down, and the few mining jobs left in the state would vanish, sooner or later. Can you please NOT TELL CLINTON TO BE LESS TRUTHFUL? In the first place, it's not necessary; I realize coal is a factor in some important states (Ohio, Pennsylvania), but the states where it's the only factor (Kentucky, West By God Virginia) are going to go Republican if the Republican candidate is the child-murdering god Moloch, it's just not worth worrying about. In the second place, it's not a very good branding move if you know what I mean. Those of us who are sitting here trying to tell the public that she is in fact capable of being honest and trustworthy would appreciate your cooperation in this matter. Her current position, offering some real and pretty large-scale benefits to miners and dangling some fake hope in the form of "clean coal" technology—
Clinton has proposed "revitalizing" coal country with $30 billion in investment aimed at retraining former coal miners, protecting health and pension benefits for mineworkers and attracting investment to counties impacted with layoffs. She has also pledged to invest federal funds in clean coal technology.
—is no worse than Obama's has been on the truthfulness scale, and I think that's just almost fine (Obama pretty clearly understood that there's not going to be any "clean coal" miracle, and I assume Clinton does too; but the research will be valuable in demonstrating the fact).

What I'm saying is that the West Virginia results don't merely "not mean much", they literally mean less than nothing. The more seriously they are taken the more harm they will do to the campaign.

I don't see the Clinton campaign as being quick enough on its feet to do what it needs to do. ("Dangerous Donald"? Really?) Right now, it can't put away Bernie Sanders, who is the most predictable candidate ever to stand in two shoes. Running as a serious candidate against a rodeo clown is always going to be a struggle. Running as a potential president against a guy who believes that the country can simply walk away from its financial obligations, and that he can, through his own inherent genius, get Mexico to pay for a wall, requires that you walk a fine line between being serious and appearing pedantic. If she'd ever in her life shown any gift for mockery and ridicule, I'd feel a lot better about HRC as a candidate in this election against this opponent. Sometimes, you just have to throw long.
Oh, for heaven's sake. I'm not in love with this campaign, and not (yet) quite in love with the candidate, but let's not complain about the things she's doing right. For instance, I would hope she would not want to "put away" Senator Sanders. Given that she can take the nomination without doing it. Unlike my beloved Barack Obama, she might actually care about the Dirty Fucking Hippie vote, and be hoping for some real party unity as opposed to something along the lines of that embarrassing Carter-Kennedy moment on the platform (Carter still blames Kennedy for making his administration look conservative through his constant opposition; he thinks we'd have had universal health care 40 years ago or more if Kennedy had been more willing to compromise—which sounds funny as we remember the über-compromising Kennedy of Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind: looks like he was willing to compromise with his enemies but only if they were Republicans). Bernie can't win; there's no reason to make him feel small, and a lot of reasons to make him feel big, including the fact that he really is big.

As to the mockery and ridicule part, well, huh. Mocking and ridiculing Trump isn't exactly the most challenging job, you know. I'm available! So is Elizabeth Warren in fact, delightfully doing it on Twitter, and everybody else you know. Something else Hillary doesn't need to do, or doesn't need to do very much.

Trump is not a rodeo clown anyway. He's not willing to be seen taking a fall. He's a WWE heel, standing insistently on a dignity he doesn't have, swollen with self-regard, and when he kicks, you can see he always believes, rightly or wrongly, that he's kicking down.

She needs to present a picture of dignity and kindness, something diametrically opposed to his Donaldhood, and just once in a while a little of that badass grandmother look (kicking in the direction Trump perceives as up, where his balls are located) wouldn't do any harm. When her writers come up with something, and there's no big hurry.

Remember when teetotalitarian George W. Bush was the candidate people wanted to have a beer with, even though as far as anyone publicly understood he wouldn't ever have a beer with anybody again? I'd rather have a beer with Hillary than with Charlie Pierce.

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