Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Oh snap: Postscript

Image via Giphy.
Thomas P. Friedman ("Can the U.S. Win This Election?"), better known as Thomas L. Friedman, Mystax Mirabilis, hopes Congress goes Democratic in an overwhelming way, so Clinton will be able to push through some Republican policy:

we have to hope not only that Hillary Clinton wins the national election but also that Democrats retake at least the Senate, so she has some real leverage to forge trade-offs with a more sane G.O.P. to start fixing things: putting in place common-sense gun laws, like restoring the Assault Weapons Ban, requiring universal background checks and making it illegal for anyone on the terrorist watch list to buy a gun; borrowing money at near-zero interest rates to rebuild our infrastructure; replacing some income and corporate taxes with a revenue-neutral carbon tax to stimulate more clean-energy production; fixing Obamacare; and implementing sensible immigration reform and responsible tax and entitlement reforms.
The bigger Clinton’s margin of victory, the less dependent she’d be, I hope, on the left wing of her party, and the more likely she’d work with Republicans, as she vowed during the last debate, by “finding common ground, because you have to be able to get along with people to get things done in Washington.”
I'll stick with that old-fashioned kind of logic, thanks, where the consequent is kind of attached to the antecedent, and the better the Democrats do the more ability they'll have to implement the Democratic platform, and the less power the Republicans have the more things can get done in Washington without them.

Don't know where Tom is hoping to get those votes for a carbon tax, revenue-neutral or otherwise, other than the despised "left wing of her party"; for Republicans, it's the worst of all possible tax hikes and permanently off the table, and Clinton herself has not been very supportive. The Sanders forces were unable to get her to sign on for it and had to make do with a deliberately ambiguous declaration that
Democrats believe that carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases should be priced to reflect their negative externalities, and to accelerate the transition to a clean economy and help meet our climate goals.
I'm certainly for a carbon tax (not revenue-neutral, revenue needs to go up), but working with Republicans isn't the way to achieve it; we need more leftist legislators to push Hillary there.

I say “hope” because I don’t know who the real Hillary is — the more Bernie Sanderish one speaking publicly or the more Bill Clintonish one who spoke privately to Goldman Sachs.
Oh, for fuck's sake, Tom. I don't understand why all the journalists writing about what we've learned from the WikiLeaks dump of excerpts from the 2013 and 2014 speeches refuse to look at the fucking things and prefer to take the Sputnik analyses of what they say at face value. If anything, who she sounds like at her worst in the speeches is less Bill Clinton than the Barack Obama of ca. 2013, not "triangulating" but scavenging like a magpie after those particular ideas,  still hankering after the Grand Bargain:
Simpson-Bowles -- and I know you heard from Erskine earlier today -- put forth the right framework. Namely, we have to restrain spending, we have to have adequate revenues, and we have to incentivize growth. It's a three-part formula. The specifics can be negotiated depending upon whether we're acting in good faith or not. And what Senator Simpson and Erskine did was to bring Republicans and Democrats alike to the table, and you had the full range of ideological views from I think Tom Coburn to Dick Durbin. (Speech to Morgan Stanley, 4/18/13)
Or from Obama's best Republican friend when he was a Senator to his best Democratic friend (Durbin was slightly to Clinton's own right, officially 15th most liberal Senate Democrat when Clinton was 11th and Obama a comparatively conservative 23rd). Thanks to the Sanders campaign, she's now aware that the full range of publicly discussable ideological views is a little wider than that. As is the president, happily, in his "no more fucks" phase. Nice she acknowledges that it makes a difference whether the parties are negotiating in good faith.

In a speech to a securities law firm in California (headlined *CLINTON TOUTS HER RELATIONSHIP TO WALL STREET AS A SENATOR*), she seems especially anxious to show herself as an honest broker between Wall Street and government, with a record of appreciating the points on both sides:
When I was a Senator from New York, I represented and worked with so many talented principled people who made their living in finance. But even though I represented them and did all I could to make sure they continued to prosper, I called for closing the carried interest loophole and addressing skyrocketing CEO pay. I also was calling in '06, '07 for doing something about the mortgage crisis, because I saw every day from Wall Street literally to main streets across New York how a well-functioning financial system is essential. So when I raised early warnings about subprime mortgages and called for regulating derivatives and over complex financial products, I didn't get some big arguments, because people sort of said, no, that makes sense. But boy, have we had fights about it ever since. (Speech to Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd in San Diego, 9/04/14)
Similarly, in one of a series of speeches in Canada booked by the PR firm tinePublic and apparently paid in part by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and TD Bank, which journalists have assumed must have been shilling for the Keystone Pipeline, in which both those banks are invested, her feelings about the pipeline turn out to be far from gung-ho (in spite of the headline, *CLINTON REMARKS ARE PRO KEYSTONE AND PRO TRADE*), one way or the other:
So I think that Keystone is a contentious issue, and of course it is important on both sides of the border for different and sometimes opposing reasons, but that is not our relationship. And I think our relationship will get deeper and stronger and put us in a position to really be global leaders in energy and climate change if we worked more closely together. And that's what I would like to see us do. (Speech in Edmonton, 6/18/14)
No idea why that's not getting more publicity. Or why only rightwing commentators mention another tinePublic speech ($262,500, we're told), in which she outlined her views on the future of health insurance in the US in terms that you might not be expecting (for which the helpful editors' headline *CLINTON IS MORE FAVORABLE TO CANADIAN HEALTH CARE AND SINGLE PAYER* sort of overstates the case):
If you look at countries that are comparable, like Switzerland or Germany, for example, they have mixed systems. They don't have just a single-payer system, but they have very clear controls over budgeting and accountability. If you look at the single-payer systems, like Scandinavia, Canada, and elsewhere, they can get costs down because, you know, although their care, according to statistics, overall is as good or better on primary care, in particular, they do impose things like waiting times, you know. It takes longer to get like a hip replacement than it might take here....
I'm hoping that whatever the shortfalls or the glitches [in the Affordable Care Act] have been, which in a big piece of legislation you're going to have, those will be remedied and we can really take a hard look at what's succeeding, fix what isn't, and keep moving forward to get to affordable universal healthcare coverage like you have here in Canada. (Speech in Saskatoon, 1/21/15)
(Emptywheel, God love her, also finds some evidence in the WikiLeaks emails that Clinton was opposed to the ISDS provisions of the TPP a year before she came out publicly against the agreement; of course she only does it to suggest that this proves the hacking isn't a Russian conspiracy, since the Russians wouldn't have wanted this information to come out. It doesn't, I think; it only shows that there's meant to be stuff to frighten everybody, not just the Sanders left, and also that they haven't curated it all that carefully, as we already learned from the farce of confusing Sidney Blumenthal and Kurt Eichenwald.)

The "real Clinton" Friedman is worried about is neither the one presenting those speeches behind closed doors two or three years ago, nor the one campaigning openly somewhere at this very moment—or is both of them, depending on how you look at it. They're all the words of a politician testing her message out on different audiences, as politicians always do, seeing how far she can go with that particular group of people, hoping they'll love her but not think they own her. It's so stupid to imagine somebody wearing a mask of deception day in and day out and then going to a bankers' conference to let it all hang out.

The texts contain statements that sound, decontextualized, like pandering, which makes decent soundbites for negative ads, which is why the campaign didn't want to release them. But if you bother to look at the text in these excerpts instead of just swallowing the soundbite reductions, you can see she's trying to find out what she thinks, or what she dares to think, for the widest possible range of listeners. I think, though, that like Day-Lewis/Lincoln or Obama, she's not hiding some plan to sell us all into slavery but more like the opposite.

And voting for Democratic majorities in the Congress is the best way we have of making sure she doesn't, whatever Friedman may imagine.

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