The Democratic Race gets chippy….

Yes, the news for Hillary Clinton remains good; she maintains a lead in *most* recent national polls and in key primary states, and she still enjoys lead of about 210 pledged delegates.

But Bernie Sanders is still hanging around and the race is getting chippy. One can see that by the tone of the campaign e-mails:

From the Sanders campaign

Ollie –

Hillary Clinton herself just unleashed the first part of the new “disqualify him, defeat him and then they can unify the party later” strategy we told you about. Look at this new headline:

Washington Post: “Clinton questions whether Sanders is qualified to be president”

Polls in Wisconsin haven’t even been closed for 24 hours, and we’re already seeing the start of the Clinton campaign’s full-on attack before the New York primary. We knew they were getting nervous, but candidly, we didn’t think they would go this negative so quickly. We have to be ready for what comes next.

Contribute $28 to Bernie 2016 right now to help us get ready for the New York primary and be able to fend off whatever the billionaire class throws at us next.

New York is going to be an important state for the Democratic nomination. Bernie was born there, Hillary Clinton moved there, and 247 delegates are at stake on April 19.

We’ve won seven of the last eight contests, and voters clearly side with Bernie. So now the Clinton campaign is moving beyond a discussion of the issues to say Bernie isn’t even qualified to be president.

Meanwhile, Bernie’s going to keep talking about universal health care, fighting climate change, making our economy work for everyone, and taking on our corrupt campaign finance system. Voters seem to like it – and we’re not going to let up now.

From the Clinton campaign:

Ollie —

Last night, after Bernie Sanders won Wisconsin, his campaign manager went on CNN to accuse our team of destroying the Democratic Party to “satisfy the Secretary’s ambition to become President of the United States.”

I. Don’t. Think. So.

Our team has more wins than Bernie’s, more delegates, and over 2 million more votes. We’re building the biggest and by far the most diverse coalition in this election, we’re strengthening the Democratic Party in the states, and we’re ready to do what it takes to win the White House and build a brighter future.

Ambitious? You’re damn right we are. We have big dreams for our country, and we’re going to fight to make them happen — that starts with winning this primary once and for all.

We’re less than two weeks from the huge primary in New York — will you chip in $38 right now to make sure Hillary can win?

If you are wondering why I am on both lists: I gave to the Sanders campaign when I ordered a Sanders t-shirt for my daughter. And I’ve given the Clinton campaign a small amount of money (and ordered shirts) because that is who I support.

The Clinton campaign is suggesting that Sen. Sanders is long on platitudes but short on policy knowledge:

And others have suggested that Sen. Sanders isn’t fully leveling with us about how much his proposed programs will cost:

But here’s the thing: we now have a clear view of Sanders’ positions on two crucial issues, financial reform and health care. And in both cases his positioning is disturbing — not just because it’s politically unrealistic to imagine that we can get the kind of radical overhaul he’s proposing, but also because he takes his own version of cheap shots. Not at people — he really is a fundamentally decent guy — but by going for easy slogans and punting when the going gets tough.

On finance: Sanders has made restoring Glass-Steagal and breaking up the big banks the be-all and end-all of his program. That sounds good, but it’s nowhere near solving the real problems. The core of what went wrong in 2008 was the rise of shadow banking; too big to fail was at best marginal, and as Mike Konczal notes, pushing the big banks out of shadow banking, on its own, could make the problem worse by causing the risky stuff to “migrate elsewhere, often to places where there is less regulatory infrastructure.”

On health care: leave on one side the virtual impossibility of achieving single-payer. Beyond the politics, the Sanders “plan” isn’t just lacking in detail; as Ezra Klein notes, it both promises more comprehensive coverage than Medicare or for that matter single-payer systems in other countries, and assumes huge cost savings that are at best unlikely given that kind of generosity. This lets Sanders claim that he could make it work with much lower middle-class taxes than would probably be needed in practice.

To be harsh but accurate: the Sanders health plan looks a little bit like a standard Republican tax-cut plan, which relies on fantasies about huge supply-side effects to make the numbers supposedly add up. Only a little bit: after all, this is a plan seeking to provide health care, not lavish windfalls on the rich — and single-payer really does save money, whereas there’s no evidence that tax cuts deliver growth. Still, it’s not the kind of brave truth-telling the Sanders campaign pitch might have led you to expect.

It is the classic battle between “idealism vs. pragmatism”:

As Matt O’Brien rightly said recently, even the incremental changes Hillary Clinton is proposing are very unlikely to get through Congress; the radical changes Bernie Sanders is proposing wouldn’t happen even if Democrats retook the House. O’Brien says that the Democratic primary is “like arguing what’s more real: a magical unicorn or a regular unicorn. In either case, you’re still running on a unicorn platform.” This is, alas, probably true: the platforms of the candidates are better seen as aspirational than as programs at all likely to happen.

But in that case, why not go for the magical unicorn? A couple of reasons.

One is that there are degrees of realism: a program that could be implemented in part if Democrats retake the House might turn out to be a useful guide relatively soon, while a program that requires a political revolution won’t.

Another is that, perhaps inevitably, the Sanders insistence on the need for magical unicorns has led to invocations of economic as well as political magic. I warned a while back that even Sanders wasn’t willing to level with voters about what his ideals would require — that, in particular, he was assuming unrealistic savings in order to gloss over the reality that quite a few middle-class Americans would be net losers from a transition to single payer. I’m not alone in raising such concerns, and not just about the health plan.

And this could matter a lot in a general election. For sure the Republican, whoever he is, will be offering plans that are obvious nonsense; but if the Democrat is also offering a plan that doesn’t add up, you know that the media will portray the situation as symmetric, even if it isn’t. (And it wouldn’t be: whatever is problematic about the Sanders platform, GOP fantasies are in a whole other league.) This is why it’s important to bring up the criticisms of Sanders now, not wait until later — and it’s also why the campaign’s knee-jerk response of attacking the messengers is such a bad one. It might work in the primary, but it definitely won’t work later on.

OK, so I’m not happy with magical unicorns as a campaign strategy. But I understand the problem, which is also the problem Clinton faces: among young people in particular, being a wet blanket is no way to be hugely popular. “No, we can’t — at best, maybe a little” isn’t all that inspiring to people who want uplift. Realistically, the slogan should actually be “They shall not pass”, which actually could be inspiring. But that’s probably for the general.

This poses an interesting problem for Clinton — who will, if nominated, be pretty good at portraying herself as the defender of Obama’s achievements, but needs to get to that point. Can she try to match Sanders in uplift? Probably not, because it would be insincere and come off that way. She’s a veteran of many years of partisan trench warfare, of personal vilification, of seeing how hard positive change is (and yes, some of that applies to me too, although not to remotely the same degree.) She’s not going to be able to promise magic without being obviously false. Sanders, on the other hand, probably believes what he’s saying; the rude awakening still lies ahead.


But you see the problem. It’s a rough time for progressives who don’t believe in magic.

But there are many who do believe in magic; many of them are the young people supporting Sanders, and, well, implying that they are naive dupes isn’t good politics (even if they ARE). Hillary Clinton is NOT a great campaigner; Sanders is better in this area.

And if you want to see impassioned fireworks with policy substance, check out this 12 minute video where Barney Frank and Robert Reich debate the “too big to fail” issue. Frank repeats that it is the size of indebtedness vs. the size of the assets that is the problem. Reich counters and notes that Sanders’ “I don’t know” answer (re: bank breakup) was in respect to the Fed’s role and power and not about what the President can do. If nothing else, it is an excellent discussion of the issues. Both Sanders and Clinton supporters will enjoy it, I think.


April 7, 2016 - Posted by | economy, politics, politics/social, social/political | , , ,

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