Trump and Hillary Poll Numbers: The Bernie Argument

87974594_32be803c-efcf-47ef-9a17-197106074016

If Bernie won, you’d be seeing this guy on a lot more GOP ads.

One more political quick hit, and that’s it, I promise.

It’s true that, for the moment, Bernie matches up more favorably against Trump, and has a much higher personal approval rating than does Hillary. I don’t think that would ever change. He genuinely seems likable (though that might be changing a bit), and Hillary has always had problems, partly due to her, largely due to other factors (such as lies, innuendo, and an idiot press). I can’t imagine a scenario where Bernie is less liked than Hillary Clinton.

That said, these numbers, which Sanders supporters use to say he should be the nominee (as opposed to millions of actual voters), don’t take one thing into account: namely, the right wing media has, since Clinton became inevitable, praised Bernie at her expense, and stopped criticizing him. If Sanders was actually winning, and had a shot, you’d hear the word “socialism” 400 times a day. They’d be conflating it with Communism, and calling him “comrade”, and talking about how “it isn’t a coincidence that his rise comes on the 50th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution, and is that what we really want?”, and I promise that you wouldn’t be able to drive through three consecutive counties in this great nation of ours without seeing his face and Stalin’s on the same billboard. If you can’t picture Trump going around saying “Listen, ok, no one knows history better than Trump, and communism was really bad, ok?” then you have a tragic lack of political imagination.

Socialism, thankfully, isn’t as much a poison word for people who grew up after the Cold War. But it still has an emotional sway with millions and millions of people, and if Sanders was the nominee, that’s all you’d be hearing. I don’t know if that would sink him, since he’d also get more airtime to explain himself, and why socialism is not un-American, but a genuine part, the best part, of our economic and cultural heritage. But it’s disingenuous to suggest that polling numbers would be the same if he was closer to the nomination, and the target of the same kind of smear campaign Hillary has been under for 30 years.

Advertisements

The Ken Starr Times Puffery and The Normalization of the Paranoid

02_starr-w529-h352

Remember: this guy was super gross. Image from NYMag

“There are certain tragic dimensions which we all lament,” Mr. Starr said in a panel discussion on the presidency at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

“That having been said, the idea of this redemptive process afterwards, we have certainly seen that powerfully” in Mr. Clinton’s post-presidency, he continued…

If there is a bigger weasel phrase in history than “tragic dimensions which we all lament”, I don’t think I’ve heard it.

The Times this morning ran a piece on Ken Starr, the sex-obsessed maniac whose pursuit of Bill Clinton helped turn the 90s into the sordid and greasy decade that it was, in an attempt to show that age has mellowed him to the point where he can depersonalize the very recent past. It was also a clinic in the way that scandal, especially that regarding the Clintons, becomes normalized, and how nonsense phrases that mean nothing become a sort of shorthand for the initiated, and a vague synecdoche for everyone else. This isn’t history, either. It’s obviously directly relevant to this year’s campaign.

Continue reading

Bernie and The California Debate: A Political Quick Quiz

  1. When Fox News wants to help you out, you are doing something
    1. Right?
    2. Wrong?

It’s probably not a stretch to say that the gracious offer of Fox to host a debate before the Democratic primary is not a 100% good-faith gesture.  Turning it down is a very normal part of politics for Hillary Clinton. She has an insurmountable lead, an attempt to flip the superdelgates is antidemocratic. It moves past populism to personality-politics, which is where the facile and ridiculous “Trump and Bernie” comparisons start to make a sliver of sense, very uncomfortably.

What does Bernie expect out of a Fox News debate? A reasoned argument about the policy differences between them? Or an opportunity to savage Hillary Clinton in front of a large audience, and to play into the Fox/GOP narrative of Hillary being untrustworthy and unlikable, dredging up past “scandals”, and thus, doing Trump’s homework for him? If he expects the former, he’s being naive. My fear, and deep regret, is that he isn’t being naive at all.