Sep 1, 2015

September 1, 2015: Wall Street’s Favorite Democrat, Kicking and Screaming, Heart Isn't In It

In a column recently published in the Washington Post Chris Cillizza, often seen on MSNBC and other talk shows, offers his insight into the “State of the Democratic Race” (1)
Reporting on the summer meeting of the Democratic National Committee held in Minnesota, Cillizza assures us that although there is much anxiety within the Democratic establishment concerning the travails that have beset the Clinton campaign over this long difficult summer, nevertheless she is “still the heavy Democratic favorite”. 

Party regulars have been “Spooked” by her handling of the e-mail imbroglio and are taken aback by the Sanders insurgency but, Cillizza reassures us, Sanders may win in Iowa and New Hampshire but from there he has nowhere to go. 

You see, so goes the internal logic of the old pols, the “socialist senator from Vermont is (not) going to win the Democratic nomination.  And so amidst a great deal of grousing, some speculation about Vice President Joe Biden entering the race, and a few well placed ‘harrumphs’, the party regulars pat each other reassuringly on the back and repeat to themselves amid the echo chamber, that all is well with the candidacy of Wall Street’s favorite Democrat. 

There was a warning, however, in this reassuring message.  That is bubbling to the surface have been polls demonstrating Clinton’s lack of credibility with the electorate, especially the vast number of independent voters who will decide the outcome, foreshadowing trouble in the general election.

But Cillizza, part of that chattering class that represents corporate America, is getting ahead of himself.  One need only go back a short 8 years to the last Clinton candidacy for instruction.  At this stage of the campaign 8 years ago her nomination was seen as a foregone conclusion and the party establishment likewise was impatiently awaiting the coronation.  But something happened on the way to the forum, his name was Barack Obama.

Things have changed since then, of course, and not all to Clinton’s favor.   As has been documented in this column, the middle class in America is disappearing.  Median annual household income has dropped in the last decade in all 50 states. Perhaps most tellingly, median household wealth has declined.  This has fueled an explosion of national protest movements from the ‘Tea Party” revolt, the 99% movement, Occupy Wall Street, and the more localized but in some ways more effective grass roots protests to raise the minimum wage in cities and industries across the country.  These movements have much in common.  All are expressions of middle class alienation and anger; all express a deep distrust of and a deep betrayal by authority; all are primarily driven by economic as opposed to social issues.  All now are on the verge of blossoming into a full-fledged populist uprising, on the ‘left’ and on the ‘right’, against the policies and the governance of the ruling elites.  It will not be a good election cycle for the candidates of the establishment, particularly Wall Street’s favorite Democrat.  

Cillizza, himself a captive to the media echo-chamber, has convinced himself that it’s all about the e-mail flap and, by extension, this too will pass.  It isn’t and it won’t.  It has been Hillary’s tepid response to the agony of not only the middle class but the old main-line Democratic constituencies that have forced many grass-roots Democrats to once again go off In search of a genuine alternative.  Nothing makes this point more clearly than the recent announcement by the campaign touting her support for a bill introduced by Sanders and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to stop the revolving door between the financial casino that is Wall Street and the management of government agencies.  While laudable it is, nonetheless, a typical Clinton response.  Feeling the pressure from the Democratic ‘left’ she moves, however furtively, to take some kind of position so as to silence her critics. It is not only her abject failure to lead on the issue that is troubling, seen as she is coming to Jesus as it were kicking and screaming, but where is she on the need to re-instate Glass-Steagall, regulate and tax hedge funds and derivatives, break up the banks.  Where has been her leadership in the debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other trade deals?  Instead she has been found time and again staking out positions in which the establishment gives as little ground as possible.
While, sadly, her lead among delegates, especially the so-called ‘super delegates’ (2) may turn out to be decisive she will face a difficult time facing off against the Republican nominee in the general election.  Not because she is perceived as a ‘liar’, but because she is seen as detached, disconnected, and disingenuous.  Hillary will lose the general election because her heart isn’t in it.  She doesn’t get it, there is no there there.  If Hillary wins the nomination the general election will be the Republican's to lose.


2.     Super Delegates are those delegates to the party convention chosen because they have been elected to party leadership positions and public office.  These delegates tend to be more conservative, supporting the party favorite.  But things can change as witnessed in 2008 when Obama wrested the majority of the Super Delegates from the then favorite Clinton.  It was upon discovery of the erosion of support among the Super Delegates that finally convinced Clinton the throw in the towel.


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