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Posts published in “Day: February 10, 2016”

Gotta love Bernie


Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders appears to be on the cusp of sinking the vaunted, well-financed and well-staffed Clinton election machine. It’s a notion the vast majority of the political punditry class, and the political cognoscenti (Especially those inside the beltway) thought to be absolutely unimaginable.

One could hear it anywhere - some version of the “Democrats will never nominate one who calls himself a “progressive socialist.” Well, Bernie just may surprise.

Listening to Bernie and Hillary the differences become more clear each time they debate or share a platform: one speaks with an undeniable sincerity, the other sounds like an automaton - a flat-sounding almost plaintive voice.

It reminds one of that great scene in the classic movie 2001 where the onboard computer has tried to kill Dave, the astronaut who has gone outside the spacecraft to make a repair. The computer, named Hal, is trying to reason with Dave.

“Dave, listen to me. I suppose you are upset with me. And you have a right to be. But the mission must go on. Dave, talk to me Dave,” Hal pleads.

Just as many Democratic voters in New Hampshire, as well as across the nation, have stopped listening to Hillary Clinton’s plea to support her historic quest to be the first woman elected president, Dave does not listen. He relentlessly goes into the computer’s “brain” and turns Hal off. Hal’s credibility and trustworthiness gone - as is Hillary’s.

Bernie clearly speaks with more passion than Hillary. He has stayed on message relentlessly while Hillary has bounced between various messages. He’s following the KISS formula and it's resonating. He is absolutely correct in pointing out that the top 1/10th of 1 percent, the wealthiest, have been and are subsidized by the middle class.

What’s worst, they brag about their status.

There are numerous stories of extraordinarily wealthy individuals boasting about paying no taxes.

Readers are invited to read New York Times tax writer’s David Cay Johnston’s fine books which document in painful detail the many ways the average American subsidizes the wealthy. Read Perfectly Legal or No Free Lunch or Read the Fine Print. If you’ve got a pulse, you’re spitting mad.

When Bernie makes it clear he has no SuperPAC, nor received any money from Wall Street, like the $17.2 million Hillary has received, more and more voters know what he is saying.

The great irony is that the oldest person in the race has so galvanized the nation’s under 45 years of age crowd, and especially those in college, that his plausibility of winning the nomination and the November election grows with each passing day.

National polls have him almost dead even with Hillary, within the margin of error. His campaign team thinks Bernie did actually win the total vote count in Iowa and also point to six Iowa precincts which supposedly were dead even where Hillary won the coin flip each time.

Conventional wisdom is that Bernie will clobber Hillary in New Hampshire, so watch for the spinmeisters and biased media to play down a Sanders victory. Candidly, many media scribes engage in the “expectation” game and then breathlessly proclaim how their pre-vote speculation did indeed happen. Of course there’s no one engaging in self-fulfilling prophecy.

Conventional wisdom says that South Carolina is Hillary’s firewall that will offset the midships blow she took in Iowa and the possibly 2:1 loss in New Hampshire. Much is made of the commanding lead she has among African-American voters there.

Bernie, however, is countering with the endorsement of one of the most influential NAACP leaders in modern times---Ben Jealous. Bernie has another gambit in his favor the media is ignoring----there are many white Democratic voters who are strong supporters of gun rights.

Bernie voted against the Brady Bill five times and he’s never been a big anti-gun senator in part because there are several major job employing gun manufacturers in his state. Like rural states and rural areas across the nation, there are many gun owners. Thus, Bernie is not anathma to the National Rifle Association though his rating is now an “F” because the NRA perceives a major shift to the left and support for more gun controls. If Bernie pulls off the upset, however, and beats Hillary in South Carolina his momentum may be unstoppable.

As Bernie’s national surge continues look for Hillary to attack more and harder. If she gets too nasty, look for Bernie to play the Walmart card.

It could unfold as follows: “Madame Secretary, you say you will be a fighter for the average working person. However, you served on the Walmart board for six years, from 1986 to 1992.

“During that time did you ever fight for an increase in the minimum wage? The answer is no, isn’t it? Did you ever argue for equal pay for equal work? The answer is no, isn’t it? Did you ever argue for health benefits to be extended to the thousands of part-time Walmart workers? The answer is no, isn’t it? Did you ever in the confines of the board room argue for the right of Walmart employees to form a union? The answer is no, isn’t it?

“You tell folks to look at your record. Well I have, Mrs. Clinton, and the record belies your claims.”

Game, set, match. It’s all over.

First take/New Hampshire

The establishment of both political parties had a very bad night and must be having a rugged morning after.

On the Democratic side, the New Hampshire primary win by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was certainly no surprise; most polls there have for several months shown him leading former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The size of the win was something else, though - that was beyond what nearly any poll had predicted. Sanders wound up with a true landslide, a 60% win, beating Clinton not just substantially but by more than 20 percentage points. He was advantaged in being a next-door neighbor, of course, and demographically as well, two reasons why a win was predicted. But a win on this scale has to involve other factors as well, including connecting with the tenor of the times in a way Clinton has not.

A month from now, there's a real possibility this point in the process may be a distant memory; the upcoming states will not represent such favorable ground for Sanders. But he has shown some real strength for his brand of progressive politics. He has tapped into something, and Clinton will ignore that at her peril. She is said to be spending time the next day or two recalibrating her campaign. If that involves such things as staff shakeups, you'll know that the interest is more in scapegoating than in problem solving; her chief problems do not appear to include staff weaknesses. But if you see changes in campaign style, tactics, and messages, you may get a sense they're actually adapting to conditions as they are on the ground.

On the Republican side - well, principally it was a night for businessman Donald Trump to prove that the polls weren't lying, and that any establishment attempt to take on him and Texas Senator Ted Cruz remains hopelessly incoherent, and will for at least a while longer.

The Iowa results were less conclusive in this respect. There, in the difficult caucus environment, Trump underperformed, the well-organized Cruz did about as well as expected (or maybe a little better), and the established appeared to found its guy in the form of Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

Now this scenario has been completely upended. This time, Trump matched his polling, or maybe did even a little better, ending the hope that his poll-reflected support wasn't real. It's real, all right, even if it may be reflected to various degrees in different kinds of states. Cruz fell to third place this time, though he probably wasn't feeling too bad about that; he had a first-place win (in Iowa) in his back pocket, and third place in a state as non-amenable to his form of evangelical and militia activist organization wasn't awful. Like Trump, he emerged well positioned to go on.

The real punch-out, strategically, was to the "establishment candidates" - Rubio, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Ohio Governor John Kasich. The mainstream of the national Republican organization badly needs one of them to emerge as its champion to slay Trump and Cruz, but the odds of that happening aren't promising right now.

Christie, finishing in sixth place, had invested heavily in New Hampshire and just couldn't gain traction, and now is nearly out of money; he probably drops from the race today. Bush, who saw an uptick in New Hampshire in the final days, did just well enough to justify continuing on, and can since he still has money and organization - even though there's no evidence of any enthusiastic support, or reason to think he'll be competitive with the top two. Rubio, the former organization champion, emerged badly bloodied after his "Marcobot" fiasco, and will have to rebuild enthusiasm for his campaign from the ground up - with hardly any time left to accomplish that. And Kasich, the one of the group who really did do well in New Hampshire, a state that was about as amenable to him as any in the country, spent practically every resource he had - time, money, personnel, energy - for months specifically in that state, and has little to nothing left over to pour into any other place. He has to be hoping his second place win Tuesday will translate to more money and support, and he may get some, but he remains a very long shot.

In all, the Republican race looks very much as it did a month ago. The clearest paths to the nomination are those pursued by Trump and Cruz; their nearest competitor, whoever that turns out to be (and that identity is far from clear right now) will have to clear out a lot of brush along the way. - rs