Trigger warning for pure nerdery.
In the light of recent poll numbers, putting Obama over 50% in approval yet with Hillary Clinton sinking ever deeper underwater, pundits such as Kevin Drum puzzle over the question: how can anyone like Obama but loathe Hillary?
After all, their respective position papers look pretty damn similar on all the usual issues, from guns to health care to LGBT rights. Maybe one or the other is just a smidgen to the right or the left on such-a-such thing if scored by a political think tank, but the average schmoe won’t even notice such minute variations, let alone care (leaving aside the big problem of her foreign policy hawkishness for the moment).
Part of the problem is charisma. Both Obama and especially Trump know how to move to an audience and to charm one-on-one; Hillary has the warm and welcoming nature of your average trapdoor spider.
But even more than that — it all comes down to the one thing that Trump has already zeroed in on: Hillary is corrupt as sin. That is one thing even the average low-information voter knows and one thing he can easily understand. Trade policy might leave Mr. Low-Info confused, but a thieving politician taking bribes?
DJT has an uncanny knack for giving his opponents easy-to-remember monikers that home in on their weaknesses, from Low-Energy Jeb to Little Marco to Lyin’ Ted, and he wasted no time in coming up with Crooked Hillary. It’s a charge even her most ardent defenders find difficult to rebut, what with the email servers and her corrupt insider cabal and the ’90s-era scandals and, above all, the Clinton Foundation.
Like all corrupt politicians, Hillary believes deeply in the principle of pay-to-play. But, unfortunately for her, she does not make up for it with the natural folksy charm of other slippery politicians like Huey Long, Edwin Edwards, or uh, Bill Clinton.
Meanwhile, not even the most obsessive, ODS-crazed haters of Barack Hussein Obama have ever come up with serious charges of corruption or being just in it for the bribes. They’ll call him a lazy incompetent Kenyan Muslim closet-commie America-hating gun-confiscating tree-hugging lizard person — but they’ll rarely seriously call him a crook.
By comparison, for any and every action President Hillary Clinton does, for a lot of people, it won’t be a question of whether she’s being paid off. It will be a question of by whom. If not through kickbacks through the Clinton Foundation, then by secret deals channeled through one of her various henchmen such as Lanny Davis and their own racketeering NGOs. And that is why her numbers suck and Obama’s don’t.
That’s also the biggest reason why Bernie continues to hang on against long odds and why he has such passionate support. Everyone knows Hillary represents the worst of business-as-usual in a way that’s completely independent of policy or white papers. Kevin Drum makes a good case that her healthcare policy is virtually identical to Obama’s — but he’s missing the point. A lot of centrist voters, or even moderate-conservative voters repelled by Trump, are attending those Bernie rallies that continue to overflow — even if on paper their views are closer to Hillary’s.
Because for people outside the bicoastal media bubble, position papers are far less important than the moral character of the candidate; their charisma; and their relatability. Sure, a lot of people have a strong tendency to vote straight-ticket D or R every single election no matter who’s running — but ask Walter Mondale just how absolute this tendency is.
Both presumptive nominees are dishonest, venal, grasping, nefarious people out only for themselves and, possibly, their closest cronies and family. Whatever his faults, few see Obama in this same light. Hillary’s greater problem is that Trump is able to paper over his odious nature with his reality-TV-honed charisma — but hers is unconcealed. It may cost her the election.
Since I currently only barely have the attention span to compose a coherent tweet, let alone a proper blog post…
On that note: Spoilers for Game of Thrones and the most recent Captain America movie below the fold.
CARACAS – Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro today further expounded on the alleged U.S. “threats” that he said trigged a state of emergency, stating that “dastardly, neo-fascists” in the CIA aim to destroy the oil-rich country once and for all by forcing Nicolas Maduro to remain president.
“The fascist pigs in Washington aim to topple our great nation by destroying it from within,” Maduro said on state television. “This is why the gangsters of the CIA are forcing Venezuela to be ruled by their puppet, Nicolas Maduro.”
President Maduro listed off a withering battery of charges to prove how President Maduro was bringing the country to its knees at the behest of the Obama Administration. “Runaway corruption and graft; taking over the economy, yet exhibiting colossal incompetence at running the economy at every level; foreign contractors easily swindling the country for its petro-dollars; blackouts that worsen every day, despite being one of the world’s biggest oil exporters.”
Slamming his fist on his desk, Maduro declared in Spanish, “Why, this Yankee stooge named Maduro now lets his government employees work just two days a week — while getting paid full! In a system where the government owns everything! Where are the people supposed to go for even basic services?”
Not many were able to watch the address in the darkened streets of Caracas, as rolling blackouts kept TVs off and rampant crime and looting prevented citizens from watching it in public places.
“The people demand change, and yet they will not get it. How could this be, unless evil Yankees were forcing Maduro to remain?” Maduro asked his audience.
“And this inflation! Get this — it’s gotten so bad that this idiot Maduro literally does not have enough money to print more money!” a furious Maduro declared.
He noted global analysts’ shock at how rapidly the country fell apart under President Maduro’s rule of just a few years, a feat unprecedented in a modern country not going through a war.
“Nicolas Maduro was more effective at destroying Venezuela than a nuclear bomb,” Nicolas Maduro concluded. “Never before have the sinister devils of Washington come up with such an effective strategy to destroy us. Never before have they unleased Nicolas Maduro!”
Hillary is the lesser of two evils. No question. At least under her, I won’t have as much fear of a sudden nuclear conflagration for no damn reason, let alone destabilization of the dollar; recession as international investors flee; downgrade of American debt and subsequent increase in our debt APR; loss of even our most important allies such as Japan; mass abrogation of civil rights of immigrants, Muslims, women, and anyone who publically badmouthed the president; renormalization in society of explicit racism. All of these are very real possibilities under Trump.
All that said, I just cannot bring myself to pull the lever for HRC. I’ve written more than a few posts on why in this blog, but four big reasons are Sid Blumenthal, Lanny Davis, David Brock, and Huma Abedin. You can judge a person by who they choose to surround themselves with — Trump and his obnoxious toadies represent a case study — and not even the most vocal #ImWithHer Hillary backer has ever mounted a defense of these horrible, horrible people. Hillary has had plenty of time to remove these people from her presence, even when they were bringing bad publicity onto herself, even when Obama himself wanted nothing to do with the odious Blumenthal while she worked in his administration, and she still kept these people close. It simply says a lot about her and her moral character. And then we get to her system of patronage and special privileges to those with connections; the warmongering that makes even Trump look like a peacenik; the cynicism that makes her honestly consider Henry Kissinger one of our best Secretaries of State ever; and did I mention the corruption?
I. Just. Can’t. Do. It.
Maybe I would feel some guilt if I lived in a battleground state with my #NeverHillary attitude. But I would still do what I’m going to do now, which is vote third party.
Either way, I hold no illusions it will result in someone else getting elected. Nobody electable in the GOP has mounted an independent bid, and Bernie has ruled out one from the left. There will be no third-party candidate who will approach even Perot levels of viability this year, let alone anyone who can hope to carry even a single state. I may as well stay at home.
Except, not really. A protest vote is not the same as not voting. My hope is that there will be an unusually high number of third-party votes cast nationwide in November, enough to garner at least a modicum of media attention and a few thinkpieces in the right publications. Maybe a few “the system is broken” stories would emerge, and help encourage people to nominate candidates that aren’t quite so awful as the two on hand this year. Maybe the “race to the bottom” made memorable in the GOP primaries is not the way to go after all.
As far as who I’ll vote for specifically, I have no idea. Gary Johnson? Jill Stein? Someone else? Maybe the craziest SOB I can find on the ballot? I’m open to suggestions.
Either way, I am #NeverHillary and #NeverTrump. A pox on both their houses.
(This optimistic, uplifting, humorous post brought to you by the letter F.)