Friday, April 29, 2016

This Campaign, This Damn Pain IV: The Voyage Home

Hi there! Welcome to I’m So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, the little blog that’s gonna break up the big internets. I’ve Dave-El and I’m leading a revolution in favor of apathy.

One of my favorite topics on this blog is politics and what with the ongoing apocalyptic clusterfuck known as the 2016 US Presidential Campaign, there’s been a lot to talk about and more to the point to make fun of. A lot of that comes courtesy of the Republicans which is pretty understandable when you’re top vote getter is a narcissistic Oompa Loompa with hair that resembles a tufala tree from Dr. Seuss. And his remaining competitors are a petulant baby in a lumpy man suit and a generic white dude from a 1970s Sears catalog.

But what, pray tell, is going on the other side of the midway in this election year circus? What are the Democrats up to?

Well, the Democrats are doing pretty much they always do: snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Let’s chat about Sen. Bernie Sanders for a moment. Ah, God bless Bernie with his one rumpled suit, his mad scientist hair and his “I really don’t give a shit what you think” persona. He brought a level of excitement to the Democratic race when Hillary Clinton’s only challengers were… some other guys. I don’t care enough now to look up their names which is more than I cared then when they were actually running. Bernie was a wild card that energized voters, particularly young people who are particularly tired of usual cast of cookie cutter candidates who promised nothing of value and delivered even less. Bernie Sanders really took off when Saturday Night Live got Larry David to portray the senator in debate sketches.

Bernie is loud and brash and unfiltered. In a way, he’s the Democrat Party’s version of Donald Trump. But just like Trump, Sanders has a lot of big idea but with little details how to make them a reality. He’s going to break up the big banks. OK, how? Free college for everyone sounds great it’s still gotta be paid for. How? People love the big ideas so much, they’re not asking the important questions about how to get these ideas done.

And like Donald, Bernie also doesn’t seem to know when to shut up. Early on, Bernie was the progressive goad to Hillary’s left and that actually served a valuable function for the Democratic campaign. As Clinton follows a more centrist perspective with an eye towards the general election, Sanders gives voice to the more liberal positions of the Democratic party and forces Clinton to address those points. However, as Sanders has won several primaries and caucuses, perhaps more than anyone had anticipated, Sanders has been more heated and hostile towards Clinton. It’s like Sanders is becoming more obsessed with beating Clinton than just making sure the issues that are important to him and his supporters are heard. For a candidate who made a big deal about talking about the issues and only the issues, he’s made some harsh comments about Clinton’s character and competence. Bernie is making this race personal.

Wednesday, the Sanders campaign announced several layoffs of campaign staff. In the wake of the last two weeks of losses, it doesn't bode well for Bernie. His campaign manager said it was a reasonable step to take as the campaign was staffed to cover 50 states and there are only 10 left. But cutting staff at this stage does not suggest a positive outlook for a post-primary, general election effort.

Bernie Sanders entered into the hearts and minds of Americans as the cranky curmudgeon standing solitary against the forces of big business and big money that he sees destroying America. But now he seems less endearingly cranky and more brutally bitter. It’s not an endearing trait at all. And it does nothing but hurt Bernie’s rep with his followers and fractures any sort of unity the party will need to get behind the eventual Democratic nominee. 

Which will be Hillary Clinton but damn, she’s not exactly in the driver’s seat in the march to the Democratic convention this summer. For a person who professes to not be a polished politician like her husband, Hillary Clinton contorts herself like a pretzel to fit the needs of the moment, just like a politician. She will, for example, effect a Southern accent when she goes down south. She will cop to carrying hot sauce in her purse when she appears on a black radio station program. She will answer a question with a paragraph when a single word will do. She’s native New Yorker, at least ever since she and Bill bought a home back in 2000 when she decided that being a Senator from New York would be cool. She’s also a good ol’ Arkansas girl because her husband was Governor there. Hillary Clinton is whoever she needs to be. No wonder she has trouble getting people to trust her. Seriously, her unfavorable ratings are second only to Donald Trump. If she does wind up facing Trump in the general election, the choice will come down to whoever we fucking can’t stand the least.

And the thing is, I think it’s a shame, really, that Hillary Clinton cannot seem to get control of her image, her standing with the American people any better than she has. The Onion had an amusing headline about Clinton that kind of sums her problem: Clinton, Female US Senator and Secretary of State, Told She Needs To Be More Inspiring To Women. On paper, Hillary Clinton should be amazing. Hell, even Marco Rubio acknowledged her record in public service during a Republican debate. (Yeah, he got booed for saying a nice thing about Hillary and Marco isn’t running for President anymore.) In practice, Hillary seems to be at a disadvantage. Maybe she isn’t the polished campaigner. Maybe she’s trying too hard to be too many things to too many people. Maybe she’s straddling too many fences to please too wide an audience.

None of the points made in the last two paragraphs are unique to Hillary Clinton. Lots of other politicians have tried to act down home in the country and slick in the city. Of course, almost all of those politicians were male. Is that the problem here? Is Hillary Clinton being held to a different, even higher standard, because she is a woman? If so, then America needs to grow up and accept that a woman can be as shallow a suck up prick as any male politician.

I think I’ve done enough damage around here today. I’ll be back with another new post tomorrow. Until then, remember to be good to one another.

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