How to Lose an Election (Clinton II edition)

In a few days, I’m going to post an endorsement of SSLEV (i.e. swing state lesser evil voting) roughly along the lines of the positions taken by Adolph Reed and Noam Chomsky among others.

Before I deal with the arguments against supporting Clinton (albeit on this highly limited basis), some of which I expect to be reasonable, I’ll need to deal with those in favor, specifically, a group of which are anything but: those made by Clinton loyalists attempting woo the Sanders bloc.  A nadir of infantilized absurdity was reached, one hopes, in Rebecca Traister’s recent piece advocating support for Clinton based on a comparison to “General Leia.” But even those in the Clinton camp most capable of skepticism seem unable to face up to Clinton’s long history of triangulatory cynicism, finding it necessary to gild some portion of the lily to sell their product to potential Bernie or Busters.

A good example of the genre is Jonathan Freedland taking to the Guardian to announce that Clinton’s “actual policy positions on, say, Wall Street and inequality,” have “shifted leftward – partly under pressure from Sanders” . That’s accurate as far as it goes, though Freedland never considers the possibility that in doing so, she is merely retracing the steps of the first Clinton administration which sold its rightist agenda to the left with ample “I feel your pain” rhetoric and vague promises to “put people first”, as I noted here.

Freedland’s sees none of this focussing only on what he claims to be “her decades-long record as a progressive and reformer.”  If by “reform” he means welfare and banking reform, both of which the then first lady cheered on- with the former resulting in now record levels of “deep” poverty while the latter helped to mint a new class of plutocratic overlords-Freedland’s position has some merit. Of course, that’s not what he has in mind,  presumably expecting his readers to defer to his expertise in with respect to Clinton’s supposedly “progressive” record, something which Sanders supporters well know to be far from the case. That also goes for the presumption of the authority of “most analysts” who Freedland endorses in their specious claim that Clinton’s policy proposals  “are the more serious and practical” than those of Sanders.  This merely parrots Clinton’s talking point praising her as “a progressive with results” and has just as little to recommend it.

Similar lapses are on display in Peter Dreier’s “Five-Point Plan for Sanders Going Forward” published on Alternet.  Here we find the claim that “a majority of (Clinton’s appointees) to the party’s platform committee” are ” stalwart progressives.”  These include,  according to him,  “former EMILY’s List head Wendy Sherman and Neera Tanden of the Center for American Progress.”

EMILY’s List, of course, as most minimally critical observers are aware, is only “progressive” insofar as this exclusively equates to “pro-choice”. This   accounts for, for example, Ohio’s Marcy Kaptur, among the congress’s most left leaning members,  never receiving a dime from EMILY’s List while right wing Republicans routinely cashed their checks provided they held the line on “choice”.   One wonders whether Dreier’s invocation of Neera Tanden had occurred prior to the great blogger Matt Breuning having exposed her vile statements on Libya, apologetics for Benjamin Netanyahu and longstanding advocacy for to Clintonite neoliberal austerity and militarism.  As is now well known, Bruening was made to pay for speaking truth to this Washington powerbroker in losing his position at the liberal thinktank Demos.

Whether or not Dreier was aware of the scandal involving Breuning’s termination, he should know that the names Neera Tanden and Wendy Sherman set off alarm bells as they are precisely the sort of establishment insiders which Sanders’s political revolution is directly targeting.

If this is the best the Clinton side can do to enlist Sanders voters to their side, we should all begin to prepare ourselves for the anni horribilis a Trump administration is sure to usher in.

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