Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Clinton: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Eight years ago, in what was really my first few months as a blogger, I opened a post like this:
The most important question to ask tonight is:

Can a woman be elected President of the United States?

I think the answer, at the end of Hillary Clinton's campaign, has to be a resounding "Yes."

No, she didn't win. No, she is not going to be the next President. But it's no longer possible to say that a woman couldn't do it. It is now undeniable that a woman can be a powerful contender for the White House, and that if a few things had gone differently (her campaign strategy; her vote on Iraq) Senator Clinton would have had the nomination.
That was the night Hillary Clinton's first campaign for President ended, with the close of the 2008 California primary.
Last night she proved me wrong and right. I was right that she had paved the way for a woman to gain the nomination and to win the White House. But I did not foresee that the next woman candidate, the first to be nominated by a major party, would be Clinton herself. She has become her own successor, her own political descendant. I wish my mother had lived to see this day.
She didn't go easily eight years ago, and I was in the opposing camp. But I was moved by what she had achieved then, and moved more deeply by her accomplishments today.
In 2008 there were also mutterings that the fix was in, that she had had the race stolen from her by sexism. And then, as now, I thought those mutterings diminished then-Senator Clinton's place in history:
Least of all should her achievement be diminished by claims that the nomination was wrongly denied her, or that it was stolen. It wrongs Senator Clinton, and ill serves the women who will come after her, to imagine her not as the pioneer, the power broker, the master politician that she has become but instead as a victim.


Don't tell your daughters that the nomination was taken from Hillary Clinton. Don't tell them that the door to the Oval Office will always be closed, that no matter how well they do they will never get a fair accounting. Don't tell them that even the best candidate, with the best message and best campaign, will always be cheated by sexism, that a woman's best will never be good enough, or that even great women end up as victims. Tell them the truth: that there is a chance for them no matter what they do, that sexism will always have to be confronted and defeated but that it can be, and that while they will have to work harder and fight longer that in the end they will have the chance both to fail and to succeed, to take upon themselves the responsibility for their own defeats and their victories. Do Senator Clinton justice as a woman who made her own decisions, as a historic figure who held much of her political destiny in her own hands.

Tell your daughters that Hillary Clinton ran a great campaign, but not a perfect campaign. Tell them that she was a great woman, but not the last great woman. There was a better campaign to run, and there will be another woman, on another day, to run it.
The next day has come, and the next campaign, and the next great woman in American politics is Hillary Clinton herself. As long as I have thought I have known her, she never ceases to amaze.

History, here she comes.

cross-posted from, and all comments welcome at Dagblog

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Trump and Consequences

This seems to be the week that it began to sink in, even among the people who had bought into the conventional Beltway wisdom: Trump means what he says. And this is Trump, the only Trump there is. He's not going to "pivot toward the general election" like the wised-up insiders have been saying he would. He's not capable of change. Trump is deeply dishonest, but he believes what he says. When he says that if he's elected he will do things that are destructive, illegal, or unconstitutional, we should believe him.

Donald Trump says he would change libel laws so he could punish journalists who make him angry, because that's what he wants to do. He attacks the judge presiding over his fraud lawsuit, because he would like to punish that judge. He talks about using the power of the Presidency to attack his personal enemies, as he sees them, because that is what he wants to do. Anyone who thinks that Trump would not do those things if given a chance is deluding him- or herself.

Up until now, the conventional wisdom among certain journalists, politicians, and assorted hacks has been not to worry about what Trump says, because in time he will follow the usual political script and do what the conventional wisdom expects. (As if Trump has followed the conventional script at any point up until now.) The wised-up types haven't been worried about what Trump says at his rallies because they pride themselves on being smarter than the audience, and Trump's act is so obviously phony that only an idiot would buy it. But they forgot that Trump actually is one of the idiots who buys Trump's act.

Donald J. Trump is suffering from a serious psychiatric disorder. (Disclosure: I am not a psychiatrist or a psychologist. On the other hand, I am not wrong.) That disorder is incurable, and Trump would refuse treatment if it were offered to him. He's a narcissist, and he likes himself this way. But that major personality disorder limits him. He can lie with enormous conviction, and then tell a contradictory lie with the same intense emotional belief a few seconds later. But what Trump cannot do is stop believing in his own lies. He has no sense of an authentic self outside of those lies. He's not a guy who puts on act to bullshit the rubes. The bullshit is his identity. He is the act, and he has no other character to play. So his psychiatric condition makes Trump enormously rigid in ways healthy people would not expect. He can change the details of the bullshit at lightning speed, but he can't change the basic act, because there's no Trump outside the act.

There's not going to be any "pivot" to a more presidential or conciliatory Trump for the general election. He's not capable of that. And if he were elected, there would not be any shift from campaign mode to governing mode. Hell, no. This is not campaign mode. This is Trump mode, the only mode he has. The only difference if he were elected would be that Trump's sense of grandiosity would be rewarded and intensified, to everyone else's danger, because Trump would be even more convinced that he could do anything he wants.

So the media has fed Trump's campaign, because he fits neatly into their crassest and most cynical business strategies. But if Trump wins, he will destroy the American media by attacking press freedom. Actions have consequences. Those who enabled Trump will pay the price, because Trump himself will punish them.

The Republican politicians making the craven decision to endorse Trump are likewise courting the destruction of their own party. I'm not sure what happens to the Republicans after a Trump loss, but I'm pretty sure a Trump victory would mean the end of the Republican Party. This is the predictable consequence of various party actors' actions.

Donald Trump is a liar, but we should take him at his word. If he is elected he will blow up America's foreign alliances, just as he says he would. He will attempt to deport 11 million people. He will run up a massive deficit with more tax cuts for millionaires, just as he promises. And he will bankrupt the country trying to pay for his asinine wall with Mexico, because he has talked about the wall so much that there is no going back. Trump can lie and backtrack, but he cannot bear to be seen backing down. He couldn't build the wall, because it's impossible and impractical. But he also can't not build the wall.

No one should be surprised at how crazy Trump is. He's been telling us at the top of his lungs for a year. But various people have, for their own reasons, tried to rationalize away Trump's obvious break with reason and treat him like a normal candidate. Those people have been extraordinarily reckless, and they have put our country in real danger. Trump should never have gotten this close. And those who have helped him should never be trusted again.

Trump will spend the next five months demonstrating how profoundly unfit he is. He can't help himself. But he will also be establishing, beyond any reasonable doubt, his enablers' unfitness for public trust. And those people had a choice.

cross-posted from, and all comments welcome at, Dagblog