Tag: 2016 Presidential Election

The Clinton Apologia

There are many things in our political system I will never understand. And one of those is the Cult of Hillary Clinton.
It’s been almost six months since the election. We’re slowly getting a little more information about what went on in the disastrous Clinton campaign. And Hillary has apparently gotten a book deal to blame everyone but herself for the loss. It seems pretty clear that her campaign was sunk by a combination of bad tactical decisions, a public distaste for her, a profound sense of entitlement and, perhaps, an unfortunately-timed development in the e-mail scandal in the form of the Comey letter.

Nevertheless, there is a large cadre of people who refuse to believe that her defeat was anything besides a sexist conspiracy by government insiders, Russian agents and the media. And what strikes me over and over is the need to portray Hillary Clinton as a victim. To wit:

The theme is the same: Hillary Clinton was a selfless absurdly qualified public servant who the Republicans chased with 25 years of pseudo-scandals until finally a Russian-FBI-media cabal brought her down. They wonder if she’s doing all right and hope that she will stay in the public sphere, even suggesting she run for Mayor of New York.

Andrew Sullivan takes the wind out of this line of nonsense. And I’m going to do a long quote here because it’s beautiful.

And everywhere you see not an excoriation of one of the worst campaigns in recent history, leading to the Trump nightmare, but an attempt to blame anyone or anything but Clinton herself for the epic fail. It wasn’t Clinton’s fault, we’re told. It never is. It was the voters’ — those ungrateful, deplorable know-nothings! Their sexism defeated her (despite a majority of white women voting for Trump). A wave of misogyny defeated her (ditto). James Comey is to blame. Bernie Sanders’s campaign — because it highlighted her enmeshment with Wall Street, her brain-dead interventionism and her rapacious money-grubbing since she left the State Department — was the problem. Millennial feminists were guilty as well, for not seeing what an amazing crusader for their cause this candidate was. And this, of course, is how Clinton sees it as well: She wasn’t responsible for her own campaign — her staffers were. As a new book on her campaign notes, after Clinton lost the Michigan primary to Sanders, “The blame belonged to her campaign team, she believed, for failing to hone her message, energize important constituencies, and take care of business in getting voters to the polls.” So by the time the general-election campaign came round, they’d fix that and win Michigan, right?

Let us review the facts: Clinton had the backing of the entire Democratic establishment, including the president (his biggest mistake in eight years by far), and was even married to the last, popular Democratic president. As in 2008, when she managed to lose to a neophyte whose middle name was Hussein, everything was stacked in her favor. In fact, the Clintons so intimidated other potential candidates and donors, she had the nomination all but wrapped up before she even started. And yet she was so bad a candidate, she still only managed to squeak through in the primaries against an elderly, stopped-clock socialist who wasn’t even in her party, and who spent his honeymoon in the Soviet Union. She ran with a popular Democratic incumbent president in the White House in a growing economy. She had the extra allure of possibly breaking a glass ceiling that — with any other female candidate — would have been as inspiring as the election of the first black president. In the general election, she was running against a malevolent buffoon with no political experience, with a deeply divided party behind him, and whose negatives were stratospheric. She outspent him by almost two-to-one. Her convention was far more impressive than his. The demographics favored her. And yet she still managed to lose!

“But … but … but …” her deluded fans insist, “she won the popular vote!” But that’s precisely my point. Any candidate who can win the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes and still manage to lose the Electoral College by 304 to 227 is so profoundly incompetent, so miserably useless as a politician, she should be drummed out of the party under a welter of derision. Compare her electoral college result with Al Gore’s, who also won the popular vote but lost in the Electoral College: 271 to 266. For that matter, compare hers with John Kerry’s, who lost the popular vote by 1.5 percent — 286 to 241. She couldn’t even find a halfway-decent speechwriter for her convention speech. The week before the election, she was campaigning in Arizona, for Pete’s sake. And she took off chunks of the summer, fundraising (at one point, in the swing states of Fire Island and Provincetown). Whenever she gave a speech, you could hear the air sucking out of the room minutes after she started. In the middle of an election campaign, she dismissed half of the Republican voters as “deplorable.” She lost Wisconsin, which she didn’t visit once. I could go on.

I can understand why people are disappointed in Trump’s victory. But I can not understand the sympathy and moaning over Clinton. The Clintons have made $153 million in speaking fees since Bill left office. They’ve made $23 million in books deals and that was before Clinton’s newest deal. They have a daughter, two grandchildren and a host of glitterati friends. They spent 25 years as two of the most powerful people in the world. Why in the name of Satan’s balls would you feel sorry for them?

Hillary Clinton lost won of the most winnable elections in history. She lost against her dream candidate, the one that she desperately wanted to oppose. And the main reason she lost it was because of her own damned self. Yes, you can excoriate Trump voters if you want — keeping in mind that about a two-thirds of the electorate would vote for their party even if Satan were the nominee. But Barack Obama faced many of the same or worse headwinds Clinton did and won twice. Handily.

Here, in no particular order, are ten reasons why Clinton lost the election that have nothing to do with sexism, James Comey or evil media cabals.

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Done Deal

I know this comes as a shock. I mean, after all, there were appeals for the Electoral College to overturn the election from Martin Sheen and Michael Moore. But, no, the Electoral College vote went … almost as expected:

Donald Trump has surpassed the necessary 270 votes in the Electoral College, the next step in the official process to become President.

Trump received 304 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton’s 224. Six “faithless” electors voted for other candidates, costing Trump two votes and Clinton four. And Hawaii’s electors are still set to meet later Monday, with the state’s four votes expected to go to Clinton.

The results mean Trump — who lost the popular vote by more than 2 percentage points to Clinton — easily staved off a long-shot bid by opponents to turn Republican electors against him.

The Electoral College results will be officially certified January 6 during a joint session of Congress.

(Of course, I’m sure some crazy person will come up with a scheme whereby Congress could overturn the Electoral College.)

There were actually nine faithless electors today, matching the total of all election since 1912 combined. Two Texans voted for Kasich and Paul. Three Washingtonians voted for Colin Powell. One voted for Faith Spotted Eagle. One Minnesota elector and one Maine elector voted for Sanders but were overruled. And one Colorado elector voted for Kasich but was overruled.

And that is kind of amazing. I am a bit hesitant to read too much into the actions of nine people, but electors almost never do this. It was a protest vote, yes, but a protest vote with fire. It is a reminder that the 2016 election was a vote against political insiders and that the public will happily turn on Trump is he turns out to be just another insider in outsider clothing.

Hopefully, this will bring some closure and start to diminish the bad craziness we’ve seen from the Left since November 9. We need an opposition that has at least some of its marbles. And an opposition that is, for example, urging the Electoral College to overturn an election based on anonymous CIA claims that the Russians released some politically embarrassing information on the Democrats does not have its marbles.

How Clinton Failed

Politico has a really good article detailing how Hillary Clinton lost the most winnable Presidential campaign in history:

Everybody could see Hillary Clinton was cooked in Iowa. So when, a week-and-a-half out, the Service Employees International Union started hearing anxiety out of Michigan, union officials decided to reroute their volunteers, giving a desperate team on the ground around Detroit some hope.

They started prepping meals and organizing hotel rooms.

SEIU — which had wanted to go to Michigan from the beginning, but been ordered not to — dialed Clinton’s top campaign aides to tell them about the new plan. According to several people familiar with the call, Brooklyn was furious.

Turn that bus around, the Clinton team ordered SEIU. Those volunteers needed to stay in Iowa to fool Donald Trump into competing there, not drive to Michigan, where the Democrat’s models projected a 5-point win through the morning of Election Day.

Michigan organizers were shocked. It was the latest case of Brooklyn ignoring on-the-ground intel and pleas for help in a race that they felt slipping away at the end.

“They believed they were more experienced, which they were. They believed they were smarter, which they weren’t,” said Donnie Fowler, who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee during the final months of the campaign. “They believed they had better information, which they didn’t.”

The article isn’t long and is worth a read. Basically, Clinton abandoned critical states, putting her faith in models that projected them to be safe because they had a lead of … five whole points. Volunteers were ignored. Literature was never handed out. Door-to-door campaigning, the lifeblood of any political campaign, was seen as passe. It’s incredibly damning of the Clinton campaign and of Clinton herself.

Over the last few weeks, we have been hearing a litany of excuses for why Hillary Clinton lost: it was the Comey letter, it was the Russians, it was Fox News, it was “fake news”, it was the Russians. But there’s a problem with this. Even if you assume that the Comey letter had an impact or the Podesta leaks mattered — huge assumptions, in my view — the race should not have been close enough for them to matter. When the race began, Clinton started with high positives and the entire Democratic Party and media establishment behind her. That was not going to last — Clinton had a long history of bad policy and corruption dating back to Arkansas. But she still should have been able to mop the floor with Trump, who wasn’t clear on whether he wanted to be President and stomped on every political mine in the field. Clinton had her dream candidate and she still lost.

And now we’re seeing why: bad management, poor decision-making and a sense of entitlement to victory. Instead of making sure she had the critical rust belt states in the bag, Clinton got greedy and tried to snatch states like Iowa away, hoping for a landslide. She outgamed herself, withholding resources from Michigan because she hoped she could bluff Trump into not fighting for the state.

(The stupidity of that last can not be overstated. Trump could not win without Michigan. One of the things that got discussed endlessly in the run-up to the election was that Trump has very few paths to victory. He essentially had to run the table on swing states and then steal a few “lean” states away from Clinton, particularly in the Rust Belt. This is, of course, precisely what he did. That Clinton did not throw everything into blocking his only route to victory show not only political idiocy but the kind of basic strategic blundering we saw as Secretary of State and I’m sure we would have seen has she been elected.)

This is not unprecedented. In 2000, Clinton, handed a Senate seat on a golden platter by a popular outgoing Senator, won her race by ten points in a state Gore won by 25. She was losing at points in the race and might have lost on election day had Rick Lazio not faceplanted.

Handed the Presidential race in 2008, she lost to a two-year Senator whose middle name was Hussein. And the reason she lost was the same: taking states for granted, assuming she would win, outgaming herself.

I lived in Texas at the time and it was the first time in many years that Texas was contested. Obama lost the primary but ended up with more delegates because he won the caucuses. I wasn’t a Democrat so didn’t attend the caucuses. But you could see this was going to happen because Obama’s people were fucking everywhere. They were knocking on doors, they were at the polls, they were running commercials. And on election day, they were always reminding people to come back that evening for the caucus. Obama has visited the state earlier. And he didn’t just pop into Austin, give a speech and jet out. He met with people, he shook a million hands and he listened. Obama fought hard and fought well to win Texas, despite everyone’s assurance that no black man could win the state. And that’s why he ended up edging her both in the Texas delegate count and the overall count.

Since 2009, I have lived in Pennsylvania. More to the point, I live in a college town. In 2008, while visiting for job interviews, I saw Obama signs everywhere. In 2012, Obama signs were everywhere and the place was crawling with canvassers making sure they got out the vote. This year … I actually saw more Trump signs. In a college town. I saw one lonely canvasser working our neighborhood the day before the election. In a college town. The Trump people were handing out signs and stickers on campus when Clinton people were few and far between. In a college town. After the election, there were lots of protests. Before … nothing. No big rallies. Few events. Being in academia, almost everyone I know voted for Clinton. But the lack of enthusiasm was palpable.

This is how you lose an election. The Left is making a big deal of the Clinton winning the popular vote by three million votes — a larger margin than many Presidents who won their elections. But they’re missing the point of that. A three million vote advantage in the popular vote should have easily translated to an electoral college victory. It didn’t. And the reason it didn’t isn’t because of shady conspiracies and Russian hackers. The reason is because Trump (and Conway) refused to concede the election before the votes were cast. And Clinton thought she’d already won. And, equally important, she thought just showing up and having a vile opponent was enough.

It wasn’t. It never would have been. She had to fight for it. She had to listen to people in the field. And she had to give people something to vote for. As much as I dislike Trump, he campaigned his heart out, he fought for states that the experts were writing off and, however much I might have disagreed with him, you knew what he was campaigning on. That’s why he’s assembling his cabinet right now and Clinton is wandering in the woods, taking selfies with disappointed supporters.

Addendum: And as long as we’re on the subject …

A lot of people are talking about the Electoral College and whether we should ditch it as outdated (on the days when they are not calling for it to rebel against Trump and save our democracy). Let’s put aside the practical considerations — you would need a Constitutional Amendment or interstate agreement that swing states would never support. Let’s put aside the voter considerations — you would create a race to the bottom as states tried to expand their voting rolls as much as possible. And let’s put aside the political considerations — support for the EC has risen sharply. Here’s the gripping hand about the 2016 election:

I think the Electoral College just functioned exactly as intended.

The idea of the College is to balance the power of states with high populations against those with lower populations. Practically, this has balanced the political power of cities against rural areas. It has prevented Democrats from winning the White House by running up giant margins in cities and forced them to at least pay lip service to rural areas. And vice versa for Republicans.

Right now, everyone is talking about why the rural Rust Belt areas abandoned the Democrats. Suddenly, we’re noticing that the economy is doing well … if you live in a coastal city or have a college degree. We’re noticing that while free trade has benefited the country enormously, specific communities have been hit hard. We’re noticing the epidemic of unemployment and opiate abuse that is crushing small towns.

None of this conversation would be happening without the Electoral College. If this election had been decided by popular vote, Hillary would have coasted to victory on the support of coastal cities and the rest of the country would be left to rot.

A lot has been made of the fact that two of the last five election have ended in an electoral-popular split. And, more to the point, that reflects a growing divide in which Democrats are winning the White House popular vote based on California and New York and losing it everywhere else. This is important. It is telling us that something has gone deeply wrong in our political system.

Trump doesn’t really know how to address this. Cutting off free trade and immigration will just make things worse. But neither does Clinton, who thinks that cities living through an ongoing depression can magically afford $15-an-hour jobs. Until we figure out how to build prosperity for everyone, we will continue to have these divides.

The split between the electoral college and the popular vote is a warning sign of a growing divide in the country. Let’s not kill the messenger.

Turkeys And Drumsticks 2016

For nine years running, I have taken advantage of the Thanksgiving Holiday to give out my awards for Turkey of the Year and Golden Drumsticks. The latter are for those who exemplify the best traits in our public sphere. The former are for those who exemplify silliness and stupidity. I rarely give them out to someone who is evil; they are reserved for those who regularly make me shake my head and wonder what they’re thinking. It’s a sort of “thank you” for making blogging easier.

This may be the last of these. We’ll see. But this is the post I most look forward to every year.

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President Trump

I’ll have more thoughts later in the day, including some thoughts on the future of the blog. Right now, the popular vote is tied but Clinton could still win it slightly. So as far as the polling goes, it wasn’t entirely wrong. The result was off by 3 or 4 points, which is a big error, but not historic. The people who projected a 99% chance of a Clinton win, as I said, were too drunk on state polling.

Right now, the Left is melting down, proclaiming that this proves America is a racist misogynistic country. Maybe. But the fact is that only real victories the Democrats have had in the last 22 years — 2006 and 2008) were the result of the disastrous Bush presidency. The Republicans have piled up win after win in Congress and the State Houses. This year, they nominated a woman had trouble winning the NY senate seat in 2000, lost a gift-wrapped nomination in 2008 and was just humiliated by a semi-coherent hamster.

Maybe they need to rethink their approach to this whole politics thing.

Some Thoughts on The Polls

There’s a nerd fight going on between Nate Silver and several other analysts about how to interpret the Presidential election polls. Silver is projecting Clinton as having about a 65% chance of winning. HuffPo and Princeton are projecting her at 98%. I have some thoughts over at my personal blog:

Put aside everything you know about the candidates, the election and the polls. If someone offered you a 50-to-1 or a 100-to-1 bet on any major party candidate winning the election, would you take it? I certainly would. I would have bet $10 on Mondale in 1984 if it was a potential $1000 payoff. And he lost by 20 points.

It seems a huge stretch to give 98 or 99% odds to Clinton, considering:

  • Clinton has never touched 50% in the poll aggregates.
  • There are still large numbers of undecideds and third party supporters who will doubtless vote for one of the two candidates (and Trump’s recent surge has come from fleeing Johnson voters).
  • We have fewer live interview polls now than we did in 2012.
  • As Nate Silver noted, the average difference between final polls and the election has been about two points.

Basically, I think Wang and HuffPo are not accounting enough for the possibility that the polls are significantly off. In the last 40 years, we’ve had one Presidential election (1980) where the polls were off by a whopping seven points. That’s enough for Trump to win easily (or for Clinton to win in a landslide).

HuffPo’s analysis seems kind of bizarre to me, actually. They currently have Clinton up 5 points in the polls. There is not a single national poll that as Clinton up by that much right now. The average polls advantage for Clinton is two points. Silver estimates that corresponds to a real advantage of three. If he’s right, Clinton has an advantage but any outcome is possible.

Debate Three

Ugh.

The winner of this debate was clearly Chris Wallace who kept the candidates on task and pressed them on several key issues (most notably pressing Hillary on her proposed Syrian no-fly zone that could spark a war with Russia). Trump was OK at first but then got more incoherent as the night went on. Clinton was terrible at addressing questions about Wikileaks, had an awful answer on the Supreme Court and kept trying to awkwardly pivot to her talking points.

Trump probably edges this one out but I don’t think it will make a difference at this point. The good news is that this is the last debate of this endless election season. And so … maybe we’re the real winners.

How I’ll Vote

Reason has their annual who we’ll vote for article out in which their writers and associated libertarians reveal who they plan to vote for in this election. I’ve indicated my intension before, but I’ll put it down in one place, answering the same questions the Reason people did.

Who are you voting for? Gary Johnson. He is by far the best candidate on the issues, by far the most qualified and by far the most likable. I realize people think this is a wasted vote; I do not think so. And Pennsylvania is unlikely to be close, in any case. If some combination of Johnson, McMullin and Stein deny Crump a majority, we can deny them a mandate.

Down ballot, I will be voting for Pat Toomey for Senate and Glenn Thompson for the House. Because I think the most important part of this election is having Republicans retain control of Congress.

(I also think the Republican Party may schism after this into a conservative party and a populist one. But that’s a subject for another post.)

Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? Trump. Clinton is an unprincipled, corrupt, amoral power-grubber whose policies, such as they are, are awful. She’s taking a provocative stance with Russia, has a long history of supporting idiotic foreign adventures, wants to raise taxes and spending out the wazoo and would appoint bad justices to the Court.

But as I said in last month’s posts, in every way that Clinton is bad, Trump is worse. He’s for bigger government, more spending, more debt. He has demonstrated a vindictiveness and a callous disregard for Constitutional restraint. And if I hadn’t been convinced of his mental unfitness, the complete meltdown of the last few weeks would have done it. The only reason to vote for him is SCOTUS justices but a) I don’t think that’s worth the risk; b) I don’t trust him to not appoint outright fascists to the Court who will rubber stamp what he wants to do.

The gripping hand is that there will (hopefully) be a Republican Congress to keep Clinton’s worst instincts in check. They have amply demonstrated that they will not keep Trump in check. They have demonstrated an ability to keep a Democrat in check, having killed efforts at card check, a public option, minimum wage hikes, cap and trade and gun control while cutting spending $700 billion below what Obama wanted.

Who did you vote for in 2012? Gary Johnson. Although in that case, it was because I saw little reason to be apocalyptically alarmed by either candidate. How bad is it that I long for the days of Romney v. Obama?

What will you miss most about the Obama years? Having a President I didn’t despise. I disagreed with Obama constantly, but I felt like he was honest about what he thought, could make his case eloquently and never lost his cool. I never bought into the whole “he hates America!” hysteria. His personal life is pretty much beyond reproach (which was something I liked about Bush as well). Think about listening to Obama speak for the last eight years, then imagine hearing Clinton or Trump speak for the next eight minutes and you’ll see what I mean. In five years, a lot of conservatives will be looking back wistfully on the Obama years, longing for the days when the President was just wrong about everything, rather than being wrong about everything and a piece of shit.

Debate Two

Good God, is this what our Republic has come to? Watching these two jackasses bray was an awful 90 minutes. The first 20 were especially awful as we got into Trump’s tape and Clinton’s past behavior. But it’s not like it got better past that as Trump gave off incoherent word salads and Clinton recited coached, coherent, focused answers that advocated terrible terrible policies. For me, it was alternating, “What the fuck did he just say?” and “OMG, she’s advocating to make things even worse!”

I would say that Trump probably won mostly on style. His actual answers were all over the place but he did hit Clinton on a few points and made one or two good points of his own. Clinton mostly held serve but her answers on her e-mail server and her leaked speeches were just awful (mainly because there is no non-awful answer).

The main impact this will have on the race? Trump stays in. The flood of GOP rats fleeing the ship will stop. He will probably stabilize in the polls. So, yeah, we’ve got another month of this crap.

Good God. I’ve said this before. And maybe it’s the Vodka talking. But this is another of those times I really really wish Lee were still with us. He could at least find the humor in this. Right now … I really can’t.

The Latest Clinton Leaks

I mentioned this in passing in the Trump post, but there have been more leaks of communications within the Clinton campaign and leaks of her Wall Street speeches. I haven’t had time to go through them yet, but here’s one of the rundowns. Long story short: she’s talking out of both sides of her mouth.

But we knew that already, didn’t we? I sometimes wonder if the purpose of the Trump campaign is to get Clinton elected. And his tape being released on the same day as these leaks doesn’t exactly make me wonder any less.