Archive

August 2nd, 2016

Our political pros say Obama gave Clinton a lift

    Two of America's smartest political strategists are analyzing the Democratic National Convention this week for Bloomberg View, giving their perspectives on how the proceedings are coming across to millions of viewers and voters. They are Vin Weber, a Republican lobbyist, consultant and former Minnesota congressman who has advised presidential contenders Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney and, this year, Jeb Bush; and John Sasso, a longtime Democratic adviser who was the leading strategist for the presidential campaigns of Michael Dukakis in 1988 and John Kerry in 2004.

    The Democratic strategist said President Barack Obama gave an important boost to Hillary Clinton on Wednesday night; his Republican counterpart thought the president helped her with Democratic-leaning voters and not much else.

    "It was such an affirmation and positive view of the country and what we can do when we work together,"' said John Sasso, the Democrat. "It was in stark contrast to Donald Trump's dark view last week."

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Let felons and prisoners vote

    This week, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) vowed to sign individual orders restoring the voting rights of more than 200,000 convicted felons living in the state. His pledge followed the Virginia Supreme Court's ruling that the mass clemency McAuliffe issued in April overstepped his power under the commonwealth's constitution. Republicans complained bitterly - think of all those Democratic votes from the many African Americans who stand to benefit! - and promised to scrutinize every order for errors.

    But the GOP has it wrong. Not only is McAuliffe doing the right thing, but also he should push further. Prisoners, too, should be allowed to vote, no matter their crimes. While only Vermont and Mainegrant prisoners the vote, felon disenfranchisement fundamentally undermines the democratic rationale of our criminal laws. We cannot hold citizens to account for violating our laws while denying them a say over those laws.

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Obama's promise of continuity we can believe in

    Barack Obama's mission on behalf of Hillary Clinton on Wednesday night was personal and political. He testified to her virtues as a would-be president in a way only a current president could. He insisted that the administration both of them helped fashion pulled the country from the economic abyss. And he sought to safeguard his legacy by ensuring his time in the White House would not be seen by history as having culminated in the election of Donald Trump.

    And so he went to work, combining rational argument with evangelical exhortation in the classic Obama fashion and making clear that he saw only one logical choice this fall.

    "And no matter how daunting the odds, no matter how much people try to knock her down, she never, ever quits," he declared. "That's the Hillary I know. That's the Hillary I've come to admire. And that's why I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman -- not me, not Bill, nobody -- more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America."

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Hey, Hillary. Can we talk?

    There is no equivalence -- none -- between the campaigns of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton when it comes to mistreatment of and contempt for the media. The Trump campaign's latest outrage on this score involved the hassling of a Washington Post reporter, Jose A. DelReal, at a rally for vice presidential nominee Mike Pence. DelReal was denied a media credential -- Trump last month barred The Post from being admitted to his events -- and then was prevented from entering as a member of the public with his laptop and cellphone, even though other attendees were permitted phones. When DelReal stashed his electronics in his car, he again sought admittance, only to be patted down and denied entrance by a security person who announced, "I don't want you here. You have to go." That this is unacceptable goes without saying. Pence, who imagines he has a future in politics after the Trump campaign, needs to make certain this type of incident does not recur.

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Hey, Hillary, try showing us your lighter side

    When Hillary Clinton takes center stage Thursday night as the 34th presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, she won't have to demonstrate her competence and can't do much about her trust gap. But there is a way she could help make her case: by showing a little humor.

    Clinton will try to lay out a vision and convince voters that even a political veteran like her can be an agent of change. That's standard stuff. Less predictable would be a few lighter moments, maybe even some self-deprecation, to redraw the familiar wonkish caricature.

    Friends say she has a good sense of humor that she rarely shows in public. I've watched her during her years in the U.S. Senate and as secretary of state and have followed her presidential bids in 2008 and 2016, but I've never covered her regularly and don't know her well. I have been present at several small dinners where she displayed a lighter touch.

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For Hillary Clinton - and the rest of us - motherhood is political

    Near the end of my daughter's last school year, her father and I entered the narrow conference room in the school's front office and joined the 10 educators and staff already crowded around it. I pulled out the ream of bound paper they'd mailed me -- her most recently updated individualized education plan (or IEP) report -- and held a pen over the first page, poised to annotate it as they each discussed the sections they'd written about my kid.

    I've never felt as much a part of a bureaucracy as I did when I started attending IEP meetings. I didn't consider myself a creature of politics before becoming a parent. I'd vote my conscience and interests during election seasons and keep my distance from the particulars of policy, promises and rhetoric otherwise.

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For a change, it’s the Democrats channeling Reagan

    Democrats have done a remarkable thing this week in Philadelphia: They framed this election as an epic struggle not just to continue the policies of President Obama but to renew the sunlit, optimistic Americanism of Ronald Reagan.

    In his valedictory speech Wednesday night, Obama quoted Reagan's description of the country as a "shining city on a hill" and contrasted it with Donald Trump's nightmare vision of "a divided crime scene." Obama also used famous words from another Republican president, Theodore Roosevelt, to praise Hillary Clinton as someone "who is actually in the arena, ... who strives valiantly, who errs, ... but who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement."

    When Clinton came onstage and the president embraced her in a bear hug, he was passing along not just his own legacy as a two-term Democratic president but that of the consequential Republican presidents who preceded him as well.

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Clinton's successors won't follow in her path

    The marriage worked. The Clintons fulfilled their long-ago promise of "two for the price of one." Measured by worldly accomplishment, the most dissected, confounding, maddening and surprisingly lasting union in the politics has prevailed, yielding one president and now poised to yield another. Huzzahs.

    But this model is the last of its kind. Hillary broke the glass ceiling Tuesday night by becoming the first woman to receive the presidential nomination from a major party. Still, aspiring politicians should not try this at home. No woman will again climb the political ladder on a husband's shoulders.

    Exhibit One is the, at best, mixed reaction to Bill's high-wire act to celebrate his wife at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday by extolling his seduction of her. It worked with some but caused many others to cringe. Even for her ardent supporters, the Clintons' personal life is best kept out of sight and out of mind. For those on the fence, the marriage provides more reason to doubt her honesty, trustworthiness and her willingness to make trade-offs in the service of ambition.

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When will 'the Bernie or bust people … [stop] being ridiculous'?

    The ridiculousness of the man carrying the sign was only trumped by the ridiculousness of what that sign said: "Support Democracy Vote No On Hillary." Seriously, people?! Support democracy. Ignore this guy.

    Luckily, primary voters sent enough delegates to the Democratic National Convention to officially make Hillary Clinton on Tuesday the first woman nominated by a major political party to be president of the United States. This historic achievement for Clinton, her party and the nation must not go unheralded.

    But some of the most die-hard supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vt., could not care less and are willing to withhold their votes in what could become a self-fulfilling electoral suicide pact. They have been a churlish and hectoring presence on the streets of Philadelphia and inside the Wells Fargo Center.

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Web People vs. Wall People

    Yes, we’re having a national election right now. Yes, there are two parties running. But no, they are not the two parties that you think. It’s not “Democrats” versus “Republicans.” This election is really between “Wall People” and “Web People.”

    The primary focus of Wall People is finding a president who will turn off the fan — the violent winds of change that are now buffeting every family — in their workplace, where machines are threatening white-collar and blue-collar jobs; in their neighborhoods, where so many more immigrants of different religions, races and cultures are moving in; and globally, where super-empowered angry people are now killing innocents with disturbing regularity. They want a wall to stop it all.

    Wall People’s desire to stop change may be unrealistic, but, in fairness, it’s not just about race and class. It is also about a yearning for community — about “home” in the deepest sense — a feeling that the things that anchor us in the world and provide meaning are being swept away, and so they are looking for someone to stop that erosion.

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