Category Archives: Democrats

Today finally IS ‘a great day in South Carolina,’ as we witness a host of miracles in the State House, of all places

the group

Today, the state of South Carolina leaped out into uncharted territory, launching itself from the 19th century right over the troubled 20th, and into the 21st. And it wasn’t even kicking and screaming.

It is, without a doubt, a miracle that today, Gov. Nikki Haley called for the Confederate flag to come off the State House grounds ASAP.

That is HUGE. That alone would have me walking around the State House (as I was just moments ago) saying, “What state am I in? Really, help me: Where am I?”

Today truly IS “a great day in South Carolina.”

NOTHING like this has ever happened in the 28 years that I’ve covered politics and government in South Carolina. Nothing even close to it. What happened today broke all of the rules of what does and does not happen in South Carolina.

Today, the state’s political leadership got together and said, “Hey, let’s just stop all the usual b.s.” Just like THAT (imagine me snapping my fingers)!

But I didn’t witness just one miracle today beneath the dome, with a storm raging outside and thunder crashing. Really, it’s impossible to count how many I saw. I’ll use a biblical accounting method and say seventy times seven. Or more than the stars in the sky…

Let’s just count a few:

  • Nikki Haley, elected as the darling of the Tea Party, standing there and saying “It’s time to move the flag from the capitol grounds,” and saying that if the Legislature doesn’t do it while it’s already here in town (through a proviso, or somehow amending the sine die resolution), she’s going to call them right back to deal with it. And meaning it. Wow. God bless her.
  • Joe Riley, freighted with grief as mayor of a Holy City in mourning, standing there right with her and not having to say a thing because Nikki Haley is saying what needs to be said. So that second march won’t be necessary, Mr. Mayor.
  • Mariangeles Borghini, Emile DeFelice and Tom Hall, the regular folks who pulled together the impromptu, haphazard rally Saturday, standing there witnessing it. Afterwards, I had to go over to Ms. Borghini, a recent immigrant from Argentina, and say, “You know, you don’t normally get what you ask for this fast in South Carolina.” But… maybe you do, now. Who knows? Everything we all knew about SC politics just went out the window. And you know that second rally they’re planning on the flag for July 4th? It just turned into a celebration, instead of another small step on a long, sweaty road.
  • Jim Clyburn standing at her right hand, in total agreement with her on the most divisive issue that I’ve dealt with in my decades in South Carolina.
  • Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham, who within the last few days was mouthing the usual stuff about how we had to understand that for some folks it’s about heritage, standing there on her other side. Mark Sanford, who was saying the same stuff a couple of days back, standing behind them.
  • Sen. John Courson, long the Confederate flag’s best friend in the Senate (except when Glenn McConnell was around), standing there with all of them. (Mind you, John has always been the most reasonable voice of that caucus, but he’s still the guy with multiple Confederate flags in his office, and is sort of the embodiment — the sincere embodiment — of the “honor the war dead” argument that has kept the flag up.)
  • South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore and Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison — one white, the other black, sort of like their parties — standing literally shoulder-to-shoulder and grinning without reservation, in complete agreement with each other on the issue that has most surely divided them since we turned into a two-party state, since long, long before either of these young men even knew what Democrats and Republicans were. Moore, who was mouthing the usual “it’s not the time” stuff a couple of days ago, now saying, “We can’t change our past, but we can heal our future.” And Harrison, who can usually be counted on for the usual “if it’s Republican, it’s bad” stuff, telling me “I have nothing but respect for Gov. Haley. She’s doing the right thing, and she’s doing it for the right reasons.”
  • Mind you, Haley and Sanford and Graham and Scott and Courson and Matt Moore all represent the Republican Party that essentially came to power on the issue of keeping the flag up. The GOP took over the House after the 1994 election. The party got an unprecedented turnout in its primary that year in part by, in the national year of the Angry White Male, putting a mock “referendum” question on the primary ballot asking whether the flag should stay up. One of the very first things the party caucus pushed through after assuming control of the House was legislation that put the flying of the flag into law, so that no governor or anyone else but the Legislature could ever take it down. (You might say, why bring that up at such a wonderful moment. Here’s why: To let you know how big a miracle this is.)
  • Democrats and Republicans who have spent the day working sincerely together in multiple meetings today, not to posture and get the other side to vote against something so it can be used in the next election or to raise money, but to solve an issue that cuts right through the heart of South Carolina, and defines the differences between them. I asked House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford whether he has EVER been in such extraordinary meetings as he has been in today, with leaders of both parties determined to reach agreement on such a heavy, politically impossible issue and put it behind us for good. For a second, he almost reverted to the usual, starting to say, not while this governor has been in office… But I said, no, I mean EVER. And he said, no. He has never experienced anything like this on any issue.
  • Drivers going past the flag on Gervais and not just honking their horns in celebration at the flag coming down, but playing monotonal tunes on their horns, a regular symphony of honking. Such giddiness is as unprecedented as all the rest of us. It’s almost like our local version of the Berlin Wall coming down.
  • J.T. McLawhorn, president of the Columbia Urban League, telling me, “Things can change in a moment.” Meaning ANYTHING, no matter how intractable, no matter how long-lived. In South Carolina, the most change-resistant state in the union.
  • The way the sentiment that it was too soon to talk about such a hairy political issue, when we haven’t buried the first victim of the Charleston massacre, had just evaporated. Rep. James Smith, D-Richland, told me that Clem Pinckney “himself would say, ‘Do not lose this moment.'” This was, as the governor had said, the way to “honor the nine blessed souls that are now in heaven.”
  • The way the entire world was there to see it and hear it. And yeah, I’m sure that’s one huge reason we’re seeing this happen so quickly — was best to come out and say this now, while the world was watching, so that everyone would know of the miracle that had happened in South Carolina. But it was still something to see. I estimate this media crowd was about twice the size of the one that witnessed Mark Sanford’s public confession upon his return from Argentina six years ago this month.
  • To hear the booming voices of people spontaneously crying out, “Thank you, governor!” as she left the podium. (Presumably, those were the non-media types, and there were a lot of them on hand.) And no, I don’t think that was planned. It sounded heartfelt to me. Just like the applause that interrupted the governor, and which she had to wait for the end of, after she spoke the fateful words, “It’s time to move the flag from the capitol grounds.”
  • The way nobody was hedging, or qualifying, or talking about half-measures. In the state that normally doesn’t change, and when it does it does so in the tiniest, hesitating, gradualistic baby steps, the governor was like, Let’s just go ahead and take it down, and lawmakers of both parties were like, Yeah, let’s, and the rest of us were like Keanu Reeves, going whoaaaa

How did we get here, and so fast? I don’t think we can explain it in earthly terms. A friend who gave me a ride back to the office after the miracle said she felt like maybe, just maybe, it started when those family members stood in that courtroom the other day, looked at the (alleged) brutal killer of their precious loved ones, and forgave him. I nodded. Maybe so. Maybe that was the beginning of some sort of chain reaction of grace, which led to this.

I don’t know.

Yeah, a lot has to happen before this thing is done. But I think it’s going to happen. I asked James Smith whether he thought, based on his interactions with those involved, the consensus to act was solid. He nodded: “Rock solid,” he said. I believe him.

Benjamin’s letter to Haley urging lowering of the flag

Since this letter acknowledges that he knows what’s up today, this probably goes sort of in the category of giving her support at a critical moment. The mayor already called for the flag to come down a couple of days back:

Dear Governor Haley:

On Wednesday, June 17th, a long time and dear friend of mine, Senator Clementa C. Pinckney, was murdered.

He was leading a bible study at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston when a young man opened fire and killed him and eight others: the Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, the Rev. Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, the Rev. Daniel L. Simmons Sr. and Myra Thompson.

Now, as we mourn this loss, we must also recognize it for what it is. This wasn’t a crime of revenge, passion or greed. These nine men and women were not killed for their faith or their politics or out of revenge for some past deed. They were murdered in cold blood because of their race.

That may be difficult or even painful for us to admit, but it’s true. And while we may never fully comprehend how that kind of hate can exist in this age of discovery and wonder, we know that it does. We see its banner flying before our Statehouse every single day.

So I write to you today to call on you as Governor of South Carolina, in the memory of Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Rev. Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Rev. Daniel L. Simmons Sr., Myra Thompson and the Honorable Senator Clementa C. Pinckney, to retire the Battle Flag of the Confederate States of America once and for all and remove it from the Statehouse grounds.

I understand that you may be meeting with some of our legislative leaders today and I want to plead with you to not let another generation of South Carolinians grow in the shadow of the degradation, oppression and violence this flag represents. Do not let another generation live with the complacency of hate that killed our fellow South Carolinians.

Heal this wound. Honor their loss. Together let’s take down the flag.

Yours truly with sincere personal and professional regards,

Sincerely,

Stephen K. Benjamin
Mayor
Columbia, SC

Here’s a PDF of the actual letter.

Joel Lourie on the ‘toxic’ atmosphere in the Senate

You know, I quit doing “The Brad Show” — thereby devastating my millions of fans, who had to console themselves with “Game of Thrones” instead — because it just got to be too much of a physical hassle to produce, especially after the guys who used to shoot it for me moved out of the ADCO building.

But lately I’ve been thinking… I still have my iPhone. Why not go back to the kind of guerrilla video reportage for which this blog was once famous — quick-hitting, spur-of-the-moment clips on the news of the day?

So today, I was talking with Sen. Joel Lourie after a Community Relations Council luncheon at which he and Sen. Katrina Shealy had just been honored with CRC’s annual Hyman Rubin Distinguished Service Award, and he happened to mention that the atmosphere in the Senate chamber was as toxic as at any time he could remember. Here’s what he was referring to.

So, thinking with the blinding speed to which my readers are accustomed, I asked whether he wanted to say that on video. He said no. Then he said yes.

So here ya go.

Since we spoke briefly about roads, I thought I’d call your attention to Cindi Scoppe’s piece today describing what real roads reform would look like. And of course, it’s a classic with its roots deep in the Power Failure series: Turn the roads over to local governments, and leave the local governments alone to fund them as they see fit. A solution that, of course, strikes right at the heart of the Legislative State, which is why nothing like this has ever come close to happening.

If we’re gonna dream about what really ought to happen, we might as well dream big.

Oh, and on the subject of the budget, which Sen. Lourie also mentioned, here’s another good column from Cindi casting doubt on Joel’s man Hugh Leatherman to deliver on that…

Oh, please spare us the ‘fighting’ words, Hillary…

I mentioned favorably the fact that on her visit to Columbia recently, I did not hear Hillary Clinton use the “fight” language she has resorted to in the past. I wrote about how nuts that makes me back in 2008.

Actually, she did promise to “fight” for us once (“You’re not gonna see me turn white in the White House, and you’re also not gonna see me shrink from a fight”), but it slipped by me. Apparently, that was a harbinger.

The last few days, I’ve been hearing the “fight” hyperbole invoked again and again by her campaign. For instance, there’s this video that came out three days ago, titled “Fighter.”

Oh, please, spare us. Use tempered, sensible words to appeal to our minds rather than our emotions. It would be so refreshing.

Interestingly, this surge of “fight” talk coincides with her almost complete turn away from the world and to domestic issues. Which is downright weird, considering that she’s not more foreign policy experience than any of the Republicans who are going on and on about national security.

But Democrats, like Republicans in the 1930s, like to pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist, and obsess inward. They want to talk about something they call “kitchen-table” issues. And THAT is where they like to use “fight” language, ironically. Apparently, the only enemies that need to be “fought” are right here at home.

Which, of course, leads in turn to more political polarization, which means actual progress on the issues they care about becomes less and less likely.

Representative democracy works when we deliberate with our fellow citizens, not when we see them as our enemies. So the more I hear that “fight” stuff, the more I despair for the country…

There’s a good REASON why she’s not with you on trade, Bernie

Bernie Sanders is frustrated, or at least he’s letting on to be frustrated, that Hillary Clinton won’t join him and House Democrats in opposing free trade:

WASHINGTON — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders called on Democratic presidential rival Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday to say exactly where she stands on President Barack Obama’s trade agenda now that Congress is considering it.

“I think our trade policies have been disastrous,” Sanders said during a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor. “Secretary Clinton, if she’s against this, we need her to speak out right now. Right now. And I don’t understand how any candidate, Democrat or Republican, is not speaking out on this issue right now.”…

See, there’s a reason Hillary is fudging on the issue, Bernie — she actually has a realistic chance of becoming president, and no president would want to be hobbled with positions such as yours.

And yet, since a lot of people in her party are opposed to free trade, she’s not crazy about taking a bold stance that would make her as nonviable as you are.

Wanting to be president, and seeing the real possibility in front of you, can be a constricting thing…

Challenges from left give Hillary a chance to sew up the general election — if she plays it right

Now Hillary Clinton has another challenger from the left, Lincoln Chaffee, a guy whose campaign’s raisons seem to be a) we need to switch to the metric system; and b) Hillary Clinton voted to invade Iraq.

Of course, as a red-blooded son of the Anglosphere, I utterly reject his first point, and as for the second, I appreciate his reminding me of one of the things that I like about HIllary Clinton. (Actually, it’s more like something I don’t dislike about her. She doesn’t get all that much cred from me for voting as she did, because most people did. But if she had gone against everything that was in front of her and voted the other way on Iraq, it would be a count against her.)

So there’s him and Bernie Sanders, who answers to “socialist.

What a gift. What a pair of gifts.

This is a tremendous opportunity for Hillary Clinton — to stick to her more centrist positions, using her challengers as Exhibits A and B showing what she’s not. Thereby giving swing voters, who decide elections, reasons to like her for November 2016. Sure, the Republican nominee (if they ever settle on one) will be trying to paint her as a leftie, but voters will have the recent experience of seeing her next to the real thing. (Want a laugh? Check out Bill Moyers’ piece saying Bernie Sanders is NOT left-wing. Well, Bill, he ain’t a moderate, and he ain’t right-wing, so…)

But I suspect that she will not embrace the opportunity as enthusiastically as she should. She’ll listen to her advisers, who are Democrats rather than swing voters, who will counsel her to throw sops to the left.

Or maybe they’ll be smart. I kind of doubt it, but we’ll see.

What’s wrong with parties, example No. 48,954

The day that Lindsey Graham announced his candidacy was a day like any other in the lives of political parties. This came in from the SC Democrats:

SCDP Executive Director Responds To Lindsey Graham’s Announcement


Columbia, SC – In response to Sen. Lindsey Graham’s formal announcement that his is running for the Republican presidential nomination, South Carolina Democratic Party Executive Director Jason Perkey issued the following statement:

 
“South Carolinians are all too familiar with Lindsey Graham and his disastrous policies. We know exactly what an America under Lindsey Graham would like because we’ve seen it here already: a George W. Bush economic agenda that props up the wealthy and corporations instead of expanding the middle class, a reckless foreign policy that endangers America and our allies, and a backward social agenda that divides Americans. Lindsey Graham is the embodiment of the tired, failed Republican ideas that Americans continue to reject time and time again.”
 
# # # 

You say, “So what? This is a run-of-the-mill statement from a political party.” And that’s my point.

Pure negativity. And not creative, amusing, incisive, entertaining or in any way interesting negativity. No, I don’t expect the folks who write statements for political parties to be Dorothy Parker. I just wish that, before they issue a release, they’d come up with something to say, something that hasn’t been said a million times, something that would make the statement worth reading. Something that isn’t so, I don’t know, soul-deadening.

Hey, I’d settle for an honest, factual description of reality, instead of this stuff that a party can be relied on to say whether it’s true or not. I mean, really: You’re telling me that “Republican ideas” are the ones “that Americans continue to reject time and time again?” So… how come you don’t control a single statewide office, or either House of the Legislature? How come the GOP controls both chambers of Congress?

And how about a small touch of humanity? An honest statement would begin with acknowledging that Lindsey Graham is a thinking individual, a rather idiosyncratic Republican in comparison to the orthodoxies as observed in South Carolina. He’s a guy about whom a reliable liberal such as Kathryn will say, “He’s a hawk, and I’m not, but he’s thoughtful, intelligent and sane, which is more than I can say of the others!”

Graham isn’t some monolithic symbol of a party or a movement. He’s a guy with a lot of positions, some of which a lot of your party’s members agree with. Which makes him the Republican that many SC Republican voters love to hate. Surely you could acknowledge that in a way that reflects reality, and at the same time stays true to what members of your own party expect you to say.

How about something like this:

One of South Carolina’s own entered the crowded Republican field for the presidency today, and that’s kind of exciting. We haven’t had this experience since Fritz Hollings ran a generation ago, so it’s about time. While we certainly won’t be voting for him, there’s a certain feeling of pride we feel to see a neighbor who faced a lot of challenges growing up in Central aiming for the highest office in the land. We were touched when he was introduced by his sister, for whom he took responsibility after the sudden death of their parents. He’s proof of how far one can rise from humble circumstances in this country. Sadly for Lindsey, he doesn’t stand much of a chance — some of his policy positions are just too sensible for his increasingly extreme party. That’s a shame. If we were voting in that primary, he’d be the guy we’d pick. But ultimately, there’s a reason why we’re not voting in that primary: As reasonable as he is, there are policies that he and other Republicans embrace that we believe are just wrong for America, and wrong for South Carolina.

The GOP field got just a little better today with the addition of our fellow South Carolinian. But it’s still not nearly good enough…

OK, I went on and on there, but I wanted to give examples of a number of things that might be included in a release that wouldn’t remind me why I can’t stand parties.

Yeah, I know; these things aren’t written for me. They’re composed to make all the faithful harrumph in agreement. And maybe it worked.

But you’re not gonna get a harrumph out of this guy.

Do YOU hear Hillary using a Southern accent?

Ever since yesterday, I’ve been scoffing at reports from national press that Hillary Clinton slipped into a Southern drawl while in Columbia yesterday — supposedly an acquired skill from her time in Arkansas.

Watch some of the clip above, which was the end of her speech over at the Marriott, and tell me: Do you hear a Southern accent? I do not.

Of course, since I myself have picked up a mild accent over the years (having lived in either Tennessee or South Carolina since 1971, except for two years in Kansas in the mid-80s), maybe my ear isn’t as sensitive as it should be.

Anyway, since I can slip in or out of that accent if I stop and think about it, I wouldn’t be shocked if she could. I’m just not hearing it.

Except… I can just barely here it in this loop that someone posted on The Vine. I’ll give them that

And I’ll also say that at least it’s reasonably natural-sounding, as opposed to a bogus Hollywood Southern accent.

Speaking of which, this Tweet really did crack me up (not the first part; the last part):

Hillary Clinton’s first visit to SC since 2008 campaign

Hillary Clinton

The presumptive Democratic nominee came back to South Carolina today wielding a middle-class-populist message (is it populist if it’s middle-class, or merely “popular”?).

She kept telling us besieged members of the bourgeoisie that she was going to “go to bat” for us. She used other metaphors for what she would do, but I’m very happy to report that I didn’t hear her say that she would “fight” for us. She may have and I missed it, but I was listening for it, because I hate it so.

So I guess that’s one way in which she’s distinguishing herself from the populism of Elizabeth Warren, while still trying to go after the same segment of the party — so as to, you know, keep what’s-her-name out of it.

Maggie Haberman of the NYT reported that Hillary’s “southern twang is back,” but I certainly didn’t hear it. Maybe you had to be from New York to pick up on it. Nevertheless, the candidate traced her experience with SC back to when she worked for Bennettsville’s Marian Wright Edelman at the Children’s Defense Fund, and later attended Linda and Phil Lader’s Renaissance Weekends down in the Lowcountry.

The candidate’s best-received line was when she said, after noting how much the White House ages presidents, “I may not be the youngest candidate in this race, but I have one big advantage… I’ve been coloring my hair for years.” She promised we wouldn’t see her go gray in the job.

Beyond that, here are most of my Tweets from the event:

The Jack Kuenzie thing was out of sync. It was before the event, but got held up for some reason.

By the way, you know that item where I said “Weird situation after speech. Her people won’t let us near her, and won’t let us leave…”? Twitter kinda went ape about it. It went in a modest way. There were 33 direct reTweets and 11 favorites, and lots of reTweets of reTweets. I lost count.

Which made me kind of insecure. I had not tried to leave the hall at that point; I had just heard we couldn’t from another media type. Specifically, on the first of three times I got pushed back by Clinton staff, I told Dianne Gallagher, who was headed toward the candidate, that they weren’t letting us near her. Dianne said something to the effect of that put is in a fix, because they weren’t letting us leave the room, either.

After people made such a big deal about that Tweet, I wrote to Dianne to make sure I had heard her right. She replied, “Oh yeah. They said we had to wait. Wouldn’t open the door for us.”

I was relieved to have heard her right the first time.

It was no big deal, as one Tweeter had the good sense to note. But a lot of people seemed to think it was a metaphor for something…

You’ve Got Mail: ‘Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi!’

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Well, some of her emails have been released:

The State Department on Friday released nearly 900 pages of e-mails on Libya and the Benghazi attacks from the private account Hillary Rodham Clinton used while she was secretary of state.

The messages have been turned over to a select House committee investigating the Sept. 11-12, 2012, attacks on U.S. compounds in Benghazi, in which the ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans were killed.

Few of the e-mails deal directly with events leading up to the attacks or their aftermath, according to those who have seen them. Many contain administrative details, press accounts, speech drafts and other information exchanged between Clinton and her senior aides.

But the messages, some of which were published this week by the New York Times, capture the concerns of Clinton and other officials about the political chaos that engulfed Libya during and following the 2011 NATO air attacks that facilitated the overthrow and death of Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi later that year….

If you want to read them instead of just read about them, click here.

Hillary: ‘I want those emails out!’ I’ll bet she DOES…

Here’s what I’m talking about:

Hillary Clinton has broken a month’s media silence with a brief, but testy, exchange of questions with reporters that saw her demand the swift release of her personal emails and defend money received by her family.

The former secretary of state called on the department to “expedite” the release of the records from her time in office after news that it might take until January to publish the cache recently turned over by her office….

Now, before you scoff, let me say that I take her at her word. When I read that the State Department was planning on dragging its feet until at least January, my very first thought was that this was very bad news for Hillary.

Think about it: If you’re she, would you rather have it all come out now, when there’s time to explain and then let people forget, or right as the primaries are starting?

So I believe her.

Hillary Rodham (not yet ‘Clinton’) in 1979

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Buzzfeed posted these clips (you’ll have to follow the link; the embed code isn’t working) from an interview with Arkansas First Lady Hillary Rodham (she had not yet taken Bill’s name). Buzzfeed notes:

In 1979, a month into her tenure as Arkansas first lady, Rodham sat down for an interview with the Arkansas public affairs program In Focus. The interview, available on BuzzFeed News for the first time in decades, is among the earliest, and most open, glimpses of Clinton’s efforts to balance public and private life, a theme that has followed her long career. Archived in the special collections at the University of Arkansas, the nearly half-hour-long interview offers an insight into the future Hillary Clinton and her early attempts to navigate the tough waters as the wife of a political figure — while keeping her own identity and privacy.

As for the video — yeah, we looked funny back then.

In the interests of fairness — that is, embarrassing a Republican equally — I went out and dug up this image of Marco Rubio at around that same time.

as-a-child-rubio-wore-leg-braces-because-his-knees-turned-inward

NYT: ‘You Don’t Have to Tell a Clinton Twice’

Interesting piece in The New York Times, about the Clintons, and specifically about a certain pattern that has become familiar in their long political career: “what their admirers call grit and critics deem shamelessness can overshadow another essential element of the Clinton school: a willingness to put on the hair shirt of humility to regain power.”

When he tried to regain the governor’s office in Arkansas in 1982, Bill told voters, “My daddy never had to whip me twice for the same thing.” Hillary has never been as folksy, but this story goes into the ways she determinedly puts her mistakes behind her:

When she used a video message to enter the Democratic presidential race in early 2007, she sat alone on a couch, used some variation of “I” no fewer than 11 times and proclaimed an uninspired theme: “I’m in it to win it.” This time, she started with a film featuring miniature portraits of an array of voters, appeared on-screen only after 1 minute 18 seconds, and emphasized “your vote” and “your time.”

In 2008, she was at times criticized for being detached from voters, insulated in a bubble of staff and security and avoiding spontaneity. She began her 2016 campaign by riding 16 hours in a van from New York to Iowa, making unannounced stops at gas stations and fast-food restaurants, before arriving for what were billed as a series of low-key conversations with a handful of voters.

Her first campaign was characterized by a contentious relationship with the news media; she recently spoke at a banquet celebrating political journalism and brought on a new cadre of news-media-friendly aides who held olive-branch get-togethers for reporters days before Mrs. Clinton declared her candidacy….

And so forth.

Still… the recent contretemps about her email illustrates that there are some lessons she does have to get whipped for more than once, such as the need to be transparent.

And while it’s convenient to lump them together as “the Clintons,” I don’t know that she has quite the capacity that is second nature to her husband, the quality that makes him willing to do anything to get folks to love him.

As I said in a comment yesterday, Bill will go into a restaurant and shake hands with everybody in the place because he wants to, because it scratches an itch deep within him. Hillary will go in and shakes hands with everybody because someone has persuaded her that she has to….

I’m not looking for a candidate who ‘cares about people like me’

Hillary on her van tour, posing with regular folks whom she is JUST LIKE. Not...

Hillary on her van tour, posing with regular folks whom she is JUST LIKE. Not…

Well, it’s gratifying to see that plenty of other people hated the Hillary Clinton campaign launch video as much as I did.

Some may even have hated it more.

From a Ruth Marcus column headlined, “Hillary Clinton’s insultingly vapid video:”

The more I watch Hillary Clinton’s announcement video, the less I like it. This may be putting it mildly.

I understand what Clinton & Co. were trying to do: Make the moment less about Hillary, more about the voters. Downplay the sense of Clinton as inevitable juggernaut and entitled successor to the dynastic throne….

What’s wrong with that?

For one, the video was relentlessly, insultingly vapid — a Verizon commercial without the substance. “Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top,” Clinton said in what passed for a meaty message. “Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion.”

Seriously, this makes Ronald Reagan’s gauzy “It’s Morning Again in America” commercial look like a Brookings Institution seminar on economic policy….

Ouch. And Richard Cohen wrote:

The icky commercial she used to announce her candidacy was hardly a position paper. It looked like one of those Vaseline-lensed dog-food commercials, so lacking substance that I wondered if I had summoned the wrong video from the Internet. I am writing now about 15 hours after seeing the thing, and for the life of me all I can remember is a bunch of happy people and Clinton saying something about being on the side of the middle class. I think it is no mere coincidence that the Clinton campaign now has the services of Wendy Clark, a senior marketing specialist from Coca-Cola. Maybe Clinton will “teach the world to sing.”

And that was in a column that overall was fairly favorable…

So I’m not the only grouch in America.

So why did she do it? Chriz Cillizza writes for The Fix:

One of the major failures of her 2008 presidential campaign was that people didn’t believe that Clinton cared or understood much about them.  Look at the 2008 Iowa caucus entrance poll. Among people who said the most important trait in a candidate was someone who “cares about people like me”, Clinton placed a distant third behind John Edwards, who dominated among that group, and Barack Obama.

If 2008 was about “Me” for Clinton, 2016 is supposed to be about “Us.”…

Yeah. You know, John Edwards was the perfect candidate for voters looking for a candidate who “cares about people like me.” John Edwards was exactly what people who vote that way deserve.

I’m not looking for an empathizer-in-chief. That was the role her husband played too often back in the touchy-feely, post-Cold War 90s (bite the lip; give the thumbs-up), and it drove me nuts. He was a smart guy on policy; why did he have to be so smarmy?

I want somebody who will direct U.S. policy — starting with foreign policy — with intelligence, insight and effectiveness, to the advantage of the United States and all it stands for. Talk to me about that, please. Don’t feel my pain — I expect the president to be too busy for that.

And I’m not even going to get into the most offensive part of that phrase, the “like me” part — as though one is saying that people who are NOT “like me” can all take a flying leap. Identity Politics taken to its ugly extreme.

But the worst thing about this in terms of what it says about the candidate is that it is false. That Cillizza piece was headlined “The tremendously difficult task of selling Hillary Clinton as a regular person,” and after the above-quoted part, it continued:

Here’s the problem: Hillary Clinton hasn’t been “us” for, well, almost her entire adult life. She was featured in Life magazine in 1969 after making history as the first student to give a commencement address at Wellesley College. By 30, she was married to the Arkansas attorney general and by her mid 30s she was firmly ensconced as the first lady of the Natural State.  Then, starting in 1991, Clinton was (and is) an ever-present figure on the national and international stage — first as the most powerful First Lady in modern memory, then as a Senator, then as a presidential candidate and, finally, as the nation’s top diplomat.

There is no one in political life with a resume as deep, unique and varied as Clinton. No one.  But, the fact that she has been “Hillary Clinton” for the better part of, well, forever makes it extremely difficult to re-package her as just like the rest of us. The truth is that Hillary hasn’t been a regular person in a very, very long time. She has been famous for decades on end — instantly recognizable since back in the days when cell phones looked like this….

So admit who you are, the long-time policy wonk. You know, the one who took all those other wonks into a room and came out with Hillarycare. And then convince us that — that incident to the contrary (even Bill couldn’t sell it) — you’re good at it. That’s what I want from a candidate.

Hillary Clinton (yawn) and Marco Rubio (yawn) join the fray

Just in case y’all had anything to say about these nonevents.

Above is her announcement video, below is his (which he released in advance of his announcement). Thoughts?

This morning, I was reading commentary on the Clinton announcement from yesterday, and the word was that she had learned that it wasn’t all about Hillary, that it was about us regular folks out here, which is why her video doesn’t show her until near the end — you know, when she says, Oh, yeah, all you little people? Well I’m getting ready to run for president… Or something to that effect.

My reaction to that is… no, it’s about you, Hillary. So don’t waste my time with touchy-feely stuff that reminds me of the recent gag video that contains Everything You Hate About Advertising in One Fake Video That’s Almost Too Real. You’re the one running. You’re the one who needs to explain yourself. Don’t try to distract me, especially not with faux populism.

As for Marco Rubio…

At least he spends the time explaining himself and his concept of the country. But then, he’s got more ‘splainin’ to do. I’m sorry, explaining. The Ricky Ricardo thing is probably uncool in this case. My point being that he’s less well known.

In any case, I got more meaning, more relevance from his than from hers. What did y’all think?

All hope is lost? You sure? THEN STOP BOTHERING ME.

hope

I think the hyperbole machine at the DCCC has outdone itself this time.

I mean, after “all hope is lost,” what’s left in the way of rhetoric designed to instill panic in the saps who give you money to crank out this pooge?

You can’t top this…

I’ve noticed that these emails have been slightly more hysterical than usual, since I’ve been back. One the other day was just totally freaking out because the Republicans had passed a budget. And I was like, Yeah, that’s what you’re supposed to do when elected to Congress. You’re supposed to pass a budget. I realize this is a new concept to you…

Harry Reid’s leaving. So can we open Yucca Mountain now?

That was my first thought when I heard that at long last, Harry Reid will be leaving the Senate.

By Image by Daniel Mayer taken on 2002-03-25 © 2002 and released under terms of the GNU FDL. [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Image by Daniel Mayer taken on 2002-03-25 © 2002 and released under terms of the GNU FDL. [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Finally, the place the nation decided long ago would be our permanent repository for nuclear waste MAY open, with its chief obstacle retiring. It’s long past time that Yucca Mountain provide South Carolina (and other states) some relief on this. That was the plan, and it was always a good one.

So now it can happen.

Hey, I can hope, can’t I?

But beyond that, can you think of anything about Reid’s tenure as majority/minority leader that was good? Neither can I. His name just conjures up a lot of unpleasantness for me. He’s not alone in that; I have similar impressions of names such as Boehner, Pelosi and McConnell. Together they’ve presided over a particularly ugly and unproductive period in congressional history.

Dare I hope he’ll be replaced by someone who will turn that around?

Ummmm… Maybe I should just stick to hoping for the Yucca Mountain thing. That’ll be tough enough…

The whole ‘red state/blue state’ thing is backwards

"Red state, blue state" by Angr - self-made; base map is Image:Blank US Map.svg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Red_state,_blue_state.svg#/media/File:Red_state,_blue_state.svg

“Red state, blue state” by Angr – self-made; base map is Image:Blank US Map.svg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Red_state,_blue_state.svg#/media/File:Red_state,_blue_state.svg

While I was gone, one of my ADCO colleagues pinned this item on Pinterest, and my attention was drawn to it today when I saw it had gotten some repins.

It was a fun graphic from Digital Information World about all the associations we have with various colors. But what grabbed my attention was the observations about the political meanings of two colors in particular:

red

blue

Indeed, I have found this whole business of calling conservative states “red” and liberal states “blue” confusing ever since it got started.

Red has always been the color of revolution, of overturning the status quo, of charging the ramparts in the cause of radical change. Blue is the natural color of conservativism, as in blueblood, or the blue associated with royalty. Red is hot and dynamic, while blue is cool, sedate, satisfied with the status quo.

So why have we so widely accepted the opposite in recent years? Well, it was pretty random. Here’s Wikipedia’s account:

This terminology came into use in the United States presidential election of 2000 on an episode of the Today show on October 30, 2000. According to AlterNet and The Washington Post, the terms were coined by journalist Tim Russert, during his televised coverage of the 2000 presidential election.[1] That was not the first election during which the news media used colored maps to depict voter preferences in the various states, but it was the first time a standard color scheme took hold; the colors were often reversed or different colors used before the 2000 election.

It was just that random. Whoever made up the graphic just happened to use those colors that day, and it stuck, contrary to all reason.

And in the very next graf, Wikipedia acknowledges the contradiction:

This reverses a long-standing convention ofpolitical colors where red symbols (such as the Red Flag or Red Star) are associated with revolutionary movements, and conservative movements often choose blue as a contrasting color.[2]

That’s right. Anyway, it still bugs me…

Obamacare anniversary: Two blind men describing an elephant

That’s what I thought of when I saw these competing comments as I was cleaning out email from when I was gone.

First, from Lindsey Graham:

Obamacare’s Five-Year Anniversary 

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today issued the following statement on Obamacare five years after it was signed into law.

 

“Obamacare isn’t getting better with age.

 

“Five years after it became law, we’ve seen millions of Americans lose the health care coverage they were promised they could keep, while many other Americans have had their work hours and incomes reduced because of Obamacare.  I’ve opposed Obamacare from Day One and oppose it still today.  I believe we should ‘Repeal and Replace’ or allow Americans to ‘Opt-Out’ of Obamacare as I fear the worst is still to come.”

 

#####

Then, from Jim Clyburn:

CLYBURN STATEMENT ON 5TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

WASHINGTON – U.S. House Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn delivered the following statement today on the Capitol steps about the fifth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act:

“Speaking at an international health care conference in 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” I profoundly agree with that view. Affordable access to quality health care should not depend on the circumstances of one’s birth.

“More than five years ago, during House debate on the Affordable Care Act, I labeled it “the Civil Rights Act of the 21st Century,” and I am pleased and very proud that the law is living up to that moniker.

“Under the ACA, insurance companies can no longer discriminate against the 129 million Americans who have pre-existing conditions. 105 million Americans no longer have a lifetime limit on their health coverage. No longer can women be penalized by insurance companies simply for being women. Thanks to the ACA, 16 million Americans who were previously uninsured finally have the security of health insurance for their families.

“Despite repeated Republican claims that the ACA would kill jobs, our economy is creating jobs at the fastest rate since the 1990s. So, as we gather to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, I’ve got a message to our Republican friends: The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. Let’s work together to make it better.”’

– 30 –

Kinda hard to believe they’re looking at the same animal, isn’t it?

Here’s Where I am on the Hillary Clinton E-mail Thing

Where is this Clinton e-mail story going to end? I mean, the idea of running a server out of your house for privacy strikes me as paranoid. It’s not like the office of the Secretary of State didn’t have e-mail capability. In fact, having a government e-mail would seem like one of the perks of the job.

Here’s where I am on this: Under no circumstances should the Secretary of State be setting up a remote, private server for conducting official business. I don’t care if it has absolutely unassailable cybersecurity. Can we all agree on this, or am I off-base?

Aside from the technical aspects and the legalities, which we could argue over forever, is that ever since this revelation on March 2, 2015, we haven’t heard from Mrs. Clinton. Is she ever going to talk about this, or is she just going to ignore it? If this is how she handles controversies and crises, I’m not impressed. Everyone keeps talking about how strong a candidate Hillary is (or will be). I’m starting to question that. Seems like a good candidate would get out there and address this.

In related news, Lindsey Graham said he’s “never sent an e-mail“. Between Hillary running her own super-secret e-mail server and Sen. Graham never sending an e-mail, this is ridiculous. Can we just get some normal people up in Washington?