Sunday, February 7, 2016

Rubio Ridge


It's rare to see a candidacy collapse onstage, which is what made tonight's GOP debate in New Hampshire genuinely newsworthy. When Rick Perry did it last cycle, he wasn't a serious contender. Everybody thought Marco Rubio was -- until tonight.

His "Obama is deliberately destroying America" robo-schpiel is already legend, thanks to Chris Christie's onstage deconstruction. But what nobody is pointing out (yet, at least) is that it was disqualifying not only because it showed his unreadiness for prime time as a debater, but also because of the content of his argument.

Think about it. First, he decided to place all his chips on attacking Obama -- who is not running. Sure, it's commonplace to whack the opposite party's incumbent, and a little of that is par for the course. But Rubio was supposed to be the hopemeister of this cycle -- indeed, the Republican Obama of 2008. He was positioned as the face of the future. Why is he singing this backward-looking apocalyptic rag? Why is he trying to out-Trump Trump in direness? It's completely off-brand. It doesn't make him look serious. It makes him look hysterical. It's a downer.

Second, and most important, he is trying to carve out a niche among Obama-attackers by attacking him not as incompetent, but as evil. An argument about incompetence might work with a population feeling generally cranky (and the tack Trump has successfully taken). But Rubio is impugning Obama's motives, his patriotism, his love of country. He basically staked his candidacy on that proposition, and it's utterly foolish.

Nowhere near a majority of Americans -- I suspect even a majority of Republicans -- believes Obama is deliberately looking to weaken the country or to undercut its standing. That's an argument that only works in a small subset of the Republican base, and it's an argument guaranteed to alienate virtually all Democrats and independents. Rubio decided early in this campaign to write "neocon hawk" in bright letters on the tabula rasa of his empty slate -- but tonight showed that he has completely misread how to play that hand. Indeed, he has fatally overplayed it.

This is political stupidity of the first order. Even if he hadn't repeated it again and again in robo-call fashion, the argument itself disqualifies him as a serious candidate. Christie showed that he hasn't got the performance chops to be the nominee. Rubio's decision to make this argument in the first place is ipso facto proof of the absence of political judgment.

What tonight's meltdown does in the near term is destroy the very meta-possibility Rubio seemed to represent after Iowa -- that one of the "mainstream" candidates would emerge from the pack to become a serious challenger to Trump and Cruz. Now it's 52-card pickup again. The Great Tan Hope has fallen on his face, so there will be more weeks of scrambling among Jeb, Kasich, Christie and Rubio. The basic structure of the field -- with Trump at the top -- will not be challenged. And there's nobody running who has anything like the charisma to knock him off.

Did Christie help himself tonight? A little bit, I'd say, but not enough to matter. He did God's work in puncturing Rubio's bubble, but destroying the one beacon of hope won't win him any love among Republicans (though he probably helped himself among Dems, for whatever that's worth).

All in all, it was an excellent night for Hillary. It's patently clear that she will chew up and spit out whoever emerges from this squalid farce.

It's also clear, maugre the pundits whose livelihood depends on pretending there's a serious horse race underway, that nobody can go broke underestimating the sanity of the current Republican Party.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Something happened... again. - updated

I'll have more to say about this when I'm out from under my current workload. For now, suffice it to say that Hillary Clinton's answer to this question at last night's New Hampshire townhall may have been the most candid, honest, authentic public moment of self-knowledge and truly spiritual wisdom in U.S. political history.

No person with open eyes, ears and heart -- even those feeling the Bern -- can watch that and fail to see that she is a remarkable and authentic human being. She will win the hearts of even those jejune young women who have only heard the monster mash about her. She has a clear path to the nomination, and to victory in the general election. She will be sworn in a little less than a year from now. And we, and the world, will be the beneficiaries.

Update: I'm sure Somerby will note this entertainingly -- but there can be no doubt about where the NY Times' reportorial sentiments lie, whatever the (blessedly sane) new editorial board thinks. Two -- count 'em, one, two -- pieces with Amy Chozick's byline on today's online front page provide ample evidence of their bias. The fact that they're even running a story about Hillary's "strident" speaking voice after last night's amazing townhall tells you all you need to know about the Drudgification of the Times.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Real Target

Reading Somerby's latest dissection of the work of Creeping Dowdie Amy Chozick sparks an epiphany. The real target of the decades-long sleazefest directed at Bill Clinton's alleged sexcapades has not been Bill, but Hillary.

Of course, the accurately described Vast Right-wing Conspiracy wanted to damage his presidency. Of course, it wanted to damage him. But the reality was and is that accusations of an active sex drive don't hurt male celebrities, even if they're married. As Bill's consistently high poll numbers showed, the vast majority of people didn't care if he was a Big Dawg. If anything, they liked it.

What many also liked, however, was the spectacle of Hillary the Humiliated. That was the secret sauce, the beating heart of this soap opera's endless run. If you injected the audience for this crap with truth serum, what you'd hear is that their dearest wish has been to see the bitch taken down a whole bunch of pegs. You see this even today, in critiques of her as "cold" and "superior," vs. his galactic charm.

The hatred for Hillary was always deeper and more visceral than whatever hatred there was for Bill. In fact, it's kind of equal-and-opposite. The more fun he is, the more disgusting she. I mean, what about her sexuality? World's biggest lesbo, right? Wish we could see those videos!

And this misogyny is, now as ever, widely distributed across the political spectrum. It's certainly present on the front and op-ed pages of the NY Times. I think Sally Quinn's shrink could probably tell us, if doctor-patient privilege were waived, that the oft-brooted "Bubba resentment" was really a euphemism for fear and loathing of Hillary. "These aren't our crowd" was really saying "Who does she think she is?"

When Hillary teared up in New Hampshire in 2008, all of this was behind it. This entire, tragic, fraught complex of personal, emotional, political realities -- which she has fought her way through for 40 years -- hit her. She saw no escape from it -- either in public (the campaign where she was supposed to look tough and leaderly) or at home (where not only the infidelity, but the Chris Matthews/Keith Olbermann/Drudge/et al. horror-movie delight in her humiliation found their source). In that moment, she was spontaneously turning to the women having lunch with her, total strangers, and crying out her pain and exhaustion. And lo and behold, they heard her, and loved her. As did the women of America.

She took enormous strength from that, strapped back on her battle gear, and headed back into the fray. She discovered that she could be who she really is in public in a way she never could in private, and would be embraced, protected, loved. That moment carried her through the '08 campaign, and had the DNC, Howard Dean and Donna Brazile not put their finger on the scale, she would have been president for the past eight years.

But they did, and she wasn't. And understandably, when the cameras were turned off on that drama, she didn't stick with that moment-after self. She went back to her long-established comfort zone of wonkery and toughness and intellect. Equally understandably, she hasn't opened herself up emotionally since -- because she hasn't had to. I doubt this campaign will require her to.

Still, she knows. In her heart, she knows which demons were really in the studio control room for this show all these years. It's not just the Vast Right-wing Conspiracy. It's the Vast Sexist Leer-acy. They still want to take her down a peg. They're still itching for that porno snuff film.

When Hillary Clinton is sworn in as President -- 364 days from today -- the surge of feeling will not only be joy and liberation, but deep schaudenfreude. And, of course, the soap opera will be renewed for another season.

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Enemy Within

The Republican Party is no longer a mainstream political institution. It is a radical, anti-American, anti-Constitutional rightwing insurgency -- our own jihadis. It is dedicated to the overthrow of our government.

I think America is still solid enough to defeat this extremist effort -- that we're not yet in real danger of succumbing to it. Therefore, I think the most likely outcome is that the GOP winds up withering away, a la the Whigs, and some new right-of-center party emerges to express the libertarian perspective. Or maybe it just fragments into its various components -- evangelical, business, racist, libertarian, etc.

But they're not even hiding or euphemizing their agenda any longer. They're fed up with America, and are not gonna take it anymore.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

This guy is the GOP front runner

Nuff said. Or maybe not nuff. This guy is immune to Bad Lip Reading.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Ugly all the way down

When I watched 60 Minutes' interview with Joe Biden last night, I expected Bob Somerby to write about it, and he doesn't disappoint. I suspect he may be right about the source (he's speculating that it was Jill) -- but, as he says, it doesn't matter much. Joe allowed this slime to float around for three months in the community's water supply until there was no longer any chance it would help him.

And actually, it's worse than that. He and whoever actually dished to the Dowd lifeform didn't just engage in the creepiest kind of tabloid sleaze directed at Hillary, but they used their own tragedy to do so. They soiled the deathbed of their son -- or, if he really did say this, showed us all the home video of him soiling it -- to do so. How sick, how hate-filled is that? 

Monday, October 5, 2015

She's Mad

As a hatter. Carly's mind-blowingly transparent Big Lie about Planned Parenthood is now well beyond cynical politicking. She is now getting medieval on our asses. She's going all-in on political grand guignol.

People always talk about themselves, whatever they believe themselves to be talking about. The inside of her head is one goofy, scary place. She's about one interview away from animadverting in the lobby of the Port Authority.