Monday, June 13, 2016

Last Call For Not Going Anywhere

Bernie Sanders will continue to Bernie Sanders for the foreseeable future, in case you were somehow confused about the whole Bernie Sanders thing.

Senator Bernie Sanders said on Sunday that he would “take our campaign for transforming the Democratic Party into the convention,” refusing to concede the presidential nomination to Hillary Clinton though not explicitly saying he would challenge her for it. 
Mrs. Clinton earned enough delegates to clinch the nomination last week, but Mr. Sanders has declined to end his campaign. He has contended that he could persuade enough superdelegates, the party leaders who have overwhelmingly backed Mrs. Clinton, to switch their support to him by arguing that he would be the stronger candidate against Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. 
That plan became more improbable last week as high-profile Democrats supported Mrs. Clinton. President Obama endorsed her on Thursday, calling her the most qualified candidate ever to seek the White House and imploring Democrats to unite behind her. 
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts also endorsed Mrs. Clinton. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, the only senator to endorse Mr. Sanders, told CNN on Friday that he now supports Mrs. Clinton. 
In recent days, Mr. Sanders appeared to acknowledge the odds against him, and began speaking less about beating Mrs. Clinton and more about working to defeat Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee. 
On Sunday, he gathered with about 20 key supporters and advisers at his home in Burlington, Vt., to discuss how to proceed. 
“We are going to take our campaign to the convention with the full understanding that we are very good at arithmetic and that we know, you know, who has the received the most votes up to now,” Mr. Sanders said after the meeting, standing on his front lawn with his wife, Jane. Among the dozen or so people who attended the gathering were Benjamin T. Jealous, a former president of the N.A.A.C.P.; Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona; Nina Turner, a former Ohio state senator; and Bill McKibben, the environmentalist and author. 
Notably, Mr. Sanders also said he would continue his efforts aimed at “transforming the Democratic Party,” a sign that his main goal may no longer be to become the nominee.

So we've reached the opening phases of the Great 2016 Democratic Unity Swap Meet, which apparently is all about the negotiations involving what Bernie's price will be for endorsing Hillary Clinton, but before we get totally outraged at Sanders, please remember that the same Clinton folks were DEMANDING eight years ago that Barack Obama make Hillary his vice president or else. Even Ed Kilgore was pushing an Obama-Clinton ticket in the summer of 2008, so I'm not really going to buy the "What is Bernie Thinking?" line right about now. That's baked into this little pie, folks.

The Clinton PUMAs were just as obnoxious then as the Bernie or Bust folks are now, frankly, and just as condescending.  No, two wrongs don't make a right, but having said that, Clinton realized that burying the hatchet was the best course of action. I'm not so sure Bernie has gotten to that long game point yet, because this is pretty much his last shot at the brass ring.

Anyhow, I'm fairly sure that a former Senator and Secretary of State may know a few things about high-stakes political negotiations, and that she will find a solution that can satisfy as many people as possible.

We'll see.

Losing To Win

Real Clear Politics DC bureau chief Carl Cannon is convinced that Donald Trump's awful June so far is evidence that he knows he is in over his head and that he is secretly trying to self-sabotage in order to get out.

Let’s call this more reflective subconscious entity “Don Trump.”

Donald Trump loves winning and hates losing, while Don Trump knows that running a smart campaign and beating Hillary Clinton means he’d inherit a job he has neither the qualifications nor the temperament to perform successfully. Don Trump wants to lose. He wants this campaign to be over so Donald Trump can go back to doing what he’s good at: promoting his personal brand and counting his money.

To me, that’s the best explanation for the loony “Mexican” judge comments and other unforced errors Trump has made since clinching the Republican presidential nomination. A man who wanted to win this election wouldn’t make these mistakes.

Let’s start with Susana Martinez. As governor of New Mexico, she’s the chief executive in the state with the highest percentage of Latinos in the country, a border state where Trump’s famous “wall” would be built, and a bellwether that Republicans would like to carry in November. She’s the GOP’s most prominent a female Hispanic, two demographic groups Trump has trouble with. So does he woo Martinez and praise her? No. Because she skips his rally in Albuquerque, he throws a tantrum, gratuitously lashing out at her in her own capital.

“We have got to get your governor to get going,” he told the crowd at his event. “She’s got to do a better job. Okay? She’s not doing the job. Hey! Maybe I’ll run for governor of New Mexico. I’ll get this place going.”

This is Don Trump talking. A candidate trying to win wouldn’t have drawn attention to the fact that the governor was skipping his rally, let alone publicly disparage her. A candidate who wanted to win wouldn’t have mentioned her at all. If he did, it would have come out something like this: “Your governor is doing a great job! She endorsed somebody else in the primary, but we’ll get her on our side because she proves that an independent-minded Republican can carry New Mexico—and we’ll do it together in November!”

This of course is making excuses for the people who are desperately trying to nominate Donald Trump as the Republican party's presidential candidate in 2016. As I have said time and again, Trump is not the cause of the GOP's problems, he's merely the symptom of a larger pathology based on a major American political turning to hatred, demonization of the "other", and "Second Amendment solutions" to America's problems.

If Donald Trump supposedly knows he is unqualified, and you know that he's aware of it, what does that day about the millions who voted for him anyway?

The Last Of The Ohio Moderates

Something of an era has passed in Ohio with the death over the weekend of the state's last reasonable, moderate Republican statesman, former governor and Senator George Voinovich, at age 79.

The news shook friends and supporters across the state, with remembrances pouring in from Democrats and Republicans alike.

“He was a unifier who thought outside the box, never gave up and worked hard for the ideas he believed in up until the very end of his life," Ohio's current governor, John Kasich, said in a statement. "Thanks to that leadership he saved Cleveland, governed Ohio compassionately and responsibly and was a candid voice for reason in the U.S. Senate."

David Pepper, chairman of Ohio's Democratic Party and former Cincinnati city councilman, recalled giving then-Senator Voinovich a tour of Cincinnati.

"It was clear he was still a mayor at heart," Pepper said. "He didn’t miss a detail, and that’s what a great public servant does--focuses on the details and brings people together to find solutions."

Voinovich was deeply religious, believing that everyone had God-given gifts, recalled Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. He took home work every night and weekend as governor. And though he was a "city kid," he loved the Ohio State Fair.

"His administrative style and philosophy were to hire good people, hold them accountable, but let them run their departments," DeWine recalled in the statement.

Voinovich was governor in the 90's and did things like "increase taxes to pay for welfare and other social programs", something that would have gotten him flayed by today's GOP.

As governor, Voinovich cut $720 million from the budget in two years.

But he was also willing to take political risks--and to show a softer side. He once broke into tears when protesters gathered outside the governor's office to demand that he restore cuts the Legislature made to welfare.

And in 1993, Voinovich worked with leaders of both parties in the Legislature to push through a tax increase aimed at shoring up the state's finances. The move angered some conservatives who began questioning the governor's commitment to their cause.

In an interview Sunday, ex-state Sen. Stanley Aronoff, a Cincinnati Republican whose time as Ohio Senate president overlapped with Voinovich's governorship, said "he lived a relatively frugal life, but he also wanted to take care of everybody." Aronoff said Voinovich was a "bipartisan" chief executive in the true spirit of that word.

Former President George H.W. Bush weighed in on Sunday as well. "George Voinovich was, in my view, the quintessential public servant," he said in a statement. "He brought people together, focused on results, and left his state and our country a better place thanks to his selfless commitment."

When he was elected mayor of Cleveland in 1979, the city had defaulted on its loans and was in fiscal ruin. Voinovich raised taxes and balanced the books. He ran for governor in 1990, saying he would bring the same fiscal discipline to the state budget.

"It is not an exaggeration to say he personally saved the city from default and revived the spirit of Cleveland through sheer force of will, an unyielding work ethic and an infectious optimism," Terrace Park Republican Rob Portman, who succeeded Voinovich in the Senate, said in a statement Sunday.

Voinovich was a nice, boring, nerdy Republican numbers guy.  He wasn't a punisher, he didn't try to shut down abortion clinics or drug test welfare recipients of scam the state's parents with charter schools, in fact he was one of the few GOP senators who voted against Dubya's No Child Left Behind bill because the numbers didn't add up.

He did things like "raise taxes in order to fix bridges, roads, and put people to work" and "wanted us to pay for our war in Iraq or leave because we couldn't afford it otherwise".  He thought President Obama's stimulus was too much pork, but he though Dubya's stimulus was too much pork too, and voted against both.

In other words, as far as Republicans went, he was reasonable and wasn't insane, he wasn't a religious fanatic, he didn't want to punish those people all the time and was, by all accounts, a decent guy. When 2010 and the Tea Party rolled around, Voinovich retired from the Senate because he saw what was coming and wanted no part of it. He voted to confirm Sonia Sotomayor as one of his final acts, thought gun control legislation was acceptable, and didn't go around screaming at his opponents.

He would have been primaried out of existence today.  Never would have made it in the GOP.  No, George Voinovich wasn't great, but he actually did his job.

That's worth mourning.


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