Saturday, April 23, 2016

Today, Eags Suggests A Campaign Chant For The Hillster's Supporters: "Meh"

Eags finds Miss Inevitability of 2016 wanting as presidential candidate. Perhaps his sense of unease stems from The Hillster's lack of ideas — even one idea. Instead, he hears a strident tone signifying... nothing. If this is a (fair & balanced) portrayal of a candidate with feet of clay, so be it.

[x NY Fishwrap]
Hillary’s Big Idea
By Eags (Timothy Egan )

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If nothing else, the astounding presidential election of 2016 has shown that Americans are ready to junk the present system and try something bold, even reckless. Small ball is out. Incremental change is a nonstarter. Big will beat little.

Almost two-thirds of voters — Democratic and Republican majorities — agreed with the statement that “The old way of doing things no longer works and we need radical change,” when asked in a recent Quinnipiac University poll. This is not a frustrated fringe.

The largest cluster of voters willing to chuck the status quo, not surprisingly, supports Donald Trump. But he offers nothing for them, no details, no workable solutions, just a buffoon with a gold-plated selfie stick. Getting his clock cleaned by the loathsome Ted Cruz in caucus states where cajoling stray delegates matters is proof that in the one area where Trump is supposed to be so good — deal making — he is incompetent.

The next highest concentration of voters seeking radical change is drawn to the shouted shibboleths of Senator Bernie Sanders, the 74-year-old socialist. Sanders is a sloganeer with authenticity. But a rant, no matter how dead-on, is not a governing blueprint. His answer, on a number of occasions, to complex issues has been “I haven’t thought about it a whole lot.” In many areas, he’s almost substance-free.

Still, Sanders has more than accomplished what he set out to do: expose the deep flaws of modern capitalism and how corporate control of our democracy has done little for average people. Voters, especially the young, aren’t afraid to embrace some form of Euro-socialism. The Bern has been felt.

That brings us to Hillary Clinton, with her fat résumé and machine-run inevitability. Contrary to what Sanders said in one of his arm-flailing snit-fits, no one in the United States is more qualified to be president than the former madam secretary. And yet, her trumpet is barely a bugle; she’s the shrug candidate.

Among the three leading contenders, Clinton is the one least likely to be viewed as “leading a movement,” that same Quinnipiac poll found. Her problems are more than cosmetic. She’s not a natural politician, as she admits, though her game was sharp in New York. And Clinton fatigue is no passing hangover. That grifter edge, from 1970s cattle future questions to Clinton Foundation ethical issues, is never far away.

But compared with the monumental flaws of Trump, Clinton is in great shape. You don’t need the oratorical gifts of Barack Obama, the élan of John F. Kennedy or the kinetic spark of Teddy Roosevelt to be president.

What you do need is a big idea, something much greater than the personality of the politician. As John Kasich admitted on Wednesday: “If you don’t have ideas, you got nothing, and frankly my Republican Party doesn’t like ideas.”

Hillary Clinton has ideas, but what is the overarching one? “Fighting for us,” her slogan, sounds like poll-driven pablum.

You’d think that electing the First Woman President would be a big deal. But we’ve seen women lead other nations, from Margaret Thatcher in England to Angela Merkel in Germany. The novelty is meh. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has some of that historic shine, but then she’s the Notorious RBG, the coolest octogenarian in a black robe.

The level of support Clinton will get for her gender may be in direct proportion to how much Trump continues to attack women — for their looks, for wanting control of their own bodies, for his disgusting hints at how hot his own daughter is.

The big idea is out there, in the bundle of issues in the Democratic campaign and solutions to the economic malaise that troubles Trump supporters. They’re all bits of a new tomorrow, many coming from the Sanders campaign. But the parts are not enough.

Consider the epic changes over the past century that brought lasting good to this country. Social Security and Medicare, allowing millions of Americans to live in dignity, were part one. The Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of the 1960s, which completed what Abraham Lincoln started with the 13th Amendment, were part two. Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, which made the nation’s cities breathable, waterways swimmable and the country more habitable for all living things, were part three. Clinton needs to fashion a part four, attacking inequality with an institutional uplift to the slipping middle class.

Those earlier initiatives were radical changes, the kind of big ideas the public is clamoring for now.

Here’s the central conundrum for Clinton: A majority of people think the system is broken, and must change. But a majority also has an unfavorable view of Clinton (and can’t stand Trump, by a higher margin, across the board). But one will take care of the other; she can break out of the prison of her personality with something grand and unifying and bigger than herself. Ω

[Timothy Egan writes "Outposts," a column at the NY Fishwrap online. Egan — winner of both a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 as a member of a team of reporters who wrote the series "How Race Is Lived in America" and a National Book Award (The Worst Hard Time in 2006) — graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in journalism, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Whitman College in 2000 for his environmental writings. Egan's most recent book is The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America (2009).]

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