Hillary Clinton, Considered in Herself

Hillary Clinton with Barack Obama. (ABC/Ida Mae Astute, photo used under Creative Commons license)

So, before Hillary Clinton puts a cap on the DNC convention with her appearance tonight, let me talk a little about what I think of her as a presidential nominee, (mostly) independent of the fact of Donald Trump as her opponent for the office. And to talk about her as a presidential nominee, I need to talk a little bit about me as a political being.

And who am I as a political being? As I’ve noted elsewhere, among the various political labels that have been used over the last several decades, I’m probably closest to what used to be called a “Rockefeller Republican,” a person who is relatively socially liberal but relatively economically conservative. But that label doesn’t precisely describe me, either. I am both of those things, generally, but it doesn’t get to the root of my political ethos.

To get to that, I need to go back to high school, to a class I took called Individual Humanities. The class was the brainchild of teacher Larry McMillin, and it was a year-long class (interestingly, divided between the last half of one’s junior year and the first half of one’s senior year) that took a look at portrayals of the individual in Western Literature — from Oedipus Rex through Joan of Arc through Huckleberry Finn — to chart the development of the idea of the individual and what it means to be one, in the larger context of  western civilization.

The specific details of the class are something I’ll leave out for now, but the takeaway of the class — the summation of its goals — was to argue that one of western civilization’s great achievements was the development of the independently acting and thinking individuals who saw as their greatest life crisis service to their community. Which is to say: In our world, we get built to think for ourselves, and when that happens, we realize we can’t be in it just for ourselves.

And, importantly, this ethos and the benefits thereof are not the purview of one group or class. Everyone should be encouraged to develop into who they have the potential to become. Everyone in turn uses that realized potential for the overall benefit their community or communities.

Well, that sounds communist! Yes, I suppose if you wanted you could argue that “from each according to ability, to each according to needs” is an expression of this concept, but then again, so is “TANSTAAFL” as long as it’s applied alongside “Pay it forward”; even the concept of noblesse oblige holds its echo. Like the “golden rule” which is found in most major religions, the concept is adaptable to a number of situations. The important things: Development of people as individuals; recognition of the individual’s responsibilities to their communities.

This is, to my mind, a powerful, adaptable and moral ethos, first because it encourages each of us to find our full expression and to develop those gifts we have within us — to become us — and at the same time reminds us that these talents and gifts need to be used not only for ourselves but for the benefit of others. It’s not (just) self-interest, or even (just) enlightened self-interest; it’s realization of self and a commitment to others as the result of that realization. It doesn’t mean one can’t do well for one’s self; most of us are not built to be monks. It does mean you should see “doing good” as an equal or higher goal than “doing well.”

This idea of the enlightened individual in service to their community is a significant part of my own personal ethical toolbox; likewise, it’s part of my political thinking as well, and a thing I want to see in politicians.

Along with this ethos, I have a very large streak of pragmatism, which is to say, I generally think it’s okay to get half a loaf when the full loaf is manifestly not on offer. Should you go in saying “sure, I’ll take half a loaf”? No, go ahead and see how much of the loaf you can get — if you can get the whole damn thing, good on you. But if you get 80% or 50% or 25% or whatever, depending on circumstances, well, fine — that fraction can be a basis to build on. Applying “All or nothing” thinking to every situation is for amateurs, nihilists and fools.

So, let’s apply both of these concepts to Hillary Clinton. I think that Clinton has shown amply over the years that, whatever personal ambitions or her willingness to cash a check for speaking fees (and as an ambitious person who occasionally speaks for money, I don’t see either as inherently a problem), time and again she’s put herself in service. Not with 100% success and not without flaws even when successful, but there are none of us perfect, and the end result of her putting herself back into the arena again and again is that much of that service has had an impact. Her ambition and service are not just about her and what it gets her. She’s done much, and at a high level, for others.

As for pragmatic — well, look. One does not work at the levels she does and has for decades without it, and if there’s any ding on the Clintons as a political couple, it’s their willingness to make a deal. Again, I don’t see that as necessarily a bad thing, even if one’s line for “acceptable deal” is elsewhere than theirs. This is definitely a “your mileage may vary” sort of thing, but I’m okay with the mileage I get out of it.

Independent of anything else, Clinton is an attractive presidential candidate for me for the reasons noted above. Service and pragmaticism go a long way for me. In the context of where the GOP is right now, and who they are fielding as their candidate this cycle, it’s not even a contest. In the case of John McCain and Mitt Romney, the two previous GOP presidential candidates, even as I disliked their overall policies and plans for the country, I could not say they had not acted in service to their communities and country, or that they didn’t have the ability to be pragmatic when being pragmatic was what was needed. I can’t say that about Trump. There’s nothing in his past actions that suggests he’s in this life for anyone but himself.

But Hillary Clinton is — is what, exactly? A criminal? Corrupt? Dishonest? Evil? Terrible? Awful? A bitch? Satan in a pantsuit ensemble? As I’ve noted before, a quarter century of entirely outsized investigations into her life and actions have come up with nothing criminal or found corruption that rises to indictable levels. As for the rest of it, whatever Clinton’s own personal characteristics, she also had the misfortune of stepping into the political spotlight concurrent to the GOP wholesale adopting the Gingrich playbook of demonizing the opposition. She’s had an entire political party and its media apparatus spending two full decades telling the world she’s a bitch, and evil, and a criminal. It’s still happening; the Republican National Convention resounded with the words lock her up, lock her up, lock her up. And yet she is still here. She is still in service. Now, you can see that as ego or delusion or the inability to take a hint. I see it as an unwillingness to yield the floor to those whose political playbook is simply “demonize your opponent,” with the rest to be figured out later.

(And make no mistake — should Clinton win the presidency, the fury isn’t going away. The GOP is all in this year with sexism and bigotry and hate, and at this point it has no other gear; it literally cannot do otherwise without entirely losing its primary voter base. This is what the Gingrich playbook has gotten the GOP. It’s made them fury addicts, and the withdrawal symptoms are as likely to kill them as not.)

Maybe ultimately the issue is that she’s not likable, i.e., she’s not the candidate you’ll have a beer with. Well, now there’s Tim Kaine for that if that’s important to you; he’ll have a beer with you, and if you have too many he’ll take your keys when you’re not looking, pretend to help you look for them when you’re ready to go, and then let you sleep it off on the couch. But honestly, I’ve never gotten that whole construct. One, I don’t need to have a beer with my President; I assume they have other things to do. Two, if that’s a controlling aspect of your presidential decision making, I mean, if it actually is important to you, then you’re the problem and you need to pull your head out and maybe have more relevant criteria, or at least put “beer buddy” as far down the goddamned list as possible.

And three, says who? I don’t need Clinton to be likable in order to vote for her for president, especially as I’m not likely to ever meet her and spend time with her and have late night phone calls where we gossip and share secrets. She’s not my friend. But I also don’t find her unlikable todayand I don’t remember that ever being the baseline of my opinion of her (she’s had unlikable moments, to be sure. Welcome to being human). But then, I also don’t tend to think women who express opinions, or who don’t feel the need to excuse their ambition or their place near the top of the power structure, are inherently unlikable. Let’s not pretend that in fact that’s not a problem, still, for a lot of people — and that this being a problem hasn’t been exploited by others.

(Also, you know. Maybe it’s a personal quirk, but I just don’t get that invested in politicians as inspirational figures. I’m perfectly happy with them being essentially colorless and efficient and boring. Maybe even prefer it!)

At the end of the day, without reference to any other aspect of this particular presidential race, Hillary Clinton offers more than enough for me to vote for her. With reference to other aspects of this race — namely, that Donald Trump’s candidacy is as close to being an actual existential threat to US democracy as we’ve had, possibly ever — voting for Clinton becomes not only a preference but a moral necessity. I can’t not vote for Hillary Clinton in this election. So it’s nice to know I would have been happy to vote for her, no matter what.

137 Comments on “Hillary Clinton, Considered in Herself”

  1. I’ve seen the sentiment of your HS class expressed as “Society should exist for the individual, and the individual should exist for society.” An individualist society fostering a communitarian individual.

  2. Exactly what I’ve been trying to tell people for a while, although my arguments tend to be more scatological.

  3. Sounds like you had a good teacher.

    Here are my thoughts on Clinton. First, the republican’s have been trying to smear the Clinton’s for decades now so she will carry some baggage from that sadly even when the vast majority of their claims are pure BS and they know it. Their smear campaigns tend to turn me off of them and tend to make me want to support whoever is getting smeared, because I have never liked bullying.

    Hillary comes from a fairly conservative background. She was raised in a republican household and was a republican at first.

    I tend to agree with her on a lot of the things she fights for; health care, helping people go to school, etc., so on most social issues, I’m with her.

    What gives me pause are her warmongering tendencies. She tends to be more in favor of military force than I am and is more willing to use it more quickly than I would like. She voted for the war in Iraq.

    I thought her husband, Bill was a great president, but tended to rule too moderately at times. I expect she will be the same. I wish they both would take on Wall Street and corporations more.

  4. The only part of this I would disagree with is tracing the current GOP playbook back to Gingrich. The playbook goes back to Goldwater/Nixon, mostly Nixon. Reagen added dramatic flair and Newt deleted the chapters about subtle language and replaced them with hammers.

  5. Yeah, I’d probably vote for her against Generic Republican #17.

    But Clinton or Sanders, I’d pick Sanders. Clinton or Obama, Obama every time. Clinton versus Warren, I’d pick Warren.

    Make no mistake, Clinton is competent and fiendishly smart, but she doesn’t quite fully line up with me on positions. Also Obama is IMO better on foreign policy, and he’s done a fantastic job as President, so I’m inclined to back him against anyone.

    tl;dr: Voting for Clinton, would vote for Clinton against any Republican, not a huge Clinton fan.

  6. Well said, as always. And personally, the fact that she was willing to go on record for supporting “Black Lives Matter”, even when she knew she would be demonized for it goes a long way with me. Even to those who may say she is pandering to the “black” vote, I say her willingness to take the heat for that position outweighs any benefit she will receive. And as an intelligent, thinking woman voting for the first black and the first woman president in my lifetime is a dream fulfilled.

  7. You raise some good points, but you also sidestep the main issue I personally have with Hillary. I don’t dislike her because she’s political, makes deals/compromises, and she’s kinda unlikeable.

    I dislike her because she constantly tries to rewrite her own history. If she would just say “I used to think this, but I was wrong” then I’d vote for her without hesitation.

    What she does instead is try to claim she’s always been pro-gay marriage (for example) and even have her husband say it front of tens of millions of Americans during a speech when that is *manifestly not true*… provably not true! In that way, she’s no different from Trump and it makes me a little nuts.

  8. “Service and pragmaticism[sic] go a long way for me. ” And sheer competence and experience, which she also has in spades.

    The only candidate in my adult life (I’m 51) I can think of who checked all those boxes, for me, was Bush the Elder. The only Republican Presidential candidate I ever voted for. (Well, Dole, but he didn’t look like he was happy, ever, until after he lost…)

  9. What is amazing to me is how the Republicans, over the years through repetitive demonizing of her, were able to convince not only their own adherents but progressives that she is crooked, a liar, not to be trusted. When i hear people say these things about her I ask them “how is she crooked? What crime did she commit?” But they really can not come up with anything she did that was illegal. Yes, she gave speeches to Wall Street and took money for that, but that is perfectly legal. You may not like it but it is what it is.

    I like Hillary and supported her even during the primary. Her commitment to Women’s Reproductive Rights and Children sealed it for me, the topping on the cake was how she handled those bozos who tried to take her down during the Benghazi hearings. I knew then she had what it took. But I am really concerned about our ability this election to get people to look at her without a filter and judge her fairly. I am afraid we may not be successful as they are either not voting or going third party. However I will do all I can to convince them otherwise..fingers crossed!

  10. And that above comment needs editing… Should be “only other candidate”, and I didn’t vote for Dole. :-)

  11. It is interesting to me that the concept behind privatization of social service programs is, in fact, individual in service to the community. Yet, when faced with a person who exemplifies that principal, the very people who tout those programs, find that service a sham. Not that most of them are actually willing to give their lives in such a way. You are correct in your estimation that the arepublican Party is and has been determined to demonize Hillary Clinton for decades. She is vilified as aggressive and strident when a man would be considered assertive. They taunt her for failing to divorce Bill, but if she had, they would have complained that she didn’t support the institution of marriage. The real problem for Republicans is that she is smart, hardworking and capable.

    I was raised by Republican parents, but left the Republican Party when I could no longer square being Republican with being feminest and lesbian. My brother held on longer. But he, too has left, disgusted with a party that has become obsessed with hatred and focussed only on being anti-government and anti the very people they wish to rule.

  12. Who wouldn’t want to have a beer with Hillary? I think she’d be *fascinating* to have a blether with, especially once she’d had a couple.

  13. My thoughts: As an individual candidate she’s way too in bed with the banks and corporations for my comfort, and when she says things like she’ll be tough on banks and hedge funds I have trouble believing she’ll follow through on that since they pay her bills. And since the current system of turning young people into walking profit centers for life is for the benfit of those people I do consider her an obstacle to me ever having a savings account or getting out of debt. Not like I ever wanted to own a house anyway but her and people like her are why it will never even be an option for me.

    But as a candidate in the 2016 election, because I am pretty pragmatic myself, I’d rather business-as-usual “rich get richer and poor get poorer” who makes my life either slightly worse or pretty much break even than a candidate whose policies actively threaten my friends and who has said things that would, if he became President, make World War III and therefore the potential nuclear end of humanity objectively more likely. So I do kinda have to vote Clinton. “Because pragmatism.”

  14. Meh. I let myself hope a bit too much about Obama to see him land right of center. I was hoping Bernie raising mountains of cash from small donors January to March would give him the nomination, but the Clinton/DNC money laundering scheme did a complete end run around campaign contribution legal limits and buried him with big donor money.


    And one of Clinton’s campaign promises is campaign finance reform? Give me a break.

    I expect 4 to 8 years of stoking the fires of military excursions, a lot of civilian deaths, and large chunks of money up in smoke.

    Trump would very likely set the world on fire within 6 months, so I have to vote for Hillary, but she’ll be doing a slow roast.

  15. I’m not Republican or Libertarian, but I have to admit, in a just world, the party split that began years ago with the tea party, will end with a large percentage of the moderate republicans jumping ship to Libertarian candidates and the Republican party dying out, with conservative politics shifting back via a different party, as happened many times in history, cf. the Whigs, the Jackson’s Democratic Republicans, etc. I see that as the natural consequence of, as you put it, “fury withdrawal” and look forward to having candidates worth admiring on the conservative side; as with you, I aim for liberal social politics and conservative economic ones… and as someone from Maryland, I find myself voting for “moderate Republicans” in local politics as often as not.

  16. I agree with Rhamphorynchan, though I prefer wine. :-)
    Thanks to Walt Crawford for explaining what TANSTAAFL meant, I didn’t get it.
    Regarding service, I couldn’t help flashing to “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few – or the one,” which tells you what flavor of nerd I am.

    And I agree with Soulflower – I never expected to be able to vote for a black presidential candidate *or* a woman presidential candidate, after my 20+ years living in the deep South. It makes me soooo happy that this is finally A Real Thing.

  17. I’m relieved to read this. I’d been wondering about the hatred and loathing I was seeing of Hillary Clinton, and wondering if I was just looking at the wrong places. I don’t get it myself: I see her as calm and firm and efficient, and, yes, in service to her country. So why the fury? Your reasoned approach is a nice affirmation to get, especially laid out in such a clear way. Thanks!

  18. Wyattmince, better that than spelling his last name “Kean” and thinking he’s from New Jersey.

  19. Thank you, this is excellent. Yeah, I don’t get the likable/would I have a beer with this candidate thing. I mean, sure, I’d have a beer with GWB, maybe, but I never thought he’d be a good president.

    “Likable” is also way more charged for women than men; “Not likable” is too close to “you’re being MEEEN because you won’t smile at me or have sex with me.”

  20. I have to agree. She is eminently qualified, and most if not all of her critiques are the result of relentless smear campaigns – some of which, admittedly, she left herself open to through ineptitude, but not actual corruption. She has done much good in the world, and while in a perfect world we could elect a more liberal president, I am looking to win this election and I have thought all along that she was more electable than Bernie was (not trying to denigrate him, just stating my opinion) and that she would be more able to accomplish things if elected. This WIkileaks stuff has me concerned, and it pisses me off that Julian Assange is dabbling in our election just because he has a hate-on for Hillary – I used to feel some sympathy for his plight, but that is fading fast. If he thinks the US did him wrong when she was Secretary of State, or that our policies were objectionable, he’ll have a highly unpleasant surprise if he gets Trump elected.

  21. I agree with you on everything. And I’ll emphasize 2 things. 1. In terms of the “having a beer with them,” I’ve always thought that was useless. I think, were he drinking, George W. Bush and I would have a terrific conversation over a couple of beers, and I’d enjoy mountain biking around his ranch with him. That in no way means I think he was a good president. And 2., I’ve often noted in myself that I am leery of the “charisma” factor, generally preferring technocrats in the Oval Office who are good administrators and bureaucrats. That means, as a result, that I remember George HW Bush with a certain amount of fondness, that although politically I liked Bill Clinton (all that peace and prosperity stuff, y’know?), the way he administered the Oval Office seemed too loosey-goosey to me. I suspect Hillary Clinton, email usage policies aside, is essentially a technocrat who gets things done.

  22. I appreciate your completely rational feelings on this.

    I also greatly appreciate that you didn’t take any shots at Bernie voters this time.

    It is shocking to me (but not surprising?) how quickly the Republicans have rallied around their team captain.

    I’m becoming more and more likely to vote for Mrs. Clinton, if only because I cannot bear the thought of Trump’s smug ass becoming President.

  23. I wouldn’t want to have a beer with GWB. Frankly, he sounds like a mean frat rat, which is not my kind of person. I think I’d like Hillary a lot better, though I suspect she’d quickly exhaust me and make me feel inferior. The presidential nominee of recent decades that I think I’d most enjoy as a person to hang out with would probably be Al Gore.

  24. If anyone chooses Trump ’cause they think they’d like to have a beer with him, they’re even more deluded than you’d think in that Trump doesn’t drink and never has. It’s from seeing the alcoholism in his family that took his brother. He’s even said, “I’ve never understood why people don’t go after the alcohol companies like they did the tobacco companies.” So there goes the buzz on getting drunk with Trump.

  25. And let’s be honest- having a beer with Trump? He’d spit in your drink and stick you with the check.

  26. Pssssst, Scalzi…. “pragmatism” is a less-jarring term than “pragamaticism”…. just sayin’…

    More when I finish reading, mayhap. Applause thus far.

  27. Totally agree with you; I’m With Her (TM) no matter what, but especially against Trump. She’s been part of the political landscape for just about my entire adult life — Bill was elected just as I was settling into my first solo apartment. Something I’ve come to truly respect and admire about her is that no matter how much abuse and vitriol she takes from critics on the right and the left (and again, this has been happening for decades, and it is no small amount of abuse), she just comes back stronger. She does not give up. I like that in someone who wants to lead the country.

    And as for Kaine, he may seem like a lovable sitcom dad, but as my governor he stood up to both the NRA and the tobacco lobby. I suspect the affable neighbor act is covering up some serious steel. Another plus.

  28. I suppose I fall into the Libertarian bucket that John has talked about in the past. Trump is everything that John says he is, for sure, and under no circumstances would I consider voting for him. I find the Democratic platform to be much more agreeable and reality-based than the current Republican platform. But…well, I have one emotional hangup with Hillary Clinton: very strictly speaking, her email infractions should have caused her to lose any eligibility of holding a clearance ever again, at a minimum.

    Yes, I am aware that the FBI has declined to press charges. Yes, life is unfair. Yes, people at high echelons of power get treated differently than their underlings.

    But this still sticks in my craw.

    As a person who has had to obey those very same restrictions at pain of the same maximum penalties, I have some difficulty with the idea that the person who will have ultimate responsibility for national security has demonstrated that she is completely incapable of following basic handling procedures for sensitive and classified information.

    John is right, from a pragmatic standpoint, when he said that progressives should get with the dang program and get over the email scandal and everything else already, because what’s the alternative? But boy, Hillary’s carelessness and repeated statements that she violated no laws just…irritate me.

    I will not ultimately let this stand in the way of my ultimate voting decision. Because, hey, I recognize that this is my hangup. And the idea of Trump having the ultimate responsibility for national security scares the everloving Bejeezus out of me, far more than my irritation with HRC.

  29. I think Hillary IS likeable, and while I don’t drink alcohol, I’d coffee klatch with her anytime.

    She has been criticized for not holding press conferences. Well, good on her–why hold needless press conferences just to give reporters a chance to try to catch her out with nasty sound bites that sell? But she does plenty of interviews. She’s better one-on-one, and I find her very engaging, thoughtful, and LIKEABLE in interviews.

    I look forward to hearing her tonight. I hate to say it, but as many have complained (including that jerk-off Trump), she does tend to shout and get a little skreetchy in front of a microphone and a crowd. I hope she has taken some voice coaching since the last time I heard her at a microphone and has learned to modulate her voice and tone. A minor problem, in the grand scheme, but it would help with the “likeability” thing and take away a bit of the criticism against her.

    I don’t hear that much complaining “on the street” about her speaking fees/speeches to Wall Street (which I can see as a valid concern for some people). But I’m still hearing conservatives with college degrees saying that she’s murdered people, some of the oldest, most ridiculous trashiest rumors out there. Sad and pitiful that otherwise bright people could claim to believe these things. I generally don’t even bother to argue with them, it’s so pointless. Sometimes I send them the Mother Jones article that takes apart the conspiracy theories against her one by one–but such people are so closed minded against her, I doubt they look at it. Oh well.

    A little off topic, but how ’bout that Joe Biden last night? Now there’s a surrogate to have in your corner! My “like” turned to “love” after reading his open letter to the Stanford rape victim earlier this year. What a speech last night! Now, that’s a video I should think about sending to all the conservatives I know, along with the Mother Jones article. Maybe they could open their ears up to listen to Uncle Joe talk about why we should vote for Hillary.

  30. Full BINGO!, John.

    I don’t need my elected representatives to share my drinking preferences—I’m a martini girl, myself: very dry, very clean, two olives, up, thanks—nor do I expect that I will agree with every single vote, executive order, or decision. I do expect that my elected representatives will know more than I do on most issues, because that is their job.

    Also, I am well aware that I am not the only person in my district, state, or country, and that others might have conflicting and competing interests that take precedence; my elected representatives are not solely mine. They also represent the views of my pro-life, 700 Club-watching, super-Christian, glow-in-the-dark White neighbors, for example. (Who also happen to be very nice people, that I disagree with on almost everything, but hey, they mostly keep the chickens in their own yard, and I mostly keep my cats in the house, so we get along fine.)

    I have never understood the Hillary hate. Bill Clinton was the first president that I was able to vote for, and if I could have voted for Hillary instead, I would have. As would have many Dems of my generation and general demographic. I was a full-bore, block-stumping, sign-waving, voter-registering volunteer for the Democratic party from junior high, onward–my first civics class had a political volunteer requirement to pass, so I got the bug early, and I’ve never really recovered.

    As a result, I actually have met both Clintons, twice. We’ve never had a beer together, but they had giant subs delivered to the local campaign office during one phone drive, if that counts, and answered questions from the volunteers for about an hour, IIRC. I remember Bill as being extremely charismatic, shaking hands and remembering names, and Hillary as the thoughtful one, giving reasoned and rather intense responses to questions about education and health care. Frankly, at the time I was barely out of my teens, as were most of us: she was over my head, but we were all very impressed that she treated us like adults with valid thoughts and questions, not just walking bags of hormones willing to perform free labor in exchange for food and head pats.

    Over the years, my respect for Hillary has only increased. She’s taken a lot of knocks and had a lot of rocks thrown at her—Obama hit it on the head last night, with his comments—but she just keeps coming. She’s the Energizer Bunny of the Democratic Party. She has spent 40 years working within the system: compromising, trading favors, just fucking *showing up* for down-ticket and local candidates, in order to get any movement on issues that are important to her and the Party she supports. She’s done everything: she was a political wife, which means she was the unpaid, full-time, political operator for Bill for 20 years, as well as a mother and a lawyer; a Senator; Presidential candidate; and a globally respected Secretary of State. She really is the most qualified candidate for President the USA has ever had.

    And I think that scares the living shit out of some people. It ties into the very real decline of Working Class White Male entitlement—when the playing field is leveled (not completely level, but somewhat more than even 20 years ago), being white, male, and 21 is no longer enough to guarantee the American Dream. Young women have been allowed to attend university for 100-ish years, and the social pressure to get married and have babies has declined in direct relation; as a result, academically they are surpassing their male counterparts in droves, and entering the workforce in greater, more qualified, numbers. More and more white collar companies are mostly female-staffed; the number of men available to rise to upper management is decreasing. The mostly White Male senior leadership is retiring and dying off.

    If the A#1 top job in the US, if not on the planet, goes to a woman, the blow-back will be epic, but it really will signal that the gravy train is over. American society forced women and minorities to clear ever higher bars in order to achieve the same standard of living that the Average White Straight Male Joe could take for granted just for being born pale and dangly. The result was that now the bar is higher, period, even for Joe.

    I would have voted for Hillary Clinton in 1991, or 1995. I would have voted for her against Obama, but I lost the coin flip (and, frankly, I’m glad about that.) I will definitely be voting for her in November, and it will be a much easier decision this year, because, like the man said, I would vote for five ferrets in a trench coat before I would vote for Donald Trump. Fortunately, Hillary is significantly better qualified than the ferrets.

  31. I think she makes too many decisions based on how it will serve her. She doesn’t answer questions she doesn’t like. She falls a bit to the right of me on many issues that are important to me. I don’t trust her to make good on her promise to fix campaign finance after she benefited so richly from its loopholes. The private email server. Her shoot first foreign policy. Those are many of the reasons I don’t like her as a presidential candidate.

    In fact, there’s only one reason I’m voting for her: I have a daughter and I will do anything in my power to make sure Donald Trump doesn’t get to nominate Supreme Court Justices who will try to own her body. That’s it. I think she’s awful, but she’s getting my vote because I love my family.

  32. I won’t be voting for Hillary this fall… I’ll be voting for the EPA, a renewed Voting Rights Act, a modern version of Glass-Stiegel, OSHA, infrastructure modernization, between 1 and 3 Supreme Court Justices who don’t think that the meaning of the Constitution should be frozen in 18th Century concepts, a public option for healthcare (full disclosure – I’ll be 55 and retired next year and the idea of being able to ‘buy in’ to Medicare is appealing, to say the least), action to mitigate climate change… I think you get the idea by now.

    The GOP in general, and Trump is particular, oppose every one of the above ideas.

    Hillary is not my ideal candidate, but neither was Bernie, nor anyone else. Ideal things don’t really exist outside of Plato’s writings. Neither is she the ‘least worst option’ in this election. She is simply the *realistic* candidate who best represents my political wants and desires.

  33. Succinct, readable, and very much solidly located in what I wish were the center of US politics. Possible English neepery: Is ‘pragmaticism’ an alternate form of ‘pragmatism’? I learned the latter, and have been unable to find a definition for the former, if it is a different beast.

  34. “She’s has an entire political party” fixing the typo would help us non-native speakers.
    I’d love having a glass of sparkling wine with Clinton or, better, a whole meal. I’ve seen her pics as a young woman and she looked very much like me at that age – smarter than thou, and aware of it.

  35. John… thanks for voicing my opinion so eloquently. The gist of your piece applies to any presidential candidate, not just Hillary.

    In the age of social media it just seems to be that case that objectivity has been lost, buried under an overwhelming tide of emotionally charged off the cuff and throwaway comments designed to provoke a reaction rather than a plan. The same kind of rhetoric that is used to incite riot.

  36. Mintwitch Rocks! Love your blog, John!

    Sometimes the comments are as interesting and well written as yours are.

    If I ever get to coffee klatch with Clinton, I’ll invite you and Mintwitch along


  37. “I’ve never understood why people don’t go after the alcohol companies like they did the tobacco companies.”

    And thus Donald Trump shows that he’s never heard of prohibition, or why it ended. Can’t say I’m shocked.

  38. ‘God said “And this is very good.” referring to the yetzer ha-raw (Evil Inclination) , for if it were not for the yetzer ha-raw a man would not build a house, marry a woman, father a child, or engage in business.’ —Rav Schmul bar-Nachman

    Workable societies marry individual ambition to their general good, that is to say the good of The People Who Matter, a set larger than it was but still smaller than it ought to be. Progress in science runs on the desire for young people, generally men in the past, to gain status by finding implications their elders missed, and if possible proving them either wrong or (more likely) not as right as is currently desired.

  39. Man, I spent like a half an hour this morning on a profanity-laden essay that I posted to only half my f-list on facebook when I could have just waited and shared yours. All the same opinions, although I consider myself left of Sanders. No she’s not perfect. Neither is anyone. She’s probably a little too interventionist. So is Obama. So is pretty much everyone. Yep, she’s damn well qualified. No, I do not need to imagine myself in intimate situations like having drinks with someone to be able to vote for them; that’s what fandom is for. This is srs bzns. It is amazing to me how important the concept of Purity becomes when we’re dealing with a woman.

  40. “… a quarter century of entirely outsized investigations into her life and actions have come up with nothing criminal or found corruption that rises to indictable levels.”

    This is one of my concerns. Has nothing been found? Or is she not being indited because of who she is? Is she above the law? How does what she did compare with the hero Edward Snowden?

  41. I had the pleasure of meeting Hillary Clinton back when I was phone-banking for Bill (I got to meet them both), and both were extremely likeable, warm, and took time to listen to those of us who had on headphones and were starry-eyed at a young Arkansas Governor and his extremely accomplished wife as they were just starting to be in national politics. Likeable? You bet. And the reason why I think people don’t see her as likeable is because she has had to bring her guard up because she’s been nothing but attacked on all sides for, at the very least, the past 30 years.

  42. Add me to the list of people who would LOVE to have a beer with Hillary. I think I’d learn a lot, even if she didn’t completely open up. As I’ve gotten older and run into career obstacles that can reasonably be traced to my gender, I am a bit in awe of her ability to just keep going. I also admire (and aspire to emulate) her ability to learn from the valid critiques and (mostly) discard the sexist criticisms.

    But the folks who talk about whether or not people want to have a beer with a candidate are never thinking of people like me.

  43. Last comment, because I know serial commenters can be annoying, but I liked NicoleW’s points about Tim Kaine standing up to the NRA and Big Tobacco here in Virginia. Clinton made a great pick with him.

    I also really enjoyed hearing him make biblical references in his speech last night. I’d love to see him throw in an appropriate and “loving” biblical quote into every speech he gives. I’m not Christian (I’m Jewish), but I’m tired of the GOP acting as though they “own” the Christian vote for decades, and as though it is “un-Christian” to vote any other way. The GOP has contributed to giving Christians a bad name. I like seeing a positive, Democrat Christian in the limelight for a change. Maybe it will help signal to others it’s okay to jump ship.

  44. Every time you settle for half a loaf, you show the powers that be they don’t have to offer you the whole thing. And each time around, the offering gets smaller until eventually it’s just crumbs.

  45. Justin:

    Ooooooh, wait, let me try my hand at silly aphorism making!

    “Every time you get half a loaf instead of nothing, you feed the strength of others to get the entire loaf in the future.”

    Much aphorism. Very sage. Wow.

  46. “Her shoot first foreign policy.”

    I’ve seen a lot of complaints about Hillary that center around this particular theme, stated as if it’s a given. The evidence of her “hawkishness” seems to be based almost entirely on her Iraq War vote. Can someone give me some other indication where this idea that she’d be a pro-war president comes from? That she’d somehow gleefully choose armed conflict over talks and negotiation? I would really like to know why some people have this view of her.

  47. [Deleted because of poorly-framed elementary-level strawman argument. Nice try, though — JS]

  48. Mintwitch, chica, I will love you forEVER for this:

    “American society forced women and minorities to clear ever higher bars in order to achieve the same standard of living that the Average White Straight Male Joe could take for granted just for being born pale and dangly. The result was that now the bar is higher, period, even for Joe.”

    Just so. I wish that were on the front page of every website, newspaper, coming in round fruity tones out of every radio connection, podcast, and made into one of those YouTube doodads where the words dance as they are read by Samuel L Jackson or someone like that. Ubiquitous, in other words. Thank you.

    I tend to categorize leadership styles into three groups: Troublemakers, who are the ones that primarily inspire people to work for change, Figureheads, who are the ones that primarily make the status quo work well for people, and Pooper-Scoopers, who are the ones that primarily fix problems and clean up messes. (This is an over-simplification, of course. Most leaders have some of each in their makeup, but people do tend to have a primary ‘style.’)

    In my observation and experience, people tend to connect to Troublemakers because they are passionate about the change vision, connect to Figureheads because the leader projects as lovable/trustworthy to them, and invest in (but rarely connect to) Pooper-Scoopers because they’re personally affected by the mess or problem that needs fixing. Pooper-Scoopers are often hyper-competent but rarely either visionary or lovable. (This, too, is an over-simplification, there have been lovable Pooper-Scoopers, untrustworthy but charismatic Figureheads, and Troublemakers whose real talent is organization, etc.)

    Hillary is practically the archetypal Pooper-Scooper. I’ve met her personally, and the thing that impressed me first about her was her breadth and depth of knowledge and skill. Further into the meeting, I began to get a glimmer of the personal caring and commitment that motivates her focus, but it’s well-occluded by the competence she projects.

    Her policy goals are more centrist and pragmatic than mine. I know that with her in charge, we won’t make the more dramatic, faster-moving changes that I believe this country (and the world- because climate change is central and prime to my agenda) need. But I do believe that we will make small-increment changes in the right direction, we will hold the line against the destructive, hate-filled reactionary bigotry that threatens our commonwealth.

    I will want other, more peace-oriented, slower on the military-intervention-button fingers in her administration, and I think Tim Kaine is actually a positive indicator in that respect.

    But the poop that needs scooping in this country DOES affect me personally and deeply, and I have great confidence in her ability to do it, even against the storm of oppositional whining, obstructionism, obfuscation and monkey-wrenching that will inevitably be unleashed against her.

  49. What I am most surprised about is that you did not say anything about her stance on specific issues. Is that something that has a lower priority for you in comparison to her service and pragmatism or why didn’t you say anything about that? Genuinly curious.

  50. @Marshall – the Libyan intervention seemed to be entirely driven by the Clinton State Department, not Obama, and was clearly an error. As usual, no plan after Gadafhi had gone (it would have been better to leave him in power). I suspect the “Red Line” in Syria was state, too. She pushed for more intervention to top Assad, which was stupid – the intervention against him allowed ISIS to thrive, yes he is a genocidal maniac but he is the least awful option there. She does appear to be too eager to intervene overseas. Not sure where she stands on the Iranian nuke deal, as that was Kerry, but it was the least worst option and maybe State was working on it before she left office.

  51. @Mysteron:
    Speak for your self! Gimme that loaf of pumpernickel, some mustard, ham and Swiss. Hell, just gimme the loaf.

    As for voting for Hillary, it won’t be a problem for me AT ALL! I voted for her in the primary here in SC and will happily cast my vote for her in the General. And even if she had not been my preferred candidate, the car full of insane clowns that started off the GOP Silly Season, and the final–GAG–“winner” of the “Worst Human Alive” pageant would make me vote for her anyway.

    I’m tired of hearing how I should vote for Vanity Candidate Extraordinaire Stein, or Okay on Personal Matters/Uber-Republican on Business Johnson. No. Vote for either of them if you really don’t care about Trump winning. Otherwise, don’t claim it is a “conscience vote”. If you had a conscience you’d realize, A) they won’t win and B) your vote my just jeopardize decades of gains for minorities if it puts one Donald J. Trump in office. Trust me you can live with a bruised conscience. I had to do so when I voted against an incumbent Democratic Governor who was really likeable, had some good ideas, but was a total incompetent boob in office. You can survive. I did.

    John, I didn’t have any class in school like the one you mention, but believe it or not I think I would have loved it. The idea of being an individual yet helping the whole is not strange to me. Way back when I learned that in Basic Training at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. The unit–no matter the size–is only as strong as its weakest member.

  52. What mintwitch said, almost entirely. I have never met either Clinton, but a family member had an opportunity to converse with Hillary on a plane ride back from Haiti, and was impressed, which is plenty good enough for me.

    I’m also with DB on the “beer with GWB” inanity. One of my nicknames for him is “nasty little fratboy.” Hey, he demonstrated his contempt for others by giving everyone often demeaning nicknames, I’ll return the favor. Petty of me, I know, but I’ll indulge. And I wield a lot less overt power.

  53. @digitalatheist, I’m more a reuben on rye person, myself. Not sure where that would put me on one of those political graphs I keep seeing.

    Anyway, this is an excellent post from John, and I agree that pragmatism should win the day over loutish, impulsive buffoonery. Whether it will or not remains to be seen.

  54. Very nice, Thanks. So is your philosophy the antithesis of that espoused by Ann Rand in “Atlas Shrugged”? (I read about 1/3 of “Atlas..” and stopped.)

  55. Dear lord, what sort of pumpernickel loving apostates have I fallen in with here!?!

    (Apologies for the, erm, “breadjacking,” John. Purely unintentional.)

  56. @Justin:

    So you’ll turn up your nose at the insincere half loaf, and declare that if you can’t get the loaf you want, everyone is just going to have to eat shit?

  57. I think many of her bad qualities have been ludicrously over-emphasized, and her good qualities criminally under-emphasized. For example, the charges about her pandering to the black community seems ignorant of her basic, continual interactions with African Americans dating back to the 70s. She has been far from a perfect politician for blacks, but I consider her behavior a minimum standard—which too few elected officials have bothered to meet.

    In other words, most people have a cartoon version of Hillary in their heads…

  58. Scalzi would you consider posting a syllabus or even just like text list from that class?

  59. Marhsall, I don’t particularly agree that Hillary is going to lead us into a war, but as Secretary of State, she had a strong predilection to use of force as a diplomatic tool, much more so than Obama. That isn’t to say she was a war-monger, but that she was much more receptive to the Pentagon’s viewpoint, documented in several articles, such as this New York Times article from earlier this year. The general take is that Hillary is more comfortable using the military for interventions, such as enforcing a no-fly zone in Syria, sending an aircraft carrier to put North Korea on notice and similar such actions. Hence, she is more of a Hawk than Obama and possibly even the average Democrat. I know the Sanders campaign made that sort of assertion, but I don’t see her actual policy recommendations bearing that accusation out.

  60. @ Not the Reddit Chris S:

    Not sure where she stands on the Iranian nuke deal, as that was Kerry, but it was the least worst option and maybe State was working on it before she left office.

    As Secretary of State, Clinton was actively involved in creating the circumstances that resulted in the Iran deal. This included not only the sanctions against Iran, but also the diplomatic efforts to include China and Russia in the process. Granted, how much input she had on the actual deal is probably small (if any) since she was no longer SecState when the deal happened. But she was clearly involved in a non-military approach to dealing with Iran.

    See also PolitiFact’s research on Clinton and the Iran nuclear deal: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/nov/23/hillary-clinton/hillary-clinton-says-she-helped-usher-iran-negotia/

  61. Two of the main issues that I have with “progressive” critics of Hillary Clinton are:
    1) Suddenly in this ONE instance you have decided to adopt Fox News talking points whole-hog, when you seem to be aware that they’re a 24-7 lie factory the rest of the time?
    2) She’s planted in the middle or to the leftish end of the Democratic Party on nearly every issue, and yet she’s treated as somehow specially corrupt or equal to the Republicans.

    I support Clinton gladly. I am a grown-up who understands that in a nation of 50 states and 300 million people, I couldn’t even find a wife I agree with 100%. How can I demand that sort of agreement from a politician who has to talk half of us into voting for her?

  62. wizardru: That’s an absolutely fair description and an absolutely fair critique of her. It’s when it ramps up into warmongering that I think it become cartoonish.

    I dont think her work in the Middle East is an unblemished streak of successes, but nothing that really warrants condemnation (I mean, Syria…with 4-5 factions and double the number of countries trying to impose their own will there, and probably with fewer internal constraints than the US).

  63. Agreed. I tend to veer economically liberal as well, because I think that unrestrained capitalism doesn’t help many people contribute to their communities, and often hinders them from doing so. (Someone whose potential best matches “stay at home parent” or “wonderful gardener”, for example, is going to be fucked under the economically-conservative system unless they’re lucky enough to win, marry, or inherit wealth–and their community, by extension, will suffer that loss.)

    On Hillary in specific: I like her fine. Has she done or said things I now disagree with, especially in the nineties? Yes, but so has everyone. I’m hoping that her ties in the corporate world will let her know how best to change Wall Street: I think she’s smart enough and politically experienced enough to use them effectively, if she wants to.

    I’m not thrilled with her willingness to go to war, but it’s not a hot-button issue for me, and no candidate is going to be perfect. Bernie was way too silent/ambiguous on gun control for my taste, and Stein is far too wishy-washy about vaccines, so even if they were viable candidates, they’d both give me pause.

  64. And even after John’s well reasoned piece here, we still have people saying, “Yeah, well what about (x)? Bernie blah blah blah…” as if Bernie is still running. Hello? Unless you’re living under a rock, or have them in your head, here’s the thing: Either Hillary Clinton or The Mangled Apricot Hellbeast will be elected POTUS in November. A vote for Jill, Gary, Mickey Mouse or write-in Bernie only adds to the chance that the MAH gets it by default. The end. Damn, I swear people just like to argue for argument’s sake.

  65. beowuff said: “This is one of my concerns. Has nothing been found? Or is she not being indited because of who she is? Is she above the law? How does what she did compare with the hero Edward Snowden?”

    I suggest you read David Halberstam’s wonderful book ‘The Fifties’, where he talks about the way that Republicans adopted repeated investigations as a smear tactic. After the fourth or fifth investigation, they would start using as their talking point (not that they used that term back then) “If this person didn’t do anything wrong, why have they been investigated so many times?” When in fact, the same people insinuating cunning and unpunished wrongdoing were the people with the most to gain from their victim’s destruction.

    The old saying is, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” but always watch out for the guy on the House Investigative Committee with a gas can and a book of matches.

  66. The more I see her, the less I understand why people don’t like Hillary Clinton as a person. As a serious question, which of these powerful democratic women do you find likable if not Hillary: Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren, Diane Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Madeline Albright, Loretta Lynch, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagen, Sonia Sotomayor, or Tammy Duckworth. If Sarah Palin, Nicki Haley, Condoleza Rice, or Olympia Snow are likeable, what qualities do they have other than the opposite party? How about Theresa May or Angela Merkel or Maggie Thatcher? I’m not saying I find all of these people likable, but certainly a large majority of them I do.

  67. @Mysteron:

    Okay, we can agree, as long as the sauerkraut has a modicum of “sour”. I’ve had some that had a crap load of sweet. Otherwise, BURN THE SANDWICH!

  68. Travis C: I like Duckworth, Ginsburg, and Warren, especially Ginsburg after her comments on Adolf Trumpler. Feinstein’s corrupt scum, Pelosi I am neutral on, as with most of the others. Palin is a screeching ass, Haley is a grade-A hypocrite, Rice was Bush and Cheney’s puppet and I don’t like her for it, and I literally do not care either way about Snow. Thatcher had a right good pair of ovaries on her; even though I can’t stand her policies, I can respect her stones. I’m not entirely sure who Theresa May is but I will look her up, and Merkel is da boss despite her crappy economic ideas.

    Speaking as a major Bernie fan who was, in fact, personally annoyed by diehard Clinton fans telling me to fall in lockstep or I would RUIN THE COUNTRY FOREVER, I’m with Clinton now and I’m behind her all the way to the White House, because she’s competent, she’s intelligent, and she is by every possible measure multiple orders of magnitude better than Der Trumpenführer. I don’t have to like her as a person (and I don’t, I’m under no illusions as to her mercenary nature), but I DO think she’ll be a damn good President.

  69. Beer with Hillary? Point me at it, and I’ll be there with bells on. And I loathe beer.

    I’ve been aware of and at least marginally following Hillary’s career since before she was FLOTUS. She and I share an alma mater, and in that school full of brilliant women, Hillary made a lasting impression as particularly brilliant. The amount of hatred aimed at her from early on, and the amount of expectation that she should, nay must, be completely beyond reproach just to be treated like a decent human being has consistently boggled me. Also the extent to which false scandals, debunked, nonetheless go on to long, healthy zombie lives, re-emerging from their graves, moaning anew with every new political turn.

    I like pragmatism in my politicians. I like competence. I like policy wonks. I like people who listen and change their minds when the evidence warrants it. Hillary is my candidate, and would remain so above anybody else the Republicans have fielded in a couple of decades.

  70. Boy contradictions abound. According to some here, Hillary would be too interventionist, to quick to pull the trigger on sending in troops when military action s needed for a situation. Yet the Republicans, including Trump, tell everyone she is too soft, not able to stand up to pressure or able to pull the trigger on military action when it is needed. Huh.

  71. I decided that I was going to vote Democrat long before it came down to where it is now. The Republican outlook is part of it. The other reason comes from the lack of coherent facts when individual republicans explain their reasoning.

    As time has moved on I find myself becoming happy to vote for Hillary. The main thing I miss with her is statesmanship. Her speeches don’t have a lot of verve. Other than that I think that all the things most people don’t like about her will be assets after she is sworn in.

    Her being voted in will not win the war unless Gary Johnson gets at least 20% of the Republican vote. Luckily we have plenty of time for Trump to stink it up and cause a diaspora. But this is about Hillary

    She may seem cold to some but she has been tempered by the fear mongering of the upper brass repubs. She does have a steel look in her eye at times and a rigid backbone. She will need them. I do wish she would admit she was wrong at times. It would add a lot to her humanity index.

    I have dealt with bureaucrats at times and can understand how she ended up using her server for email. I can also see how that could snowball. She did not intentionally put anything at risk but it would be nice for her to say something more about it.

  72. Also, even if Clinton is mercenary…I would honestly rather have a cunning, pragmatic mercenary with enough core principles than a super-idealistic True Believer who’s above fighting dirty when they need to. Maybe it’s all the times I re-read the Tarma & Kethry/Kerowyn books back in my impressionable youth. :)

    In re: Rockefeller Republicans, I will note that even the motto of my prep school (which, since it graduated three generations of Bushes, is hardly a breeding ground of hippies) was “non sibi,” or “not for oneself,” Considering three generations of Bushes, that may or may not have taken–although HW did sign both the ADA and the Clean Air Act, and actually took the time to get international support for his wars. Back in the day, I could actually believe that the GOP and the Democrats both wanted the best for everyone and just disagreed on how to get there–unfortunately, “the day” was more than twenty years ago now.

  73. Fin, I think Obama was getting emotional towards the end of his speech and as he was waiting for Clinton to come out, perhaps with this being his last convention as president and passing the baton. But for the most part as they were out there together, they were laughing and joking quite a bit with each other.

  74. @isabelcooper – “I would honestly rather have a cunning, pragmatic mercenary with enough core principles than a super-idealistic True Believer who’s above fighting dirty when they need to.”

    There’s an old saw that an honest politician is one who stays bought.

  75. Party of the affluent who think gay marriage is pretty alright, and throw the poor a bone now and then.

  76. I voted for Hillary in 2008 because I was not sure if Obama was ready or able after 2 years in the Senate, while I knew what I was getting with Hillary. Eight years later, I think I still know what I am getting with Hillary. (And I voted for her this year because I just did not think Sanders was presidential material as a person.)

    However, I’ve slowly changed over the years. The last Democrat I was enthusiastic about was Gore. At this remove I don’t know if he was actually better than the most recent three candidates or if I was deluded on his potential.

    Frankly if we did not have a horror show, literally, on the other side I would be shopping for a new party today: Stein or one of the hopeless Socialist candidates or whatever. There’s a lot to be said for “responsible” voting, but there’s a point where you start to question whether you can keep putting your name to the same old BS year after year. I am “responsible” if Trump gets in and I didn’t vote HRC, but I am also “responsible” for us not having anything better than the current “progressive” party either.

    “Working class entitlement” is where I realized I cannot even pretend to be on the same side as you guys anymore. No curses, no imprecations. You guys just don’t live on the same planet I do. I hope it’s nice there, though Professor Farnsworth was not very flattering when he arrived here the other day.

    PS: Are other people getting those DCC emails where they act like they are going to commit suicide to avoid living through the zombie apocalypse if people like me don’t send them 5 dollars? It’s a freak show on all sides these days.

  77. Yes, what you said. Plus, I still thrill to the busting of the glass ceiling aspect of it. I have friends who think I’m naive, but I cried when I heard the delegate votes being cast because it felt like “FINALLY.” For me it’s wonderful to see her up there. We can go on all day about how she’s not progressive enough, but heck, my mom’s not progressive enough either. I still like her and listen to her. My mom raised two daughters on her own and got stuff done, one step at a time. That’s how I see Hillary Clinton. She’s someone who can govern this country; one step at a time, she will get stuff done.

  78. > “from each according to ability, to each according to needs”

    We need to bring back the HUAC- there are MILLIONS of Americans who believe in AND follow this Communist philosophy!

    They call themselves “a family.”

  79. @Pam Adams said:

    And let’s be honest- having a beer with Trump? He’d spit in your drink and stick you with the check.

    Not with me he wouldn’t. I’d insist on separate checks.

    @mintwitch: Excellent post, really excellent. Your next martini is on me.

    And yes, I’d go for a beer with Hillary. There are certainly issues I disagree with her on, but Trump makes her look like my political twin sister.

  80. There are certainly more serious and legitimate criticisms of Senator Clinton’s fitness to be President that could be offered. That was also true of President Obama (as privatelron mentions above) and most other successful and unsuccessful presidential candidates over the last few decades. In Senator Clinton’s case, these criticisms (ignoring her opponent) would cause me to give careful thought to whether she is suited to being President.

    On the other hand, it is important to recognize that she brings a lot of positives to the table as well, including intelligence, commitment, toughness, lots of experience,serious understanding of issues and attention to detail.

    On balance, I respect Senator Clinton and think there is a good chance that she would make a good President. This doesn’t mean I might not have been willing to support a different candidate if one was available; but I’m perfectly happy to vote for Senator Clinton.

    Now, unfortunately, her opponent is not Governor Romney or Senator McCain or someone else who I disagree with on important issues and who are subject to criticisms of their own but have strong positive qualities and a commitment to America. No, her opponent is a bloviating authoritarian bully who has no clue about the world and appears incapable of learning or uninterested in doing so; has made comments about sitting judges that are “textbook racism” according to the conservative Republican Speaker of the House, has undermined decades of American geopolitical strategy in Europe on a whim, and has brought the idea of violence into our political process.

    So, while it is nice that I would be happy with Senator Clinton as President, I’d vote for her even if she had none of her virtues and I believed all of the criticisms completely: her opponent is that bad.

  81. @digitalatheist, if the kraut isn’t sour then there is no point to the reuben.

    I get the feeling Mrs. Clinton would order the Monte Cristo, though.

  82. I don’t really understand some of the criticisms of Clinton, especially from the left. Take being in the pocket of Wall Street, which seems to be based on her speaking fees Wall Street paid her, and her time as New York Senator. I’ve heard the joke that this must mean she’s also in the pocket of the American Camping Association, but still, this seems like weak tea if she’s going up on stage and talking about Wall Street legislation. Bought people tend to twist themselves in pretzels trying to justify their positions.

    The warmongering thing also confuses me; Clinton’s always struck me as a meddler rather than a hawk. She might have voted for Iraq but as Secretary of State she goofily pressed a literal reset button with Russia and started the ball rolling on a deal with Iran. I remember the beginnings of the Iraq war: anyone who was Serious was for it, and if you were against it, you were Not Serious. Clinton, like much of her party, wanted to appear Serious. I can forgive her vote, because I cannot forgive the Serious Men on television whose disinterest in scrutinising the Bush administration led directly to the creation of ISIL, nor will I ever forgive that administration for putting their ideology above efficacy. America created ISIL. Neoconservatives created ISIL. And Clinton has never struck me as the kind of person who would have teachers and soldiers fired because they belonged to the Ba’athist party.

    The demand for purity gets people killed. Give me someone who lost and came back better, every single time.

  83. I don’t really understand some of the criticisms of Clinton, especially from the left. Take being in the pocket of Wall Street, which seems to be based on her speaking fees Wall Street paid her, and her time as New York Senator. I’ve heard the joke that this must mean she’s also in the pocket of the American Camping Association, but still, this seems like weak tea if she’s going up on stage and talking about Wall Street legislation.

    Of the 30-40 years, I think tax rates on corporations and the upper brackets were highest during the Clinton I years.

    Not sure it’s tenable to say Hillary would, of her own will, run counter to that.

  84. “Working class entitlement” is where I realized I cannot even pretend to be on the same side as you guys anymore. No curses, no imprecations. You guys just don’t live on the same planet I do. I hope it’s nice there, though Professor Farnsworth was not very flattering when he arrived here the other day.”

    PrivateIron, I am afraid this part of your comment does not compute for me. Right over my head, which is relatively rare (unless there is math involved). Could you explain to me as if I were a (very bright) child?

  85. It has occurred to me that someone who has been investigated several times by less-than-friendly committees over several years and yet has not been found culpable or guilty of wrongdoing is probably not guilty. (We are not talking Organized Crime, which, like Organized Baseball, has its own rules.) We’re not dealing with Cersei Lannister here.

    Besides, Hillary Clinton’s not Donald Trump, and that’s not negligible.

  86. @Theophylact: Interesting link. I disagree with Chomsky’s point 7 — I think that in the event, almost all people who criticized Dead End Berners (or whatever) would be doing it in good faith frustration because they believe the outcome was worse than it needed to be if everyone on the left (broadly defined) had paid sufficient attention to Chomsky’s points 1-5.

    But his argument doesn’t really hinge on that, anyway. “Don’t desert your allies because if they lose as a result it will piss them off at you” and “Don’t desert your allies because then they will lose and you really don’t want your common enemy to win” aren’t exactly incompatible principles.

  87. An education in the concept of “Raja Dharma” should be required to hold elected office.

  88. I’ve never understood this need to be able to “have a beer with $COUNTRY_LEADER” either (and I’m an Australian who came to political maturity while Bob Hawke was Prime Minister). I’d much rather know they’re capable of doing the actual job we’re electing them for – whether that be representing their district, or leading their party, or leading the whole country. But then, I tend to think politicians should be required to submit statements to selection criteria detailing their knowledge of the political process in this country before being allowed to stand for election, too. Possibly I’m unrealistic.

    (Then again, one of the newer federal senators elected in the past election was elected on a platform which largely consisted of state issues (sentencing laws, parole laws, etc). I don’t think I’m as unrealistic as I used to be.)

    My personal favourite Prime Minister from my lifetime? Julia Gillard, who got smeared, picked at, outright slandered and abused from one end of her term as PM to the other, and yet still managed to get one hell of a lot actually done. Her government just about set records on achieving their legislative agenda – and this was with a hung parliament, where she actively required the support of minor party (Greens) and independent members of the House of Representatives in order to get legislation passed. I might never be comfortable having a beer with the woman, or sitting down and inviting her in for tea, but I’d certainly want her at the helm if ever I had a project where getting a result was crucial.

  89. I feel like the “have a beer with” sentiment is coming from the same place that comes up with the phrase “intellectual elitist”. Now, this may just be my own intellect speaking, but I want someone who is an intellectual in high office; it seems like they have a better shot of understanding all the things going on in the government and the world and be able to make rational, considered decisions. Heck, I want the leaders of my country to be far smarter than I am.

  90. @Aaron: Right, exactly. I don’t know who originally said it, but if my toilet backs up, I don’t want the plumber who’s never done this before but doesn’t think he’s better than I am. I want the guy who’s dealt with a thousand backed-up septic systems, been well-trained in both theory and practice, and knows what the fuck he’s doing.

    I don’t see why politicians should be different.

  91. @Glorin, I don’t see it as any entitlement. Tax codes and other gains have gone
    predominately to the rich. And the debt grows. To balance the budget,we will all
    have to pay more. I work for a small company, my final thought is that corporate
    tax structure is also a mess, I think we pay ~35-40% on profits, what does GE pay?

  92. John, I love your political posts, but I may have to swear off all things political, at least AFTER Hillary’s speech tonight. And until the debates. And of course, voting day itself….

    The Washington Post has a video of Trump saying how much he wants to hit speakers from last night at the DNC. I’d copy the link, but don’t know to do so from my phone. I’m sure it’s all over the internets.

    Trump repeats his desire to hit DNC speakers several times, and implies he especially wants to hit the guy with dwarfism.

    I can’t handle it anymore. He’s making me neurotic. I need a Trump support group, a Trump 12-step program. Something to help me go cold-turkey….

    But I do love me some Hillary!!

  93. George, The top bit is quoted from PrivateIron:I am genuinely curious what PI is saying there because it flew right over my head.

  94. Marshall Ryan Maresca:

    ” “Her shoot first foreign policy.”

    I’ve seen a lot of complaints about Hillary that center around this particular theme, stated as if it’s a given. The evidence of her “hawkishness” seems to be based almost entirely on her Iraq War vote. Can someone give me some other indication where this idea that she’d be a pro-war president comes from? That she’d somehow gleefully choose armed conflict over talks and negotiation? I would really like to know why some people have this view of her.”

    I swear, I started a response to this four times and deleted it. Not so much because John’s Mallet but because this requires a week’s answer or none at all, the latter because the way this is phrased it seems clear (reading between the lines) that you’re issuing the challenge because you don’t expect to get a response or are going to find a way to dismiss the responses you might get because they don’t tally with your vision of the candidate. But yes, she is pro war. Yes, she was part of a war mindset.

    It is this which underlies much of my own stand – not stupid Benghazi and what she knew there and when she knew it, not any of the other GOP manufactured scandals, although the whole issue of the wretched server seems… problematic… and the slap on the wrist she got for that (now, now, don’t do that again!) implying that it was apparently an error born of her being too ignorant of how things worked (isn’t it worse being labelled too stupid to know that you made a mistake than being held accountable for making one???) is kind of confirmatory of what’s been an issue all along, that there’s a separate law for the powerful and if anyone else had been tangled in that web it would have gone MUCH worse for them than Hillary ever got.

    And for me, it isn’t even Iraq. it is a different war. One that mattered pretty much not at all to Americans at large because they were – and remain – largely ignorant of the facts underlying it, other than propaganda (which was spun while fully aided abetted and eagerly supported by Hillary CLinton). One that probably matters to nobody else here except me, and so I won’t even go into it.

    There’s pragmatism. And there’s going against something inside that would break you if you tried to just bull through it, that would change fundamentally just who you are.

    No, I have absolutely zero intent to vote for that dangerous buffon, Trumpty Dumpty. ZERO. Zilch. Zip. Nada. Did that really need to be said? I am sane. That is enough.

    But it looks as though my contribution to the election this year is going to have to be confined to voting for progressive candidates all the way down-ticket. Because I cannot – fundamentally cannot – cast a vote for Hillary Clinton in any capacity. And it’s got nothing at all to do with “likeability” or a lifetime of republican smear tactics or anything else. I have one massive, immovable, steel-hulled battleship of a reason. And if I have to hunker down in it and simply wait itout, then that is what I will have to do.

    I would have voted vor Bernie, freely, gladly, with a full heart.

    I won’t be voting Clinton.

    I still haven’t decided what I plan on doing with the presidential ballot. I live in what is largely a safely “blue” state so voting for someone like Jill Stein might be an option (it isn’t exactly going to wreck the vote of the State of Washington). Or I will simply leave the presidential part of the ballot blank. There are a number of WA people I know who are perfectly freely announcing that they STILL mean to write Bernie Sanders in as their candidate (although I really don’t know what THAT would accomplish at this point). But I will do something – anything – that doesn’t involve a Clinton vote.

    That, pretty much, is all.

  95. I don’t think Clinton has ever been my first choice. But I’ve gotten to like her more from hearing from her supporters than from hearing from her. In ’08 I lined up in a snowstorm to caucus for Obama, and so did hundreds of other youngsters, but her supporters were there too, there just were less of them and they were discouraged because of that. So I figure, my guy had his turn, it’s time for them to have a turn.
    And that’s what irritates me most about the Bernie diehards. Where was he 8-10 years ago? Going off and doing his independent thing. And that’s okay, but to claim that she “stole” anything when her supporters have been there the whole time waiting there turn and working to set up the party. And he just waltzed in a couple years ago and decided to join the party. If he’d gotten the votes, I’d gladly vote for him, but to claim Hillary and the DNC “stole” anything is just selfish nonsense.

  96. The warmongering thing also confuses me; Clinton’s always struck me as a meddler rather than a hawk.

    From outside the USA there are US presidents who proudly support the crusader tradition of keeping your military busy elsewhere, and there are presidents who try to keep it toned down a bit. Senator Clinton appears more the former than the latter. “meddling” done with drone strikes, military incursions and creating armed insurgencies is still war to to the victims. We don’t have the option of a US president who will not commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. The choice is between a dangerous fantasist and a mere war criminal.

    It scares me that the issues I think are important are no more discussed in US elections than they were in the recent Australian one. We just saw 85% of the Australian vote go to parties who want more than 3 degrees of global warming. But the questions allowed were more “should we subsidise coal mining a little, or a lot?”, not “how soon should we stop coal mining?”. And as in the USA, “should we torture and murder people we don’t like a little, or a lot” was much discussed but framed as “are you soft on bad people”. Our targets were Australian Aboriginals and non-white refugees, rather than Latinos and non-white refugees, but the point was the same.

    So I voted for the least bad option that had a chance of being elected. I encourage you all to do the same.

  97. When the comedy shows recycle Al Gore jokes into Hillary Clinton jokes (as they’ve been doing for a year), I find that a great recommendation. An over-intellectual wonk is what the country needs!!

    And “opportunist, calculating, mercenary”? What politician on the national stage *isn’t*? That’s how you get to be on the national stage.

  98. ”Maybe ultimately the issue is that she’s not likable”

    IMHO, that’s textbook implicit bias (e.g., people don’t often ask that of male candidates till they start categorizing them as “too cerebral”, which some did with President Obama when they felt – even though nobody is going to admit to this in the 21st century – he “might be getting ‘above his station’”).

    People who engage in it frequently don’t even realize they’re doing it (yes, there is science – hard neuroscience, for anyone who cares to Google it. The question is what we do once we recognize we’re doing it). Even her national communications team is doing it currently, as the “mom/sister/wife/tireless woman servant” angle is (understandably, sigh) emphasized to make her more “relatable”.

    It’s fairly damaging, perhaps even more so because it’s so insidious.

    Some of us had a fairly protracted discussion about its footprints – all over the media and in the Philadelphia Convention Hall, in addition to in the GOP and its current base – yesterday.

    And speaking of the GOP …

    ” This is what the Gingrich playbook has gotten the GOP. It’s made them fury addicts, and the withdrawal symptoms are as likely to kill them as not.)”

    I know you as kind and fair-minded, JS, but you say this as though you’re finding its potential penultimate endpoint … problematic.

    *ducks, runs*

  99. I would like to point out to the people saying that they don’t trust Clinton because she panders to the left but doesn’t really support their principles, so they’re voting Jill Stein…

    The woman is an MD who won’t say that anti-vaxxers are wrong because they’re a huge part of her support base. You want to talk about pandering, that’s far worse than anything Hillary’s ever even been accused of by liberals. (Or sane conservatives, for that matter.)

  100. In re: fury addicts, there may have been an extremely geeky discussion elseblog about which candidates correspond to which part of the Lantern Corps. And the GOP did in fact end up with mostly red/yellow. There was some debate about whether you could have more than one Orange Lantern or if Larfleeze would just have eaten them, but I myself think Trump’s coloring might not be a coincidence.

  101. I’m actually concerned that Washington might be a battleground state come Novermber. Washington went entirely for Sanders in the primaries when you look at the county breakdown, whereas in many other blue states you see a pattern of the major urban area going Clinton and the more rural areas going Sanders. If enough of the Seattle metro area that backed Sanders decides to take their ball and go home then the major Trump contingent on the other side of the Cascades could take the state.

  102. Party of the affluent who think gay marriage is pretty alright, and throw the poor a bone now and then.

    As opposed to what? The party of the filthy rich who think the gays should burn in hell and the poor should go die somewhere out of sight?

  103. I feel like the “have a beer with” sentiment is coming from the same place that comes up with the phrase “intellectual elitist”.

    No, “Have a beer with” is another variation on “culture fit”, a way of saying that a person’s fitness for a job depends on how much they mesh with my social preferences.

  104. ‘Warmonger’ is one of the words that lead me to dismiss whatever or whoever is talking. Along with ‘corporate shill”; ‘stole the primaries’ and ‘corrupt’.
    I got a Facebook meme a while back that ended with :
    “I don’t care if she’s a bitch.
    Actually, I do care.
    Bitches get shit done.”
    I’m gonna vote for her.

  105. I’ve never understood the disdain for boring candidates. The more boring, the better, I say.

    Sounds like an interesting class you had in high school. It reminds me of the “Individual and Public Commitment” class that was required of all juniors at my college. That was when I learned that “The Charge of the Light Brigade” is not satire. :-/

  106. Reminds me of a quote from the Jewish sage Hillel: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?”

    Great article, thanks.

  107. @ Alma Alexander

    “I would have voted vor Bernie, freely, gladly, with a full heart. // I won’t be voting Clinton.”

    Please explain a bit better how you are not thusly supporting Trump.

  108. Thank you for your wonderful post. I must say that I have been appalled that many of my friends still want Bernie and believe the lies told over the years by the gop. I find it incredible that they will believe faux news and not even notice that they swallowed it. I have loved Hillary since she said wasn’t going to stay home and bake cookies. I also see this election as a precursor to an actual paradigm shift from a completely linear/masculine worldview to a thorough inclusion of the cursive/feminine point of view. I am excited, and I think she will win. I do have concerns about blowback as some people will double down on curtailing women’s rights, and lots of other horrors, but I think that having Hillary as president will make it easier to combat.

  109. Hillary is an awesome woman. It says a lot that the repukes have tried so hard to pin anything (undeserved) on her, but Hillary is a fighter and beat them back down. Does she have scars? Oh yes, but her Presidency will show the world that the naysayers were lying all the time.
    I can’t wait for the debates Hillary will slam dunk drumpf and send him back to the stone age.
    You’ve heard it here first, Hillary will not only win by a landslide, the Democratic party will take back the congress. This is the end of the repuke party, I have waited sooooo long!

  110. thought up a response to the “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire” line last night and I still like it this morning so I have to share. :)

    Nope, there’s just smoke. The Republicans keep trying to start a fire but they can’t find enough fuel.

  111. I dream of one day when ‘press / media’ actually lives up to their role in our society. When they are are not in bed with the progressive left. If they were fairly and completely investigating and following up on various issues within our government and its leaders and then accurately communicating this information to out citizens and others .. well then we would likely have better results. It could be that many results would be unchanged. However our government, laws, taxes, regulations, etc. would be based on factual information provided to voters and not based on the political leanings and world view of the members of the ‘press’ and the various social media outlets.

    This applies to both HRC and DJT. I submit DJT has been caused to pop-up like a fast growing weed precisely because of the problems as i see it.

    Being in my late 60’s, i doubt this will happen in my life time. I think our country will have to suffer through some major calamity before enough people to wake up and force the necessary changes. I regret my daughters and granddaughters will have to experience this.

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