Late Night Open Thread: Good News for Democrats, 2016

The Washington Post, in its role as the industry paper of a company town where the product is national politics, takes five pages to highlight four people who swear they won’t be working for Hillary Clinton’s potential 2016 campaign. And even those of you whose immediate reaction to She Who Must Not Be Named runs along the lines of AGGGHHHildebeastkillkillKILL will probably agree that getting these operatives well away from any future Democratic campaign is an accomplishment to be applauded:

Howard Wolfson, the 2008 communications director for Hillary Rodham Clinton, has said he will not return for a 2016 presidential campaign. Neither, for that matter, will Neera Tanden, the campaign’s policy director. Ditto for Mark Penn, the chief strategist, and Patti Solis Doyle, the embattled campaign manager.

As core members of a dysfunctional “Team of Rivals,” these top advisers were seared, scattered and, to different degrees, forged by the 2008 experience. Haunted by the failures in management and messaging, they have worked hard to get over their shattered White House dreams and rejection by a Democratic base enamored with Barack Obama. They express their requisite hope that Clinton will run and win, but also their lack of interest in jumping back in…

Clinton, who declined to be interviewed, moved on more quickly than many of her senior staff by going to work for Obama as secretary of state… Now, as Clinton repositions on issues such as gay marriage, reconnects with donors and crowds out potential rivals, the nearly two dozen veterans interviewed for this article debated who among them could or would come back….

After Clinton’s concession in June 2008, Wolfson joined Fox News as a contributor. Bloomberg, the self-made billionaire who by then had shed party affiliation altogether to become an independent, was seeking a controversial third term as mayor. In potentially luring Wolfson, Bloomberg’s associates saw an opportunity to both sign a talent and prevent a proven foe from working for mayoral rivals….

Now, as Bloomberg’s powerful deputy mayor for government affairs and communications, Wolfson has embraced Bloomberg’s disdain of party politics and pushed the kind of transactional politics that puts results over ideology. Wolfson has taken to saying of Bloomberg that “he is the only major political figure in America operating outside the two-party system, and as a result, he sometimes makes decisions that partisans don’t understand.”

Wolfson also runs Bloomberg’s well-funded Independence USA PAC and is expected to continue to do so after the mayor leaves office. The mayor has said he would use his PAC, and by extension, Wolfson, to reward any politician who bucks his party on issues dear to Bloomberg. That means that the man once responsible for championing Democrats in Congress will be spending Bloomberg’s money to reelect Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), who opposes gay rights and has advocated prosecuting abortion providers, but has stuck his neck out to support background checks on guns…

In her office at the Center for American Progress, where she is president, Tanden displays two framed photos behind her desk. One, of Clinton with her arm slung around Tanden, reads: “From the White House to the Senate and beyond . . . Thanks for all you do for me. I couldn’t have done it without you. Hillary.” The other shows Clinton’s former policy director laughing alongside Obama.

“On health care, on economic issues, she was the progressive voice in the presidential campaign,” said Tanden. She added, quietly, “We became the status quo campaign.” Read more








Thursday Evening Open Thread


(Narration mildly NSFW)

Speaking of spiky yet oddly lovable primitive predators from before the dawn of time, Dave Weigel reports “Witness the Devastating Impact the Benghazi Story Has Had on Hillary Clinton’s Poll Numbers“:

Public Policy Polling has come out with some of the more trollish-yet-useful polls of the 2016 race. (By definition, any 2016 poll conducted in 2013 is trollish.) Because they always put a ballot test in the questionnaire, PPP’s robots get a pretty lean, accurate measure of what people think of the candidates as candidates, not as famous people….

No wonder that, as Dan Amira reports in NYMag, “Mitt Romney’s Chief Strategist Thinks Hillary Clinton Would Lose 2016 Democratic Nomination“. (Or at least, he’s willing to say that to the National Review.)

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Apart from prodding the h8terz, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Friday Evening Open Thread: Good Ol’ Crazy Uncle Joe Biden

First, let me draw your attention to Jonathan Bernstein, on “Why You Should Care About 2016 Right Now“:

The pollsters at Quinnipiac are preparing their first Iowa polling for 2016, and will release the results in a few weeks. If you think that’s too soon — and everyone but the most extreme political junkies thinks that — you’re right! But it’s not too soon to be thinking about and working for the 2016 presidential nomination contest, because now is when it’s really possible to push the candidates on policy, which is what’s really important….

A large part of that is finding good issues to run on. And that’s where what happens now matters. Candidates — potential candidates — are looking around to determine which stances all party candidates must take, and are also looking for good issues to help differentiate themselves from the pack. What party actors — everything from think tankers to activists — can do, at this point, is to push the candidates to adopt their pet issues and make them central to the campaign….

Keeping that in mind, Douglas Brinkley has an interview with Vice-President Biden in the upcoming Rolling Stone:

There is a keen Kennedy-like vigor to Joe Biden that overwhelms any room. As was once said of Theodore Roosevelt, he, too, wants to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral. Unlike President Obama, who speaks in interviews with Hemingway-esque sparseness, Biden rambles like Thomas Wolfe, painting a robust picture of an ever-changing America where coal miners will soon be working in clean-tech jobs, gun-safety laws will be tougher and China will be reined in by the White House from poisoning the planet with megatons of choking pollutants…

What matters the most to Biden these days is whether he can persuade Congress to enact meaningful gun-control laws. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama asked Biden to head up the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. Though his efforts so far have failed to overcome congressional resistance, he says that he is not giving up. If serious gun-control legislation is passed in the next three years – and Biden is convinced it will – he will deserve the lion’s share of the credit.

My takeaway from my one-hour White House interview with Joe Biden is that he must be considering a presidential run. There will be too much Obama-era unfinished business – implementing the Affordable Care Act, fighting for climate-change initiatives, for example – for Biden to throw in the towel. His strengths as a candidate are his blue-collar persona, family values, lifetime support of labor unions and farmers, foreign-policy expertise and stouthearted belief that the Obama administration’s record of accomplishment – from the economic recovery to the killing of Osama bin Laden – has been historic. With Air Force Two at his disposal and his two superbright sons, Hunter and Beau, probably working as his chief advisers, Biden can give Hillary Clinton a run for her money. Although she will have an unquestioned advantage among women, it’s not inconceivable to think that labor unions, environmentalists, African-Americans, LGBT voters and small-business owners will prefer the hypercaffeinated, hard-charging vice president. Like Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a presumed Republican candidate, Biden has learned to turn the sound-bite culture on its head by speaking from the gut. Though he’s been a major political player since the Nixon years, Biden has pulled off the trick of not seeming like politics-as-usual. It could be a mistake to underestimate his populist appeal. And it’s hard to imagine that this highly ambitious man will choose not to pursue the office he’s wanted all his life…

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So… apart from getting in on the ground floor, what’s on the agenda for the start of the weekend?



Ready for Hillary?

ready for hillary weigel 3 apr 13
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Of course it’s too soon, and yet: Barring a constitutional amendment, President Obama will be vacating the Oval Office in 2017, and I for one would really like another Democrat to take over when he’s done. And whatever might happen in a saner society, the 2016 race is already starting in this one. Dave Weigel (who took the pic, and a bunch more) on “an intrepid bunch“:

About 35 people showed up Tuesday night outside Washington’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where Hillary Clinton was making her first public appearance since stepping down as Secretary of State. Coincidentally, it was also the first public appearance for the Ready for Hillary PAC, which you can and should read more about here. I asked a few of the group’s members what brought them out on a chilly April evening two years and eight months ahead of the Iowa caucuses….

Charlie Pierce with some background info for people who weren’t paying attention in the 1990s, or who may have chosen to put the whole tawdry goat rodeo out of their beautiful minds:

There is nobody who more people want to run for president than Hillary Clinton. This does not merely include the people who want her to run because they think she’d make a good president, though I think she would, too. This includes people — inside the news business and out — for whom the carnival of nonsense surrounding the Clinton presidency — Impeachment? Over a blowjob? Honky, please. — was the formative political experience of their lives. Some of us had the civil rights movement. Some of us had Vietnam. Some of us had Watergate. Some of us even had the mock-turtle pageantry of the Reagan years. (Far too few of us had Iran-Contra, but that’s a different kettle of lye.) For an entire generation of the politically aware, the Great Penis Pursuit was the time when politics was the most exciting and the most fun. Many of these youngsters are now influential in the news business.

And Hillary Clinton was most assuredly a main character in that. She was the crafty lesbian whose heterosexual wiles snared poor Vince Foster, whom she then had to have killed because he knew what was in The Billing Records. She was the Oval Office dominatrix — thanks, Spy — who fired the poor career grifters in the White House travel office. She was the Hildebeast, the howling haunt of a million rightwing fever dreams, and a woman who scared the tingle right out of Chris Matthews’s leg…

What is largely lost, of course, is that the entire years was an extended exercise in hysteria, unreason, and weaponized malarkey. Whitewater was a joke. Kenneth Starr was a hack… With a few notable exceptions, the elite news industry was completely manipulated and completely cowed by a network of low-rent ratfkers, most of whom are still working the field today. (David Bossie, the founder of Citizens United, and an early anti-Clinton fanatic, now has had his ratfking blessed by the Supreme Court.) The Great Penis Pursuit was the precursor of the media malpractice that led to the inexcusable coverage of Al Gore’s campaign, the equally inexcusable coverage of the theft of the 2000 election, and the ultimately inexcusable coverage of the run-up to the Iraq war. The credulity over Whitewater leads in a direct line to the credulity over WMD’s and Mohammad Atta’s sipping coffee in Prague…

Argument in favor of Hillary running: Republican David Frum, one of Dubya’s lead enablers/lampreys, is already warning against the idea.

Alex Pareene invents the Mark Penn Test, which I agree is a useful metric:

The question for someone considering whether or not to support Clinton in 2016 is, will a Clinton 2016 campaign pass the Mark Penn Test? The Mark Penn Test, which I just invented, determines whether or not a person should be trusted with the presidency, based solely on one criterion: Whether or not they pay Mark Penn to do anything for their campaign. Paying Mark Penn means you’ve failed the Mark Penn Test.

Mark Penn is a pollster and political strategist and amoral P.R. creature who is generally wrong about everything. To find out how incompetent Mark Penn is at campaign strategy and how personally toxic he is in a campaign working environment go to your local library and check out literally any book about the 2008 presidential race. For the basics, check here and here. In short, he had no clue how the primaries actually worked and constantly pushed for the campaign to go as nasty and negative as possible, and everyone hated him and he was bad at his job and eventually he was fired…

Personal disclosure: I never thought Hillary would run for President at all, because I’d spent years watching Teddy Kennedy flinch at every sudden noise, and I remembered the hatred directed against the Clintons and the weirdly personal hatred directed at ‘the Hildebeast’ in particular. My original choice in 2008 was John Edwards, because he was the only one talking about “two Americas”, so you can see just how well I judged the permissible boundaries of modern American politicking. I will support whoever ends up as the Democratic candidate in 2016, but I’d kind of like to see a female president in my lifetime, and right now I don’t see a more likely candidate than Hillary Clinton on either end of the political spectrum.