Supplemental: Vote for Walker, the New York Times says!

MONDAY, JUNE 8, 2015

Advice from inside the guild:
Let’s start by stating the obvious. Back in November 2000, people had every right to vote for Candidate Nader.

We didn’t vote for Candidate Nader, whose lifetime of work we admire. But other people have every right to vote for whoever they like.

That said, let’s return to a basic set of questions:

Was Candidate Gore really “the lesser of two evils” among that year’s major party nominees? To use the Nader campaign’s formulation, would we still have “ended up with evil” if Gore had reached the White House?

Under that formulation, Candidate Gore and Candidate Bush were both “evil.” We think that was a silly formulation in itself. But here’s the problem:

Bush, the greater of the evils, took us to a disastrous war. Gore, the lesser of the evils, argued against that ill-advised war, then won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change.

In short, the lesser “evil” can sometimes be a whole lot better than the greater! Unless you don’t care about all the people who died in that ill-advised war.

As our endless campaign unfolds, we’re already seeing a lot of talk about “evil” candidates. As a general matter, that kind of talk tends to strike us as silly, and perhaps drenched in self-involvement.

(No one’s good enough for us! If a candidate isn’t perfect, we’ll denounce him or her as evil!)

You may not agree with us on these points. But yesterday, we read a comment to Frank Bruni’s column which struck us as deeply unwise.

The commenter plans to vote for Bernie Sanders. We like Sanders’ politics too, but we think this comment is very poorly reasoned:
COMMENTER FROM NORTH CAROLINA (6/7/15): I'm a progressive, and I'll start with that. However, until we get over this unending “Vote for the least bad” funk we're, we're going nowhere but down. I am currently re-watching the PBS Ken Burns series The Roosevelts, and it drives home the reality of the dire straits the nation is now in. I have reached the point where I realize that the only way the nation is going to turn to more progressive policies, and develop the courage to truly deal with what ails us—the obscene degree of money-tainted politics and the DC-Wall Street revolving door—we must first hit rock bottom. What does it matter if the Supreme Court narrowly upholds personal rights if the rest of government is in the pocket of the wealthy? That's an exchange they are more than willing to make. The Great Depression was required to set the stage for FDR, and we're there again. I will not vote for Clinton, if she is in fact the nominee, but will either stay home or write in Sanders. This situation must change, and if we cannot summon the will to do so now, and once again acquiesce to vote for the least bad alternative, it may prove too late. The world is in the process of leaving my beloved nation in the dustbin of history, at least until climate change does the entire planet in. Wake up, America.
Obviously, the commenter will be free to vote in whatever way he thinks best. That said, we think he’s following the “lesser of two evils” thinking to a point of absurdity, thanks to some magical thinking.

Would eight years of President Walker take us to a state of “rock bottom?” From that state, would that nation somehow rebound?

Plainly, that strikes us as magical thinking. But this is where an insistence on purity in voting will sometimes lead.

Here’s the worst thing about that comment:

Bruni latest hate-drenched column attracted 672 comments. The New York Times singled out only twelve as official “New York Times Picks.”

That “vote for Candidate Walker” comment was one of the twelve the Times selected! The comment wasn’t recommended by a huge number of readers. But someone inside the New York Times liked the conclusion it reached.

Vote for Walker, not for Clinton! Way back when, this is the way the New York Times helped us get eight years of Bush!

48 comments:

  1. Nader ran against Gore as a third party (Green) candidate during the national elections. Sanders is challenging Clinton for the Democratic party nominee, just as Obama did in 2008 (the nerve of them!).

    The Dem primaries haven't even started and Sanders (who has said, clearly, he won't run as a third party candidate) is already being compared to Nader by Bob. A spolier, with a brooklyn accent who can't win.

    Imagine the outcry if Maddow said something equally inane about candidate Clinton "She tawks funny - can't win. Don't waste your vote!"

    There's dumb, there's whale dumb, and there's Bob dumb.


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    1. The commenter is the one suggesting that if Sanders isn't the candidate then he won't vote for Clinton or any other Democrat because they would be no better than Walker. I don't hear Somerby saying that at all. He is saying that kind of thinking is stupid.

      Sanders is saying he won't run as a third party candidate. Candidates have been known to say such things before, then change their minds. If he has an enthusiastic following, they may well take the same position as this commenter, regardless of Sanders' own statements. Sanders seems to attract that same kind of spoiler sentiment -- if the party doesn't do what I want, I'll take my ball and go home.

      The accent here is a proxy for minority demographic status. It is a legitimate concern. It is why candidates try to balance their ticket by selecting running mates that will attract a different demographic than themselves. It is how LBJ wound up on JFK's ticket. It has nothing to do with how anyone talks and everything to do with appealing to a more mainstream demographic. Clinton grew up in the Midwest and spent her adult life in the South before moving to NY. She has broader appeal. Obama would have had more trouble if he had lived in Hawaii his whole life, instead of living in Chicago.

      No one should have to explain this to you. Sanders cannot win because he has the word "socialist" attached to him. That makes him dead in politics. He is as fringe as someone who was green, Peace and Freedom, or a workers or anarchist party. He has no chance.

      People who favor Sanders have been pointing out all the overlap between his views and mainstream Democratic policies. They have been ignoring the historical and current differences between Sanders and Clinton or a similar viable candidate. The differences are the important part -- not the similarities. The differences will keep him out of office and they are what make him a Socialist instead of a Democrat. He cannot win so a vote for him is a vote tossed away and might as well be a vote for a Republican, a vote for Walker. It is self-indulgent fantasy to think he has a shot in hell of being nominated much less winning a general election.

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    2. "Sanders cannot win because he has the word "socialist" attached to him. That makes him dead in politics."

      And Hillary cannot win because the press hates her. So don't bother voting for her.

      Dear god, the "Hillary or Nobody" crowd is very tiresome.

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    3. the "Hillary or Nobody" crowd

      The reality is that there is no such thing as a "Hillary or Nobody" crowd, however, there are quite a few supposed Dems who quite cheerfully wave the "Anybody but Hillary" banner. Same thing in '08.

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    4. I support Sanders!

      I support him all the way to the inevitable point where he is not chosen as the Dem nominee.

      Then, I will support the Dem nominee.

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    5. Hillary did win in 2008. She won the popular vote in the primaries and may have won the delegate vote had the roll been called in the normal way. She would have beaten McCain in the general election, just as she will beat any Republican candidate in 2016 given the chance. That's why the powers that be are scared shitless and going all out to keep her from being nominated. Sanders gives aid and comfort to the bad guys. If he had any sense he would see that, but he is clueless.

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    6. Gore won as well.

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    7. "Sanders gives aid and comfort to the bad guys."

      Huh? You'd better say how.

      Also, you imagine Hillary Clinton has a chance of NOT winning the nomination, but a certainty of winning the general election if she does get the nomination.

      That's the most boneheaded view likely to be aired here for some time.

      The reality's quite the opposite.

      Clinton has almost a certain lock on the Democratic nomination, but her negatives and the hostility of the press (which of course influences no one!) will make the general election a tough contest for her.

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  2. The commenter says he wouldn't allow his vote to be determined by marginal social issues that will be decided by the SCOTUS instead of a resolve not to support one or the other mainstream party candidates equally, or close enough, beholden to ruinous interests. It is a defensible position.

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    1. To be defensible, the mainstream party candidates would have to be equally (or close enough) beholden to ruinous interests. I don't think they are.

      One person says: apples and oranges are the same, they are both round. Another says: apples and oranges are not round in the same ways, nor do they taste the same, nor do they serve the same functions, nor do they belong to the same plant families, etc.

      If you gloss important distinctions, you can treat anything as the same, cats and dogs are the same, people and animals are the same, good is just another form of evil. Someone who thinks that way isn't equipped to make an important decision like voting for a candidate. Fortunately, there are more people who think tolerably well than there are people with disordered thought processes, so our democratic system is protected from people who cannot see shades of gray and thus abdicate choice by saying "they all look alike to me."

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    2. Someone here posted a litany of the crimes of recent administrations of both parties that was hard to argue with. Anyone can see shades of grey but one man's important distinction is another's distinction without a difference and each will believe his own position represents sound thinking and the other's disordered. History is replete with examples of boiled frogs resulting from blind tolerance of incrementalism.

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    3. That rant was embarrassing. Personally, I think it was written by a Republican troll. People can vote for whoever they want, but I don't think that rant had much sympathy here, where people do see shades of gray because they aren't children or idiots.

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    4. It's a nice thought that if we hit bottom, then we'll see we need change, but 2008 proves it doesn't work that way.

      B

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  3. Breakfast with Bruni...Supplemental

    When Bruni bashing alone is insufficient, blame his commenters.

    That said, if the question is the lesser of two evils, Bob makes a pretty good case that Gore was lesser.

    But I really don't think Bob has accurately portrayed the gist of Mr. Nader's thinking:

    ''When it comes to corporate power, the only difference between Gore and Bush is the velocity with which their knees hit the floor when corporations bang on their door'' said St. Ralph, for whom Bob stresses his admiration at almost every mention.

    ''Al Gore, I don't know if he knows who he is,'' Nader said. ''He had three debates and three makeovers. No wonder he was on the Oprah Winfrey show. He doesn't know on any given day whether he is the great imposter or the great pretender.''

    These quotes are taken from the NY Times article used in the post to which Somerby links, but which Somerby has never chose to use.

    "Mr. Nader, who has come under liberals' fire for competing for Democratic votes in closely contested states, said both major-party candidates supported large tax breaks to corporations, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization. He also criticized both men for supporting the death penalty and opposing a moratorium on executions."

    http://www.nytimes.com/2000/11/07/us/2000-campaign-green-party-nader-harlem-attacks-gore-bush-with-gusto.html

    We can understand Mr. Somerby's admiration for Mr. Nader. In many ways they seem alike.

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    1. I guess I missed the part where Somerby was urging everyone to vote for Nader.

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    2. You missed all right.

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  4. I have nothing against Hillary Clinton but the domination of the progressive left by 18-year-old students majoring in Hello Kitty with a minor in perpetual victimology is enough to make anyone a culture voter. Between the far left and far right, the left is losing (winning?) in the area of insanity these days.

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    1. What an incredibly weird fantasy!

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  5. I really have to take issue with all the Bernie Love here and elsewhere in blogs. That old column he wrote back in the seventies in which he asserted that women fantasize about being gang raped (and how would he know?) is a deal breaker for many women I know. Lefty men of a certain age are often very sexist and even misogynistic. Bernie refuses to apologize and minimizes this "essay". He never talks about the issues of working class women. Women will stay home in laege numbers if this archaic lefty is nominee--not because he can't win or has a Brooklyn accent but because he'd be horrible for women.


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    1. Oh yeah, the right wingers have been beating on that 42 year old piece from an alternative rag.

      On what do you base your assumption Sanders will not get the support of women. He's been a long time supporter of women's rights and has won the majority female vote in Vermont every year he's run. Did you just make it up? I'm guessing you did.

      Here's what Bernie has voted for recently in the senate:
      In 2011, Sanders co-sponsored a measure to address the rape kit backlog.
      In 2012, Sanders co-sponsored the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act.
      In 2013, he called on the Dept. of Veterans Affairs to step up efforts to provide care and benefits for veterans who experienced sexual assault in the military.
      In 2014, Sanders voted for New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s proposal to move the system of reporting and prosecuting rape in the military outside the chain of command.

      He also supports stopping the gender gap in pay. Not sure how Bob feels about that.

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    2. He votes as expected of a lefty. That's very different from "getting it". Essay is old. So why not admit it's highly offensive, to say the least, and deliver a heart felt apology. I doubt Vermont women ever saw it until now. Lots of Sanders fans want to give him a pass. Old and unimportant. If a Republican wrote this forty years ago, I'd be just as outraged. Apparently, you wouldn't care then either. Lip service on women's issues doesn't cut it anymore for a lot of us.

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    3. And what if he had written a racist essay forty years ago? Why is there a statute of limitations on sexism and misogyny and not on racism? No one should ever get a pass on either.

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    4. Sanders and Clinton have nearly identical voting records but Sanders wrote an essay suggesting he doesn't understand women's issues on a visceral level. Who do you think women will vote for?

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    5. Any fair reading of the actual essay from '72 does show an understanding of women's issues. To suggest in an essay that men and women have fantasies revolving around dominance and submission isn't going to shock many of the millions and millions of buyers of 50 Shades. It's really very mainstream now; though writing about it '72 was not so mainstream.
      You won't win many elections lying on the fainting couch.

      Also, most likely voters thought Obama was a socialist and he did okay.

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    6. Only tea party idiots thought that. There is a huge difference between self-identifying as a socialist and being called one by conservative fruitcakes.

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    7. Anon 1005,

      I wish you were right, but polls show over 50% of likely voters thought Obama was a socialist or was moving the country toward socialism as of 2010.

      http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2010/07/poll-55-of-likely-voters-think-obama-is-a-socialist/59463/
      http://cnsnews.com/news/article/nytcbs-poll-52-say-obama-moving-america-towards-socialism

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    8. The vague wording of that question is the problem. I would have answered it yes myself because even the most conservative Democrat moves the country in more of a socialist direction than a conservative would. I don't think Obama is any kind of a socialist and neither did the people answering that question.

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    9. The poll cited by the Atlantic link above:

      Obama is/isn’t a socialist: 55/39

      That doesn't seem like vague wording.

      Better link:
      http://www.newrepublic.com/blog/william-galston/76140/democrats-cant-recover

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  6. Women are so DONE with male candidates of both parties.

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    1. How progressive (said with zero irony).

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    2. Don't feed the trolls, please.

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    3. Yeah, cause there's nothing more progressive than clueless "progressive" males! Rather than address the substance of Bernie's essay, it's easier to attack the messenger: your emperor has no clothes!

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    4. What could possibly be more progressive than that wonderful essay by Bernie Sanders? And believing that women fantasize about being gang raped is the most progressive thing I ever heard of! Said with LOTS of irony.

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    5. What a load of horseshit you post, Anon 4:27.

      The most succinct take on this is at npr.org, where a commenter replies to a story centered on the political fallout from this essay's revival:

      "And the problem with this essay is what? Some people do have these fantasies, and some reenact them with their partners. That's what makes it fantasy play, they aren't actually raping or being raped. Maybe it's not common, but it exists, and has for a long time. Bernie didn't invent it 43 years ago.

      "But more importantly, Sanders doesn't seem to be either condoning or condemning such fantasies. He uses the example to question gender roles, and how dominance and submissiveness play out in relationships. He asks why some people have these fantasies and how they develop from gender role ideas. He asks the reader to question what it is they expect from their partners and themselves in a relationship and how their gender role ideas affect the people they are with.

      "What's strange about this article is the feigned reaction people have to it. Suddenly the Puritans come out of the woodwork after having been absent for the last few decades of TV, movies, and music. Unless you've solely been watching Little House on the Prairie this whole time, you've seen much, much worse. And a lot of it."

      But it's more fun for some to pretend there's a claim that all women have such fantasies, and to pretend also that none do.

      The reality is more boring, but tougher to make political hay of.

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    6. The question has nothing to do with women's fantasies. It is about men's fantasy that women like being forced so no means yes.

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    7. Does anyone really believe she is changing anyone's thinking on any matter through this fashionable punitive, suffocating Stalinist thought and speech policing? Yuck.

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    8. "Fifty Shades of Grey, the hit erotica series that essentially gave birth to the "mommy porn" genre, crossed an important milestone recently when it recorded its 100 millionth sale this week."
      http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/fifty-shades-grey-sales-hit-683852

      Yeah, that actually happened. So there's Anon 427 and others and then there's the actual world of real people. So maybe the Sanders essay isn't such a big deal.

      You may want to lie down on the fainting couch before you go back to Jimmy Carter's admission to a soft-porn mag that he "lusted," yes lusted, after women that were not his wife. That was also in the 70's and, oh yeah, he won that election.




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  7. Passage of time sometimes shows that a Nobel Prize should not have been awarded. E.g., António Egas Moniz, shared the 1949 Nobel Prize the discovery of the therapeutic value of frontal lobotomy.

    What will time show to Gore's global warming theories? So far, none of Gore's predictions have come true.

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    1. TDH's very own Myron Ebell.

      So far, you haven't been right about anything.

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  8. For the love of God, please no one think any bad thoughts about Hillary, or have any doubts about her motive or character! If you do that, we'll get President Walker and it will be ALL YOUR FAULT!

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    1. You think we can't tell the difference between a real criticism of Clinton and this bullshit propaganda?

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  9. If the NYT picks a particularly inane comment, I will often add my own comment: "Really, NYT? THIS is the comment you pick?" They NEVER publish my follow up.

    If I criticize a NYT reporter by name, they also will never publish it.

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  10. It may not be insane but certainly goofy to assist a candidate or cause far from your own by withholding or wasting one's vote in protest that someone closer to your position is not in competition. Ultimately, you want your cause to prevail, and you help those who can make it less possible ever by assisting them into office.

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