Supplemental: We the people speak!


Then too, we may sometimes get stampeded:
Who should be the Democratic nominee for president next year?

In our view, the question is a bit premature. That said, we’ve been struck by suggestions people have made in the comments to recent Frank Bruni columns.

Bruni’s columns have inspired some liberals and progressives to reject the idea of voting for “the lesser of two evils.” We’d be disinclined to vote for someone we regarded as “evil” too.

That said, we’ve been struck by some suggestions from people who aren’t real high on Candidate Clinton. In response to Sunday’s column, an early commenter said this:
COMMENTER FROM NORTH CAROLINA: Frank Bruni, after indicating that Mrs. Clinton (and more particularly Bill Clinton) are unfit to lead and making a comparison with that other disgraced president, Richard Nixon, says we ought to hold our collective noses and vote for Hillary. So far the Republicans—in my mind—don't have a credible candidate but, as Obama came from nowhere, so does Bernie Sanders. Coalesce around Sanders or reach out and draft Jerry Brown—a proven success as the chief executive of California. Democrats needn't nominate Hillary Clinton because she, all along, did whatever was expedient knowing she’s “inevitable.”
We don’t know why this reader thought Bruni had said that “we ought to hold our collective noses and vote for Hillary.” We don’t see him saying that in his column at all.

That said, the reader would like Bernie Sanders to get nominated, or possibly Jerry Brown. On the whole, we like Sanders’ politics too, given what we know of them. Beyond that, it’s our impression that Brown has been a good governor of California.

That said, we had a certain reaction to his pair of suggestions. First, let’s note a third suggestion, offered in a reply to the previous comment:
COMMENTER FROM WASHINGTON D.C.: Or draft Joe Biden. I love both Biden and Sanders.
We like Biden too. At any rate, these three suggestions appeared and reappeared in the comments to Bruni’s recent column. For ourselves, we thought about the ages of these three men.

Candidate Clinton will be 69 on Election Day 2016. By traditional norms, that makes her a little bit old to be seeking a first term in the White House.

(Candidate Reagan was 69 when he was elected to his first term in 1980.)

That said, the other three suggested candidates are all older than Clinton. On Election Day 2016, Sanders will be 75. Biden will be 73—two weeks short of 74.

Brown will be 78! For that reason alone, it doesn’t seem to make much sense to think about him as a candidate.

There’s another reason why it doesn’t make much sense to talk about Biden or Brown, or about Elizabeth Warren. None of the three have chosen to run! For better or worse, Clinton has. The willingness to make the fight is an important factor.

Some liberals are quite negative on Candidate Clinton. This is often traced to her vote in October 2002 in favor of the war resolution, or to the idea that she is a tool of corporate interests.

For ourselves, we described that vote on the war resolution as the worst in Senate history. That said, many Democrats cast that vote. Senate Democrats favored the war resolution, 29-21.

As a general matter, we wouldn’t describe ourselves as “fans of Hillary Clinton.” We’ll leave that to the Post’s Ruth Marcus, who does describe herself that way—even as she compares Clinton to a gluttonous pig and says her brief announcement video was utterly insulting.

(Within the context of the establishment press corps, those are the sorts of remarks a “fan” of Clinton will make!)

We wouldn’t describe ourselves as “fans.” On the other hand, it can be discouraging to see the way we liberals sometimes reason.

When people say we should nominate Biden, do they know that he voted for the war resolution too? (So did Candidate Kerry, the 2004 Democratic nominee.)

Do they know that Biden’s voting record as a Senator seems to place him fairly well to the “right” of Senator Clinton? Digby made that point in yesterday’s column, linking to a well-regarded quantification of left/right standing in the Congress.

In our view, people who prefer Bernie Sanders should work like heck to get him nominated. In our view, that’s the way the system works.

On the other hand, we the people can sometimes possibly get stampeded in our thinking, especially when widespread political wars are being waged against people. Back in 2000, a lot of progressives were describing Candidate Gore as “evil.” That thinking helped us get President Bush, with the evil Candidate Gore moving on to oppose the war in Iraq, then win the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change.

Does that earlier rhetoric about Candidate Gore seem a bit overwrought now?

By any normal political reckoning, it would be hard to elect Candidate Sanders in a general election. (Unless the GOP nominates Candidate Carson, in which case all bets would be off.)

That doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t support Candidate Sanders. We would say it means this:

We have an obligation not to get stampeded, or swept away, in our overall thinking. When we go ahead and elect the greater evil, it can have tremendous effects.

No, Virginia, Candidate Gore wasn’t actually “evil.” But dear lord! How good it felt to say he was at the time!


  1. And as I said yesterday Candidate Sanders has some issues of his own, so, by all means don't be stampeded.

    1. His accent has always troubled me. You would think after all those years in Vermont he would have worked on that.

  2. Jerry Brown would be superb.

    1. Might I suggest we draft Nursultan Nazarbayev. He has been an effective vote getter as the only President Kazakhstan has ever had. Plus there is his experience as Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic prior to his nation's independence from the scary Russians. He has proven adept at switching parties over his long career and at 74
      he is younger than Brown or Sanders, but equally mature as Joe Biden.

      Plus he is friends with Bill,

    2. Brown isn't running and he is too old. You should also know that he is a fiscal conservative relatively speaking. He truly rescued California (where I live) but he has done so by implementing some austerity measures you might not want to see generalized.

    3. Exactly why I like him. I wouldn't expect him to generalize them just for the hell of it.

  3. OTOH, Al Gore is a youngish 67.

  4. Musings on the American online commentariat are useful although many of Bob's readers haven't been stampeded into saying so.

  5. After years in the making the decisive vote is likely to come up in the House in the next ten days but Hillary Clinton, who may be either a closet populist or a long time and fully committed champion of the global elite but who is definitely our only alternative to utter ruin, can't make up her mind on this tough call:

    [QUOTE] Fast Track is not just a path to TPP … it’s evil all on its own. There’s now another leaked “trade” deal, called TISA, and Fast Track will “fast-track” that one too. Want your municipal water service privatized? How about your government postal service? Read on.

    Most of the coverage of the Fast Track bill (formally called “Trade Promotion Authority” or TPA) moving through Congress is about how it will “grease the skids” for passage of TPP, the “next NAFTA” trade deal with 11 other Pacific rim countries. But as we pointed out here, TPA will grease the skids for anything the President sends to Congress as a “trade” bill — anything.

    One of the “trade” deals being negotiated now, which only the wonks have heard about, is called TISA, or Trade In Services Agreement. Fast Track legislation, if approved, will grease the TISA skids as well.

    Why do you care? Because (a) TISA is also being negotiated in secret, like TPP; (b) TISA chapters have been recently leaked by Wikileaks; and (c) what’s revealed in those chapters should have Congress shutting the door on Fast Track faster and tighter than you’d shut the door on an invading army of rats headed for your apartment.

    Congress won’t shut that door on its own — the rats in this metaphor have bought most of its members — but it should. So it falls to us to force them. Stop Fast Track and you stop all these “trade” deals. (Joseph Stiglitz will explain below why I keep putting “trade” in quotes.)

    What’s TISA? It’s worse than TPP. As you read the following, keep the word “services” in mind. TISA protects the right of big money players to make a profit from “services,” any and all of them.

    The Wikileaks Treasure Trove of TISA Documents

    First, from the Wikileaks...

    Shorter Bob Somerby:

    Vote Hillary 2016 no matter what she says, does, or doesn't do. Repeat after me, "There is No Alternative."

    1. You sound like you're having doubts about Hillary. That way lies President Walker, so stop that right now!

    2. CMike:

      It's disturbing, to say the least, to have substantial political and ideological differences with a likely Clinton administration be characterized by Bob Somerby as being stampeded or getting carried away.

      It's kind of astounding that a post-Glass-Steagall repeal liberal would not be aware at this late date that centrist New Democrat/Third Way ideology is just as tragically wrong, and causes just as many --although different-- problems for the vast majority of Americans as rightist conservatism/market fundamentalism.

      For Bob Somerby, it clearly seems as if "Democrat" must always equate to "more liberal than the alternative," even after New Democrats like, say, the Clintons have proven time and again that being "not conservative" is hardly the same as being a less extreme version of Elizabeth Warren.

      In other words, Bob Somerby apparently doesn't know that there are fundamental ideological differences between centrist Democrats and leftist Democrats, such that one doesn't actually represent the most probable policy agenda of other.

      I really wonder when Somerby will wake up to the fact that the D/W Nominate score doesn't account for Third Way centrism as a type of style and method of governance that isn't merely an ideological point mathematically equidistant between right and left.

      Merely being a "not conservative" Democrat doesn't mean better than conservative Republican, it just means being a different kind of bad.

      While I agree with Somerby that "voting for the lesser evil" is hardly an accurate way to describe the choice between a moderately rightist Republican and a dedicated Democratic centrist, the purpose for voters should be to identify the candidate whose likely administration would least likely to succeed at making things even worse, and cast their ballots accordingly.

  6. So far in the Somerby Summer Stampede Straw Poll it looks like Hillary Clinton is behind Jerry Brown, and Nursultan Nazarbayev. Al Gore may have a vote, or at least a biographer. Both Clinton and Bernie Sanders have drawn negative votes.

  7. I am sure his playing a role in which sexual assault of an imprisoned man by a same sex partner was played for laughs will come back to haunt Sen. Franken.

  8. I have to admit a small tinge of joy back when I said Gore was evil 15 years ago. I have always admired Ralph Nader for his lifetime of work. His four failed Presidential candidacies come to mind.

  9. Correct Bob...60% of Senate Democrats in 2002 voted for the Iraq Authorization of Force, often questionably called the "War" authorization.

    But answer this: Why did 60% of House Democrats vote "NO" to that same AOF?

    The answer is apparently lost to history except for me...And that answer is that GWB assured Senate Democrats it was NOT a war authorization...Just a strategy to force Saddam to allow UN WMD inspectors back in, since no one knew if there were WMDs since Saddam kicked inspectors out in 1998. The GWB promise was that any invasion would involve the UN if and when the UN found WMDs.

    The rest is history...It worked! UN inspectors returned 11/02...But in a crushing blow to GWB/Cheney there were no WMDs...So GWB/Cheney bail on the UN and rush an invasion in March 2003 before the American public absorbs there is no reason to do so...And so the secular Iraq, an obstacle to Islamic fundamentalism (our real enemy) is torn asunder and vulnerable to a very bad future.

    You see, GWB needed Senate Democratic votes to overcome the filibuster. And it worked! Saddam let inspectors back in Nov 2002...They found there were no WMDs

    1. I see that last fragment above was off the reply space box and accidentally posted...But is there a way to expand that tiny comment box so one can view more than 2 or 3 lines of what you're writing??

    2. In the lower right hand corner are two dashes. Click and pull them down and to the right.

  10. I googled "Gore global warming predictions that came to pass"
    I couldn't find a website that had any. Most of the ones paraphrased Gore, then said he was WRONG.
    Most of them were right wing. The usual suspects, Fox News, Breitbart, Newsmax, Malkin, the list goes on and on and on...

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