PREDICTIONS AND DENIGRATIONS: The attacks on Clinton have had no effect!

THURSDAY, MAY 19, 2016

Part 4—At long last, The Others are Us:
Will Donald J. Trump win the November election?

We don't how to answer your question. We don't do a lot predicting here. As star pundits have made all too clear, predicting the future is hard!

That said, Donald J. Trump has now taken the lead in a Fox News national poll. (We liberals know how to dismiss that.) In the New York Times, some experts speculate that Candidate Clinton may been overrated in a series of previous polls.

It seems to us that Donald J. Trump really could win in November. That said, nothing deters our liberal tribe from two of the things we like best:

Nothing stops us from making sanguine predictions, or from denigrating The Others, who are of course very vile. In the process, we extend our "What, us worry?" tribal culture, a feckless culture at which we've excelled for the past twenty-four years.

Could Donald J. Trump win November's election? Last week, we were surprised by Kevin Drum's provisional assessment.

"I'm pretty astounded that after locking up the nomination Trump has actually gotten more out of control, not more restrained," Drum said, making an accurate observation about the candidate's conduct. That led Drum to offer this provisional thought about the candidate's chances:

"The last couple of weeks he's been crazier than ever. If this keeps up, I'd be hard put to give him more than a 1 percent chance of winning."

In fairness, Drum had started his post with Sam Wang's assessment of Trump's chances. The figure filbert had given Trump a 30 percent chance of winning in November.

Provisionally, Drum said that seemed way too high. We were surprised by Drum's assessment—but we were gobsmacked by another assessment to which our favorite blogger linked.

Drum linked to this detailed post by James Wimberley, who had created some "pseudo-numbers" (his own self-mocking term) to assess Clinton's chances of beating Trump.

Wimberley discussed eleven possible factors which might affect the race. We were amazed, and not amazed, when we saw him offer this analysis of one of those possible factors:
WIMBERLEY (5/14/16): Skeletons in the closet. Clinton has been the target of more oppo research over 30 years than Jack the Ripper, with trivial results...Trump’s picaresque personal and business past has been far less investigated, and at first sight is full of problems.
Let's quote his familiarly feckless claim:

"Clinton has been the target of more oppo research over 30 years than Jack the Ripper, with trivial results."

With trivial results! Incredibly, that's Wimberley's assessment of the presumptive major-party nominee who may yet carry history's highest "unfavorable" rating into the fall campaign.

If not for the presence of Candidate Trump, Candidate Clinton's "unfavorable" rating would be the highest ever! Yet Wimberley says that three decades of attacks on this candidate have had "trivial results," and Drum approvingly links to this strange assessment.

(We're going to say that those three decades have really been twenty-four years.)

Three decades of attacks on Clinton have had trivial results! Few statements could better capture our liberal tribe's feckless behavior over the course of those twenty-four years—most specifically, our refusal to deal with the serial wars waged against Clinton, Gore, Clinton.

Trivial results? What could Wimberley possibly mean by that? He may mean that all those attacks didn't stop Clinton from winning her Senate seat in 2000.

That said, Clinton was running in New York, a state where Democrats typically win. At that point, had she possibly been hurt by the first eight years of those attacks? Below you see the result of two elections in the state of New York that year:
Election results, New York State, November 2000

For the United States senate:
Clinton: 55.3 percent
Lazio: 43.0 percent

For president of the United States:
Gore: 60.2 percent
Bush: 35.2 percent
You're right! For various reasons, those two campaigns aren't directly comparable. They never are.

But had Clinton possibly been hurt by the first eight years of those attacks? Our sillier liberals like to say that Gore ran the worst campaign in history. This helps us keep faith with some of our sillier tribal stars.

That said, Gore won New York by 23 points, Clinton by just twelve. Is it possible that she had already been hurt by the first eight years of attacks?

Almost surely, the attacks by Trump will be poisonous in a new, improved way. That said, it's interesting to see how many liberals still aren't even sufficiently focused to be able to say what the attacks actually are.

Consider Gail Collins, who breaks form today by trying to write a real column. We agree with quite a few things she says about Clinton's current campaign, which has been quite unimpressive, sometimes for reasons which aren't entirely Clinton's fault.

That said, we couldn't help noting this passage by Collins. It's one of her reasons for saying that Clinton should get Bill Clinton off the campaign trail:
COLLINS (5/19/16): The sex scandal issue isn’t really central, since Americans have a long record of voting for the candidates they think can deliver, regardless of private peccadilloes. And Donald Trump has a history of boorish public behavior that could even overshadow the marital baggage Hillary has to tote.
Does Collins understand the nature of Trump's coming attacks? In the main, Candidate Trump isn't discussing Bill Clinton's alleged and actual behavior. Instead, he is alleging that Hillary Clinton viciously slimed the women with whom her husband allegedly had affairs.

Most of the specific claims in this bag of attacks are remarkably silly. That said, most of our fiery cable pundits still seem unable to draw the distinction we have just elucidated, let alone discuss the facts involved in these poisonous claims.

As usual, we liberals are sleeping in the woods as these new attacks start gathering steam. This is one of our greatest skills. We've developed it down through the years.

Trust us: Your favorite pundits will make no attempt to elucidate or challenge the coming attacks. Chris and Rachel aren't going to help. Here's what the wide range of liberal stars be doing instead:

They'll be offering sweeping denigrations of The Other Side. Even as feckless predictions were offered last week, our favorite fare was on display wherever our own tribe's crap is sold.

For starters, Jonathan Chait offered a sweeping denunciation of The Others, focusing on their sheer stupidity.

At the new Salon, Amanda Marcotte challenged Chait
, suggesting that he may be the dumb bunny. The Others aren't stupid, she sweepingly said. As everyone knows, "most of them are racists."

Charles Blow jumped in this Monday with an especially ugly portrait. The star pundit did, as a matter of fact, start skirting the language the Hitler types have always used to suggest that The Others aren't actually human.

Earlier, at the new Salon,
Andrew O'Hehir had pretty much broken the bank. For our highest class of players, it isn't enough to attack Trump voters. Your headlines must read like this:
WEDNESDAY, MAY 11, 2016 07:00 PM EDT
Appetite for destruction: White America’s death wish is the source of Trump’s hidden support
Online polls showing a tight race may be accurate—Trump represents white America's deepest, darkest desires
For sheer pomposity, few will top O'Hehir's sweeping critique of "white America" and its deepest desires. You can read his piece yourself to see how deep the dumbness sometimes runs in our tribe.(Warning! "Intermingling of Eros and Thanatos" reference!) But this is the way our pitiful tribe likes to play, even as we concurrently sleep.

Trump's attacks on Clinton are taking shape and gathering steam as we complacently doze. We slept through twenty months of this crap during Campaign 2000. We can easily do it again.

That said, nothing will stop us from saying The Others are evil and dumb, even as we display our own consummate dumbness. Our favorite display of this ugly self-love was offered in late March.

It appeared, where else, in the Sunday Review of the New York Times. The piece was written by James Traub, who comes from the finer class.

It's important to note that Traub comes from the finest background. His people are the finest we have. Here's how his breeding is described by the world's leading authority:

"He is the son of Marvin Traub, formerly chairman of Bloomingdale's, and Lee L. Traub, chair emerita of the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance. He is married to Elizabeth Easton, formerly the chair of the Department of European Painting and Sculpture at the Brooklyn Museum and an adjunct professor at New York University. He is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University (where his father attended both college and business school)."

We liberals can see that Traub is better by far than Those People. That's why we swelled with approval when he wrote the Sunday piece which appeared beneath this familiar old headline:

"Call It What It Is: A Rabble"

Call it what it is! You have to admire the word choice!

Are The Others stupid and racist? Do they have a death wish? Traub, who comes from the finest preserves, made it substantially simpler. Trump voters are simply "a rabble," he ever-so-thoughtfully said.

Question: Could our tribe by any dumber if we made it our life's ambition? Consider:

Just this week, we've begun to see some people within our own tents behaving a bit like Those People.

In yesterday's post, Drum noted that some Sanders supporters sound a great deal like Tea Party types when they take to the twitter. Beyond that, we've all been reading about behavior in and around Las Vegas which did sound less than refined.

Let's recall our tribe's recent history:

When some Trump supporters have behaved in such ways, we've been eager to trash the whole lot of Trump supporters as racists, idiots, rabble.

It was never all Trump supporters, of course. It was never even most. That said, we drew very few such distinctions. We knew it was just Those People.

Now, some of our own are behaving in similar ways! That's because our tribe is composed of fallible humans, just as all tribes are, just as all tribes always will be.

We may not be totally different from Them! That said, we love to trash The Others, saying they're stupid, racist, a rabble. As we do, we laze about in the woods, in precisely the way we've done for the past twenty-four years.

The attacks are coming; they may turn out to be potent. For reasons some shrink will have to explain, our favorite blogger gives them a (provisional) one percent chance of working.

Meanwhile, he links to a man from the Channel Islands who says three decades of such attacks have produced "trivial results." Here's the background of the fellow who made that peculiar assessment:
About Us
James Wimberley (59, an Englishman raised in the Channel Islands) is a former career international bureaucrat with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, where his main achievements were the Lisbon Convention on recognition of qualifications and the Kosovo law on school education. He recently retired with his wife Patricia to a little white house in Andalucia, tightly supervised by two young cats, and has started to write to make up lost time after too many unread memos. From this sunny expatriate bubble he contemplates the world with the detachment of a medio langostino, except for the question whether the Spanish property boom will collapse before or after the water runs out.

I suppose I’ve been invited to join real scholars on the list because my skills, acquired in a decade of technical assistance work in eastern Europe, include being able to ask faux-naïf questions like the exotic Persians and Chinese of eighteenth-century philosophical fiction...
He's one of the finest people! From his post in Andalusia, he can tell that Candidate Clinton has little to fear from the coming attacks.

Has any tribe ever been dumber than we are? Given our twenty-four years of feckless avoidance, you'd have to search extremely hard if you hoped to find such a group.

People are dead all over the world because we've played our silly games all through this deeply destructive era. But so what? We love our sweeping denigrations. We also enjoy our predictions.

Along with our love of avoidance—in fairness, in service to our careers—these behaviors form the heart of our tribal world, of our daft, unattractive tribal culture. Warning to Candidate Clinton, who has been no great shakes herself:

There is absolutely no sign that this culture is going to change. Ugly attacks are on the way. You'll have to field them yourself.


  1. "We liberals"???

    Please stop insulting our intelligence by claiming to be a liberal. We know that you arrogantly think that you're smarter than everyone else on the planet and therefore can fool us simpletons with your BS but no one is buying it anymore. You are not a liberal, you are an old southern, conservative white guy who regularly attacks real liberals especially if they are women, minority or gay.

    1. I think Somerby is a liberal. Please stop pretending you speak for anyone here but yourself.

    2. That's "lace curtain" Irish, not "lace" Irish. You don't want to sound ignorant.

    3. Eejit shanty is more what I am.

    4. Somerby resides in the Red southern state of Maryland, of course he's a conservative.

      It seems "genuine article" liberals have gotten into the habit of denigrating white people and old people in general, during an election year no less. You have to study to be that stupid.

    5. This old, white guy is going to help put Trump in the White House while you mentally deranged progs focus on forcing your little girls to see adult males' genitalia because it makes you feel "accepting."

    6. @1:12, you've obviously never been in the ladies room. Women pee in stalls, not at urinals. No one there ever sees anyone else's genitalia, male or female.

      There have been transgender people as long as there has been gendered clothing. I am close to 70 and I have never seen an adult male's genitalia in the ladies room in my entire life. There have undoubtedly been many transgender women in the various ladies rooms I've visited in that very long lifetime -- nothing happened. I doubt there is anyone else out there who has either, as a little girl or adult woman.

      Men don't have to dress up as women to molest little girls, in or out of the ladies room. They just do it, without any disguise. THIS has happened plenty of times. There is no relationship between being transgender and being a pedophile, but there is a connection between being a heterosexual adult male and being a pedophile. I think that is where the attention needs to be placed, not harassment of innocent women in restrooms, transgender or not.

      Already we are seeing cases of women being harassed by other men or women who suspect them of being transgender when they are not, based on stereotypes about what people should look like. Welcome to your brave new world.

    7. I take my 4th grade daughter to the girls room and stand outside. I don't want adult males going into that room and neither does any other normal father. Anyone who thinks changing that practice from illegal to legal is progress or intelligent is degenerate and deranged.

    8. Hey 9:21,


    9. @ 9:21 is one of those voters Bob Somerby has been cautioning dumb, arrogant, lazy liberals not to insult.

      @ 8:45 is one of those tribalists from our melting culture.

    10. And 9:42 cannot distinguish between an exchange between individuals and projecting characteristics onto groups.

    11. My guess is 12:41 is the tribalist.

  2. I'm wondering if the "trivial results" refers to the results of the oppo research, i.e. nothing has been found, and not the resulting favorability rating of Clinton.

    1. That seems likely to me. However, the message that nothing has been found has not been well communicated, especially on the right and in the Sanders camp.

      The emphasis on unfavorability ratings has been coming from Sanders. His campaign thinks that if it can show that Clinton would not win the general election, the superdelegates might switch their support to him. So he has taken every opportunity to point out that her unfavorability ratings are very high.

      Nate Silver yesterday explained that the polls showing high unfavorability ratings for Clinton have included many independent voters (e.g., conservatives and Sanders people) not simply Democrats. Polls limited only to Democrats show unfavorability around 16% and not increasing from previous polls much. Those may be considered trivial results too, in my opinion.

      I agree with Somerby that we cannot be complacent and must address the inevitable attacks on Clinton. The first step is to get Sanders to stop attacking her. He will not win the nomination and his efforts are not good for Democratic interests in the Fall. He doesn't care but we presumably do, so someone needs to take him aside and talk reason to him. By someone, I mean someone he will listen to. If that doesn't happen, we have another Nader situation and I agree with Somerby that we could wind up with Trump in office.

    2. Joseph Cannon has been suggesting that Sanders is being funded and supported by conservatives as part of a Roger Stone effort to split the Democratic vote and keep Clinton out of office. Opposition to these efforts will require more than simply defending Clinton against attacks on her character.

      Today, the NY Times has an article suggesting that Bill Clinton be made less visible in her campaign. Given that Bill Clinton is highly popular and an asset in campaigning, this suggestion seems misguided and aimed at undermining her campaign efforts by implying she would not be the one in charge, or that Bill is actually a liability.

      Somerby is right that the attack is on Hillary herself, not Bill, so taking him off the campaign wouldn't stop such attacks. I think it is obvious that this is another attempt to weaken Hillary's campaign efforts and she should not listen.

  3. "Charles Blow jumped in this Monday with an especially ugly portrait. The star pundit did, as a matter of fact, start skirting the language the Hitler types have always used to suggest that The Others aren't actually human."

    Bob, once again suggesting one of the the "baboons who constitute the American "press corps" is coming close to dehumanization of others that is close to Hitlerian.

    This of course is not a comparison of Blow to Hitler. Or the fellow who gave Bob's granddad a job.

    1. Are you aware that Somerby is not running for office? Your incessant attacks make no sense given that Somerby is doing nothing more here than operating a vanity blog in which he expresses his own opinions.

    2. Really? He is not running for office? Who knew. Sorry. It is the kind of lazy, dumb mistake only a tribalist with dubious morals could make.

    3. I just figure the attacks are coming from journalists that do not appreciate him telling them that they should be helping to inform the citizenry instead of being entertainers.

    4. You are right of course. A bunch of poo flinging primates who only become silent when it comes time to criticize their own guild.

    5. "Worse: they (Democrats) combine self-righteousness and class privilege in a way that Americans find stomach turning... What we can do is strip away the Democrats' precious sense of their own moral probity-to make liberals live without the comforting knowledge that righteousness is always on their side... once that smooth, seamless sense of liberal virtue has been cracked, anything becomes possible... but only after we understand that the problem is us.

      Thomas Frank, "Listen, Liberal"

      The problem is you

    6. Thomas Frank sounds like a much more successful Bob Somerby.


    Election results, New York State, November 1964

    For the United States senate:
    Kennedy: 53.5 percent
    Keating: 43.4 percent

    For president of the United States:
    Johnson: 68.5 percent
    Goldwater: 31.3 percent

    You're right. LBJ did better than Al Gore, Sr. in Tennessee that same year, too but not by nearly as much.

  5. Bob asks: "That said, Gore won New York by 23 points, Clinton by just twelve. Is it possible that she had already been hurt by the first eight years of attacks?"

    That's too specific a question. A better question would be, "Was Hillary Clinton a weak candidate?" If the answer is "Yes" (as I think it is), then there are a number of possible reasons why she's a weak candidate.

    1. Here you repeat another conservative meme being used by Sanders to attack Clinton -- that she is a weak candidate. There is nothing to it except wishful thinking. If she were actually weak, conservatives would be trying to help her win the nomination because they would rather not run against Sanders. The opposite is happening.

    2. Your logic makes sense, Anon, except that Sanders is an even weaker candidate. He's too old and an avowed Socialist. He has no national reputation and no achievements to point to.

  6. If you want Salon to publish your stuff, you have to get the headline writer to use the words "white" and "old" and "men," preferably one after the other, and O'Hehir is one of the best, or worst, at that. (He's also one of the worst -- i.e. most pretentious and intellectualizing -- film reviewers I've read in recently times.

    Funny thing is, I've been seeing more and more stories there lately on how Bernie had better rein it in if he doesn't want to mess things up for Democrats in the fall. One could say the same for Salon if it's impact weren't a cap pistol to Bernie's Guns of Navarone.

  7. It begins. Last night Trump appeared on Hannity and called Bill Clinton a rapist. I was a little surprised Bob has not discussed this today, but I imagine he'll get to it.

    This is truly the most glorious campaign ever.
    All hail the God-Emperor Trump!

    1. The Clinton campaign has filed lawsuits over a variety of campaign wrongs in various states. It would be nice to see Bill Clinton file a defamation lawsuit over Trump's statement.

    2. There are multiple accusations of misconduct and rape. A defamation suit would fail.

    3. Accusations are not proof. Anyone can accuse. Clinton has admitted to consensual adult sex only. He has never admitted or been proven to have engaged in sexual assault. The rest is politically motivated accusations, discredited after investigation. But these zombie accusations never go away. The defense against a defamation suit is truth. Trump cannot substantiate any of these stories any more than Clinton's conservative enemies could back when they were first put up.

      Trump sued someone for defamation who said he wasn't as rich as he claimed. Trump lost.

    4. Dave the Guitar PlayerMay 20, 2016 at 1:17 PM

      Bob (and I) expect Hannity (and O'Reilly) to use his program as a platform to insult and degrade progressive issues. No comment is necessary. When programs that liberals use as a source of information (Maddow) misinform and promote strategies that hurt progressive issues (IMHO), that is worth commenting. You may disagree.

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