Thursday, December 17, 2015

Hillary News & Views 12.17: Identity Politics, Right Wing Violence, and Securing Obama's Legacy

Today’s Hillary News & Views begins with an exploration of what is often derisively called “identity politics,” a characterization that minimizes and dismisses the radicalism of our country’s leader having an identity beyond “white male.”

Rebecca Traister at New York magazine has written a powerful piece that connects the violence surrounding this election to the transformative nature of both our current and our next president.
Our first black president sits in the White House, entering his eighth and final year; in his party, a woman who would become the first female commander-in-chief is building a substantial lead. Meanwhile, the dominant front-runner of the opposing party plays untroubled host to white-power revivalist meetings, suggests that “deportation forces” should “round up” immigrants, and proposes identification badges for Muslims. Donald Trump’s competitors for the Republican nomination — men who agree with him that women who have been raped or suffered incest should be forced to carry resulting pregnancies to term — somehow look rational and moderate by comparison. But Ted Cruz is no moderate: He touts his endorsement by Operation Rescue president Troy Newman, who has advocated for the execution of "convicted" abortionists and defended activists who have in fact killed abortion doctors. “We need leaders like Troy Newman in this country,” Ted Cruz, who might be the Republican nominee for president in 2016, has said.
Whatever their flaws, their political shortcomings, their progressive dings and dents, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton mean a lot. They represent an altered power structure and changed calculations about who in this country may lead. It is not coincidence that after seven years of a black president people are calling for lynchings at Republican rallies. It’s not some random quirk that eight years after a woman almost became the Democratic nominee, Republican candidates are crowing about their commitment to making pregnancy compulsory and accepting the endorsements of those who support violence against abortion providers.
This moment, this election, these years represent the death throes of exclusive white male power in the United States. That the snarling fury and violence are contemporary does not make them less real than the terrors of previous periods; it makes them more real, at least to those of us living through them. And the presidential-primary contest, while absurdist and theatrical, is reflecting very real fury and violence in the non-electoral world: the burning of crosses and black churches, the execution of black men by police, the resistance of male soldiers to women in elite combat positions, a white man with a history of rape and violence against women himself a “warrior for the babies” after killing people at an abortion clinic, and a younger white man killing nine black churchgoers with the explanation “You rape our women, and you’re taking over our country.”
Clinton, like Obama before her, isn’t carrying just her own baggage, but will stand in as the symbolic target for those whose fury at increased female autonomy has been building. In a nation where women who were not permitted to cast votes still live and breathe, her campaign, as Ms. Clinton has herself declared in other contexts, is living history. If she wins, she — and we — will be forced to do battle with this rising, chilling, ever more open threat from those who feel enraged that their country is no longer their own. I fear that there’s a lot more terror ahead of us. 
As if to illustrate Traister’s point, Correct the Record, a Super PAC aligned with Clinton’s campaign, has put out a stark video documenting the violence of this campaign season:

Meanwhile, a supporter at a Clinton rally revealed that her father supports Donald Trump, and requested that Clinton record a video addressed to him, which she did with her signature good humor.
ABC News reports:
Kayla Helmers, a Hillary Clinton campaign volunteer, and her mom, Lynel, attended a Clinton town hall Wednesday night in their hometown of Mason City, Iowa. But, Kayla's dad Shawn Starry did not attend the event with his family because, according to his daughter, "he's a huge Donald Trump fan." That's why Helmers devised a plan to try and convince her dad to vote for the former secretary of state.
"My dad is a Donald Trump supporter. Can you give him a message?" Helmers asked Hillary Clinton on the ropeline after Clinton's event had concluded. The Democratic frontrunner laughed and then asked for her father's name.
“Hi Shawn, I’m here with your daughter and I hope you can see I don’t have horns," Clinton said to the cellphone camera. "I really do hope that, as this election goes on, you’ll listen to your daughter. Thanks, bye.”
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports on how some Muslim-Americans reacted to Clinton’s recent speech:
Several Somali-Americans and Muslim leaders from Minnesota said they were impressed with steps that Hillary Clinton wants to take to defeat terrorism at home and around the world.
Abdirizak Bihi, a longtime community activist, said that the Democratic presidential front-runner’s comments came at a time when the recent arrests of a group of young men on charges of conspiring to join ISIL were still fresh on their minds.
Bihi, whose nephew was among the several dozen Minnesota men who left to join extremist groups fighting in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, said that many in the community took solace in Clinton’s talk of disrupting the sophisticated online propaganda and recruiting of groups like ISIL.
Imam Abdisalam Adam, a Minneapolis mosque leader who also attended Clinton’s listening session before the speech, came away pleased. “It was important to me that she said, ‘I need to hear from you. What are you feeling?’ ” he said.
Warren Buffett endorsed Hillary Clinton and her plan to increase taxes on the wealthy.

The New York Times reports:
Mr. Buffett did not support a candidate in the 2008 Democratic contest, despite being courted by Mrs. Clinton and Barack Obama, who were then senators. (“I told both of them that if they ran for president, I’d support them and here we are,” Mr. Buffett said during that heated battle.)
But on Wednesday, Mr. Buffett, the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, said he was endorsing Mrs. Clinton because she “will make sure that those people who are having to work two jobs to barely get by will not have that kind of world for themselves and their children moving forward.”
Mrs. Clinton nodded in agreement. “I want to be the president for the struggling, the striving and the successful,” she said.
To do that, she has proposed a wide and varied agenda of domestic policies including tax-credits for middle-class families that are caring for sick or elderly relatives or are sidled with steep healthcare costs; a $350 billion plan to make college more affordable; a $250 billion plan to improve the country’s infrastructure while creating jobs; and a plan for universal prekindergarten that could cost tens of billions of dollars, among other proposals.
Clinton again reiterated her opposition to ground troops to fight ISIS, while also promising to improve benefits for veterans as president.

Des Moines Register reports:
“Don’t send the American military any place we shouldn’t send them, to do anything that is not appropriate. I feel very strongly about this,” Clinton said to an enthusiastic applause from about 400 voters gathered at the North Iowa Events Center.
Clinton, the leading Democratic candidate for president, criticized Republicans for espousing simplistic, blunt uses of force to attack complex problems, such as the ISIS terrorist group. “It really is upsetting, because it is very loose talk, and it has little to do with the reality that we have to face up to and try to deal with," she said.
She said the VA has “systemic problems,” which the Obama administration is making an earnest effort to address. She said she would continue to work on improving the VA system, including by “weeding out” anyone who is standing in the way of change. But she stressed that she would not favor privatizing the entire system, by giving vouchers to veterans to use at private hospitals and clinics for all their services. “I think that would be a terrible mistake for our country,” she said to applause.
“The VA does have problems. A lot of our health-care institutions have problems, and we need to fix them,” she said. But she said the VA also provides “world-class” care in some specialties, such as prosthetics.
Finally, a Market Watch columnist notes that Obama’s legacy has positioned Clinton well for the presidency.
The U.N. accord to limit global warming, together with the Iran nuclear deal and the health-care reform of the first term, form a substantial legacy, regardless of whether the controversial Pacific trade accord championed by Obama is ever approved.
Add to that the successful resolution of the financial crisis and economic recovery, the historic thaw with Cuba and the moderately effective Dodd-Frank financial reform, and there is definitely some historic weight to the administration.
In order to succeed Obama as president, Hillary Clinton has to claim his legacy as her own and as something to build on, while distancing herself from the less popular aspects of the current administration with things she would change or fix.
She has by and large been successful in doing this, avoiding the mistake made by Al Gore, who foolishly distanced himself from President Bill Clinton’s successes as well as his failures, winning the 2000 election too narrowly to get an Electoral College majority.
Obama himself has every interest in seeing Hillary Clinton win. Now that the question of whether a run by Vice President Joe Biden would divide his loyalties has been settled, the best way for Obama to cement his legacy would be to do everything in his power to ensure her victory next November.
The Republicans, who have as a party adopted a reactionary stance that puts them on the wrong side of history on climate change and other issues, are making her job easier.

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