Thursday, January 21, 2016

Hillary News & Views 1.21: Closing Argument, Establishment Politics, State of the Race

Today's Hillary News & Views begins with Clinton’s “closing argument" ads for the primary campaign, with voting beginning shortly in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Although it’s not available on YouTube yet, Clinton has also released “This House,” an ad for the Iowa broadcast markets.
New York Times reports: (Video of ad included at link)
Opening on the White House, the ad shows a sweltering industrial plant, a fighter taking off from an aircraft carrier and a family of four sitting down to dinner. “The person who lives here,” a male narrator intones, “has to solve problems as big as the world and as small as your kitchen table.”
Viewers are taken on a quick tour of Mrs. Clinton’s extended career in public service: surrounded by children as first lady, when she “helped get health care for eight million kids”; as a senator from New York, standing grim-faced in a trench coat amid the debris at ground zero, where, the ad says, she “helped a city rise again”; and speaking soberly to an attentive President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, as the voice-over says she has “stared down hostile leaders around the world.” She is seen on the campaign trail and in the Situation Room with President Obama as the ad calls her the “one candidate for president who has everything it takes to do every part of the job.”
The ad rattles off Mrs. Clinton’s touchstone promises: to defend Social Security and Medicare against privatization, protect Planned Parenthood from shutdown, “take on the gun lobby” and “finally get equal pay for women.” Clips of a shouting Donald J. Trump and of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas aiming an assault weapon at a gun range symbolize the threat as the narrator says Mrs. Clinton will “stop the Republicans from ripping all our progress away.”
It closes with Mrs. Clinton, back in October, assuring Iowa Democrats, “I’m listening to you, I’m fighting for you, and with your support, I’m going to deliver,” as viewers are urged to “caucus for Hillary.”
She has also penned a piece about the importance of President Obama’s legacy:
On January 20, 2017, America will begin our next chapter. A new president will stand on the steps of the Capitol, raise one hand, and take the oath of office. From that moment on, he or she will decide whether we defend and build on the progress we’ve made under President Obama—or tear it all away.
That feels pretty personal to me—not just as an American who supports President Obama, but also as someone who was proud to work alongside him at the White House.
I remember vividly the day after the 2008 election when President-elect Obama asked me to come see him in Chicago. It turned out that he would ask me to be secretary of state. But first, we talked about everything he was doing to get ready for his first term—and everything he was learning about the reality of the economic crisis our country was facing. The president-elect was getting briefings every day, sometimes several times a day. And the news was not good. He turned to me and said, “It is so much worse than they told us.”
He was right.
By the time President Obama was sworn into office, we were on the brink of another Great Depression. Before the worst was over, we were losing 800,000 jobs a month, 5 million Americans lost their homes, and 13 trillion dollars of family wealth was wiped away. Meanwhile, our auto industry—the pride of American manufacturing and ingenuity for decades—was on the verge of collapse. It turned out to be the second-worst financial crisis in our country’s history.
President Obama changed all that. Look where we are today. We’ve had 70 straight months of private-sector job growth. Our businesses have created 14.1 million jobs. The unemployment rate is the lowest in seven years. And the auto industry just had its best year ever.
That’s a pretty outstanding record for any president—let alone one who took office amid an economic disaster. 
 That’s not all. We’ve imposed the toughest regulations on Wall Street since the 1930s. We created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau just over a year ago—and it’s already returned nearly $11 billion to consumers.
We’ve restored our standing around the world. Under President Obama’s leadership, we worked with Congress and the United Nations to impose crippling sanctions against Iran, which paved the way for a landmark deal that will keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. We stood up for LGBT rights and women’s rights around the world. We brought Osama bin Laden to justice. And thanks to a lot of painstaking diplomacy by the president and his team, nearly 200 countries have signed on to a landmark agreement to tackle the urgent threat of climate change.
Then there’s the progress we’ve made toward a cause close to my heart: putting quality, affordable health care within reach for everyone. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 18 million Americans now have health coverage. Millions more are receiving benefits like free preventive care. Americans can sleep easier knowing they’ll never be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Democrats have been trying to pass universal health care since Harry Truman’s administration. President Obama got it done. Now we need to build on it, bring down out-of-pocket costs, and make sure every American can get the care they deserve.
If you take a step back and look at all America has achieved over the past eight years, it’s remarkable to see how far we’ve come. But you’d never know it from listening to the Republicans. They’re quick to demonize and demean President Obama. At the last GOP presidential debate, two candidates referred to him as a “child.” That kind of racially coded rhetoric has no place in our politics. Instead of insulting our president, we should be thanking him. 

Republicans aren’t just harshly criticizing the president. They’re threatening to undo just about everything he has achieved. They want to repeal the Affordable Care Act; in fact they’ve voted to repeal or dismantle it more than 50 times. They’re hard at work dismantling workers’ rights and voting rights. They want to take away women’s rights to make our own health decisions. Some even want to reverse marriage equality—one of the greatest civil rights accomplishments in American history.
In short, they want to drag us backward and undo all the progress we’ve worked so hard to achieve. We can’t let that happen.
As president, I will carry forward the Democratic record of achievement. I’ll defend President Obama’s accomplishments and build upon them. I’ll work to get incomes rising for middle-class families, make college affordable, alleviate the crushing burden of student debt, protect LGBT Americans from discrimination, preserve women’s access to health care and reproductive choice, and keep America safe from threats at home and abroad. And I’ll never allow the Affordable Care Act to be repealed.

We’ve made tremendous progress over the past eight years. That shouldn’t be dismissed or taken lightly. Let’s keep that progress going. Let’s make sure no one turns the clock back. We’ve come too far. We’ve accomplished too much. We can do even more for our families, our communities, and the country we love. And together, we can build an economy and a country that works for everyone. That would be truly revolutionary.
Here is some more analysis of the establishment politics exchange that the two leading primary campaigns — and the organizations that endorsed one of them - are currently having.

Politico reports:
Planned Parenthood and other progressive groups are calling out Bernie Sanders for referring to them as "part of the establishment," saying the Vermont senator needs to show a more explicit commitment to women's reproductive health.
"It's a little ridiculous to call an organization Congress and Republican presidential candidates have spent six months attacking ‘establishment’ — especially when Planned Parenthood health centers are out there every day ensuring millions of often marginalized Americans have access to basic reproductive health care,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund told POLITICO in an email.
Laguens said she was “disappointed” in Sanders’ comments.
“It's regrettable and surprising to hear Sen. Sanders describe the very groups that fight on behalf of millions of often marginalized Americans — people who still have to fight for their most basic rights — as representing the ‘establishment,’” Laguens said.
Deirdre Schifeling, executive director for Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said many people at the organization were surprised by the comments because the Vermont senator has long been a supporter of abortion rights and women’s reproductive health. But flags were raised after Sanders released his health care plan on Sunday that would transition into a single-payer Medicare-for-all system.
The idea to increase access to health care was good, but there was something noticeably missing for those at Planned Parenthood: any mention of women’s reproductive rights, Schifeling told POLITICO.
"The problem is that by omitting reproductive health and rights, you run the risk of significantly rolling back the progress we've made over the past seven years," Schifeling said. "If you expand Medicare without repealing the Hyde Amendment, millions of women will lose insurance coverage for abortion. And as we've seen with the Affordable Care Act, unless the administration explicitly specifies that birth control must be covered, women may not have access to a full range of birth control and preventive services."
Wall Street Journal reports:
On Tuesday, Mr. Sanders was asked about those groups on MSNBC. He replied by saying he was taking on the “political establishment.”
“You know what? Hillary Clinton has been around there for a very, very long time. Some of these groups are, in fact, part of the establishment,” he said.
At a campaign event Wednesday evening in Burlington, Iowa, Mrs. Clinton said that statement “confused” her.
“I thought, ‘boy, I wish they were’” part of the establishment, she said. Planned Parenthood and its political arm are major defenders of abortion rights; the Human Rights Campaign is the leading gay rights group.
“If it were part of the establishment, that would be time for all of us to stop having to work so hard and defend it and fight for it,” she said. “That’s just not the case.”
Shakesville has more:
So, Planned Parenthood and the HRC are part of "the establishment" that Bernie Sanders is taking on? He wants to take on an organization that provides healthcare primarily to poor women and an organization that advocates for queer rights? 
Listen, there are legitimate criticisms of the privileged leadership of both of these organizations, and legitimate criticisms of how they sometimes take up all the oxygen and funding from smaller organizations that provide services and do targeted advocacy for marginalized populations, but that doesn't make them part of "the establishment" that needs to be dismantled. Jesus fucking Jones.

And earlier in the day: "Sanders responded to critics who questioned his foreign policy experience by charging that Clinton lacks the judgment needed in foreign affairs because she voted in 2002 to support the war in Iraq. 'No one can deny that Secretary Clinton has a lot of foreign-policy experience. But experience does not necessarily equate to judgment. Dick Cheney had a hell of a lot of experience,' he said in a reference to the former Republican vice president." Yes, Hillary Clinton—just like war criminal Dick Cheney. For fuck's sake.

If this is what a Sanders campaign looks like when he's "not going negative," I'd hate to see what a campaign where he was going negative looks like.
Also via Shakesville, a strong piece from The Establishment (!) about the importance of Clinton’s commitment to dismantling the Hyde Amendment. It’s a remarkably informative article worth reading in its entirety:
I never thought in my lifetime I would see a presidential candidate without prompting declare that the Hyde Amendment should be overturned. As we over-celebrate Roe v. Wade this week, reproductive justice organizations and activists around the country are using the hashtag #ReclaimRoe for exactly the reason Hillary gave to explain her position: a right without the opportunity to exercise it isn’t a right.
Here’s the best part about Hillary taking on Hyde: it’s a campaign promise she can keep IN HER FIRST YEAR because it isn’t a stand-alone law that Congress would have to overturn. She can do it practically on her own because it’s embedded in the very complicated, nearly year-long annual process of creating a national budget. (The Washington Post has a solid infographic if you’re so inclined: “A guide to the federal budget process.”) The budget has to be put together every single year—along with all the amendments that get attached in the process. Since 1976, Hyde has been reinstated over and over again, signed into law by democratic and republican presidents alike.
As president, Hillary would have the power to veto any budget with Hyde attached and dare a Congress in full view of a very conflict-weary electorate to shut down the government over an issue where polling says 86% of us agree with her. Legislators couldn’t feign shock over her unwillingness to perpetuate the status quo because they’d have notice about her intent to veto—and not just because of campaign statements. The White House sends a budget plan to Congress on or before the first Monday in February and the deadline to send it back to the president’s desk isn’t until right before the fiscal year starts October 1. No one is going to see eight months as insufficient time for Congress to submit a budget that will come back signed.
Hillary could have gone through the entire primary and—should she secure the nomination—the entire general election without having to address the landscape of inequality in our country with respect to abortion care. She could have euphemised and Planned Parenthood-praised her way around the word abortion and relied on her gender to build support in the reproductive rights community. There will be enough sexism circulating through the campaign coverage courtesy of talking heads and the GOP for her to be the better repro candidate by default.
But she was bolder than she had to be.
Anita Finlay contrasts Clinton's ability to handle pressure and disappointment with that of her primary opponent:
Sanders provoked backlash by claiming that Planned Parenthood (constantly under fire by Republicans) and the Human Rights Campaign, an organization standing up for the rights of LGBT individuals, is part of the “establishment,” an unfair jab given what these agencies stand for and the ways in which they are under attack.  It is also disrespectful to Clinton to pretend that the only reason for supporting her is “establishment” ties.  As a fellow traveler put it, “Sanders votes on feminist issues when they’re on the table.  Hillary puts them on the table.”
Sanders’ implication is clear: anyone who doesn’t support “Bernie” is either part of the problem or just “doesn’t get it.”
Contrast this with the 2008 primaries, where NARAL’s leadership went against the wishes of its own branch offices and endorsed then-Senator Obama over then-Senator Clinton.  Since she helped put them on the map, she had to have been deeply disappointed, yet no matter how much NBC’s Brian Williams needled her about it on the air, Hillary was gracious to the end.
Why does all this matter? Because the Presidency is nothing but grace under pressure 24/7. Anyone who thinks they’re going to walk into office and line their ducks up in a row, get the questions they want in the order they like, or have everything go to plan will be sorely disappointed.
Sanders has had a rough 24 hours, but if this is the combative way he handles challenging news, we can’t even worry about whether his proposals hold water. The larger issue is that he has no preparation for, nor understanding of, the stress of the job for which he is competing.
This has been a civilized primary thus far. Were he to win the nomination, how do we imagine he would handle a well-honed Republican attack machine?  Hillary has been handling it for decades and keeps coming back stronger.
As we get closer to actual voting, Senator Sanders is getting but a taste of the horrid pressure cooker – and scrutiny – that Hillary Clinton has endured for 25 years. The view from where she sits is not always pleasant. But as she is fond of saying, “keep going.”
If Senator Sanders wishes to do the same, he’d best learn to sing in another key.
Perhaps it's Clinton's ability to handle pressure that has her "contemplative" as the Iowa race comes to a close.

CNN reports:
Hillary Clinton, her voice softened and tone contemplative, stressed to Iowa voters in Burlington on Wednesday night that while this campaign has not been easy, she knows how to "what it is like to be knocked down but not knocked out."
"I have had a few hard times. I don't know anybody in this audience that have not had their own share," Clinton said. "It is not whether you get knocked down, it is whether you get back up. And I have gotten back up time and time and time again."
"It has not all been a bed of roses. It is tough," Clinton said about the race. "The politics in our country can be pretty harsh. I think I have been called nearly everything. I understand that. It is a competitive process. I wish it wasn't so mean-spirited. I don't think this reflects well on us. But we have to keep forging our way forward and try to bring people back to together again."
While some of Clinton's aides are sensing the urgency in the final 12 days, the former secretary of state responded by thanking the voters of Iowa.
"I just want to say thank you," Clinton said at the opening of her appearance. "You certainly have informed me, made me a better candidate, gave me a lot more to think about than I even had before I started ... I believe, thanks to you, I will be a better president."
Clinton urged the voters in the room to "carefully who is prepared, ready, able to do that job that waits" and closed her speech by arguing that country needs "a president who can do all parts of the job."
The Huffington Post notes how the response to Flint’s water crisis contrasts the two leading primary candidate:
On Saturday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called on Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) to resign over the lead poisoning crisis in Flint. 
Three days later, Snyder remains in office, and Sanders has moved on after generating a fair amount of media attention.
On Thursday, Hillary Clinton went on national television and chastised Snyder for refusing to ask for federal assistance in order to help the affected residents. 
Two hours after that interview aired on "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC, the governor did just that
Clinton had also already dispatched two of her top aides -- including one with years of experience working for a Michigan senator -- to the state to assist Flint Mayor Karen Weaver (D) with whatever she needed. 
The different approaches are emblematic of the ways the two Democratic presidential candidates respond to problems -- and would perhaps continue to do so if they win the presidency. Sanders goes big, not always worrying about whether what he's proposing is politically realistic. Clinton, meanwhile, focuses on the pragmatic instead of the aspirational, using her experience as a guide to what can get done. 
Last week, the Clinton campaign also called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to conduct an "expedited review" of Flint's water infrastructure and said the Obama administration should immediately set up a "health monitoring and surveillance system" to test residents for lead poisoning. It's less exciting and headline-grabbing than getting Snyder to resign, but also more likely to happen.
Clinton was also the first candidate to bring up the Flint water crisis during a presidential debate. On Sunday night in South Carolina, Clinton said the crisis had its roots in race and class issues. 
"We've had a city in the United States of America where the population, which is poor in many ways and majority African-American, has been drinking and bathing in lead-contaminated water," she said, adding, "I'll tell you what -- if the kids in a rich suburb of Detroit had been drinking contaminated water and being bathed in it there would've been action."
The GOP is still trying to make the e-mail scandal a thing.

Politico reports:
Hillary Clinton’s campaign is accusing the Intelligence Community Inspector General and congressional Republicans of coordinating against its candidate to damage her electoral chances, in the latest flare-up of the nearly yearlong scandal over her use of a private server while secretary of state.
Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon, asked on CNN’s “New Day” whether the email reports were taking a toll on Clinton, responded, “No, I think that Republicans are continuing to try to trumpet up and resurface these allegations for the purposes of hurting her campaign.”
“Actually, I think this was a very coordinated leak yesterday,” Fallon responded. “Because two months ago, there was a political report that directly challenged the finding of this inspector general, and I don’t think he liked that very much. So I think that he put two Republican senators up to sending him a letter so that he would have an excuse to resurface the same allegations he made back in the summer that have been discredited.”
“But interestingly, there was a very important report last night by POLITICO that suggested that what’s at issue here is just a forwarding of a New York Times article on the drone program that was being conducted in Pakistan,” Fallon said. “I think most Americans, if they saw the actual emails, would agree that it is a fabrication to suggest that the forwarding of a news article should be treated as a mishandling of classified information.”
The poll numbers, Fallon continued, “are a testament to the fact that she has been through the wringer in terms of Republicans targeting her. We have not just been attacked by the other Democrats that are running against us in the primary.”
The media, meanwhile, is still trying to make the horse race a thing.

Nate Silver and Co. at FiveThirtyEight report:
natesilver: FWIW, our FiveThirtyEight national polling average (which we’re not publishing yet — stay tuned) has Clinton up 22 percentage points. Although that was before the Monmouth poll released today, which might tighten things a bit. But somewhere in the high teens or perhaps low 20s nationally is where the race seems to be. By contrast, our averaging method would have had Clinton up by 25 points at the end of December.
So that suggests some tightening, but not as much as the media narrative — which is pretty blatantly cherry-picking which polls it emphasizes — seems to imply.
clare.malone: The race getting tighter in Iowa has a lot to do with more people leaving the Clinton camp and saying that they’re undecided, so there’s still time for them to run back to her, but also just as much time for the Bernie momentum narrative to continue, which is helped along by … media like us! Slack chats changing the course of history, guys. This is big stuff.
micah: All right, so let’s posit that the tightening of the race in Iowa and (to a lesser extent) the nation is real and lasting. Sanders leads in New Hampshire. Is Sanders a real threat to win the nomination now?
natesilver: Define real.
micah: Real means >25 percent chance.
natesilver: Sell.
micah: 20 percent.
harry: Sell.
natesilver: Still selling.
micah: [let’s give the #feeltheberners a moment to leave an angry comment]
15 percent.
natesilver: That’s about where Betfair has it, for what it’s worth.
harry: I’m sorry, but — knowing I’ve been paid off by my corporate overlords — here’s what I see: There’s just little-to-no sign that Clinton has lost any traction among black voters. The most recent YouGov poll has her up 75 percent to 18 percent among black Democrats. The most recent Morning Consult poll has her ahead 71 percent to 14 percent. The most recent Monmouth poll has her up 71 percent to 21 percent among non-white voters. Sanders would need to close that gap to have any chance in South Carolina. And remember, Clinton was only up by 7 percentage points at this point among non-white voters in the 2008 cycle.
natesilver: Indeed. That, along with her support from the party establishment, is why Clinton is the heavy favorite.

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