The Democratic Party’s Racial Reckoning – By Jamelle Bouie OCT. 2 2016 8:03 PM

In 1992, Bill Clinton had to pander to white bigots to win the presidency. In 2016, Hillary can call them what they are.

The day after the first presidential debate, all anyone wanted to talk about was the coup de grace: Alicia Machado, “Miss Housekeeping,” “Where did you find this? Where did you find this?” But the most remarkable exchange of that night had come earlier, when with a few blunt words Hillary Clinton reduced Donald Trump to peevish incoherence and, remarkably, conveyed the distance her party has traveled in the past quarter-century. If you listened carefully, you would have heard a kind of Sister Souljah moment, in reverse.

It happened after moderator Lester Holt pressed Trump on his birtherism. “Mr. Trump,” he said, “for five years you perpetuated a false claim of the nation’s first black president was not a natural-born citizen. You questioned his legitimacy. In the last couple weeks, you acknowledged what most Americans have accepted for years: the president was born in the United States. Can you tell us what took you so long?”

Trump tried to shift blame, pinning birtherism on the Clinton camp and its conduct during the 2008 Democratic primary. This is false. But more interesting than Trump’s answer was Clinton’s response. She didn’t just dismiss his claim. She pushed back in the strongest way possible. Trump “has really started his political activity based on this racist lie that our first black president was not an American citizen,” Clinton said. “There was absolutely no evidence for it, but he persisted.” She continued, tying the birtherism to a larger critique: “[R]emember, Donald started his career back in 1973 being sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination, because he would not rent apartments in one of his developments to African Americans, and he made sure that the people who worked for him understood that was the policy. He actually was sued twice by the Justice Department. So he has a long record of engaging in racist behavior.” Clinton’s message was simple: From the beginning of his business career to the launch of his political one, Trump swam in a rank pool of prejudice and racist insinuation. And then, with Trump established as both a beneficiary and catalyst of American bigotry, she dropped the story of Machado, a former Miss Universe, on his head. “[O]ne of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest,” Clinton said. “He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them. And he called this woman ‘Miss Piggy.’ Then he called her ‘Miss Housekeeping,’ because she was Latina.”

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Lynch meeting with Bill Clinton creates firestorm for email case – By Jesse Byrnes – 06/30/16 01:56 PM EDT

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The private meeting between Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton has created a political firestorm, fueling criticism of the Justice Department’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

The disclosure of the 30-minute meeting — which was described as an unplanned social visit on an airport tarmac in Phoenix — has stirred rampant speculation about what might have been discussed by the former president and the nation’s top law enforcement officer.

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Bill Clinton batters and blasts Bernie Sanders – By ANNIE KARNI 02/07/16 05:55 PM EST

Campaigning for Hillary, he labels Sanders “the champion of all things small and the enemy of all things big.”


Former President Bill Clinton talked about the New Hampshire he campaigned in years ago while criticizing Bernie Sanders’ policy proposals. | AP Photo


Campaigning for Hillary, he labels Sanders “the champion of all things small and the enemy of all things big.”

MILFORD, N.H. — Bill Clinton’s milquetoast stump speech touting his wife’s biography and her power as a “changemaker” has transformed into a brutal litany of attacks on Bernie Sanders and the devious campaign the Clintons apparently believe he is running.

Campaigning in Iowa ahead of the caucus last week, the former President seemed sent to merely soften his wife’s image — he shared gauzy memories dating back to law school about how everything she ever touched, she made better. But two days before the New Hampshire primary, where Sanders is leading by double digits in the polls, the Big Dog turned into an attack dog.

“When you’re making a revolution, you can’t be too careful with the facts,” he told the crowd of just under 300 who came to hear him speak Sunday afternoon while Hillary Clinton paid a visit to Flint, Michigan, to visit a church. “I want you to laugh, because when you’re mad you can’t think.”

Without mentioning Sanders by name, Clinton recited a laundry list of double standards and lack of details in policy proposals he has identified in Sanders’ campaign — and labeled “her opponent the champion of all things small and the enemy of all things big.”

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What Obama 
Gets Right – By Gideon Rose September/October 2015 Issue

How should one judge a president’s handling of foreign policy? Some focus on what happens in a few lonely moments of crisis, casting the nation’s leader as Horatius at the bridge or Casey at the bat. But a better analogy would be a member of a relay team or a middle relief pitcher: somebody who takes over from a predecessor, does a hard job for a while, and then passes things on to the next guy.

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In baseball, there are special statistics used to judge such players, the hold and the blown save, which essentially tally whether the pitcher’s team keeps or loses the lead while he’s in the game. Looked at in such a light, Barack Obama has done pretty well. Having inherited two wars and a global economic crisis from the George W. Bush administration—the foreign policy equivalent of runners on base with no outs—Obama has extricated the country from some old problems, avoided getting trapped in some new ones, and made some solid pickups on the side.

There have been errors, wild pitches, and lost opportunities. But like George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Obama will likely pass on to his successor an overall foreign policy agenda and national power position in better shape than when he entered office, ones that the next administration can build on to improve things further. Given how many administrations fail even that limited test, such an accomplishment is worthy of praise rather than the contempt the administration’s foreign policy often receives.

The key to Obama’s success has been his grasp of the big picture: his appreciation of the liberal international order that the United States has nurtured over the last seven decades, together with his recognition that the core of that order needed to be salvaged by pulling back from misguided adventures and feuds in the global periphery. The president is variously painted as a softheaded idealist, a cold-blooded realist, or a naive incompetent. But he is actually best understood as an ideological liberal with a conservative temperament—somebody who felt that after a period of reckless overexpansion and belligerent unilateralism, 
the country’s long-term foreign policy goals could best be furthered by short-term retrenchment. In this, he was almost certainly correct, and with the necessary backpedaling having been accomplished, Washington can turn its attention to figuring out how to 
get the liberal order moving forward once again.

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Poll: Sanders gaining on Clinton in Iowa – By NICK GASS 7/2/15 7:00 AM EDT

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks with supporters during an open house at his Iowa campaign headquarters, Saturday, June 13, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

AP Photo

Bernie Sanders continues to gain ground on Hillary Clinton, but she maintains a double-digit lead over the independent Vermont senator in Iowa, according to a new poll out Thursday.

Clinton picked up the support of 52 percent of likely Democratic caucus participants in the latest Quinnipiac University poll. Meanwhile Sanders, who has surged in recent weeks (particularly in New Hampshire), earned 33 percent in the Hawkeye State. In the last Quinnipiac poll of Iowa Democrats in May, Clinton commanded a lead of 60 percent to 15 percent over Sanders.

Vice President Joe Biden follows with 7 percent, with 5 percent undecided, 3 percent going for former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, 1 percent for former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb and zero percent for Lincoln Chafee, the former governor and senator from Rhode Island. (Biden has not announced his candidacy, nor has Webb.)

Three-quarters of likely participants said they found Clinton honest and trustworthy, compared with 18 percent who did not. Asked the same question about Sanders, voters seemed slightly less certain: 71 percent responded that they found him honest and trustworthy, 5 percent said they did not, but 24 percent were undecided.

Likely caucus-goers are also hopeful that Clinton will go her own way on policy compared to the last two Democratic presidents, with 65 percent to 28 percent saying that she will pursue different policies from President Barack Obama’s. Asked the same question about former President Bill Clinton, 73 percent to 20 percent say that she will not follow her husband’s lead.

Clinton earned higher marks for leadership than Sanders, with 95 percent to 4 percent responding that she has strong leadership qualities. For Sanders, who remains less of a known quantity to Iowans, 62 percent to 11 percent said they saw a strong leader. But 27 percent said they did not know either way.

The poll was conducted June 20-29, surveying 761 likely Democratic caucus-goers in the state, carrying a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

Bernie Sanders will never, ever be Hillary Clinton’s VP — and that’s a good thing – Updated by Matthew Yglesias on May 28, 2015, 12:00 p.m. ET

“Bernie Sanders is a sitting United States senator who could easily finish second in the Democratic presidential primary,” writes Ryan Cooper at the Week, making the very correct point that though Sanders’s ideology is a bit marginal in US politics, it’s by no means kooky. But then Cooper goes off the rails: “It is conceivable that he could even end up as Clinton’s running mate.”

I took a philosophy class once in which we had a spend a lot of time considering the proposition that we could conceive of a talking donkey whereas a square circle is a logical contradiction. And in that sense, yes, Sanders as Clinton’s running mate is conceivable. But it would require both parties to concurrently lose their minds for it to materialize.

1) Bernie Sanders is an old, white veteran of DC

It’s not that Hillary Clinton doesn’t like old, white DC veterans. But that’s exactly what she is. With a vice presidential selection, Clinton will be looking to do some mix of juicing minority turnout, gathering a sense of youth and energy, and conveying an in-touchness with outside-the-beltway Americans.

A guy who’s been serving in Congress for a quarter of a century is a great VP choice for a youthful outsider type at the top of the ticket. That’s why Bill Clinton tapped Al Gore and why Barack Obama tapped Joe Biden — the idea is to convey to the country and the party that you do in fact understand that mastering the ways of Washington is an important part of the job. But nobodyworries about Clinton in this regard. She is, if anything, excessively qualified to be president in a country where trust in elites and institutions is low and constantly fading.

2) Bernie Sanders wouldn’t want to do it

The modern vice presidency, despite its lack of formal powers, is actually a really great gig for the right kind of guy. If you are someone who is comfortable with your political party’s basic consensus views, and also generally comfortable with the movers and shakers in the party, then you will love being a big-time cheerleader and implementer of that agenda. You just have to accept the reality that your role in actually deciding what the agenda is going to be is very limited, and your ability to dissent from decisions that have been made is essentially nonexistent.

None of that sounds like Sanders to me.

Indeed, Sanders spent his whole congressional career refusing to officially identify as a member of the Democratic Party! The whole reason his campaign has been exciting is that he likes to speak his mind and stake out bold positions. He doesn’t want to be in a meeting about how the president doesn’t want to stake out a position that will divide the Senate caucus so the vice president can’t say such-and-such because it’s not going to fly in Missouri and North Dakota and West Virginia, where incumbents blah blah blah blah.

Why the GOP Can’t Get No Satisfaction – By JIM MESSINA May 17, 2015

One of the savviest political observers I’ve come across is Mick Jagger. I was invited to a dinner that included the legendary rocker in London before the British election (I took about 9,000 selfies), when I discovered that Mick has been a bit of a political junkie his whole life. While he’s on tour he has a lot of down time, which he spends reading, he explained to me, and I learned that he’s become a master observer not only of UK politics but of the American political scene as well (although he’s not an activist and doesn’t take sides). “You’re going to win,” Mick told me at dinner, despite some polls showing that my client, Prime Minister David Cameron, was still trailing in the race. “Why do you think so?” I asked. Mick replied that while he wasn’t supporting any candidate himself, “the average guy thinks Cameron makes tough decisions and things are getting a bit better. They won’t change from that.” The opposition, Jagger explained, was percieved as a retreat to the past.

Mick was right, of course. No matter where you go, successful election campaigns are always about the future, not the past. Ed Miliband was an old-style Labour leader, unlike Tony Blair, and he paid dearly for that on Election Day. Mick’s advice, in fact, reminds of something another rather savvy political observer, Bill Clinton, told me in 2011, as we were preparing President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign: “All national elections are always a referendum on the future, and the candidate that can grasp that mantle wins.”  In all major elections after the Great Recession, the candidate who provided the clearest economic vision looking ahead prevailed. President Obama won two elections on that exact premise.

In the United Kingdom’s general election, Prime Minister Cameron won on a vision of a dynamic, competitive Britain as a land of future opportunity for working families. Miliband was promising them only a return to the past: 1970s-style rent control, re-nationalization of some services, and energy price controls were, bizarrely, the main policy initiatives highlighted by Labour.

The same thing will be true of future presidential contests in the United States. There are huge political differences between the UK and U.S., but there are some important common lessons. Especially when you’ve been losing in recent elections, you’ve got to be able to redefine and rebrand your party for the future. Tony Blair did that for Labour in the UK. Ronald Reagan did it for the Republicans in 1980. Bill Clinton did it for us in 1992. So far, during the 2016 cycle, Republican presidential candidates seem dedicated to defending old policies across the spectrum from going back to pre-crisis rules for Wall Street to attacking the science of climate change to constantly focusing on restricting women’s health care decisions.

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