liberal blind spots
The Militant Pragmatism of Hillary Clinton

We tend to think of militants as only existing on the far Left or Right. But perhaps the biggest problem for pragmatists in American politics is that they are developing a militancy of their own.

Published on: September 13, 2017
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  • Gary Hemminger

    Hillary is simply echoing her base. they know what is correct. The Republicans are evil, racist, xenophobic bigots. If they take money from people or corporations, they are doing it for corrupt reasons. When Democrats do it, it is because they doing it for all the right virtuous reasons. They cannot be corrupted because they are democrats. Republicans are simply corrupt, and so nothing they can do can ever be trusted. If a Republican zealot shoots a democrat it is because all Republicans are dog whistling for them to do it. Every call by Republicans for anything even resembling pro-America is proof that all Republicans are white supremacists. If a progressive shoots a few Republicans it is because they are either simply disturbed, or more likely the Republicans goaded them into it.

    I really don’t understand what is so hard for anyone to see about all of this. Any act a Republican does is vile and racist. If a Democrat does the same act, it is pure, thoughtful and sustainable. Isn’t it time we all simply agreed with this. banished all Republicans from the US, and simply move on to the utopia that would exist with all Democratic control.

    • Eurydice

      Well, you could move to Massachusetts, instead. The legislature has been controlled by Democrats for close to 100 years and there are almost no Republicans. except for the occasional center-ish guy in the Governor’s mansion. Of course, that didn’t prevent practically every Speaker of the House in the past several decades to be indicted and/or imprisoned, and it hasn’t helped the African-American community any, or made life easier for lower-income people, or changed the fact that women are still being paid 86% of what men are paid. But we all vote the right way.

    • Kathy Hix

      Can we get an Amen from FG?

  • Matt_Thullen

    We can now add to our political extremest lexicon the term “Technocratist” and “Technocratism” which is the belief that “experts” know so much about running a society that any opposition to said experts is by definition illegitimate. Her pragmatic agenda usually involves taking decision-making powers away from citizens, localities and states and giving it to unelected bureaucrats in Washington.

  • WigWag

    “Bernie Sanders on the Left and then Donald Trump on the Right—generated much more enthusiasm with detail-free promises and theatrics.” (Jason Willick)

    Were Trump’s campaign promises any more detail free than Clinton’s? I see no evidence of that, Jason.

    Trump promised to control illegal immigration by building a wall on the border with Mexico. You may love the idea or you may hate it, but reducing illegal immigration was the policy and Trump detailed his methodology; building a wall. What additional details are you looking for, Jason? Detailed architectural renderings.

    Trump said he would eliminate what he claimed were unfair trade deals. The detail he provided was that he would immediately pull out of the TPP and renegotiate NAFTA. He did the first and he’s doing the second. No devil in the details on trade policy.

    Rightly or wrongly Trump was very upfront in announcing his view that climate change was a fraud. There was plenty of detail provided of his strategy. He said he would pull out of the Paris Accords. He kept his promise.

    Trump promised to fix the American health care mess and he provided more than enough detail about how he was planning to do it. His strategy was repeal and replace. He failed, but a failure to provide additional details about his ambitions couldn’t have possibly been more irrelevant.

    Trump promised to support Israel and he was upfront about some elements of the details of his strategy; he guaranteed that he would move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Trump may or may not end up keeping that promise, but the promise was unambiguous. What additional detail do you think he should have provided. The address of the new Embassy? The number of square feet it would contain? The color the rest rooms were to be painted.

    I could go on and on. It’s simply wrong to suggest that Trump provided less detail than his more pragmatic opponents. He may have published fewer nonsensical missives on his campaign website about programs and policies he never had any intention to implement, but Trump was far more clear than any presidential aspirant in a long time about what his ambitions were.

    If you have any evidence that Mrs. Clinton or any other GOP or Democratic politician offered dramatically more detailed plans that the public would be willing to scrutinize with a fine tooth comb, you should provide it.

    • QET

      Agreed. It was Trump’s willingness to state–not so much “in detail” as concretely–what he would do that caused so many heads to explode. Not being a career office-seeker, Trump had not (and has not) mastered the vernacular of empty abstractions that passes for “policy” among our political class and the media commentariat (including, sadly, this publication).

    • LivingRock

      “His strategy was repeal and replace. He failed, but a failure to provide additional details about his ambitions couldn’t have possibly been more irrelevant.”

      If Pres Trump and the GOP could’ve laid out how they planned to rectify the estimated over 20 million people that were going to lose health insurance coverage from the repeal efforts they might not have gotten McCained. When you get down to brass tacks on major policy overhauls, you’d better be able to answer the tough detail questions. The GOP failed in that regard, so the clown car of a repeal effort failed. Any attempt by the Democrats to implement Bernie’s single payer will face similar problems. You don’t have to be a raging conservative to ask questions like “how it will be paid?” for and “how will that affect the over 150 million people generally satisfied with their employer based coverage?”.

  • FriendlyGoat

    White Evangelicals voting at 81% Trump provided Trump votes which were thirty times the margin in WI/MI/PA. Had they voted at only 75% Trump, Hillary Clinton would be president. Mr. Trump understands this dynamic better than anyone else in the country and his talk directly to Evangelicals completely reflects what he knows about his win. It is the single reason why Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a major spokesperson, for instance. It is why he reminds folks we are going to say Merry Christmas again (as though we had ever stopped). It is also why he plans to convert, if possible, the tax-exempt churches into overt political clubs for future elections via changes to tax law with respect to tax-exempt organizations.

    Whether Mrs. Clinton understands this issue at all appears to be an open question. Nothing she is saying post-election seems to indicate that she grasps where America’s political problem actually resides. But she is not a future candidate anymore. So perhaps other Democrats can get busy explaining how Trump seduced an extremely gullible church, why that is a travesty on both religion and democracy, and how we need to talk about it coast to coast and 24/7 going into future elections. If Churchism = Trumpism = Churchism = Trumpism and almost none of it ever exhibits the characteristic of honesty on any major subject, then THAT is the political problem.

    • Anthony

      washingtonmonthly.com/2017/09/12/the-christian-right-trades-morality-for-dogma/

      • FriendlyGoat

        Thanks. I am always glad to see professional writers and mainstream publications working with this subject matter. So many, it seems, have thought the subject inappropriate or unapproachable until we have instead suffered religion/political catastrophes. As Piketty reminded us, “economics is for everyone, too important to be left only to economists”. So also is religion, WAY too important to be left only to theologians and those with their ministry business models.

    • Tom

      Candidate A: My administration will make you bow to the cultural zeitgeist.
      Candidate B: Mine won’t.
      Evangelicals: (vote for candidate B.)
      FG: Evangelicals are the literal worst.

      Sorry, but right now you remind me of the self-proclaimed “nice guys” who complain that women are sluts when they can’t get a date, instead of considering the possibility that maybe, just maybe, the problem is on their end.

    • Discriminating Palate

      As trends go, I don’t think you have much to worry about.

      http://www.sfgate.com/nation/article/Survey-White-Christians-are-now-a-minority-of-US-12177568.php

      “…white Christians, once predominant in the country’s religious life, now comprise only 43 percent of the population, according to the Public Religion Research Institute”

      “Four decades ago, about 8 in 10 Americans were white Christians”

      • FriendlyGoat

        I want everyone to be “Christian”, loving all the neighbors just as Jesus advised. I want people to live in the comfort of a gentle Savior—–Jesus in their hearts and going to Heaven. The more this transformation occurs in INDIVIDUALS, the better. But that and the current craziness associated with many churches, for-profit ministries, talk radio and Fox News are NOT the same thing. They are actually opposites, we have discovered.

        • Discriminating Palate

          I am an atheist so you don’t have to work hard to convince me that Evangelicals have a disconnect from reality, but much like the purported threat of Neo Nazis, I am not fully on board with your idea that White Evangelicals are the greatest threat we face as a society, largely because their population is dwindling rapidly.

          I dislike Trump but still voted for him, specifically because I feel Hillary and her brand of PC vote-pandering, authoritarian powermongering is sending us down the wrong path. I also don’t think she respects anyone at all, period, which is why she was blindsided in the 2016 election- she completely failed to speak to the general population, so assured in her success that she shat on everyone who did not kiss her ring. And she still fails to comprehend where she went wrong. Her book is a joke and shows her for the hypocrite she is.

          Give me a moderate and I’m on board, but I am done with the Progressive Liberal agenda. You know what they say about the enemy of my enemy, and I believe the reason Trump is President is because many people feel the same way, and they are not confined to the White Evangelical population.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Fair enough, but I don’t think atheists voted at 81% for Trump. The members of certain white evangelical churches did.

    • D4x
  • Anthony

    “Clinton became a vessel for millions of people’s feelings about feminism – particularly their negative feelings, and particularly about women who have their own professional ambitions. No figure in American history had as much sexist vitriol poured on her for as long as Clinton did, culminating in a campaign where ‘Trump the Bitch’ was one of the most popular T-shirt logos to be found at her opponents’ rallies. In the end, she did everything that was demanded of her, studying more diligently than everyone else in the hope that her talents and hard work would be enough – and she was…You could barely come up with a more weighted symbol of woman’s challenges if you tried.

    All that gives Clinton a unique perspective on issues about power and gender, which is just one of the reasons we should welcome whatever she has to say. There’s still some of the politician there, and even at this point she’s no doubt presenting herself with a degree of care. But whether you agree with what she has to say or not, it’s still worth hearing.” (Paul Waldman)

  • ვეფხისტყაოსანი

    Textbook examlpes of begging the question:

    1. “She and her compatriots certainly do want the best for the country”

    2. “State voter ID laws are ugly and counterproductive”

    Statements with overwhelming evidence against them should not be adduced in argumentation without at least some small fig leaf of fact.

    For instance, I defy anyone to name a single concrete thing Hillary has ever done that brought any benefit to anyone not a member of her family.

    • Angel Martin

      “I defy anyone to name a single concrete thing Hillary has ever done that brought any benefit to anyone not a member of her family.”

      I won’t have that !

      She “helped” Vince Foster…

  • Boritz

    Hillary’s plan: Throw kerosene on the fire. Bernie’s plan: Throw gasoline on the fire. Trump’s plan: Throw water on the fire. Of what utility would details have been to make this decision?

  • D4x

    Sep 15, 2016 “Donald Trump outlined aspects of his economic plan in a new
    speech Thursday, promising an “American economic revival.”

    Trump delivered his speech at the New York Economic Club in
    Manhattan. Here is the text of his remarks as prepared for delivery:
    http://time.com/4495507/donald-trump-economy-speech-transcript/

    “…Next, comes regulations.

    One of the keys to unlocking growth is scaling-back years of
    disastrous regulations unilaterally imposed by our out-of-control bureaucracy.

    Regulations have grown into a massive, job-killing industry
    – and the regulation industry is one business I will put an end to.

    In 2015 alone, federal agencies issued over 3,300 final rules
    and regulations, up from 2,400 the prior year. Every year, overregulation costs
    our economy $2 trillion dollars a year and reduces household wealth by almost
    $15,000 dollars.

    I’ve proposed a moratorium on new federal regulations that
    are not compelled by Congress or public safety, and I will eliminate all
    needless and job-killing regulations now on the books.

    This includes eliminating some of our most intrusive
    regulations, like the Waters of The U.S. Rule. It also means scrapping the
    EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan which the government itself estimates will
    cost $7.2 billion a year. This Obama-Clinton directive will shut down most, if
    not all, coal-powered electricity plans in America. Remember what Hillary
    Clinton said? She wants to shut down the miners, just like she wants to shut
    down the steel mills.

    We’re going to put our great miners and steel workers back to work. …”
    http://time.com/4495507/donald-trump-economy-speech-transcript/

    The White House Office of the Press Secretary For Immediate Release February 28, 2017

    Presidential Executive Order on Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the “Waters of the United
    States” Rule EXECUTIVE ORDER
    https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/02/28/presidential-executive-order-restoring-rule-law-federalism-and-economic

    March 28, 2017

    President Trump’s Energy Independence Policy MUCH NEEDED REFORM:

    The past Administration burdened Americans with costly regulations that
    harmed American jobs and energy production.

    • The previous Administration’s Clean Power Plan could cost
    up to $39 billion a year and increase electricity prices in 41 States by at
    least ten percent, according to NERA Economic Consulting.

    • The Clean Power Plan would cause coal production to fall
    by 242 million tons, according to the National Mining Association.

    • 27 states, 24 trade associations, 37 rural electric
    co-ops, and 3 labor unions are challenging the Clean Power Plan in Federal
    court. “AMERICAN ENERGY INDEPENDENCE: President Donald J. Trump’s Energy
    Independence Policy Executive Order reverses the regulations on American jobs
    and energy production.

    • President Trump’s Executive Order directs the
    Environmental Protection Agency to suspend, revise, or rescind four actions
    related to the Clean Power Plan that would stifle the American energy industry.
    ◦ President Trump’s Executive Order directs the Attorney General to seek
    appropriate relief from the courts over pending litigation related to the Clean
    Power Plan.

    • President Trump’s Executive Order rescinds Executive and
    Agency actions centered on the previous administration’s climate change agenda
    that have acted as a road block to energy independence. ◦ President Trump’s
    Executive Order lifts the ban on Federal leasing for coal production.

    ◦ President Trump’s Executive Order lifts job-killing
    restrictions on the production of oil, natural gas, and shale energy. … …”
    https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/03/28/president-trumps-energy-independence-policy

    EXECUTIVE ORDER
    – – – – – – –
    PROMOTING ENERGY INDEPENDENCE AND ECONOMIC GROWTH

    By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered
    as follows: [All the details any fine technocrat can wade into…]

    https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/03/28/presidential-executive-order-promoting-energy-independence-and-economi-1

    https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/

    https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/an-economy-that-works-for-everyone/
    Note: This page is a reproduction of the Hillary for America policy proposal on building an economy that works for everyone.

    •Establish the U.S. as the clean energy superpower of the
    world—with half a billion solar panels installed by the end of her first term
    and enough clean, renewable energy to power every home in America within 10
    years of her taking office.

    •Strengthen American manufacturing with a $10 billion “Make it in America” plan.

    •Cut red tape, provide tax relief and expand access to capital so small businesses can grow, hire, and thrive.

    •Ensure that the jobs of the future in caregiving and services are good-paying jobs, recognizing their fundamental contributions to
    families and to America.

    https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/climate/
    Note: This page is a reproduction of the Hillary for America policy proposal on climate change.

    · Defend, implement, and extend smart pollution and efficiency standards, including the Clean Power Plan and standards for cars, trucks, and appliances that are already helping clean our air, save families money, and fight climate change.

    · Revitalize coal communities by supporting locally driven priorities and make them an engine of U.S. economic growth in the 21st century, as they have been for generations.

    https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/jobs/

    Note: This page is a reproduction of the Hillary for America policy proposal on jobs and wages. …

    •Cut red tape, provide tax relief and expand access to capital so small businesses can grow, hire, and thrive. …

    [That is as close as I could get between comparable policy positions. When I clicked on “The Office of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the upper left hand corner of each page:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e27d9b58a8cf9cdb2d6e3d7c0774e60f03bddb44dc4e2f8db9b8c1e23a80680f.jpg

    • D4x

      Final debate October 19, 2016:
      “Trump on whether he’ll accept the results of the election: “I’ll look at it at the time. What I’ve seen is so bad.”

      Clinton on Trump’s reluctance to accept the results of the election:
      “Chris, let me respond to that because this is horrifying. Every time Donald thinks things aren’t going in his direction, he claims everything is rigged against him. The FBI conducted a yearlong investigation that my e-mails. They found nothing. He said it was rigged. He said the Republican primary us was against him. He claims the court system and the federal judge is rigged against him. There was even a time when he didn’t get an Emmy for his TV program three years in a row and he started tweeting that the Emmys were rigged against him.”
      http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/10/19/memorable_lines_of_the_final_presidential_debate.html

      October 21, 2016: “We know, in our country, the difference between leadership and dictatorship. And the peaceful transition of power is something that sets us apart,” Clinton told a crowd of about 1,600 at the Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio….” “Clinton: Trump ‘threatens democracy’ by not accepting election results Jessie Balmert, The Cincinnati Enquirer Published 6:48 p.m. ET Oct. 21, 2016 ”
      https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/10/21/clinton-trump-threatens-democracy-not-accepting-election-results/92533916/

      • Angel Martin

        How sweet it is !

  • Fat_Man

    State voter ID laws are ugly and counterproductive, even if their actual impact varies.”

    Rubish. There is no reason why voting should require less identification than buying a bottle of beer or a pack of cigarettes, or getting on an airplane. The Democrat party has a long and barely concealed tradition of voter fraud. Taking simple coutner measures against it is neither ugly nor counter productive.

    • Angel Martin

      Voter ID laws should be identical to gun background checks in that State.

      • Fat_Man

        Works for me.

  • Angel Martin

    “She and her compatriots certainly do want the best for the country, and are almost certainly not knowingly corrupted by the kind of jet-setting corporate speaking and consulting gigs that are now the norm for politicians in between runs. ”

    This is satire, right ?

  • QET

    Pragmatism and politics–real politics–are mutually exclusive. Lamenting the state of our politics because it interferes with administration–i.e., with the smooth operation of government agency policy offices staffed with cadres of university-trained career policy planners–entirely misses the point. Hillary’s political competence and credentials are nil (being installed by the political machine that bears your name, first in a coincidentally available Senate seat in a Democrat-controlled state where you have absolutely no connection whatever, and then in a federal cabinet department, in each case where you can wait out the passage of time until, first, 2008 and then 2016, does not count as political credentials); and her policy competence extends no further than that of a middle-aged mid-level bureaucrat or maybe a city manager. The same is true of Elizabeth Warren as everyone will find out if the progressive wing of the Democrats succeeds in foisting a Warren candidacy on us.

    It’s not as though Hillary couldn’t have had a successful career as an anonymous, mid-level policy wonk, going to work every day and being good at her job, like countless other government employees. But many people persuaded themselves and tried to persuade the rest of us that she was some kind of uniquely superior Presidential material. That this was solely a phenomenon of the progressive psyche was proved in 2008 when like a school of shad they turned en masse to Obama who, though no more competent than Hillary, appeared to them as a better object for veneration, worship, prostration and submission than she.

  • adk

    From everything publicly known about Hillary, she’s both deeply unsympathetic and not pragmatic at all (had she been pragmatic, she, eg, might have come up with some ways to attract white blue-collar voters or at least tried. ) As to the former, her current incessant whining about losing to Trump and blaming everybody but herself is but the latest piece of evidence.

    Further, writing about Hillary without ever mentioning her criminal mishandling of classified information and constant lying about it, her getting a very special treatment from the FBI, Justice Department and MSM, the overall corruption of her term as SoS and her association with the Clinton Foundation, and so on is like describing a parallel universe.

    But here’s the main thing. Hillary’s public record of meager achievements and grand deceptions is so well established that there’s no reason to just take her word on anything at face value (it’s exactly the opposite, in fact). To me, the only mildly interesting thing about her is whether she’s a “pragmatic liar” (ie, she knowingly tells lies in order to achieve something) or just plain delusional. The recent evidence points to the latter.

  • Stephen

    Good points throughout.

  • Jeff77450

    Note: Until 2016 I had voted for the Republican candidate for president in every election beginning in 1980. I didn’t vote for DJT or HRC believing, as I did, that they were both morally & ethically unfit to serve as president. I wrote-in Evan McMullin. I support the office of the presidency regardless of who occupies it or his party, even if I don’t support some of his policies & goals. Random thoughts on why Hillary lost:

    1. The Electoral College. If not for that she’d have won.

    2. Since the end of WWII the pattern has been that each party occupies the White House for eight years. The two one-offs have been Jimmy Carter’s single term and Ronald Reagan’s and George H. W. Bush’s twelve year run. Hillary Clinton was on the wrong side of the cycle.

    3. A *large* number of Americans find the Clintons to be immoral, dishonest, conniving and just *off-putting*. Someone remarked that because the Clintons are attorneys they’re experts at walking right up to the (legal) line but not quite crossing it. The Clintons are the poster-children for the perception that the rules & laws don’t apply to us all equally. Again, I think most Americans find that kind of hypocrisy and double-standards off-putting.

    4. Hillary’s “deplorable” remark may have cost her a couple of million votes. I’m guessing that for a couple of million centrist/moderate blue-collar & middle-class whites living in “fly-over” country” who had been undecided—that was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. Watch a movie like _Saving Private Ryan_, _Hacksaw Ridge_ or _Platoon_ and you’ll see depictions of “deplorables” putting it all on the line for America, for countries that they really didn’t give two flips about or in a few cases because the alternative was prison. The Bill Clintons, Barack Obamas and Bernie Sanders types are conspicuous by their absence. (If I’m significantly off and it cost her just a few hundred thousand votes that could’ve been all it took).

    5. This voter-suppression business is just nonsense. You are or can be required to produce photo-ID to cash a check, use a credit/debit card, open a bank account; buy cigarettes, alcohol, a gun, prescription & certain over-the-counter meds, an M-rated video game(!!); rent a car, a hotel room and other things; apply for certain government benefits; obtain a hunting, fishing or concealed-carry license; board a plane. In Texas a driver’s license or state-ID card is good for six years and you can renew on-line once per license for a total of twelve years. Thus maybe *five* *times* in your life are you going to have to make the trek to the DMV.

    As I’ve written about before in this forum my wife & I come from humble beginnings a result of which is that we’ve known a great many low-income people. A lot of these same people who’re whining about what a terrible & unfair burden it is to obtain photo-ID are nevertheless spending $300-500 a month on beer, cigarettes, lottery-tickets, dvd-rentals and cable. Anyone who can’t get they’re act together enough to obtain photo-ID is probably woefully uninformed about the issues and wouldn’t understand what they’re voting for or against.

  • PierrePendre

    Hillary only opens her mouth to remind us that she lives in her own hermetic bubble of entitlement from which any alternative view of the universe is excluded. She obsesses about the emails but they hung round her neck because she never explained why she broke the law -and probably betrayed the nation’s secrets – with her private server. Because she won’t and went to jesuitical lengths to avoid doing so, we’re entitled to assume that telling the truth would have been even more damaging than hiding it turned out to be. Willick lays out very clearly the hypocrisy of accusations levelled against Republicans which can with equal effect be made against her and the Democrats. People notice. Her book and her book tour, with its attendant barrage of publicity and all the tired old claims of misogyny and Republican malevolence, is aimed at finally browbeatng everyone into accepting Clinton’s view of the world. It ain’t going it happen because when it’s not mostly boilerplate partisan it’s mostly boilerplate dishonest. She sounds increasingly like the British Tory leader Edward Heath who, after being ousted by Margaret Thatcher, spent the rest of his life stewing in his own bile about the unfairness of it all. There was nothing more unfair about the 2016 election than any other. Voters made an objective choice which Clinton subjectively disagrees with. End of story, for most of the rest of us at least.

  • bscook111

    H Clinton exhibits the entire panoply of character traits as did the Japanese top brass that brought Japan to her Armageddon. THE ENTIRE PANOPLY! Clinton losing the election is a blessing beyond measure for America and the world.

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