As I discussed over the weekend, the Democratic leadership appears to be spinning its snatching of defeat from the jaws of victory this electoral season. Various Democratic leaders have been blaming the results not on their engineering Hillary Clinton’s victory over Bernie Sanders but FBI director James Comey. Now Clinton herself is advancing that same spin despite every objective measure to the contrary. It is precisely why Clinton was never able to seriously improve the overwhelming view of being less than honest. Her campaign would continually spin events and scandals rather than deal directly with obvious problems. In the meantime, Clinton’s controversial friend and close advisor Sidney Blumenthal is raising yet another vast conservative conspiracy theory — that it was not the candidate but a cabal of secret agents directed by Rudy Giuliani that caused the defeat.
For those still interested in recent history, the public has been consistent that they did not want an establishment candidate and particularly did not want Hillary Clinton. Clinton and Trump were the most unpopular politicians ever to be nominated for president and over 60 percent of voters viewed Clinton as fundamentally dishonest. None of that stopped the DNC from engineering her victory over Bernie Sanders who presented precisely the populist campaign that many voters were looking for. Clinton had the Democratic establishment and many allies in the media — everyone agreed except the public. That was enough . . . until the voters had their say on November 8th.
Now there are many (particularly Sanders supporters) calling for a massive overhaul of the Democratic party. In response, the establishment has been quick to blame Comey even though Clinton’s unpopularity levels remained dismal and her popularity was dropping before his disclosure to Congress. For many, the problem with the emails was not so much as the concern of her compromising national security but her bad judgment coupled with er belated acceptance of responsibility. Clinton at first laughed off the controversy and refused to say that she used bad judgment. She then begrudgingly accepted that it was a “mistake” while still maintaining that her national security judgment was her primary strength.
Clinton’s first statement after concession came in a private call with major donors. She did not acknowledge her long-standing polling issues with truthfulness or reputation as the ultimate establishment candidate in a counter-establishment election. Instead, she said it was all about Comey even though she was struggling to even gain a few percentage points over Trump who had rallied oppositional forces against himself. She even lost Wisconsin – a first since 1984 for a Democrat. That is not about Comey. The whole election was a disaster as we previously discussed on the blog. While this blog and others openly marveled at the decision of the Democratic establishment to pick an establishment candidate with such baggage, Democratic insiders and the media pushed the line that Clinton would necessarily win and that people would overcome their clear dislike for her. While Clinton appears to have won the popular vote, a Democratic nominee without the baggage and bad polling numbers might have produced a starkly different result, including the possible flipping of the Senate. particularly a perceived outside like Sanders. While I have long been a critic of the electoral college and an advocate of a majority requirement for president, a run off would not have necessarily helped Clinton. First, while she won the popular vote, she was well below 50 percent. She was roughly 5 million below Obama’s total in the prior election against a much more polarizing opponent than Mitt Romney. The final numbers are still uncertain but both REe likely to end up in the 47 percentile. She won Colorado after Libertarian Ron Johnson took five percent. The Clinton campaign sought to win on an anti-Trump vote as Trump sought an anti-Clinton victory. That was not enough for a lot of young people and others who were simply not motivated by Clinton. In the end, the pro-Trump and anti-Hillary voters were unstoppable. Moreover, judging from the losses of the Senate races, the Democrats gave up on selecting a candidate with any “coattails.” The Democrats lost a golden opportunity to take back the Senate and will now face the opposite situation in two years where more Democratic seats will be a risk.
For some, the Comey spin was not nearly conspiratorial enough. After all, Comey had spent weeks being pummeled by the right for his clearing of Clinton of any criminal actions — the basis for a number of pro-Clinton ads and pitches. He then informed Congress that they were looking into new emails while expressly stating that they did not know the significance of the emails. He then cleared her again a few days later. Blumenthal (who has been long denounced as something of a gossip and conspiracy spreader) is not willing to simply stop with Comey. No conspiracy is sufficient unless it is vast and conservative. So Blumenthal is reportedly telling people that a group of “right-wing agents” in the FBI staged an effective coup d’etat. Of course a coup presupposes that Clinton was the ordained new leader and that the election was merely a formality. He is quoted as telling Dutch television that “It was the result of a cabal of right-wing agents of the FBI in the New York office attached to Rudy Giuliani, who was a member of Trump’s campaign. I think it’s not unfair to call it a coup.” Unfair? No I would say unhinged is more accurate.
As shown by the staffer who denounced Donna Brazile last week, many liberals (and particularly young people) are not buying the spin. Liberal blogs are already denouncing the DNC for engineering the victory of the “Clinton-corporate wing.” One such critic is Bill Clinton’s former Labor Secretary Robert Reich who insisted that “The Democratic Party can no longer be the same, it has been repudiated. This has been a huge refutation of establishment politics and the political organization has got to be changed … if the Democratic Party can’t do it, we’ll do it through a third party.”
Notably, in a Hill article, Democratic insiders are blaming Sanders voters and young people for not doing as they were told and voting for Clinton . . . which obviously misses the point. The Democrats have been selling the lesser of two evils for years and voters simply had had enough with the selection of Clinton. The primary revealed deep-seated opposition to Clinton who continued to refuse to turn over her Wall Street speeches and spinned serious questions about massive contributions and speaking fees from corporations and power brokers. Even if the leadership sought to be willfully blind before the primary in lining up behind Clinton, the Sanders movement revealed the depth and anger of the electorate. It was their election to lose and they engineered the Clinton victory and lost it.
To show the inability to even consider a new course after this defeat, the establishment is already grooming Chelsea Clinton for political office under the apparent theory that the solution to the public rejecting the Clintons is to add more Clintons. Likewise, various Democratic members are pushing to continue the leadership of Nancy Pelosi as minority leader in the House despite calls for new leadership from younger members.
So the spin is on. It was not Clinton and certainly not the Democratic leadership. It was Comey and perhaps a hidden cabal of secret agents. The Democratic party is again fulfilling Einstein’s view that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”