Why, Oh Why?

Megan McArdle has a few good if quotidian insights in her most recent piece at Atlantic. For example, she opens:

“If Trump wins (or comes close),” writes my friend Tim Lee, “liberals are going to need a better answer than writing half the electorate off as racist.”

As the Democratic National Convention lurches off to a chaotic start, let me offer one answer: Hillary Clinton is a terrible, terrible candidate.

I feel that quite a few people are losing touch with just how awful a candidate she is and persuading themselves that she’s the best of all possible candidates. In doing so they betray an inability to read a resume and a confusion of jobs held with accomplishments.

I hope that people don’t lose track of the fact that when you vote for the lesser evil, you’re still supporting evil. You’ve just made the assessment that this is as good as it gets.

Or this:

Bill Clinton could have defeated Trump with one hand tied behind his back, a bag over his head, and a debilitating case of laryngitis. His wife is, at this point, struggling to hold even. I still think she’s a favorite to win.

The greatest likelihood is that one of three things will happen after the Democratic National Convention. Either Hillary Clinton will get a big bounce in public opinion, she’ll get a moderate bounce, or she’ll get little if any bounce.

If she gets a big bounce, I think the election is practically over. Barring some cataclysmic revelation, Trump will never recapture the lead. If she gets a moderate bounce, anything could happen—it all depends on a handful of states and we will see what we will see. If she gets little or no bounce, we may well see Donald Trump inaugurated president next January. I still think that Trump has a good chance of carrying all of the states the Mitt Romney did in 2012 while winning Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida, something I’ve been warning about for most of the last year.

I agree with this assessment of the state of the political parties.

Decades of “good government” reforms have systematically stripped the power that parties once had: to control money, to control committee assignments, to control how much pork politicians get to brag about to the voters back home.

That’s true as far as it goes. But it’s not true within the Congress. In Congress House Speakers and Senate Majority Leaders still wield enormous power. They control the agenda; they control committee appointments. People who have a Schoolhouse Rock view of the Congress still pooh pooh that.

My intuition is we’re either seeing the death throes of political parties as we’ve known them or a major political realignment. I just can’t tell and everything looks distorted to me right now—politics as seen through a funhouse mirror.

I think that the pillorying that even the most temperate and moderate of Republican candidates, e.g. Mitt Romney, have taken at the hands of the media, the Democrats, and absolutist Republicans has played a role. There’s a sort of Gresham’s Law at work—the bad is driving out the good.

And social media is a major contributing factor to this:

My other working theory is simply that the left committed the cardinal sin known as “reading your own press releases.” The left loved the “demographics is destiny” arguments that seemed to promise them a glorious future of uninterrupted rule.

Will that prediction fail as it has failed every time it’s been made? Or is this time really different?

15 comments… add one
  • steve Link

    Probably just a function of what I read, but I haven’t seen anyone declare her the best of all possible candidates. Some people will vote for her just because she is a woman. That is how some people I knew justified voting for Palin after all. I think most of us will end up voting for her, if we do, just to keep Trump out of office.


  • Ken Hoop Link

    Perhaps the blogger can eventually offer a post to all Clinton voters like you querying “What is the thing you fear most about a Trump presidency?” I surmise the answers will feature things the US arguably deserves and a bunch of wrong readings (like protectionism leads to war etc.) thrown in for bad measure.

  • PD Shaw Link

    I watched Trump’s speech at the Convention (and the introductory speeches that day), and as I’ve seen in previous speeches, points were made in a way to characterize his approach to immigration and terrorism as protecting minorities. I guess I was naively surprised that a crowd of Republicans cheering LGBT would have been bigger news than it was. The media is in such bad shape in this country, there is a real danger that we don’t know what’s going on. Me, you, the man on the moon.

  • PD Shaw Link

    “If Trump wins (or comes close),” writes my friend Tim Lee, “liberals are going to need a better answer than writing half the electorate off as racist.”

    Some liberals seem to be projecting. For example: Brooklyn hipsters fight school de-segregation: They ‘aren’t racists’ — ‘they just don’t want to be in a ghetto’

  • Roy Lofquist Link

    So, how would you tell the difference between an “extended” Trump bounce and a Hillary flameout?

  • Yes, PD, when progressives fight desegregation, they have pure hearts. When anybody else fights desegregation, they’re racists.

  • New York Times:

    “one of the most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidates in modern history.

    President Obama:

    “‘In fact, I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold his office,’ he stated.”

    Barbara Boxer:

    “most qualified person in history”

    Cory Booker

    “Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., told NBC News there are ‘few candidates in history’ as qualified as Hillary Clinton is to be president, making him the latest high-profile Democrat to endorse the former secretary of state.”

    I could list hundreds of elected officials and dozens of newspapers and magazine that have endorsed her in a similar vein. Either they’re all dissembling or you’ve just closed your eyes.

  • steve Link

    I seldom read pure politics. Mostly read health care stuff, economics and foreign policy. Seldom read newspapers anymore. So as I said, this is probably a function of what I read. I also wouldn’t count the politicians since it doesn’t matter how bad the candidate, they are going to say they have the best candidate ever. What i find more telling are the comments from the number of blogs I follow, many intermittently. It is pretty uncommon to find even hardcore Hillary supporters making the case she is the best ever.


  • Ben Wolf Link

    This is getting virtually no coverage: Sanders’ delegates walked out en masse after Clinton’s nomination. There is no party unity.

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