Did you catch this? (Trigger warning: you’ll need to Windex your screen and take a shower after watching to disinfect and rinse the slime off.)

This embarrassing exchange merely confirms what anyone with a semblance of political, business or psychological acumen has known for decades: Trump is, in addition to being an irretrievably wretched human being, also an appallingly bad (albeit opportunistic) “businessman”, serial liar and hypocrite. Bonus reminder: Rudy Giuliani remains an execrable, race-baiting, sexist troll who has made a career off the suffering of others.

But what should not be lost in the melodrama that will unfold this week is a very revealing and, if the Democrats manage to handle yet another gift correctly (for once?), useful opportunity. For entirely too long, Dems have been on the defense against the easily disprovable claims that if not for the richest of the rich, there’d be no job creation or tax revenue since, of course, the government doesn’t create jobs (ha) and the wealthiest pay the lion’s share of taxes (ha!). In addition, the working poor (keywords: working and poor) have been consistently and successfully marginalized for not paying their “fair” share, even and especially the ones who are below the poverty line. (A primer on the playbook that has worked, pretty much without fail, since the early ‘80s is HERE.)

And of course we blame out-of-control welfare (which, among other reasons, was created to ensure we don’t have children starving, and, in many instances, an opportunity to help pull willing would-be workers out of privation…unless, of course, you want to believe the racist and classist malarkey that there are thousands (millions?) of Americans who don’t want to get ahead; who are perfectly content to cash those checks and—not having the remarkable good fortune of inheriting wealth from their parents—perpetuate the cycle of hopelessness for their families).

The GOP has been able to have it both ways, with minimal pushback from the “liberal” media, lionizing the wealthy 1%; those “job creators” who, when the rocks are lifted from their shady but—courtesy of 21st Century Capitalism on steroids—not only perfectly legal, but encouraged dealings, are very happy to ship jobs overseas, fight against regulation (which directly enriches them while causing all sorts of health issues that cost working folks more money…if it doesn’t kill them), and—wait for it—pay no taxes. We’re not talking about taking advantage of available loopholes (themselves an indication that the system is, of course, rigged so that the richest of the rich get away with the most while stiffing the rest of us); we’re talking about ensuring that they pay close to nothing. And, at long last backed into this corner, we get brazen sycophants like Giuliani calling Trump a “genius” for paying no taxes.

Herein we have, at best, a conflict of interests.

Because, if enjoying every available loophole was unassailable proof of his savvy business instincts, why wouldn’t Trump have happily released his tax info months or years ago? After all, he could make the case that his successful avoidance of paying taxes underscores his brilliance. But…that’s complicated because Trump has played the poor/race card, calling out the tens of millions of Americans who pay no federal income taxes—you know, the “takers”.

(Sidenote: any person who laments out-of-control entitlements or social programs, but is unperturbed by –or applauds– the psychopathic swindling by the Masters of the Universe is not ignorant so much as an unwitting victim of very purposeful and politically motivated propaganda. That this is based, at least in part, on a far-from extinct culture of prejudice, alive and unwell, and so disgustingly exposed at any Trump rally, scarcely requires elaboration.)

Is this revelation going to sway any hardcore Trump supporters? Of course not. (Anyone capable of rational thought when it comes to Trump would have rightly been pushed past endurable limits with the knowledge that he’s unashamedly stiffed workers who have built or provided things for him, a venal sort of bullying that makes the aforementioned psychopathy seem almost quaint.) This “revelation” is simply overdue acknowledgment of the hatred so much of our entitled class (and the political party that serves them) feels for the rest of us peasants. They have largely held—and acted on—these beliefs with impunity, on occasion even marketing themselves as the real populists. That farce can, and should, reach its tardy expiration date, effective immediately.

Back in 2014, as the Dems, running away from Obama’s accomplishments (obviously) and downplaying the demonstrable good Obamacare had already done (naturally), I wrote the following:

During the Tea Party shenanigans in ’09, I kept asking myself: when is Obama going to start reminding everyone that this big bad government has historically been the bulwark between the people and an Industrial Revolution lifestyle? Does it need to actually get to the point where the Republican Party literally says “let them eat cake” before people start to realize wages are stagnating, prices are rising and the only people getting fat are the wealthiest one percent? Apparently it does.

(This is an opportune time to remind any recalcitrant Gary Johnson supporters that, in addition to your candidate being a vapid loon, his libertarian policies—you know, the ones you claim more closely align with yours than either Trump’s or Clinton’s—double down on all the pro-business, anti-regulation Republican nonsense and ignore or oppose what most of us would consider sensible things like climate change, engagement with foreign allies (or enemies!) and government services. Never mind the Ayn Rand jokes that write themselves: just ask yourselves about things like maternity leave, minimum wage and 40 hour work weeks. Then try to square these, or virtually any single progressive advancement (the ones Bernie Sanders rightly, and heroically, has spent his life articulating and endorsing) with anything Libertarian. Please gang, resist your sexist tendencies and slack-jawed gullibility. Or and, if you insist on not being remotely conversant with the issues, at least stop deluding yourself that Johnson has anything whatsoever in common with either Sanders or progressive politics. Also, being nihilists without a clue is never a good look. Finally, vote for Clinton if for no other reason your dream of legal marijuana has approximately 100% better chance of happening with a Democratic administration.).

Speaking of, just as every politician was once (still?) asked if they ever smoked pot, going forward every single aspiring president should be asked—ceaselessly—what, if any, taxes they paid. (Oh wait, that did happen with every candidate until the supine media rolled over for Trump? My bad.)

The takeaway here is the same as it ever was: actions speak more eloquently and loudly than time-tested boilerplate does. In addition to exposing, without any gray area or subtlety, what these entitled and wealthy elites truly believe, the attack line going forward must be as direct as it is devastating: failure to pay any taxes might make you a more successful—and wealthy—businessman; it also makes you unpatriotic. If you’re unwilling to pay your fair share for the services that often make America exceptional, you’re not merely putting your money where your heart isn’t, you’re letting the country know no rules can, or should, apply to you.

That, sadly, will never be enough for the Fox News watchers, bigots and our angry old guard (Hey millennials: vote for Clinton if for no other reason than to savor what the next 4-8 years will be like for bitter racists for whom “making America great again” would be outlawing abortion, not letting women vote, no separation of church and state and—yikes!—reinstating the draft.). But it just might open some eyes of inexplicably “undecided” voters, and certainly should resonate with the younger demographic—the one with school debt and uncertain job security, whose taxes helped bail out the 1% when they systematically and deliberately tanked the economy less than a decade ago. The one that gets younger and less white every day.

*This essay originally appeared at The Weeklings on 10/3/16.


Some Men Just Want To Watch The World Bern

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Hey Bernie Bros!

What’s up, fellas? First, I feel you. To a certain extent, I am you. I love me some Bernie, and, to establish some obligatory street-cred, actually knew who he was (and admired him) many years before he decided to run for president.

Secondly, I get it. Check this out.

I have to say, you younger dudes are reminding many of us of the obdurate blowhards who claimed, in 2000, that their only choice was Nader since (as Nader himself said, to his eternal shame) Bush and Gore were essentially two sides of the same soiled coin.

Here’s the thing: quite a few folks knew not only that this was bullshit, but that the feckless and untested Bush wasn’t remotely up to the job. Yes, it was infuriating to witness some of the most irresponsible media negligence of our lifetimes (little did we know it was a test run for the run-up to Iraq), but at least, without the literal benefit of hindsight, it was impossible to prove Bush would be incompetent in ways that made even our most cynical suspicions seem…naïve. Here’s the other thing: we already know, without even the slightest iota of uncertainty, that Trump is not merely a reckless, obscene and ignorant buffoon, but that his election will put the very concept of American democracy in jeopardy. Speaking of Iraq, imagine Trump…no, let’s not even go there.

So, with condolences and admonition, let me toss fifty well-intended turds into your oh-so-pure punch bowl before your precious, but increasingly nihilistic “Bernie or Bust” antics do our nation irreparable harm.

Joan Gage Photo Donald Trump
1. Donald Trump.

2. Trump’s VP? Google “Pence. Abortion bill”.

3. Take a quick gander at the GOP platform. And read this.

4. Imagine, for one moment, that you’re not white, or had a vagina. Or were gay. Or, if that’s too frightening and uncomfortable, what our country will be like for any and all of these folks.

5. Pretend (and this is probably the biggest stretch of all) that you ever, under any circumstances had to work a blue collar job.

6. Contemplate Newt Gingrich as Secretary of State.


  1. Contemplate Chris Christie. (Not even necessarily in any position of power; just contemplate him.)
  2. Imagine, for one second, this idiot feeling vindicated.
  3. The fact that the cowardly and cretinous Rudy Giuliani has recently inserted himself into the public eye with the typical grace of a rabid ferret in a crowded train, and could easily be named Attorney General, should be enough to make you not only vote for Hillary, but get excited about canvassing for her.
  4. If you seriously believe, for one second, that living under a Trump regime will be in any way cathartic or cleansing, do us all a favor: go live in North Korea for a few months and let us know what you’ve learned.
  5. Have you actually ever read anything by Orwell or Kafka or even the pre-9/11 Christopher Hitchens? Didn’t think so.
  6. “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”, right? Trump’s another word for it, too — for people who’ve never lost anything, or have excellent jobs or benevolent parents to shelter them from shit when it gets real. Speaking of freedom: everything this concept conveys is something Trump had handed to him or has fought to obstruct his entire life.
  7. Hillary a tad egocentric for your tastes? Fair enough. Think she puts herself first too much for comfort? Okay. Compared to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is Florence Nightingale, Mother Teresa and June Cleaver rolled into one.
  8. Think of Hillary Clinton as the pâté of politics: overvalued by the wrong type of people, appalling in its pretensions, bought by well-connected sorts, but undeniably created through expertise and time-tested processes. It, in short, might not be especially appetizing for all kinds of reasons, but fast food it ain’t. Think of Trump, on the other hand, as a worn out chicken breast raised on a chemical and steroid mash inside a rank, concrete factory that is months past its inflated expiration date, then had bleach poured on it for coloration before hitting the meat aisle at Food Lion.
  9. Everyone who really wants Trump to win really hates everything about you.
  10. And they would not hesitate to harm you, physically, if they could get away with it.
  11. And they would be encouraged (and, perhaps, exonerated) by Trump, if he had the power.
  12. Read the short story “Mario and the Magician” by Thomas Mann.
  13. Read something by any writer who lived through a dictatorship.
  14. Read this excellent piece from founding Weeklings editor Greg Olear.
  15. Imagine all the right wing radio listening, bigoted and elderly dunces who detest Obama (because he’s black) and fantasize about them spending their miserable last years ranting in their futons because a woman just became president for two terms.
  16. I would say, imagine Secretary of Defense John McCain, but The Donald prefers Secretaries of State who didn’t get captured. You know who definitely never gets captured? Short-fingered cheese-dicks whose daddy helped them avoid military service in the first place.
  17. At a certain point you just have to grow up. There are few things more appalling than the way sausage is made (literally and figuratively). There are also few things more enjoyable, or American.
  18. You know how you love Bill Clinton despite the ways he drives you crazy because he’s such a gifted natural politician with such cripplingly poor judgment? Hillary Clinton, in virtually every regard, is his opposite.
  19. Read this.
  20. Read this, too.
  21. More knowledge dropped by Mr. Olear.
  22. Put this in your pipe and smoke it.
  23. Donald Trump is the tragi-comic apotheosis of the GOP successfully, for decades, side-stepping all reality-based criticism by insisting the media is liberal. (The only way that story ends happily, and appropriately, is if Trump loses in spectacular, historically humiliating fashion.)
  24. Also, the Fox News-enabled transition from low information voters to no information voters has been deliberate, if cynical, and will have one of two results: epic comeuppance that will rend the GOP into several desperate, greedy and angry (always angry) factions, or the utter collapse of democracy, assuming Trump wins.
  25. Seriously, the distance between Hillary and Bernie, though profound in some regards, is like the gap between Starbucks franchises in any major city. The distance between Hillary and Trump, on the other hand, is not even calculable by man-made means; we’re talking quantum physics black hole time space continuum type shit.
  26. See how long you can make it through this:

33. Am I the only person who, whenever Donald Trump is speaking (invariably about himself), thinks he is a much dumber and more dangerous realization of this classic character?

34. You notice how the Republican Establishment has, of late, tripled-down on calling itself “the party of Lincoln”? That’s not accidental. This election needs to ensure that for the indefinite future they are, correctly, known as “the party of Trump”.

35. Getting back to that Republican platform. Did you know they’re against medical marijuana?

36. And that they are still shamelessly anti-gay marriage, anti-gay adoption and for the farcical “conversion therapy” snake oil? (Follow the money, opportunism and denial, always the GOP Unholy Trinity.) It’s one thing to be unrepentantly bigoted and call yourself “traditional”; it’s another to essentially fly your flag of intolerance and dare people with their hearts and minds on the moral side of history to do something. Now’s the time to ensure you do something.

37. Hey, smart guy: can’t be bothered to be appalled by anti-abortion (even in the cases of rape and incest!) laws? How about when your online porn habits start being monitored and persecuted?

38. Still unmoved? Get a load of this exhaustive (and yes, epic) takedown of all-things Trump by our own Brother Sean Beaudoin.

39. You’ve got your panties in a pretzel over Hillary’s emails, but you don’t realize Trump University alone should be enough to ensure Trump is doing the hardest possible time at Rikers Island?

40. Ever seen Dr. Strangelove? Donald Trump is Buck Turgidson, General Jack D. Ripper, Colonel Bat Guano and Ambassador Alexei de Sadeski, all in one. Only dumber and more dangerous. And much less amusing.

41. Remember this?

42. Just vote for Hillary and then complain and whine as much as you want. That’s what blogs are made for.

43. For the sake of the country, be the one saying “I told you so” each time the media, on rinse, wash, repeat, blasts out the latest manufactured Hillary-related outrage. We can take it; we’re prepared for it. Don’t be the person being told “I told you so” by the rest of us, as our collective future flatlines.

44. Ensure another essential Democratic win just to see if it finally causes this evil motherfucker to implode.

45. Just because Batman had some megalomaniacal tendencies doesn’t mean you rooted for The Joker. (If you did root for The Joker, it’s time, at long last, to move out of your parent’s house. Also, too: see #9.)

46. Every great leader, including FDR, had personal foibles that, if scrutinized the way Hillary’s have been for decades, would prevent them from being elected to their home owners association, much less president of the United States.

47. Imagine the good Bernie can continue to do in support of a (grateful, and accommodating) Clinton administration.

48. Visualize every hero who has fought for social justice in the history of the world. Who do you think they’d want you to vote for? (Hint: not Trump, never.)

49. Have the courage of your convictions: go light your house on fire and send every penny you have to Donald Trump. That will allow you to get it out of your system and repent before you help usher in the apocalypse. Win/Win.

50. Seriously. President Trump? You’re better than that. We’re better than this.

Final words from the man himself.


Bernin’ For You




Don’t say it.

I’m F…

Don’t say it!

I’m Feel…

Don’t say it!!


Are you serious?

I’m as serious as the heart attack The Establishment is about to have!

Well, you know what they say…

What’s that?

Democrats fall in love; Republicans fall in line.

Love is all around us.

Are you serious?

What’s the problem?

You mean other than Bernie Sanders can’t get elected?

Yes, other than that.

The other party is imploding and you want to hand them the election?

We’re not handing them shit. This country is not going to elect Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.

But why take the chance?

What if going with Hillary turns out to be the losing bet?

That’s what you said in ’08.


Don’t you want the next president to be able to get anything done?

That’s my favorite argument: that anyone is naïve enough to think the Republicans are going to work with Hillary!

At least we know what they’re going to throw at Hillary. They’ve already done it.

I’ve got several hundred million Koch dollars that say you ain’t seen anything yet.

At least we know what we’ve got with Hillary.

If we wanted half-measures, we should have just voted for Hillary in ’08.

It might have worked out better…

Better? Hillary would have one-and-done Jimmy Carter style and been beaten like Mondale.

No. Hillary getting elected would have killed the GOP. Just the fact of her in office would have annihilated the entire Republican party.

Actually, she would have energized them for a generation.

No, she would have won. The Clintons always win!

Except in ’08.

Okay, fine. But why not get on board now?

I can’t.

Why not?

Because that’s what the Republicans always do.

Do what?

Going with the safe bet; going with the Establishment choice.

They’re not doing it this time.

Yes, and it’s going to cause them to lose in historic fashion!

Not if idiots like you make a Socialist the nominee.

Democratic Socialist.

Full-on Mao Communist by the Time Fox News is finished with him.

Fuck Fox News!

No. Fox News fucks you. That’s the history of the last two decades in a nutshell.

Those days are over.

Those days have scarcely begun.

It’s different this time.

That’s what you suckers say every four years.

You’ll see.

What is your problem with Hillary?

Nothing. If she wins the nomination, I’m behind her 100%.

Why not now?

She wants it too badly, which is alarming. She expects it, which is insulting.

Can’t you say that about any candidate?

No. Her husband wanted it more badly than breathing, but he never expected it. Dubya expected it, but his life wouldn’t have ended had he lost. Obama cut the balance.

So what’s Bernie’s secret?

He is allowing the people who want it badly to make the difference.

You mean like Ralph Nader?

No, this is different (and that is insulting).

What’s different?

Well, for starters, look at his poll numbers.


And, um, how about his showing in Iowa and New Hampshire?


And the fact that, from jump, Nader knew he was playing spoiler, at best. Also, fuck Ralph Nader. And fuck Gore for not fighting harder. And double-fuck him for running a campaign that made Dukakis look competent. And fuck Scalia and the rest of the so-called Constitutionalists for handing the election to Bush, just like the founding fathers intended…

Look, I’m all for fairy tales and rainbows, but I’m also about reality.

What’s unrealistic about the most grotesquely wealthy country on the planet investing in its own?

It’s unrealistic because it can’t happen.

It has happened.

A long time ago.

Yes, and even a long time ago, it was the result of struggle, and a politician who was willing to fight the special interests.

You mean FDR?

Yes, I also mean Teddy Roosevelt.

That was a long time ago.

You know what Obama could, and should, have done, at any point during his first six years?


Borrowed the “I welcome their hatred” speech from FDR.

He did the best he could with what he had.

No, at first he was too cocksure everyone would go along with him, then he was unwilling to get his bully pulpit on, and he only started fighting back once he’d been already been shat on for three years.

So a rational, moderate liberal can’t get it done, but a full blown Socialist can?

Yes, you’re falling into the trap again. It’s not because Obama really wanted it, it’s because he was too easily corrupted, too easily cowed, too easily distracted. I’m not saying he didn’t do his best for the most part, but do you actually believe he really wanted it, like up in the middle of the night agonizing over it?

So you’re going to fall for this Sanders flavor of the month shtick?

Sanders has been walking the walk for decades.

So has Hillary.

Sure, she’s evolved, and fought the pretty-good fight. But Sanders was marching for minorities, women and gays when Hillary was still a confused Republican. (Also, let’s not rehash the policies from the Clinton years that hurt employment, fucked minorities and opened the casino doors to the Wall Street shitshow that crashed our economy.)

Look, every Democrat can get behind the spirit of what Sanders is saying…

I think Hillary—and her supporters—are incredibly wrong to assume voters, especially young or undecided voters, are going to be swayed by caution and the same formula that fails to work in every mid-term election.

It’s not Hillary’s fault she isn’t exciting.

No one gives a shit about that. Do you think people find Bernie Sanders exciting? It’s what he’s saying and the lack of fucks he has to give that is resonating with liberals and, quite possibly, people who usually tune politics out.

People get scared of what they don’t know.

No, people get enthusiastic about what they never knew was possible. Bernie’s support thus far has already proven that.

Hillary isn’t promising people magic and dreams.

No, she’s promising that she’s going to tack to the center even quicker and more naturally than Obama did. And that’s why she’s not inspiring people. Don’t blame the people who fail to be impressed that she hasn’t been impressive.

What if Bernie has already hit his ceiling?

Bernie hasn’t even begun yet. Wait until the mainstream media can no longer ignore or further marginalize what he’s accomplishing.

What makes you so sure?

We know Democrats tend to sit at home during mid-terms. Do you think the debacle of this last cycle that might have had something to do with that load of craven, faux-centrist shitheads running away from Obamacare and trying to split the difference between tea-party lunatics?

So they won’t sit it out this time?

Have you seen the crowds Sanders is getting?

Are they sustainable?

Here’s the thing. We know Democrats get demoralized, especially when they’re offered the same old shit. But how about the fact that Republicans undoubtedly sit out too? Maybe a whole lot of them. Maybe the ones who are, at long last, fed up with being taken for granted and generally fucked over during the last three decades, but pandered to every four years, and every time jobs go overseas and wages freeze and their kids are sent to ill-advised wars and their water is poisoned and they’re told how great America really is, maybe some of these otherwise impossible to reach old and young red state voters might find someone who’s actually telling them precisely what he’d do and exactly who he won’t work with and how his policies will tangibly improve their lives. Maybe this is proof that all the inside-the-beltway, elitist Democratic strategists with their lobbyist friends buying them dinner are entirely wrong and being forever surrounded by career consultants, like Hillary, is exactly why she suddenly finds herself battling for her life against Bernie Sanders.

Won’t you feel silly even if Bernie gets elected and none of his promises are attainable?

You know what I think is silly? Not prosecuting a single Wall Street executive. Insisting that it was way too soon to have reasonable and belated action taken on same-sex marriage (thanks again, Joe Biden!). Going to the negotiating table meeting intransigent Republicans half-way to the farthest right position (then getting shut down), and making that mistake time after time throughout the better part of two terms.

But what if little of what Sanders talk about is achievable?

By moving the conversation to the left and resetting the terms of the debate, he’ll be doing, at long last, what the GOP has been doing for their cause since 1980. If nothing else, Sanders will work toward a very overdue recalibration.

If he helps Hillary be more outspoken about liberalism, isn’t that a good thing?

It’s not a bad thing. But the fact that it requires Bernie’s presence to persuade her speaks volumes about why people are flocking to Sanders.

But at the end of the day, we’re not Europe.

We’re not Europe. We’re not even America anymore, as we once knew it. And just accepting the very least we should expect from representative government is neither tolerable nor sustainable.

I still think you’re dreaming.

You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one.



This piece originally appeared at The Weeklings on 2/19/16.


That Dog Will Hunt: Bill Clinton’s Big Gift

The Big Dawg was unleashed, and boy was Bubba barking last night.

Employing his best Arkansas drawl, he connected in ways that no president –of either party– has been able to do in several decades (if ever).

How many times did he say “Listen” or “Wait a minute”, “This is important” or simply “Now…”?

Can you imagine any other politician, on either side of the aisle, being able to pull that off? One who would even try?

I can’t.

What was the moment when he won the evening? (Well, the correct answer is: the second he opened his mouth.)

When he pointed out that Obama appointed Hillary, that was a classic Clintonian moment; it was the way he said it: Heck, he even appointed Hillary!

That is “triangulation” on an entirely different level: that of the elder statesmen, the wizened veteran, the wily rascal, still lavishing every second on the biggest of stages.

One of my (female) friends texted me halfway through the speech and wrote “He could get some from any woman in that room right now. Well, except Hillary.”

In truth, the entire speech was, to invoke a very tired but totally necessary cliché, a tour de force. There is only one person on the planet who could have pulled that off, and his initials are WJC.

For me, the seminal moment occurred when he paused –after succinctly laying out what the Republicans want (and have promised to do): even lower taxes for the wealthiest 1%, increased defense spending (in excess of what the Pentagon has asked for!), and significant cuts in the programs that help the middle class and poor kids– and smirked: “As another president said: There they go again.”

That is how you insert the shiv with a smile on your face.

On purely aesthetic levels, this was truly like an extend jazz improvisation: only someone with the requisite skills, knowledge and discipline can operate without a net, in real time, and make the magic happen as they go along.

You like apples? How about THESE apples.

An already beefy speech almost doubled in word count via off-the-cuff observations and friendly-sounding fire dropping out of the September sky like a rain of apocalyptic frogs. Too long? The only people wishing it would end were the people on the receiving end of those barbs and jibes (or aw shucks and jives). There were myriad reasons Clinton drove the Republicans bat-shit insane all through the ’90s and some of them were on ample display last night: the type of instant connection with a crowd that a spoon-fed charlatan like Mitt Romney could not buy with his considerable millions, the love of debate backed by stats and history (two things the contemporary GOP is increasingly allergic to, and for good reason) and an almost inimitable ability to praise his past foes all in the service of making a point about the contemporary villains. At the risk of redundancy, I’m compelled to pull another cliché out of the campfire: people who study speeches, politics and the social art of making friends and influencing people will be devouring and digesting this masterstroke for the foreseeable future.

If the Republican Convention was a tribute to the goose that laid the golden egg, by the time Clinton completed his night’s work –an instant classic by virtually any criteria– the Big Dawg had turned into the Cheshire Cat, standing above the carcass he carved up, picking his sparkling teeth with those dirty bones.

And speaking of that other convention, let’s pause for a moment and consider that the man who last led that party –the same man whose bellicose imcompetence turned Clinton’s surplus into the disaster of debt Obama inherited– was neither invited nor mentioned. What a devastating indictment; a testament to the reality that dare not speak it’s name, literally.

The only critique I’ve heard today is at once predictable and easily dismissed: Clinton stole the show, and possibly Obama’s thunder. Now, in fairness, Bubba raised the bar so high it does beg the almost inconceivable question: Can Obama –who has given a barnstormer or two in his time– possibly rise to the occasion this evening?

The good news for the Democrats, in terms of last night overshadowing tonight, is that in the worst case it’s still a win/win. Clinton was there to do precisely what he did (only more so, as it turned out, to Obama’s delight). There won’t be anyone who decides not to vote for Obama because Clinton outshined him. On the other hand, there very well may be more than a few folks willing to get on board (or, crucially, back on board) because Clinton achieved, in less than sixty minutes, what Obama and his team have largely been unable to accomplish, for the last 3-4 years. When the truth sets you free, it behooves a leader to have the courage of his convictions. Obama spent too much time worrying about, or else underestimating the case he could –and should– have been making, forcefully and without fear, going back to the Wall Street aftermath (THIS is what government is for; THIS is why we need regulations) and the rollout of health care reform (Folks, this idea originated from Republican think tanks; this plan is a very conservative alternative to debt and dependency). Hopefully his team was taking notes, and some invaluable if overdue lessons have been learned courtesy of the master.

After tonight, no matter how it plays out –and the smart money is on Obama bringing the noise; his legacy, after all, is at stake– the campaign will capitalize on this momentum, crafting Clinton’s treasure trove into some succinct, effective talking points. And they will flatter by imitation the example of the Big Dawg, using smiles and facts to rebuff the trash heap of half-truths, naked deceit and racist innuendo that the other side long since conceded is their only strategy.


It’s Not (Only) About Obama

It’s Not (Only) About Obama
by Sean G. Murphy
February 22, 2008

It is curious, yet oddly illuminating, that so many media blowhards (the predictable conservative and especially the liberal) who seem most surprised—and increasingly nonplussed—by Barack Obama’s success are the ones with the most to lose. Not their notions of safety and security or their concerns for country and community; but rather, the one thing that matters above all: their relevance. Their credibility, of course, has already taken a beating, at least what shreds of it still cling to them, having been beaten about by the proverbial winds of change—change now being the dreaded C word for those scribes allergic to introspection and unwilling, or possibly unable, to consider their culpability for the sorry state of our union.
To be clear, these are the same pundits who sniff with haughty exasperation at the so-called “cultish” elements of the Obama phenomenon. It seems quite safe to predict that there will be much more of these holier-than-thou admonishments in the weeks ahead, and it is a certainty that more ink will be spilled over Obama’s ascendancy than tears shed for the current war—that one without an end in sight, which they did much more than they’d care to admit in helping to facilitate. It will be instructive to keep in mind that most of these inside-the-beltway intellectuals were not exactly thinking outside the box during most of the Bush years. At least until it was way too little, way too late. Effectively herded into the bullpen that Bush, Inc. built, their collective wisdom was nowhere on display during the unfolding of Operation Iraqi Freedom. To recap, this pusillanimous posse displayed exactly what makes them so often insufferable, and predictable: a pack mentality without the will to confront, much less question, the obvious spin, spoon-fed from a crusading pack of Neocon hyenas who, with the zeal of true believers and the arrogance of true imbeciles, dedicated all of their energies toward conning a country—still susceptible from 9/11—into what (shock and awe!) is already considered one of the foremost, and costliest, blunders in American history.
But everyone already knows that, right? Herein lies the rub: some people predicted it all. Tons and tons of them. Alas, not many of them had access to their own bylines and MSM readership. And yet, the prevailing myth these myopic enablers now desperately hope to propagate revolves around a malevolent administration that hoodwinked us all into war. Shucks, if only we knew then what we know now…Nice try. The (literally) silent majority of news-actors, columnists and Sunday talk show circuiteers couldn’t be bothered to do anything as radical as actually examining what was painfully apparent to anyone with a modicum of knowledge about anything relating to the Middle East (a PhD in Iraqi relations was not a prerequisite here). Or, anyone who might have taken the time to revisit the rationale provided for the U.S. exodus from Iraq—a carefully considered diplomatic decision that, not quite ironically, was widely reviled by the armchair architects of the current fiasco. And yet these are the same folks who wish to be taken seriously, now, when commenting on current events involving everything from the surge to the (suddenly) suspicious ascendancy of Mr. Obama. In short and in sum, no one should be surprised if any (or all) of these self-appointed legislators of what comprises (and compromises) the status quo protest a tad too much, as they collectively represent the antithesis of change.
Which brings us to Hillary Clinton—she of the steely resolve, years of experience and judgment to lead on Day One. The same Clinton who, with one and a half eyes already on ’08, calculated, then, that the only way to bolster her credentials as a would-be Commander in Chief for an eventual (and inevitable) White House run was to out-hawk the more bellicose self-preservationists in her party (Hello, Mr. Lieberman!). In short, she sold out principle, common sense, and a distressing slab of her soul (or, at the very least, anything approximating genuine concern for innocent lives—American and Iraqi) when she, along with many others who should have known better (Hello, Mr. Edwards!), rubber-stamped Pee Wee’s big adventure. And, importantly, she has since steadfastly avoided articulating anything other than an unconvincing, and often incoherent, string of cop-outs and equivocations. This, to listen to her stump speech, is the type of leader America desperately needs following the same Bush years she did more to help than to hinder.
(A quick and semi-painless side note about the punch-drunk driver of the stray-talk express, the man who has—with astonishingly little ROI—pandered his blackening heart out to the lunatic hardliners who, apparently, still can commission the GOP’s seal of approval. The former prisoner of war was—famously of infamously, depending on how far to the right you can tilt without falling over—against torture before he was…for it? By his own admission he has recently come to refine his views, all of course in a timorous attempt to assuage the party Poobahs, begging the question: where does that leave this prototypical one trick pony, now? Big Mac without the moral authority—or at least moral indignation—on whether the U.S. can tolerate torture is like Rudy G. without the opportunity to pimp the deaths of several thousand New York citizens. Put simply, the real McCain has assumed control, and no further discussion of his otherwise nonexistent platform is necessary.)
But getting back to Billary. To their credit, the worst couple have outdone themselves, surpassing even the most skeptical critics’ depiction of her as a callous, divide-and-conquer Queen Bee. The Clintons, clearly, won’t do half-measures. The earth cannot be too scorched after their machinery has made its way through town. It is, to be fair, a remarkable achievement: to alienate some of the most devoted advocates of Bubba’s eight-year tour of duty (which, in any reasonable analysis, was more than half-hindered by the best efforts of those monomaniacal GOP goons who, in Slick Willy, found their once-in-a-lifetime white whale; just like in the book, the final confrontation was brutal and bloody, but the behemoth, coasting on the goodwill of forgiving, and/or appropriately indifferent citizens, remained mostly unscathed and lived to dive again into safer, and more lucrative waters).
For anyone who, understandably, is exhausted from that “us vs. the world” mixture of triangulated antipathy and distasteful entitlement, it is understandable why one would not exactly look forward to four-to-eight years of an all-in, Winner-Take-Little war of attrition, played with (White) House money. Everyone knew Hillary’s wrecking crew would resort to any available tactic from the dirty tricks arsenal, and invent new ones on the fly. But who could have imagined her husband, the so-called “first black president”, pulling a thinly veiled Strom Thurmond after Obama’s South Carolina victory? Again, this was not politics as usual so much as the most sickeningly cynical of appeals to the worst angels of a historically red state. Not to mention an electorate that would otherwise be justifiably celebrating authentic progress (for the party, for the country).
And yet, it has been the awkward attempts to explain how she was on board with respecting the agreement to officially ignore the Florida and Michigan delegates before she came to her senses, (of course, in a fashion that could only be described as Clintonian, she had ensured that her name was on those ballots, just in case), that seemed to serve as the final straw for many fence-sitters. Who, in the end, could stomach an administration that, at best, is going to be loathed by 49% of the population? We’ve had eight years of animosity, and that commenced with a candidate who—as opposed to Hillary—had an ostensibly clean slate coming in. (This, of course, is not meant to insult the many millions of voters who saw through the prepackaged snake oil that substance-free clown prince was hawking in 1999; if anything, it should serve as a rude reminder for the voters who, overcome with apathy—or naiveté—endorsed Ralph Nader or, worse, sat it out in 2000 altogether.)
None of the above, incidentally, is to suggest that a Hillary Clinton presidency would not be incalculably more genuine, productive and rewarding than George W. Bush’s imbroglio. It would. Nevertheless, to see the imperfect couple perfectly content to engineer a campaign that believes a divided—if not partially destroyed—party is preferable to the unimaginable notion of actually losing, it remains refreshing, and quite fortunate, that we have other, better options.
Obama, as all but his more intractable foot soldiers would concede, has some work to do. And frankly, even that is in many ways a relief. Playtime is over and we can’t afford another cocksure child who knows that he has no qualms with not knowing shit. Besides, as we learned from Gore and Kerry, (among other things) policy wonkishness is overrated in campaign season, particularly when the competition is John “100 More Years” McCain. Also, anyone who actually suspects that Obama is, thus far, a triumph of stylish rhetoric over substance is advised to pick up a copy of Dreams from My Father, or take a closer look at his achievements in Illinois or, tellingly, the unassailable success of the campaign he has overseen.
The smart money says he is up for the challenge and, crucially, will most certainly surround himself, as intelligent and secure adults tend to do, with intelligent and secure associates. Still not convinced? Try this: the names Wolfowitz, Bremer, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Gonzales—or any of their ludicrous ilk—will be invited to influence or infest an Obama administration. And, unless she wakes up soon and accepts that an inevitable force of history (not her story) has passed her by, neither will Hillary Clinton.