Monday, April 13, 2015

Cruising the Web

So Hillary has announced that she will deign to run to be our national leader. What a shocker. I prefer the announcement that SNL did for her. All those liberal comedians who just couldn't figure out how do satirize Barack Obama now seem ready to return to the heyday of comedy that was the Clinton White House.

Just in case you've lost track, the NY Post provides a handy primer of Hillary clinton scandals.

Noemie Emery objects to the idea that Hillary is a feminist role model.
But if a role model is actually what's desired, then Clinton is not that candidate. The message a Hillary presidency sends is that women can achieve anything they want — as long as they marry the right man.

I suppose some might try to make a similar case against Rand Paul this cycle — we all know it was a rallying point against George W. Bush — but there's one key difference: Paul isn't running to be the historic first of anything. The first Paul in the White House doesn't count.

But Clinton is running as someone who can shatter glass ceilings, yet she only shattered those ceilings with the help of her husband Bill. I've written previously about how Hillary was made partner at a prestigious law firm only after Bill became the governor of Arkansas. Her election to the U.S. Senate, her 2008 run for president and appointment to secretary of state were only made possible by Bill's election as president.

If people really want a female president just to have a female president, there are better role models than Hillary. Actually, nearly every other well-known woman in politics got there on her own (we can quibble about donors and community help). For example, we don't know the name Carly Fiorina because of her husband. The same goes for Elizabeth Warren. Both achieved what they have because of their own efforts, not their husband's.
Roger Kimball adds on the same theme.
On her own, Hillary Clinton has to be one of the least likeable people in politics. I’m talking about her personality, her “people skills.” Does anyone, anyone, believe she competes in that arena? Barack Obama is a chilly narcissist, but next to Hillary he seems like Roy Rogers. It should be, but somehow isn’t, an embarrassment to the feminist sisterhood chanting for Hillary, Hillary, Hillary, that right from the beginning hers was a “coattail career.” Back in 1977, when she became the first female partner at the Rose Law Firm, that was—surprise, surprise—just after Bill Clinton was sworn in as the state’s attorney general. Think there was a connection?

And so it’s been ever after. Although she, not Bill, is the couple’s chief ideologue and Minister of Propaganda, she has always existed in the echo chamber of his accomplishment.

A question to ponder: how was it, exactly, that she, as resident of Arkansas, managed to become a New York senator in 2000? Yes, I know she bought a house in Chappaqua, New York, before the election, but really, what were her qualifications? That she was married to Bill Clinton. That was the chief qualification. The auxiliary credit was her sex: in contemporary American the fact of being female, even if one is only a technical specimen of the genus, like Hillary, is like running in a rotten borough in early nineteenth century England.

What a contrast. Hillary Clinton tells us that she's running for president to be the champion of "everyday Americans." And at the same time Chelsea Clinton is posing in Elle Magazine modeling really expensive jewelry and clothes.
As admiring as the article was — "There is something innately regal about Chelsea," gushed ELLE's editor-in-chief — the oddity of ClintonWorld including a fashion magazine in the 2016 rollout was not lost on Democrats who are not fully on board with Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy. Some sent around a tweet from Jeff Smith — the Missouri Democrat who was one of the party's rising stars until he ran afoul of campaign finance laws — raising a serious eyebrow over the ELLE spread. "As a matter of optics, odd sartorial choices for someone whose mom is kicking off a campaign about income inequality," Smith tweeted, to the delight of some Democrats.

Displaying the trappings of wealth isn't new with the Clintons. Hillary Clinton was famously giving speeches for $300,000 nearly to the start date of her presidential campaign. She stirred controversy when she said that she and Bill Clinton had been "dead broke" when they left the White House in 2001, even though they immediately began spending and taking in millions. Meanwhile, Chelsea Clinton, who enjoyed perhaps more than an equal opportunity to become vice chair of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, attracted comment when she and husband Marc Mezvinsky bought a $10.5 million, 5,000 square foot, six-and-a-half bath apartment in New York last year. Chelsea Clinton also made news for accepting a $600,000 offer to become a special correspondent for NBC News.

None of that is to say anyone should begrudge the Clintons their money. Successful people can make a lot in America, and the family's current situation stems from the incredible success that Bill Clinton made of his life. There should be rewards for that kind of ability.

But there's a difference between enjoying success and posing for magazine spreads showing off high-end bling. The display is the thing. And in this context, the key question is: Is that a good idea when one is kicking off a presidential campaign on the platform of fighting inequality?

Someone has had some fun plastering anti-Hillary posters around Hillary's campaign HQ in Brooklyn ridiculing efforts by Hillary supporters to ban negative language about Hillary as sexist. I'm not sure how many observers will understand the reference, but I say... well-played.

Jonah Goldberg advises Republicans to embrace the "family-squabble phase" of the nomination fight.
I think big intra-partisan debates are mostly a good thing for the GOP and the conservative movement. But I really have little patience for all of the mind-readers out there who can see straight past my explicit arguments to my implicit motives. So I’ll just say it now: If I end up disagreeing with you about your preferred candidate, it’s probably not because I am a socialist, RINO, squish, sell-out, Georgetown-cocktail-sucking remora on the underbelly of the leviathan state. Of course I still might be entirely wrong — it’s happened many, many, many times — because sometime my brain no good makes things together go. But even before I was A1 on this flight, I felt that I earned the right to be called wrong for the right reasons, at least from fellow conservatives.
His preference for 2016 - someone who can forcefully and eloquently enunciate conservative principles. Amen.
I never liked the way many of George W. Bush’s defenders insisted that his malapropisms were an asset because he “talked American.” It’s all well and good to note that the coastal media is full of snobs. But that fact doesn’t mean that Republicans shouldn’t try to be good communicators, it means that they have to be better communicators than their opponents to cut through the built-in advantages Democrats have. This was the secret to Ronald Reagan’s success and William F. Buckley’s, too. (If the media had its way, George Wallace, not WFB, would have been the official spokesman of conservatism in America.).


I haven’t picked a favorite in the field yet, and I really don’t plan to for quite a while, if ever. But I will say that my bias is towards those who can effectively and persuasively articulate the conservative position and/or have an established record of actual policy accomplishment. The first criterion disproportionately benefits the senators, the second the governors.

We’ve probably never had a better field when it comes to articulating conservative arguments. Nearly everyone is a better talker than John McCain or Mitt Romney when it comes to articulating conservative principles. And they are leaps and bounds better than Hillary “there’s no eating in the library” Clinton.

But glibness alone isn’t what’s required. Persuasiveness matters. Ted Cruz is one of the most impressive talkers in American politics, but can he persuade people who don’t already agree with him? That remains to be seen. Rand Paul and Ben Carson are great at saying what they planned on saying, but they have more trouble answering questions they didn’t want to be asked. I’ve yet to see Rubio, Cruz, Jindal (or Fiorina) thrown by a question. I can’t say the same about Scott Walker, who I still have very high hopes for. While I think he isn’t in the same league as Cruz, Rubio, Jindal, Christie, or (sorry folks) Bush in being able to discuss and debate national policy issues, Walker has the advantage of having accomplished things that none of the others can hold a candle to (with the possible exceptions of Jindal and, again sorry, Bush). Cruz can talk a lot about how hard he fought, but he can’t point to a lot he’s accomplished as senator....

There’s nothing I can do about that. But I would encourage people to avoid the anathematizing urge. I think the recent ad blitz against Rand Paul was a mistake. I disagree profoundly with Paul about some foreign-policy issues, but I don’t feel the need to freak out about it. It strikes me that Paul’s heart is in the right place and there’s no need to excommunicate him or his followers. (I am far less generous about his father.) Let him make his arguments. Oh, and if you’re nodding at that, the same goes for Bush, Christie, and Huckabee. There’s no treason or heresy here in supporting any of them. I know that sentiment puts me crosswise with defenestration brigades, but so be it.

The WSJ notes whom Obama is willing to give the benefit of the doubt to.
The Supreme Leader contradicted Messrs. Kerry and Obama on two specific and crucial points—stressing that U.N. inspectors would have no access to Iran’s military sites and that sanctions must be lifted right away.

Asked in Panama about Mr. Khamenei’s remarks, Mr. Obama dismissed them as posturing: “It’s not surprising to me that the Supreme Leader or a whole bunch of other people are going to try to characterize the deal in a way that protects their political position.”

So what the Ayatollah says doesn’t matter, but American critics should shut up because all they want is war. Once again Mr. Obama is more respectful of foreign enemies than of domestic opponents, which is one reason his diplomacy has so many Americans worried.
Meanwhile Iran keeps the Washington Post's bureau chief in Tehran in prison under undisclosed charges. And the administration is supine.

Krisi Culpepper, a state official of Kentucky, explains how Chicago has been using phony budget gimmicks to hide the size of its bond obligations.

This is what moral equivalency looks like. Jim Hoft makes this catch of Obama's comments on how both Iran and the US have hardliners.
At the Summit of the Americas Saturday in Panama City Barack Obama told reporters Iran has hardliners like America has hardliners.
“Now what’s always been clear is that Iran has their own politics around this issue. They have their own hardliners. They have their own countervailing impulses. In terms of whether or not to go forward with something. Just as we have in our country.
Except that in Iran they stone your or toss you in jail, in America the “hardliners” are just lawmakers who disagree with your foolish nuclear agreement.

Bill Curry of Salon, not a conservative bastion, blasts the way that Hillary Clinton is not only a candidate of yesterday, but running a campaign to avoid past mistakes.
For months Clinton has run a front-porch campaign — if by porch you mean Boo Radley’s. Getting her outdoors is hard enough; when she does get out it’s often to give paid speeches to people who look just like her: educated, prosperous and privileged. Needing desperately to connect with the broader public, she opts for the virtual reality of a pre-taped video delivered via social media. Go figure.

Her leakers say she’ll head out on a listening tour like the one that kicked off her first Senate race. They say listening to real people talk about real stuff will make her seem more real. This too may be a good idea, but it made more sense when she was a rookie candidate seeking a lesser office in a state she barely knew. Running for president is different. So are the times. Voters are more desperate now, and in a far worse mood. If you invite their questions, you’d better have some answers. I’ll return to this point shortly.

Her leakers say she’ll avoid big events, rallies, stadiums, that sort of thing. This is about 2008, when she and her tone-deaf team seemed to be planning a coronation. This time they say she doesn’t want to come off as quite so presumptuous. Yet next week she keynotes a ‘Global Women’s Summit’ cohosted by Tina Brown and the New York Times, at which “world leaders, industry icons, movie stars and CEOs convene with artists, rebels, peacemakers and activists to tell their stories and share their plans of action.” Orchestra seats go for $300.

Clinton personifies the meritocracy that to an angry middle class looks increasingly like just another privileged caste. It’s the anger captured best by the old ‘Die Yuppie Scum’ posters and in case you haven’t noticed, it’s on the rise. Republicans love to paint Democrats as elitists. It’s how the first two Bushes took out Dukakis, Gore and Kerry — and how Jeb plans to take out Hillary. When she says she and Bill were broke when they left the White House; when she sets her own email rules and says it was only for her own convenience; when she hangs out with the Davos, Wall Street or Hollywood crowds, she makes herself a more inviting target.

During its long ramp-up, Democrats searched for signs that this Clinton campaign would be better than the last, a seething cauldron of rivalries and resentments run by D.C. consultants who made their real livings from corporate clients. Things do look better at the top. The chief of staff is John Podesta, a man whose core competency is competency. Pollster Joel Benenson is a huge step up from the fiercely anti-populist Mark Penn.

Still, the leaks are a bad sign. All campaigns fall prey to them and it’s sometimes a good thing for the First Amendment that they do. All White House staffs leak to settle scores or advance agendas and careers. Bill Clinton’s White House added a new wrinkle — leaks that elevated the leaker at Clinton’s expense. Often the leaker wanted only to prove his insider status and savvy; the result was to frame everything Clinton did as political even before he did it. Every modern president polled as much as Clinton but none was so scorned for it. Leakers had a lot to do with that.

All political reportage is full of insider tales about how every link of sausage is made. When House Democrats resumed their push for a minimum wage hike, staff framed the initiative not as sound policy but as clever politics. Even if authorized, nearly all such leaks harm the principle. On Friday, Clinton’s campaign let slip its aim to raise $2.5 billion; maybe that’s not the best way to say hello to a struggling middle class. Someone gabbed about the message of Hillary’s planned sit downs with average families, a sure fire way to make the families look and feel like props — and to make the whole, hollow exercise look and feel like a hollow exercise.

Shop Amazon - Give the Gift of Amazon Prime

Democrats are still willing to go to the mattresses to fight any reform of education spending that allows the money to follow the student while allowing the student and parents some level of choice.

Maureen Dowd isn't impressed with Hillary Clinton's reset strategy for the 2016 campaign.

Ian Tuttle explains why Clinton's announcement avoided the public.
In 2008, Clinton announced via video, too — a 90-second clip in which she declared, “I’m not just starting a campaign. I’m starting a conversation — with you, with America.” Because nothing says “dialogue” like a pre-recorded video with only one person in the room.

Eight years later, the Clinton team is doing the same thing. Why? Because for someone who has spent her life in public, Hillary Clinton is very bad in public. And her team knows it.

Consider the last month, which has given the uninitiated a rare but crucial glimpse behind the curtain into ClintonWorld®. After delaying appearing publicly to address revelations that, as secretary of state, she had violated State Department regulations and federal law, and endangered national security, by routing her work e-mails through a private server, Clinton held the worst press conference since tennis star Rafael Nadal spent an entire post-match press appearance moaning. Her laughable excuse (“convenience”) was immediately debunked (by her own prior statements), and even softball questions left her visibly tetchy.

It was a timely reminder that Hillary Clinton the Person, the actual flesh-and-blood human being, is wildly unappealing. She is at best awkward and boring; she is at worst cold and petulant and endowed with all the public graces of a product of Disney’s animatronics lab. Of course she seems fake. You can’t spend years appealing to the mean of a Frank Luntz focus group and still cast yourself as Joan of Arc.

Hillary Clinton the Character, though, the carefully cultivated myth and lore and legend, does better.

Onto a senator and secretary of state and slayer of the patriarchy — or onto a just-like-you jivamukti practitioner and goo-goo-ing grandma — the masses (so goes the Democratic logic) can project their hopes and dreams and aspirations. “Come to me all you who are weary of male egos and burdened by income inequality . . . ” They know that the key to campaign success is keeping Hillary Clinton an archetype and avatar.

But presidents are not avatars (as the current president, and many of his erstwhile adorers, have learned).

Chelsea Clinton might not be the great advantage that the Clintons think she is.
But, while the expensive clothes and jewelry Chelsea wore on the ELLE cover are likely loaners from the magazine, they underscored the potential limitations of the Clintons’ only child as a political asset. As her mother opens a campaign framed around a pitch to the increasingly stretched American middle class, Chelsea is a child of privilege with a hedge fund manager husband, a $9.25-million condo in New York’s Flatiron District and a circle of extremely wealthy friends and associates who help feed the Clintons’ political and charitable juggernaut.

However she does on the campaign trail, there’s little doubt that today, what some in the Clinton orbit call the “invisible hand of Chelsea” shapes almost every significant decision her parents make, according to multiple sources familiar with the family’s dynamics and their vast $2 billion philanthropy, the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. They say she played a key role in the foundation’s now-controversial decision to resume accepting foreign contributions, for example, and that she was among the proponents of moving the family’s private emails—including the accounts—from the Clinton’s homebrew server to an outside IT firm. Both changes took place quietly soon after her Hillary Clinton stepped down as Secretary of State, but have become controversial in recent weeks as she prepared to announce her presidential campaign.