Two Prominent Black Intellectuals Just Delivered More Bad News for Clinton | Mother Jones


CK MacLeod

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143 Responses

  1. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Why not link/quote Coates and Alexander themselves?Report

    • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

      If I understand your criticism: The main point for us is (or I think ought to be) to alert users as to the existence of the content elsewhere, not to steal it.

      Also, we’re heavy with newsy links today, so didn’t want to overdo it. Nothing prevents someone who thinks this news matters, or who would like to go into it more deeply, from writing up a post looking at both (and any other) statements on this subject – which could be anything from sorta interesting to a big deal.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        It just seems like if we’re focusing on what two prominent Black voices said, maybe we should hear from those Black voices.

        Especially given that the linked article misrepresented the words of at least one of them.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe says:

          By the rules of Professor Philomathy, “Coates and Alexander are by no means the first black intellectuals to express skepticism of Clinton and endorse Sanders” is a true assertion by Mother Jones.Report

          • Avatar Chris says:

            Actually, as a logician, professor O’Mathy knows quite well that if either side of a conjunction is false, the entire conjunction is false. In Coates’ case, it’s not clear either is true.

            Oh, I see what you’re sayin’. They are by no means the first.Report

        • Avatar Chris says:

          Both Coates and Alexander have explicitly stated that they are not endorsing Sanders; in fact Alexander did so in a passage quoted in the article itself(!), but Mother Jones can’t help itself anymore. They’re so hungry for clicks that I’m surprised they didn’t publish an article saying that Trump endorsed Sanders last night.Report

          • Avatar Chris says:

            Mother Jones: By criticizing Clinton, is Alexander endorsing Sanders?

            Alexander: This is not an endorsement of Sanders.

            Mother Jones: I feel like that’s ambiguous enough that we can go ahead and call it a yes.Report

          • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

            Coates’ non-endorsement endorsement strikes me as trying to have his cake and eat it, too – in other words his usual stance. To say that you’re intending to vote for someone is to endorse that person, however grudgingly, unless you’re declaring yourself irrational or schizoid, or voting absurd and yourself given to doing absurd things. If you’re irrational or given to doing absurd things, then, for all we know, your statement that your endorsement is not an endorsement is the real perversity, or you are simply a perverse person incapable of giving a meaningful endorsement.

            It seems clear that the Mother Jones reporter, Pema Levy, has at best written carelessly about Alexander, but Alexander’s position is also incoherent. She also wants to have things both ways, but is even less committed to a sensible position than the grudging Coates. She seems to be waiting for a signal from someone else:

            Hopefully, one day, we’ll muster the courage to join together in a revolutionary movement with people of all colors who believe that basic human rights and economic, racial, and gender justice are not unreasonable, pie-in-the-sky goals. After decades of getting played, the sleeping giant just might wake up, stretch its limbs, and tell both parties: Game over. Move aside. It’s time to reshuffle this deck.

            So, she doesn’t offer an endorsement of either candidate or of any meaningful political action at all. She offers a hope that “we” will somehow “muster the courage” to do something or other equivalent to saying “game over,” and that “the sleeping giant” will awaken. So “we,” whoever that may be but at least including her, lack the courage, and the giant remains asleep. The real comrades might carefully consider how to make use of someone like her or Coates, but would reserve their true respect for people capable of serious politics.Report

            • Avatar Chris says:

              Coates said, coherently I think, that his was a personal choice, and he didn’t intend it to influence others. I believe an endorsement would be intended to do the latter, rational person or no.

              He also didn’t even want to answer the question, which again suggests no intention to endorse Sanders.

              Perhaps we can think of it like his: a newspaper editor who doesn’t endorse a candidate in the paper or anywhere else publicly, but still votes, will not have endorsed a candidate in the sense in which we apply the term to newspaper editors.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                He coherently expressed an incoherent or self-contradictory position, which means that his position as he expresses it remains incoherent or perverse: A vote given as a purely “personal choice” wouldn’t be a vote – a political act – at all. It would be some kind of indulgence of sentiment without meaning – like voting for Sanders because you find his resemblance to Larry David amusing, or because you drew his name at random.

                Coates is either describing himself as an individual given to such essentially meaningless sentimental pseudo-activity – and talking about it – or he is confirming a rationally determined political choice tied to a political act. If the latter, then he is giving an endorsement, however grudgingly or diffidently or irresponsibly.

                He had the option of remaining silent on the issue, or of saying, as Alexander seems to be saying, that, the way things are, voting stands as a meaningless act or worse (i.e., implicit validation of an evil system). Instead he spoke, and described his voting intention – though he also, apparently (going by your description, Chris), shared his fantasy of being able to control by his further intentions whether or not other people choose to interpret his statement as a rational statement, and are thereby influenced by it.

                At least West is clear about where he stands and is willing to put himself “on the line” for what he believes in. I anticipate one or more posts by Coates (if he hasn’t already published one) in effect apologizing for his mistake in actually stating his political intentions – and still trying to have things both ways, both regarding the apology as well as the statement.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Coates’ “endorsement” was in an interview. His follow-up, which clearly expressed guilt at having answered the question, was on Twitter. Again, I don’t think it’s perverse to call that a non-endorsement, but I’ve laid out my position.

                West is not likely to shy away from saying how he feels about a politician. Ask Obama.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                Chris: West is not likely to shy away from saying how he feels about a politician.

                I’ve noticed – though in this case he’s not just expressing his feelings – he’s out there on the stump.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Yeah, that’s interesting. Killer Mike too.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                Chris: I don’t think it’s perverse to call that a non-endorsement,

                As for Coates, we could dig up the tweets, but I still think he’ll end up having to put out a considered statement, now that he’s “stepped in it,” so probably more prudent for us to wait.

                For now, from what I’ve gleaned, I’d say he’s given a very weak endorsement, and raised some further questions about his views on voting in general. Actually to withdraw this very weak endorsement, I think he’d have to say he’s changed his mind, and will not be voting for Sanders, or voting at all. Or maybe he could say that he thinks voting for a particular candidate is a pointless activity, and no one should be interested in how he gets his pointless jollies.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                This is the tweet that begins his statement of regret:


              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                an act of giving one’s public approval or support to someone or something.

                Saying, “I plan to do X,” or even, “I have done X,” is not even close to saying, “I approve of doing X,” or, “I support X/doing X.”Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                Voting for someone seems like support for their candidacy for that office to me. Likewise announcing the intention to do so. It’s certainly the kind of support politicians are looking for from people like Ta-Nehisi Coates, or you, or me.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                Did you read TNC’s tweets?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Here would be my analogy:

                Interviewer: Where will you eat dinner tomorrow?
                Kazzy: Well, I’d really rather not get into that because I don’t think where I eat dinner matters. And I think where I’m eating dinner tomorrow is even less important because I’ll be in an airport and therefore my options will be limited. So, if you must know, I’m eating at Panda Express. But I don’t think anyone else should eat at Panda Express unless that is where they want to eat. I mean, if they like it, great, but if they don’t like it, they shouldn’t eat there. And certainly not because I happen to choose that from among the limited options in an airport.
                Article: “Kazzy Endorses Panda Express!”Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              And think about the discussion we could have had if these statements were the focus instead of a (sloppy) summary of those statements.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                Is this not the best of all possible discussions – so far? What’s wrong with it that you or anyone is incapable of repairing? There’s nothing wrong with this discussion that can’t be fixed by what’s right with this discussion.

                I even managed inadvertently to include a self-contradiction by the author that you and others find very telling. Good for me!Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                It is amazing the knots you’ll twist yourself into to maintain whatever absurd position you take.

                You seem to be simultaneously arguing that Coates and Alexander dealt a real blow to Clinton but they did so via “incoherent” statements that we should ignore. And that you failing to actually consider their statements and being called out on that is the strength of your post! For fuck’s sake…Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                Pay attention. I didn’t make any statement about Coates and Alexander delivering a “real blow to Clinton.” Mother Jones calls the statements “more bad news.” Other commenters here seem to think they point to a real danger for HRC. I don’t claim to know, but TNC’s statement, Alexander’s critique, West’s open support for Sanders, and other data points (coverage promised on CNN even as I write this) at least point to the possibility – and also counter the earlier impression that Coates gave of signiificant and decisive dissatisfaction with Sanders.

                So, as I did say, the story could be somewhere between sorta interesting and a big deal.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                I might be wrong (and Kaz can correct me if I am), but what I think Kazzy is trying to say is that the further removed from a quote you get, the more you aren’t really trying to understand what someone said.

                What Ta Nehisi says may be interesting and important. What some pundit at the Washington Post says about what Ta Nehisi said is considerably less so. What some pundit at Mother Jones Jones says about what some pundit at the Washington Post said about what Ta Nehisi said even less than that.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                TNC is, for better or for worse, an influential figure. What he said remains the same regardless of the particular source we use to refer to it. The MJ article, despite its flaws, is meant to be reportage, not punditry, and links together several items in addition to TNC’s very weak endorsement of Sanders. We’ve discussed its flaws, and I think that we have a clearer picture now of the fluid state of political play, in relation to a key question about the state and future course of the political race, brought forward in a number of political stories over months, and heightened by the ethnic uniformity of the first two states heard from so far in the process, and the prominence of the African American vote in SC. I recall the rally to Obama, against HRC, as a crucial moment in ’08, and I think that it put both Clintons’ profile in relation to “the Black vote” in question in a way it had never been before.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                Let me ask a VERY direct question:

                What was the purpose of sharing this article and, specifically, the quoted section?Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                I think the purpose of this series is just to bring a variety of election- or public-affairs related content elsewhere on the internet to the attention of this readership.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                Kazzy: What was the purpose of sharing this article [?]

                I think the reasons to share an article like this one are obvious – same reason I’d share an article about Marco Rubio’s difficulties from the perspective of a conservative or Donald Trump from the perspective of a very well-known left-liberal intellectual or any other piece covering a facet of the presidential selection process at this unique moment.

                My specific purpose in sharing this item in particular was to help keep users of the site informed and up to date on a topic especially of interest to those closely following developments on the Democratic side, also as related to other topics frequently discussed at this site.

                …and, specifically, the quoted section?

                The quoted section is meant to represent the content of the article for those who might be interested either in reading further or in noting the topic under discussion, possibly for future reference. It also mentions a range of politically interrelated items compactly.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                So you think people here are interested in what white people have to say about what they think Coates and Alexander said and feel… But not about what Coates and Alexander themselves actually said or feel?

                If the goal is to give insight into what prominent Black Americans think about Hilary Clinton — and the extent to which this is representative or influential on Black Americans writ large — the best way to do that is to quote/link to prominent Black Americans and/or discussion of their statements among Black Americans.

                If you want to take a less-than-ideal path, so be it. But you leave yourself open to criticism, namely that you sought/found a framing that was harmful to Hilary and that was the goal.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                I understand now, only black people can interpret other black people for us white folks.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                No. Just that if we want to know what Black folks think — in general or specifically — it might be good to ask/read actual, ya know, Black folks.

                This article doesn’t tell us what Black folks — Coates/Alexander specifically or in general — think. It tells us what one white person thinks about what they think. Which is fine if that’s what you care about. But let’s not misrepresent what this article is: one white person’s (mis)interpretation.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Kazzy, CK linked the article because movement in Bernie’s direction has been an issue of some interest to readers here at the OT (and to the Clinton campaign as well!!) and CK linked to an article which, for all its flaws referenced the very movement people have been talking about!! As CK said up there somewhere, it’s a data point, perhaps amounting to something small, perhaps the precursor to something bigger. Whatever.

                On the other hand, busting CK for linking an article dripping with white-privileged white-splainin seems like a different criticism, one that requires him to exercise a level of policing that – personally speaking here – I’d rather not see imposed anyway and not only for anti-PC reasons but primarily because it imposes an editorial burden on the linker which is inconsistent with what I understand to be the purpose of the Linkage section of the OT.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                It is interesting that this linkage post stands out among the others in that they are all opinion pieces (mostly about the primaries, but Syria’s in there too), and this one is at most an opinion about an opinion piece and an interview. I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that this one has more comments than the other 9 put together.

                I get the mindset behind CK’s linking this post (which I don’t think is exclusively CK’s mindset, so I’m not trying to criticize him personally here), but I’m not sure it, with its apparent emphasis on click-baitiness (“Two black people ‘endorse’ Sanders!”; “I miss Obama!”; “Stop abdicating on Syria!” “Click me! Click me! Click me!”), and not quality, is a particularly good one.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                The reasons a given post attracts a relatively high number of comments and another one doesn’t are sometimes mysterious, sometimes readily apparent – but a good personalized meta-angels dancing on the head of a pin sidebar to an already contentious discussion will often help.

                We are in an election year, the extended quadrennial potential revolution by other means that’s part of the American tradition, and we are at one of several crucial moments or potentially crucial moments in the “campaign.” In addition to helping set the course of events, or reveal the course that future events might take, such moments also tend to condense political-cultural complexities, the stuff of our lives as citizens, into the form of conflict. That people find it interesting or may find it interesting is not an argument against presenting and discussing it, or even against seeking whatever available local intensification of conflict.

                It seems to me that you’re taking the problem with “clickbait” and turning it into an argument against argument and engagement at all. To me, “clickbait” isn’t a polemic on Syria policy by well-known and controversial political intellectuals (at a site that needs more attention to foreign policy in my opinion), via an informatively provocative passage. Clickbait is “10 Ways John Oliver Destroyed Game of Thrones.” (Not that we couldn’t stand more mindless diversion of that type, too.)Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                I’m cool with “engagement,” but when someone writes, “If the Russians and Syrians sought to prevent humanitarian protection and resupply of the city, they would face the military consequences,” and suggests that we enforce a no-fly zone largely now for the Russian air force in an area where they are flying hundreds of sorties a week from their own airforce bases within the area (i.e., essentially create a state of war with Russia), that person is either being click-baity or a sociopath, or both, and the most engagement I want with a sociopath is, “Holy shit! I hope no one is listening to this sociopath.”Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I’m with CK on the WaPo “abdicating on Syria” linkage. And I’m glad he linked to it: I had no idea that the Neocons are trying to NeoCon the public into embracing more disastrous policies. Didn’t strike me as baity at all.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Socipaths they are, then.

                (Seriously, can you think of a worse idea in the history of ideas than fighting ISIS by essentially starting a war, even if a cold one, with Russia?)Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:


                It just occurred to me that Clinton (H) advocated the exact same plan, for largely the same reasons as the dudes in the WaPo article. And I recall that even the liberal Pentagon said the plan was ridiculously absurd. (Not their words.)Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                The issue isn’t just the privilege and ‘splaining. It’s just a bad article. A white response to “Black issues” can be very worthwhile. But this article is just crap. So why link it? He couldn’t find a better one? My suspicion is the shittiness was the draw: an unjustified shot at Clinton.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                {{You’re welcome.}}Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                If the point was to “give insight into what prominent Black Americans think about Hillary Clinton,” then, indeed, having them speak for themselves would be essential. However, I never stated or conceived of that as the aim of putting up a link to an item of this type.

                You asked me what my purposes were, and I gave them, and you, of course, ignored my answer. The item is a news item, that strays into a bit of provocative opinion-offering, concerning the state of the presidential election contest. To the extent anyone is also interested in what Coates or Alexander think, in his or her words and on its own terms, the article and, as it has quite evidently turned out, this discussion provide an open opportunity to get into it.

                The “framing… harmful to Hillary” was provided by Mother Jones, an organ of the Left since 1976. Be warned, many Linkage items have and will provide “framings” that partisans may consider potentially harmful to their causes. Be warned, reality may also sometimes provide framings harmful to particular partisan causes. If I find something timely and also provocative, because it points to developments or arguments potentially harmful to any particular partisan cause, then that to me is a good reason to share it. You should see their presentation here as an opportunity to defuse the bomb or provide the counterargument. If you prefer to highlight your own views on some tangential question or to criticize me instead, it’s a free country and a free site, up to a point.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                You said the purpose was obvious but never actually stated it.

                Why THIS article? Why THIS writer? Not the broader topic… Why this link and quote in particular?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                May I speculate on CK’s motives?

                It involves thoughtcrime and wrongthink.

                He should apologize.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                Apologize? That isn’t enough. First he must self-criticize in front of the entire community then he must undergo a vigorous reeducation and cultural sensitivity training where he apologizes for his hetro, white male privilege.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Do you really think that is what I’m arguing? Because… no, that isn’t what I’m arguing.

                My point is this: if the intent was to provide valuable information about the direction of the Clinton and Sanders campaigns, CK picked a piss poor article. The article included the likely voting preferences for two — count them, two — individuals, both of whom went out of their way to say that they were not endorsing a candidate, that their support was tepid and heavy with reservation, and that they did not seek to influence others. It then offered no reason to believe that the impact of those two individuals’ comments would be greater than those individuals intended them to be.

                It was a shitty, sloppy, poorly written column. That does not provide much useful information about the direction of either Clinton or Sanders’ campaign.

                My initial impression was that the intent of the link was to provide insight into “the Black vote”. If that was the intent, than I’d criticize the choice on other grounds. But since it seems that was not the intent, I withdraw that criticism.

                So, again, my issue is not that I disagree with CK about what we hope or even think will happen in the election. My issue is that CK picked an article that does not achieve his purpose as I understand it. I would hope that we’d have a higher standard for Linkage posts. Maybe not. That isn’t my call.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Have you found an awesome link that provides the insight that makes you say “Ah… this is why I read the internet…”?

                Because that would be an awesome addition to our Linkage.

                Perhaps the link would even be good enough that we, ourselves, would be motivated to say “the next time that I submit a link to Linkage, I want it to be as good as the one that Kazzy submitted once in the February of 2016 instead of the pieces of crap links that CK keeps submitting every couple of days just to keep the Linkage feature fresh. Seriously, he has no taste.”Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I don’t think the link needs to be “awesome”. If he is trying to “inform” folks — as he stated — a simple news piece would suffice. “Here is what two people said.” Boom. Done. We could then haggle out what we thought it meant.

                And as a primary contributor to Linkage, if CK does indeed have blind spots (as we all do!) and one of those blind spots is linking-to-white-people-commenting-on-Black-perspectives-instead-of-linking-directly-to-Black-perspectives, that would seem like worthwhile feedback to offer him and, if heard, could further improve the quality if Linkage and, with it, the site as a whole.

                But if we aren’t supposed to criticize anyone ever about anything and should just be grateful that the site isn’t Hamster Dance, hey, I’ll shut up.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                But a black person commenting on another black person would be okay? If that is the case, then the quality of the commentary doesn’t matter, just the skin color.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Not what I said. Try again.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                And as a primary contributor to Linkage, if CK does indeed have blind spots (as we all do!) and one of those blind spots is linking-to-white-people-commenting-on-Black-perspectives-instead-of-linking-directly-to-Black-perspectives, that would seem like worthwhile feedback to offer him and, if heard, could further improve the quality if Linkage and, with it, the site as a whole.

                Seems only about race not quality to me.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                It would. Because you don’t understand what I’m saying.

                What would be the best way to understand what John Doe thinks on a matter? Asking John Doe? Or asking Jim Smith about what John Doe thinks on a matter?

                If the goal here is to understand what “prominent Black intellectuals” think about Clinton and Sander, we should read what “prominent Black intellectuals” have to say. That seems pretty frickin’ obvious, to be frank.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                But if we aren’t supposed to criticize anyone ever about anything and should just be grateful that the site isn’t Hamster Dance, hey, I’ll shut up.

                I think that “hey, I’ve read this article and I think it provides more context, more information, and goes deeper than your weak-ass link” with a link to the article would be an even better response than never criticizing anyone ever about anything.

                It not only allows you to criticize others, but it also provides more context, more information, and goes deeper than CK’s weak-ass link!


              • Avatar notme says:

                And if that linked article is from another black person, it’s a win-win-win.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Agreed, Jaybird… but I think it sets a bad precedent.

                “Don’t like the links we post… find your own!” That isn’t an invalid response, for sure. But it also puts the onus for ‘quality control’ on the readers and not on the ‘authors’ of the site.

                Are there better ways to respond to weak-ass links than I did here? Sure. But the goal should be avoiding weak-ass links. Not critiquing the response to weak-ass links.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Dude, you’re one of the authors of the site.

                Find a strong-ass link.

                When it gets put up, you can write a short comment saying “this article is a lot better than the other one!”

                And then we can point out that you only picked it because you liked the narrative, it questions the people you want questioned, bolsters the people you want bolstered, and pushes forward a narrative that you hope becomes The Narrative.

                Or, instead, just ask the question about whether that’s why you did it.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                “My specific purpose in sharing this item in particular was to help keep users of the site informed and up to date on a topic especially of interest to those closely following developments on the Democratic side…”

                Was this article informative? I think pretty clearly not.

                “The quoted section is meant to represent the content of the article for those who might be interested either in reading further…”

                The content of the article is crap. Inaccurate. And wrong.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

          The linked article links to the pieces it references.Report

  2. Avatar Stillwater says:

    The exodus is underway…Report

  3. Avatar Damon says:

    Trump VS Sanders

    Trump VS Sanders

    Trump VS Sanders

    Trump VS SandersReport

  4. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    This is mainly meaningless. Its like asking young people to support Clinton over Sanders because John Oliver, who can’t even vote in the United States, came out for Clinton. I think Clinton is still going to get the majority of African-American votes.Report

  5. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    For me it just shows the poverty of our media in that the opinion of two black intellectuals are quoted by white reporters as significant indicators of The Black Vote.

    Up next: Ben Shapiro, young conservative, delivers bad news to Bernie Sanders by endorsing Ted Cruz.

    Quick, name 5 black public intellectuals; or 5 black pundits featured on Sunday chat shows; 5 black columnists in the NY, WAPO, or other paper.

    If the entire set of data to measure The Black Vote can be written on a 3×5 index card the result is going to be pretty suspect.Report

  6. Avatar j r says:

    What is interesting to me is that I have noticed that many Hillary supporters are starting to display the same sort of insularity that I’ve seen from the conservative movement, at least in regards to Hillary’s campaign. Look at the first two comments on that Mother Jones piece. Hillary is the rightful Democratic nominee and criticism of her is either “trolling” or part of a “hit piece.” Generally, I don’t put much faith in the representativeness of comment sections, but it matched quite closely the sort of things that I see Hillary supporters sharing over social media. And let’s not forget that terrible all caps piece.

    If someone put a gun to my head and forced me to vote for one of these clowns, I would likely pick Clinton (although the vote for Trump/Sanders and watch the world burn impulse is growing). If I voted for Clinton, however, I would understand that I was very much casting a vote for the political status quo. That sort of clear-eyed pragmatism, which is supposed to be Clinton’s strength, is starting to give way to something much more deluded. I will enjoy seeing where this goes.Report

    • Avatar notme says:

      What is interesting to me is that I have noticed that many Hillary supporters are starting to display the same sort of insularity that I’ve seen from the conservative movement, at least in regards to Hillary’s campaign.

      Just starting? Her supporters are following her lead, as Hillary has always been a victim. Don’t you remember the “vast right wing conspiracy?” that’s been out to get her since the beginning?Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        You do realize that Bill Clinton spoke at the “vast right wing conspiracy” ‘s funeral?
        And that the dude endorsed Hillary last go round?

        My how times change!

        The Arkansas Group was run by Scaife, who happened to live within walking distance of me for the ten years up until his recent death.Report

    • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

      j r: And let’s not forget that terrible all caps piece.


      I guess I forgot it.

      j r: That sort of clear-eyed pragmatism, which is supposed to be Clinton’s strength, is starting to give way to something much more deluded.

      You mean on her part specifically, or on the part of her supporters, or on the part of the political culture as a whole, or more than one of the above, or all three?Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        This is the all caps piece, which was making the rounds on social media last week:

        As for the delusions, it’s a mixed bag. My comment was mostly about Hillary’s extended campaign staff and her supporters (I would link to that ridiculous abuela page on Hillary’s campaign web site, but I don’t want to trip the spam filters with two links).

        Hillary herself may be so deluded as to think that the she is really the person that she presents herself to be at any given moment in time rather than an amalgamation of political positions triangulated for maximum effect. Of course, on a deeper level I guess that is who she is. This is all somewhat indicative of the larger political culture, but the Clintons have been the masters of this trade for some time.Report

        • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

          Thanks. Also, you shouldn’t have to worry about going for two links! Current setting is to allow up to six.

          I think it’s very possible that Clinton might turn out to be the true (as opposed to True) conservative choice this year. I sympathize with the critique of the system – as corrupt and paralyzed – that, surprisingly to me, appears to be rising up out of the electorate on both sides. I wish I could believe in any of the figures riding the wave right now, but, either way, the Clintons seem very poorly positioned to join them. HRC might conceivably produce a credible plan and argument, but running as a Democrat means she has to play a different game. She would have had to create her own new party, and she and her husband would have had to divest themselves of the apparently huge amounts of money they have made, for her to come across as a credible champion of reform rather than, as you say, a representative of the status quo.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      Hillary Clinton has been a very loyal member of the Democratic Party for the entirety of her political life. Even if you do not like her politics, it is understandable that people might get pissed at the idea of Hillary Clinton losing to somebody who considered himself independent of the Democratic Party for most of his political life. You can make an argument that Hillary Clinton is the rightful nominee on the grounds that she is an actual party member and paid her dues rather than somebody who is running as Democratic nominee because he does not want to repeat Nader’s mistakes.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        That’s all great. Unfortunately, we have a federal system, with an elected president and not a parliamentary system where the leader of the party gets to be prime minister.

        The primaries are a series of actual elections and not the rubber stamp that some Hillary supporters want it to be, which is exactly what is causing the delusion of which I am referring.Report

  7. TNC has not said that he’s definitely not going to vote for Trump? So there’s no question that the Black vote is in play.Report

  8. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    More accurately: Ta-Nehisi Coates has expressed skepticism both both Clinton and Sanders, but has said that he’s going to vote for Sanders despite his reservations about the candidate. He specifically said that he’s not telling anyone else they should vote for Sanders: “The idea that anyone would cast a vote because of how I am casting my vote makes my skin crawl. Citizens are not sheep. They do not need shepherds, and even if they did I would be poorly qualified.” He also said that 2008 was the first time he voted.

    The long record of the press and politicans and the public generally picking a couple black people and declaring them representative of “black opinion” also gives more weight to TNC’s reservations about endorsements.

    He was asked who he would vote for. He answered. He’s not telling everyone else that they should have the same priorities and objectives as he has, so he’s not giving an opinion on how other people should vote. If someone’s voting based on foriegn policy and climate change, issues TNC says aren’t the areas where he’s thought most deeply, then why should he be telling them who they should vote for? From his writing, he comes across as a man who values the act of thinking as much as the conclusions one arrives as, so the concept of wanting someone to skip the ‘thinking’ part and vote based on what he says seems like it would be antithetical to his principles.

    I’m with Kazzy. If we’re discussing what some black intellectuals have to say, we should quote what they said, not a white person’s misinterpretation of what they said. It’s only respectful.Report

  9. Avatar j r says:

    How much of this is a function of the fact that much of the political press long ago gave up reporting or substantive policy discussions in favor of horse race coverage?

    This article is maximized for Facebook shares, not for conveying meaningful information about the election or the candidates.Report

    • Horse race reporting can be fact-based. The facts, if any, are generally pointless and ephemeral, but at least they might exist. The quoted piece isn’t even that: it’s pure spin, extrapolating from two non-existent endorsements by two people who, while well-known, are not electorally influential [1], to the black vote as a whole.

      1. They’re not, and unless it can be demonstrated than any sizable number of people vote for a candidate because TNC or Alexander praised him, it’s simply thumbing one’s nose at reality to claim otherwise.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        Calling something fact-based is almost entirely tangential to whether it is meaningful and in what ways. The very problem with horse race coverage is that it pretends a level of detachment that is impossible. The media shapes the discourse around any candidate and then reports on that discourse as if it were not a part of it. That is how the spin works.

        So, I’m not sure that you are disagreeing with me or just restating what I am saying in different words.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          You got something as good as dailykos for the Republicans?
          Indie media seems to do better with stuff that takes a ton of hours to pull a decent analysis together. (You’re an economist, yes? you know what takes a bunch of time to pull together…)Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      “This article is maximized for Facebook shares…”

      And OT Linkage. That is one of my issues with Linkage: with zero commentary, it amounts to a Facebook “like”. We’re left to decipher why it is considered link-worthy. And using it for piss poor articles like this is all the more concerning.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Perhaps we could have a “Links that weren’t good enough for the Linkage Feature” feature, where we could put the links to the piss poor articles.

        Then, if we encounter a crap link like this one, we can move it to the other one.

        And, occasionally, we’ll have a link in the “not good enough links” that we think deserves to be in the Linkage feature and promote it.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          Or we could just not link to piss poor articles. Or at least accept that certain people are going to think some of the articles we link to are piss poor and rather than say, “Oh, you shouldn’t say that!” we should engage with them and say, “Here is why we think it isn’t piss poor!”

          Honestly, I’m really unclear on your criticism here. Is it your position that I shouldn’t criticize the selection of a link that I find problematic?Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            I think that you should criticize whatever you want, whether it be the fact that the links in the Linkage feature are low quality, whether they are indicative of a hidden agenda on the part of the linker, or poor judgment on the part of people defending the appropriateness of the links appearing in the Linkage feature anyway despite how you’d pointed out that the links are low quality *AND* that the people who put them there probably have a hidden agenda.

            Wait, are you pushing back on this because my criticism of your criticism is problematic?Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              Please note that my initial comment was a question. At no point have I said that CK shouldn’t have linked to this piece. Instead, I’ve questioned whether the piece achieves what he sought out to do, questioned whether the piece is of the quality we want to link to here (without commentary), and criticized my issues with the piece itself and what I understood/suspected to be the motives for linking to it.Report

        • Avatar Chris says:

          I’m not sure if you’re arguing against selection based on quality as a general principle, or just as a principle for OT linkage.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            I think that if someone says “huh, this is an interesting article” and someone else reads it and says “huh, this is an interesting article”, then we’ve achieved the level of quality necessary for Linkage.

            The level above that might be the level required for a quality “Off The Cuff” post.

            I mean, if there were a link to a Buzzfeed Listicle of “24 gifs that explain exactly how 90’s kids are dealing with management!”, I could easily see myself writing, but then erasing, a “Jesus Christ are we linking to freaking Buzzfeed listicles now? Jesus Christ.” comment.

            An article that is political commentary on political commentary on political commentary that gets a non-zero number of people to knit their brow and say “huh… interesting” is probably quality enough to make it to the Linkage post.

            I’m not certain that it needs more than that.

            Have I misunderstood Linkage philosophy?Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              Who knows? The Linkage philosophy was never articulated. At least not that I’ve seen publicly.

              Given that Linkage’s lack any commentary, I think it behooves the Linkage-r to think long and hard about what message is being sent by the link. Are they endorsing the article? Offering it up for criticism? Simply sharing something interesting?

              I have submitted one Linkage post (the one about the Kings and Chinese New Year). It was a straight news piece that offered pretty bare bones facts on what happened, allowing the read to weigh in with his or her thoughts. Now, I don’t think that Linkage need be limited to straight reporting (assuming such a thing even exists anymore). But if you are linking to one person writing (inaccurately) about what two other people said and then pontificating what she thinks those two people’s comments will lead yet a third group of people to do… and she is not a member of that third group… we reach a very weird place wherein it is near-impossible to under the intent of the Linkage.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                So the assumption seems to be that the Linkage is operating not only at the object level but the meta level.

                But links operating at the meta level are inappropriate?

                Am I interpreting that correctly?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I’m not sure I follow.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                But this article is just crap. So why link it? He couldn’t find a better one? My suspicion is the shittiness was the draw: an unjustified shot at Clinton.

                Why THIS article? Why THIS writer? Not the broader topic… Why this link and quote in particular?

                I think it behooves the Linkage-r to think long and hard about what message is being sent by the link. Are they endorsing the article? Offering it up for criticism? Simply sharing something interesting?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                This is a thing.

                That’s the object level.

                This is an article about the thing.

                That’s kind of the meta level, kind of not. It depends on the slant of the article writer, whether they’re pouring their own opinions into the article that deals with their take on the thing or if they’re doing a good job being “objective”. There are debates over whether it’s possible at all to be objective and, I suppose, we could argue that all articles about any given thing operate on the meta level but, generally, we can agree that “objective” articles operate at the object level and opinion journalism is operating in the meta level.

                Asking “why did the person post the article about the thing?” is *DEFINITELY* operating at the meta level. It’s not about the thing anymore. It has nothing to do with the thing at all. It’s all about the opinions of the person who is saying “look at this thing” and how they’re trying to get you to change your opinions. Which opinions? Maybe about the thing itself, maybe about journalism dealing with the thing, maybe about the types of people who enjoy journalism dealing with the thing. Who can say? (It might even be the meta meta level. Or the meta meta meta level! Or the meta meta meta meta level!)

                So when we’re talking about an article that talks about the opinion of a person who talked about what another person said, we’re probably deep in meta territory.

                And questioning why someone would want us to read an article that talks about the opinion of a person who talked about what another person said is to go even deeper into the meta.

                Which, I assume, no one has a problem with.

                The problem is with the posting of the meta article instead of the article closer to the object level.

                As such, it seems to me, and I’m cutting and pasting this, the assumption seems to be that the Linkage is operating not only at the object level but the meta level.

                But links operating at the meta level are inappropriate.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I don’t know that I’d say that links operating on the meta-level are necessarily inappropriate. But linking to a meta-article would seem to suggest that the opinion of the thing expressed in that meta-article is an opinion worth sharing and reading. It would be an endorsement, of sorts.

                My contention is that in this particular article, the opinion is not particularly worth sharing or reading. It factually misunderstands or misrepresents “the thing”, calling into question the entire analysis.

                But CK’s stated intention was to “inform”. Inform us of what, exactly? What prominent Black intellectuals think of the Democratic candidates? A meta article seems a poor way to do that. Inform us of what this particular writer thinks about what prominent Black intellectuals think of the Democratic candidates? Well, yes, then this article would be the best way to communicate that. But why inform us of this particular writer’s feelings on the matter? What makes her link-worthy?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If I read the opinion and thought it was interesting, does that negate your point to the point where you’re willing to say “oh, I guess that the article was merely not to my taste”?

                Does it instead invite the question about why I am saying that I read the opinion and thought it was interesting in this particular discussion? Am I using it as a deliberate tactic?

                What prominent Black intellectuals think of the Democratic candidates? A meta article seems a poor way to do that.

                Not really. There are several narratives out there and this article is representative of one of them.

                If the narrative starts being stronger than some of the other narratives, it will “win” against them and become “the narrative” (instead of merely “a narrative”).

                As such, a meta article is an effective way to do that.

                But why inform us of this particular writer’s feelings on the matter? What makes her link-worthy?

                Because this particular narrative is *INTERESTING*. And, by “interesting”, I mean “this particular narrative seems to have what it takes to be a major contender for the eventual narrative”.

                Of course, Ta-Nehisi knew that his object level statements will be turned into meta level statements and pretty much came out and said “hey, don’t turn this object level statement into a meta level one”.

                Insofar as that is up to him, that’s a reasonable request.

                Insofar as that is not up to him, this is an interesting article.

                Well, interesting to some people. Not interesting to others.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                So there is what prominent Black intellectuals think.

                And there is the narrative forming about what prominent Black intellectuals think.

                One of those seems like a far better way to understanding what prominent Black intellectuals think. I think we’d be best served to take that path when it is available to us. But what do I know? I’m not the coding expert around here.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:


                I don’t mean for this comment to re-ignite the flame throwers, but I can’t agree with what you wrote up there. The Linkage pieces are presented to us – the consumer of media! – because they’re viewed as thought provoking by linker, and the Mother Jones linky served that function almost to an ideal: you and some others have criticized the piece on a number of grounds that weaken the claims made within that piece. That is, it stimulated your mind (yours Kazzy!) to discuss, dispute, argue, etc over a view presented out there in the World Wide Web (and our society!).

                So it seems to me your complaint is misplaced here. Your rancor ought to be directed at the Mother Jones writer/editor and NOT CK. As he said earlier, if you dislike the contents of a linked article, then present a compelling argument against the views presented within it. Which you’ve done!

                Isn’t that the purpose of debate and discussion?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                What confuses me about the entire exercise is that the intention behind a Linkage post is unclear because it is offered without commentary or context.

                And given some very real issues we have with homogeneity here, white authors linking to white writers discussing (poorly!) the comments made by specific Black people and guestimating their impact on Black voters feels a little irresponsible. Which is the criticism I am offering.

                If Chris or I or a few others didn’t speak up, how much of the conversation here would have followed the framing of the article, namely that Coates and Alexander “endorsed” Sanders and that this was a Very Big Deal?

                To me, this is a sitewide blind spot. Yes, I could seek to be the corrective lens, but I only have so much time. As poorly as I may have done so (though I will reiterate that my initial foray into this matter was a simple question), my intention here was to encourage reflection and greater consideration for the voices we use and put forth here.

                I’ll say it one more time (and this will likely be the last): If we want to talk about what “prominent Black intellectuals*” think about the Democratic candidates, we should link directly to the voices of “prominent Black intellectuals”. If we want to talk about what white people think about what “prominent Black intellectuals” think about the Democratic candidates, than we should be clearer in that endeavor. Because having that second conversation under the guise of having that first conversation is problematic.

                * I’m really uncomfortable with this phrase, by the way. I don’t know that I’ve ever really heard the term “white intellectuals”. Maybe I’m just not reading the right places, but it strikes me as going out of its way to note that these people are “intellectual” as if the assumption would be otherwise. This criticism is levied directly at the author of the original piece for using the term; it is not intended for CK or others who might have used it within this context.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                To me, this is a sitewide blind spot.

                So what’s the solution? Put in place strict editorial controls to counterbalance perspectives which we are already blind to anyway?

                I think this cuts both ways, actually: you understood the MJ piece as well as CK’s intentions in linking the article in a way that seriously would never have occurred to me and which I’m unconvinced is actually the case. But if you’re correct in your analysis of one or both of those issues, then isn’t the most productive way forward to actually address each of those issues as they arise rather than proactively restricting content which fails to pass a PC litmus test from being presented at all?

                As to your continued griping about the title of the MJ piece: CK had no control over that, yes? So your beef is with MJ and its editorial staff. It’s also part and parcel of dealing with media in a complex and imperfect world, one which doesn’t really give a rats ass about making you happy, right?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Kazzy, I’m looking for the article that you think we should read instead. I can’t find it.

                Did I miss it?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                That was an interesting article. Thank you for sharing it.Report

              • Avatar Zac says:

                You’re welcome.

                This subthread raises a question for me: can anyone submit posts for Linkage consideration, or is it solely established writers for site?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If the official answer is “only established writers”, just sneak them to me and I’ll say that I found them.

                If Kazzy starts questioning why in the hell I submitted them, though, you’d better show up.Report

              • So, if (hypothetically) someone publishes a linkage to an article that’s a complete piece of crap, and I say “Hey, why did you link to this complete piece of crap?”, am I being a censor, a jerk, or both?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I just came back here to say “AND NONE OF THAT ATTACK ON TITAN RULE 34 CRAP!”

                But, odds are, an interesting post at Mother Jones is probably well within acceptable parameters.Report

              • Avatar Zac says:

                If the official answer is “only established writers”, just sneak them to me and I’ll say that I found them.

                Good to know.

                Jaybird:If Kazzy starts questioning why in the hell I submitted them, though, you’d better show up.

                Dude. That seems like a really unnecessary swipe. You’re better than that.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Honestly, I’m seriously not.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:


                “This subthread raises a question for me: can anyone submit posts for Linkage consideration?”

                Absolutely. Will is probably the best person to forward such a submission.Report

              • Avatar Zac says:

                Alright; I may take advantage of that from time to time, then, if nobody strongly objects.

                Er…is there some sort of internal personal messaging system on this site? How do I actually contact Will?Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                His page (linked above) has an icon where you can twitter him links. Or you can send him a message through the site’s contact page, here.

                (I will leave it up to Will if he wants to leave his email here int he threads.)Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Trumwill at the whole Gmail thing.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                The whole gmail thing. Not just part of it.

                Will Truman does not fish around.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Except for that half-worthless email address.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                Is the difference between the oldest millennial and the youngest gen xer gmail invites?Report

              • Avatar Zac says:

                Alright, I sent something through the site’s contact page for your perusal, Mr. Truman.Report

    • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

      By long ago, you mean around 1800 or so, right?Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        No. It’s glib to just say that political coverage has always been terrible. It glosses over a lot of meaningful changes (some for the better, but a lot for the worse).

        The internet means that lots of different writers can get their thoughts out into the universe. That is great. It also means that there is a proliferation of “content,” which is primarily intended to drive clicks and let people get their partisan fixes as opposed to engage substantively with the candidates and their policy ideas.Report

  10. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Reflecting on the exchange, I consider this illuminating:
    Kazzy: “Why not link/quote Coates and Alexander themselves?”
    CK: “The main point for us is (or I think ought to be) to alert users as to the existence of the content elsewhere, not to steal it.”

    This seems to imply that Coates and Alexander’s comments “belong” to the writer of the linked piece. And to cite them directly would be “stealing” her content.

    This… confuses me. Deeply.Report

    • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

      Kazzy: This… confuses me. Deeply.

      I will take some blame for your confusion in this particular case, since my initial explanation was unclear.

      My point about “stealing” had nothing to do with any presumption about possession of Coates’ or Alexander’s comments. My point was mainly that in my view an aggregation (linkage) item should be very brief: Find a representative and if possible provocative and informative quote, leave it to the user to exercise mouse or touchscreen or voice to delve deeper if the user wants to do so: Anything else is simply stealing content, and I’m against that – and I think some aggregators overstep that line. (Some have been getting away with it for years, and leading their popular for-profit sites with it…)

      So, sorry about that, but I don’t think your demand that I or anyone “link/quote” particular people mentioned in this or similar cases can be taken seriously. I think it originates in misapplied presumptions and impulses on your part to do the politically correct thing, whether or not doing so makes any sense. In this instance and typically, anybody with above-nursery-school or pre-hospice internet skills should be fully capable of finding the source material in question with as few as two clicks, or maybe a voice-enabled search, if that’s their interest. In that case, they should thank me as Linkager for alerting them to the existence of the content. If that’s too much for you, then frankly I consider it an issue for you regarding your indolence or your current caregivers regarding your incompetence, not for me – and in the meantime it has nothing worth taking seriously to do with “white people” failing “black people.”

      As for enforcing a standard on what a proper Linkage item ought to be: Unless it obviously violates community standards or violates the law, that the Linkager finds the item interesting and thinks others might, too, should be sufficient, as Jaybird and Stillwater have ably explained. Levy’s report may not be the very best item out there on HRC vs Sanders re African Americans, but it’s a provocative one that also touches upon other facts or factoids relevant to the question beyond the fuzzily reported opinions of the “two prominent Black intellectuals.”

      I’d have no problem with someone else linking a piece like it, even if out of the last 10 or so linkages it may be of the lowest intrinsic quality. What resulted in this case? Though I am the only one who has taken a look at Alexander’s piece and offered a take, maybe someone here has been or will be motivated to read it for themselves. Chris, KatherineMW, and I have looked at TNC’s statements and related ones in some detail.

      That’s exactly how things should work, I think: Let the comment thread properly supplement or provide the discussion, or, even better, let it be a jumping off point to a new post, new set of posts, a whole multi-year symposium – if people are so inspired. Furthermore, in politics, that someone has an opinion or is pushing a line is also a fact in addition to whatever objective content provided. That MoJo, an institution on the American Left, seems to be pushing this line right now is in my view also a noteworthy political fact, though I think it’s also all to the good that commenters, including you, Kazzy, have raised questions about Mother Jones’ veteran reporter Pema Levy’s work.

      Maybe some of this all should have been said earlier, but for reasons I’d rather not get into here and now, introduction of the Linkage feature did not follow my preferred script. So, even though I disagree with most of what you say here, Kazzy, and even though I also wish you’d tone down the foul language, thanks for raising the issue and motivating us to go meta on it. I associate myself with Stillwater and Jaybird’s remarks on how I think it should go, but I’m still discussing with other Editors how they think we should run it.

      The last thing I say before I get on to some business: Coding, designing, implementing, and helping to run the Linkage feature is a service I have performed for this site, without compensation (unless someday someone clicks on a donation link, or asks to have a similar feature installed and customized at another site). If you don’t like having it, then we can talk about removing it – as some others have suggested we might.

      If you want to have it, but on different terms, maybe we can open the floor to nominations for Chancellor of Linkage. You can be the candidate of the politically correct strict standards faction, assuming there’s anyone else in it other than you. If so, I hope you’re ready to serve if selected. If there isn’t support for your faction – I’ve seen none so far – then I’m not inclined to spend any more time on your proposal.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:


        I’m digging the Linkage and thank you for setting it up and running admin on it. From the beginning I’ve understood it to be a place where a paragraph or two is posted without comment to inform people of (what the poster thinks are) interesting or noteworthy pieces without any accompanying editorializing to “place” the quoted piece into a larger narrative [add: or not!]. That mission is the reader’s, if they chooses to accept it.Report

  11. Avatar Kolohe says:

    So…is this the time and the place to talk about what Representative John Lewis said today? And how one should parse it vs how one *can* parse it?Report

    • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

      Could be, but have you ever been asked to write a post, or have you considered doing so? Wouldn’t have to be a big ol thang. Or maybe you have a handy link to Rep Lewis’s statements that would pass the Kazzy test, and we could start all over?Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        original video (though the question that prompted the response is cut off)


        Well, to be very frank, I’m going to cut you off, but I never saw him, I never met him. I’m a chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for three years, from 1963 to 1966. I was involved in the sit-ins, the freedom rides, the March on Washington, the march from Selma to Montgomery, and directed their voter education project for six years. But I met Hillary Clinton. I met President Clinton.

        level one analysis – Representative Lewis supports Hillary Clinton for next President of the United States

        level two – Representative Lewis ‘slams’ Bernie Sanders (as characterized by Mother Jones)

        level three – there’s a strong implication made with the original statements cadence and plain text (i.e. verb tense), that Hillary and Bill Clinton were *there* during the mid-60s and Bernie Sanders was not

        level three alpha – the Professor Phil O’Mathy truth is that Representative Lewis never met Bernie Sanders back in the day, did meet and worked with both Clintons, but only after everyone had been in governement for a while. The Clintons themselves would not meet each other unil 1971.

        level three bravo – Bernie Sanders and John Lewis have actually met at some point, in Selma, of all places.Report

        • Avatar Chris says:

          It certainly felt like a bit of a dig to me, like, “Well he couldn’t have been that involved if I never met him,” while also suggesting that the Clintons were involved people, because he had.Report

        • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

          Level Four – John Lewis is a hero, but heroes are highly problematic figures, since it is very possible to conduct oneself in an extraordinarily virtuous way – display the virtue of physical courage especially – but not to possess other virtues or possess them to the same extent. Coming from someone else, Lewis’ slam at Sanders would be taken as simply unfair, if not crass, but a would-be defender is hobbled by the reasonable concern that too effective of a defense will be taken as an attack on the living monument and what he stands for, or an unacceptable devaluation of our highest values. So, it’s a trap. Some of Bernie’s fans have fallen into it, but Sanders himself and his campaign have, as far as I know, stood back and remained silent. When the hero embarrasses himself, honorable people agree not to take notice of what other honorable people can also see plainly, and we move on.

          The political fact of greater concern to Sanders, if Sanders really believes in his own chances or needs to believe in them in order to campaign effectively, is that the political arm of the Black Caucus – but not the entire Black Caucus – has gone in for Clinton at this point of potential vulnerability, rather than hang fire a little longer.

          Lewis’ unseemly remarks seem to indicate a willingness to fight for Clinton and against Sanders. It burns a bridge to Sanders. Doing so may be the proper calculation in multiple respects: Clinton remains the favorite to win the nomination, a stronger Clinton is more likely to win the presidency, and a President Clinton will be able to reward personal loyalty to the benefit of Lewis and his causes.

          So, that’s politics. Lewis’ has spent some of his personal credibility. He does that from time to time. He starts with inestimably more of it than most of us. He may feel he possesses a virtually infinite reservoir of it, and in our system and culture, he may be right. He’d have to be a much lesser man than he appears to be – the kind of man who might be caught with stacks of hundred dollar bills hidden in his freezer – for that to change very much, and, even then he’d still be a hero, just not a politically very significant one.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Stay classy, CK. Let’s just forget your history here.Report

        • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

          My “history”? What kind of a comment is that? Are you trying to provoke me, Kazzy? My advice to you would be to take a powder and drop this discussion.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            You wanted to get down in the mud, CK, and act like a dick. Don’t then complain when you get the same treatment back. I’m walking away. But bring my name up again as you have here and I won’t be so patient.Report

  12. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Re: the debate: John King just said that the Clinton campaign has been caught off guard that they’re actually in a REAL RACE against the Bern. Which is like deja vu all over again, if true. True or not, I tend to think she surrounds herself with some really incompetent people.Report

    • “At least he was black. But a white guy who’s even older than I am? That’s just not fair!”Report

    • Avatar Marchmaine says:

      Well, I still think she’s going to win the primary… but consider this: two times it was hers to lose and she twice loses to a bolt-out-of-the-blue?

      Maybe the problem isn’t her people. She’s just not that likable. And that’s the RTod sine qua non of National Presidential politics.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:


        Why can’t it be a combination of the two? Or, worser, that the two things are inherently related?Report

        • Avatar Marchmaine says:

          Whelp, I can’t think of a reason why not, so, good point.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Thank Gawd we don’t have a lot of PUMAs here since I’d be taken behind the woodshed for saying this, but the part of Hillary that people just.don’ is exactly the same part of Hillary that chooses the incompetent bungling yes-men/women that comprise her inner circle.

            What I’m saying is that the Venn diagram of those two dimensions of her political life are a perfect overlap.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW says:

        The Republicans picked Romney in the 2012 primary, so a candidate doesn’t have to be likeable to win a party primary. And there have been plenty of unlikeable presidents (Nixon and Johnson, to name two).

        I think it’s a mix of 1) having made the wrong decision on Iraq, a decision that many Democrats see as Hillary putting her political career ahead of principles; 2) not being particularly likeable; 3) female candidates having a greater need to be ‘likeable’ than male candidates; and 4) a strong desire among the American people for someone who is, or at least seems, sincere.

        Heck, Trump and Cruz are in the lead in the Republican primary right now, and they’re two of the most un-likeable people I can think of.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      I wonder if Lewis’ comments are going to end up cutting the other way given they were so obviously an attempt to score cheap political points.Report

      • Avatar notme says:

        Probably note b/c so few folks will actually care to attempt to find out for themselves. Folks will just nod their heads and tell each other that Lewis knows b/c he was there and is an elder statesman of the movement.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW says:

        Lewis’ statement was true (CORE was a big nationwide organization; it’s perfect understandable that they wouldn’t have met). So I’m not sure it was a dig rather than just a factual statement.

        Either way, a bit of university activism is nothing like putting your life on the line the way Lewis did, so his comment gets a pass from me.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:


          Is there a photo of Lewis and Hillary standing on the Edmund Pettus bridge? 🙂

          My point wasn’t about Hillary or Bernie’s street cred when it comes to civil rights. It’s more that he took a politically motivated cheap shot at Bernie since his track record is bona fide. (Which is fine. All’s fair in love and politics…)Report

        • Avatar notme says:

          Sure, there are a lot of perfectly true statements that are still misleading. This happens to be one of them. It’s sad to see Lewis lose his dignity by denigrating another persons work for civil rights.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            From TPM (via CK’s Twitter!!):

            John Lewis Walks Back Criticism Of Bernie Sanders’ Civil Rights Record

            Lewis says “the fact that I did not meet him in the movement does not mean that I doubted” Sanders’ involvement. Lewis says he wasn’t trying to “disparage his activism.”

            So, some integrity there.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              Adding: Of course, disparaging Bernie’s activism was exactly what he was trying to do. He just didn’t get away with it and owned up to that fact.

              Sort of…Report