Post-Promise Politics

Tess Kovach

Tess Kovach lives in Hartford, Connecticut.

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238 Responses

  1. Kim says:

    “Campaign promises are for shallow thinkers.”
    or for people with enough money and power to make something happen in all branches of government. If you can’t see that, then the shallow thinker is probably you.

    A President can’t make many things happen, absent cooperation from the legislature. But he sure as hell can say “no way” to a LOT of marginally popular agendas. Assuming he doesn’t piss off the Powers that Have Enough Money to MAKE stuff popular, at any rate.Report

  2. Kim says:

    “Foreign policy needs to be flexible to accommodate new and pressing moments, not gamed out years in advance before we even know what we will be facing.”

    Kinda says something that the nickname for one of our Presidential Candidates is “The Mad Bomber”, doesn’t it? (You should see what they call Trump).

    In other news, at least we aren’t threatening to assassinate peaceful protestors. USA! USA! USA!Report

  3. Dan Scotto says:

    This is a good piece. I’m OK with moving away from a world of policy specifics and more to one of worldviews, dispositions, priorities, and values. But it’s important for me in the age of Trump that the candidate be able to demonstrate fitness by merely understanding basic elements of policy. Trump strikes me as being woefully uninformed.

    So being able to speak fluently about policy, I think, is quite important. But advocating for a specific position is a lot less so.Report

    • nevermoor in reply to Dan Scotto says:

      For me, it depends on the policy. If someone claims a policy that seems untrue, I want to see it spelled out. Bernie, for example, lost his last chance at my vote when his single payer policy proved to be based on impossible economic wish-work (because I’d love a single-payer system, but currently believe it is impossible in this country without a MASSIVE degree of political will to fundamentally reshape peoples’ financial relationships to government, so when he proved incapable of squaring up to the problem I wrote him off).

      Likewise, if someone wants to convince me that cutting taxes raises government revenue, I’m going to need to see some reliable support (which, afaik, doesn’t exist).

      By contrast, I wouldn’t need to have a fully-tied-out policy to evaluate more plausible policies. If someone wants to close tax loopholes->cut rates so the whole thing is revenue neutral, I completely believe that’s possible so don’t need to know exactly which loopholes and exactly how much rates would go down.Report

    • El Muneco in reply to Dan Scotto says:

      Even more, Trump doesn’t even seem to know who the experts are. Ben Carson would get flummoxed and say odd things when he got out of his comfort zone, but as a specialist himself I at least got the feeling that if he realized he had to go to a specialist for answers, he knew how to pick one out.Report

  4. North says:

    President wise yes, the President has very limited ability to enact policies but they have enormous power to block policies so I would remain very interested in policy proposals not so much to give me an idea of what they would make happen but what they could be counted on to prevent from happening.Report

    • Kim in reply to North says:

      The problem with talking about lines in the sand is it pretty much cuts your negotiating leverage. If trump actually had an inkling of business sense, it’d be what he’d be saying. “Here’s roughly what I’d like to do, but everything’s on the table. I work for you, and I’ll get the best deal I can put together.”Report

  5. Damon says:

    Frankly I’m surprised you identify the Obama presidency as “we have learned under the Obama administration, might have every motivation to sabotage any plan the President might have about how they wish to create new policy or reform existing policy.” This has been going on, to a lesser degree, since the Reagan Admin, and likely prior. I saw it.

    Hell, i’ve seen it every time a republican has been elected to my state’s governorship and the democratic machine slow rolls everything. With the exception of tax increases or higher spending, EVERYTHING the republican governor proposes runs into a brick wall, even to the extent of passing the exact same legislation the governor proposed the very next session the governor leaves office and a new democrat is in power.Report

    • Kim in reply to Damon says:

      under carter, it was the democrats sabotaging him.

      If the legislation gets “crafted” and then passed next session, at least the legislature can say they did some work. (I don’t know if these are time-critical bills, mind. Ya get a lot more bitching from me about slowdowns if they’re on time-critical matters.)Report

      • Damon in reply to Kim says:

        In the state case it was a casino bill that would have allowed the state to count on add’l tax revenue to cover a massive budget short fall. The Dems bottled up the bill so the gov couldn’t claimed credit, then, when he was out of office, passed nearly the same bill. It was all about denying the gov any credit at all, to the detriment of the state’s fiscal health.

        Gee, where have I seen that same type of activity? Like I said, this crap goes on all the time. Maybe the obstruction is amped up a bit, like North said, but I fail to see how that matters that significantly.Report

        • Kim in reply to Damon says:

          When the former Republican secretary of the Treasury is calling members of congress “economic terrorists” — that’s significantly more in the way of “obstructionism” than is generally done.Report

    • North in reply to Damon says:

      Well sure the obstruction of policies you disagree with are pretty much politics as usual but Obama’s term we have seen the obstruction amped to a significant degree. The GOP was eager to block routine business and even policy proposals they’d otherwise be inclined to support for the sake of denying Obama the bipartisanship imprimatur that he campaigned so hard on.Report

  6. aaron david says:

    This is a marvelous piece Tess, thank you for writing it.

    As I get older, my child grown, my personal needs, politically, have changing, I have seen my former party move in a direction that I cannot support. Emmulating the party that I used to fear in its newfound puritanity. At the same time I have come to realize that the way our politics is set up (seperation of powers, three branches, etc.) works really well given are major diferences in peoples in this country, how they want to govern, and how they want to govern others.

    All of this a way of saying that I too look at the overarching philosophy of the candidates, to see if they are willing to go in the direction that I feel the country needs, with its diverse population and regions.Report

    • North in reply to aaron david says:

      Out of curiosity, Aaron, what did the party used to do that it’s ceased to do now? What does it do now that it didn’t do before?Report

      • aaron david in reply to North says:

        Free speech is the single most important thing to me, and the lefts actions around CU were not something I could in any way support. Tipper Gore’s actions with the PMRC were bad enough, and removed her husband from my consideration of voting for (I am in CA, so it didn’t really matter.) There are some other things reguarding what I see as puritanism on the campus environment, an environment I have spent my entire life around in one way or another, but it was my relation to FS mainly. I come from an academic family, and FS is both central and irreplacable in intellectual honesty to me and the scientists and professors in my family.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to aaron david says:


          Why would the actions of a candidate’s wife (or husband) impact your willingness to support the candidate him (or her)self?Report

          • notme in reply to Kazzy says:

            Because the candidate’s wife gets their own bully pulpit and power. Just look at Michelle “the dietitian” Obama and her wacky school lunch crusade.Report

          • aaron david in reply to Kazzy says:

            . . .

            can come up with a voluntary guide system for parents who wish to exercise what they believe to be their responsibilities to their children, to try to prevent their children from being exposed to material that is not appropriate for them.

            The second thing I have learned over the past several months is that the kind of material in question is really very different from the kind of material which has caused similar controversies in past generations. It really is very different, and I think those who have not become familiar with this material will realize that fact when they see some of the examples that involve extremely popular groups that get an awful lot of play, some of the most popular groups around now.

            I was interested when the hearing was first announced to have the opportunity to ask the heads of the record companies whether or not they felt some responsibility. I am told by staff that every single one of the chief executive officers invited to participate chose to decline that invitation.

            I fully understand that, but I wanted to note that fact for the record, and I think that they should take a look at what their companies are doing and just ask themselves as human beings whether or not this is the way they want to spend their lives, if this is the way they want to earn a living, if this is the kind of contribution they want to make to the society in which we live.

            No one is proposing or contemplating the government answering that question for them, but as citizens of this country it seems to me we have the right to ask them whether or not they wish to answer the question, and I hope that they will. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

            The CHAIRMAN. Senator Gore, thank you very much.

            Gore was basicly on the same side as his wife. And as he states that is is something that should be volentary, I am confused as to why we would need a Senate commision, other than to force the volentary.Report

        • North in reply to aaron david says:

          I was in my early to mid teens during most of Bill’s term. What’s CU stand for in this regard?
          I can understand being repelled by the crusading of the powerless wackadoodle left on college campuses but to ascribe it to the political left as a whole seems a bit much. Still thanks for sharing.Report

  7. Saul Degraw says:

    I am doubtful that Trump is a good example of post-Promise politics. I think he is making huge promises that he can’t keep while also going on his clownish personality.

    HRC is just not a grand promise maker. That is not her personality. A few weeks ago Vox had an article about how HRC’s policy beliefs are not universal but targeted at the groups she thinks needs the most help. One of the things that I think frustrates the Sanders crowd or just more mainstream liberals within the Democratic Party is that this kind of incremental policy making is not universal enough. FMLA was good but ended up being available mainly to educated people (usually women) in white-collar jobs. Now maybe there is an argument about being as sweeping as Sanders in policy goals but I can understand how people get frustrated with the sheer amount of compromising and sacrificing that happens because of the Congressional system of politics.

    The worldview and disposition thing is interesting because I still think people with set ideologies are very rare. Most people including many partisan voters/regular voters don’t spend a vast amount of time thinking about having ideologically consistent worldviews. Even ideologically oriented people are more attached to today’s issues and have a hard time squaring the circle on whether their current stances will matter for tomorrow’s changes. Perhaps more so than the non-ideological.

    Our own Jason K told me that Deep Intelligence theorists believe that no one will have jobs within 20 years. I am currently doubtful but automation has gotten rid of or destroyed many jobs. However this going to be quite a change and I think one that is going to put humanity through quite a violent ride if true. I don’t expect the holders of capital to go for UBI so easily.Report

    • Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      “That is not her personality.”
      … that is not her image. I’m dead certain she makes grand promises when she needs to. Just not to people like you and me.

      I don’t think Hillary Rodham Clinton has a single policy belief. I think she’s a mercenary, and we ought to expect her to act as she’s been paid to act. Now, yes, we can pay her too, there is that.

      I don’t mind incremental policy making, I don’t mind fucking poison pills if it comes to that.

      Bots ain’t gonna take over the world while they’re still spending hundreds of thousands of dollars making things that a child could make for a hundred bucks.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Kim says:

        I’m dead certain she makes grand promises when she needs to. Just not to people like you and me.


        • Kim in reply to Jaybird says:

          To be fair, my friend’s job on Jeb!’s campaign was essentially to browbeat and bully The Powers that Be with the phrase “Barbara is watching” (as it was before Christmas, the phrase “naughty or nice” was also used liberally).Report

        • Morat20 in reply to Jaybird says:

          Yeah, Kim is not fond of HRC. Can you tell?Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Morat20 says:

            I was more contemplating the truth of the statement rather than the person who made it and coming to the tentative conclusion that the statement was mostly accurate.Report

            • Morat20 in reply to Jaybird says:

              Truth? It’s mind-reading. I mean we all do it to politicians. Project our own biases on them.

              Romney was the best example — I recall people arguing furiously over the “Real” Romney. Was he the secret moderate? The secret radical?

              I saw literally identical arguments about how Romney would really act/support/do as President, yet reaching entirely opposite conclusions.

              You’d think they were talking about two very different people who shared a party but disagreed violently on everything else.Report

              • Kim in reply to Morat20 says:

                She was at fucking State. You think STATE doesn’t make grandiose promises? Like hell! She gets up there and pinkie-swears forever friendship with Israel, and Japan, and all of our allies.

                Grandiose fucking promises, man. It’s the job.

                You know anyone who’s met HRC? Obama? Because I do — and when he met Obama he showed up just to kvetch at him.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Morat20 says:

                I don’t think it’s mind-reading to come to the conclusion that the Clintons are back-room deal-makers.

                Are we upset that we didn’t include Trump in the category? For what it’s worth, I’m sure that he’s one too… except he seems to be doing a great job conning people into thinking that he’s not one.Report

              • Kim in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’m not sure Trump is enough of a businessman to be a backroom dealmaker. I’d wager everyone else knows the shtick, though.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

                except he seems to be doing a great job conning people into thinking that he’s not one.

                Actually, I think he’s doing a great job of conning people that he’s a *great* one.

                I don’t think Trump’s message is he’s going to clean-up politics; its that he’s going to fish-up politics and the politicians that are cutting “us” out of all the deals.

                What’s weird, is that that is exactly Kovach’s point…his is a notional idea of what he’s going to do and what his priorities are. People are voting for him precisely for the notion, not the policy. Even the Wall is a notion, not a policy. Its a signal of intent, the details of which will be ironed out by the Negotiator in Chief. This isn’t a defense of a post-Trump world, it *is* the Trump world.

                p.s. and I agree with you and kimmi on the ouch.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

                The other morning, Maribou and I discussed Trump while eating breakfast and we both acknowledged how Trump is Schrodinger’s candidate even now.

                We don’t know if he’s brilliant, if he’s crazy, if he’s a democratic plant, or if he has some weird stupid luck.

                We still don’t know what he’s doing, who he’s really representing, and whether he means a word that comes out of his mouth (and, if he does, which words).

                Every single explanation for him makes sense. The main reasons to dismiss any given reason involve them being psychological defense mechanisms on the part of the reasoner.Report

              • North in reply to Jaybird says:

                H’s not a Democratic plant. Bank on that. If the Dems were institutionally capable of reading the electoral tea leaves to anticipate Donald fishing Trump being the exact flavor necessary to catalyze the GOP’s own internal revolution they’d be unassailably in power all over the country already.Report

              • Kim in reply to North says:

                Last I checked, Trump got significant leg-up help from trolls headhunting Walker and Bush.

                The left ain’t got one head, it’s got dozens. One of them liked Trump, maybe?Report

              • North in reply to Kim says:

                No one, -no one- anywhere trying to design a Democratic Mole to infiltrate and destroy the GOP from within would have chosen a serially divorced, nakedly irreligious, New York huckster like Trump unless they were either 5d chess players or barking lunatics. If they were the former then they’d already be in power and if the latter then we want them nowhere near power.Report

              • Kim in reply to North says:

                Pay attention to what I’m saying. Headhunting the GOP Establishment candidates is not “attempting to destroy the GOP from within”… it’s just trolling.Report

              • Murali in reply to North says:

                [conspiracy theory] Well, Hillary is about to more or less roll into power come 2017. And who was their pal until a few years ago?[/conspiracy theory]Report

              • North in reply to Murali says:

                Eh, if donating dough to the Clintons in exchange for some face time makes one their pal then the Clintons have a lot of friends.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

                @jaybird Yeah, its all so confusing right now… I can’t decide if this election sees NeverTrump as the Perot faction throwing the election for Clinton deux, or if its the Anderson faction standing on the wrong side of history as Reagan rolls to victory.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Jaybird says:

                Back-room deal making is, in fact, called “politics”. The people who don’t make deals are the morons who shut down the government and almost caused us to default.

                Obama is a back-room deal maker. Every successful President, Congressmen, or politician who saw any fragment of their agenda passed was a back-room deal maker.

                Strangely, it’s a slur against HRC, despite being an entirely accurate description of politics — heck, of democracy in general. Compromise? Making deals? Any of that ring a bell?Report

              • Kim in reply to Morat20 says:

                You can remind me all this shite about politics when “Liberal Democratic” folks ain’t threatening to assassinate peaceful protestors.Report

              • Kim in reply to Morat20 says:

                Obama at least had the good grace to need to be blackmailed. There ARE drawbacks to electing someone with small children.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Morat20 says:


                How’s this? She’s captured.

                It’s obvious that she has been captured and the deals that she will be making will be to the benefit of those who have captured her.

                Jesus Christ, are we not allowed to notice that sort of thing about her without it being called a “slur”?Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                What is the obvious objective difference between a pol who is captured and one who is acting on their own beliefs? What is the clear objective difference between being captured and compromising?

                I’m pretty sure any definition you can come up can easily applied to every pol.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                I believe that it is the people on behalf of whom she makes grand promises.

                Which brings us alllll the way back to Kimmie’s original point.Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Well that is an objective definition of captured. So i guess we can talk about all those R’s clearly captured ( insert multiple scare quotes) by the NRA and the anti-abortion lobby and the religious right. Oh those poor Paul’s they are so captured…Won’t someone free them.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                Is all you wanted me to say “both sides do it”?

                Why didn’t you just ask for that?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                Though if I said that “Trump has clearly been captured by the NRA and the anti-abortion lobby and the religious right”, it wouldn’t have the same oomph.

                I mean, it doesn’t feel like a direct punch to Trump’s nose. Whatever has captured Trump, it’s not the same stuff that we’d be able to say about, say, Jeb.Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Well you will BSDI no matter what so i just assumed that. Saying someone is captured is mind-reading. It is ascribing bad faith just based on character or whatever. But is just an insult. There is no objective definition that anyone can point to as far as i’ve ever seen. People just assume pols they dont’ like are bought and pols they like are true to their beliefs.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                Saying someone is captured is mind-reading.

                It is also something that, apparently, is endemic to all politicians.

                So we agree that all politicians do it and I can’t know that Hillary does it too.

                Personally, I think you should have just picked one of those arguments and ran with just that one because using both of them at the same time communicates dissonance.Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                So you got nothing. I know. The “captured” argument isnt’ much. Without mind reading it is impossible to know if someone was acting on their own beliefs, a giant check, Brain Slug or a difficult compromise. It’s much more straight forward to just talk about the action in question, whether it is wise or not, then to project feelings on the pol in question.

                All Sides Do It is nice and all for quick empty comments but it doesnt’ add up to much.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                Even as I have nothing, it seems that you have everything. From knowing that the Republican party has been captured by the, here, let me quote your examples “the NRA and the anti-abortion lobby and the religious right” to “any definition you can come up can easily applied to every pol” while, at the same time, saying this also applies to Hillary is “mind-reading”.

                Everything is covered.Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Which is why “captured” is generally meaningless. If you have an issue with an action, talk about the action. Ascribing motives is usually more about the person projecting them than anything else.Report

              • Kim in reply to greginak says:

                Actions often look meaningless if you don’t know what the goals are.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                And so we’re back to “I’m dead certain she makes grand promises when she needs to. Just not to people like you and me.”

                And your defense against this seems to be “you shouldn’t be certain she makes grand promises to people behind closed doors and, besides, everybody does that!”?Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Well Kimmie is quotable. If i haven’t been clear at this point ( which i have) then i’m not sure what else i can say. The only everybody does it i’m talking about are people ascribing motives to people they don’t’ like. Of course money affects people but it is pretty damn opaque what is captured and what is compromise and what is true belief. You can’t tell and neither can i, so just talk about the actual action in question.Report

              • Kim in reply to greginak says:

                True belief is generally the easiest to determine, as backers make a holy hue and cry when their frontmen start preparing to bring down financial apocalypse on us all.

                See the quote from O’Neil.Report

              • Kim in reply to greginak says:

                Blackmail is an objective phenomenon. Purveyors of pornographic materials certainly are known for using their knowledge of people’s predilections against them.Report

              • Kim in reply to greginak says:

                Being captured means that you’re acting on behalf of someone else.
                Compromising means you’re generally acting on behalf of yourself, first.
                Captured politicians will stab themselves in the gut and bleed out before your eyes. Compromising SOBs will tell the bastards to go fuck themselves.

                People who are “acting on their own beliefs” are often actively more dangerous than captured politicians. At least a captured politician has someone SANE calling the shots.Report

              • greginak in reply to Kim says:

                So every pol is captured and compromises based on your definitions.

                FWIW…saying someone is captured vs compromising is mind reading.Report

              • Kim in reply to greginak says:

                Every politician compromises. That’s part of the job, no matter who you are. Captured politicians have some things that they can’t afford to compromise on, because of blackmail or whatnot.

                The statistic I heard (from folks I trust) is that about 2/3rds of congress is blackmailed by someone, and the rest ain’t worth bothering about. (Sanders was in the “hopelessly harmless” camp until this Presidential Run).Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                Can we make distinctions on who they have been captured *BY*?

                Because, if we can, then “BOTH SIDES DO IT!” becomes a discussion of “both sides sure as hell haven’t been captured, by, say ‘the religious right'”.

                So we can mock The Republicans for being captured by The Religious Right and be glad that Hillary has *NOT* been.

                At which point someone can point out that she has a group of people that she has been captured by and this group of people that has captured her is not an awesome group of people and we can argue that all politicians have been captured. For example, we can point out, Republicans have been captured by the Religious Right. And Hillary hasn’t been captured by them.Report

              • Kim in reply to Jaybird says:

                The Powers that Be have captured Hillary (not that she put up much of a fight).

                The religious right was never powerful enough to capture people. The people who vote the way their priests tell them to are True Believers –25% of the republicans in congress, last debt fiasco.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Morat20 says:

                Two clarifying points with which you may or may not agree.

                1. Agreed that politics is about dealing, but I’m pretty sure one of the chief criticisms of the Obama administration is that he’s not that great at this side of things. (You can blame irrational Republican intransigence if you want… but *great* dealers find a way…)

                2. Nobody doubts HRC deals, I think the concern on all sides is for whom.Report

          • Kim in reply to Morat20 says:

            Kim is not impressed by HRC.Report

            • Damon in reply to Kim says:

              WHO is?Report

              • Kim in reply to Damon says:

                North, and morat20, and a bunch of people who want to call themselves incrementalists.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Kim says:

                Ah yes, because we’re clearly deluded since we don’t agree with you.

                “Want to call themselves incrementalists”. We prefer “realists”, thank you.

                Obama didn’t get anything passed without major changes, not even when the Dems (barely) had a 60 vote majority. Apparently preferring politicians who acknowledge this reality — that the Presidency is not a monarchy, that anything the President does must involve dealing with Congress (and likely a highly combative, antagonistic one) is somehow tainted.

                I admit, politicians who act like they’ll enact their agenda pure, without the taint of deal making or compromise (or heavens to betsy, outright failure due to a hostile Congress) certainly SOUND better. Doesn’t strike me as realistic.

                I’d prefer to know how my President is going to handle the fact that they’re not a king.Report

              • Kim in reply to Morat20 says:

                The realists are busy elsewhere, sorry. I believe they’re actually writing a book, come to think of it… it’s called “The Fall of the House of Saud.”
                [PLEASE don’t use Realist as some sort of badge of honor, it has a definite meaning when it comes to politics, and you’ll jut confuddle the rest of us if you misuse the term.]Report

              • North in reply to Morat20 says:

                Forget it Morat, it’s Kimmietown.Report

              • notme in reply to North says:

                Won’t you take me to

                Won’t you take me to

              • North in reply to notme says:

                Close actually though Funkytown was recorded five years later than the line I butchered.Report

              • Kim in reply to Morat20 says:

                “I’d prefer to know how my President is going to handle the fact that they’re not a king.”

                … by learning how to curtsey?
                [yes, that’s the clean version. Insert your own joke about HRC and Koch, if you must.]Report

              • Damon in reply to Morat20 says:

                @morat20 @north @kim

                Morat and North, I didn’t see whether or not you are impressed with HRC, not that your support her or would vote for her. Question is, are you impressed with her as a politician?Report

              • Kim in reply to Damon says:

                I’m not. Nor have I been impressed with her middling career at State. (The Powers that Be aren’t impressed either, from what I hear).Report

              • Damon in reply to Kim says:

                Yeah, I don’t doubt that. My post was more to morat and north and a copy to you. HRC didn’t impress me during her husband’s admin. I see no reason to change my opinion now. Of course, my opinion of any politician starts in in the sub basement anyway.Report

              • Kim in reply to Damon says:

                Count a few politicians as allies (Warren’s sharp, and Franken’s more than proven his worth). Many politicians fail to impress — and often the ones that do get voted the hell out (like Webb — do you know what he did?)Report

              • Damon in reply to Kim says:

                Perhaps. It’s been a long time since I paid attention. But the guys you mention I wouldn’t be following anyway. Not near my general alignment. 🙂Report

              • Kim in reply to Damon says:

                Technocrats are technocrats.
                Alignments be damned.
                Same goes for trolls of course.Report

              • North in reply to Damon says:

                Damon, admire is a strong word. I don’t admire HRC or idolize her. I like her: mostly because she’s a wonk and obviously not an extrovert like her husband, both characteristics I share, also because her husband will probably drive the GOP to distraction- something I’d enjoy.
                She’s a capable enough politician though again nowhere in Bill’s league when it comes to gladhanding voters. She’s very evidently methodical and has demonstrated she can learn from past mistakes (2008 for instance). That allows me to endure her lamentably hawkish streak on FP which is an area she and I disagree most strongly on.

                Most emphatically I think HRC can win which is a very important characteristic. She’s infinitely preferable to dear ol’ Bernie who I would presume would go down in flames once tested in the heat of what the GOP would unleash on him in the general given his background and ideologies. Some would point out that it being a choice of her vs Bernie is something she engineered. I grant that and refer back to her methodical feature. Should I resent her for engineering the circumstances for a win? No, no I do not. Hillary, with the exception of a brief lull during the height of Obamaism, has been under constant fire from the GOP for twenty some years. What more do they have to throw? Little, I expect that she’s at roughly the nadir of her popularity right now. Once Bernie exits the scene the party will rally round the flag.

                So do I love or admire HRC? No, definitely not but I like her well enough and I think she’s competent.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to North says:

                Just as a random thought that keeps bouncing in my head.

                Joe Biden must be kicking himself… in a weird way, I think Biden is the Dem’s best antidote to Trump. If the electorate is zooming off into Notional candidates, the Notion of Biden is probably superior to the Notion of Clinton… or at least my hunches tell me.

                I don’t want to disturb your sleep for the next seven months, so I still think you are tracking for Clinton not to lose… but, if anyone would lose to Trump, it would be Clinton – she’s genuinely vulnerable to Trump’s punches. Like a fighter who leads with her chin to a known chin puncher. Biden would rope-a-dope to victory – and see his favorables skyrocket in the process. I like him more already just thinking about the campaign in my head.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Marchmaine says:


                “but, if anyone would lose to Trump, it would be Clinton – she’s genuinely vulnerable to Trump’s punches.”

                Perhaps, but I suspect we shall see that the opposite is the case. During the GOP primary, I thought most of the field was so caught off guard — and so not used to being under spittle-flecked barrages — that they got deer-in-headlights-ed. I have a hard time thinking of anything Trump might throw at Clinton that she hasn’t had thrown at her regularly since 1992.

                Clinton mistepping all on her own, on the other hand…Report

              • aaron david in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                I think it depends on the campaign she runs @tod-kelly. If she campaigns in a way that would be great agianst McCain, she’s toast. ‘Cause this aint that election.

                In other words, this is going to be completely diffenent than any election that we are experienced with, as witnessed by the media’s complete inability to get any sort of handle on the R nomination. If H can’t get a handle on that she’s toast, as the media cannot carry over the line.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to aaron david says:

                I’m too lazy to look for the linky, but a few weeks ago I read a report from one of Hillary’s Top People that they’re basically gonna run a campaign based on what Obama did on aught 8. Which struck me as yet another example of why Hillary is just no good at politics, but ALSO that such a campaign strategy seems like her team is agreeing with eyes wide open on a recipe for electoral disaster. This election won’t be like anything anyone’s ever seen before, seems to me. Hillary’s people need to realize that fact.Report

              • greginak in reply to Stillwater says:

                Maybe she means mobilize the heck out of the base, go hard on GOTV and use all the high tech data she can. That all makes sense to me. In terms of running a campaign like she was running against McCain i’m not completely sure what that means. She’s going to push the policies she thinks are winners, try to avoid doing the mudslinging herself and have plenty of attack ads. What do you or people in general think needs to be different to go after His Trumpness? Other than attack his million weak points.

                I’ll add that i dont’ she has every been a great campaigner. So what should she do differently? I’m just, you know, asking for a friend.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to greginak says:

                What do you or people in general think needs to be different to go after His Trumpness? Other than attack his million weak points.

                Well, for starters there’s being able to identify Trump’s strength, ie., why Trump is the GOP nominee and the extent to which that WHY can be sustained/developed/expanded during the general.

                Another is being able to identify his weaknesses on a political level (eg., can he be hurt by hammering on his hand size? That he ruined the USFL? That he hates on women and non-whites? Etc) which can be exploited by Hillary rather than merely being mentioned. IOW, she’s not gonna win votes just by saying her opponent has small hands. She’s gotta figure out how to make pointing out that fact result in increased (rather than neutral or decreased) support.

                Hillary’s campaigns have generally terrible at this while Trump is a master.Report

              • North in reply to Stillwater says:

                Trump is a master? Of what? Trumping about in a crowded field while most of his opponents fail to take him seriously and shoot each other for him? The general is a binary choice*; Trump won’t have anyone else to split the vote off Hillary for him or attack her for him.

                *for the 98% of the voting electorate.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to North says:

                Hey, he’s the nominee. I remember lots of people saying that would never happen… 🙂Report

              • North in reply to Stillwater says:

                Indeed and I was mightily wrong there*. I recall a lot of folks round here saying that observing that Bernie didn’t have a shot was drinking the coolaid so I’m one for two.

                That doesn’t change how Trump won. If you think the general is going to be like the nominee race then make your case.

                *teach me to overestimate the GOP eh?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to North says:

                My case is presented in relief: the “normal” rollout of policy planks based on “establishment priorities” and mainstream considerations of “electability” have been thoroughly trashed this election cycle. On both sides.

                If Hillary thinks she can run a 1980s-style (Bill) or a 2008-style (Obama) campaign this cycle she’s taking one helluva an underappreciated and I think uneducated risk.Report

              • Kim in reply to Stillwater says:

                so far she seems to be running an identity politics based campaign.
                Do you see that changing?

                Kimmi, writing from a special place in hell.Report

              • nevermoor in reply to Stillwater says:

                She’s already started claiming roughly 80% of the political spectrum (non-crazy GOP through liberal), and she’s going to end up with the Bernie support even from people who swear they won’t vote for her now.

                Trump is going to look a lot less unstoppable when he needs to win more than the GOP primary voter, but also minor demographics like the non-white and non-male among us. All HRC needs to do is make sure democrats turn out without completely turning off those to the left of Rush Limbaugh. If she can do that the only question will be whether she wins by blowout or not. And this is true no matter how many horserace pieces we read in the next six months.

                (::knocks on wood::)Report

              • Art Deco in reply to nevermoor says:

                The median of the last 7 polls posted on Real Clear Politics has it that 47% of the electorate is in her corner, which is rather less than 80% of the political spectrum.Report

              • nevermoor in reply to Art Deco says:

                I fully agree she isn’t going to win the election by 60 points. I’m saying her campaign is seeking to appeal to a much-broader-than-usual portion of the country. The 80% came from taking Trump’s until-recently-ceiling of 40% of GOP primary voters and dividing by two. Not sophisticated analysis.Report

              • Art Deco in reply to nevermoor says:

                Nevermoor, IIRC, John McCain won about 45% of t Republican votes in 2008 and Mitt Romney about 60% in 2012. No, BO wasn’t appealing to 70% of the electorate or 78% of the electorate.Report

              • nevermoor in reply to Art Deco says:

                Ok, but neither was Donald Trump (who is nothing if not an exceptional case).

                That said, I’ll retract the 80% claim and revise to, HRC is campaigning for the votes of some Republicans more than a candidate usually would, along with the usual desire to secure the base and win independents.Report

              • Art Deco in reply to nevermoor says:

                Remember the Obamacons? At the end of the day, BO received the votes of 9% of self-identified ‘Republicans’, same as Democratic candidates usually receive. Various characters with political or media connections had made exhibits of themselves (mostly, one suspects, for not very elevated reasons). The #nevertrump people will go to the polls, cast their ballots for lesser contests, and ignore the presidential contest.Report

              • Kim in reply to Art Deco says:

                Obama won Indiana, the heartland of old school Republicanism.

                Those 9% were geographically relevant.

                Also, Obama got McCain to spend oodles in Montana and the Mountain North in order to keep that “red sea” of empty for the viewers on election day.Report

              • greginak in reply to Stillwater says:

                I think she is whammering on the Trumpy is down on minorities and women thing. And she will keep up with that. Heck trying to peel off some moderate R’s is a reasonable move for her. Not what lefties really want to see but given who she is that makes sense.Report

              • North in reply to greginak says:

                She’s run a perfectly solid albeit not stellar primary campaign. She’s thumped along, kept Bernie from ever seriously threatening her win but hasn’t really torched many bridges with the persuadable* side of her base while not going so far to the left that she’s toxic to the center. Considering the fundamentals and who her opponent is in the general the same quality of campaign** should deliver her the White House barring some black swan event.

                *As for the unpersuadable side of of her base they’re not achievable and small enough in number to write off.
                ** Only harsher, she can unload attacks on Trump that his fellow nominee competitors would never consider; she has no significant need to not burn bridges with Trumps base. Just the same as any GOP nominee could unload on Bernie like she never could.Report

              • greginak in reply to North says:

                Yeah i tend to agree. She is a capable solid campaigner. Not her best skill, but fine.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to greginak says:

                I think she’s a tremendously ineffective campaigner since she seems incapable of getting people who don’t already support her to get on board. And by saying that I don’t mean it as personal dig: she’s just not a charismatic person with even passable interpersonal skills.

                (Trivial example: celebrating putting coal miners outa work.)Report

              • greginak in reply to Stillwater says:

                Not super charismatic; very true. Her personal skills are fine…saying “not even passable” is way over the top. Its not like she hasn’t had jobs where she had to use personal skills. She did get elected senator. She’s neither a cave troll of Clinton/Obama level pol. In fact Obama isnt’ even the most natural pol.Report

              • Kim in reply to greginak says:

                so true. Obama is a natural speechwriter and giver.
                Nixon had oodles of charisma in person, fwiw.

                Clinton is a C+ politician (Mitt Romney was an F, fwiw).Report

              • Kolohe in reply to greginak says:

                greginak: She did get elected senator.

                via the party clearing the field for her nomination, and facing Rick Lazio at his most powerful in the general, rather than Rudy Giu9lliani at his most powerful.Report

              • nevermoor in reply to North says:

                Most notably, she clearly learned her lesson from 2008 and has run a campaign with basically no internal drama and with a firm grasp of nearly all the fundamentals in nearly every state (this Nevada kerfluffle being one of the very few exceptions I can think of, though it appears to have resolved with the right top-line outcome).Report

              • Kim in reply to greginak says:

                well, for starters, she could hire the troll contingent of the Democratic Party.Report

              • North in reply to Stillwater says:

                I can’t believe they’d actually try the Hope’n’change shtick. She sure as hell hasn’t tried that so far.Report

              • aaron david in reply to Stillwater says:

                ” This election won’t be like anything anyone’s ever seen before, seems to me.”

                That is what I am basically saying, @stillwater. Great minds and all that.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to aaron david says:

                Oh, to be clear, I don’t think there’s any way Hilary can run a successful campaign to win the White House. I’ve been saying this here for the past year and half.

                The gamble the Dems took when they agreed to anoint her is still in place: Her becoming president relies entirely on the Republicans choosing a poorer candidate than her.

                I know you and I disagree on this, but I believe that the R’s have actually gone done just that, and so absent a video of her eating human babies at lunch surfacing in late October, I think she’s going to be president. But I have no illusions that this is because she will have run an excellent campaign.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                The gamble the Dems took when they agreed to anoint her is still in place: Her becoming president relies entirely on the Republicans choosing a poorer candidate than her.

                Lots of wiggle room in that statement but I (think I) hear ya and agree. A couple years ago I said something to the effect that the GOP isn’t gonna blow it again by allowing a clown to run a clown campaign when the Presidency so close. My thinking was that, given past performance from the clown brigade, only a really poor candidate would deprive them of getting the WH and that (here’s the gut-punch line) the GOP Establishment wouldn’t permit that pattern to repeat itself.

                Joke’s on me! Not only did they fail in enacting the main task of controlling a good candidate’s campaign rollout, Trump effectively deprived them of the powah to so act by kicking em right in the noods.Report

              • Kim in reply to Stillwater says:

                FBI had something to do with crushing the GOP’s Establishment Candidate.Report

              • aaron david in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Well, as long as we are in disagreement, @tod-kelly

                We should gamble a post on hubris!Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                “…a video of her eating human babies at lunch…”

                Carly Fiorina saw it.Report

              • nevermoor in reply to Kazzy says:

                But that’s not a lie because she saw a video about HRC, a video about eating, and a video about babies.

                So it’s unfair to criticize her unless we can affirmatively prove that no such video exists.Report

              • nevermoor in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Her becoming president relies entirely on the Republicans choosing a poorer candidate than her.

                Sure, elections being binary and all.

                I think she’s going to be president. But I have no illusions that this is because she will have run an excellent campaign.

                She, so far, has done a good job of navigating her way through an unexpected threat without ever losing her overwhelming odds of victory or doing anything to drive away actual democrats who prefer Bernie. She’s done it by running a tremendously better campaign than she did in 2008, and I suspect she’ll continue to run a good-but-not-Obama-level campaign this year. (for example, I think she’s been great in debates and will absolutely eat Trump’s lunch.) She’ll also be significantly buoyed in that effort by the enthusiastic support of the party’s major voices, who are not officially supporting her during the primary. Obama, Biden, Warren, etc. are going to be of great assistance, which is already starting to show as Trump’s position has allowed them to begin attacking him.

                So I guess maybe I’m just quibbling about “excellent.” It won’t be an A+ campaign like Obama ’08, but it also won’t be a bad one like Gore ’00. I’m expecting solid competence backed by good (and feasible) ideas but that doesn’t generate a massive popular movement.Report

              • Kim in reply to aaron david says:

                If the Media can sink Palin, they can sink Trump. And the media badly wants to sink Trump… eventually.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                @tod-kelly Right, there’s a plan and there’s executing a plan, and then there’s adapting the plan.

                At this point in time we know neither the plan nor the level of execution, so all futures are possible.

                I know you’ve got Fox on the brain, so assuming that personal attacks on Clinton going back to 1992 makes perfect sense… and I wouldn’t expect anything less from Hannity, Rush, and co. But, what if *everything* since 1992 is in the dock? I don’t think there are enough votes on just that, so I think this “realignment” will fail. Plus, I’ve repeatedly said that I don’t think Trump has actually connected the dots of his own success, so I don’t think he’s going about this in anyway that will lead to success.

                But, gearing up for Benghazigate 8.5 and getting blitzed on NAFTA could prove uncomfortable if that’s indeed what happens. There are a lot of issues that “real” republicans couldn’t use against HRC (because they agree with her), but Trump can (whether he agrees or not or governs as he says is besides the point, or at least this particular point).

                But then, we don’t really know what Trump’s plans are either… so that’s why we play the games, as they say.Report

              • North in reply to Marchmaine says:

                I disagree with basically everything Marchmaine, I think Clinton is especially suited to fighting Trump. What can he say that hasn’t already been said? Not much.Report

              • j r in reply to North says:

                … I think Clinton is especially suited to fighting Trump.

                I don’t disagree with this, Hillary is exactly the kind of boring, no-nonsense politician that can look like the adult in the room whenever standing next to Trump, but… and of course there is a but, a good deal of Hillary’s extended support is about progressive cultural signalling, which won’t go over particularly well in an election that may be about winning the working class.

                Watching some of the interactions between Hillary supporters and Bernie fans on social media have been quite instructive.Report

              • North in reply to j r says:

                Potentially, but I don’t know if it’ll hinge so much on the working class as you think. I mean, sure, once can suggest Trump will go after the Regan Democrats and the like but this ignores the fact that the Regan Democrats by and large were poached out of the party 2-3 cycles ago. The newer Democratic coalition (immigrant, minority, women, young) doesn’t have a lot of ins for Trump. He can make a play for Bernie supporters but the idea that they’d defect from Hillary to Donald fishing Trump is ludicrous. I could see them defecting to the normal slate of left wing purity candidates but presumably the majority (Around 80-90% of them per polling) will vote for the Democratic candidate whoever it is. The squalling of the highly engaged vocal supporters on either side on social media is not very indicative. We forget at our peril that social media is enormously unrepresentative of the electorate in general.

                I mean sure, Trump potentially could be energizing a less well tapped faction of the electorate but he’s also energizing some other groups against him. Hispanics won’t have a ton of pull in Pennsylvania or Ohio but they will definitely weight in in Florida. That’s without even trying to guess how women republicans are going to react to his Trumpness.

                I mean I shy away from making predictions considering how it turned out with the GOP race but it seems like Hillary is starting with a pretty strong hand and mainly needs to simply endure the coming campaign and play the standard game; nail down her base, play to the general crowd, turn out her supporters and she’s got the election: she doesn’t need to take more ground.
                Trump has more… hurdles… so to speak. A couple things to watch for:
                -What happens at the convention: Ted is still mumbling around and stirring the pot. The various GOP aristocrats are flailing for a 3rd party candidate (I don’t think they’ll get one), they could unite around Trump. He’ll certainly need them to.
                -Because money! Trump needs it. What he’s likely hiding in those tax returns is that he’s not a billionaire like he claims and running a campaign is hard. Trump needs to start taking in outside money or else he’s going to be running a shoestring campaign. The easiest way would be to tap into the party’s money network but right now they’re not receptive.
                -Then there’ll be the barrage. Once the convention finishes and Trump is locked in that’d be when the Democratic artillery is presumably going to open fire on him in earnest. Lord(lady?) knows they have tons of ammo and they have none of the restraints on them that Trumps competitors did (they don’t need to try and turn the Trumpkins from trump to Hillary; just away from Trump). I’d assume a lot of non-Hillary actors are going to let fly like crazy. We should find out then whether Trump is Teflon or has a glass jaw. Hillary’s had people throwing muck at her for 20 years, we know how it’s gone. We don’t know how it’ll go with Trump- most of his rivals threw their mud at each other; not at Trump.

                That’s what I’d be watching for, we’ll see what happens once we pass out of the kvetching phase of the race to the end of the consolidation phase.Report

              • Kim in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Biden is even more mediocre than Clinton (at least he hasn’t been bought by the Powers that Be? Is that really the standard we’ve got?)

                His son died, and he didn’t have the heart for the campaign.

                Why kick yourself over a Presidency, when you’re mourning your son?Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Kim says:

                I’m not sure… we haven’t seen Trump and Clinton on the same stage yet (well, except for all the pictures of Trump at the Clinton events)… so we don’t know how the two will interact.

                Possible that Clinton will resonate well… there’s also a chance that Trump brings out the worst in her, or in her trying to remain likable she oozes insincerity, which is death in retail politics.

                I’m purely speculating that on the likeability factor, Biden beats Trump. Biden’s faux pas will contrast nicely with Trump’s, and make him even more liked. But hey… not gonna happen, just speculating on my part.Report

              • Kim in reply to North says:

                General consensus doesn’t see HRC as being terribly competent. General consensus also says “give her something that we don’t care about to go bomb.”

                [You could say this is what the Powers that Be feel….They’ve got decently accurate people analyzing stuff — freemarket style, if you know what I mean.]Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Damon says:

                She seemed to do a solid job as both Senator and Secretary of State. Albeit more hawkish than I’d like, but you can’t have everything.

                And as she’s less hawkish than the most dovish GOP candidate in their stable….and certainly better equipped to handle foreign policy than “I’ll make Mexico pay for a wall” Trump, it’s an easy choice.

                So yeah, I think she did a fairly impressive job as Secretary of State, she did a solid job as Senator, and she’s shown an outstanding ability to handle the crap that’s gonna get flung at her.

                I could wish she was more charismatic, or less hawkish, but I simply don’t get the hate and loathing Kimmie’s showing — everything she says about HRC is true about any politician, including Sanders.

                In the end: She’s clearly a technocrat, clearly delineating between “stuff she wishes she can do” and “stuff she thinks she can get done” and happily running for Obama’s third term.

                Fine by me.Report

              • Kim in reply to Morat20 says:

                She’s running for Nixon’s next term, not Obama’s.
                Does that make it a bit more clear?

                This isn’t hate and loathing, by the way — despite her rather vapid support of people who think that assassinating peaceful protestors is a good idea.

                I could put it like this: “This is the worst election ever to vote for Hillary Clinton.”

                Clinton at state was responsible for destabilizing Libya, El Salvador and Honduras. Whether you consider that a “solid job” — most people in the know certainly don’t. Preventable “errors” count a lot more heavily…Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Kim says:

                She’s running for Nixon’s next term, not Obama’s.
                Does that make it a bit more clear?

                It makes it pretty clear that me taking anything you say on Clinton seriously has come to an end.Report

              • Kim in reply to Morat20 says:

                How so? I happen to like Nixon.Report

              • Kolohe in reply to Morat20 says:

                The difference between Nixon and Clinton is that one is noted for their diplomatic efforts, launching a new era in environmental protection, and missing office records, and the other was Ike’s VP.Report

              • Kim in reply to Kolohe says:

                What did Hillary do for environmental protection?Report

    • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      In the US if we get to some kind of post job economy the capital holders won’t be able to do squat to block a UBI. If the past couple cycles have shown anything it’s the limits of the power of money in high profile political races and in a political environment with unemployment at post job economy levels every race related to the UBI question would be of massive interest. The capital holders simply wouldn’t be able to obfuscate the issue enough to block the mass of votes.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to North says:

        They could just resort to the old but tried methods of brute force. The wealthy in countries with big disparities of the wealth in the past found that there are always humans who like dishing out violence and that if you pay them to keep people in line than you can get away with a lot.Report

        • North in reply to LeeEsq says:

          They could try, sure, but it’d be very difficult to pull off.
          Let’s posit Jason’s premise is true: in 20 years unemployment stands around 80%.
          That means that the incredibly wealthy have to buy off all the politicians to somehow subvert the US military to their nefarious ends or build their own private armies (fleeing is not an option*) faster than the newly unemployed and desperate populace can elect politicians that will enact UBI. I just don’t see it, especially considering that pressures for a UBI would begin mounting long before all the jobs vanished.

          *Flight isn’t an option, the means of production, the robots or whatever, are non-portable. Yes they could emigrate with their money but the US government could still enact a UBI and just print the money to pay for it. In a post jobs world the government would have to print money hand over fist just to prevent catastrophic deflation. Inflation wouldn’t even be a twinkle in the Fed chair’s eye.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to North says:

            I’m thinking of the observation that revolutions never occur without the engagement of the bourgeoisie, the upper middle class that turns on the elite.

            It will be interesting to see the reaction from us, the STEM crowd, when its our turn it is to see a vanishing future.Report

            • North in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              Yes, but post job is different- like singularity different. Hell, I’d imagine a GBI like scheme would be roiling in the pipes long before the tide of automation driven unemployment reached the upper middle class level.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to North says:


        My concern is not that UBI won’t happen eventually. My concern is how much suffering needs to happen before we reach a decent UBI.

        Right now, based on human history and human behavior, the answer seems to be a lot. We are starting to see the start of robots replacing employees. Automation first came after blue-collar workers and now seems to be coming after junior white collar professionals. We see this in the law school crunch and the adjunct crunch which seem to be still going strong and neverending. Right now the response to the plight of both is rather unsympathetic and is a kind of “This is what you get for being interested in English lit and not supply-chain management.”

        You seem to have much more optimism about these things that many people.Report

        • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          I don’t think trying to wedge the whole school thing in even works. If someone choses to rack up fifty grand of debt getting a masters of English lit or Puppet Sciences then can’t find a job in those fields that pays their bills does society owe them something? If you answer yes you’ll probably find to your considerable rage that what gets pruned back is not the debt obligations but the ability to borrow that much in the future.

          Oddly I consider it pessimism. I don’t think we’re anywhere near as close to a post jobs society as others think.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to North says:


            I am also largely skeptical of the soon to be post-job claims. Yet not always hopeful about the situation that many are in.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to North says:

            But isn’t that the promise of automation, that supply chain managers will be robots, freeing us all to study the arts?

            It isn’t automation that causes poets to starve, it’s that our society just doesn’t value their labor.
            But we don’t value supply chain managers either, which is why they will be replaced by software.
            We apparently don’t value legal researchers either, or truck drivers or plumbers or medical assistants or dental technicians.

            If we as a society tell this year’s high school graduating class that any field they choose will be forever crowded, marked by declining wages and on the path to extinction, wouldn’t the most rational thing be to study poetry?Report

            • North in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              Sure, but also not to study the arts, or to be a rock climber or a butterfly collector or whatever.

              Oh our society values the labor of artists, there’s just so many of them now since the means of artistic production and dissemination now rests in the hands of the masses. So the amount of value society prescribes is being divided up among a lot of artists and in many cases that amounts to not much individual value.

              Sure, the rational thing is to do what you like and study what you like; if you think the post jobs singularity will arrive before you finish. If the post job singularity doesn’t arrive in four years or whatever you’re either going to have to fill one of those non-automated jobs to pay off the bill or not run up a bill to study in the first place.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to North says:

                Why the sci-fi use of “singularity”, though?
                The was no singularity with secretaries, but they are almost extinct.
                There seems to be this use of the image of a freakish event to describe what is already happening in almost imperceptible increments.
                We are living right, here right now with a world which can’t consume enough to keep all of its laborers busy.
                Can anyone here point to a field marked by labor shortage? Or one which shows the promise of same?

                Yet we still have this scarcity era attitude towards labor, where technical skills are considered legitimate work, while the arts are mocked as frivolous.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels says:


                Aren’t they called admin assistants now? Law Firms still have legal secretaries but they have one for six or seven lawyers instead of one for each lawyer.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Which is how everything is headed.
                We will still need software coders but one will replace three; one licensed attorney will handle work of two, with a low cost assistant, and so on.

                It will never be like I, Robot where a giant trick full of robots pulls up into the town square.

                Jobs will just slowly get harder and harder to come by.Report

              • North in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                A universal post jobs or UBI environment would be a singularity and a huge one. We are also not living in a world right now that can’t keep its laborers busy, unemployment is ranging across the developed world from 4-20%, that’s employment of 80-84% roughly. Much of the labor is being kept busy enough.

                I’m certainly not calling the arts frivolous, they’re not. Yet it remains a fact that of all our fields of labor the arts are the ones with the longest lines of people waiting to get in. Hell the arts are unique in that you can easily find laborers who will do that labor virtually free. That puts a young arts graduate with student debts and demands for a certain wage level in a pickle. Kvetching on the subject seems, to me, far more likely to yield a winching down on the availability of financing for arts related education than it is likely to yield artificial wage premiums for arts graduates.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          I’m not sure automation is to blame for either the law school or adjunct crunch. The former seems to be the inevitable result of a bubble bursting while the latter seems to be a perversion of supply/demand and an inability to evaluate quality. There is a glut of kids who want to go to college with money to burn who wouldn’t know good teaching from bad if their lives depended on it. Add in the number of people who want to work in academia and colleges can offer endless adjunct roles and not suffer for it.

          As to the English major… I’m not sure what we’re supposed to do about that. If you are of the belief that education is an end to itself and that an English major is worth it for the value it inherently provides, than that is your ROI. If your objection is that “society” doesn’t properly value and compensate English majors then let us first ask what value are all these English majors providing to society?Report

          • dhex in reply to Kazzy says:

            i am trying to figure out how automation caused too many people to pursue terminal degrees and fail to pick up tenure track jobs. no dice so far, unless something something spreadsheets, something something something?


            • Jaybird in reply to dhex says:

              The stat that still bothers me is that, every year, there are more journalism degrees given out than there are jobs in the industry.

              Every year.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird says:

                Isn’t that the same of most jobs / degrees every year?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                I’m not saying “more degrees than vacant positions”. (That may or may not be true for most jobs/degrees. I dunno.)

                I’m saying “if every single professionally employed journalist just keeled over and died tomorrow, you would still have journalist graduates left over if you replaced every single dead one with this year’s graduating class.”Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird says:

                Isn’t that the case of almost any liberal arts degree? I am trying to think of all the people who have undergraduate non-STEM degrees that I know that are who have a job that is the same title as their degree. And I’ll be damned if I can think of more than a few.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                In fact, I think this highlights a pretty common divide in the way American adults view higher education.

                There’s the side that views a college education as a way to develop a robust group of transferable skills, and a side that views a college education as a way to develop of very narrow set of skills for one particular job.

                Not saying one is better or worse. Just that I think this divide often explains why different people have different opinions about non-STEM degrees.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to Tod Kelly says:


                I think this is the division as well. We are still arguing about the point and purpose of education. Is college advanced vocational school or is it more?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Oh, for liberal arts degrees?

                Well… let me do some quick googling.

                I figure we’ll start with teachers.
                There are, apparently, 3.1 million teachers in the US. (That’s public schools, according to this. So there are even more private school teachers.) According to this, there are 239,000 teachers trained each year. That’s an order of magnitude.

                I don’t know how to measure stuff like degrees in anthropology or sociology (or philosophy) because I’m not sure that those have jobs that map 1:1 to the degree… (I mean, technically, *I* have a job in Philosophy.)

                But when it comes to teaching, my quick googling tells me that, no, there are more teaching positions than newly minted teachers each year.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird says:

                Oh, you mean if you throw out al the degrees that don’t work, and just pick the ones that do, your numbers add up?

                Well, all right then. Good point.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                After moving the goal posts from “most jobs/degrees” to “liberal arts”, that’s tacky, Rtod.

                If you have any suggestions for degree/job pairs that I should google, I’d be happy to google them.

                As it is, it seems to me that “degree in journalism” maps fairly well to “journalist” in the same way that “degree in teaching” maps to “teacher” while “degree in communications” does not really map to “communicator” (or it’s a vague term that (like philosophy) will apply no matter which job you end up with).Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Well we are all citizen journalists now. So plenty of jobs for everyone.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                Makes more sense with a UBI than without one.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird says:

                And the way “degree in philosophy” maps to “philosopher?” Or English Lit maps to, I dunno, author of literature?

                I go back to what I said before. Outside STEM degrees, and people who did grad school, I don’t really know hardly anyone who has a career that is “mapped” from their degree. I know insurance people who have journalism degrees, and social servants who have philosophy degrees, etc. And that disturbs me not at all.

                You actually sort of agreed with me when you noted that you kind of use philosophy in your job. That’s what I meant when I said that the divide in this country is people who see degrees as being a way of learning broad transferable skills for the general marketplace, and those who see degrees as being training for one specific career.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                That’s what I meant when I said that the divide in this country is people who see degrees as being a way of learning broad transferable skills for the general marketplace, and those who see degrees as being training for one specific career.

                How many of the people we’re talking about are the ones paying for the degree in the first place?

                Because if the kids paying $100,000, $200,000, whatever for a degree know that they’re getting a degree in “Useful and Applicable Skills!”, hey, no prob. Big Ups.

                If they think “I want to be a journalist… therefore I need a journalism degree” and the college responds by saying “HEY WE SELL JOURNALISM DEGREES!”, then there is some asymmetry going on that strikes me as fundamentally dishonest.

                Even if the journalism degree will be exceptionally useful for a person whose job it is to run the autoclave at the old folks’ home.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:


                While education may technically be a liberal arts degree, if you are in a teacher preparation program (which pretty much all education undergrads are), you are essentially in vocational training/school. I’ve always described it as such. I went to school to learn to become/position myself to be a teacher. Because I was in a liberal arts school I also got some of that whole “Growing as a person and learner” thing but that was largely secondary.Report

              • KatherineMW in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                A lot of humanities degrees aren’t aimed at a specific profession, so you can’t connect them with a specific job. It’s easier to conclude that if someone gets a law degree they probably want to be lawyer, if someone gets a medical degree they probably want to be a doctor, and if someone gets a journalism degree they probably want to be a journalist.

                And incidentally – the idea that STEM leads to jobs is incorrect. Science jobs aren’t particularly numerous, and most biology grads end up working at a job that isn’t anywhere near their field of study. The “STEM” jobs are quite specifically in engineering and computer science, not in the sciences. And even with that restriction, they aren’t the fields with the lowest employment rates (at least not for women) – teaching and health care are.Report

          • Tod Kelly in reply to Kazzy says:

            “I’m not sure automation is to blame for either the law school or adjunct crunch.”

            FWIW, my cousin, who is a partner at a pretty big firm in SLC, would disagree.

            He’s a bit older than me, and he notes that when he was an associate, each partner had a bunch of associates working for them just to do research. Now all the partners do that themselves, because with current technology it actually takes less time do the research on their own computers than it used to take for them to write out the memos to that associates of exactly what they are looking for. He says his firm has twice as much business as it did back when he was younger, but they don’t have even a third of the number of attorneys.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              I stand corrected, @tod-kelly !

              Now, I don’t know the in’s and out’s of the legal field or what all those titles mean, so pardon my ignorance…

              Is an “associate” a “lawyer”? If not, how many of them became “lawyers”? Would a law school grad who became an associate and remained there for a long period consider their degree to have “worked”?

              Because if all we’ve done is take law school grads who got non-lawyer but lawerly-type jobs that proved unsatisfying and eliminated THOSE jobs, than I’d say automation certainly impacted the field but it didn’t really turn lawyers into non-lawyers.

              But, again, I don’t know what most of these words mean!Report

              • Burt Likko in reply to Kazzy says:

                Generally, a law firm has partners and associates. Partners own shares of the firm, and spend the bulk of their time finding and maintaining clients. They delegate the hams, nuts and bolts work to their employees. When those employees are lawyers in their own right, they are called associates. So think of an associate as a subordinate a lawyer working for other lawyers. This doesn’t mean they are not lawyers, as they do have benefit of the education and the bar card, and therefore our trusted to have at least and therefore are trusted to act at least semi-autonomously. They are high-level lieutenants to the partners.

                Does that help you?Report

              • Francis in reply to Burt Likko says:

                for the record, i was never once delegated a ham. some of my cases were pretty fishy though.Report

              • Francis in reply to Kazzy says:

                Associate is short for associate attorney. Historically, law firms were organized as partnerships. That created two classes of lawyers within the firm: partners, who had equity in the partnership, and associates, who were just employees.

                Large law firms are beyond easy description. There are equity partners, non-equity partners, of counsel, partner-track associates, non-partner track associates and more. The legal form can be a general partnership, a limited liability partnership or even a limited liability corporation. Each of these forms has different tax and management issues.

                But all of these people are lawyers. They have received a JD from a law school and passed the bar exam in the state in which they practice. Non-lawyers — secretaries, file clerks, interns who are still in law school — are everyone else.

                What constitutes the practice of law is also a complicated question. Some law firms have non-lawyer advisors on the payroll, like lobbyists. But in general, if it looks like the practice of law — researching law, writing contracts or pleadings to be filed in court, managing other lawyers — then only a lawyer can do it.

                By the way, people who received a degree from a law school but never passed a bar are not lawyers. They are people with law degrees.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Francis says:

                Thanks, @burt-likko and @francis . Very helpful. I do, in fact, stand corrected.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to Kazzy says:


            Tod Kelly has it below.

            You used to need to look up relevant case law and evidence in big and bulky books. This took time and effort and it made sense to have a bunch of junior lawyers/associates do this day in and day out.

            You used to also have to go through a lot of evidence by hand and this also required a lot of labor.

            Then came programs like Lexis and WestLaw which let you search for relevant information via the Net but it had bulky search parameters. Now it is like a google search.

            Computers can read hundreds of thousands of pages in hours and find relevant search terms.

            The problem is that these changes happen quicker before people can adjust. When I started law school, on-line legal research was still kind of bulky. This was 2008. By the time I graduated, it got exponentially easier.
            That was 2011.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Yes, if there’s one job which is immune to automation, it would supply chain management!Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels says:


            I was picking a random example from my head because I do think there is a bit of picking on the nerds for the adjunct crisis. I actually think Supply Chain Management is pretty hard. But it is also a relentlessly practical degree. It is interesting how things change.

            30-50 years ago, your cousins Billy and Sally would be seen as not so smart if they choose to major in business because he was not intellectually curious and/or relentlessly practical. Business was a night school subject.

            Now, your cousins Billy and Sally are seen as being indulgent and clueless if they want to major in Philosophy or Art History or even Biology. AKA traditional university subjects.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              My joke was predicated on the absurdity of argument that people should scorn the frivolity of arts in favor of hard technical STEM skills…which are exactly the most prone to automation!Report

    • Morat20 in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I’ve noticed similar stuff in debates — she’s very careful in her word choices, and seems highly reluctant to promise something she’s not sure can be done.

      In short, she’s a wonk whose seen the Presidency close up of late, and she knows that she can’t make (well, specifically that she can’t keep) sweeping promises.

      So she gets really firm about stuff that lies fully in the executive branch, but gets really incremental and full of caveats for anything that involves the legislative branches.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Morat20 says:


        I think her stances are also because she might not think that X group needs government help which was also stated in the Vox article.

        The Bernie supporters I know tend to be between 22-45, college-educated and above, and white. Many are feeling the squeeze from gentrification potentially, student loans, and all those other life bills. Though Bernie does also do well with the white-working class in various states. I would say generally these are people in creative class positions as well that might or might not pay well. HRC seems to do better among more traditional white-collar professionals.

        HRC might simply feel that the above group does not need or deserve government help. Maybe they are broke or feeling tight budgets and that sucks but they are still winning.

        But she also has her political realist side and probably realizes better than Bernie about what she can and cannot accomplish though this kind of realism can also be self-defeating. Sometimes getting 70-80 percent of what you want requires a full-throttle demand of 100 percent.Report

        • Morat20 in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          I would say generally these are people in creative class positions as well that might or might not pay well. HRC seems to do better among more traditional white-collar professionals.

          And women, minorities, and…well, everyone but the young actually. Weird, that.

          You want to know a secret? I didn’t vote in the primary, but if I had I would have voted for Clinton. It’s because I already cast my vote for Sanders back when he was named “Howard Dean”.

          It’s like a rite of passage for young voters, really. There’s always that first love that was gonna change the WORLD. And the reason he could promise it was because he knew he’d never actually get the chance, so he didn’t have to be realistic. And the reason you believed it was because you were 22, and didn’t realize the President isn’t the God-Emperor of the US. (I mean you knew it, but not in your gut. You just got all passionate and thought “Yeah, this guy is gonna make them listen! He’ll sweep them away just like me!).

          The Republicans have their variant too.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to Morat20 says:


            Was I one of the only people who was early for Kerry? I did like the idea of Bill Bradley briefly though.

            Yeah it is a youngish thing but I have a hard time extending young to 45 and under. Sanders sweeps among the 18-45 crowd. That is a big age range.Report

  8. Kolohe says:

    The details and scope of policies may be nebulous, and will inevitably be altered in their final form (if eventually pass), but the constellation of policy proposals (at the national level) that a Republican candidate puts forth is substantially different than that a Democratic candidate puts forth.

    So I think this:

    In the past, my formula was that issue positions and policy proposals came first in the order of consideration, with experience and gravitas coming second, and other issues like electability or intelligence coming third.

    should still hold in almost all cases. That exception being, there’s just such a defect with a candidate’s personal attributes that policy should be indeed shunted to a secondary consideration.

    I do agree that policy and detailed proposals really don’t matter for an *intra-party* contest, and other practical factors on the candidate’s abilities to govern should be given priority. (and the exception to that are uni-party city/state machines where the primary election is the general election)Report

  9. Michael Drew says:

    I agree. To me, campaigns are about perceiving the signals being sent (and that have already been sent through candidates’ careers) about the broad questions of their value commitments, priorities, and judgement. Specific policy proposals don’t matter much, and neither, to me, does trying to gauge the precise degrees of qualification. It’s all about those broad signals of where the candidate has in mind to take the country. Additionally, the fact that there will be attrition against the initial proposals just because of the nature of our system means that I’m not that concerned if the proposals a) initially seem extreme (they’ll be pared back to something Congress, representing our massively diverse nation will pass if they pass at all) or b) the numbers don’t necessarily add up in terms of all the specifics – it’s Congress’ job to figure all that out (in collaboration with the president); to a large extent that’s just wasted energy on the part of a candidate or campaign before she’s in office (except to the extent that it successfully signals the point/purpose/value behind the proposal to voters). I’d much rather sacrifice a lot of that specificity to get great clarity about the basic thrust of what the candidate wants to do and why (though I acknowledge for some voters getting that specificity gives them that clarity. I’m just not like them).

    That’s a large part of why I prefer Sanders to Clinton in the Democratic contest. (Neither is ideal to me). I perceive a coherent basic direction in his domestic program, and I think he’d actually try pretty hard to make some of it happen (and I think I know which parts) – whether he’d succeed or not, well, failure is part of trying. Clinton has not convinced me that she’s particularly committed to her program at all, or more specifically told me which parts of it she really invested in, and thus will really pursue. To put it bluntly, I’m not sure she’s won’t be satisfied largely coasting as president having achieved her lifelong goal. (Not that she won’ try to Get Stuff Done; I’m just not sure what it will be.) And in broad strokes Sanders’ foreign policy positions/inclination are much closer to what we need at this time; we don’t need greater competence at an even more hawkish version of Obama foreign policy. I’ll sacrifice the competence and experience (which can be hired) for a sense that the direction is going to be the one in which want to see us go.Report

    • trizzlor in reply to Michael Drew says:

      >>Specific policy proposals don’t matter much, and neither, to me, does trying to gauge the precise degrees of qualification.

      I’m really surprised that so many people seem to view the election this way. For me, the point of a primary is to (a) see how good the candidate is at managing a big project and (b) get a sense of how their mind works based on the current set of available facts. It’s true that the eventual negotiations will be very different, but we can still learn a lot about a candidate by asking them to hypothesize about how such negotiations would go. When Sanders is asked how he’ll get his legislation through Congress, I totally get that the true answer hinges on lots of events that have not yet come to pass; but his answer that a grassroots revolution will let a thousand policies bloom tells me that he hasn’t actually thought all that much about an obstructionist House. Moreover, I find it completely baffling that this is being touted as a *positive*, as if the fact that he can only provide vague descriptions of how he’ll implement his agenda is evidence of how nimble and tenacious he will be once in power.

      Say I’m on a flight with Sanders and Clinton, and Sanders says that in an emergency he’ll rely on adrenalin to get every passenger to safety, and Clinton says she’ll help the children put their masks on and navigate to safety but it is unlikely that everyone will make it. How much do Sanders vague, good intentions matter? How often have vague, well-intentioned movements been hijacked or derailed?Report

  10. Jaybird says:

    Both parties have been captured by pretty much the same powers.

    An election is merely over whether you’d rather stand with the Lee Greenwood people and sing “God Bless The USA” or stand with the drum circle people and have chants about how the people. United. Will never be defeated.

    The technocrats and the deep state will continue to do what the technocrats and the deep state are doing and have been doing and it doesn’t really matter who gets elected.Report

    • Kim in reply to Jaybird says:

      Bernie would do a lot to dismantle the Democratic Party if elected.
      Might be worth it.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Kim says:

        We could replace the Democratic Party and Republican Party tomorrow and the lion’s share of the changes would be cosmetic. We could replace all 435 Congresspeople and 100 Senators and the lion’s share of the changes would be cosmetic… assuming the right 80ish staffers were still in place.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to Kim says:

        That sort of “hope” is fundamental laziness. The dream of 99% of revolutionaries is the dream that other people will rise up and implement the system you want, with little to no effort on your part.

        Burn it all down and rebuild is shouted most often by those who have never picked up a hammer, and have no real intention to.

        The people willing to actually work for a better tomorrow? They’re already in the trenches, because they’ll work their tails off for any positive change, rather than sit around playing purity police and reemphasizing the cliche that the perfect is the enemy of the good.Report

        • Kim in reply to Morat20 says:

          Perfect ain’t reality, and it never will be.
          Nonetheless, I know who my enemies are.
          I know who they want to win, and what they’ll expect for their “favor”.

          You seem to think I’m on some sort of crusade… Whatever you want to call it, it’s one bloody muddy footprint in front of the next.Report

          • Morat20 in reply to Kim says:

            You seem to hate the idea of compromise, actually. Of getting something “better” when you can’t get perfect. Of even admitting that.

            Which is a pretty sucky problem to have, given you life in a democracy. EVERYTHING the government will ever get done is the result of compromise. Or as you put it “deal-making”.

            Even Saint Sanders, should he deign to actually push an agenda, would be forced to make deals.Report

        • Damon in reply to Morat20 says:

          “Burn it all down and rebuild is shouted most often by those who have never picked up a hammer, and have no real intention to.”

          Or they consider the current path to be hopeless and won’t waste effort trying to alter the course, as it’s tilting at windmills. Why? Because the path already inevitably leads to the burning and eventual rebuilding. Bowing out is a perfectly logical action then.Report

          • Morat20 in reply to Damon says:

            True. But it’s rather hard to tell the difference if you haven’t bothered to try. Apathy or laziness — it’s the same. You don’t want to do the work at all. Not to fix the system, not to reform it. You don’t even want to do the work of the revolution.

            You (generic, not you personally) just talk a good game an assume someone else will do the work.Report

            • Damon in reply to Morat20 says:

              Meh, been there done that.

              Got tired of banging my head against the wall. Decided to stop, take a shower, make an adult beverage, sit down, and watch the fires. Look at the pretty colors!Report

    • veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

      @jaybird — Do you think a Republican might make different supreme court choices from a democrat? Do you think and LGBT person might deeply care which choices are made, or a woman, or a minority? I have no doubt there is a “deep state,” but the Obama administration has decided to aggressively use Title IX to help transgender students. A Republican administration would almost certainly not do this. So yeah, much policy is below the President’s political radar, but real stuff happens by executive order. The courts do things that matter, and indeed make a different from a life where I can thrive and one where I cannot.

      Much of this is “furious and idiotic culture war” stuff, but for some of us the culture war actually-really matters.Report

    • Art Deco in reply to Jaybird says:

      The teachers’ unions, the trial lawyers, and Hollywood have yet to capture the Republican Party.Report

  11. LeeEsq says:

    Saul noticed that the post-promise approach is what Hillary Clinton’s modus operandi has been for her entire life. They reason why more politicians follow this technique is because you really need a tremendous amount of charisma to be a post-promise politician and not come off as way too cynical. Hillary Clinton lacks the charisma of Bill Clinton and ends up appearing as very cynical politician more often than not.

    Most people do not pay that close attention to politics even in very important elections and making promises that are graspable is better way to get low information voters to know what your about. In electoral systems where people vote for parties more than politicians than they need to know what the parties stand for.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Saul noticed that the post-promise approach is what Hillary Clinton’s modus operandi has been for her entire life.

      I don’t think that’s what Saul said above, and I don’t think that’s true at all. (and it mixes up Bill’s modus operandi with his wife’s).

      I mean, first of all, Hillary Clinton’s *elected* political experience runs now 4 elections, and in each one, including and especially this one, she’s always marketed herself as the policy wonk.

      Her political experience before 2000 consists of a few years (between 1994 and 1999) of just being the ‘political wife’, but for the first few years of Bill’s administration, and for the entirety of her tenure as Arkansas First Lady (and as a leader of various advocacy groups), she was very policy focussed.

      It’s only that stretch between the collapse of Hillarycare & the Gingrich Revolution and Monicaghazi where she’s been a ‘post-promise’ politician.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to Kolohe says:

        I think Lee & Morat above are right in the way they mean here. To an extent, you’re right in that if they’re running, they’ll be promising stuff. It’s not a total lack of promises; it’s about emphasis and degree/size of ambition. If you choose to just not see the difference that’s legitimate, bc, yes, she’s running and therefore is promising. But I see the sense in which she is post-promise. If that’s too strong we could call it something else. Maybe low-promise.Report

        • Kolohe in reply to Michael Drew says:

          Then I do not understand the frame work of discussion or the paradigm shift discussed in Kovich’s original post.

          I thought the post-promise politician would be one where we select because we lower the priority given to “issue positions and policy proposals”, which before “came first in the order of consideration”

          Clinton is *all about* policy proposals. Always has been, and never more than in this current campaign. Remember the story about the 200 some odd ad-hoc foreign policy advisors who all have day jobs in think tanks, academia, or government? Who float up a gazallian policy proposals for inclusion in the collective, ultimately for messaging out the Clinton candidate brand? I’m sure there’s a parallel, perhaps even bigger, domestic policy machine, too.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Kolohe says:

        Hillary Clinton might have a short political life but it has been long enough to be revealing enough about her approach to electoral politics and policy. She does not like to make grand promises she can’t keep, she is a firm believer in a vigorous foreign policy approach and market based policy but will limit this if that what the citizenry wants, and that she really likes her job.Report

        • Kolohe in reply to LeeEsq says:

          Again, I’m either misunderstanding the premise of the original post, or I’m disagreeing with it (on a narrow basis).

          To me, if we’re going ‘post-promise’, there’s no difference between the politician that promises the moon, but obviously won’t be able to keep it due to the realities of practical politics, and the promises whose promises are modest, but highly specific and detailed – and also can’t be kept, in that much detail, because of the inherent horse trading and sausage making of practical politics.

          For example, you got a person like Sanders, who says ‘single-payer for all’, and everyone knows – or I should say, thinks they know – that it can never pass because right now, you can’t wrangle enough votes for it.

          Contrast that with 8 years ago, and both Obama and Hillary had super duper detailed health care proposals, which they were riding or dying to the nomination. It turns out, of course, that neither of these super duper detail policies came to fruition – in their super duper details – because again, they couldn’t wrangle enough votes for them.Report

          • LeeEsq in reply to Kolohe says:

            I guess to me promise in politics means something more like what Sanders or Trump does rather than what Clinton does. Having a super-detailed policy on a particular subject and hedging your bets is not really a political policy promise but merely answering what you would like to do. Bold sweeping statements like “single payer for all” or “I’ll make America Great again” are promises. There are some pragmatic reasons why politicians go for the latter rather than the former.Report

            • KatherineMW in reply to LeeEsq says:

              It’s rather difficult to get single-payer health care when if you don’t bother to elect anyone who supports it.

              Why is something that’s been achieved by pretty much every other developed nation in the world supposedly impossible in the US?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to KatherineMW says:

                Because we are exceptional.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to KatherineMW says:


                At this point Lee would point out that there has always been a significant minority that has resisted any implementation of any welfare policy as long as possible in the United States.

                Progressives/Democrats/Liberals have been trying for some kind of universal health insurance since the Teddy Roosevelt or Wilson administrations depending on how you view things. Johnson and Obama made the biggest strides out of any President and even they faced massive resistance.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to KatherineMW says:

                Because our entire governmental system is rigged to make change as hard as possible and a lot of people in this country hate taxes because they believe they go to lazy people (ie. people who don’t look like them).

                Also, most of our states have to run balanced budgets, so single payer can’t grow state by state like it did in Canada.

                Plus, actual single payer health care isn’t all that popular – for example, Germany and France both have great health care systems that are universal, but aren’t single payer. Switzerland is basically Obamacare on steroids.

                There’s lots of ways to build a universal health care system and it’s a lot harder to upend the whole apple cart when it’s 2016 and it’s not 1945 after a World War or in the early 60’s in a relatively sparsely populated nation.Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                a lot of people in this country hate taxes because they believe they go to lazy people (ie. people who don’t look like them).

                Again with the racist lefty hearing “lazy” and thinking, “Oh, right. They must mean non-white people.” You guys need to stop projecting your issues onto others.

                Also, most of our states have to run balanced budgets, so single payer can’t grow state by state like it did in Canada.

                Not sure what that has to do with it. You don’t need deficit spending to finance a health care system. You just need to raise taxes. On people who don’t look like you, with their top hats and monocles.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                By projecting, you mean, looking results of actual studies showing people are less supportive of a welfare state in non-homogeneous places.

                As for the state thing, I mean more the state couldn’t deficit spend during bad economic times which would lead to either cuts in spending, which would be bad, or raising taxes broadly, which would also be bad in a recession.Report

    • Art Deco in reply to LeeEsq says:

      IIRC, ‘charisma’ was a term coined by Max Weber to describe figures of rare inspirational ability. Bill Clinton isn’t Buddha or Christ or Winston Churchill or even William Jennings Bryan. He’s just a lounge lizard with a satisfactory batting average.Report

  12. Burt Likko says:

    This post traces a line of thought I had in the 2008 election. My thoughts were, and now are, roughly this:

    1. Most important political decisions are reactive: how shall we respond to an attack? What is to be done about unemployment? At best, we can judge a candidate’s ability to identify problems to solve.
    2. Most reactions are to unforeseen events. If an event is foreseeable, policy wonks know — in broad strokes though not details — how to respond to it and chances are the differences between parties are matters of degree. E.g., how much of a bailout will we give a failing economic institution?
    3. Because of this, what matters most are candidate’s qualities: her leadership, skill set, priorities, intellect, moral compass, and judgment. The campaign is a means by which these are put on display to the voters. Her promises are almost all doomed to be at most only half-fulfilled anyway.
    4. There isn’t much a political party can do to imbue these qualities in a person. But a party can and does shackle its candidate with various drags on these things, in myriad ways, so there must be an evaluation of the extent to which a candidate will be moored by the partisan landscape once in office.

    In 2008, I still considered myself a moderate Republican though not in any meaningful sense of the word a conservative. So I looked first to Republican candidates and, tabula rasa, I thought that the candidate with the most promising and proven skill set was Rudy! Giuliani. The campaign thereafter disabused me of this notion. He demonstrated poor political judgment in continually shrinking from primary fights he was uncertain he could win, and lack of the moral conviction is hoped for in advocating torture. This last bit borders on policy, but I looked at it on a normal level.

    So I switched to supporting McCain, whose principle negative seemed to be a reputation for irascibility. He seemed able to control that on the stump, though, so I felt pretty good about him for a while. As a close second, I looked at Romney, though had he not been Governor of a state, I’d have looked past him without a second thought. McCain lost me when he flipped on torture, demonstrating that one of the things Republican politicians would be unable to escape from would be outright advocacy of this flatly unacceptable practice.

    Which left me politically homeless, hoping that maybe by the next cycle, the party would come to its senses. 2012 gave me some hope on the skill set-intelligence-judgment front as both Romney and Ryan had made good demonstrations of these in their histories. But the mania in 2012 was “repeal Obamacare” and Romney — who was a principal architect of the prototype– could not free himself from that gravity well either. Moreover, Obamacare really didn’t look all that bad as an end product to me. Homeless again.

    Which is why, way back in November when the manias began to manifest again, I said “Enough. More than a dozen candidates, the only one with a decent skill set demonstrated on his resume is Bush who clearly isn’t going anywhere with the voters, and he can’t break free from the gravity well of populism anyway, so let’s go see what kinds of issues are manifest on the other side of the aisle.”

    Policy advocacy and promises along the way were indications of the underlying qualities I’ve been seeking. And by using this rubric, I wind up thinking that Hillary Clinton isn’t a bad choice at all. I might be hugely enthusiastic but we lived through eight years of her husband’s generally venal corruption and even prospered for part of it; so I’ve reason to believe her administration will be roughly similar.Report

    • Kim in reply to Burt Likko says:

      “. Most reactions are to unforeseen events. If an event is foreseeable, policy wonks know — in broad strokes though not details — how to respond to it and chances are the differences between parties are matters of degree. E.g., how much of a bailout will we give a failing economic institution?”

      Okay, I want to disagree with this. Most strongly, in fact.
      When we lose Miami, we will have been predicting it for years. When we lose control of Israel, it will have been predictable for years (Can we define that as Israel invades a substantial portion of a neighboring country and settles in as an occupier?). The proxy war in Yemen was exceedingly predictable.

      We are rapidly reaching a time when “unpredictable events” are more of a “when will it happen” rather than “will it happen”.

      Resource wars are bloody, bloody things.Report

      • KatherineMW in reply to Kim says:

        Can we define that as Israel invades a substantial portion of a neighboring country and settles in as an occupier?

        Er, that’s been going on for the past fifty years.Report

        • Kim in reply to KatherineMW says:

          By this point, I’m treating Israel as meaning Greater Israel.
          If palestinians are treasonous for doing peaceful protests (so sayeth the Supreme Court of the Land), then they ain’t Occupied territories anymore.Report

    • aaron david in reply to Burt Likko says:

      “2012 gave me some hope on the skill set-intelligence-judgment front as both Romney and Ryan had made good demonstrations of these in their histories. But the mania in 2012 was “repeal Obamacare” and Romney — who was a principal architect of the prototype– could not free himself from that gravity well either. Moreover, Obamacare really didn’t look all that bad as an end product to me.”

      And that fevor, to repeal Obamacare, is what caused me to vote republican for the first, and possibly only, time in my life, as I consider it “bad as an end product.”Report

    • Francis in reply to Burt Likko says:

      I respectfully disagree. The most important political decisions are pro-active. Such as:

      1. Obama, with the support of the Bush admin during the transition period, invested huge political capital in ensuring the survival of the domestic car industry. He campaigned on a large stimulus bill and delivered on the promise.
      2. Obama achieved the single greatest goal of the Democratic party of the last 50 years — the PPACA.
      3. Obama promised to live up to the Iraq SOFA and withdraw troops, and he lived up to that promise.

      4. Every major Republican presidential candidate in this cycle promised enormous tax breaks without a single identified spending cut, despite the (largely manufactured) outrage over the last 8 years about deficit spending.

      Yes, campaign promises tend to vanish like the morning mist in your part of LA county when they meet the reality of our tripartite system of government. But candidates do set overall visions for their foreign and domestic agenda and to try to live up to them.Report

  13. Tod Kelly says:

    “They are both putting emphasis on their personality and experience instead of their issue positions, and they are right to do so.”

    Well, yes and no. Valuing what you describe first and foremost maybe gets us a temperate and judicial leader. But when you go all personality no policy, you’re also describing how Sara Palin approaches politics to a T. And for that matter, as you yourself kind-of sort-of note, it’s an argument for Trumpism.Report

  14. Kolohe says:

    Don’t we have a lot of evidence that, when put on the spot with ‘dirt and grime of actual governing’, Hillary Clinton isn’t particularly good at it? Just that she’s better than predecessors and any alternative presented when she applies for a job?Report

    • North in reply to Kolohe says:

      Dunno, what evidence are we talking about?

      Also- if she is the best applicant for the job available what again is the rationale for not picking her?Report

      • Kolohe in reply to North says:

        Evidence – Iraq War vote, Russian Reset, Operation Odyssey Dawn fire and forget policy, passive-agressive diplomatic posture toward Iraq, not implementing any lessons learned from Iraq when the main focustomers switched to Afghanistan, being totally flat footed wrt the Arab Spring.

        There isn’t any rationale for not picking her. Ideally, though, when you have nobody really good for a job opening, you leave it vacant. Which is still doable – when Pelosi takes over for Ryan on January 3, she’ll be in the right spot to fill the vacancy when Obama and Biden turn into pumpkins.Report

        • North in reply to Kolohe says:

          Eh, in order: Iraq: universal naked politics-meh; Russian Reset: marketing nothingburger ginned up by partisan nonsense- no importance either way; Libya: hawkish (her weakest suit)and potentially a bad call (though Americans in general don’t seem to mind, it was war on the cheap, Americans favorite kind)-so a mild negative perhaps; Iraq: failing to sweet up the shit from the previous admin fast enough- big whoop; Arab Spring: you don’t lose points for not being able to see the future and I doubt there was much more of a productive response than the big bucket of nothing that we got.

          I doubt the House will be in Democratic hands Jan 3rd, alas. That’s sure as hell not a gamble anyone to the left of Joe Liberman would ever want to take. The Dem’s have policies they’ve accomplished that they want to look after. It’s not like they’ve gone 20 years without accomplishing anything substantively positive.Report

          • Kolohe in reply to North says:

            North: Russian Reset: marketing nothingburger

            Diplomacy *is* marketing. Otherwise is just talking to hear yourself talk.Report

            • North in reply to Kolohe says:

              Of course, but nothing was given, nothing was sacrificed and nothing was lost with the “Russian reset” so being as it was entirely nothing I just can’t parse counting it against anyone.Report

  15. Tod Kelly says:

    @jaybird Apologies, because I think when I tried to explain what I was trying to say earlier I did a very poor job about the whole journalism degree thing. So I’ll try again down here.

    First off, I do get where you’re coming from. The number of people with degrees coming out each year vs. the number of possible jobs can be a little disconcerting. What will they do with that degree? For all that, however, my perspective is very different than yours.

    For one thing, I don’t actually sense the same seismic shift that you do. True, the numbers suggest that a lot of people who have journalism degrees aren’t going to go on to be professional reporters. But I don’t think that’s new. Having gone to school in the post-All The President’s Men journalism degree boom, I am not sure that in the pre-internet days many of those people went on to be journalists either.

    On the mere happenstance of the circles I run in, I’ve known a lot of journalists over the years. And I’m not taking people like me or Russell who blog and get a check for it, I’m talking about real, dyed in the wool, pre-internet, working grueling hours at the paper calling people on the phone for quotes to meet the 7:00 pm deadline to get the story in the morning edition journalists. Almost none of them had journalism degrees. (I actually know more journalists who have degrees from the Kennedy School than journalists that have journalism degrees form anywhere.) It’s always been one of those truisms that people who major in journalism won’t go on to be journalists, in the same way that people who major in philosophy aren’t actually going to go on to become philosophers.

    So when you say that people who major in journalism today are unlikely to ever be reporters, it doesn’t have the same aura of doom than it does for me. I actually do know a bunch of journalism majors — I just only know two that ever because journalists. (Though I will say that the best journalist I have ever known — by far — was actually a journalism school grad.) Which isn’t to say that they didn’t go on to have successful careers — they did. It’s just that the Journalism Major>>Career Reporter/Editor map never really existed, in the same way that English Lit>>Professional Author map never existed. They were successful, just not as reporters or editors.

    For my first two years in college, I actually was a journalism major. I eventually switched to PoliSci with the intention of becoming a lawyer (best laid plans), and part of that decision was my J-school advisor. He was adamant that a journalism degree would never, ever be the thing that lead to a career writing journalism, and that most of my classmates would never, ever work as reporters — not even for a day. He said that the only people who would would be people who wrote well, and were disciplined, and could take years of rejection trying to get a regular gig, and that whatever degree we had meant stank outside our campus. Completing the journalism major, he always said, was a way to learn how to do a variety of things that I would be able to use wherever I went doing whatever I ended up doing. I didn’t listen at the time. All I heard was I probably wouldn’t ever write for a living, so I dropped out of the major and went a different direction.

    That’s a little long and rambling, and likely more personal than you needed. But I hope it at least communicates better what I was trying to say above being shorter.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      I’m down with the whole idea of getting a generalist degree (communications! psychology! philosophy!) and getting a job that needs a general set of skills plus the ability to research and teach oneself new skills. See, for example, most of the jobs out there.

      For journalism, though, it seems like there is a bit of a grift going on. My problem is *NOT* with the whole “student wants to learn the skills associated with journalism, which including writing clean copy, editing someone else’s less than perfect copy, covering the five dubyas, and turning a jumble of he said/she saids into something approaching an intelligible narrative”.

      I’m *DOWN* with that. That’s one of those things that would help you not only as a journalist, but in PR, in advertising, in middle management, and pretty much *ANYWHERE*.

      It seems like there’s something else going on, though.

      My problem isn’t with “I want to get a generalist degree and get generalist skills that I can leverage to become moderately successful no matter what I do”.

      I love that.

      My problem is with the grift.Report

  16. TrexPushups says:

    I see another person has realized that the constitution outlined an insane and terrible form of government but doesn’t want to say it.

    The presidential system is terrible. We should have a unicameral parliament.In that system if a budget or other basic function doesn’t happen fresh elections are called and a new coalition comes in to actually handle the people’s business.

    in our system we have the dumbest idea ever: mid-terms combined with the insanity that is the senate creating a massive reward for “defecting” as Jaybird puts it.

    On a basic structural level the founders left us with a garbage political system. Props for the Bill of rights though.Report