Saturday, July 30, 2016

bruce wilder 07.29.16 at 8:17 pm

William Timberman: You’d think at some point they’d at least pull over for a bit and let somebody out to check the wheel bearings. All that screeching can’t be coming just from a few disgruntled Berniebros, can it?

Corey Robin rather eloquently made the point in a couple of his posts that this is the last hurrah for Clinton and Clintonian/Democratic politics. Win or lose, this is the last time her characteristic Third Way, pivot to the Center gambits will work.

She has moved so far Right, that her Convention is getting plaudits from conservative punditry.

Obama, from whatever combination of latent conviction or undoubted political genius, has been doing his bit, implementing necessary preventive maintenance. His foreign policy, since Clinton left her worldwide Clinton Foundation fundraising tour as Secretary of State, has to be acknowledged as a relief from the continuation of Bush II that seemed to characterize his first term. “Don’t do stupid stuff” isn’t quite up to the standard of FDR’s Good Neighbor policy, let alone the Atlantic Charter, but it is what sensible people hope for, in place of hubris and aggressive stupid. Domestically, Obama has done a number of things to shore up the populist foundation of the Democratic Party — he’s made a show of moving on immigration; he’s made a show of moving on labor law regulations that affect overtime, which affects more people and involves more money than modest increases in the minimum wage. I am sure there’s a longer list. These things give the Democrats some credibility, if they have the sense to talk about something other than the ripe horror of Trump’s racism.

Several of our commenters are absolutely sure that it is absolutely, transcendentally obvious that Trump is a huge risk to world peace, and that the contrast with Clinton in this regard scarcely needs to be cast. If there’s any basis at all for this argument, it is derived from the much improved foreign policy of Obama’s second term, with its last desperate efforts to close Guantanamo, to open to Cuba, do a deal with Iran, stay on the margins of the war in Syria and not make it worse, continue the process of global climate talks however disappointing.

NATO expansion in Eastern Europe and the confrontations with China in the South China Sea do not portend well, but Obama has at least given us some reasons to hope for a triumph of reason. TPP and its sisters still loom in the background and Obama appears to be ready to give these attempts to institute corporate neofeudalism his all. So, I am not seeing reasons to be substantively hopeful. Labor law regulatory reform in the 8th year of his Presidency that will not be finalized in his term is a calculation, not an epiphany. I am saying that Obama has been doing preventative maintenance on the bus of the Democratic Coalition, just as Clinton herself has, chameleon-like, adapted Sanders’ colors on some salient issues.

It will be enough to get us thru the general election. I still do not believe that Trump can pull it off. The Democrats will hold together, kinda sorta, despite a drop in turnout and participation that may be truly frightening in its depth.

It is a strange political atmosphere. A lot of people are really, really unhappy with the status quo, even though the status quo isn’t particularly bad. We in the U.S. at least are not experiencing the truly bad times of deep recession let alone war. But, the post-WWII political and economic order has passed its sell-by date and we are in the period of crisis where political re-alignments occur. The magic number is 72 years; it is 72 years since the end of the Second World War, and we’ve been living thru the echoes of world crisis of 1929-1945 since 2001, the institutional order built then, crumbling about us. Our politicians are scavengers, feeding on the carrion of a herd felled by its own extreme old age.

There’s no hope here — at least no hope for the next two to four years. Who ever is elected will step into the maelstrom ill-equipped to respond.

I strongly expect that will be Clinton. For all the talk of her experience, I do not see a case for her being able to cope; she seems on so many fronts determined to do (from my perspective) the wrong things and singularly equipped by the Clinton Third Way approach to take the hazard of political paralysis and making it worse. (Not much commentary on how her VP pick may swing the Senate to the Republicans.) The case for Clinton as peaceably safe on foreign policy seems not just remarkably weak but wilfully ignorant. Clinton is malevolent.

And, yes, Trump, the narcissistic sociopath, would be a disaster in a different way, but his isolationist instincts would seem on the surface to lead in a safer direction — away from the cliff. And, there are a lot of cliffs — in the chaos of the Middle East, in the South China Sea, in NATO expansion, in the TPP.

The “cliff” isn’t an objective thing. It is a social construct, a product of the human tendency to collectively go on doing the same thing, long after it has ceased to be effective. It is so hard, politically, to coordinate our behavior, that when we find something that works we just keep doing it, long after diminishing returns have taken past effectiveness and into self-destructive territory. That’s the cliff. In 1929-32, the Republicans, who had secured a presumptive majority in the country in 1894-96 with protective tariffs and the gold standard and the country had experienced the heady prosperity that followed and the era of Progressive Reform that sought to cast progress in a conservative mold, were bound and determined against all the evidence and the ever-deepening crisis, to double down on Smoot-Hawley and Hoover’s faith in gold and balanced budgets.

The U.S. was the imploding center in that crisis. In the present crisis, it is the periphery that is falling apart, falling into deflation, political breakup and civil war. But, Clinton is the embodiment of the political impulse to continue the status quo, to double-down on the economic and international policies of Bush2-Obama, to extend and pretend. It won’t work. It never works. Because these are the moments when architects are needed, not opportunistic salvage crews. Clinton’s is a politics of controlled disinvestment and dismantling, whether she recognizes it or not and its time has run out.

Bruce Wilder is so smart it is hard to understand how he could be dumb enough to believe in Trump's isolationist instincts. Am I the only one to remember Bush II ran on a humbler foreign policy and promised no nation building? Trump is a con artist and nothing he says should be believed.

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