Campaign Malpractice: Devine and Weaver

As a chronically underemployed individual, I’m always fuming at folks who make healthy salaries doing what, quite frankly, I could do better. The latest pair of gents to get my dander up are Jeff Weaver and Tad Devine, campaign manager and senior advisor respectively of the Bernie Sanders campaign. In trying to mount a “positive” campaign they have conceded the race to Hillary Clinton. There are three clear examples of malpractice. 

The Damn Emails

Bernie famously declared in an early debate that America  was tired of hearing about Hillary’s rogue email server. This was in the name of positive, issues-oriented campaigning. I disagreed with pundits that this was a mistake but I was wrong. Sanders could have said “the Secretary  herself has said this was a mistake in judgment. I’m not the FBI. I’ll let the FBI do their job and I’ll do mine.” This would have left Clinton exposed while taking a perfect passive-aggressive approach. In subsequent interviews, Sanders went in this direction but it was too late. 

When Was a Clinton Vote Ever Influenced by Monied Interests?

Sanders blew this question in debate after debate when the answer should have been well known to him. Then when it was way too late in the game, Jeff Weaver and surrogate, Senator Jeff Merkley finally said “bankruptcy bill” but could not articulate the answer convincingly under the partisan cross examination of Chris Matthews. Why did the Sanders campaign not use this video as an ad and example?

The Transcripts Matter

Jeff Weaver has tried to be the tough guy, referring to Hillary’s deals with the devil. Again, when cross examined by the likes of Chris Matthews, Weaver withers. This is not difficult. Transcripts of Hillary’s paid speeches to Goldmam Sachs et al will show her being sympathetic to the folks who brought the country to its knees in 2007. This is the central theme of the Sanders campaign. Why is it so hard for Sanders’ campaign staff to get this right?

The 2015/2016 Democratic primary will go down in history as the nomination where the populist candidate with the best chance of beating an establishment typical pol was undone by his own advisors. 

In the meantime, I sit here blogging for free. Damn! 

What do you think? The bar is open. 


Trump’s Improv Act Reveals American Hypocrisy

Many families have those topics you just don’t discuss. Uncle Albert’s death was not an accident; it was a suicide. Cousin Timmy went to jail on kiddie porn possession. Little Suzy is illegitimate and doesn’t know her father isn’t her biological father – but lots of folks in the family do know. Donald Trump is the guy at the family gathering who blurts all this stuff out. It’s all fact but you just don’t say these things. 

Donald Trump is a real estate developer and branding genius who has not given a bit of thought to nukes or abortion. His campaign is an improv act. He says whatever is top of mind regardless of how controversial the topic. But he’s not a lunatic. He says things that are there in the minds of people, in some cases almost tautological. He gets destroyed for it. 

So first abortion. Let us drop the pretense and admit that a sizeable number of pro-life advocates view pregnancy as the responsibility of the pregnant woman and they condemn her choice of abortion. After Trump’s comment that women who abort illegally should be “punished”, some pro-life advocates cried crocodile tears, expressing sympathy and compassion. The meme was “women considering abortion need our sympathy”. This dodges the question of what to do about women who abort. The truth is I’ve seen a good deal of judgmental condemnation of such women. Many of the pro-life folks up in arms about Trump are simply hypocrites. 

How many times have we heard politicians, including our President, say they will take “nothing off the table” militarily? Well, news flash folks, nukes are part of our arsenal. But we never talk about that. Such talk is dangerous. Of course just having the nukes in the first place is dangerous but somehow the danger lies in talking about using them. Trump’s comment that he would take nothing off the table, including nukes borders on tautology when nukes are clearly already on the table. In fact, we have them as a cautionary message to anyone who might think to nuke us first. And cautionary messages are clearly in Trump’s wheelhouse. 

Trump’s campaign is littered with comments many people want to say but think too rude to utter. Trump is not the first to think “McCain was a lousy pilot who shouldn’t have gotten shot down in the first place”, “Mexicans are bringing in drugs, stealing our jobs and getting free bennies”, “Islam is a diseased religion”, “women who abort are murderers who should be punished” and “I say just nuke them!”

None of those observations contributes to a positive agenda for running the country but they all reflect a sentiment held by more than a few, hence Trump’s consistent primary wins. If Trump serves no other purpose in this election cycle, it will be to uncover American hypocrisy and force the American  family to discuss its family secrets out in the open. 

What do you think? The bar is open. 


Finding Religion in Campaign 2016

This post is more a rumination than any sort of argument. I’m thinking aloud.

Have you noticed every election night during the primary/caucus season, we are told for whom evangelicals voted? More often the demographic is described as “white evangelicals”. When is the last time you heard Chuck Todd say “and the Jewish vote went to …”? Have you ever heard that? I haven’t. And I might not have even noticed it if it weren’t for the fact my favorite candidate is Bernie Sanders, a Brooklyn born Jewish Senator from Vermont.

The lack of any handle on Jewish preferences was not simply my ignorance. It simply isn’t well researched as documented in the Washington Post.

The reasons that Jews as a whole seem not to be enthusiastic Sanders supporters are multifaceted, and difficult to fully ascertain since most national polling does not report which candidates Jews have voted for in the primaries and caucuses, or who they say they will support. – Washington Post

When Sanders is asked about his Judaism in debates it has a feel of “why don’t you wear your faith on your sleeve?” Of course, with other candidates this is never a problem. They wear their religion in full view. Whether it’s Hillary’s references to “God given abilities” or Ted Cruz’s more ostentatious bible thumping, you never doubt these pols are God fearing.

Sanders answers the God question two ways. The two angles are dissected by Charles Krauthammer but Krauthammer allows one of Sanders’ answers to drown out the other.

Krauthammer looks at three perspectives on Jewish self identification. He speaks of practice – the actual religious practice of synagogue attendance and other types of worship. Then he speaks of Tikkun, basically the Jew’s inner liberal, a “do unto others…” ethos for living a decent life. Finally Krauthammer speaks of the H bomb – a visceral association with the Holocaust and its aftermath.

Bernie never talks about practice. By all accounts, he is a nonobservant Jew. So Bernie’s answer on the God/religion question is usually a mixture of Tikkun and the H bomb. But I think Krauthammer gets the mix wrong. He focuses on Bernie’s acknowledgment that much of his family was wiped out in the Holocaust. Krauthammer then uses this to ruminate on the folly of Jews being Holocaust-centric. However this is not Bernie.

Bernie is all about the Tikkun. “When you hurt, I hurt” has been Sanders consistent answer to his spiritual underpinnings. He only brings up the Holocaust to hone in on what many Jews might believe to be uniquely Jewish.

This gets me back to my query. Where are “Jews for Bernie”? Well, I did find a Facebook page with that title but clearly there seems to be no groundswell of support akin to black support for Obama or his new BFF Hillary Clinton.

Or is there? Maybe the lack of support isn’t so clear? How could we know? This brings me back to my original question about demographic tracking. If we do a bit of syntactical dissection, maybe we’ll find the reason why Chuck Todd never discusses the Jewish  vote.

  • Tracking Jewish voting patterns.
  • Tracking Jewish voting.
  • Tracking Jewish …
  • Tracking Jews

WHOOOOA!!!!! Sounds a bit Hitleresque, doesn’t it? Could it be that Jews are the one minority we don’t track very well because the whole idea subliminally summons notions of Nazi Germany?

Maybe I’m letting my sociological imagination get the best of me but it seems odd to me that in a year of the first potential woman President and the first potential Hispanic President, no one seems remotely interested in the prospect of the first Jewish President.

What do you think? The bar is open.