Hillary's Convention Pulverized The Donald's So Trumpy-The-Clown Blames Reince Priebus
As Ezra Klein put it at Vox last night after the convention, This election isn’t just Democrat vs. Republican. It’s normal vs. abnormal. "What we just witnessed in Cleveland and Philadelphia," he wrote, "defies our normal political vocabulary. We are used to speaking of American politics as split between the two major parties. It’s Democrats versus Republicans, liberals versus conservatives, left versus right. But not this election. The conventions showed that this is something different. This campaign is not merely a choice between the Democratic and Republican parties, but between a normal political party and an abnormal one.
The Democratic Party’s convention was a normal political party’s convention. The party nominated Hillary Clinton, a longtime party member with deep experience in government. Clinton was endorsed by Bernie Sanders, the runner-up in the primary. Barack Obama, the sitting president, spoke in favor of Clinton. Various Democratic luminaries gave speeches endorsing Clinton by name. The assembled speakers criticized the other party’s nominee, arguing that he would be a bad president and should be defeated at the polls.Last night's Democratic convention, as Matt Stoller pointed out on Twitter, just as it was wrapping up, celebrated Ronald Reagan and Alexander Hamilton. Others noticed that stylistically it emulated Reagan but that the substance veered, at least on the surface, more towards Bernie and FDR. Team Hillary was making a concerted attempt tp appeal to progressives on policy and conservatives and moderates on values. NY Times reporter Josh Barro put it like this today: the Democratic convention "is co-opting Republican tropes while maintaining Democratic ones because there is now only one political party for grown-ups." A few hours ago on Morning Joe, when asked if Trump is a fascist, Madeleine Albright said "it's hard to label him anything except weird."
...The Republican Party’s convention was not a normal political party’s convention. The party nominated Donald Trump, a new member with literally no experience in government. Ted Cruz, the runner-up in the primary, gave a primetime speech in which he refused to endorse Trump, and instead told Americans to "vote your conscience."
The Republican Party’s two living presidents, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, declined to endorse Trump or attend the convention. The party’s previous two presidential nominees, Mitt Romney and John McCain, declined to endorse Trump or attend the convention. The assembled speakers-- including Chris Christie, a prospective attorney general-- argued that the other party’s nominee was a criminal who should be thrown in jail.
...America’s main political cleavage is between the Democratic and Republican parties. That split has meant different things at different times, but in recent decades it primarily tracks an ideological disagreement: Democrats are the party of liberal policies; Republicans are the party of conservative policies.
But in this year’s presidential election, the difference is more fundamental than that: The Democratic Party is a normal political party that has nominated a normal presidential candidate, and the Republican Party has become an abnormal political party that has nominated an abnormal presidential candidate.
Simply saying that will raise people’s partisan hackles, but it’s not a partisan comment. Republicans know that Donald Trump is not a normal nominee. They know this isn’t what their 2012 convention looked like or how their 2008 convention felt. And while most Republicans fear Democrats keeping the White House enough to unhappily support Trump, it’s worth listening to what they’ve said about him.
Ted Cruz called Trump a "pathological liar," "utterly amoral," and "a narcissist at a level I don't think this country's ever seen."
Rick Perry said Trump’s candidacy was "a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised, and discarded."
National Review, the flagship journal of American conservatism, said Trump "is a menace to American conservatism."
Rand Paul said Trump is "a delusional narcissist and an orange-faced windbag. A speck of dirt is way more qualified to be president."
A list like this could go on, and on, and on. But here’s the point: These aren’t normal political condemnations. This isn’t normal political language. Republicans know they’ve nominated a dangerous man. They tried to warn their voters in the strongest terms possible that Trump is unqualified, untrustworthy, and amoral.
Michael Bloomberg, the former Republican mayor of New York City, put it simply in a speech endorsing Clinton. "Together, let's elect a sane, competent person," he said. That is what an endorsement sounds like when the choice shifts from left versus right to normal versus abnormal.
There are some differences in politics that transcend ideology. This is one of them. Clinton, say what you will about her, is a normal political candidate who will operate within the normal boundaries of American democracy. Donald Trump is an abnormal political candidate; we have no idea which democratic boundaries he would respect, which conspiracy theories he would believe, which political enemies he would punish, which treaties he would honor.
...We are a nation protected by norms, not just by laws. Our political parties should be held to certain standards in terms of the candidates they nominate, the behaviors they accept, the ideas they mainstream. Trump violates those standards. By indulging him, the Republican Party is normalizing him and his behavior, and making itself abnormal.
You're probably aware that when Hillary tossed Wasserman Schultz out of the DNC, she didn't toss out her new policy inviting corrupt corporate lobbyists back into the heart of the party. That's because no one wanted that policy reversal more than Hillary. Zaid Jilani nailed it yesterday for The Intercept:
By quietly dropping a ban on direct donations from registered federal lobbyists and political action committees, the Democratic National Committee in February reopened the floodgates for corruption that Barack Obama had put in place in 2008.Martin O'Malley's speech at the convention was a try-out for the DNC chairmanship. Although when he was catering to primary voters and attacked Hillary for her "cozy relationship with Wall Street," when Jilani approached him about the change in DNC policy, his concern appeared to Jilani to have evaporated. "I’m really kind of agnostic on it," he said. "I really don’t care one way or another."
Secret donors with major public-policy agendas were welcomed back in from the cold and showered with access and appreciation at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.
Major donors were offered “Family and Friends” packages, including suites at the Ritz-Carlton, backstage passes, and even seats in the Clinton family box. Corporate lobbyists like Heather Podesta celebrated the change, telling Time: “My money is now good.”
What was going on inside the convention hall was also reflected outside, at costly events sponsored by the fossil fuel industry, technology companies, for-profit colleges, pharmaceutical companies, and railway companies, to name a few.
Craig Holman, an elections financing expert at Public Citizen, said that the end of the lobbyist contribution ban as well as Congress’s 2014 termination of all remaining public financing of the party conventions has served to undermine democracy. “The implications of these changes are that we have opened up access to the parties and the conventions to just the very, very wealthy,” he said.
...[A]n overwhelming majority of Democratic lawmakers we spoke to at the convention didn’t seem troubled by the rule change at all.
At a posh event hosted by The Atlantic and paid for by the American Petroleum Institute oil lobby, Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, shrugged off concerns about the influence of special interest groups.
“I don’t know, you’ll have to ask the DNC on that,” he said in response to a question whether lifting the ban was the right move.
“Do you think that lobbyists have undue influence?” we followed up.
“I don’t know.”
“What about energy lobbyists? What about oil lobbyists?”
“What about ’em?”
“Do you think they have undue influence in the United States?”
“I think they’re just like teachers, like firemen, like everybody who contributes.”
“What about the Koch Brothers, who spent $400 million on an election?”
“You’ve gotta go talk to the Koch Brothers,” he replied, ending the conversation.
Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia offered a Willie Sutton justification for lifting the lobbying ban. “The lobbyists, that’s where the money is,” he said.
...Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland ducked the question. “It’s above my paygrade,” he quipped.
Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver said he would never have banned lobbyists like Obama did in the first place. “I wouldn’t have done it,” he said. “It’s not a matter of wrong or right. It’s a matter of making sure we have the resources to put on a convention.”
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, the chair of the DNC’s Host Committee, has refused to disclose donors to that committee until 60 days after the convention.
In an interview with The Intercept, Rendell insisted there was nothing wrong with keeping the committee’s donors secret until just a few weeks before the election, and he downplayed the influence of big donors. “I never made one decision where I was influenced by a campaign contribution,” he said.
“So why are lobbyists giving money to the DNC now again,” we asked. “Are they doing it just because they have extra money to give?”
“They want access,” he acknowledged.
...House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California stopped to talk to us, but after hearing the subject, briskly walked away as a fleet of staffers blocked off access to her.
A staffer for Rep. Adam Schiff of California asked the subject of our interview question. She then informed her boss, who told her, “I don’t want to talk about that.”
Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut said he was unconcerned with the policy shift. “Unfortunately, we’re in a world today where we have to raise private money,” he said. “I don’t get too concerned about who and what groups you take money from. It’s up to you.”
Even before the convention, a newly-released poll from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch showed Hillary leading Trump 41-40 in Missouri, a state that has gone red for 20 years. Romney beat Obama there, 54-44% and the congressional delegation is 6 Republicans and 2 Democrats, both the Dems in tiny big city ghettos long abandoned by the GOP. Now let's watch what happens when accurate post-convention polling comes out Monday.