THE CRASH OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY
If the latest Washington Post poll proves accurate, the Democratic Party as a serious alternative to the GOP is finished. It is not just that a perennially dissembling and once almost prosecuted candidate came in miles ahead of Barrack Obama and John Edwards. The real tragedy is to be found in the reasons respondents gave for their support.
For example, Democrats favored Hillary Clinton to deal with health care by a two to one margin over Obama and Edwards combined - an absurd judgment given her previous health care legislation that was laughably incompetent and confusing as she attempted to conceal its gifts to the insurance industry. There are only two possible explanations for such a masochistic choice: deep denial or deep ignorance and they probably both play a role.
57% of Democrats said HR Clinton has the best chance of being elected even though current polling has all three front runners coming out about the same. For example, the heavily pro-Clinton Washington Post headlined her 8 point lead over Giuliani without mentioning that Edwards had scored a 9 point lead in another recent poll.
Further, Clinton's supposed electability is based on the assumption that the GOP will not mention all the dirty laundry in HRC's past - including matters now hidden in Justice Department files. The Republican strategy - which the media has given great aid and comfort - is to keep quiet until the Democrats are irretrievably in the Clinton trap. In fact, some on the right are already having a hard time hiding their enthusiasm: Matt Drudge featured Clinton's wipe out lead in the Post poll with big type and red ink and George Bush is even sending her advice on how to handle Iraq.
By 52% to 39% Clinton beats both Obama and Edwards as the one best able to deal with Iraq, even though she is clearly the one with the worst record of doing so this far.
By the same margin, she is the one who Democrats think best represent the core values of the party. This may be tragically true in contemporary terms, but before her husband took office the party had dramatically different - and better - values.
The only First Lady ever to face possible criminal indictment even farcically leads the others as the one best able to deal with corruption in Washington.
And worst of all, not only is she considered more inspiring than Obama and Edwards but she is considered more trustworthy.
This is a party that doesn't need a candidate; it desperately needs a therapist.
If Hillary Clinton wins the nomination it will be the end of the modern Democratic Party - the period of both its greatness and its popularity. Her husband began the serious dismantling of the party - particularly its commitment to social democracy - and produced for it the greatest loss of elected offices under an incumbent president since Grover Cleveland.
Hilary Clinton will complete the job. If she wins the nomination there will no longer be a real Democratic Party; it will be reduced a subculture of de facto Republicans who support abortion and affirmative action.
Just look at those round her: there isn't one major figure directly involved in her campaign who represents the spirit or the substance of a decent and progressive Democratic Party. It is a cadre of cynical manipulators and fund raisers with dubious pals.
This incredible destruction of the party took place in less than two decades, in part thanks to a number of factors beyond the Clintons:
- The rise of the delusional myths of neo-robber baron capitalism that, among other things, taught voters to choose between competing political CEOs rather than among real issues.
- The trivialization of politics by television and other media in which the future of our nation and our planet was reduced to just another game show or daytime serial.
- A sycophantic Washington press corps that brazenly boosted those politicians with whom it felt socially and culturally most compatible. The media has repeatedly covered up for the Clinton, most recently by failing to inform its audience of HRC's sordid past.
- The stunningly incompetent handling of Congress by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.
- The underlying force driving many Democrats in office: fear. Fear of the Christian right, fear of seeming weak, fear of Karl Rove and so forth. By their words they try desperately to seem not afraid, but by these same actions they confirm the critics' view that they are cowards.
But the Clintons played a major part as well, primarily because they have been the preeminent political con artists of modern times.
The Clintons belong to a long American tradition of snake oil salesmen, road gamblers and fake evangelical prophets. The thing these all had in common: those they purported to help or deal fairly with invariably came out the short end. With card sharks or door to door hustlers, the culture suffered but did not shake. But the Clinton as the first of the disreputable breed to actually run the country.
Bill Clinton at least came by his skill naturally. When Bill Clinton is 7, his family moved from Hope, Arkansas, to the long-time mob resort of Hot Springs, AR. Here Al Capone was said to have had permanent rights to suite 443 of the Arlington Hotel. Clinton's stepfather was a gun-brandishing alcoholic who lost his Buick franchise through mismanagement and his own pilfering. His mother was a heavy gambler with mob ties. According to FBI and local police officials, his Uncle Raymond -- to whom young Bill turned for wisdom and support -- was a colorful car dealer, slot machine owner and gambling operator, who thrived (except when his house was firebombed) on the fault line of criminality.
The media forgot to tell you this, but knowing it helps one understand why Bill Clinton is such a better con artist than his wife and why Hillary Clinton constantly gets caught in petty dishonesties, cheap machinations and artificial cackles. It wasn't natural; she had to learn the trade from Bill.
Now, one could go on for 500 more pages on this topic but here's the problem: hardly any of those Democrats who think HR Clinton is the most honest of the major candidates would absorb the information and alter their opinion because the Democratic Party has transformed itself from a political organization into a sort of EST for political junkies.
So it looks like it may be over. Yes, an unanticipated scandal could still emerge. The good people of Iowa and New Hampshire could take the Democratic Party back. HR Clinton might move from embarrassing cackles to indefensible contortions.
But if nothing major happens, you can say good bye to the modern Democratic Party the day that HR Clinton is nominated. You will then be faced not with a choice, but a threat - not unlike one from the capo who tells you: stick with us and your friends and family will be safer and we won't take as much from you as the other mob. This isn't politics; it's thuggery. And that's what our politics have become.