Saturday, August 01, 2015

“It’s not that we dislike Hillary"

Someone is always qualifying a statement with that, it seems.
“It’s not that we dislike Hillary, it’s that we want to win the White House,” said Richard A. Harpootlian, a lawyer and Democratic donor in Columbia, S.C., who met with Mr. Ricchetti before Beau Biden died. “We have a better chance of doing that with somebody who is not going to have all the distractions of a Clinton campaign.”

A spokeswoman for the Clinton campaign declined to comment.

In a July 30 Quinnipiac poll, 57 percent of voters said Mrs. Clinton was not honest and trustworthy, and 52 percent said she did not care about their needs or problems. The same poll showed Mr. Biden with his highest favorability rating, 49 percent, in seven years, with 58 percent saying he was honest and trustworthy and 57 percent saying he cared about them. But Mrs. Clinton’s numbers are still strong, especially among likely Democratic primary voters.

“The No. 1 thing voters want is a candidate who is honest and trustworthy, and the veep is leading in those polls,” said William Pierce, executive director of Draft Biden, a “super PAC” that is trying to build enthusiasm for a possible candidacy.
Geez there's even a "Draft Biden" Super PAC. Frankly, I don't see how Biden's entry does anything but help Hillary in that it more or less guarantees that Bernie Sanders will never grow his support beyond the enthusiastic crowds that have been coming to see him speak. And Bernie guarantees that Biden will have to split his share of the Anybody But Hillary vote with him.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, there's enough room for 16 or 17 candidates because they all share the same pool of billionaires anyway.  
A New York Times analysis of Federal Election Commission reports and Internal Revenue Service records shows that the fund-raising arms race has made most of the presidential hopefuls deeply dependent on a small pool of the richest Americans. The concentration of donors is greatest on the Republican side, according to the Times analysis, where consultants and lawyers have pushed more aggressively to exploit the looser fund-raising rules that have fueled the rise of super PACs. Just 130 or so families and their businesses provided more than half the money raised through June by Republican candidates and their super PACs.
Meanwhile here's a must-read piece of commentary by Rick Perlstein on the unique campaign dynamics emerging for 2016.  
The bottom line is that the penumbras and emanations of Citizens United are changing the campaign game in ways that throw all previous understandings of how Republicans nominate presidents into a cocked hat. To see how it’s working on the ground, come with me to Southern California, where last year David and Charles Koch convened one of their dog-and-pony shows, where the aspirants lined up to stand on their hind legs to beg before their would-be masters.Politico spoke to two people who were there, and offered the following account of the performance of Ohio’s Governor John Kasich.

“Randy Kendrick, a major contributor and the wife of Ken Kendrick, the owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, rose to say she disagreed with Kasich’s decision to expand Medicaid coverage, and questioned why he’d said it was ‘what God wanted.’” Kasich’s “fiery” response: “I don’t know about you, lady. But when I get to the pearly gates, I’m going to have to answer what I’ve done for the poor.”

Other years, before other audiences, such public piety might have sounded banal. This year, it’s enough to kill a candidacy:

“About 20 audience members walked out of the room, and two governors also on the panel, Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, told Kasich they disagreed with him. The Ohio governor has not been invited back to a Koch seminar.”

Which is, of course, astonishing. But even more astonishing was the lesson the Politico drew from it—one, naturally, about personalities: “Kasich’s temper has made it harder to endear himself to the GOP’s wealth benefactors.” His temper. Not their temper. Not, say, “Kasich’s refusal to kowtow before the petulant whims of a couple of dozen greedy nonentities who despise the Gospel of Jesus Christ has foreclosed his access to the backroom cabals without which a Republican presidential candidacy is inconceivable.”
So while Hillary Clinton, potentially Joe Biden and a cast of thousands of Republican donors struggle to figure out how they're going to master the new politics of oligarchy, only one candidate is running specifically on the promise to break it.
2016 Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders announced on Face the Nation a self-described litmus test for any Supreme Court nominee he would consider if elected president, which, hey, could happen: they must pledge to overturn Citizens United.

“As a result of this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, clearly the billionaires, Koch Brothers and others, are owning the political process,” Sanders said. “They will determine who the candidates are.”

“If elected president, I will have a litmus test in terms of my nominee to be a Supreme Court justice,” he said. “That nominee will say that we are all going to overturn this disastrous Supreme Court decision on Citizens United, because that decision is undermining American democracy. I do not believe that billionaires should be able to buy politicians.”
Clearly, that guy does not actually want to win.  

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