Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

GRASPING AT STRAWS

Whence, Jordan asks, my new found confidence that Clinton will defeat Trump?  Three things encourage me in that hope:  First, the Clinton campaign is apparently seriously engaged in opposition research on Trump, preparing a full-spectrum attack;  Second, new polling shows her beating him by a very wide margin [not as wide as does Bernie, but we must be thankful for crumbs];  Third, Trump's carefully planned and designedly presidential address to AIPAC [The American Israel Political Action Committee, for my overseas readers] was tone deaf, suggesting that when the Great Oz consults his inner circle of advisers [himself], he gets lousy advice.

Trump remains a narcissistic, deeply insecure man frozen at an infantile stage of psychosexual development [I would love to have some insight into his relationship to his father in his first five years!]  -- witness his obsessive defense of the size and beauty of his hands.  He is smart, more skillful at playing the media than Clinton, lord knows, and without convictions of any sort, a useful trait in a businessman or a politician, but he is vulnerable and not entirely in control of his emotions.

All in all, I think he will probably do disastrously in a general campaign, and also, by the way, in a debate with Clinton.  Remember, she does not have to win over any of his faithful supporters.  She need only mobilize the demographic segments of the population that are already inclined to support her -- women, African-Americans, Latinos, young college educated Millennials, and the like.

Well, if you were here in my study, you would be able to hear me whistle to keep up my spirits as I tiptoe nervously through the graveyard of my dreams.

10 comments:

Chris said...

33% of Bernie supporters (I presume mostly millennials) state they will not vote for Clinton if she beats Bernie (I'm of that 33%).

Matt said...

Chris, I'm going to say this as gently as I can. That would be F-ing (I'd use the full term, but don't want to cause trouble with a filter) stupid. There is no circumstance under which it would be better to have Trump or Cruz as president, and not voting for the Democratic nominee, whomever it is, will promote that worse outcome. It will be especially worse for the poor, for women, and minorities. Only vanity and narcissism could justify a "too good for Hilary" non-vote or protest vote. Furthermore, votes are for parties, not people, at least to the largest degrees. If you would vote for Sanders, you should vote for Clinton if she is the nominee. You should think about this again, because you are wrong. You should encourage others to do likewise.

Unknown said...

Say what you will about Trump, Bob, but he has no blood (at least yet) on his hands whereas Clinton has an enormous amount, taking into account her vote in favor of the Iraq war; the vital role she played in getting the United States to depose Gaddafi in Libya (as recently documented in detail in the New York Times) with thousands of Libyans dead as a result and leading to a failed state there; her strong influence in getting arms sales to Saudi Arabia with horrible consequences for civilians in Yemen; her role in supporting forces against Assad in Syria with terrible consequences for millions in Syria; and her important role in the 2009 coup in Honduras ousting the democratically elected president. I can't think of anything she has done to make the world more peaceful. No wonder Kissinger is one of her mentors. She has been an extremely apt pupil. The dreadful bombings in Brussels today can be traced back in part to policies she has supported leading to Isis. Can you really see voting for her?

Robert Shore

Chris said...

"Only vanity and narcissism could justify a "too good for Hilary" non-vote or protest vote. "

Matt,
Good thing my reason - note REASON - is not justified in a vain conception of my goodness. I could offer my REASON, but you're not inviting me to a dialogue, you're instead choosing to insult me based on your presumption of my stance, without hearing me out. Which makes me not too keen on dialoguing with you.
CB

Anonymous said...

Matt--

Could you explain how you see Trump being worse than Hilary for women and the poor? I have not heard every or even most of Trump's yammerings, but I was under the impression that he wanted to drop the income tax obligation on incomes below, I want to say, $25k? And I was also under the impression that Trump has not said anything that would lead one to believe that he is against Roe v Wade or Planned Parenthood.

Now, one place where "the poor" and "minorities" intersect (that is, undocumented immigrants), I think it is fair to say Trump would be the worst candidate in the field. This is a very big deal, as these are the single most exploited workers in the country. But I do think it is worth noting that the current administration's policies are awful for undocumented immigrants, and Clinton's would be just as bad and probably worse than Obama's.

Jim Westrich said...

I just want to add that I found Matt's rant completely unconvincing and unfair (as gently as I can!). I am going to say something about it because the fact there was a somewhat close race this year, the hypocrisy has been rampant amongst Clinton supporters.

First off I want to be clear I do not vote in an instrumental way. That is, I do think my vote is a strategy to an end but an expression of that goal/desire as an end. As such I do not generally vote for Democrats or Republicans in national positions. It is not purity or vanity or narcissism or identity or fantasy to want a better world and to choose as an individual to use my vote to promote that.

I know by looking at policy positions (this is more of unknown for Trump but Hillary Clinton did a good job laying out many policy positions) that I am dramatically more aligned with Clinton. Most of this agreement I see as pretty obvious stuff but most Republicans promote a whole host of unreasonable positions. Clinton and Sanders mostly align on major issues but there are key differences on key issues and on experience. In my mind Clinton's experience is a benefit to her but it is also at root of my objection at well. As a person with a long record (proud Goldwater Republican, corporate lawyer, Senator for Wall Street, etc.) it is reasonable to see her hopelessly compromised by powerful interests promoting their narrow (corporate) interests over ordinary people. This against a backdrop with powerful interests of a small minority continuing to make life worse for many/most others.

I am perfectly capable of seeing and choosing allies that espouse policies exactly like those I feel promote a better world. I also am able to acknowledge that some of my positions are not held by a large enough majority (particularly on economic justice issues) and as such compromise all the time. I vote in a whole host of local and state elections where I am very aware of the compromise (I easily vote for responsible and knowledgeable people when the position requires responsible and knowledgeable people).

However, I know that an ally does not insult or belittle one's well researched and knowledgeable opinion. As someone knowledgeable on health policy and public finance the behavior around Clinton and her desperate surrogates belittling single-payer was not one of an ally. Single-payer is a very real and successful health insurance structure (Canada and Taiwan). It is successful because public finance provides a very real ceiling to health spending. Bernie's plan has been deficient in details and certainly some of the supporting work (by a former professor of mine Gerald Friedman) could have been more rooted in public finance mainstream. All that said, there are problems that I won't go into but single-payer is a real option that could be implemented for the benefit of millions of people.

This is something Ms. Clinton has acknowledged and even said that problem was political expediency. Sure there are losers (many of those losers coincidentally give Ms. Clinton boatloads of money) but the likely benefit to vulnerable people in the United States is not debatable. It also hurts Ms. Clinton that her efforts to reform health care in the 90's showed far more incompetence than should give her a second chance to "triangulate" concentrated powerful interests.

Jim Westrich said...

Further, I am old enough to see that people have been completely beaten down in their desires to have a better world so that they continually accept greater and greater compromises (so much so that many/most do not even see the drift in increasingly reactionary and unjust economic policies). Worse are people who claim to say that these compromises are the best they can do (which at times may be true) but when presented with clearly better alternatives (e.g. Bernie Sanders) they go around deluding themselves (usual with massive amounts of willful ignorance of easily attainable facts) and attempting to delude others that their compromises are really in line with some original goal/desire of something better.

There are lots of things I agree with Ms. Clinton on (many good macroeconomic policies that have not gotten much talk) but ultimately it is a perferctly reasonable and understandable to reject alliance with people who belittle you (Matt's calling Chris "f%#$@ing stupid" comes to mind as a charming and common example). There is psychological literature that suggests that bullying and belittling people is effective with certain types but I do not have this affliction. The point is that Democrats have continued to browbeat people saying that they are really for all kinds of progressive things but political expedience prevents them for fully promoting them (I personally never believed this but it was common and reasonable to hold out a possibility). Well, the candidacy of Mr. Sanders has exposed this as largely a lie.

Chris said...

Great comments Jim!

Tom Cathcart said...

Meanwhile, here in the real world, we have one or more Supreme Court vacancies coming up. We know Hillary will choose someone pro-choice and center-left. Trump:
Carl Ikahn? Jeff Sessions? Judge Judy? Omaroso?

Chris said...

I don't think we really "know" much of anything in terms of Clinton:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/03/23/why-are-you-voting-for-clinton-a-letter-to-liberal-america/


(my op-ed)