Anthony Weiner Turns Up, Again

Just when you think — and fervently hope — that we’ve finally heard the last of Anthony Weiner, he turns up in the news again.  He’s the proverbial bad penny on the national political scene.

160922-anthony-weiner-featureWhen the world learned recently that Weiner was “sexting” with a 15-year-old girl, I didn’t write about it because, frankly, I think enough attention has been paid to a guy who is obviously a disturbed and narcissistic loser.  He clearly wants attention of some kind or another, so why feed the creep’s ego?  But now the investigation into Weiner’s texting with an underage girl has shaken up the presidential campaign, just when we thought it was about over.  In their investigation of Weiner, the FBI seized his laptop, as well as his iPad and cell phone — and yesterday FBI director James Comey sent a letter to Congress stating that, in that unrelated investigation, the agency found emails that relate in some way to their investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email practices.  The New York Times is reporting that the FBI found tens of thousands of emails involving Huma Abedin, a long-time Hillary Clinton aide who is married to (and now estranged from) Weiner.

There’s not a lot of information about the emails on Weiner’s server.  Comey’s letter to Congress says only that he felt he needed to supplement his prior congressional testimony that the investigation into Clinton’s email server was completed, that the FBI has now learned of emails “that appear to be pertinent to the investigation,” that Comey had been briefed on the findings, and that he agreed it was appropriate for agents to determine whether they contain classified information.  The letter concluded that the FBI can’t yet assess whether the emails on Weiner’s laptop are significant, or when the FBI will finish reviewing them.  

So we don’t know much about the emails right now and, given the pace of the FBI’s prior investigation, we probably won’t know much more until after the election is over — which is why some people are criticizing the FBI director for calling attention to the issue at all.  The disclosure obviously roiled the presidential campaign at a crucial time, with less than two weeks to go.  I would note only that I appreciate the fact that the FBI director obviously takes his obligation to truthful in his testimony to Congress so seriously.

I’m not going to speculate about what might, or might not, be found in the emails.  I’m just going to groan at the fact that we have to hear about Anthony Weiner, again — and hope that we don’t learn that this creepy, apparently sex-obsessed jerk had any kind of significant national security information on his laptop.  Anthony Weiner is about the last person I’d want to have access to sensitive information.

Side By Side

I guess I’m surprised that they sell political t-shirts at Reagan National Airport — but they do.  There, side by side, you will find Hillary and Trump shirts and other paraphernalia.  So, if you haven’t already gotten your political fix just by being in D.C., you can buy a t-shirt on your way home to publicly proclaim your loyalty.

The cashier reports that the Hillary t-shirts are outselling the Trump t-shirts by a considerable margin.  

100 Million Viewers

Network executives are predicting as many as 100 million people will watch tonight’s presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  That kind of audience is normally reserved for something really important, like a Super Bowl or the last episode of MASH.  The previous record for a presidential debate was 80 million viewers of the Reagan-Carter debate in 1980.

I wish I could believe that so many people will be tuning in tonight because they are interested in a sober, careful discussion of the many issues America is confronting and how to address them.  Unfortunately, we all suspect that’s not the case.  For many people, the debate is must-watch TV because of the spectacle factor — they’re watching to see whether Trump says or does something outrageous, or Clinton faints, or some particularly choice insults are hurled back and forth.  It’s like rubberneckers slowing down to check out the car wreck by the side of the highway.

I’m hoping that whatever portion of those 100 million viewers who are tuning in for a gladiator contest are disappointed.  I’m hoping that the candidates hold off on the obviously canned wisecracks, that the moderator lets the debaters actually debate the issues, and that an actual policy-oriented discussion breaks out.

But I’m not holding my breath for that result.

Poll-Axed

So much of political reporting these days is poll-driven.  A new poll about “likely voters” comes out, and news broadcasts first report on the poll, then report on reaction to the poll, and finally feature a panel of talking heads to blather about “momentum” and “the dynamics of the race” based on the poll results.

But how accurate are those polls, anyway?  Should Hillary Clinton supporters be suicidal because a poll shows Donald Trump ahead in Ohio?  It seems like a new poll or two comes out every day, and the results are all over the map.

screen-shot-2012-10-30-at-11-36-17-pmThe New York Times blog The Upshot decided to conduct a clever experiment to test the role of pollster judgment in analyzing and reporting the results of polling.  The goal was to eliminate the effect of the “margin of error” that we always hear about, and instead focus on the behind-the-curtain decisions pollsters make.  So, The Upshot took the raw data from an actual poll of 867 Florida voters it conducted with pollsters at Siena College, gave that same raw data to four different respected pollsters. and asked them to report the results they drew from the data.

The results of the experiment showed a five percentage point swing in the results reached by the different pollsters, ranging from a four-point advantage for Hillary Clinton to a one-point advantage for Donald Trump, even though the pollsters were reviewing identical data.  Why?  Because the pollsters reached different conclusions about the demographics and characteristics of “likely voters,” and those decisions had dramatic effects on their announced results.  How do you determine who is a “likely voter,” anyway?  Rely on their oath that they’ll be casting their ballot this time?  Make your decision based on their voting history?  Tinker a bit with the breakdown of Democrats, Republicans, and independents, and change the mix of Hispanics, African-Americans, and whites in the “likely voter” population, and you’ve got substantially different results.

My own sense is that this may be the toughest election ever from a polling standpoint.  You’ve got a group of Clinton supporters who are loud and proud in their support for HRC, an apparent mass of ardent Trump advocates lurking below the radar, and then a huge group of disaffected people who really don’t like either candidate and are deciding what to do.  You’ve got lifelong Republicans who are saying, right now, that they won’t vote for Trump, and young people who just aren’t energized by Hillary.  Who among the mass of disillusioned people frustrated by an awful choice is going to vote come November — and for whom?  Based on my interaction with friends and colleagues, most of whom really don’t want to talk about the election, I just don’t see how pollsters can decide that key question with any degree of certainty.

Poll results are interesting, I suppose, but I wouldn’t take them as gospel — particularly in this historically anomalous election.

Another Email Fail

You’ve no doubt heard people lecture that you shouldn’t put anything in an email that you wouldn’t want to see published on the front page of the New York Times.  Colin Powell is the newest living proof of that statement.

rtr237zj-1024x682As, indeed, the New York Times and others have reported, Powell has confirmed that his emails were hacked and have been released to the world.  They’re pretty sensational reading, too, as a chatty Powell candidly expresses his opinions about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Dick Cheney, and others.  Powell thinks Trump is a racist, an international pariah, and a national disgrace, he thinks Hillary Clinton is greedy, sleazy, possessed by unbridled ambition, and unfairly dragged him into her own email scandal, he thinks Bill Clinton is cheating on his wife with “bimbos,” and he thinks Cheney is an “idiot.”  Colin Powell apparently is something like “Mikey” in the old TV commercial for Life cereal:  he has disdain for everybody.

Powell’s comments are so pointed that the Washington Post has a story just about the “juiciest” comments in his hacked emails, and USA Today has a piece about the “top insults” in Powell’s emails.  I’m sure dinner parties inside the Beltway are buzzing with talk about Powell’s unvarnished views about the high and mighty.

I feel sorry for Powell, that his personal email was hacked, but I’m also amazed that he would share such candid views in emails, without appreciating that once you send an email, you totally lose control over it and have no way to prevent it from being shared, far and wide — or hacked.  I guess he’s not as sophisticated as I thought he would be.  And there’s no doubt, too, that the leaked emails will affect people’s perception of Powell, who has projected the image of being an above-the-fray, statesman-like national figure.  Now we see that he’s as gossipy as a high school kid and not above throwing around crude words for sexual relations.  The emails certainly contradict his carefully cultivated public image and suggest that under that placid demeanor seen on news shows there lurks a brimming volcano of acidic opinions about other national figures.

It’s a good lesson, though, for those of us whose emails aren’t going to make headlines like Powell’s did:  Think about whether you really want to have that email out in the world at large before you hit “send”!

A Debilitating Penchant For Secrecy

By now most of us have seen the video footage of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton apparently collapsing in the arms of staff and Secret Service agents and being dragged into a van after an abrupt exit from a 9/11 ceremony.  After first saying that Clinton was simply “overheated,” her campaign later released a statement from her doctor that, three days earlier, Clinton had been diagnosed with pneumonia.  The problem at the 9/11 ceremony, the doctor said, was that Clinton became dehydrated.

Having pneumonia certainly doesn’t disqualify a person from being President.  We’ve had Presidents who have dealt with lots of illnesses over the years, and pneumonia is a treatable condition thanks to the miracle of modern medicine.

clinton_11092016_kl-00_00_06_15-still002-largeStill, I think the pneumonia incident is a problem for the Clinton campaign, because it once again suggests that Americans aren’t getting the whole story.  Clinton has been dogged by coughing fits that have produced lots of chatter about her health — chatter that her campaign has tried to downplay as the feverish imaginings of right-wing nuts.  Now she experiences a public health episode and has to be physically supported and lifted into a van, and the campaign first tries to downplay the incident.  Then, when the story starts to really take hold, the campaign discloses that days earlier Clinton had learned she had pneumonia.  You have to wonder whether her real condition would have been disclosed but for the fact that someone took a video that showed Clinton’s apparent collapse — a video that would make any fair-minded person wonder about her health.

This pneumonia incident is just one more example of the Clinton approach to bad news, whether it’s the investigation of her email practices, her fundraising speeches to Wall Street fat cats, or other issues.  The first reaction is to deny, deny, deny, attack the messenger, and hope that friends in the media and the political world will cooperate in quashing the story.  The facts ultimately come out in dribs and drabs, and you never feel like you get the whole truth.

Trust and credibility are important characteristics of a presidential candidate. Voters want to believe that the candidate of their choice is open, above board, and a person of integrity.  The Clinton penchant for secrecy and denial is antithetical to that kind of belief.  It’s one of the reasons why Clinton isn’t pulling away from Donald Trump, despite his many flaws. With the pneumonia incident we’ve just been reminded of her credibility issues in a very public, visible, undeniable way.  It will be interesting to see how the voters react.

Talking About Trump (Or Conversing About Clinton)

After this week, we’ll begin the final stretch of the presidential campaign between two candidates who have actually been nominated by their respective parties.  I’m glad that the calendar pages are turning, because I just want this election to be over.  I don’t think we can withstand much more of the level of vitriol that’s being hurled back and forth.

I’m not talking about the two campaigns, either.  I’m talking about what we’re seeing from the masses, from our friends and colleagues, from Facebook pages and emails.  You can’t even talk about politics without seeing, and hearing, evidence of it.  Many people obviously find it impossible to talk about the candidates without lapsing into flaming, superheated language — the kind that people don’t easily forget.

hqdefaultThe anti-Trump group loathe The Donald and honestly seem to believe that only utterly ignorant racists and fascists could possibly consider voting for the guy.  The anti-Clinton folks are revolted by Hillary’s duplicity and corruption; they think the media is in the tank for her and the elites are trying to fix the election for her.  It’s coarse and visceral stuff, and a lot of bitterness on both sides is leaking out into our daily discourse.

I don’t care about the two candidates.  They are both egregiously flawed and deserve the strident criticism they’re getting.  No, I’m more concerned about the average people out there who are choosing sides, and doing so in a way that seems to leave no room for quarter or disagreement.  I wonder how many long-time friendships will be ruined and how many families will be splintered by the harsh language and even more harsh judgments.  If you are to the point that you think Trump will be the next Hitler, are you going to want to hang out with a guy who wants to vote him into office — even if it’s a guy you’ve known and worked with for 20 years?

The old saying about the wisdom of not talking about politics or religion has never been truer.  It used to be that people of good will at different points on the political spectrum could have a good-natured discussion about who they were voting for, and why.  I’m not sure that is even possible this year.

In our personal lives, we need to declare a truce, and take politics off the table.  Talk about your kids, talk about your travels, talk about sports — talk about just about anything other than the awful choice that we must make come November.  Hold your fire, folks!  That way, at the ground level of our everyday existence, maybe we’ll be able to make it through this flaming car wreck of an election.

The Way Of The Whigs

In the middle of the 19th century, the Whigs were one of the two major parties in American politics.  Founded in 1834 as a group that opposed Democrat Andrew Jackson, they won two presidential elections and counted as their members some of the most prominent American politicians of the day.

2zrpdutAbraham Lincoln started his political career as a Whig.  So did William Seward, Lincoln’s Secretary of State.  Daniel Webster and Henry Clay, two of the most prominent members of the United States Congress during that era, were Whigs.  The slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler too” helped to carry Whig candidate William Henry Harrison to the presidency in the election of 1840.  Another Whig, Zachary Taylor, was elected President in 1848.

But by 1856 — only two presidential elections later — the Whig Party was gone, unable to field a candidate for national office.  It broke apart on the shoals of the slavery issue, irreparably splintered by the Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act, with southern Whigs supporting the South’s detestable “peculiar institution” and northern “conscience Whigs,” like Lincoln, recognizing that slavery had to be ended or the country would tear itself apart.  As the old Whig Party fell apart, a new party, the Republicans, arose.  Led by Lincoln and Seward, the Republicans opposed slavery, fought the Civil War, and then became the second party in America’s two-party system.  Since 1860, those two parties have been the Democrats and the Republicans.

Could what happened to the Whig Party happen to one of the two major parties of the modern day?  Probably not.  The modern political parties are much more well-funded and entrenched, with permanent national staffs and constant fund-raising and electoral laws that make it difficult to get third-party candidates onto the ballot.

screen-shot-2015-07-30-at-11-40-42-amAnd yet . . . I think about the Whigs when I consider the choice presented this year by the two major parties.  According to the polls, the vast majority of Americans are extremely unhappy with the candidates who apparently will carry the banners of their respective parties come November.  I’ve written before about the flaws of the candidates, but what about the flaws of the parties, and the process they created?

The two parties took opposite approaches to the 2016 election.  The Republicans had a huge field of 18 current and former Governors, Senators, and business leaders, had free-for-all debates, and ended up with Donald Trump.  The Democrats treated Hillary Clinton as the presumptive nominee, seemingly discouraged other prominent national Democrats from running, and now see an increasingly unpopular Clinton locked in an improbable, lingering fight with a 70-plus Socialist and facing increasing scrutiny about her personal ethics and credibility.  In short, the parties took opposite approaches to selection of their candidates, but each produced candidates who seem to be deeply, deeply flawed.

Many people out here in the Midwest speak of the choice the parties have given them with a bitterness that goes beyond the normal dismissive comments about politicians.  There is a strong sense that the political parties have utterly failed; many believe that the process is corrupt, and that we should blow it all up and start over.  In short, the views of the electorate probably are a lot like the views of Americans in the 1850s, when the Whigs turned out to be an empty shell with no substance that collapsed and vanished forever.

Could the Democrats or Republicans go the way of the Whigs?  I wonder.

Hillary’s Real Problem

The State Department Inspector General’s report on Hillary Clinton’s establishment of a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State poses a big problem for her bid to win the presidency.  That’s because the report not only contradicts some of the Clinton talking points about the whole ill-advised email escapade, but also reveals new information that accentuates why many people are leery of Clinton in the first place.

The report is, I think, a devastating rebuke for Clinton.  It can’t be reasonably depicted as a partisan hatchet job, because it was ordered by Secretary of State John Kerry and performed by the inspector general’s office during the Obama Administration.  And it recounts, in brutal detail, Clinton’s violation of State Department policies.  The report states that, according to officials, Clinton’s server was not, and would never have been, approved.  It concludes that Clinton failed to preserve federal records in conformity with the Department of State policies under the Federal Records Act.  It reveals that there was an apparent hacking attempt on the server, and that people who asked questions about the server were told not to discuss it.  In short, it confirms the worst-case scenario that Clinton and her minions have been downplaying ever since this story first broke.

David Brooks of the New York Times recently wrote an interesting piece on why he thinks Hillary Clinton is so unpopular.  He postulates that it’s because she’s presented as a kind of workaholic and never displays the human qualities that make her tick — what her hobbies are, what her interests are, and the other pieces of intimate knowledge that our nation supposedly craves in this internet age.  I think Brooks got it precisely wrong.  It’s silly to think that public perception about Clinton would change dramatically if we learned, for example, that she makes crafts in her spare time or enjoys skiing.  I think the root problem for Hillary Clinton is a combination of general “Clinton fatigue,” because she and her husband have been in the public eye, demanding our attention seemingly forever, and the fact that, in the eyes of many people, she projects a strong sense of entitlement and being above it all.

When those people watch Hillary Clinton, they get the sense that she’s annoyed at having to go through the motions, give the speeches, and pretend she’s enjoying it, when deep down she resents the fact that people just don’t bow to her paper resume and acknowledge that she is the most qualified person to serve as President and give the job to her, already.  It’s not that she’s not displaying human qualities, it’s that the human qualities she displays are the kind that many people find totally off-putting.  She’s like the kid who rolls his eyes and smirks when other kids give wrong answers during a spelling bee or a flash card contest and just wants to be reaffirmed as the smartest kid in the class.  Those kids tended not to be the most popular kids in the grade.

And that’s where, in my view, the IG report is especially troublesome for Clinton.  It reveals that Kerry and former Secretaries of State Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Madeleine Albright all cooperated and answered questions as part of the Inspector General’s investigation — but Clinton didn’t.  In fact, she not only didn’t cooperate and sit for an interview, but her chief of staff and top aides didn’t either.  Really?  They got paid salaries by the taxpayers, but they won’t participate in an investigation that deals with issues of compliance with federal records laws and potential exposure of highly confidential government documents?  Who the heck do these people think they are?

As for Hillary Clinton, she’s apparently got plenty of time to give speeches to Wall Street firms and trade groups for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and pose for grip and grin photos with high rollers, but she can’t be bothered to answer questions as part of an investigation by an official in the department she once headed?  It’s the kind of high-handed behavior that we’ve come to expect from the Clinton camp, expressing irritation and exasperation at doing the things that everyone else accepts and endures.

That’s why so many people don’t care for Hillary Clinton.  If she took up knitting or skeet-shooting, their views aren’t going to change.

The Vanishing President

I can’t remember the last time I heard anyone mention President Obama’s name in daily conversation.  Sure, you see news stories about him from time to time, giving a commencement speech here, issuing some new executive order or federal guidance there, but for the most part he’s just faded from the national zeitgeist.

obama-walking-away-rose-garden2It’s not a phenomenon unique to President Obama, of course.  When Presidents reach the last year of their second term, they always seem diminished, less important, and less vital.  They’re yesterday’s news, and they typically suffer by comparison to the energetic folks out on the campaign trail, all of whom are angling to take the President’s job.  No surprise there, either — the President is working, attending boring meetings and otherwise doing what Presidents must do, whereas the candidates are out jetting from place to place, giving speeches before cheering crowds.

It’s got to be a weird feeling, to be the focus of news coverage and attention and then suddenly . . . not.  You wonder if it’s hard for Presidents to deal with, that sense that they have been marginalized even though they are still in office.  Sure, they still have all of the trappings of Commander-in-Chief status, but they know, and everyone knows, that the country is in the process of moving on.  It’s like a high school romance that dims as the year progresses, until both parties recognize that they’re just playing out the string until summer comes and the calendar mercifully brings an end to it.

The fading phenomenon is particularly interesting this year, because President Obama reportedly is itching to take on Donald Trump.  If true, that might present a tough decision for the Clinton campaign.  The President can still give a mean speech, I’m sure, but he’s identified with the past — and if you’re out talking about change, as presidential candidates always do, the outgoing President is the living, breathing embodiment of what people want to change.  Perhaps that’s why, in my lifetime, outgoing Presidents really don’t seem to have been all that involved, or effective, in campaigning for their party’s chosen successor.  Will this year be any different?

Weird World

Let’s face it, we live in a weird, incredibly unpredictable world.  Just when you think you’ve got it nailed, you turn around and are astonished to learn that Donald Trump is the “presumptive Republican nominee.”

120408033849-ybl-van-jones-best-advice-00002022-story-topSome months ago, we went to dinner with a large group of friends, and someone suggested that we each predict the Republican and Democratic nominees who would emerge this year.  Even though the dinner occurred during the early days of Trumpmania, I’d guess that nobody picked Trump as the eventual carrier of the GOP banner.  His behavior and comments were uniformly viewed as so inflammatory that the notion that he could somehow navigate through the primary process without spontaneously combusting seemed wildly, impossibly implausible.  And since that dinner party I’ve been regularly expecting and predicting that, with each grossly improper, know-nothing comment, Trump was bound to fall.

And yet . . . here he is.  To be sure, he’s continued to say outlandish things that would have been immediately, irreversibly fatal for every other candidate who has ever vied for the presidency, and yet . . . here he is.  The Governors and Senators, the seasoned pols, who made up the large field of initial Republican candidates have all fallen by the wayside, leaving an egomaniacal reality TV show star as one of the two major party candidates for the most powerful office in the world.  Last night Ted Cruz “suspended his campaign,” and today John Kasich threw in the towel.  Amazingly, Trump has actually triumphed over his Republican opponents while Hillary Clinton is still struggling to drive a stake into the heart of Bernie Sanders’ rebel campaign.

Last night Kish and I were watching CNN’s coverage of the Indiana primary and Trump’s by-now-familiar stream of consciousness victory speech.  CNN has not one, but two panels of pundits to cover such events, and one of them is activist Van Jones.  Most of the pundits seemed to focus on the typical things that pundits do — that the early Republican candidates made this mistake or that that allowed Trump to survive and ultimately prevail.  Not Jones.  He cautioned that the political elites may be oblivious to something brooding in the country, something big but still under the radar, a kind of broad and deep, visceral dissatisfaction with the state of things that the inside-the-Beltway types are just missing but that finds its outlet in the insurgent, unconventional candidacies of Trump and Sanders.  Perhaps he’s right.  It’s as good an explanation as any for a “presumptive GOP nominee” that leaves me slack-jawed in wonderment.

 

The Third-Party Deficit

I haven’t written about politics for a while because it’s just too depressing.  Now that the recent primary results make it increasingly look like we are in fact going to see an election in which Hillary Clinton leads the Democratic ticket and Donald Trump carries the Republican banner, I can only ask, where the hell are the viable third-party options?

deez-nutsWith choices like those that apparently are going to be provided by the two major parties, you’d think this might be the year when America starts to look more like Europe, and third parties could fill the awesome void that now looms before us.  Well, forget it.  There’s no sign that any one of those down-ballot parties that you see on your presidential ballot every fourth November — the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, the Constitution Party, etc. — has been taking advantage of the opportunity that 2016 presents by raising more money, drawing more supporters, or gaining media attention about their candidates, policies, or platforms.  Does anyone have any idea, for example, who might be the leading contenders for the Libertarian Party nomination, or even how or when the Green Party will pick its candidate?

(In case you’re curious, the Libertarian Party’s convention is next month in Florida, and you can see the names and pictures of the people “currently recognized by the Libertarian Party” as potential candidates here.  The Green Party, on the other hand, has recognized five candidates identified here and will hold its nominating convention in August in Houston, Texas.  I’m sure the press coverage of both conventions will be epic.)

Don’t hold your breath that one of the other “parties” might actually nominate a meaningful candidate who could attract enough support in the polls to participate in debates come fall or offer a plausible alternative to Clinton and Trump.  That leaves the issue of whether we might have a quixotic bid by some relatively well-known figure.  It’s happened in my adult lifetime, with Ross Perot and Ralph Nader, and I’ve even voted for a third-party candidate for President before, when I voted for John Anderson in 1980.  We may still see a rogue Republican who can’t stomach Trump or a Democrat who loathes Clinton’s Wall Street ties, of course, but right now the only buzz seems to be about an effort to draft a former Marine Corps general I’ve never heard of before.  And the problem is that, without an established party apparatus, it’s not very likely that a third-party candidate can even get the signatures necessary to appear on the presidential ballot in every state, much less mount a credible campaign.

So if, like many of us, you think the looming choice for President will present us with the worst choice in a lifetime, don’t just blame the Rs and the Ds — blame the little guys, too.  No one is offering us credible alternatives.

Hillary’s Bar Exam Failure

Recently I was reading an article and ran across the statement that Hillary Clinton had failed the District of Columbia bar exam when she took it back in the ’70s.  I was startled because it was something I’d never heard about her background, so I actually did a search to check on whether the statement was true.

D03G3PBS07 A FEAIt was.  In the summer of 1973, Hillary Rodham took the D.C. bar exam.  817 people took the exam, and she was one of the 261 who did not pass.  She also took, and passed, the Arkansas bar exam, so rather than stay in Washington, D.C. she moved to Arkansas, where she and Bill Clinton later were married.  According to the link above, she kept the D.C. bar exam result a secret from her friends until she made a reference to it in her autobiography, Living History.

I mention Hillary Clinton’s bar exam failure not to bash her for something that happened more than 40 years ago — lots of famous and accomplished lawyers and politicians have encountered an initial failure at the hands of the bar exam — but simply to note how selective the reporting on political figures can be.  Story lines somehow get set, and facts that are inconsistent never get mentioned.  Hillary Clinton is portrayed as a brilliant law student at Yale who worked on one of the congressional Watergate committees, then went on to achieve great success with the Rose law firm in Arkansas before Bill Clinton was elected President.  Her failure on the D.C. bar exam is a clinker in that story line of unbroken accomplishment and gets discarded.  Do you think a failure on the bar exam by, say, a politician like George W. Bush would be overlooked — or that we would hear about it, over and over, as evidence in support of the narrative that he wasn’t really very smart?

This reality is a significant failing by the news media and the punditocracy, and it does a disservice both to political candidates — whether they have a positive narrative or a negative one — and to the public.  It assumes that the general population can’t really sift through the good and bad of a public figure’s life and reach a fair judgment about them, so facts get edited and blemishes get removed until the story line leads inexorably to one conclusion.  We’re told, over and over, that someone is a genius or an idiot — and then, when contrary facts are disclosed, it comes as a shock.  I’d much rather get the facts, good and bad and in-between, and come to my own conclusion.  And by the way, stories where people overcome some adversity tend to be much richer and more interesting than airbrushed sagas of ever-increasing triumphs.  Take Lincoln, for example.

 

Fueling The Bern

665036dc-1c4d-4b5e-b83a-7e981281a70d

A member of the Webner family who is feeling the Bern went to Sanders HQ here in Columbus to do some campaign work today and snapped a few photos.  Sanders campaign volunteers were busily working the phones, canvasing the city, and generally doing what is necessary for a presidential campaign to do on a primary election day.

Turnout is reported to be good in Columbus.  One concern for Democrats is that lifelong Ds may have decided to vote in the Republican primary to cast a vote against Donald Trump.  (I know at least one person who falls into that category.)  If that kind of backlash vote is happening, what might it mean for the Ohio Democratic primary results?  I don’t know for sure, obviously, but I wonder:  who is more likely to not vote for their candidate and vote against Trump — Clinton voters, who don’t seem terribly enthusiastic about their candidate to begin with, or those fired-up, true believer Sanders backers?

Right now, it feels like it’s anybody’s ballgame.

c9d54b14-4f93-4085-ba33-f3d98b8a7c3f