Posted by Curt on 17 September, 2016 at 4:43 pm. 2 comments already!


Ross Kaminsky:

In a bushel of Colin Powell’s private emails released by a website thought to have connections to Russian intelligence, the former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff excoriates Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as a racist “know-nothing” and a “national disgrace and international pariah.”

Yawn. This from the “Republican” who voted twice for Barack Obama.

While Powell’s aggressive criticism of Trump is what most “mainstream” media headlines are trumpeting, his comments about Hillary (and Bill) Clinton are far more interesting and surprising.

Clinton should be the default candidate for Powell. Yet Powell says of Hillary, “I would rather not have to vote for her, although she is a friend I respect.” The retired four-star general describes Mrs. Clinton as “a 70-year person [sic] with a long track record, unbridled ambition, greedy, not transformational, with a husband still dicking bimbos at home (according to the NYP).”

The many obvious jokes about Slick Willie aside, Powell’s characterizations of Hillary are potentially politically significant. But those who focus on his correct analysis of Clinton as tremendously ambitious and greedy are missing the point. The truly devastating descriptor is “not transformational.”

In my lifetime, the only less transformational candidate than Hillary Clinton — and this is a close call — was George H.W. Bush. But Bush was running in a peacetime year that notched 4.2 percent GDP growth; being a status quo candidate was an asset rather than the enormous liability it is today. Instead of transformation, Hillary Clinton stands for raising the taxes Barack Obama has raised, socializing the health care system Obama has socialized, deeper entanglements in Middle Eastern wars that Americans have long been weary of, and a raft of stale, failed ideas that litter the recent and not-so-recent Progressive past.

In politics, as in financial markets and so much else in life, what is both interesting and important is what is changing and, by extension, how to cause change.

It is a truism that the Democratic base will vote for Hillary no matter her flaws; the same for most Republicans and the Donald. “Motivating the base” is an important part of a campaign, particularly this year when Democrats are so uninspired by their candidate.

It is equally a truism that elections are determined by those centrist, independent, unaffiliated and often lightly informed citizens who aren’t voting for a team and aren’t voting (or refusing to vote) based on years or decades of commitment to principle. Since these voters are, by definition, swayable, the political game is mostly about swaying them.

Let’s consider Powell’s adjectives for Clinton.

First, that she is ultra-ambitious. Is there anybody who hasn’t known this about her since she stuck with her husband through his bimbo-dicking back in Little Rock? And since she agreed to become secretary of state for a man she clearly despised — and from whom I trust the feeling remains at least slightly mutual? And, to be fair, aren’t most politicians and especially candidates for president full of “unbridled ambition”? In short, everybody knows this of her and nobody cares.

Next, that she is greedy. This is a bigger problem for Mrs. Clinton. Although there is not yet proof of “pay to play” in the sense of her ordering the State Department to act to benefit a donor to the Clinton Foundation, the entire organizational structure combined with Hillary’s deletion of tens of thousands of e-mails stinks of corruption.

But this, like her ambition, is well known. On a good day for Hillary, one third of poll respondents say she is honest and trustworthy. Almost nobody does not have an opinion about Clinton’s mendacity and self-dealing. Therefore, while the occasional reminder to American voters about it is worthwhile, this issue is no longer an opinion-changer.

But “not transformational,” the description that most Hillary critics will pass over in favor of the superficially juicier “greedy,” this is what the Republican Party and the Trump campaign should amplify at every opportunity. Because this is the message that still has the power to swing voters.

Young idealistic voters bought into Barack Obama’s “hope and change”; they looked forward to his “fundamentally transforming” the country. They didn’t laugh out loud when he said that his nomination represented “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” Even Jesus could only walk on water; he didn’t claim to be able to change sea level.

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