Political pundits throughout the land are tripping over each other to compose the latest bland, uninsightful screed proclaiming the death of the Republican Party. This makes sense, because the primary purpose of a political pundit is to state the obvious years after it’s already become established fact to everyone actually paying attention.
Yes, of course, Trump winning the GOP nomination marks the end of the party as we know it. After all, some neocons are already publicly and actively throwing their support behind Hillary. While this undoubtably represents a major turning point in U.S. political history, many pundits have yet to appreciate that the exact same thing is happening within the Democratic Party. It’s just not completely obvious yet.
– From February’s post: It’s Not Just the GOP – The Democratic Party is Also Imploding
I believe Hillary Clinton lost the Presidency this past week. While the explosive DNC leaks will undoubtably have a long lasting effect, this post will barely reference the leaks. Rather, it will explain how recent decisions by the Hillary campaign played right into Trump’s hands by essentially waving a gigantic middle finger to the 73% of Americans who think the country is headed in the wrong direction.
What Hillary Clinton did in selecting Tim Kaine as VP was send a clear signal that not only is she the status quo candidate, she is proud of it. She didn’t just double down on being the establishment candidate, she tripled and quadrupled down. There is now no denying that Hillary Clinton is implicitly running on only two themes.
1. Trump is scary. I am not Trump.
2. Things aren’t really bad. I’ll continue along the path we’ve been on.
This message will result in a guaranteed loss against an opponent who is telling the American public “I know you’re angry, I’m angry too, and I’m going to blow up the status quo.” Recall that 73% of the U.S. public thinks the country is headed in the wrong direction. As the Wall Street Journal noted:
Some 73% in the new survey say things have gone off-course, with only 18% saying the nation is headed in the right direction.
Numbers such as those are usually seen in times of national crisis, such as during the government shutdown of 2013, when only 14% said the nation was on-course, or during the 2008 financial crisis, when 11% said things were headed in the right direction.
In this post, I will prove that Hillary is signaling a “business as usual” approach to the status quo, and in return, the status quo is uniformly and excitedly rallying around her. This will disgust most Americans and lead to a Trump victory. People who dislike Trump more than Clinton will vote for him anyway, because they dislike the status quo even more.
So let’s take a look at Tim Kaine, starting with the topic of banks. Here are a few excerpts from a recent Huffington Post article titled, Tim Kaine Calls To Deregulate Banks As He Campaigns To Be Clinton’s VP:
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) is on Hillary Clinton’s short list of potential vice presidential nominees. He’s also actively pushing bank deregulation this week as he campaigns for the job.
Kaine signed two letters on Monday urging federal regulators to go easy on banks ? one to help big banks dodge risk management rules, and another to help small banks avoid consumer protection standards.
As Kaine joins the deregulatory fight, several other lawmakers are pushing the CFPB in the opposite direction. On Wednesday, 28 senators sent a letter to the agency urging them to toughen up their new rule against abusive payday lending. Kaine didn’t sign it.
Moving along, what about the TPP, where does Mr. Kaine stand there?
Here’s a hint from the Intercept’s recent article, Hours Before Hillary Clinton’s VP Decision, Likely Pick Tim Kaine Praises the TPP:
Hillary Clinton’s rumored vice presidential pick Sen. Tim Kaine defended his vote for fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Thursday.
Kaine, who spoke to The Intercept after an event at a Northern Virginia mosque, praised the agreement as an improvement of the status quo, but maintained that he had not yet decided how to vote on final approval of the agreement. By contrast, Hillary Clinton has qualified her previous encouragement of the agreement, and now says she opposes it.
Kaine’s measured praise of the agreement could signal one of two things. Either he is out of the running for the vice presidential spot, as his position on this major issue stands in opposition to hers. Or, by picking him, Clinton is signaling that her newly declared opposition to the agreement is not sincere. The latter explanation would confirm the theory offered by U.S. Chamber of Commerce head Tom Donohue, among others, who has said that Clinton is campaigning against the TPP for political reasons but would ultimately implement the deal.
Banking and fake free trade deals are two topics that get Americans animated across the ideological spectrum, and by selecting Tim Kaine, Hillary is not so subtly telling her donors not to pay attention to any anti-establishement rhetoric that may come out of her mouth during the campaign. She signaling that she knows the status quo has her back, and she has theirs.
Unsurprisingly, the oligarchs and their lobbyists who run the show and craft policies behind the scenes have gotten the message loud and clear. How can I be so certain? Let me give you a few examples.
First, let’s take a look at the extent to which lobbyists generally are embracing Clinton as opposed to shunning Trump. From The Hill:
Lobbyists are being welcomed back into the fold of the Democratic Party as the Obama era draws to a close.
President Obama campaigned heavily against special interests in 2008 and put in place several new policies limiting their service in his administration. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) banned lobbyist contributions, and lobbyists began complaining of a stigma — a “scarlet L” — being attached unfairly to their industry.
Times appear to be changing, though, with the outward hostility to the K Street crowd thawing.
Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has accepted more than $9 million in bundled donations from registered lobbyists, while the DNC has rolled back the lobbyist bans that Obama put into place.
“In 2008 and 2012, there was no integration with the [Obama] campaign,” said Al Mottur, a senior Democratic lobbyist at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, adding that he would have liked to have helped. “Now, the campaign is welcoming — they’re open to us. That’s why I’ve done as much work for her as I’ve done on her behalf.”
Lobbyist bundlers have contributed to Clinton’s massive donor advantage over the Republican nominee, Donald Trump.
Clinton’s bundler policy also gives lobbyists hope that she may reverse Obama’s policies, issued via executive order, that were intended to slow down what he called the “revolving door” between government and the private sector.
“There are a lot of people on K Street who certainly hope she would” reverse or ignore an executive order signed by Obama aimed at limiting registered lobbyists from getting jobs in the White House, said Mary Beth Stanton of Heather Podesta + Partners.
“With the anti-Washington sentiment of this campaign … it wouldn’t be something that would be discussed today,” she added. “That’s a staffing issue, and that’s not something that they’ll decide until they have to.”
In other words, we know she’ll have our back in office even if she has to pretend to dislike us to get elected.
For 2016, the DNC reversed the prohibition on lobbyist cash entirely, both for the party and the convention, giving corporations and lobbyists the opportunity to participate fully.
Trump’s controversial campaign had a tangible effect on the Republican convention last week in Cleveland.
Many companies skipped the event and declined to make donations for fear of being associated with the businessman’s controversial rhetoric. Several Republican lobbyists who did come to Cleveland told The Hill that they would be taking care of business for clients and out as quickly as possible.
Clinton’s candidacy is also a draw for those on K Street, many of whom have been involved with the family for years.
“The community is supporting her, there is no question about that,” said David Castagnetti of Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas. His firm is also kicking off the convention with a party on Monday.
While disgusting, that’s nothing compared to the following excerpts from the Politico article titled, Wall Street Takes a Road Trip to Philadelphia. Brace yourselves…
NEW YORK — Wall Street is taking the Acela down to Philadelphia this week.
Hordes of industry executives will descend on the city to celebrate Hillary Clinton’s nomination for president and renew close associations that vexed the Democratic standard-bearer throughout her primary battle with Bernie Sanders.
Goldman Sachs, which paid Clinton millions for private speeches, will be well represented in Philadelphia with executives Jake Siewert, a former Bill Clinton press secretary, making the trip along with Steven Barg, Michael Paese, Joyce Brayboy and Jennifer Scully, who was a major fundraiser for Bill Clinton in New York in 1992.
Blackstone, one of the nation’s largest private equity firms, will hold an official reception in Philadelphia on Thursday featuring its president, Tony James, sometimes mentioned as a possible Treasury Secretary in a Clinton administration.
Hedge fund managers and top Democratic donors including Avenue Capital’s Marc Lasry and Boston Provident’s Orin Kramer will also be on the scene as will Morgan Stanley executive and former top Clinton aide Tom Nides. Executives from Citigroup, JPMorganChase and other large banks will also prowl the streets and bar rooms of Philadelphia.
The financial contingent will be in an especially good mood following Clinton’s selection of Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate. Kaine has shown a willingness to fight for regional bank relief from the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. But more than that, he’s not Elizabeth Warren, the potential VP pick that long had Wall Street terrified.
Republicans with ties to the financial industry will also be there, a sharp contrast to Donald Trump’s convention in Cleveland, which Wall Street largely shunned over fears of the GOP nominee’s populist agenda on trade, immigration and Wall Street reform.
The banker anxiety only grew during Trump’s convention as the party rolled out a platform plank calling for the re-imposition of a Depression-era Glass-Steagall law that could force banks to break up into smaller pieces.
Wall Street groaned as Clinton moved to the left during the primary —especially on trade — but the industry remains far more comfortable with the idea of another President Clinton in the White House than a President Trump.
“I think she has shown perhaps ironically that she has a better understanding of business and Wall Street than Donald Trump does,” said Steve Rattner, an investment banker and Democratic donor who will make the short Acela ride down to Philly. “The GOP platform includes reinstating Glass-Steagall. And when you watched that [Trump acceptance] speech, Bernie Sanders could have given half of it. Putting partisanship aside, most of my Republican business friends are appalled at the thought of Donald Trump in the White House.”
What braindead Rattner fails to understand is the majority of the American public despise him and his crony “business friends,” and will actively vote to keep them as far away from power as possible.
So while the Clinton camp won’t boast about it given the continuing unpopularity of Wall Street and the populist tilt of the electorate, the City of Brotherly Love will be the City of Banker Love this week. The Clinton campaign did not respond to a request for a comment.
Trump is likely to try to continue to exploit Clinton’s connections to the banking industry. On Saturday following the Kaine selection, Trump Tweeted: “Tim Kaine is, and always has been, owned by the banks. Bernie supporters are outraged, was their last choice. Bernie fought for nothing!”
“Wall Street doesn’t really side with a party based only on where regulation is going. We live in an environment where we know there is regulation and that we are under scrutiny,” said Robert Wolf, an investment banker and major Democratic fundraiser who will be in Philadelphia. “The bottom line is that if the economy does better, finance does better and everyone does better.”
Clinton has not showed Sanders’ ability to tap into a massive grassroots network of small donors and remains reliant on Wall Street cash to fund her campaign, making it difficult for her to shun bankers at her convention.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Clinton and outside groups supporting her have raised $375 million so far in the 2016 cycle. The securities and investment industry is one of her top sources of cash, donating $40 million to her cause so far, according to the CRP.
But in the background, the “Rubin wing” of the Democratic Party, named for Wall Street executive and former Bill Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, will be circulating through panel discussions, Democratic party committee events and cocktail parties.
Larry Summers, a Harvard professor and former Rubin protégé who also served as Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton, will take part in a POLITICO discussion on the economy on Wednesday along with Neera Tanden, a close Hillary Clinton adviser and president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, a think-tank some on the left now view as too centrist.
Make no mistake about it, if you think the Obama administration represents a bunch of oligarch-coddling banker puppets, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
But there’s more. Incredibly, the DNC has decided it would be wise to have billionaire New York City oligarch, Michael Bloomberg, speak at the convention. This is a man with extraordinarily deep ties to big finance, a man who was a fierce proponent of “stop and frisk” while mayor of NYC, and the biggest Wall Street apologist alive. Yet this is the man Hillary Clinton’s team is parading out as some sort of hero.
As Bloomberg itself reports:
Michael Bloomberg will endorse Hillary Clinton in a prime-time speech at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, a timely boost as the candidate prepares to accept her party’s nomination for president.
“As the nation’s leading independent and a pragmatic business leader Mike has supported candidates from both sides of the aisle,” said Howard Wolfson, an adviser to Bloomberg and a former spokesman for Clinton’s 2008 campaign. “This week in Philadelphia he will make a strong case that the clear choice in this election is Hillary Clinton.”
Of course Bloomberg has supported Republicans and Democrats. That’s what oligarchs do.
The endorsement from the former mayor of New York City could resonate with swing voters and Republicans who haven’t warmed to their party’s nominee, Donald Trump.
“Given her demographic targets, Bloomberg is good get for @HillaryClinton,” David Axelrod, chief strategist for Barack Obama’s two successful presidential campaigns, said on Twitter.
The above paragraphs demonstrate perfectly just how mired in a bubble of corruption and cluelessness these people really are. Despite Trump winning the Republican nomination, despite him now leading Hillary in the polls, they still don’t get it. The idea that Wall Street cheerleader and billionaire oligarch Michael Bloomberg has any appeal to the 73% of Americans who think the country is headed in the wrong direction is absolutely preposterous.
But the cluelessness extends to those who are not merely Hillary Clinton sycophants. For example, take this excerpt from a recent post by Robert Reich, who fiercely supported Bernie Sanders in the primary:
This week’s essay: Does Hillary Get It?
Does Hillary Clinton understand that the biggest divide in American politics is no longer between the right and the left, but between the anti-establishment and the establishment?
I worry she doesn’t – at least not yet.
I’m sorry Robert, but could you possibly be more delusional? How can you think someone who doesn’t understand the above at this point in time is qualified to be President.
Then, later on in the post, he makes the following suggestion:
Hillary Clinton doesn’t need to move toward the “middle.” In fact, such a move could hurt her if it’s perceived to be compromising the stances she took in the primaries in order to be more acceptable to Democratic movers and shakers.
She needs to move instead toward the anti-establishment – forcefully committing herself to getting big money out of politics, and making the system work for the many rather than a privileged few.
Here was my Twitter response to this absurd notion:
Meanwhile, it’s time to admit that a material percentage of Bernie Sanders supporters will not be rallying behind Clinton. A combination of her choice of Tim Kaine as VP, and the DNC leaks, virtually guarantee that this will not happen.
Indeed, I thought the following paragraph from a Wall Street Journal article summed it up perfectly:
But at the pro-Sanders rally, attendees were more than eager to list the reasons that Mrs. Clinton deserved to be incarcerated. At least once during a four-mile march from City Hall to Roosevelt Park, rallygoers began loudly chanting “Lock her up!” — the same chant heard on the floor of the RNC.
Interestingly, it appears the only thing an extremely polarized American public actually agrees on is that Hillary Clinton should be locked up.
Going forward, I fully expect Hillary to get a bump after Obama speaks at the DNC convention later this week. Moreover, with a guy as volatile and disliked as Trump as her opponent, there will be many ups and downs in the months ahead. Nevertheless, I think Hillary Clinton lost both the momentum and the election this past week, never to fully recover.