Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What A Difference A Debate Makes

I don't recall a single primary debate making such an immediate and powerful impression as Hillary Clinton evidently did in the first Democratic Party presidential candidate debate on Tuesday.

Many of the first stories on the Internet declared Clinton the clear "winner," who "did what she had to do."  Subsequent stories Wednesday were even more laudatory.

There's a certain inevitability to this--the "story" had to eventually change from Hillary falls to Hillary resurrected.  But the political impact seems more substantial, especially since the debate brought in an estimated 15 million viewers, far surpassing predictions and previous Dem debate audiences.

I wasn't one of the viewers, of anything really but I was more involved in urging the Mets to defeat the Dodgers (not that I like the Mets that much; I dislike the Dodgers that much) which, by the way, they didn't do.  But I watched clips and read excerpts, and what was important to me was that Clinton understands how to tap into the powerful advantage she has.  She reminded everyone she is a woman.  She made it clear that she will continue policies and direction of the Obama presidency, which besides reassuring me, is good politics.  That's where the Democratic Party is.

Wednesday she did what winning politicians do--she capitalized on her gains.  Her first big rally was a solidarity march with Latino voters but more broadly, she spoke to the party's traditional support of immigrants.  She got a union endorsement and gushed over it.

Frank Rich rightly remarks that her fortunes started to turn when the House no-longer-to-be-Speaker McCarthy bragged that the GOPer generated Benghazi investigations had driven her poll numbers down. (A second GOPer House Rep admitted the partisan nature of the committee today.)  And of course, the Bernie Sanders moment ("The American people are tired of hearing about your damn e-mails") was another gift that will keep on giving.

So for Dems the headline on Jonathan Chiat's commentary says it: the panic over Hillary is over (Rebecca Traister took a similar approach, with her own ebullient prose.) (And I realize I've just linked to four columns on the New York Magazine site--I did read stories from at least 6 other sources, but these cover the ground.)

Hillary's got all kinds of room now to be the inclusive, the compassionate as well as the realistic candidate, thanks to these months of GOPer competition to be more outrageously vicious and reactionary, and stupid.  All she has to do now is not look insane.

Postscript: Then Thursday morning the Media woke up and thunk, hey, if Hillary won so decisively then there's nothing to watch for the next half year.  So today's story is: Bernie introduced himself to the American public!  They both won!  We've still got a race here folks you betcha--stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Ryan's the Hope?

What? Me Worry?
Maybe not so much.  In countering the push to convince Paul Ryan to run and be crowned as Speaker of the House, the rabid right backlash has gathered strength enough for a New York Times headline that Stanley Kubrick or Kurt Vonnegut would have loved: Latest Unease on Right: Ryan Is Too Far Left

Paul Krugman doesn't think much of Ryan either, but for a different reason:

"What makes Mr. Ryan so special? The answer, basically, is that he’s the best con man they’ve got. His success in hoodwinking the news media and self-proclaimed centrists in general is the basis of his stature within his party. Unfortunately, at least from his point of view, it would be hard to sustain the con game from the speaker’s chair."

And Krugman puts his finger on how Ryan has succeeded so far:

"To understand Mr. Ryan’s role in our political-media ecosystem, you need to know two things. First, the modern Republican Party is a post-policy enterprise, which doesn’t do real solutions to real problems. Second, pundits and the news media really, really don’t want to face up to that awkward reality."

But here's another wrinkle.  Congress is recessed and Ryan says he won't say this week whether he will run.  So between now and Oct. 20, a lot of candidate wannabes (an amazing number of whom are from Texas) will test the waters.  If none of them gets warm, then Ryan starts to look inevitable all over again.


Monday, October 12, 2015

Monday or Fryday?

Happy whatever it is Day.

It's federally Columbus Day, which over the years became an Italian American Pride sort of day.  (Even though Columbus was officially representing Spain.)

But Columbus and especially his Day came to represent the European invasion that destroyed a continent of Native American/First Peoples cultures. (Though Columbus himself enslaved some Natives, Italians by and large weren't among the subsequent major invaders.)

 In 1992, the 500th anniversary of Columbus' day, the new flowering of Native cultures came into beautiful full bloom and effectively hijacked the holiday. Which was a good thing.  Now hereabouts at Humboldt State this has become Indigenous Peoples Week, and at various places elsewhere it's officially Indigenous Peoples Day.

But it's confused and in places there is still conflict.  So maybe we need an Indigenous Peoples Day (or week or month) with cultural and educational events, speeches, parades and festivals, and an Italian American Pride day with cultural and educational events, speeches, parades and festivals, so we can have different days to appreciate these cultures and eat fry bread and, well, fried bread, which my (Italian) grandmother made.