Thursday, July 6, 2017

Penn-ing in the Democratic Party

(By American Zen’s Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
Mark Penn and his cronies represent everything that is wrong with the Democratic Party, or what's left of it. There. It's out. I said it, because somebody had to.
     Because today, money launderer Penn wrote and published in the NY Times today a typically clueless op-ed that one can expect from anyone as well-snuggled in bed with the Clintons as is Penn. In "Back to the Center, Democrats", Penn ineptly pushed the Bernie Bro narrative that never gained any serious traction and essentially blames not only Clinton's humiliating loss to a buffoon last November but blamed the downfall of the entire Democratic Party on... leftists. This is the first paragraph:
The path back to power for the Democratic Party today, as it was in the 1990s, is unquestionably to move to the center and reject the siren calls of the left, whose policies and ideas have weakened the party.
     It's exactly this corporate, out of touch cocktail party elitism that breezily makes factually baseless pronouncements such as this. Liberals and Socialists, which Penn had also called out, are to blame for the Clintons not returning to power (and lugging Penn back in with them) and that only their crypto right wing neoliberal policies can save us. With the Swiss cheese selective memory of which only people like Penn are capable, he then gives us this remarkable piece of historical revisionism:
After years of leftward drift by the Democrats culminated in Republican control of the House under Speaker Newt Gingrich, President Bill Clinton moved the party back to the center in 1995 by supporting a balanced budget, welfare reform, a crime bill that called for providing 100,000 new police officers and a step-by-step approach to broadening health care. Mr. Clinton won a resounding re-election victory in 1996 and Democrats were back.
     It's hard to see where and when this "leftward drift" took place, especially in the early 90's. But it wasn't leftists or Bernie Bros that cost Democrats the House in the Republican Revolution of 1994 (nearly two years into Clinton's first term) but the sheer weight of history: Historically, a new President's party loses control of at least one chamber of Congress in the first two years of his term.
     And the centrist achievements touted by Penn are some of the most ruinous policies ever to come out of that administration, such as "welfare reform", that targeted low income Americans, or the 1994 crime bill that targeted and victimized in vast numbers literally tens of millions of African Americans, especially males (called by Hillary Clinton in 1996 "super-predators").
     And as for "broadening health care", all the Clinton health care bill would've done is what the Obama administration would do 17 years later: Create a giant gateway to the free market that, in the Clinton bill, would've been co-opted by the six largest HMO's in the nation.
     At one point, Penn actually called for Democrats to abandon their fight against transgender bathroom bills signed into law by many right wing governors such as Pat McCrory. Essentially, what Penn is saying is, "Let the Republicans have their petty victories and fight the battles we can win."
     Unfortunately, because of the neoliberal policies publicly and privately expressed by an aging and out of touch Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party isn't winning many battles, lately, and it certainly isn't the fault of Bernie Bros who were rudely pushed, sometimes literally, to the sidelines by hired thugs and party apparatchiks.

I'm Thinking of George Santayana These Days
We refused to learn our lessons from the Clintons in the 90's and we almost doomed ourselves to repeat them, even handing Hillary a Pyrrhic victory in the popular vote totals (so much for the narrative of the Bernie Bros costing her a White House she thought we owed her by fiat).
     There's a reason why the turnout for the last midterm election was only 36.7% and last year's general election was hardly any better because both parties, as usual, fielded candidates who were loathsome, only moreso than usual. It wasn't leftist policies that were given the stiff arm at the Democratic convention committees that had drafted out its neoliberal platform. It wasn't whacked-out, Socialist fringe ideas such as a $15 an hour minimum wage or single-payer, universal health care that drove away tens of millions of white, working class voters.
     Bernie Sanders was absolutely correct last month when he wrote in that same newspaper that we should take some notes from the recent snap election in Great Britain. Theresa May's vanity election that cost UK taxpayers roughly £140,000,000 also cost the Tories a total of 45 seats (32 going to Corbyn's Labor Party) in the 650 member Parliament. While Sanders was also correct in saying that no one reason can be cited for winning or losing an election, one fact is clear: By arrogantly releasing a cruel and out of touch manifesto, conservatives alienated many of their own working class (perhaps inspiring Senate Republicans to carefully guard their own cruelties while crafting their health care bill).
     Penn is flailing about at imaginary gnats and perceived enemies in a manner that would do Kris Kobach proud. The Democratic Party, which is quickly becoming indistinguishable from the legendarily corrupt Tammany Hall Democrats of the 19th century, is losing voters by the millions because of its embrace of, until 30 or so years ago, right wing, corporate-friendly policies.
     Bernie Bros and Socialists didn't turn off working class voters by knee-capping themselves and Bernie Sanders through collusion with party insiders and officials, Super Delegates who were in the tank for Clinton months before the first caucus or incessant canoodling with Wall Street. It wasn't wild-eyed radical leftist anarchists at the top of the DNC echelon that cost the Democrats the White House and all four Republican-held seats that were up for grabs in special elections.
     And it certainly wasn't true progressive voters who kept 1000 state legislature seats and nearly two thirds of all governorships out of the hands of machine Democrats who only promise a slightly less cruel platform and agenda than the Republicans that currently hold them.
     People like Mark Penn and Hillary Clinton and her deluded, quasi right wing voters have only themselves to blame. Trump won largely by appealing to white, middle class working people who were equally deluded enough to vote for him and to swallow his lies that he would not touch their Social Security and Medicare and that building a wall and keeping out the Mexicans would make us great again.
     And the very act of Penn writing this op-ed proves conclusively that the Democratic Party, or what's left of it, never learned their lesson. That is why it is doomed to lose election after election by the hundreds every other year. Because they have turned their backs on their core constituency as well as the liberalism that had served them so well in FDR's, JFK's and LBJ's day.


At July 10, 2017 at 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anton said...

Excellent analysis, as always, JP. This prick Penn is especially irritating, as is the deplorable NYT.


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