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Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Early Clinton Versus Christie Skirmish Today

Asked by a student back in the spring of 2012 who I expected to run for President in 2016, I said I would be surprised if it wasn't between Chris Christie and Hillary Clinton. I still believe that. I also believe that the Big Show governors races in Virginia and New Jersey today represent an early chapter in that very contest. Pundits seem to want to frame the nearly inevitable conclusion of a Christie win in blue New Jersey and McAuliffe win in purple Virginia as a pedagogical demonstration to Republicans in the wilderness that "moderation" is the path to GOP victory where Tea Party radicalism leads only to GOP suicide. Although I agree that the GOP is on the road to nowhere, I note that the pundits are peddling moonshine here since the palpably homophobic union-busting austerian macroeconomic illiterate Christie is hardly a moderate on either social or economic policy matters, and hence cannot provide an object lesson in moderation for anybody (Village gossip columnists gossip to the contrary notwithstanding), but also that the Tea Party caucus is ineducable in the sense these pundits seem to be counting on, and are already busy making feelgood excuses for the Christianist Teahadi Cuccinelli's defeat as bad luck, bad timing, bad personalities despite GOOD winning principles, and readying themselves for the next purity utterly battle undeterred.

In my view, the more relevant framing for these matched contests is to see in them an early skirmish in the eventual 2016 contest for the Presidency between Clinton and Christie. Although many have ruefully noticed that Democrats more or less abandoned the Democratic candidate for New Jersey governor Barbara Buono providing for a second term coronation of the Republican Christie, the fact remains that in so doing they have embedded Christie in an establishmentarian narrative coming into an anti-establishmentarian Presidential year. All the noises being made about the Deep Republican Bench of oh so serious Governors like Jindal and Walker and celebrity darlings like Cruz and Paul will be exposed in an actual primary contest as another posse of killer clowns like we had last time around (it actually matters that these governors are desperately unpopular failures and that hate-radio clowns like Cruz and Paul are already phony filibustering, plagiarizing, grandstanding, neo-confederate incompetents making new important enemies with every applause line). It is actually just conceivable that the Tea Party Base energy will actually manage to nominate one of their own and hence set up a catastrophic Goldwaterian debacle in 2016 (a result more than justifying leaving Buono out on a limb this time out, if it happened), but I personally still doubt they will get their way next time any more than they have in countless campaigns past when the plutocrats lay their money down. Instead, the loons and roosters will treat Christie as a punching bag for months, bloodying him up and pushing him unelectably to the right all the while. By keeping their powder dry in this Governor's race, Democrats will have plenty of crony capitalism, morally questionable dealings, bullying of public servants, homophobic and misogynist behavior (not to mention all the sub rosa "health concern" signalling so amply available) to blanket the airwaves with after Christie emerges from the crazytown GOP primary spectacle, in which he can be tarred with their ugly off-putting radicalism to his ruin.

Meanwhile, the victory of the infinitely unloveable Terry McAuliffe as Virginia Governor matters less, as I say, for what the Cuccinelli defeat will not actually manage to communicate to Tea Party radicals, but for what it means to have a life-long Clinton operative in charge of a purple state without winning which it has become pretty much impossible for any Republican to chart a path to any legible electoral victory. A state in which disenfranchisement shenanigans and healthcare sabotage would be a cauldron cooking up an early election night Christie victory and an opening for a few plausible pathways to the White House will be instead a state in which majorities benefiting from conspicuously trumpeted healthcare improvements will easily register and vote at their leisure to shut down Christie's bid before California closes its polls, allowing millions to go to bed basking in Hillary Clinton's early acceptance speech in the midst of what looks like the mathematical setup for another Democratic supermajority in the Senate and, one hopes, a House majority probably under the leadership of another woman, this time Debbie Wasserman Shultz. If we don't manage comprehension Immigration reform before then, that will be next up. And then we're coming for your guns, assholes, raising taxes on the rich, and filling the courts with pro-choice judges from sea to shining sea.


jimf said...

Is Hillary Clinton really electable? I mean, of course
I'd vote for her, and I'd be delighted if she won, but
I've heard so incredibly much vitriol whenever she's
mentioned. From tea-party types, the vitriol over
Obama isn't surprising, but I've been surprised by the
nastiness I've encountered over Hillary from ostensibly
moderate or even leftish folks. She just
seems to get up some people's noses for some reason.

There was a guy I knew back in 2008 who was a sorta
kinda liberal (though a naive one -- he thought of himself
as an "independent" -- not just in the sense of being
unwilling to commit willy-nilly to either the Democrats
or the Republicans, but also in the sense of being willing
to seriously consider voting for third parties -- as
if he could possibly be doing anything but shooting himself
in the foot by voting for some pie-in-the-sky third-party
candidate). He was prepared to vote Democratic in 2008,
but he told me that if Hillary were nominated he'd
vote third-party. He really, really didn't like her
(his rationalization for the dislike and distrust
was something about her support of the war in Iraq or

Dale Carrico said...

I think Hillary wins bigger than Obama hands down. Women are a majority of voters and even assholes who freak out about a black black blackety-black man in the White House won't mind a grandmother there the same way, even if they don't exactly adore her -- I remember the vast right-wing conspiracy like everybody else who lived through that pre-Tea madness, after all. Now, with a Teahadi challenger like Cruz she wins in a landslide with coat-tails big enough to give us a Congressional wish-list majority as far as I can see. Barring unforseeable scandals or catastrophes of a kind Christie is by far the best on their side of the Bench to take advantage of, knock wood. Her Iraq vote got Obama the nomination over her -- his ending of the war on his watch returns the favor.