Saturday, October 17, 2015

Why Hillary Clinton Has It Locked-Up

 I love Bernie, but this picture marks the end of his presidential campaign
Last night I finally got to watch the CNN Democratic debate.  I definitely agree with the pundits when they say that this debate had a much different tone--more civil, more thoughtful, and more policy-driven than the GOP debates.

I also agree with those who say Hillary Clinton won the debate. She was prepared, she was articulate, and she sounded presidential.  But this is not the primary reason that she will win the Democratic nomination.

Clinton will win because she does not have a legitimate political opponent.

I find politics to be distasteful.  But any candidate who wants to win the presidency in this day and age has to engage in it.  None of Clinton's opponents are willing to do this.

Frankly, it is hard to distinguish these Democratic candidates on policy. Yes, there are differences between Clinton, Webb, O'Malley, and Chafee, but those differences are too fine to have any influence on the primaries. (People are not going to vote for a candidate based on whether or not she or he supports Glass-Steagall)..  This benefits Clinton because she is the frontrunner, the establishment candidate, and the candidate with the most experience and money.

Right now Clinton is vulnerable on one issue: the e-mail controversy. Lincoln Chafee tried to challenge her on this, but since he has no money and no supporters Clinton refused to respond to his criticism.  

And this leads us to Bernie Sanders--the candidate whose message of economic populism separates him from the rest.  Sanders refused to address the Clinton  e-mails and even suggested taking the issue completely off the table.  O'Malley agreed.

I realize that Sanders's response to Anderson Cooper's question about Hillary's e-mails will fire-up his supporters, but I am afraid his populist message is only going to take him so far without playing politics.  His supporters are excited in the way that Howard Dean's supporters were excited at this time in 2004 or Bill Bradley's followers were fired up at this time in 2000 or Paul Tsongas's followers were enthusiastic in 1988. 

I need to be convinced that an economic populist like Sanders can win a Democratic nomination or a general election.  I will be surprised if Sanders ever breaks 40% in the polls.  His message is a moral one and it is one that needs to be heard by the American people.  The populist in me loves what he is saying.

But as long as the Clinton e-mails stay off the table he has no chance.  Sanders should be applauded for trying to focus on the economic issues facing this country. But by not going after Clinton on this issue he and his campaign may be, for all intents and purposes, finished.