Thursday, February 11, 2016

If They Were't Panicking, They Wouldn't be Democrats

Not surprisingly there is a lot of bedwetting going on right now. Many think Hillary has to change her message after a 20 point loss in NH.

At the Plum Line, both Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman argued that yesterday.

Politico has a piece that quotes lots of anonymous HRC supporters who say she has to change her message.

I look at it this way. There are always too big risks:

1. Panicking

2. Overconfidence. 

When you panic you so lose perspective that you take actions without rationally thinking them through. Ideally, one should never panic. Hence the Obama Commandment of 2008:

First of all, no bedwetting. 

The trouble with panicking is that all the blood rushes to your brain and you can't think properly. Then again, it's usually a mistake to make a 180 degree turn from what you are currently doing even if it isn't working so well.

Of course the other side of the coin is number 2. Overconfidence is also to be avoided. It's tough to navigate both 1 and 2 but so you have to do in any large endeavor, not to mention running for President.

Paul Waldman does sort of lay out the two conclusions you can take about NH:

"There are many stories one could tell about Bernie Sanders’ defeat of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. One is that Sanders has captured the prevailing sentiment among Democrats, a fervent desire for political revolution to unmake a corrupt system, and he will ride this desire all the way to the nomination. Another is that yesterday’s result was a function of some idiosyncratic features of that primary, particularly New Hampshire’s demographic homogeneity and the fact that independents are allowed to vote in the party primary; now that the race moves to states that better represent the Democratic Party, Clinton’s strength among Latinos and African-Americans will move her back into command for good."

I think it's more the second story than the first. I agree there is a liberal, predominantly white base for Bernie's supporters but I don't think it's the majority. Once she is in more diverse states which only allow Democratic voters she will be fine.

If changes are called for, at most it should be tweaks here and there. Adjustments should be made where called for. But a full on lobotomy now? That'd be a big mistake. In principle it usually is. If there is a case where  a lobotomy is needed, that probably means things have already gotten beyond you irredeemably.

I think for better or worse-ultimately, I think for better-Hillary's message is she's the progressive who can get things done. Her argument is for incremental pragmatism.
We hear so much about how she changes to suit the political winds but she is true to herself by standing by this message.

As I've argued in the past, it's' very simple. Bernie is the Revolutionary Hedgehog and she's the Incrementalist Fox.

The Hedgehog has the advantage of a simple message. But his strength is also his weakness. A simple message is good but it shouldn't be simpler than it needs to be and Bernie's is. For me and a lot of Democrats, it sounds like game show politics.
In that last debate, even Chris Cillizza thought she made him look single issue. I think this is the key. As Obama says, being President requires you to walk and chew gum at the same time.

The only piece to this I might add, is keep hitting on the aspirational idea of a woman President. At tonight's debate I'd suggest if the moderator doesn't ask, she should find an excuse to bring up the attack on Planned Parenthood and a women's right to choose.

In addition she ought to remind folks of her ambitious policy proposals. For the kids, just remind them of her plans to end campus rape, end college debt, and that she has a comprehensive plan to raise wages. It starts with regulating the gig or Uber economy.


  1. Mike, I agree: no time to panic. Jennifer Rubin doesn't agree:

  2. Of course. She wants Dems to panic. But remember point 1. Panicking is counterproductive

    1. Well she wants Dems to panic, but it's clear SHE'S panicking herself in that post! Lol.

      (She's essentially praying Bloomberg jumps in)

    2. BTW, I'm lovin this Nugent flap. Look what crawled out from under a log the minute he gave them an opportunity:

    3. And speaking of anti-semitism, Sumner takes a swipe at E. Harding:

      "E. Harding, And you seem like a typical low level anti-semite."

      I'm not sure what he means by "low level" though. Does that mean "in the gutter" or does it mean "low intensity?"