The avatar of 21st century political "discussion"?

The avatar of 21st century political “discussion”?

Before there was Bush Derangement Syndrome and Obama Derangement Syndrome there was Clinton Derangement Syndrome — which thrives today among many when it comes to Hillary Clinton. She has her supporters, and then those who disagree with some of her positions, or those who are perhaps not enamored of her personality. But to those who aren’t red-faced sufferers of outright Clinton Derangement Syndrome, it’s evident when you hear, read or see the syndrome. And Peter Daou, who has worked with and for Clinton, sees it as having reached a fever pitch last week. He writes:

I spent the summer of 2015 chronicling the avalanche of attacks against Hillary Clinton at #HillaryMen. My co-founder Tom Watson and I dedicated ourselves to the task of wading through the myriad insults, smears, character attacks, negative frames, sexism and misogyny that have marked the 2016 presidential race.

In November, we put HillaryMen on hiatus as I embarked on a major project with David Brock to build a new media platform for Blue America.

Meanwhile, the attacks against Hillary have taken a disgusting turn. In the past week, GOP candidates have dropped all pretense and embraced gutter politics.

Chris Christie: “I’m going to drive straight ahead, run her over, and get right to the WH.”

Donald Trump: “She was going to beat Obama. She was favored to win and she got schlonged. She lost. She lost.”

This comes against the backdrop of a media frenzy over Hillary’s bathroom break during the most recent Democratic debate.

Think about it – in a single week, one of the most powerful, accomplished and admired women on the planet is exposed to threats of violence, derided in sexually explicit terms, and subjected to in-depth analysis of her toilet habits by the media. Does anyone really believe sexism isn’t alive and thriving?

Of course, those who are afflicted with the latest syndrome centered around someone who a)they disagree with b)they see as an obstacle to “their” person getting in will charge that Daou just doing spin, just going on the attack, and there’s no sexism. Because rather than discuss points, the modus operandi of our politics is to discredit discredit and discredit (but not really discuss).

But to those not afflicted with the syndrome — to even some who may not be smitten by Ms. Clinton, and those who aren’t riding a political horse already — the answer is evident.

Simply disagreeing on policy is no longer the American political way. Hate and exaggeration are now required components. It’s too DIFFICULT to simply lay out, in unemotional terms, a disagreement with a candidate.

How ludicrous, hate filled, and at time sexist has our politics gotten? The Huffington Post’s Soraya Chemaly offers this post that details the big deal that Republicans have made over Clinton’s delayed debate appearance due to a trip to the bathroom. Chemaly even looks at an actual bathroom issue involved. But the most notable parts of her post are these:

Rand Paul’s wrote a popular tweet, going straight for the tried and true conservative “women cat fighting” narrative, that read, “[email protected] has ZERO trouble making it back from commercial breaks @HillaryClinton.” Because everyone knows women pee competitively.

She nails the utter bankruptcy in quality of our current political “discussion” which is mostly snark, name calling and rage. So party affiliation determines the intensity of the call of nature, the ability to control it or the number of people waiting in a line. And the fact we are DISCUSSING this at all shows how far we as a Republic have fallen.

Nearly-frenzied partisans and ideologists will grasp at any event or adjective to try and negatively define someone who doesn’t see things the way they do or who represents a threat to their political tribe ideology or party prevailing. Anything to avoid a detailed, thoughtful discussion on actual policy differences. Nuance is increasingly, oh, so 20th century (and for wusses).

She concludes with this:

The male-centeredness of our opinion making and public space continues to reflect the male-centeredness of our understanding of the world.

The tone Daou points to and the Clinton Derangement Syndrome don’t fully explain how The Big Bathroom Issue hit the mainstream. It was as usual injected bigtime into our “discussion” by Donald Trump, then picked up by partisans and talk radio as the bar was lowered again and continued by the media reporting a story about a controversy over Clinton’s onstage delay due to a bathroom trip. If anything, Trump has proven how simple it is to get voters to nod their heads like lemmings or audience members onstage at a fair hypnotism show and agree — and how easy it is to get a ratings-driven media to droolingly pursue someone who can get them big audience share (major candidates literally phoning in interviews to broadcast interview shows was not allowed in the past). At The Hill, Brent Budowsky details how Trump is really a bully — a bully who so far has not faced any political consequences but one who Budowsky feels may have met his match in Ms. Clinton:

Bullies need to be put in their place, with the kind of strength, resolve and character that the former secretary of State has shown in the way she takes charge in the campaign against Trump. And Trump knows Clinton has gotten the better of him, which is why he is reduced to vulgar, sexist and offensive comments as she stands her ground.

Trump can cite his poll numbers all he wants, but it must drive him up a Christmas tree to know that the woman who would become the first female U.S. president will, according to polls, beat him to a pulp in the general election if the GOP is suicidal enough to nominate him.

When Trump degrades himself by suggesting that Clinton taking a bathroom break during the most recent Democratic debate is “disgusting,” he is making it clear that he knows Clinton is the superior candidate and he has nothing better to offer the nation than junior high school vulgarity and discredited nonsense that led the independent fact checker Politifact to conclude that his repeated false and inaccurate statements give him its 2015 Lie of the Year.

Trump is now “warning” Clinton to stop standing up for women, and raising issues that are important to women, and fighting back against those who would bully women.

Let me warn Trump instead: he is going to keep losing this battle. He should apologize to Hillary Clinton for his vulgar, sexist and offensive words against her.

If Trump persists in his bully tactics against Clinton he is going to learn the hard way that while he may be the favored candidate of Putin, Americans by landslide numbers would prefer Clinton to be dealing with Putin while sending Trump back to the reality television circuit where he belongs.

As you read this the Trump campaign has escalated its attacks on Hillary Clinton in areas that have zilch to do with ideas of policy. They’re now accusing her of being a sexist bully. It’s the old tactic of taking what you are accused of being and trying to accuse your opponent of it. Trump has gone back to playing some Republican oldies against Clinton…involving her husband.

This tactic is NOT limited to Trump’s campaign: CNN’s Don Lemon cut off a Republican who started using Bill Clinton’s sexlife as mantra against Hillary Clinton on the air, rather than address the issue Lemon was talking about (SEE IT HERE). Can talk of Vice Foster be far behind? Clinton derangement suffers have so many conspiracy theories to choose from. Not from The Onion:

Donald Trump’s campaign is escalating its war of words with Hillary Clinton, claiming that the Democratic front-runner bullied women to hide her husband’s “sexist secrets” and accusing her campaign of “acting like 9-year-old little girls.”

In an interview late Wednesday on CNN, Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson unloaded on Clinton and her campaign, returning fire after Clinton condemned Trump’s “penchant for sexism.”

“What you have on Hillary Clinton’s side are a bunch of people, including women — liberal women — who want to run around talking about the war on women,” Pierson said. “They want to burn their bras and complain about equal pay and be treated as men, and the second they get criticized for anything they start acting like 9-year-old little girls.”

The feud began on Monday, when Trump ripped Clinton at one of his rallies, saying she got “schlonged” by then-Sen. Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primaries, and mocking her for returning late to the debate stage because she had to use the bathroom.
Pierson denied that the term “schlonged” was sexist or should be considered offensive.

“You know, no one really complained in 2011 when he used the exact same word to describe a woman winning an election cycle… and so all of a sudden it’s horrible,” Pierson said. “But Hillary Clinton has some nerve to talk about the war on women and the bigotry toward women when she has a serious problem in her husband.”

At a rally on Tuesday, Clinton declined to address the controversy with Trump directly, but said voters “shouldn’t let anybody bully his way into the presidency.”

In a personal attack, Pierson on Wednesday said Clinton is the bully.

“What’s interesting about this, this notion of being bullied is, I mean, I can think of quite a few women that have been bullied by Hillary Clinton to hide her husband’s misogynist, sexist secrets,” Pierson said.

The Hill notes that Clinton has tried to avoid engaging Trump directly, but did finally offer some comments earlier in the week to the Des Moines Register:

“I really deplore the tone of his campaign, the inflammatory rhetoric that he is using to divide people, and his going after groups of people with hateful, incendiary rhetoric,” she said. “Nothing really surprises me anymore. I don’t know that he has any boundaries at all. His bigotry, his bluster, his bullying have become his campaign. And he has to keep sort of upping the stakes and going even further.”

“I don’t respond to him personally, because he thrives on that kind of exchange,” she continued. “I think he has to answer for what he says, and I assume that others will make the larger point about his language. It’s not the first time he’s demonstrated a penchant for sexism. Again, I’m not sure anybody’s surprised that he keeps pushing the envelope.”

The problem now is that in today’s politics, sexist envelopes, derangement envelopes, and hate envelopes are being pushed farther and more extensively than a month’s shipment of envelopes just off the truck at NYC’s Office Depot. Could there be some future political, legal or other issue that derails Clinton? The answer is yes — as with any candidate. But that’s a separate issue from what Daou calls gutter politics, and from sexism and Clinton derangement syndrome.

Meanwhile, there will be some Democrats who’ll start saying, why, they’ll teach their party a lesson and stay home on election day if Clinton gets the nomination. To be sure, yes, if they stay home it’ll teach their party a lesson just as Democrats taught their party a lesson in surrendering their New Deal/New Frontier lock on the Supreme Court in past elections by staying home (or voting for Ralph Nader because they insisted there was no difference between Al Gore and George W Bush, a belief history will not support). Then, as Republicans use the power they won by getting their voters to turn out and vote, Democrats who made their political statements by sitting on their fannies will later decry those mean, old Republicans using the power they legitimately won in elections under our system of government to fulfill their election promises.

There are already some rumblings from some Democrats about how they’ll stay home if Hillary Clinton gets the nomination. Martin Longman wonders if what he calls this “take my ball and go homeism” should be taken seriously.

I think it should be taken seriously: syndrome trumps (pardon the word) political rationality.

Especially when American politics is now evolving into one big, predictable, partisan and ideologist rhetorical echo chamber.

graphic via shutterstock.com

JOE GANDELMAN, Editor-In-Chief
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Copyright 2015 The Moderate Voice
  • Dorian de Wind, Military Affairs Columnist

    Good, reasonable post, Joe.

    What I believe is even worse gutter politics is those who go back eight and more years to scoop alleged dirt and alleged scandals and would even stoop to throw her husband’s improprieties in Hillary’s face (attempt to make her guilty by marriage association) and — worse — to make her standing by her man virtue into some ugly, sexist character flaw.

    Shame!

    • SteveK

      Thanks Dorian… Did you notice how ‘what’s his name’ chose to ignore both your and Joe’s points? Reply not necessary… It was a rhetorical question. ?

      Prospero Ano Nuevo mi amigo, Esteban

      • I have not ignored anything. I have discussed these issues in far greater detail in the past than would be worthwhile in the comments here. I have also criticized Trump’s sexist attacks on Clinton several times. Any particular point you are looking for a comment on?

      • Dorian de Wind, Military Affairs Columnist

        Feliz Año Nuevo, Esteban

        Dorian

        ps No , I didn’t notice,because I avoid certain posts/comments for my health. 🙂

  • This is largely a matter of cherry picking certain attacks on Clinton and then acting as if all attacks on Clinton fall into the same category. There is quite a difference between criticizing Clinton for her long record of corruption, unethical behavior, poor judgement, and undermining of liberal ideas as opposed to what we are hearing from Donald Trump and the right.

    It is the Clinton apologists who regularly distort criticism from the left and act as if its no different from the right who are really those engaging in dishonest, gutter politics

    Conservatives complained of Bush derangement syndrome when liberals criticized Bush. Now conservative Democrats complain of Clinton derangement syndrome when liberals criticize Clinton. There is not really much difference between the two groups.

  • JSpencer

    And lest we forget, there was Al Gore Derangement Syndrome, because he had the effrontery to warn that climate change needed to be taken seriously. As for the current gutter level political discussion, I hope we can get past that epidemic of emotional immaturity soon. The media should be playing a role in shaming those who indulge in it, but they seem to revel in reporting the crappy behavior instead.

  • KP

    Like I said in another thread, I don’t fuss over who other people of age are boinking. I don’t care if it is same sex, mixed sex, group sex, married or unmarried or open marriage. Do your thing.

    What bothers me when it comes to sex are bullies and predators. My unwillingness to vote for her has nothing to do with her marriage or “standing by” Bill. Rather, it stems from her own treatment of abused women who threaten her goals.

    Shame on those who know better and look the other way.

    Hillary will be an average president, but without my support.

    • KP

      I will not vote for Trump, Hillary or Cruz.

      I acknowledge there is some derangement in politics.

      I just don’t feel like I am part of it for saying a thoughtful “no” to Tump, Hillary and Cruz.

      We all still have other decent options.

      • dduck

        What I want to know is which of the Rep candidates is sending free orders from Chipolte and Taco Bell to the Dem candidates before their debates. The orderes are labeled from Debbie Wasserman and say “Have a great debate guys”. Now, that is really nasty. 🙂

        • KP

          Shaping up and shipping out. Check me in and check me out. Mess is mine 🙂

      • Bob Munck

        I just don’t feel like I am part of it for saying a thoughtful “no” to Tump, Hillary and Cruz.

        That sounds reasonable, but in fact you’re opting out of a large part of our existing political system. Voting for one of the two major candidates for President is pretty much the only noticeable influence that individual citizens have on our national government. Voting for a third party candidate, voting for a write-in candidate, and not voting at all are all basically equivalent in having no influence at all. (With the exception that voting for Nader in 2000 had a disastrous effect. I can’t think of any way that Perot’s candidacies in 1992 and 1996 had any actual effect on anything.)

        So yes, by saying a thoughtful “no” you are making yourself part of the derangement in our political system.

        • KP

          You are silly.

          Part of the derangement?

          I live in California.

        • KP

          A scenario where I would vote third party has not come to pass.

          If it does, it would be my first ever vote for someone I didn’t want to be our president and have no effect what-so-ever on the outcome.

          Like I said, you’re silly.

          • Bob Munck

            Like I said, you’re silly.

            Thank you.

          • KP

            tip o the hat

        • dduck

          If I hadn’t voted for Perot, Bush would have had a second term. I call that a potentially big effect.

          • KP

            Ron made the point, it depends what state you are in.

          • Bob Munck

            If I hadn’t voted for Perot

            Or stayed home, or written in Pat Paulsen’s name. Ross Perot Did Not Cost George Bush The 1992 Presidential Election.

          • What about the effect of Ralph Nader in Florida in 2000 on the Gore/Bush race?

          • Bob Munck

            the effect of Ralph Nader in Florida

            As I said, Nader triggered a national disaster.

          • JSpencer

            As I said, Nader triggered a national disaster.

            He sure did. Up until that point in history I had a fair amount of respect for the man, but what he did was unforgivable.

          • One question I have about Nader is whether he intentionally targeted the battleground states. I’ve seen arguments both ways. While it doesn’t change the outcome, there is a difference between a protest vote based upon sending a message as opposed to trying to take away votes in a state such as Florida.

            It is also worth keeping in mind that, despite Nader, Gore would have won if not for those butterfly ballots. He also would have won if there was a full state wide recount (although not with the more narrow recount he was fighting for in the courts).

          • JSpencer

            Nader played a dangerous game, and eight long years of damage was the result. What his intentions might have been no longer matter to me.

          • Absolutely. What if people who support Bernie decide to play Russian roulette with 2016 by writing his name in in swing states? I still blame Nader for Bush and would feel the same if we accidentally got Trump or Cruz- butterfly ballots or no butterfly ballots

        • KP

          < < I can’t think of any way that Perot’s candidacies in 1992 and 1996 had any actual effect on anything.) >>

          Exactly.

  • KP

    Oh, boyo, here comes the bad news.

    They never hold back the bad news.

    No offense to bad news folks, but I’ll be fine.

    Go ahead and pretend to be grumpy. It’s not who you are.

  • I will be voting for B. Sanders in the primary (in Massachusetts), because he best fits my view on the issues. It is, imho, the primaries where one can send a message from a possible losing standpoint. I will not vote for a Republican candidate in the general election because their views on issues are so far out of line with mine that I would, more or less, prefer flipping a coin to allowing them to make the decisions.

    If HRC takes the primary, I will vote for her. As far as I can tell, she:
    …did not promote the killing of our ambassador in Libya
    …served well as our Secretary of State (after the disastrous effects of the GWB administration) and helped our standing in the world
    …would not require a learning period to be president
    …has earned my respect (in spite of some of her inconsistencies)
    …would at least attempt to help the middle class a poor to close the economic disparity with the rich
    …appears to have (at least somewhat) decent advisers
    …is married to a previously successful president

    • JSpencer

      Same plan here. Sanders in the primary and any democrat in the general. It isn’t rocket science, it isn’t a sporting event, and it isn’t a popularity contest. If nothing else, think of it as damage control.

    • KP

      I think you paint an image close to what I have said; that is, she would make an average president, which is not a bad thing.

    • The Bengazi stuff from Republicans is nonsense, but her Libya policy was a disaster. (And speaking of thrid party bids here, James Webb is still talking about one and bringing up her Libya policy:

      http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/264253-webb-blasts-hillary-for-inept-leadership-on-libya

      She might have “served well as our Secretary of State” in terms of being chief ambassador for Obama’s foreign policy and flying around the world for him, but she was a disaster policy wise. She pushed for a far more militaristic foreign policy than Obama approved, and the one time Obama took her advice, on Libya, it created a disaster.

      Her decent advisers include a neocon as a top foreign policy adviser when Secretary of State. She might be better than the current crop of Republican candidates, but she is far closer to Bush than Sanders.

      • Slamfu

        Is Libya that big of a mess? I know they are hanging on by a thread, but it’s always ugly when you start a new govt. We were hanging on by a thread for the first few decades.

  • I am not a big fan of Hillary Clinton but vote for her to keep any of the passengers in the Republican clown car out of the White House. The makeup of the Supreme Court is too important. Will I like her foreign policy – No. Will I like her close ties to Wall Street – No. I will vote for Bernie in the primary but by May, the date of the election here in Oregon, the contest will be over. So I will vote for HC in November.

  • Slamfu

    Not to get off topic here, but seems to me there is a big difference between Bush DS and Obama DS. Namely that Obama DS is in regards to made up things his detractors THINK he did but didn’t(like try to take over Texas or do nothing about illegal immigration), while Bush DS is about things that he ACTUALLY did(like start a war for no reason and lead us into a massive recession). Pretty key difference if you ask me.