Bernie, Hillary, Emails, Decisions, Decisions

New Jersey will hold its Presidential primary election nine months and fifteen days from now. By that time, we will almost certainly know who the Democratic nominee and the next President of the United States will be (she used to be Secretary of State). June of 2016 might sound like a long way off, but we in New Jersey, along with our friends in California and a few other states, always wait for everyone else to hold their primary elections first.

Aside from the fact that we’re naturally considerate (“Please, I insist.” “No, no, after you.”), this means we don’t have to spend much time deciding which Democrat or Republican should be President. Unlike Iowa, Vermont and South Carolina, we have more important things to do.

Anyway, if I had the opportunity to vote sooner than next June, like maybe tomorrow, I’m not sure who I’d choose. From a policy perspective, I’d go with Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist Senator from Vermont. Voting for Sanders would make me feel good. I even think he could beat a Republican in the general election, because most Americans, whether they realize it or not, agree with his positions. (See “How Mainstream Is Bernie Sanders?” and “Why Surprising Numbers of Republicans Have Been Voting for Sanders in Vermont”).

Despite the popular appeal of Sanders’s positions, however, Clinton might do better in a general election. It would be harder for the Republicans to falsely portray her as a wild-eyed radical. And despite some of her hawkish views on foreign policy and military spending, Hillary Clinton might end up being a very progressive President. She seems more aware of our country’s increasing inequality and more likely to do something about it than she used to be. Further, she might be able to get more done than Sanders, since the politicians, bureaucrats and plutocrats she’d have to work with would be more likely to consider her “one of them”. 

(Every time I imagine President Sanders taking office, I’m reminded of A Very British Coup, in which the election of a proud Labor Party socialist as Prime Minister leads to army helicopters descending on Downing Street and Parliament. See also Seven Days in May. All fiction, of course.) 

But since I’m a proud resident of New Jersey, I don’t have to make a decision about this any time soon. Meanwhile, our national nightmare (i.e. our Presidential campaign) will continue.

That brings me to a perceptive article by Heather Digby Parton called “Anatomy of a Hillary Clinton Pseudo-Scandal”. She writes:

… the press can pass judgement about anything once it’s “out there” regardless of whether or not what’s “out there” is true. This allows them to skip doing boring rebuttals of the facts at hand and instead hold forth at length about how it bears on the subject’s “judgement” and the “appearance” of wrongdoing without ever proving that what they did was wrong.

You see, if the person being discussed were “competent,” it wouldn’t be “out there” in the first place, so even if it is based upon entirely specious speculation, it’s his or her own fault for inspiring people to speculate so speciously. It all goes back to their “character”… 

And even if the charges are patently false, they are always far too complicated to rebut in detail; and, anyway, the other side says something different, so who’s really to say what’s true and what isn’t?  [Note: that’s what Paul Krugman calls “Shape of Earth: Views Differ” journalism.]

It’s still the responsibility of the target of those charges because he or she shouldn’t have allowed him or herself to be in a position where someone could make false charges in the first place.

From this perspective, it’s irrelevant whether any of those famous emails were classified at the time (apparently they weren’t, besides which lots of stuff the government classifies shouldn’t be). It’s also irrelevant whether it was forbidden to use a private computer then (apparently it wasn’t). 

I agree about the irrelevance in one sense. It’s irrelevant as to whether Clinton or Sanders or some other Democrat should be our next President.