Defunct Democrats

by Carl Estabrook

Democrats bleating that that awful Ralph Nader spoilt their little game, and that it was his responsibility to keep his mouth shut so their man could be President — there are few sights more pathetic on the current American political scene. (An example can be found in last week’s edition, in a column called I think, “Moving It Right.”) Of course it’s true that Al Gore couldn’t even carry his own state, Tennessee (and as James Carville remarks, “George Bush couldn’t even carry his own country,” losing by a half-million votes nationwide).

The keening continues that in only a few months Bush has driven “the national welfare, economic stability, and the global environment into decline.” (In fact of course the Democrats _need_ a recession like the one that turfed out Bush I in order to defeat Bush II.) Meanwhile a more cogent interpreter, the political cartoonist Tom Tomorrow (whose work also appears in these pages) considered these Democrats’ theme, “Those damned Republicans are pure evil,” and pointed out that the environmental enormities and the like that they’d been charged with, were accomplished with Democrats’ connivance. Clinton’s Secretary of Labor has recently pronounced the Democratic party “dead,” and the quondam candidate, Mr. Gore, seems to have devoted himself to building the party primarily by gaining weight (some forty pounds, by current estimate).

Almost six months on, it’s possible to see the Presidential election in more perspective. In a recent article the historian Perry Anderson makes the case that Clinton himself was the reason that the Democrats lost an election they should so easily have won: “Clinton had no particular convictions, beyond the desire to stay in office — he attracted no broad or dedicated following. More acutely, however, the scandals that surrounded his Presidency made it impossible to convert into any kind of rallying point. He was plainly guilty of the charges — molestation in Arkansas, perjury and obstruction of justice in Washington — against him, which were fully impeachable.”

Why then did impeachment fail? Primarily says Anderson because of “attachment to the quasi-monarchical status of the Presidential office itself, as embodiment of national identity in the world at large, a late-twentieth-century fixation foreign to the Founders. But if popular opinion did not want impeachment, instinctively seeking to protect the Presidency, for the same reasons it did not relish Clinton’s conduct, an indignity to the office not easily forgotten.”

It took the Economist of London to do the numbers: “Gore took every state where Clinton’s ‘favorability rating’ was average or above (57%), with the exception of Florida, while Bush won every state where it was even a mere point below average, except for Oregon and New Mexico (where he lost by less than one-fourth of 1% of the vote). Clinton was dead weight on Gore even in Arkansas.”

The Financial Times, which supported him, concluded “Clinton’s was in the end a monumentally inconsequential Presidency.” Anderson comments, “The triviality of the ruler does not, of course, exonerate his rule. If Clinton’s positive impact on American society was minimal, his negative legacies at home and abroad were considerable.”

So when the Democrats need an heroic model, they must go back to the Kennedy administration, forty years ago. But that period needs to be examined closely (and not as misrepresented in a current movie). Kennedy’s policies and pronouncements, beginning with his inaugural address, were in fact semi-fascist. A long train of abuses — literally murderous policy, at home and abroad — leads directly back to the “Kennedy intellectuals.” (The Bush administration recognizes the usefulness of the model by copying Kennedy policies, such as the tax cut.)

Meanwhile, the death squads founded by the Kennedy policy-makers continue to operate, and US-sponsored and funded killing continues under Bush as it did under Clinton in Iraq, Palestine, and Colombia. But the cracks in the facade must be worrisome to the prophets of politics as usual, of “working within the system” — those Democrats who urge us to “Come home, America!” and stick close to nurse for fear of something worse…

Alexander Cockburn has argued that the results of the Presidential election were about as good as could be expected: Clinton is repudiated, Bush is severely weakened, and Nader is shown to have made the difference. He might have added that public attention has been focussed on the partisan courts and exclusionary elections, both of which will be reformed only at public insistence.

Meanwhile real politics continue elsewhere this month: in Cincinnati, against the national policy of providing racist cops and repressive drug laws to corral the dangerous classes in the inner cities (the US, with 4% of world population, has 25% of prisoners); and in Quebec, against the business plans to confiscate the work and environment of the citizens of the hemisphere. CP

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 04, 2015
Vincent J. Roscigno
University Bureaucracy as Organized Crime
Paul Street
Bernie Sanders’ Top Five Race Problems: the Whiteness of Nominal Socialism
Ramzy Baroud
The Palestinian Bubble and the Burning of Toddler, Ali Dawabsha
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is White Supremacy a Mental Disorder?
Pepe Escobar
Reshuffling Eurasia’s Energy Deck — Iran, China and Pipelineistan
L. Michael Hager
The Battle Over BDS
Eric Draitser
Puerto Rico: Troubled Commonwealth or Debt Colony?
Colin Todhunter
Hypnotic Trance in Delhi: Monsanto, GMOs and the Looting of India’s Agriculture
Benjamin Willis
The New Cubanologos: What’s in a Word?
Matt Peppe
60 Minutes Provides Platform for US Military
Binoy Kampmark
The Turkish Mission: Reining in the Kurds
Eoin Higgins
Teaching Lessons of White Supremacy in Prime-Time: Blackrifice in the Post-Apocalyptic World of the CW’s The 100
Gary Corseri
Gaza: Our Child’s Shattered Face in the Mirror
Robert Dodge
The Nuclear World at 70
Paula Bach
Exit the Euro? Polemic with Greek Economist Costas Lapavitsas
August 03, 2015
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Atomic Era Turns 70, as Nuclear Hazards Endure
Nelson Valdes
An Internet Legend: the Pope, Fidel and the Black President
Robert Hunziker
The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm
Jack Dresser
The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook
Ahmad Moussa
Incinerating Palestinian Children
Greg Felton
Greece Succumbs to Imperialist Banksterism
Binoy Kampmark
Stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Failure of the Hawai’i Talks
Ted Rall
My Letter to Nick Goldberg of the LA Times
Mark Weisbrot
New Greek Bailout Increases the Possibility of Grexit
Jose Martinez
Black/Hispanic/Women: a Leadership Crisis
Victor Grossman
German Know-Nothings Today
Patrick Walker
We’re Not Sandernistas: Reinventing the Wheels of Bernie’s Bandwagon
Norman Pollack
Moral Consequences of War: America’s Hegemonic Thirst
Ralph Nader
Republicans Support Massive Tax Evasion by Starving IRS Budget
Alexander Reid Ross
Colonial Pride and the Killing of Cecil the Lion
Suhayb Ahmed
What’s Happening in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington