Hillary’s credibility problem, non-email server/Clinton Foundation edition

Hillary to Dems: Don't listen too closely as I try to thread this needle. (AP Photo / M. Spencer Green)

Hillary to Dems: Don’t listen too closely as I try to thread this needle. (AP Photo / M. Spencer Green)

The curious thing about the unexpected rise of Bernie Sanders in Democratic primary polling — to roughly the same level (17.5 percent) as Donald Trump has hit among Republicans (18.2 percent), albeit in a smaller field — is that his message is almost entirely one of economics. Given the nostalgic way so many Americans remember the go-go years of Bill Clinton’s presidency, and the stubborn (if mostly false) insistence by Barack Obama and his loyalists that the economy has been just swell under the current presidency, Hillary Clinton is having a tougher time than we might have expected selling another dose of Clintonomics.

In fact, as Ramesh Ponnuru writes at Bloomberg View, it’s hard to tell these days exactly what Clinton is selling. Unlike the two most recent Democrats elected president, she has to walk a finer line about the economy:

“She can’t simply celebrate today’s economy as the product of Democratic policies, because people aren’t thrilled with it. She can’t blame the economy’s inadequacy on a Republican administration, because there hasn’t been one for six and a half years. She can’t say that the economy is subpar because of decades of bad policy choices, either: That period includes 16 years of Democratic presidencies, including her husband’s, and she wants to associate herself with the prosperity of Bill’s time in office.

“Her solution has been to do all of these things at once. Terrible trends started around 1981 and the Democrats have made things better when they’ve been in charge and we have a good economy again and we need to change everything we’ve been doing for a long time. She sounded each of these notes in recent speeches at the New School and New York University.” (links original here and below)

Obviously, all those things can’t be simultaneously true. So, when in doubt, just run against Reaganomics, right?

“A lot of liberal thinkers have invested their intellectual labor in this story. Her argument would be that Reagan unraveled the postwar bargain between government, labor and business — weakening the first two forces and strengthening the third — and that the result has been stagnation or worse for most American workers.

“This explanation seems to dominate the Clinton campaign’s economic thinking. It informs her latest proposal, which is to hike capital-gains taxes except for very long-term investments. It lies beneath her complaints about the weakness of labor unions, too.

“But the story doesn’t really fit the facts. The booms of the 1980s and 1990s benefited most Americans, with compensation rising and most people saying they were satisfied with how things were going. The decline of unions was not mostly the result of Reaganite hostility: It’s a trend that was already underway when John F. Kennedy was president, and seems to have had a lot to do with the inability of unionized companies to compete with non-unionized ones.

“Perhaps worse from a political perspective, that story also makes Bill Clinton appear to have been ineffectual in protecting American workers from conservatism — or, worse, to have collaborated with it. Viewing the Reagan-Bush and Clinton policies today, there seems to be more continuity than difference. Trade grew freer, unions declined and inequality grew under all three of them (and beyond their presidencies). Bill Clinton even cut the capital-gains tax that Hillary Clinton now seeks to raise.”

The tension between Bill Clinton’s track record and Obama’s economic rhetoric have been evident since the 2008 campaign. To name one example, candidate Obama famously said he’d raise capital-gains tax rates out of a sense of “fairness” even if doing so would reduce tax revenues, which rose after Bill cut rates in the late 1990s. Obama could pull that off because he built a coalition that was united behind him and against the George W. Bush years. Hillary’s trick is to keep the Obama coalition together even while embracing her husband’s track record — the one Obama implied hadn’t been good enough for those who made up his coalition.

Sanders, as an outright socialist, is at liberty to criticize Obamanomics as insufficient and Clintonomics as downright collaborative with the big-business right, going so far as to pan pro-immigration policies as a “right-wing proposal” straight from the Koch brothers themselves. (Never mind Obama’s unilateral efforts to legalize illegal immigrants, much less allow in more immigrants legally.) And Sanders appears to be winning support from those Democrats who know Hillary can’t and won’t say the same things without losing some of her more moderate backers. This is the exact same dilemma Republicans face with Trump’s rhetoric, even if Hillary’s problem is less remarked upon.

Republicans have had six and a half years to practice distancing themselves from the Bush years, a reality that continues to hamstring an otherwise ultra-qualified candidate in Jeb Bush. Hillary has had to keep waiting for the Obama turnaround to arrive. She’s still waiting, and her mixed-message campaign shows it.

Reader Comments 0

43 comments
lvg
lvg

Biden will run and get Obama's backing if  Hilary keeps getting her baggage unpacked and polls keep dropping. I can see a Biden/Sanders ticket. All criticism of Biden is malarkey-most qualified candidate. All he needs is Cheney to start barking and he will win.

notagain
notagain

ultra qualified candidate. 3 strikes and you are out and return to the dugout.With these it's taken 6 plus years to dig out from their wars and deception.

JackClemens
JackClemens

There are several candidates on the GOP side I could happily vote for, but I'm afraid they may not win the nomination. Wish the Democrats had a better frontrunner. Her husband was slick, but effective. She is slicker and cannot be trusted.

JKLtwo
JKLtwo

obama ran on skin color and the fact he didn't have a record.  Hillary is trying to run on her sex and the guy she married.  Unlike obama, she does have a record and that will be her downfall (not that things like lying and history mean anything to the average Democrat voter).

The only good thing about her campaign is she rarely speaks because every time she opens her pie whole her numbers go down.  Something we can all be proud of.

M H Smith
M H Smith

What does Bernie Sanders believe? Where the candidate stands on 10 issues

The nation’s only socialist member of Congress tells high school students to argue with their parents and teachers and is an ardent anti-war activist who fought for military veterans.

1) Opposes Citizen United - limits on freedom of speech

2) Supports the carbon tax

3)Two years free tuition at state colleges

4)Break up big banks

5)No federal handgun waiting period. Some protection for gun manufacturers. Ban assault weapons.

6)*Single-payer government-provided health care system

7)Raise some taxes on the wealthy. Cut taxes for middle class.

8)Opposed the Iraq war. Calls for troop withdrawal as soon as possible.

9)Supports current talks with Iran. Critical of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

10)Iraq, Islamic State and Afghanistan: Opposed the Iraq war. Calls for troop withdrawal as soon as possible.

...the Jewish senator pushed back against the idea of tougher sanctions and was critical of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress. Sanders was the first senator to announce he would not attend the speech.

11) Anti-school choice in support of unions


http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/bernie-sanders-believe-candidate-stands-10-issues/


JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

Clinton is not catching because she is a terrible campaigner. She was a terrible campaigner in 2008 too. That's why she lost.


Right Zip Code, Wrong Address. The economy has a lot of quantitative stats but is largely qualitative due to relative comparison.  Here's an example, unemployment rate as we have defined it for is very low, but if you don't want to believe it you can find something wrong that is not really related (work force participation) or simply make it relative(its low but a Republican would have done it better). 


The economy right now is fine.  It's probably slightly better than average.   Republicans can say that the economy is worse than normal and people will buy it because everyone wants to blame their problems on others (I don't suck, its the economy/government/Obama). If you read your comments, you know deep down that's true.


People are a lot better off than 2008, and she is too terrible of a politician to use the obvious solution which is to sell progress and hope. That's all Bernie Sanders is doing, and she can't even do that.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@JFMcNamara As you said, people spin  things the best they can to justify their ideology.  The economy is not fine, it is the longest recovery since WWII.  The recession ended in Summer of 2009, yet there is no economic sign of impending growth around the corner.  We have a higher percentage of people on food stamps than ever before in history.  Go ahead and celebrate our "fine economy".

MarkVV
MarkVV

Whether Sanders calls himself a socialist is irrelevant and immaterial. The only relevant and important thing in this matter is whether he proposes to establish socialism in this country – and he does no,t and he could not do it even if he wanted.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Tom Brady has gotten more criticism than Hillary for destroying evidence.  I guess we know now for sure that in America Football is what counts.


Classified information can only legally be transmitted on a government computer cleared and secured for classified data.  The no nothings always say, well if she had used a government computer everything would be copacetic, which is wrong.  It has to be a computer cleared and secured for classified information, not one sitting on someones desk. Classified information can only be discussed verbally on a special telephone designed and encrypted to keep it from being listened in on, yet she discussed sensitive information with Blumenthal on a public network.  Talking around classified information (saying this is classified so I can't tell you everything, but this is the jest)  is viewed the same as sharing classified information.  She knew all this, as does any low level government employee who works around classified information.  Like David Petreaus she should be investigated and charged if evidence exists. But, we know the DOJ has become highly politicized under Obama, so I don't expect anything to come of this.

M H Smith
M H Smith

Sanders is NOT a socialist. Not in the strict sense anyway. 


BS Wilcox, the man is socialist in the strongest sense period.

lvg
lvg

So where's the GOP jobs program and GOP economic policies that "lift all boats"?. all I see ia bunch of GOP clowns in ?Congress who are obstructionist, calling each other liars and backstabbing each other with nothing to show as far as lifting the middle class. The 47% and 1% are doing just fine.

M H Smith
M H Smith

@lvg 

Haven't seen the other half of the obstructionist congress or looked at who is in the White House? 

lvg
lvg

@m h smith @lvg Can't get a highway and mass transit funding bill passed because of amendments on Obmacare and abortion. How many jobs will that delay or cost? and please explain which Democrats proposed those amendments? I  guess that communist in the White House proposed those amendments.

M H Smith
M H Smith

@lvg @m h smith 

 Now the Democrats are that old party of no. Why don't they accept the amendments where they can, it's doubtful every GOP amendment is to repeal Obamacare or repeal to Roe-v-Wade. 

lvg
lvg

@m h smith @lvg Your right -amendment to abo;lish export import bank which helps foreigners buy exports like airplanes. And tell me that GOP stunt by Cruz and his teahadists does not harm US job market. Blame that on Democrats and the communist in the White House or maybe Hilary???Cons will do anything to harm economy and blame Obama.

MarkVV
MarkVV

The quoted opinions of Ramesh Ponnuru are rather amusing in the transparent silliness. He uses one of the oldest tricks in the book: You invent what somebody – in this case Hillary Clinton – “cannot say,” and make a point about that. Then you claim not what her argument is, but what “her argument would be.”

No matter how much such pundits want to analyze and grade the economic messages of the presidential candidates, the important thing is that a candidate is not trying to convince the economists – professional or amateur – but the voters. And Hillary Clinton has two big advantages. One, people remember fondly the Bill Clinton years, wince when they remember what G.W Bush’s administration ended with, and see the recovery under Obama. And two, all that the Republican candidates can do is to spew out conservative slogans and evoke a republican presidency that happened more than 25 years ago. 

M H Smith
M H Smith

@MarkVV 

The people's fond memories are of how tired they have grown of both parties.  

Caius
Caius

Re being socialist.  I am still waiting for someone to introduced a bill in congress cancelling all the socialist programs now alive and well in the US.


M H Smith
M H Smith

@Caius 

You mean repealing all socialist programs? Some folks in Congress are still working to achieve that monumental task.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@Caius Calling a program "socialist" does not make anybody a socialist.

M H Smith
M H Smith

@MarkVV @Caius 

Supporting socialist programs and laws makes you a socialist. Like gun control, forcing religious organizations to accept things that go against their faith, controlling wages etc.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

Wait, there's a Democrat race going on? When did THAT happen??? 

straker
straker

Obama and the Democrats have spent over six years trying to undo all the economic, military and political damage the  Bush administration unleashed on us.


Republicans can only go after her about e-mails, which just shows how pathetic they are and how gullible their electorate is.

M H Smith
M H Smith

@straker 

How many Democrats voted to give Bush authority to take military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Yeah, it was that old Bush - and all Democrat Senators in Congress at the time but one who said no to military actions.





notagain
notagain

@straker Based on false information from the president others supported him.Deception we do not need.

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

Whole lotta speculation and opinion there.

NTTAWWT

n8diggidy
n8diggidy

Bernie Sanders is economically illiterate and obviously delusional if he thinks conservatives want an open border. Hillary Clinton just counts on her voters being naive, gullible, or just Gruber stupid. 

M H Smith
M H Smith

A good many Democrats don't trust her. All I trust Hillary to do is hide or delete anything that can be used against.  

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

 Sanders, as an outright socialist


Sanders is NOT a socialist. Even if he choses to call himself one. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Kyle_Wingfield @Hedley_Lammar A Jenner joke


I get it.


But the fact remains Bernine is more along the lines of a Scandinavian socialist democrat. Pure socialism means the state owns the means of production and i'm pretty sure Bernie doesn't believe that. 


In Denmark they consistently vote in favor of high taxes and demand strong public services for that money. They enjoy an incredibly high standard of living. 

M H Smith
M H Smith

@Hedley_Lammar


Nonsense bw!


The man has openly proclaimed himself a socialist a number of times.