Trump & Hillary – “Beginning of the End” Chuck Todd & “3/20” Van Jones


What a sweep on Tuesday night? Words like Stampede, Wipe Out were used on Television to describe the 55%-65% vote won by Donald Trump this past Tuesday. Even MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, the “we are a republic, not a democracy” Chuck Todd, called Tuesday “the beginning of the end“.  Meaning the campaign for the Republican nomination was all but over. If Indiana goes for Trump this coming Tuesday, then it’s really over. 

Trump’s geographical sweep is absolutely stunning. In College Football parlance, Trump has swept the SEC, the ACC, the Big East; he is poised to sweep the Big Ten this coming week and the Pac 10 next month. Ted Cruz has only won the Big 12, the only conference that doesn’t yet have a conference championship. Like College Football fans, the Republican party is getting ready to crown Champion Trump. 

And that means, with all respect to Mr. Todd, it is the beginning of the beginning, the prelude to the general election. Donald Trump began this phase with a foreign policy address the day after the sweep.  From the beginning, we have liked, respected & supported Trump’s vision of what US foreign policy needs to be. That has been a lonely position but no longer.

CNBC’s Larry Kudlow said on Friday that “Trump’s foreign policy speech is beginning to resonate” and mentioned that General Barry McCaffrey had liked the speech. For once, Kudlow was actually subdued & understated. Because General McCaffrey, so far an intense critic of Trump, didn’t just like the speech. He said Trump “hit it out of the ball park” adding “I think it was very powerful, very sensible … I thought he did a tremendous job … I thought it was a very significant presentation“. 

Any one who understands the critical importance of large positioning in crowded markets can sense that Trump is well positioned for a surge. The negative sentiment about Trump got extremely crowded after Wisconsin. The last two weeks has demonstrated a backlash from the Republican base, a backlash that delivered the sweep of the North East for Trump. But the general sentiment is still crowded on the negative side. All Trump has to do is to show he is not as bad as they fear and the sentiment can swing rapidly just as it did for Ronald Reagan in 1980. And once such a negative mass begins to move, it can become a stampede. 

And the man who gets it the most is the man who has disliked Trump the most. Van Jones has been fighting Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord on CNN since the campaign began. Every fiber of Mr. Jones seems to rebel against what he believes Trump stands for. Yet, or perhaps because of the intensity of his feelings, Van Jones sees clearly how things can turn. He sees the same electoral map we saw last summer. Read what he said on CNN on Tuesday night:

  • “Hammer will fall in the rust belt – people say 70% of African Americans don’t like him; that says 30% are open to him; if 1/2 of them vote for Trump, he is President”  

A few minutes later, Van Jones made the arithmetic simpler – “if 3 out of 20 African Americans vote for him, he is President“. And where are African Americans most likely to do that? In the rust belt, from Michigan to Pennsylvania, where towns have been stripped clean of factories and jobs, the places that built American industry & made it the envy of the world. These factories had enabled African American workers to join the middle class and build a better future for their families. Would a few of them, say 15-20% of them, be receptive to Trump’s message of Jobs for Americans before jobs for rest of the world? Van Jones has believed so for months. And he is right. These are the states where David Axelrod destroyed Romney in 2012 and these are the states where Donald Trump plans to defeat Hillary Clinton. 

And we saw that worry in the face & words of MSNBC’s Chris Mathews on Friday when he went into a panicked tirade about the term “enabler” used by Donald Trump about Hillary Clinton. Because he knows that the general election campaign will be about Hillary and her standing among women voters. 

1.Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meier. Elizabeth Warren, Clair McCaskill …  vs. Billary Clinton

We recall hearing young women supporters of Bernie Sanders say that they want to see a woman President but Hillary is not that woman. Many feel that way because never in her long career in government & politics has Hillary Clinton been known for doing anything real about women’s issues. That may be because she has never won anything as a woman. 

To see what we mean, think of Margaret Thatcher & Golda Meier. They were self-made women leaders. Think of the many women leaders in the Congress – Elizabeth Warren, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Clair McCaskill. Ever heard much about their husbands? They are all self-made women who won their own battles and achieved what they did.

In contrast, Hillary Clinton made her entry on the slogan “you get two for the price of one“. From their first 60 Minutes interview in 1992, Bill & Hillary Clinton were united as one political team. You always got both of them. That is her good luck but the reality is that Hillary Clinton obtained her political career as the wife of Bill Clinton and not as a self-made woman.  

This is a big deal if addressed correctly. No woman in America can point to Hillary and say that if she works hard, if she has the passion & commitment, then she can aspire to be the President. Because she can’t be another Hillary unless she marries right, unless her husband is President before she can aspire to be President. 

Chris Mathews spoke about elections in emerging economies on Friday. He doesn’t realize how perfectly that fits Hillary Clinton. Look at Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, President of Argentina from 2007 till last year. What gave her the path to Argentina’s presidency? She was the wife of Nestor Kirchner, President of Argentina from 2003 to 2007. Following a husband to political leadership is common in Indian politics. Sonia Gandhi became the leader of the Congress Party after the death of her husband, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. She would have become Prime Minister too had she been born Indian instead of being Italian by birth. Indian politics is full of powerful women politicians who followed their husbands to political power. 

The reality is that Hillary Clinton is not a self-made woman leader. Everything she has done in politics has been directly derived or inherited from her husband, Bill Clinton. And so is her support among many political bases, most notably the African American community.

That does not take away from the fact that she is smart, intelligent and capable. All it means is that she is where she is because of her husband. And that means she is not a role model for women, only a role model for wives of other successful male politicians, wives who are also a part of a “two for the price of one” political spousal team. 

2. Difference between Hillary & Bill Clinton

Hillary Clinton has herself pointed out that she doesn’t have her husband’s political skills. That was smart because every one sees that. But there is a much bigger difference between the two, the difference in the quality of their intelligence.

Bill Clinton had the rare gift of instinctive or forward intelligence, the gift that separates truly successful leaders from not so successful ones. Ronald Reagan was the most gifted of recent presidents in instinctive or forward intelligence. In contrast, Barack Obama is the most gifted in analytical or backward-looking intelligence. You see the same difference in the instinctive intelligence of George W. Bush vs. the analytical intelligence of Jeb Bush. 

The reality that is Hillary Clinton has the same type of intelligence as Jeb Bush – the type of backward intelligence that delivers policy papers but fails in real life. You see this in both her political campaigns, in her decisions as Secretary of State. Look how she floundered in her 2008 campaign and also in her 2016 campaign by initially dismissing Bernie Sanders. The only reason she was able to put some distance between herself and Bernie was the African-American vote in the south, a vote that went to her only because of their loyalty to Bill Clinton. 

That is true of her broad support as well. People remember the good days of the American economy under Bill Clinton. Their unspoken assumption is that a Hillary Clinton presidency will be like the Bill Clinton presidency. It is an enormous gamble because not only Hillary Clinton is not Bill Clinton but that Hillary is actually the antithesis of Bill Clinton.

Remember Hillary Clinton in 1993 & 1994? She was an equal player in the Clinton White House. She was a powerful voice and an advocate for what she wanted the Clinton presidency to be. Remember how Hillary was supposed to be more intelligent than Bill? Remember what she did to the Clinton presidency in the first two years? Remember when Bill Clinton became an effective & successful president? When he banished Hillary Clinton after the Democratic wipe out in November 1994. Bill Clinton became successful President Clinton when he turned over a new leaf and discarded Hillary Clinton’s views & influence in policy. If she was so bad for her husband’s presidency, how can she be good for us?

Today’s Hillary Clinton is more mature, more experienced than the Hillary Clinton of 1993-1994. But she is still the same person with the same intelligence and the same way of thinking. People can never change the way they are. That may be why Hillary Clinton was so terrible in her middle east policy, the way she bludgeoned into Libya, the way she was cavalier during the Benghazi attack and why she was not a powerful voice for America’s women during her role in the Obama Administration.   

3. Billary Clinton campaign 

Just as Hillary Clinton gets the benefits of Bill Clinton, she inherits the negatives as well. We have seen how the Welfare Reform act, a major success of Bill Clinton, became a negative for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries. 

The other huge negative is NAFTA, the crowning success of Clinton global economics. There is no doubt that NAFTA has been the single greatest destroyer of American industrial jobs. Everybody knows that in the Midwest where, as Van Jones said, the November election will be won & lost. 

Not only did NAFTA destroy American industrial jobs, NAFTA launched the income inequality that is the hot topic today.  NAFTA was the beginning of the huge disparity between incomes & wealth of the college educated over the blue collar class, the disparity between the American heartland and the two coasts. The explosion of Wall Street wealth, the enormous swing towards financial careers as the best way to prosperity began in 1995. The doctrine of limitless financial stimulus began in November 1998.

Think about it. The success of the emerging economies, the concept that America wins by letting emerging economies take over blue collar jobs, the doctrine of unlimited financial speculation enabled & encouraged by the Federal Reserve, the entry of Wall Street executives as Treasury Secretaries, the explosion of income inequality in America – all this was launched in 1995-1998 by Bill Clinton. 

That was great then for Bill Clinton and not so great now for Hillary Clinton. You can’t say “two for the price of one” then and now say “not my doing“. She was Billary then and remains Billary today.

4. Attack Strength?

The foundational strengths of the Hillary Clinton campaign are the longing for a woman president and the reservoir of goodwill for the Bill Clinton presidency. If one of them gets untenable or even shaky, it would be a big problem. If both become problematic in key battle ground states, forget about it.  

As we see it, people have been told the worst about Donald Trump and the best about Hillary Clinton. What if Donald Trump comes across as “not as bad as we thought” and Hillary Clinton comes across as “not as good as we thought“? The reality is Donald Trump has lots of room to rise in popular estimation and Hillary Clinton has lots of room to fall. 

So the campaign will be all about the two candidates. Aren’t you looking forward to that beginning, Chuck? 


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