The Return of the Reagan Democrats

Donald Trump held a rally in Warren, MI today, a blue-collar, largely white suburb of Detroit in Macomb County. The county, as a whole, is famous for what Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg dubbed the “Reagan Democrats” after lifelong white working class Democrats started flipping to the GOP in 1980, as he described in this study done on polling about Obama in 2008.

In 1960, Macomb was the most Democratic suburban county in the country as John F. Kennedy won handily there, garnering 63 percent of the vote. Four years later, Lyndon Johnson increased the Democratic vote share even further, winning 75 percent of Macomb voters. But over the next 20 years, these voters turned on the Democrats, culminating with Ronald Reagan taking 66 percent of the vote in 1984.

Even before the election, Greenberg found Obama did worse with Macomb’s voters than he did elsewhere. Greenberg even found some racial basis for that, though not as much as he had earlier. But Greenberg judged early on that Obama did so much better elsewhere in the state — primarily, with the young, but also by generating enthusiasm among African American voters — that it wouldn’t matter.

Obama is running 7 points ahead in our statewide poll conducted at the same time. Obama obviously will be able to count on immense enthusiasm and turnout among African Americans, but there is more going on than that – including Obama’s over-performance in the growing suburban parts of the state, including Oakland County, where he is running a net 5 points above party identification and 9 points ahead of John McCain. Among young voters under 30 years, Obama defeats McCain 58 to 36 percent but Obama’s success with younger voters is even broader.

He leads McCain among all voters under 40 years by 48 to 41 percent across Michigan and matches that margin in Macomb. Clearly, the rules of the game are a little different this year.

Sure enough, Obama did over-perform in the suburbs. So much so that after the election, Greenberg said so long to his Macomb Reagan Democrats, embracing, instead, the racially diverse (or at least tolerant) suburbanites who could replace them in the Democratic coalition.

Oakland County has formed part of the Republican heartland in Michigan and the country. From 1972 to 1988, Democratic presidential candidates in their best years lost the county by 20 points. From Bill Clinton to John Kerry, however, Democrats began to settle for a draw. Over the past two decades, Oakland County began to change, as an influx of teachers, lawyers and high-tech professionals began to outnumber the county’s business owners and managers. Macomb has been slow to welcome racial diversity, but almost a quarter of Oakland’s residents are members of various racial minorities.

These changes have produced a more tolerant and culturally liberal population, uncomfortable with today’s Republican Party. When we conducted our poll of 600 voters in Oakland County on election night, they were a lot more open than voters in Macomb to gay marriage and affirmative action. We asked those who voted for Mr. Obama why they made that choice. At the top of the list was his promise to withdraw troops from Iraq, followed by his support for tax cuts for the middle class and affordable health care for all, and the idea that he will bring people together, end the old politics and get things done.

On Tuesday, Oakland County voters gave Mr. Obama a 57 percent to 42 percent victory over John McCain — those 15 points translated into an astonishing 96,000-vote margin. That helped form one of the most important new national changes in the electorate: Mr. Obama built up striking dominance in the country’s growing, more diverse and well-educated suburbs.

So, good riddance, my Macomb barometer.

But in elections since, Democrats have been doing worse and worse among whites and, in the interim years, losing elections as a result. By 2014, Greenberg was not so sanguine about Democrats’ losing those white voters anymore.

For example, a lot of blue-collar work today takes place in small groups rather than in factory settings, and most construction workers are self-employed contractors. Moreover, if by blue-collar jobs we mean jobs that involve routine and repetitive tasks, require limited skills, are closely supervised, and offer no autonomy during working hours, then it turns out that half of all white male workers and 40 percent of white working women are blue collar. Far from working on factory floors, more and more workers are employed in service-sector jobs like health care, leisure and hospitality, and, particularly, professional and business services.

If Democrats cannot figure out how to appeal to today’s working-class voters, then they don’t deserve to lead. Nearly all of the people in these jobs have not seen a raise in years. The majority of them, who now work in the service sector—maids and housekeepers, waitresses and hostesses, cooks and dishwashers, counter attendants and ticket takers, janitors and hairdressers and child care workers—earn, on average, about $400 a week.

At that point, the GOP wasn’t even doing all that well with these voters. But they are now, with Donald Trump, returning today to the site of Reagan’s victory with the support of a bunch of working people arguably voting against their economic interest. Trump is speaking the language — significantly, of building infrastructure, and not just his damned wall — that would appeal to this group in a way the GOP had foresworn. And in Macomb, as elsewhere, Trump’s voters are his voters, largely detached from either party and thus far unimpressed with the dirt the GOP threw last night and reportedly will start throwing in abundance in the near future. Trump seems to recognize he has a limited window of time to win out before the shit gets really deep, and he stands a very good chance of doing just that.

And there is a real reason to be concerned that it will lead to victory for the GOP in November.

Thus far, we’re seeing Democratic turnout down, significantly, and GOP turnout up even more. That comes, in large part, because white voters — thus far we’ve had voting in the South, so these consist of what this analysis calls old-style Dixiecrats as well as Trump cross-overs — are turning to Donald Trump. Worse, we’re not seeing the kind of turnout among people of color, not even African Americans, that Democrats have been presuming would build a permanent firewall against GOP victories.

So it’s absolutely imperative that we find some way to do three things:

  • Bring back some form of the Obama effect on African American turnout, so it does not fall (as it did in South Carolina).
  • Give younger voters the motivation to actually turn out and vote.
  • Effectively fight the Trump effect, and stem the anti-establishment exodus of working class whites to the GOP, and to Trump.

If we can’t find a way to do that, then in the outer South:

  • North Carolina will not be remotely competitive.
  • Virginia won’t lean Dem, and could be a true tossup or even lean R.
  • Florida won’t really be a tossup, but will probably lean reasonably R as in 2004 (unless gains among Hispanics are fully strong enough to offset the Trump effect in North Florida and the drift of older retirees to the GOP).

That’s enough by itself to return the electoral college map to something more similar to what we had in 2000 and 2004. And if the Trump effect is strong in places like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, then we could have a real fight on our hands, without any clear reason to think we have the upper hand.

In other words, with Trump on the GOP ballot and Obama off the Dem ballot, the Obama coalition could come tumbling down and crash into pieces. That “blue wall” we liked to think made America safe from another George W. Bush? Gone. History.

But even in MA, Trump drew those working class whites in YUGE numbers.

Bernie probably had a shot at winning among white and black and brown working people. Partly because the Democrats launched Republican attacks on sound policy, partly because Bernie didn’t listen to people of color enough, and partly because Trump had an easier sell to the white working class, he won’t pull it off.

Which will leave Hillary and Oakland’s voters (or, in parallel fashion, huge wins in the most affluent Military Industrial Complex suburbs of VA).

Democrats risk losing this election, once again to Reagan’s Democrats. If Trump wins, it may also be a realignment election, where Democrats become the party of those suburbs while Trump feeds the fears of those working towns. As Greenberg said, Democrats don’t deserve to win if they’re not offering solutions for those working class service workers, of all classes.

And thus far, Democrats haven’t convinced sufficient numbers they do.

70 replies
  1. Jim White says:

    What a depressing way to start my day. All the more depressing in that my thought when W looked to have a real chance of winning was that he’d fuck things up so badly the Republican Party would virtually disappear. Sure, Trump will elevate that to nuclear-scale dumpster fires, but that really appears to be what voters want right now. Not that the high level of anger out there isn’t fully justified, because it is, but the way that angry folks are being manipulated to displace their anger onto the wrong target is just insane. And when the dumpster fires hit, minorities and hippies will be wrongly assigned the blame. Again.

  2. JerryN says:

    Thanks for bumming me out :-). One of the big problems that the Democratic establishment and the Clinton campaign have is that within the core of that establishment and the party base, folks are pretty happy and think that what would effectively be a third term for Obama is something that the country as a whole would support enthusiastically. I think they were genuinely surprised at Sanders’ appeal to the working class and millennials. I’m not sure they understand why. (No, actually I’m very sure that they don’t). If the Clinton folks can’t internalize that they need to work on their messaging to these groups, they’re not going to make the changes they need to make to both spur turnout and dampen Trump’s appeal.

  3. martin says:

    quote”And thus far, Democrats haven’t convinced sufficient numbers they do.”unquote

    What a depressing way to start my day indeed. As if more snow this morning wasn’t enough. While you are correct, at least the ViceChair of the DNC decided she had seen enough bullshit. She quit and is endorsing Sanders…

    Too bad she didn’t spit in Wasserman’s face while she was at it.

    Meanwhile, Greenwald whacks the GOP revulsion of Trump for what it is…

    As far as I’m concerned, to see a good portion of this country cheer for this scumsucking maggot makes my skin crawl. Had someone predicted this even two years ago, even I would have rolled my eyes, even though I could already see over half this nation would waterboard their own mother for shits and giggles. But now, I’m afraid we are on the verge of the beginning of the end of the America I was born in as we hit the bottom of the moral abyss. To quote Jim Garrison in 1967…
    “I’ve learned enough about the machinations of the CIA in the past year to know that this is no longer the dreamworld America I once believed in. The imperatives of the population explosion, which almost inevitably will lessen our belief in the sanctity of the individual human life, combined with the awesome power of the CIA and the defense establishment, seem destined to seal the fate of the America I knew as a child and bring us into a new Orwellian world where the citizen exists for the state and where raw power justifies any and every immoral act. I’ve always had a kind of knee-jirk trust in my Government’s basic integrity, whatever political blunders it may make. But I’ve come to realize that in Washington, deceiving and manipulating the public are viewed by some as the natural prerogatives of office. Huey Long once said, “Fascism will come to America in the name of anti-fascism.” I’m afraid, based on my own experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security.”

    Well, it looks to me like fascism will come to America in the name of Donald Trump….

  4. martin says:

    hmmmm, this is interesting. At least it proves Trump is a delusional idiot.
    Of course…we already knew that.

    quote”There is one way in which Trump might be spurring “millions and millions” to the early-voting states. If about a quarter of the electorate in the early states has been new voters, as on the Democratic side, that means that 2.3 million people voted for the first time through Super Tuesday. Millions and millions. And a some large chunk of that group was indeed turning out because of Donald Trump.

    To vote against him.” unquote

  5. bevin says:

    Its not the ‘fascism coming to America’ that worries us foreigners, its the fascism that comes to us from America.

    Trump’s potential is frightening enough but far more frightening is what Hillary has in store, which is likely to be more of the same: more Honduras, more Haiti, more Gaza, more Thailand, more Libya, more Syria and more dangerous adventures in Ukraine and the inherently unstable Russian borderlands.

    If Trump only concentrates on domestic matters I can’t see him making things much worse for the American People while benign neglect in Foreign Affairs would allow the rest of us to take a breather, reclaim some of that lost sovereignty and spend less on idiotic wars.

    • emptywheel says:

      I get that view, but in the absence of significant interest in foreign policy, Trump is likely to hire some GOP hawks who will continue in Cheney’s tradition.

      Also, while I think recent trade deals have been horrible, the degree to which Trump embraces protectionism would be problematic.

      • lefty665 says:

        ew @18 & 19 Trump’s already got John !@#$%^&* Bolton advising him.
        Dunno why Kagan’s neocon op-ed endorsement of Hillary the other day isn’t being shouted from the rooftops. Sanders is far too nice.

      • orionATL says:

        “emptywheel on March 5, 2016 at 11:23 am In reply to bevin

        I get that view, but in the absence of significant interest in foreign policy,…”


        so deporting immigrants back to mexico, central america, and arab countries and refusing visas counts as domestic policy in your view?

        • emptywheel says:


          As opposed to Hillary, seemingly embracing 60 year deployments to Libya, for example.

          • orionATL says:

            “emptywheel on March 5, 2016 at 11:43 am In reply to orionATL


            As opposed to Hillary, seemingly embracing 60 year deployments to Libya, for example…”

            i read your article in salon.

            it was uncharacteristically dishonest of you to assume a historical example clinton used was in fact her foreign policy, let alone a unidimensional foreign policy focusing on a single small country from a former secretary of state.

            that would explain
            why you have used the weaselword “seemingly” here at the emptywheel website.

            the article:


      • bevin says:

        Again, from the outside, I much prefer protectionism to the TTIP and TPP “free trade” deals which are aimed at eroding sovereignty everywhere, as well as containing the two big Eurasian powers.

        It is time that countries, Canada and Mexico included, got out of NAFTA, too. And I’d be surprised if most Americans don’t agree.

        A few years devoted to protectionism would allow people to work out what they want without having to listen to the nonsense that the market determines what happens in the economy. It doesn’t. And those who claim that it does are simply hiding their greed and selfishness behind an ideology which has been exploded so often that we have to employ Economists to try and squeeze some sense out of it.

        As to Foreign Policy, the way that Washington has been going for the past twenty years- now that the restraint exercised by the USSR has been cast off- is reducing large areas of the world to ruins, tens of millions to the threshold of famine and threatening the nuclear holocaust that used to worry people in, for example 1964.

        With the exception of the abusive orion pretty well everyone here understands that Hillary has a frightening record of aggression and insouciance which makes her unfit for any office in which sensible and humane decision making will be required.

        It is a curious thing that the Democrats, who never fail to urge voters to go for the lesser evil, cannot see that the least evil in sight is the Senator from Vermont who was taking part in Civil Rights actions when Hillary was dog whistling for Goldwater.

  6. orionATL says:

    1) the democratic party is a declining party at every level of government and has been so at an accelerating rate for at least the last 12 years. it’s nationwide disorganization is palpable, especially at state levels.

    2) the democratic party faces a dilemma every four years:

    black democratic votes in the south count in democratic primaries in the south, but, in effect, don’t count at all in the presidential voting because the south is overwhelmingly republican and each state win is winner-take-all electoral college votes.

    3) the democratic party’s central flaws are it refuses to directly, publicly, noisily tackle republican dishonesty in campaign rhetoric and, equally, republican dishonesty in governing actions.

    as examples of on the latter, dishonesty in programs, consider

    – “no child left behind” (which mandated children be left behind) and

    – the patriot act (“The USA PATRIOT Act: Preserving Life and Liberty (Uniting and Strengthening America… )” ).

    see also paul krugman in nytimes, mar 4, 2016, on the republican con game.

    4) whitebread loves senator sanders, that’s clear.

    but does that imply a democratic political fundamental?

    if so, how is it that michigan went haywire republican? haywire republican in michigan! how?

    and how did what i considered the most liberal state in the nation, minnesota, end up with republican governors and senators several years ago? how?

    and how did wisconsin end up diselecting one of the great senators of our time, (former) senator russ feingold? how?

    my answer:

    – voters are blissfully ignorant and easily conned about the politicians they vote for, yet foolishly self-confident in the soundness of their vote. a little challenge to these tens of millions of spoiled voters is in order.

    – democratic politicians always try to gain or hold power by sliding in just under the tag.

    how about running over the fucking catcher instead?

  7. KC says:

    Well, I’ll say talking politics in my office yesterday–a not-so-Democratic place–everyone seems to be gravitating to “just” voting for Hillary. The clear feeling is all the other candidates are nuts. I took this as a positive, frankly, given the rampant Trump appeal a month or so ago.

    • bloopie2 says:

      So trump is nuts, so what? Many of his stated policies are better than hilarys. How will she help America?

    • bloopie2 says:

      Does anyone believe that, before trump made it an issue, hilary gave a damn about income inequality?

    • emptywheel says:

      Hillary’s negatives are high enough (47% say they won’t vote for her) she normally would have a really tough time getting elected. But Trump’s are higher (55%).

      So who knows what will happen? I think she’ll get the Neocon GOP vote, but that’s a small fraction of the party. How many Republicans vote Trump to keep her out of the WH? And does that make up for disaffected Dems that either crossover or stay home? I don’t know the answer to that.

  8. bloopie2 says:

    I think we should stop bombing other countries that are not attacking us. I think we should rebuild the middle class. Who should I vote for?

  9. lefty665 says:

    “Thus far, we’re seeing Democratic turnout down, significantly, and GOP turnout up even more.”
    Part of that is normal. After 8 years the out party is usually hungrier than the incumbent. Obama benefited from that in ’08.
    Bigger trouble is 8 years of Same following a campaign of Change. Despite the cooked unemployment reports, the economy still sucks for most of the country. By siding with the rich at the expense of everyone else Obama screwed the country and the Dems.
    Hillary’s campaign for a 3rd Obama term may help her in states with larger, older black populations, but it is the kiss of death everywhere else. Racism and sexism are part of it, but economic hopelessness is the real driver.
    2016 is a class war, Ed Walker said it eloquently here recently. 90% of the country has not had a real raise since the late ’70’s. Most of the money is going to the rich. Both party establishments side solidly with the rich. In response this year populist candidates are campaigning at close to 50%. That transcends party lines.
    Ask the questions “Are you better off than you were 8 years ago, 24 years ago, 36 years ago”. The answers for most of the country are “No”, “No” and “No”. That’s coming up on a 3rd generation failing to thrive.
    For the Dems that 90% of the people who are not thriving are not all coming home when they and Hillary start crying “Trump is coming, Trump is coming”. A significant portion will respond with “Bring him on”. Others will stay home. The residue of fat cats and morons voting against their own interests will not be enough to carry the day.
    But wait, there’s more. A majority of the country thinks Hillary is not trustworthy and a liar. That includes more than 60% of independents. Even if the Dems manage to rally the troops the Indys break solidly against her.
    Mene, mene, tekel, parsin, the handwriting is on the wall this year the same way it was for King Belshazzor . The numbers are not there for Hillary, even if she is not indicted. Will the Dems come to their senses, re-embrace the New Deal, carry the day and save the country? Stay tuned.

  10. bloopie2 says:

    You do know that since the great recession the number of working immigrants has increased more than the number of working Americans, don’t you? Why shouldn’t a poor person vote to halt immigration?

  11. Casual Observer says:

    EW, here’s related article from Mass:

    Summary: Dems leaving party for Trump.

    However, buried at base of story was this:

    “The 19,800 who left the Mass Dems represent about 1.3 percent of the 1.49 million enrolled in the party. And though the MassGOP gained several thousand voters, it actually lost more in the same time frame, when 5,911 quit the party to be unenrolled.”

    This Mass. shift is partly about crossover voting, but more fundamentally is part of a national, long-term trend of both Dem and GOP voters rejecting their parties and becoming independents.

    Related again, from Gallup:

    • Bay State Librul says:

      The actual Mass tally for Republicans was 631,395 with 49.3% for Trump and 50.7% for
      other candidates – is that a win for Trump? The Herald estimate was 700,000 for the Republicans.
      The actual Mass tally for Dems was 1,204,927 with Clinton at 50.1% and Bernie at 48.7%
      Yes crossovers – even fucking Globe conservative writer, Jeff Jacoby, a staunch Republican
      voted for Sanders so he could play games with Hillary.

      Governor Charlie Baker said he would not vote for Trump. In the end, if Trump is ticketed,
      Republicans voters will unenthusiastically vote Democratic, write-in a candidate, or stay home (my uninformed opinion)

      • bevin says:

        “Yes crossovers – even fucking Globe conservative writer, Jeff Jacoby, a staunch Republican
        voted for Sanders so he could play games with Hillary.”

        That one really doesn’t count. In the recent Labour Party election in the UK there was hardly a Tory columnist in the country who didn’t claim to be secretly voting for Corbyn because he was “unelectable.”

        It is a very old trick for columnists with nothing to say.

    • orionATL says:


      thank you for the details on the dem registration change in mass. i saw a reference to that but did not know how to interpret it.

      of voters in the country at large, i would not be surprised if more and more are becoming unmoored from their party. but are they just changing loyalty? i don’t know.

      we have all listened for years to politicians speaking in a pecular version of american english that none of the rest of us use. i suspect most of us have come to believe that that is the language of evasions, lies, and manipulations of our emotions. are just fed up with being fed that political b. s. :) or are we just looking for some other party to extend our loyalty to.

    • emptywheel says:

      Agree. Though there are similar, larger scale reports of crossover from elsewhere, including a new one from Youngstown, which is all the more troubling as OH is a swingstate.

  12. scribe says:

    What did you expect?
    We had 8 disastrous years under Bushie and Obama promised a positive change. He had a positive vision.
    And the average Joes and Janes who make up the demographic whence come the Reagan Democrats went for it. The minute he came to office, Obama went all “looking forward not back” (as if any criminal prosecution isn’t “looking back”) as to the torture and wars, and went even further to coddle, cosset and cuddle the banksters who caused the economic mess in the first place, blaming “irresponsible” Joes and Janes who’d been sold a bill of goods for their misfortune.
    And now HRC promises more of the same policies, but with the added edge of vindictiveness – there’s a tone in her voice when someone challenges her that can only be explained as a promise of vengeance for their temerity. Yeah. Really appealing. Particularly to people who’ve been fucked over by a guy they believed would help them.
    I worked a precinct in ’08 – poll observer – in a black neighborhood. 640 voters (80 percent turnout) of whom 639 were black, 1 Asian. The line was a block or more long when the polls opened, and the vast majority had voted by 10 am. Late in the day a mom came with her son, maybe a 4th or 5th grader, who’d taken down all the sports heroes’ posters from his bedroom wall. He wanted to know where he could get more Obama posters, pictures and stuff. I have to wonder, 8 years on and looking at college loans that will keep him in hock until he’s got grey hair – assuming the cops haven’t yet put him into the system or killed him – what he thinks of the politics of the day, and who he’ll vote for. The primary in that state is later in the season, so he might be 18 by election day.
    Do any of you think HRC will appeal to that kid? I don’t.
    I’ll throw a little more sand into the gears. Last night the NYDN reported Bloomberg’s moved his personal server, website and such off the system of his company, the media giant. The paper says he did that when he was running for and serving as mayor. They’re taking it as a sign he’s serious about running for President. So, he’ll split the vote many of you call “sane”, taking more from HRC than Trump. Frankly, he’s just as much a fascist as Trump, just less colorful and arguably more effective. After all, Trump would have made more money had he bought T-bills with his inheritance and hung out on a beach. Bloomberg turned $10mil (his buyout/severance at Salomon Brothers) into $30 billion. Call Bloomberg Heydrich to Trump’s Hitler.

  13. lefty665 says:

    From the Salon article:
    Clinton turned to Libya… “I’m hoping that we can give them the time and space to actually make a difference for their country in the future,” she said… After pointing to the election again, Clinton then invoked the half-century-plus deployment of U.S. forces in Germany, Japan, and South Korea as examples of U.S. troops remaining onsite to give a country time and space
    It was Clinton’s formulation. All EW did was report it. That’s as straight up at it gets.

    • orionATL says:


      no it is not “as straight as it gets” if one is thinking straight.

      a historical example is not a policy. turning it into one is willful, opportunistic misunderstanding.

      saying “give them some time and space” is the very definition of disengaged concern; that is what one would say of a teenager, for example. it is not a foreign policy in any formal sense of the term.

      clinton has already indicated that the u. s. gov wanted to help the libyans organize their gov after gaddafi’s demise. the libyans were not interested in that help. unlike afghanistan, now in its 14th year, the u. s. left the libyans to develop gov for themdelves. that is precisely the policy we should have followed in afghanistan but did not.

  14. JerryN says:

    Absent some major external event (i.e. high profile terror attack or international incident) between now and November, I don’t see the election turning on foreign policy. I’m also going to go out on a limb and say that neither party’s campaign will switch a solidly red or blue state to the other side. So, how will the swing states swing?

    Here’s where I see Clinton in deep trouble. Trump’s superficially populist appeal to the disaffected in the Rust Belt can easily overcome Democratic GOTV efforts in communities of color. His appeal to white Southerners is probably enough to make North Carolina solidly R regardless of what the Democrats do. If Bloomberg enters the race, that’s likely to siphon off establishment voters in northern Virginia and swing that state to Trump. It might also make the difference in Pennsylvania where the Philly suburbs could determine the outcome. All of this makes the electoral map really tough.

    My faint hope is that boosting turnout in the 18 – 35 year old demo could provide a counterweight to all of this, but I’m not seeing any signs that the Clinton brain trust has a clue how to do this.

    • emptywheel says:

      Not clear how a potential economic disaster will play out though, but it would be international in ramification. It might well lead people to embrace Trump’s protectionism even more.

      • JerryN says:

        I had been think more of a military incident, but a major economic shock would probably favor Trump as well. My thinking has been that the US economy will hang on long enough to get through the election. Typically the Fed tries to keep things steady during election season, although they don’t have nearly the capability to do this as they once did.

        I do expect that we are getting close to an economic downturn and that’s one of the big reasons that I expect the next President to be a one-termer. In my more conspiracy-minded moments, I can believe that the big money players will favor Clinton over Trump, figuring that they will have a predictable executive branch for 4 years and a much better shot at getting one of theirs in place in 2020.

  15. Jim White says:

    Hmmm. “give them the time and space to actually make a difference for their country”
    That sounds so familiar. Where have I heard it?
    Oh, yeah. That is very close to the line from the ass-kissing little chickenshit when he was trying to justify his surge in Iraq. He was making space for political reconciliation to occur. To these folks, “making space” can only be done at the point of a gun.
    And that went just swimmingly in Iraq, didn’t it?

    • orionATL says:


      another willful misinterpretation in the service of political passion, this time by passionate loyalist jim white.

      in fact, what clinton was implying was precisely the opposite of what happened in iraq and afghanistan.

      if you submitted a chemistry paper to an academic journal with this kind of willful misinterpretation you wouldn’t get pass the initial reviews.

  16. Bay State Librul says:

    In Mass, they say two towns mirror how the state will vote in total.
    Waltham — near Boston, and Lunenburg in the northwest corridor
    Waltham cast 10,467 democratic votes and 4,600 Republican votes (70% Dem/30% Rep)
    Lunenburg cast 1,852 democratic votes and 1,666 Republican votes (53% Dem/47% Rep)
    Results – Waltham 50.8% Hillary/48.0% Bernie
    Lunenburg 40.6% Hillary/58.6% Bernie

    Waltham 51.4% Trump/48.6% others
    Lunenburg 51.5% Trump/48.5% others

    And the winner is I think Hillary?

    • bevin says:

      “And the winner is I think Hillary?”

      No it is a tie. Actually Bernie, who won Lunenberg by a distance is the winner over Hillary who just squeaked by in Waltham.

      • Bay State Librul says:

        Tie goes to the front runner?

        You have a point, but population swayed me — Population of Waltham is 63,014, Population of Lunenburg is 10,086. I like Bernie but he would be crushed in the general.

        Isn’t the term Reagan Democrat paradoxically, like the “living dead”

  17. Bitter Angry Drunk says:

    Was it Marcy or Greenwald who wrote about the stages of Trump grief? I’m at the final, final stage: Fuck it. We’re a country that elects leaders cuz they were on teevee, so this is pretty much what we deserve.

  18. Jim White says:

    And once again, orion, the final aribiter of all reason and argument based upon evdidence, has found me wanting.
    In return, I post a challenge. O great reasoning one, please point to at least one instance, in the past two years, where you have admitted somewhere in your voluminous comments here, that at least one teensy, weensy, tiny thing that Perfect One Hillary has done or said that might be the least bit….

    • orionATL says:

      i don’t need to point clinton’s faults, jim. some posters and some commenters (emphasis on some) here do that all the time :) what i try to do is point out what i think is foolish or sophistical reasoning.

      one reason i came here is because i discovered emptywheel had a genius for doing this with regard to gov’t officials. i think i’m pretty good it too.

      as for my view of clinton’s faults, views that are never of interest here because what is of interest here is “proving” what an incompetent monster clinton is,

      my partial list includes:

      – clinton seems to be almost devoid of political imagination. i’m not quite sure what i mean by that, but in my mind it has to do partially with failure come up with political themes that resonate with voters, and partly with failure to give sharp, hard answers to her political adversaries that put them back on their heels and on their sophistry.

      – i am not at all impressed by some of the people clinton has proved loyal to and keeps around her for advice. i think some of these are “too politically clever by half”, “slide in just under the tag” types, and others seem nauseatingly oleagenous.

      – what i like about clinton is her experience governing. period. period.

      americans in general are fools if they believe any barrack obama, donald trump, ted cruz, or george w. bush could be a successful president without years of on-the-job-fucking-up training.

      we blythly choose insufficiently trained leaders because when we make our political decisions, no matter how well or poorly educated we be, we seem always willing to be conned by words, words forged into political platforms. clinton is boring and so is her long platform, but i’m betting she is less about words and more about governing effectively, which should be the vital quality we seek in a presidential candidate.

      when was the last time you heard any serious discussion about who can rule effectively?

      – what i like about sen. sanders is i consider him a very good, decent man who really cares about the welfare of the people and wants gov to work for the people. i think secretary clinton is an equally good, decent person who likewise cares about the welfare of the people and can make gov work.

      i have an important question to pose to you, o most high, most well-informed resident expert on american wars in the middle east.

      have you thought through where the tale – and it is a tale, a fable, told by progressives and regressives alike – of the “failure” of the libya liberation effort will end up? give it some thought; it makes for sober scenario planning. i’ll get back to you on that later.

      • bevin says:

        “have you thought through where the tale – and it is a tale, a fable, told by progressives and regressives alike – of the “failure” of the libya liberation effort will end up? give it some thought; it makes for sober scenario planning. i’ll get back to you on that later.”

        I don’t know about Jim but I can hardly wait. “libya liberation” indeed!!!

    • orionATL says:

      jim white @44

      “… please point to at least one instance, in the past two years, where you have admitted somewhere in your voluminous comments here, that at least one teensy, weensy, tiny thing that Perfect One Hillary has done or said that might be the least bit….

      i answered your question @45.

      a better question would have been: “when have you criticized senator sanders?”

      the answer would have been “never that i recall”.

      a better question would have been “when have you questioned senator sanders’ character and accomplishments in the same fashion that sec clinton’s were questioned in 2008 and again in 2016?”.

      the answer would have been “never”. i believe both clinton and sanders are equally good people. i believe both would work equally hard for the people of the nation.

      i also believe secretary clinton has an enormously greater range and depth of experience than senator sanders. nonetheless, i am confident sanders would be a hard-working, competent president.

      i am infuriated by the gang of knuckle-dragging progressive hyper-moralist chimps who feel it is their political duty to debase secretary clinton both out of partisan passion and for money.

      the analogy with a gang of knuckle-dragging rightwing hyper-moralist chimps who want religious rights legislation to keep from giving medical care, serving food to, or giving marriage license to gays is, in my mind, complete.

      • Carl Weetabix says:

        I find it curious that you would characterize Clinton and Sanders as “good people” when both are career politicians and after so much required pandering to get and maintain where they’ve been, god knows what goes on in their little heads. It takes an inhuman amount of self-control, not to mention cognitive dissonance to hold reign on the American stage, after all we demand inhuman perfection – god forbid if even one takes too long on a bathroom break. It’s no surprise we get what we pay for in this environment, what kind of normal person can honestly thrive in this environment? While I find Trump beyond odious, it’s no surprise that given that we can believe the man might actually fart, people find charm in him.
        But I digress – my point is, and I am not trying to be insulting, to call anyone at this level “good” seems to me naive – at best one can probably suspect they are sociopaths or something that doesn’t altogether fit into our definition of normal “human”. No normal human could endure day after day what is required to be such a politician.
        On the other hand, you call Sanders’ supporters, “gang of knuckle-dragging progressive hyper-moralist chimps” when the vast majority of them, while yes perhaps annoying to you, are average people who do actually believe. They are in fact “good people”, just as Clinton supporters are.
        My point being, in general, at least in my strong opinion, the people like you and me in the trenches who actually definitively care and believe, even those behind Trump, are “good people”. We may be horribly misguided or wrong about our opinions, but the fact is most of the people on the street regardless of how bizarre their views are, are truly good people. They just get sucked into one or another political religion and then, well there’s where the shit goes bad.
        On the other hand, people running things who have fought their way through an inhuman system to an inhuman position, god knows what they are, but I’d be very hesitant to call them “good”. To get where they are, they had to sell their souls long ago and while they may or may not be an agent of good, and it’s even possible at a lottery level of odds that they are literally “good”, I would be very cautious of ascribing them to the standard set of human descriptions we apply to people in the street. To me that seems messiah-like fantasy, hollywood stuff. These people left the land that you, me, and the rest of our boring lot share long ago.
        In short, I’d be far more willing to call annoying Sanders supporters, annoying Clinton supporters, and even annoying Trump supporters “good people”, than any of the people they support. Whether the people they support can be agents of good is another question (and where I would argue, good people or not, “It’s the policy stupid”). We little people humanly care, they, they, well, again, who knows what goes on in the heads of people at their level.

        • orionATL says:

          carl wetabix @63

          breakfast cereal man again. it’s been a while :)

          re this part of your comment:

          “… On the other hand, you call Sanders’ supporters, “gang of knuckle-dragging progressive hyper-moralist chimps” when the vast majority of them, while yes perhaps annoying to you, are average people who do actually believe. They are in fact “good people”, just as Clinton supporters are… ”

          you are correct about sanders supporters being good people, but you selectively quoted me to make your point. this indicates you don’t have a clue about the point i was trying to make.

          in political science, primaries have long been understood to involve only the most committed, involved, fervent of party members and candidate loyalists. progressives might be surprised to learn that this observation applies equally to the left’s fervent-to-fanatical supporters as it does to the right’s fervent-to-fanatical supporters, the latter of whom we feel free to mock as nut cases.

          the quote from #60 in its entirety is:

          “… i am infuriated by the gang of knuckle-dragging progressive hyper-moralist chimps who feel it is their political duty to debase secretary clinton both out of partisan passion and for money.

          the analogy with a gang of knuckle-dragging rightwing hyper-moralist chimps who want religious rights legislation to keep from giving medical care, serving food to, or giving marriage license to gays is, in my mind, complete…”

          the parallel to which i wanted to draw attention is between the excessive self-righteousness of a few fanatical progressives supporting senator sanders and the excessive self-righteous of those funny rightwing religious fanatics.

          • bloopie2 says:

            As I believe I’ve noted before in this forum, my mother had two Rules Of Voting. #1, Vote No. If they want something from you, chances are you should not give it to them. #2, They’re All Crooks. Seems like #2 applies here, per your comments.

            • orionATL says:

              i recall reading an essay once that insisted that americans always vote against something or someone, never for. i’m not sure about this, but i sure have seen a lot of what is clearly “voting against” over the last two decades. maybe that accounts for the continuous instability in the congress; every two years one or both parts of congress switches from r to d or from d to r.

              paralysis and instability result.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Nice analysis. Related background Ben Fountain provides in a well-timed Guardian article:

    On a happier note is this article from Naked Capitalism that suggests that Ms. Clinton will build her lead through the Ides of March, then Bernie will cut it:

    Mr. Obama left more than a few hundred or more wannabe whistle blowers from the Cheney-Bush era twisting in the wind, having closed off hope they would receive more welcoming treatment than could be expected from Mr. Cheney. He disappointed millions when he threw away his hopey-changey people and promises the minute he won election. His staffing and actions since then demonstrate his garden variety love of power and fear of antagonizing it, as much as they do his cynical “realism”. Perhaps a less cynical S.Ct. nominee will be a chicken bone he throws to his former followers.

  20. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Like most corporations that pander to the egos of the supposedly unique, irreplaceable talent they so expensively employ at the top, the USG in many ways runs itself.

    What we need is new priorities at the top. We don’t really need a President with talent to the nth degree or specific experience; we demonstrably survived its lack in many former presidents. We do need someone willing to set divergent priorities, the caveat being that he or she must have the popularity and political savvy to turn some of them into day-to-day policies. The banks and biggest corporations would scream that the sky is falling, but they do that even when they the govt gives them more than they ask for in the way of tax subsidies and holidays, legal immunities, bottomless federal contracts, and mummified antitrust and criminal divisions at the DOJ.

    • orionATL says:

      earlofhuntingdon @47

      “…We don’t really need a President with… specific experience; we demonstrably survived its lack in many former presidents…”


      “… [President Obama] disappointed millions when he threw away his hopey-changey people and promises the minute he won election. His staffing and actions since then demonstrate his garden variety love of power and fear of antagonizing it, as much as they do his cynical “realism”…”

      in substance, you contradict yourself.

      i think it is obvious that president obama’s failures are the direct result of his having too little experience for the job. this is particularly true with his failed relations with congress and with the big gov’t bureaucracies, defense, treasury, and doj in particular.

      when obama was first running in 2008 he had a group of silicon valley execs running his nifty crowd sourcing money machine. when asked if obama’s inexperience might be a problem the ceo’s laughed and said roughly “imagine if larry page and sergey brin had had to have experience before starting google.” ha, ha. very clever response. but the laugh turned out to be on america.

      your equivalence, eofh, between corporate and government leadership is commonplace (” what this country needs is someone who can run a business”) and misguided.

      corporate leadership operates in a closed, largely private environment. it needs to focus on many fewer issues and disposes of those largely privately.

      government leadership operates in public with very public pressures coming from all directions at once. and it operates on a large number of issues at any one time. a president usually has to deal with other independent power sources (congress, courts, lobbyists) as well as the big government bureaucracies.

      there really is a vast difference in the skills required to be a competent corporate ceo and to be, for example, a competent governor of michigan.

      you’ve followed how well the ex corporate ceo, rick snyder, has done as gov of michigan, haven’t you? great job wouldn’t you say?

      • Bill Michtom says:

        “i think it is obvious that president obama’s failures are the direct result of his having too little experience for the job. this is particularly true with his failed relations with congress”

        I strongly disagree. His desire to ‘compromise’ with Congress (& don’t forget his constant pushing for a Grand Bargain™ that would slash the social safety net) wasn’t inexperience, but an expression of his right-wing policy desires.

        And that was something he showed before the 08 election when he voted to give telecom companies immunity for their many felonies helping W to spy on us without warrants.

        His corporate stoogedom, his militarism, and his constitution shredding has been evident in everything he’s done.

        • orionATL says:


          i can’t say you’re wrong, but i can say that the obama presidency, and the president in particular, are being criticized for his distant relations with the congress. i can’t say i blame him given the opposition idiots he had to deal with, but that isn’t getting the job done. and obama didn’t get the job done that he should have.

          i choose to chalk up those poor relations with congress and his inability to control the major bureaucracies to a severe deficiency of political experience. i doubt either clinton or sanders will have that problem.


          a critical issue for me in this regard is that emptywheel and many commenters here were all in for candidate obama in 2008, and, at that time eight years ago, they considered then senator clinton an something of an in-the-bag, power-hungry monster (my characterization).

          now that their predictions and implied promises to us in 2008 about an obama presidency have been proven wholly exaggerated, mistaken, and empty,

          we are asked once again to trust emptywheel’s and others pllitical judgements. this time about a senator sanders and, once again eight years later, about that power-hungry, deceitful monster-woman named clinton, this time an accomplished secretary of state.

          so now i read constant takedowns and political i-gotchas about a secretary of state clinton, rather than about senator clinton. kinda sounds like “clinton rules” apply to this media outlet, all the more when the nytimes cribs partisan propaganda from this site.

          wherein lies the moral pathology in this tale?

          that is an important question for the hyper-moralists of the left to consider.

          cromwell come to america to save its political soul, one could say.

  21. lefty665 says:

    Clearly uphill for Sanders. Hillary’s front loaded through the Ides of March, then it’s far more Sanders country. Odds are it’s California on June 7th before it’s decided. A lot can happen in the next 3 months either way.

    • P J Evans says:

      It will be fun if CA actually gets to count in the primaries this year. Usually it’s all over but the shouting by then.
      OTOH, I am not looking forward to the polls and the robocalls if it does go that long.

      • lefty665 says:

        P J @54 The collateral damage from living in interesting times can be substantial. The primary deluge will be just a hint of what it will be like in the general. Think of it as training or battle hardening. You will be getting a leg up on some of the rest of us. You’re so lucky.

        • P J Evans says:

          I might turn off the ringer on the phone until November. (I’ll make sure everyone knows not to call me.)

  22. Jim White says:

    To orion at 45 and 60
    I am quite relieved that you do see some faults in Clinton. Otherwise I worried at how you would respond to her failure to ascend in a column of bright light after her second term. ;)
    But one of those faults you admit carries the seed to your question about Libya. Her surrounding herself with the wrong types is deep and damning, not just concerning. That’s why the Henry Kissinger hit is hurting so badly. But also, there is now a steady stream of well known neocons moving to her support. That is no surprise, given her prominent role for neocon Nuland in the State Department and the fact that in Libya, Clinton maneuvered Obama into a straight neocon play. .
    And that gives you the answer to your question to me. For how the scenario plays out in Libya, look to the other neocon plays: Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, etc. The end result is a destroyed state controlled by warlords, rampant corruption from US $$$ and a playground for terrorists. Lots of new terrorists being created by poorly targeted US munitions. Those states are all beyond any hope the US can provide short of complete withdrawal and payment into an internationally administered reparations fund.
    As for faults I see in Bernie, you should know by now how anti-gun I am. If not, just know that my definition of the best use of a gun is to melt it down and turn it into a sewer cover. So Bernie’s gun history is a disaster to me and I hate it. I haven’t read much on his FoPo, but I’ve heard he’s not very good on Israel-Palestine, either.
    However, given that he is NEVER likely to attract neocon fans and still wants to break up big banks while jailing banksters, he’s by far the best choice in a field full of losers.
    Thanks for a more reasoned interaction. I was a bit worried that your responses in many cases had gotten down to the point of accusing us of either slander or willful misinterpretation when you didn’t like what we had to say about Clinton. Hearing you admit she’s human (and not perfect) is a relief, because you have been a long time friend of these environs.

    • orionATL says:


      i too am “violently” :) anti-gun; my wife works on that issue with two national organizations. but i understand senator sanders position on guns from a political angle and it does not bother me at all. litmus tests of any kind in politics make me nervous. you have to listen to, watch, and gauge the person (and also hope his/her party acts as a control). i am 100‰ confident that as president sanders would work to control gun violence. if you don’t get elected, however, you can’t serve the public as sanders and clinton do.

      i would add

      “… . That’s why the Henry Kissinger hit is hurting so badly. But also, there is now a steady stream of well known neocons moving to her support. That is no surprise, given her prominent role for neocon Nuland in the State Department and the fact that in Libya, Clinton maneuvered Obama into a straight neocon play. .. ”

      if i were secretary of state i would get advice from those with the most to offer in experience or analytical ability. i would talk with the devil if i thought doing so would get me what i needed.

      if i were trying to get elected and hoped to split the republican vote i’d solicit neocon support. i am 100% confident that clinton is anything but a “warmonger” .

      henry kissinger or v. nuland (whom i despise from her dod days) don’t bother me any more than the devil :) in my view politics is about a bottom-line improvement in the public interest. you talk with and work with and use anyone and everyone who can help you bring about whatever the desired result might be. if i would not talk with any of my neighbors who love their pit bulls and defend them fiercely, i could not get any neighborhood consensus on large-dog-loose problems (or on other unrelated problems).

      • orionATL says:

        on guns –

        my wife reminded me over brunch she will be going to a state senate meeting tommorrow with one of her organizations. the subject of the hearing? a bill to allow guns to be carried on college campuses. the state house chair held an unannounced hearing on the bill and pronounced it passed after little attendance and no comments. the senate chair promised this one hearing.

        how democracy works.

  23. orionATL says:

    re this from #45:

    “… i am not at all impressed by some of the people clinton has proved loyal to and keeps around her for advice. i think some of these are “too politically clever by half”, “slide in just under the tag” types, and others seem nauseatingly oleagenous… ”

    i should make clear that it is clinton’s campaign advisers and other long-time political associates that bother me, not who she consults with. i have a particular dislike of campaign advisers to dem candidates who advise their candidates against speaking out loudly and clearly on important issues. this is what i mean by the metaphor “sliding in just under the tag”. in other words saying as little possible that might offend some in hopes of winning the election. that is how you get known as a party for standing for little or nothing.

    in georgia we had what i thought was a good team of democratic gov/senator candidates. they refused to challenge republican orthodoxy and thereby generated no enthusiasm and ended up winning neither the election nor the respect of democrats. another lost opportunity. if you’re afraid of losing, you should not run for office.

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