Hillary’s Mode of Governance: Boozy X Chromosomes Making Peace

The NYT has an article describing how a bunch of apparently moronic Hillary aides believe they will govern when she becomes President. I say moronic not just because — in a week when Hillary’s spouse scored an enormous own goal by chatting up Attorney General Loretta Lynch on the tarmack in Phoenix — numerous Hillary aides said Hillary might keep Lynch as AG.

Democrats close to Mrs. Clinton say she may decide to retain Ms. Lynch, the nation’s first black woman to be attorney general, who took office in April 2015.

No, I say moronic because the people behind this article apparently believe the following things will help Hillary — a candidate with historically high negatives — overcome historic partisanship.

Lots and lots of booze

This article reads almost more like a screenplay than news article, especially with its repeated portrayals of Georgetown-like cocktail parties in the White House lubricating political deals.

Mrs. Clinton would even schmooze differently than the past few presidents have. Not one to do business over golf or basketball, she would bring back the intimate style of former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Lyndon B. Johnson, negotiating over adult beverages. Picture a steady stream of senators, congressmen and other leaders raising a glass and talking policy in the Oval Office with her and her likely chief of staff, John D. Podesta, as her husband pops in with a quick thought or a disarming compliment.

[snip]

Her greatest strength is that she really listens to people, she understands what their political and policy needs are, and she tries to find that space where you can compromise,” said Neera Tanden, a former top domestic policy adviser to Mrs. Clinton who is now the president of the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning policy institute.

“To be crystal clear: She has led many battles where you can’t compromise on principle,” Ms. Tanden added. “But she also loves socializing, loves having people and spouses over, and really loves talking over drinks.”

[snip]

Mrs. Clinton’s ability to use alcohol as a political lubricant came up repeatedly when allies and advisers were asked how she might work with Republicans. Her tale about a drinking contest with Senator John McCain of Arizona is now a Washington legend. (She said they called it quits before things got out of hand.) She believes that a relaxed, frank discussion is more authentic than trying to bond awkwardly with adversaries over sports — and more productive than keeping them at arm’s length, as Mr. Obama has often done.

“She likes to cajole, she likes to make deals, and she likes to make friends,” said Richard Socarides, a former policy adviser to Bill Clinton and a longtime supporter of Mrs. Clinton. “And she knows it’s much harder to go after someone who you basically like, who you’ve had a drink with.”

Sure, this is how things used to work. But I’m not sure cocktail parties can bridge the last two decades of increased partisanship, much of which has been targeted directly at the Clintons. I’m not even sure that many politicians drink as much anymore.

Lots of X chromosomes

Hillary also appears to believe merely increasing the number of women in the cabinet will lead to more hopey changey.

In her first 100 days, she would also tap women to make up half of her cabinet in hopes of bringing a new tone and collaborative sensibility to Washington, while also looking past Wall Street to places like Silicon Valley for talent — perhaps wooing Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook, and maybe asking Tim Cook from Apple to become the first openly gay cabinet secretary.

[snip]

“There’s that old saying, ‘Nothing about us without us,’” said Jennifer Granholm, a former Democratic governor of Michigan who supports Mrs. Clinton. “I mean, a woman as chief of staff, Treasury secretary, a woman at Defense — it would be incredible.” (Ms. Granholm is often mentioned as a possible cabinet pick for the Energy Department or another post, but she waved off a question about her interest.)

Look, having the first female Presidents will be one of the big highlights of an (expected) Hillary presidency for me. But there is no reason to believe that women — especially those that have achieved cabinet level success — are any less cutthroat than men.

Moreover, Hillary will face the same problem Obama did: the bench simply isn’t that deep. While there are a number of likely cabinet officials, like Granholm, who aren’t currently engaged, to achieve 50% cabinet positions, you’d be cherry picking governors and members of Congress without the assurances they’d be replaced by more women. I’m far more interested in increasing the number of long term members of Congress who are women, for the near future, than achieving some magic 50% number. That will, in turn, ensure that another woman is ready to step up when it comes time for Hillary to retire.

Silencing Bill

Then there’s the question about what to do about First Gentleman Bill. For some reason, even in the week of tarmackgate, Hillary’s aides seem to think they can prevent him from stepping in it.

Clinton advisers say they do not expect Mr. Clinton to be constantly visible in the early months beyond whatever duties Mrs. Clinton gives him on economic policy and foreign affairs. The Clintons’ priority is that he does not do anything that distracts from her agenda or overshadows her as the country gets used to having a former president (and a man) in the role of first spouse.

One role he will be welcome to play is as an icebreaker at the Oval Office happy hour.

Look, even aside from Bill’s constitutional inability to avoid own goals, the notion that you could give him a big economic and/or foreign policy portfolio and at the same time have him keep a low profile is fantasy. Either you relegate him, exclusively, to running the never-ending cocktail party, or he will make some gaffes. You can’t pick and choose with Bill.

Forging deals on the issue that will be especially raw given Trump’s expected campaign

Finally, there’s the belief that after a year of having Trump rile up Republican nativists, the drunken Republicans frequenting the White House cocktail hour will rush to compromise on immigration reform.

Her calculation is that she will be dealing with a Republican Party that is deeply fractured and demoralized after the defeat of Mr. Trump, whose leaders will be searching for ways to show they can govern and to court Hispanics if Mr. Trump loses badly with them. Mrs. Clinton also thinks a huge Democratic turnout this fall would put the Senate back in her party’s hands, while Speaker Paul D. Ryan and the Republicans would have a reduced majority in the House.

[snip]

Given how deeply immigration has divided the Republican Party, no other issue would probably reveal more about the ability of a President Hillary Clinton and a Republican-led House to work together.

On this, Hillary’s aides might be right — but not so long as you imagine Hillary does anything to keep a viable GOP in place. Yes, the neocons who have already backed Hillary support immigration reform and other kinds of globalization. But after the campaign immigration is going to be far more volatile and raw than it was when Obama failed to pass immigration reform.

It could happen, but not without a significant realignment, one that would require far more ruthless punishment and far fewer martinis than Hillary seems to have in mind.

 

 

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

13 replies
  1. wayoutwest says:

    If Hillary is going to give Willie both the economy and foreign policy she’ll have plenty of time for drinking with the other parasites in DC. The fact that she has surrounded herself with these harebrained sycophants and that they are publicly spouting this drivel is enough to make me wish there was someplace to go to avoid this Red Queen’s rule.

  2. bevin says:

    “…having the first female Presidents will be one of the big highlights of an (expected) Hillary presidency for me. But there is no reason to believe that women — especially those that have achieved cabinet level success — are any less cutthroat then men…”

    So this is not a rational hope on your part? There is no reason to want a female President, not least because it is likely to furnish misogynists with arguments enough to put back the feminist cause by centuries; and plenty of reason in the dishonesty, shallowness and warmongering verging on sadism of the putative democratic candidate.

    Her veiled inducement to the AG itself is reason enough for giving up on her. Or it would be were it not lost among innumerable examples, most of them much more blatant, of her corruption.

  3. der says:

    Margaret Thatcher.
    .
    As long as the House controls the purse strings none of the pragmatic talking-it-out-over- drinks-middle-of-the-road compromises will get into a committees out box. And as long as we have the god fearing teetotaling (cough) christianist senators from the Heartland majority or minority putting a hold on everything, nada.
    .
    Thomas Frank has something to add: “Influence is where you can read about all the smart former assistants to prominent members of Congress and the new K Street jobs they’ve landed. There are short but meaningful hiring notices — like the recent one announcing that the blue-ribbon lobby firm K&L Gates has snagged its fourth former congressional “member.” There are accounts of prizes that lobbyists give to one another and of rooftop parties for clients and ritual roll calls of Ivy League degrees to be acknowledged and respected. And wherever you look at Influence, it seems like people associated with this or that Podesta can be found registering new clients, holding fundraisers, and “bundling” cash for Hillary Clinton.” [The Life of the Parties http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176159/tomgram%3A_thomas_frank%2C_worshipping_money_in_d.c./%5D
    .
    An invitation to a Hillary Salon of Influencers (a neoliberal synonym for “progressive”) will be what dreams are made of in Our Town. It takes a Village.
    .
    The planet burns.

  4. Evangelista says:

    Hmmm… Turning the Oval Office into the parlour of a brothel; Le Pouffe Maison Blanche… Bill installed as towel-boy, to give him something to do. I mean, gelded as he is since his last embroglio… I wonder if I could get a place… but, no, they will have a player-piano…

    With the boozing and ‘schmoozing’ and all it will be the old Washington, the D.R., District Rouge, complete with the usual lobby-girls (and boys) and, pour le moderne, ‘cabinet’ girls, too… It will be like the old days, of Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bob Packwood and all, but Democratic, with Arkansas charm and New York sophisto, perhaps with a soupçon of Chicago realisme, with the les femmes throat-cutting (to show the party beyond the old Republican chauvinisme of back then)…

    I’ve been inclining toward Don Trump to now, for holding the idea he might bring Washington, DC back down to earth, maybe all the way to like in 1814 (with Trump the arson, the hurricane and the tornado all-in-one). But now, with this new Hillary campaign, and what Hillary could bring it down to (somewhere south of the South Carolina capitol during early Reconstruction), I’m wavering… The District was a swamp to begin, and it’s been made into a morass; could Hillary and Bill bring it to deserve renaming to District of Morass?

  5. dakine01 says:

    Yeah, I don’t see Bill doing anything positive. For a man who had such good political instincts before becoming president, he sure has managed to f*ck-up large amounts of things since

  6. Teddy says:

    As Barack Obama famously said, “Hey, YOU get a drink with Mitch McConnell.” The idea that drinking with Mitch McConnell — at least not unto a what-did-I-do-with-our-penises-last-night-anyway? state will further Madame’s statecraft one iota is absurd. She brings precisely nothing to the table, except possibly her passably attractive son-in-law, that might remotely intrigue Mitch.

    And Tim Cook? That privileged quisling is raising money for Paul Ryan. This Weekend. In Silicon Valley. In furtherance of the House GOP majority. What he brings to the party is unclear, especially in an paragraph about Lady Cabineteers. Offensive? Quite.

  7. Teddy says:

    I must add: for all the writeups about how Hillary and HillaryWorld hates/hates!/HATES! the press, they sure find weird and unhelpful ways of confiding in members of the media about the worst possible scenarios at the worst possible times. Why not act on your hate, HillaryLand? Stay.Away!

  8. Rayne says:

    RE: Cocktails — We need a table of Congresspersons by age. There’s a generation who’ll still eat up this cocktail circuit bullshit, and they are older than HRC and perhaps a little younger. But 45-55 years and younger? They are far less likely to do this drinky-poo nonsense. Senators are older as a whole, more likely; but House is younger, and I’ll bet dividing line is 1960 birth year.

    Cripes, they don’t even do this cocktail party crap in business any more, too much liability.

    RE: Namedropping — As you asked in Twitter, what cabinet position would Tim Cook be appropriate for? None. But somebody has to play tease with the CEO of the most valuable U.S. company to keep him from going to the darker side a la fundraising for Paul Ryan. And somebody has to tease the company sitting on a wealth of corporate data and a tightly organized communications/e-content distribution system popular with influencers and connectors. The Android crowd is too fragmented and Google management doesn’t seem as receptive to this silliness.

    RE: Women in government — One fundamental problem with recruiting from corporations, besides its inherent fascist/neoliberalism: so few corporations have women in management that it would clean out diversity across the Fortune 500. And neither HRC+minions or corporations have thought this far ahead, though it could all drop on them in four months. Doesn’t even matter if women are cutthroat or not. Past decades of EEOC fail under numerous male presidents could suck dry the scarce estrogen in upper management.

    RE: Intersectionalism — Not mentioned in the post, but if HRC places a premium on estrogen without enough thought to raising the tide under all other minority boats, her negatives could get worse. Youth vote not sold on her (2 on the fence here).

    RE: Bill — Cheese-on-rice, put a damned leash and a muzzle on that bonehead. Feed him a fucking cheeseburger and fries if that’s what it takes to keep him on the porch. Absolutely no excuse for his tête-à-tête with Loretta Lynch.

    The only thing saving HRC right now is how much Trump is disliked and/or Trump has screwed up. Bill is not helping matters at all.

  9. Denis says:

    Fun post, some great metaphors.
    .
    I have been predicting since March that Hil won’t be the Dem. candidate, and I’m stickin’ to it. It’ll be Biden.
    .
    If Comey, w/ or w/out Loretta, doesn’t indict someone in the Hil camp soon, the Repubs will make mince-meat out of the Dems. Regardless of who the Repub candidate turns out to be, if there is no indictment, the Dems won’t see the inside of the WH for 8-12 years. And if they indict someone other than Hil and don’t touch her, it’ll be even worse.
    .
    The Dems cannot take that chance. Given the precarious state of the USSCt, it would be a long term disaster for women, minorities, the 4th Amendment, and sanity in general for the Repubs to get back in the WH now. A disaster. The next president is going to appoint at least 3 justices. If they’re anything like Roberts and Thomas, you can kiss Roe goodbye forever.
    .
    As for Loretta, she is not out of the loop by any means. What she said was: I FULLY EXPECT to accept the FBI’s recommendations. That’s lawyer-talk for “I’m making the decision if they don’t recommend what I want, but I FULLY EXPECT that they will.” She knows that her only shot at a seat on the USSCt is if Hil is removed from the race one way or the other and Biden steps in to clean this whole mess up and produce a Democrat landslide. Biden being nominated would make the entire country spasm with relief at not having to choose between Hil and the Duck. Biden will win by 20 points.
    .
    Here’s an interesting observation: The Clinton website tells you what events she has planned, and it lists the events she’s done through the end of March. From Mar01-Mar25 she did 135 events. From Jul01-Jul25 — the convention — she has 6 events penciled in. Not 60, not 16. 6 — about 1 day’s worth. Her campaign is over. Wasserman-Schultz has also gone dark, even before she was sued by the Sanders folks.
    .
    My money says Hil will announce she’s stepping down BEFORE DoJ announces whether they will prosecute — in any case, before the convention.
    .
    All the fems out there, don’t let this prediction get you riled. The last time I was right on a political prediction was after the 1972 Nixon landslide when I said “The is the last freakin’ election I’m voting in.” And it was.

  10. Desider says:

    Grouchy, aren’t we? I for one appreciate deals at the bar vs over-testosteroned Rahm or others hitting the gym and pitting their unhinged energy against each other. Too many over-achievers. Have a drink, relax, unwind. Maybe a doob or two as well.

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I think most Americans, and the rest of the world, read the “hopey, changey” propaganda for what it is. Coming on the heels of the Great Marketer, Ms. Clinton would have to walk the talk a long way before even Democrats would believe that rhetoric again.

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