Sunday, January 12, 2020

Elizabeth Warren must attack Trump FROM THE RIGHT

Elizabeth Warren has discovered that Bernie Sanders is a made-in-Moscow backstabber -- half Roger Stone, half Jeremy Corbyn.
“I was disappointed to hear that Bernie is sending his volunteers out to trash me,” Ms. Warren, of Massachusetts, said. “I hope Bernie reconsiders and turns his campaign in a different direction.”

After months of studiously avoiding any negative words about Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren went on to cite the divisiveness of the 2016 primary race between Mr. Sanders and Hillary Clinton, implying it had helped President Trump. “We all saw the impact of the factionalism in 2016, and we can’t have a repeat of that,” she warned. “Democrats need to unite our party and that means pulling in all parts of the Democratic coalition.”
Sorry, Liz. You can't expect anything from a pig but a grunt. Bernie won't change because dividing the party is his raison d'etre. And never forget: He's the candidate that Trump wants to face.

Many pundits believe that Warren, like Sanders, is too far to the left. I would like to suggest a strategy which would instantly deep-six that perception -- a strategy which, if enacted cannily, would not alienate Warren's progressive fans.

Attack Trump from the right. Attack him on the economy.

This is, in fact, the mode of attack that every Democrat should pursue, not just Warren. The Republicans have taught us that the best way to win is to attack an opponent's perceived strength.

The term "swiftboating" came into common parlance in 2004, when an astroturf group called "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" assailed John Kerry's war record. George W. Bush had dodged Vietnam, so it was pretty damned audacious for his backers to attack a veteran like John Kerry. But the trick worked.

A similarly audacious trick worked in 1988, when the elder Bush (a plutocrat if ever there was one) pinned the "elitist" label on Michael Dukakis (the working class son of an immigrant family).

Trump's greatest strength right now is the economy. Instead of changing the subject, Dems should pound him on that score.

And how can they do that? Look to the Vice Presidential debate of 1988, when a questioner asked Lloyd Bentsen (Dukakis' running mate) how the Dems could hope to prevail in the face of rosy economic news. Bentsen offered this classic answer:

"If you let me write $200 billion of hot checks every year, I could give you an illusion of prosperity, too."

Lloyd Bentsen attacked Reagan and Bush from the right, and his words were inarguable. Dan Quayle had no real riposte, and neither did the Republican talking heads who tried to spin the post-debate debate.

Reagan had come into office promising fiscal responsibility. Bentsen reminded the country that Reagan had actually run up a national debt which greatly exceeded the sum total of debt accumulated by all of his predecessors put together. In 1988 -- as I recall well -- most citizens (even the conservative ones) had an uneasy feeling that the economy rested on an illusion, that we were living on an ever-expanding pile of credit cards.

If only Dukakis had sounded the same theme! Throughout the rest of that campaign season, I practically screamed at the TV every time Dukakis' face appeared: "C'mon, Mike. Lloyd showed you how to do it. HOT CHECKS. HOT CHECKS. Keep using the term HOT CHECKS."

After Bentsen got in that memorable shot, Bush the elder did not run on the slogan "We're the party of prosperity." Instead, he ran on Willie Horton, "family values" (remember that one?) and -- sweartagod -- the Pledge of Allegiance. (If you weren't alive in 1988, you don't know just how inane that election was.)

I believe that Warren should resurrect Bentsen's line of attack.

In fact, she should use the exact same words: HOT CHECKS. Maybe that phrase is a little dated, because fewer people write checks nowadays, but I believe that Bentsen's words still possess the power to instill a sense of psychic unease.

Yeah, the job numbers are pretty darn good right now. But does anyone feel truly secure? We're all living on HOT CHECKS -- and deep down, everyone knows it. With the recklessness that marked his approach to business (and resulted in five or six bankruptcies), Trump has run up the most dizzying debt in history. Four trillion dollars' worth, last I looked. Trump has dwarfed the figure that Bentsen cited when he shocked the nation.

Even this president's most fervent supporters understand that the debt has skyrocketed, although the Trumpkins will never admit it.

The only modern president who kept the economy booming while simultaneously taking the government out of the red was Bill Clinton. Clinton ran a yearly surplus, and he put this country on a course which would have eradicated the debt altogether. Doing so would have resulted in much lower taxes, since so much of the budget is dedicated to paying the interest on the debt. Unfortunately, most young people don't know about Clinton's most important accomplishment. We've allowed the Republicans to toss an all-important piece of economic history down the memory hole.

Warren is the best person to attack Trump from the right precisely because she has been decried as a big spender. The Republicans will accuse her of hypocrisy: "How dare YOU call US spendthrifts?"

Her response should begin with the sentiment she has already made famous: "I am a capitalist to my core." Then she should say words similar to these:

"I have put in many long hours figuring out how to pay for every program I have proposed. If these calculations are wrong -- if it turns out that the budget won't allow for these programs -- then I just won't do them. I refuse to do what Trump has done. I refuse to endanger the future by running up reckless debts. Prosperity is an illusion if our children have to pay for it. Trump is just another Bernie Madoff."

Neither the Republicans nor Warren's progressive supporters will have an easy time finding grounds for complaint about this statement. Nobody wants to argue in favor of recklessness.

That statement will deliver a body blow to the "I gave you prosperity" argument. Moreover, this mode of attack will play to our collective memory of Trump's history of overspending and live-for-the-moment risk-taking.

Best of all, the Republicans will defend themselves they way they always do -- by arguing that the best way to eradicate debt is not to raise taxes on the ultra-wealthy but to restrict entitlements. The acolytes of Ayn won't be able to stop themselves from going after Social Security. They're like dogs chasing after squirrels; they can't restrain themselves.

That's just what we want them to do. We want to see libertarians on Fox News railing against the evils of Social Security and Medicare.

The moment that happens is the moment I'll start believing that the Dems have a serious chance of winning in 2020.

To sum up:  

1. The best strategy is to attack Trump's greatest strength. 


3. The best person to launch that attack is Elizabeth Warren. (But all the other Dems should follow suit.)
1. Absolutely. Smoke and mirrors is the Trumpian motto as Trumps so called "great economy" is a house of fragile cards. If a company close to making a trillion $ decides to close down its tent or move to another country, Dow Jones will have a bad, bad day(s).
2. "Hot Checks" is a great slogan. Being one who is old enough who remembers floating a check a day or 2 before payday, before everything was direct deposit. Anyone could buy necessary groceries on Wednesday knowing you could beat the check by Friday. Maybe #45 was caught robbing Peter to pay Paul, then got the Russian shakedown by Putin.
3. Elizabeth Warren is the right candidate, but will be attacked for everything she has said and done since she learn to speak. But as all Dem. candidates will be.
Please Liz don't repeat Hillary's mistake. Gentleman/woman approach doesn't work with vultures,and Voters don't appreciate it either.
"Ms Warren went on to cite the divisiveness of the 2016 primary race between Mr Sanders and Hillary Clinton, implying it had helped President Trump."

Why not throw some of the blame at Clinton then? Or was she some natural feature like the weather, whereas Sanders was the evil man with the willpower and the shady backers? If I recall correctly, this blog predicted on the basis of the view held of Sanders - essentially that he was a Republican stooge - that he would go third-party. When he didn't, the view should have been reconsidered.

My guess is the Adelson-Kushner side probably want Trump to run against another female Democratic candidate, an older one preferred.
I don't think attacking Trump's profligate spending is attacking from the right. Keynesian economics says to save in good times, spend in bad. The Republicans have it backwards. Well, really it's to give to the rich in good times and bad. But their idea of austerity in bad times and tax cuts in good times makes no economic sense. And the important thing for Warren is to tell more jokes, particularly at Trump's expense. We shouldn't be arguing with him, we should be making fun of him. Trump is Don Rickles without the humor or humility. That's why Al Franken, or Jon Stewart, would be the best candidate.
You're absolutely right about Keynesianism, joseph. If only more people understood. Unfortunately, we must constantly battle the false version of Keynes which the right keeps promulgating.

I turned against feminism when the Me Too-ers teamed up with the right to drive Al Franken from office. The Franken smear affected me profoundly, and I'll probably never get over it, even though Franken himself probably has done so by this point. He would be the strongest presidential candidate right now -- by far. Although he always said that he had no intention of running for president, I think he could have been talked into it.

That was not the first time feminists and the frothy right have teamed up. They've been in a kind of partnership since the "Satanic panic" of the early 1990s. Enough is enough. It's time to make it clear that one can stand FOR gender equality and AGAINST the monstrosity that feminism has become.

Stewart has shown no interest in political office. If he possessed that kind of ambition -- and if he had already gained some experience as an elected official -- I would be supporting him fervently. We need someone quick-witted and fundamentally decent.

Right now, Elizabeth Warren comes closest to that ideal, in my view.

Attacking Trump as a profligate spender would put Warren in the media spotlight. She could use that.
On a slight tangent: not very many people know what Keynes's day job was, for practically his entire working life. Those who have looked closely at Britain will recognise the position's importance.

"Elizabeth Warren has discovered that Bernie Sanders is a made-in-Moscow backstabber -- half Roger Stone, half Jeremy Corbyn."

Who exactly is saying what about Jeremy Corbyn here? There's little reason to believe he is a Russian asset and I haven't heard any stories about treachery on his part.

For possible Russian assets in British politics, the Bevanite left of the Labour Party wouldn't be the first place to look. That would be the Powellite ("Brexit") right, including both inside and outside the Tory party, which is not to say that's the only habitat they're in.
It gets easier to attack Trump for reckless spending since he now wants to reduce Social Security and Medicare
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