For a minute I thought it might work.
I thought that mobilizing the palpable Fear of Trump that is rattling the nerves of moderates and progressives might actually do the trick for a Democratic candidate who has the unenviable distinction of being liked and trusted less than any other Democratic nominee in the very long history of her party.
Good people have rallied to defeat Satan before (although one never knows to what extent the anti-Satan forces are themselves satanic). His Satanic Majesty is not called the adversary for nothing. And politics as the systematic mobilization of fear is even more effective than politics as the “systematic mobilization of hatreds,” as a dyspeptic Henry Adams once put it.
Forget about Donald Trump as Elmer Gantry (or as Elmer Fudd): if things went according to HRC’s playbook the repulsive Seven-Headed Dragon from Queens would be routed and slain by the Forces of Democratic Righteousness upon the plains of an electoral Armageddon.
The Fear Factor works. Just last night, a long-time progressive colleague and I were talking seriously at the Hollywood Bowl about our dread and loathing of Trump and Trumpism. As we walked out of the performance, we joked that one of us might have to play Tosca to Trump’s Scarpia and plunge a metaphorical dagger into his shriveled little heart in order to save America (we had just heard the LA Phil’s concert version of Puccini’s masterwork).
My friend, who is Jewish, is someone who could not bring herself to read Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America because she found the idea of home-grown fascism too chilling. And now she’s talking about going underground, if need be, to resist DJT’s soft fascism?
Also this weekend, Hillary picked up a nice boost among progressives from the lengthy cover article in the New York Times Magazine, a good piece of reporting by Gideon Lewis-Krauss suggesting that HRC was absorbing into her rhetoric and into her forward planning some serious critique of the corporate state from the Roosevelt Institute and from the likes of Joe Stiglitz: a critique that cuts far deeper than Bernie’s and that is linked to very specific policy proposals.
So yes, she was getting a nice little shout-out for her apparent leftward pivot, and she was also getting a nice big push in her direction courtesy of the Fear Factor. Things were looking up. I thought Hillary might limp across the finish line as the winner by default.
Today I’m much less sure. Wassergate is absolutely no joke. We will all remember the name Debbie Wasserman Schultz for decades to come if Wassergate goes down as badly as I think it will.
It is to be expected that the DNC chair will have close relations with any Democratic occupant of the Executive Mansion. But for Wasserman Schultz and her team to actively undermine (not just ridicule) the Bernie campaign is all the evidence you need that there is a corporate establishment firmly planted within the Democratic Party—and that it does not play fair.
The Left will be at the microphone tonight, in the persons of Elizabeth Warren and Mr. Sanders himself. If they completely pass over the Wassergate mess, which I expect they will, some (and perhaps many) progressives who might have grudgingly gone to bat for Hillary, or who might have written a “stop Trump” check to her campaign, will probably continue to sit on the sidelines. Ditto if they do reference Wassergate in their spiels; Hillary gets damaged either way.
And for Hillary’s people to immediately come out and blame this on Putin, deflecting attention from the really bad smell in their own wheelhouse?
Isn’t that just a bit, well, Trump-like?