USA Today Editorial Board Condemns Clinton As Joe Biden Meets With Elizabeth Warren

Biden Warren meeting

Hillary Clinton’s email scandal is not going to go away, even if Clinton tries to make jokes about it. As an example of the response her actions have received from the media, last weekend the editorial board of USA Today had an editorial entitled, Clinton email controversy is no joke: Our view. The subtitle: Presidential candidate can laugh all she wants, but FBI investigations can’t be dismissed.

 Now that top secret information, intelligence agency inspectors general, the FBI and federal judges are involved, the matter is far from amusing.

Clinton, though, seems to think she can dismiss the controversy by making light of it. Earlier this month in Iowa, the presidential candidate joked to a crowd of Democratic Party faithful about sending future communications over the app Snapchat, which famously makes text and photos disappear soon after they are viewed. At a testy press availability on Tuesday, Clinton went for the laugh line again after being asked whether her email server had been wiped clean. “Like with a cloth?” she replied, adding that nobody talks to her about the email controversy except reporters.

Maybe she doesn’t get asked about it at tightly controlled town meetings, but the episode raises serious questions about the Democratic front-runner’s decision-making and commitment to openness in government.  One of the many reasons that it was a bad idea to mix personal and business messages is well known to anyone with an email account: As hard as you might try, you can’t control what comes into your inbox. And if you’re the secretary of State, that’s inevitably going to include some sensitive information.

Last week, a Justice Department national security investigation kicked into higher gear after intelligence agency officials determined that top secret information had indeed passed through the private email account. The FBI has taken control of the server and thumb drives storing backup data. The number of potentially classified emails involved jumped from a handful to more than 300, according to a State Department count filed in federal court. A federal judge overseeing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit said, “We wouldn’t be here today if this employee” — Clinton — “had followed government policy.”

…Scandals surrounding Clinton and her husband have a habit of being stoked by both the Clintons’ penchant for secrecy and their political enemies’ overzealousness. Amid all the investigations and lawsuits, a resolution of the email affair will be long in coming. A couple of things, however, are already clear.

One is that Clinton and her team should have turned the server over to the State Department’s inspector general, or perhaps the National Archives, for an independent, confidential sorting of the 62,000 messages. Instead, they took it on themselves to delete about half the messages as personal and scrub the server, raising inevitable suspicions about a coverup.

Another is that, contrary to the Clinton camp’s assertion that the controversy is a lot of “nonsense,” federal computer security is no joke. Regardless of whether Clinton broke any laws, her decisions about the server represented bad judgment bordering on recklessness.

This is hardly the first time that USA Today has been critical of Clinton’s actions and of the falsehoods she has told since the scandal broke.  Last week a Fact-check article showed that pretty much everything Clinton has said in her defense is false, stating “Clinton convicted herself with a multitude of misleading and error-riddled email apologies.”

They are not the only ones to find this. Multiple fact-check articles have exposed false statements made by Clinton regarding the scandal, including Factcheck.org which found multiple untrue statements in Clinton’s CNN interview. The Washington Post Fact Checker has awarded Clinton Three Pinoccios on more than one occasion, including for Hillary Clinton’s claim that ‘everything I did [on e-mails] was permitted’. The top Freedom of Information Act official at the Justice Department has stated that Clinton was in violation of the rules and the State Department’s top Freedom of Information Act officer has called her use of a private server unacceptable.

While the email has received most of the coverage since the Justice Department took possession of the server and classified documents were found, the Clinton Foundation scandals are closely related. In May, the editorial board of USA Today had an editorial entitled Only the Clintons seem blind to foundation’s conflicts: Our view.

These scandals call into question whether Democrats can take the risk of nominating Hillary Clinton, and hopefully some are also questioning the ethics of allowing her to be their candidate.  Talk of Joe Biden running has replaced most of the non-Trump campaign news. Bidens meeting with Elizabeth Warren over the weekend further fueled all sorts of speculation, as did the  The Wall Street Journal headline:  Joe Biden Is Leaning Toward a 2016 Run.

The Washington Post directly ties this to Clinton’s scandals:

His consideration of another campaign comes as front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton has fielded mounting questions about her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

The news that the FBI is investigating whether the system put any classified information at risk has rattled some top party financiers, particularly donors who were major players in Obama’s fundraising network who have little personal history with the Clintons. In the last few weeks, e-mails and calls have been flying back and forth between top bundlers as they try to assess how serious Biden is and whether Clinton is on shaky ground.

“The network is starting to reach out,” said one major Obama fundraiser, who requested anonymity to discuss private conversations. “I’m getting calls from people saying, ‘We’re waiting for him to announce.’ People are nervous and weary of the Hillary side show, of the emails.”

Update: Sanders Leads Clinton In Another New Hampshire Poll, Drawing Support From Both Moderates And Liberals

Bernie Sanders Is Not Howard Dean, Or Any Other Previous Candidate

Bernie Sanders campaign

Why Sanders Can Win

It is always tempting to draw comparisons to something we know, and in politics we often see comparisons to past elections. Sometimes there is some truth to this, but we must consider how few contested nomination battles and elections we have actually had in modern times. Events of one election do not dictate what will happen in the current election. Today many Clinton supporters are citing this article at Vox by Ezra Klein as a reason that Sanders cannot win. It is based upon an interview with Joe Trippi. The problem is that Trippi is still fighting an old battle which does not really apply to today–and a battle he lost.

Klein concentrated on this line as Sanders’ biggest problem: “People get more pragmatic the closer they get to an actual vote.” There are two flaws with this argument–failing to recognize Sanders’ strengths and Dean’s weaknesses.

The argument that Sanders cannot win the general election is rapidly falling apart as more polls show Sanders beating the Republican candidates. Sanders draws in more independent support than Clinton, and is looking like he might be a better candidate in the battleground states as Clinton polls poorly there. Sanders is not bogged down with a serious scandal, which threatens to totally derail Clinton’s campaign. Voters will be more hesitant to support a candidate who is considered (for good reason) to be dishonest by a majority of the voters.

Sanders’ views are becoming more mainstream than Clinton’s. The problems created by concentration of wealth in a small oligarchy have become more apparent since Dean ran. The Democratic Party of Bill Clinton/Triangulation/The DLC has been replaced by the party of Elizabeth Warren, and now Bernie Sanders. Calling himself a Democratic Socialist might sound like a negative, but it has little impact after years of hearing from the right that Hillary Clinton is a politician from the far left and Barack Obama is a Marxist Socialist (neither of which are true). It took only a short time researching his record to reassure a capitalist business owner such as myself that Sanders would preserve small business and a market economy, reforming some of our current problems. Sanders was good for business as mayor of Burlington, with Inc. Magazine calling Burlington the best city in the Northeast for a growing business after his policies were instituted.

Howard Dean had serious flaws which I do not see in Sanders. While I do not want to revive old political battles from over a decade ago, I did support Dean for a while, but soon found flaws from the manner in which he mischaracterized the views of his opponents to how he distorted past decisions where he was wrong.

Last weekend The New York Times also had an article arguing that Similarities Aside, Bernie Sanders Isn’t Rerunning Howard Dean’s 2004 Race and hit on some additional differences, including Sanders’ years of experience, which should make him a more credible candidate, and Dean’s temperament:

Mr. Dean was, at 55, a kinetic live wire of a candidate, plunging into his first national campaign after 22 years in Vermont politics. Mr. Sanders, 73, is, at least in comparison, the measured if stern family uncle, an independent who for all his association with the progressive politics of Burlington shows the command of policy that comes with being a product of Washington, where he has served since 1991…

And in an age of unforgiving news and social media, Mr. Sanders has so far displayed a discipline on the campaign trail that often eluded Mr. Dean. The former governor was prone, in all his exuberance, to self-destructive missteps and bursts of anger. He had to apologize for asserting that Mr. Edwards had been deceptive about voting for the Iraq war resolution (he had not), then apologize again after coming under fire from his rivals for declaring that he wanted to be the “the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks.”

Mr. Dean’s campaign was undone, as much as anything, by the release of videotapes of public television appearances in Vermont in which he had disparaged the Iowa caucuses.

“Their personalities are just so different,” said Deborah Marlin, 50, who showed up for Mr. Sanders’s rally here and recalled seeing Mr. Dean around Iowa in 2004, a year in which she ended up supporting George W. Bush. “I think Bernie is much more of a people person.”

Bernie Sanders is not Howard Dean. Similarly, while there are also analogies between him and Eugene McCarthy, the two are also different men. If pundits insist upon comparing Sanders to another candidacy, I would also suggest Barack Obama. While Sanders is certainly more liberal than Obama, Sanders just might do what Obama did eight years ago–beat Hillary Clinton and go on to become president.

Lawrence Lessig–Long Time Critic Of Clinton’s Ethics–May Run For Democratic Nomination

Lawrence Lessig

Lawrence Lessig, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University and prominent government reform activist, has stated he plans to run for the Democratic nomination, provided he can raise one million dollars by Labor Day. He says that if elected he would only remain in office long enough to enact government reforms, and then turn over the job to his vice president. He has suggested Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders as possible running mates:

“Until we find a way to fix the rigged system, none of the other things that people talk about doing are going to be possible,” Lessig said in an interview with The Washington Post, borrowing a phrase that has become Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s rallying cry. “We have this fantasy politics right now where people are talking about all the wonderful things they’re going to do while we know these things can’t happen inside the rigged system.”

In the interview, conducted by phone on Monday ahead of his announcement, Lessig said he would serve as president only as long as it takes to pass a package of government reforms and then resign the office and turn the reins over to his vice president. He said he would pick a vice president “who is really, clearly, strongly identified with the ideals of the Democratic Party right now,” offering Warren as one possibility. He said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), whom he considers a friend and has drawn huge crowds in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, was another option…

The singular focus of Lessig’s campaign would be passing the Citizens Equality Act, a package of reforms that would guarantee the freedom to vote with automatic registration, end partisan gerrymandering and fund campaigns with a mix of small-dollar donations and public funds.

Lessig has noted that Bernie Sanders has many of the same goals, but objects that this is not his top priority.

In contrast, Lessig has often criticized the ethics of both Bill and Hillary Clinton. In 2008, in explaining his endorsement of Barack Obama, Lessig criticized Bill Clinton for his “consistent refusal to stand up for for what were strong principles, at least as he articulated them, in his campaign.” He expressed fears that with Hillary there “are things to make one suspect that she lets principle yield in the face of expedience.” He condemned Hillary for her “lack of moral character, moral courage” and criticized Hillary Clinton’s conduct during the 2008 campaign, accusing her of dishonesty and “swiftboating” Barack Obama.

More recently Lessig has been critical of Clinton’s conduct as Secretary of State in accepting contributions to the Foundation and unusually high speaking fees for Bill Clinton from those with business before her as Secretary of State:

Hillary Clinton’s willingness to allow those with business before the State Department to finance her foundation heightens concerns about how she would manage such relationships as president, said Lawrence Lessig, the director of Harvard University’s Safra Center for Ethics.

“These continuing revelations raise a fundamental question of judgment,” Lessig told IBTimes. “Can it really be that the Clintons didn’t recognize the questions these transactions would raise? And if they did, what does that say about their sense of the appropriate relationship between private gain and public good?”

I quoted additional criticism by Lessig of Clinton’s conduct here.

It is hard to see this campaign really going anywhere. Those who have concerns about corruption in government are increasingly backing Bernie Sanders, and would not be likely to vote for Lessig over Sanders in the primaries. I think it would make more sense for Lessig to speak out on these issues while backing Sanders, and pushing Sanders to place greater emphasis on government reform in his campaign. There are many potential supporters of Sanders who are interested in issues beyond his economic platform, including government reform, support for civil liberties, and opposition to the greater military interventionism supported by Clinton.

Endorsements For Bernie Sanders & Speculation About Joe Biden

Sanders Endorsement Ben Cohen

Bernie Sanders has landed a huge endorsement–from Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s. ABC News reports:

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has landed the sweetest food endorsement so far of the 2016 election cycle: Ben Cohen, the co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s.

The ice cream magnate spoke Sunday to a gymnasium of supporters in Franklin, New Hampshire, telling them “as a person who has been his constituent for the last 30 years, I can tell you: this guy is the real thing.”

In an interview with ABC News, Cohen explained his involvement.

“Finally, there’s a politician worth working for,” he said with a grin. “So I’m working for him.”

Bernie Sanders Ben & Jerrys Ice Cream

Friends of the Earth Action also endorsed Sanders on Saturday:

“He has proven himself a bold and fearless voice for the planet,” said Friends of the Earth Action President Erich Pica. “Sen. Sanders’ bold ideas and real solutions to addressing climate change, inequality and promoting a transformative economy that prioritizes public health and the environment over corporate profits, have earned him an enthusiastic endorsement from Friends of the Earth Action.”

Hillary Clinton received a ton of endorsements from party regulars who have a poor memory for eight years ago back when her nomination was considered to be inevitable. There is talk that some are now questioning their decision after seeing how poor a job Clinton is doing as a campaigner, how she is being damaged by scandals, and how support for her is rapidly falling. This includes polls showing that a majority do not find her trustworthy, and that she is doing poorly in the battleground states.

Hillary Clinton is rapidly becoming out of place in a Democratic Party which is becoming far more an Elizabeth Warren party than the old Bill Clinton/Triangulation/DLC Party. Being an outsider from the Democratic establishment is one of Bernie Sanders’ greatest strengths as a general election candidate, but such an outsider will have a real uphill battle for the nomination.

Maureen Dowd reminded readers in Sunday’s column that Beau Biden urged his father to run for president before dying. This got many people all excited, as those who are starting to panic about the prospects of a tainted Hillary Clinton running in the general election realized that there is an establishment candidate available.

Biden would be yet another candidate running to the left of Hillary Clinton. While this means he might divide the liberal vote and help Clinton, there is also a strong likelihood he could divide the establishment vote and help Sanders. I see this as win-win.

It would be great if his entry helps Sanders win. On the other hand, if it turns out that the Democratic establishment is too powerful to allow this, Biden would be far preferable to Clinton. Besides being a stronger campaigner and far more fit ethically to be president than Clinton, there are issues which do separate them. While both were wrong to vote to authorize force in Iraq, Clinton pushed for war far more strongly, including making false claims of ties between Saddam and al Qaeda. Biden often opposed Clinton’s push for greater military intervention when Secretary of State. Plus Biden is far more liberal on social issues. Biden did not join up with the religious right as Clinton did in the Senate, and it was Biden who pushed Obama to “evolve” on same-sex marriage.

Howard Fineman has a list of seven reasons why Biden might run. The most interesting is the second:

2. The Clintons

The vice president had a mostly cordial relationship with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and his longtime role as a champion of women’s rights amplifies his appreciation for the former first lady.

But, privately, he looks down on what he regards as a political/money-making machine. He sees the Clintons as far more interested in cash and clout than in doing good. “They’re everything he hates about the way politics operates today,” said one friend.

Biden may conclude that he is the only person in the party who can stop a Clinton return to the White House. If he enters the race, he will at least further complicate Hillary’s already dreary slog towards the Democratic nomination.

Sanders was asked by ABC News what he thought of Biden entering the race:

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said he’s “very fond” of Vice President Joe Biden, but that “the American people… want to go beyond conventional establishment politics.”

We are seeing a desire for someone outside of the conventional establishment in both parties as support soars for Bernie Sanders among the Democrats and Donald Trump among the Republicans. Of course only one of these two men would make an acceptable president.

Elizabeth Warren Loves Bernie–Will She Campaign For Him?

May 16, 2015 - Anaheim, CA, USA - Senator Elizabeth Warren gave a speech during the general session of the California Democratic Party's annual convention at the Anaheim Convention Center on Saturday...///ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: demsconvention.0517 – 5/16/15 – BILL ALKOFER, - ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER - ..Senator Elizabeth Warren gave a speech during the general session of the California Democratic Party's annual convention at the Anaheim Convention Center on Saturday..During the speech a group of more than 200 gathered outside the convention center and protested proposed legislation that would require mandatory vaccinations. (Credit Image: © Bill Alkofer/The Orange County Register/ZUMA Wire)

Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton sound like Elizabeth Warren at times, but only one sounds convincing. After all, Bernie Sanders supported liberal positions before they were popular. Hillary Clinton switched to (selective) liberal positions long after they became the popular, and politically expedient, choice. Sanders is receiving much of the same support which Warren had before it was clear that she is not going to run. It is about Sanders that Warren says, “I love what Bernie is talking about.”

“Bernie’s out talking about the issues that the American people want to hear about,” Warren, who hasn’t endorsed anyone in the Democratic primary yet, told the Herald yesterday.

Asked if she would campaign with Sanders at some point, she didn’t dismiss the idea.

“Too early to say,” she said.

Later in the article:

“These are people who care about these issues, and that’s who Bernie’s reaching,” she said. “I love what Bernie is talking about. I think all the presidential candidates should be out talking about the big issues.”

Polls have been showing Sanders closing the gap with Clinton to less than 10 points in New Hampshire, where the populist progressive drew large crowds over the weekend, even as the “Draft Warren” crowd looks for a new champion for 2016.

“I’m a big Elizabeth Warren fan, and in lieu of her not running I’m totally going for Bernie Sanders,” said Breeze Grigas, a game designer from Oxford, who met Warren yesterday. “His and her policies are basically almost copied and pasted. … I’d vote for him 30 times if I could. I don’t trust Hillary, honestly. I think a lot of Hillary’s platform is, ‘It’s my turn.’”

Mother Jones adds:

Warren has been cagey about her feelings on Hillary Clinton since the former secretary of state announced her presidential campaign in April. In 2013, Warren signed a letter written by the Democratic women in the Senate encouraging Clinton to enter the race, and last year Warren called Clinton “terrific” and said she hoped Clinton would run for president.

The two met last December, with Warren working to sway Clinton on her pet issues while withholding an endorsement. Warren’s advisers have spent the spring figuring out ways to maximize the attention on Warren to pressure Clinton on policy. So far, in the early days of her campaign, Clinton has been eager to associate herself with Warren’s image, but when pressed on the policy specifics Clinton has so far remained vague about where she stands.

I can’t blame Warren for wanting to watch longer to see if Sanders really has a chance of beating Clinton. Warren could also help make it more possible. Obama received a real boost when Ted Kennedy endorsed him over Hillary Clinton in January, 2008. Warren could provide a similar boot for Sanders. Many of his arguments for supporting Obama over Clinton also apply to Sanders, such as:

We know the true record of Barack Obama. There is the courage he showed when so many others were silent or simply went along. From the beginning, he opposed the war in Iraq.

And let no one deny that truth.

Kennedy also responded to the rather dirty campaign which Clinton was waging at the time by saying, “With Barack Obama, we will turn the page on the old politics of misrepresentation and distortion.”

Regardless of wins the Democratic nomination, they will benefit from polls showing a tremendous boost in Obama’s approval, assuming the trend continues.

After months of stagnant approval ratings, a new CNN/ORC poll finds that for the first time in more than two years, 50% of Americans approve of the way Obama is handling the presidency. And his overall ratings are bolstered by increasingly positive reviews of his treatment of race relations and the economy.

The new poll follows a week in which two Supreme Court cases boosted the president’s legacy by upholding the government subsidies at the heart of Obama’s health care law, the Affordable Care Act, and affirming same-sex couples’ right to marry. All this while Obama took several opportunities to directly address the nation’s racial tensions, closing out the week by singing “Amazing Grace” on national television.

The new poll shows Obama’s approval rating up five points since a May survey, when just 45% approved of the job he was doing as president and 52% disapproved. The poll marks the first time his approval rating has been at 50% or higher since May, 2013, and only the second time in that stretch that his disapproval rating has fallen below 50%. It currently stands at 47%

Polls This Year Continue To Show Increase In Liberals And Decrease In Conservatives

Liberals Up Conservatives Down

Previous polls this year (such as here and here) have shown an increase in the number of self-described liberals. When these polls came out, some conservatives were in denial, making claims when I cross posted those poll results elsewhere that it was liberal bias in the polls or tampering with results which led to this results. Perhaps they will be more likely to believe results from the conservative Wall Street Journal, and an analysis from a Republican pollster:

A new analysis of Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll data finds a marked  increase in the share of registered voters identifying themselves as liberals, and an even bigger drop in the share saying they are conservatives.

In three national polls conducted so far in 2015, the analysis found that 26% of registered voters identified themselves as liberals — up from 23% in 2014. At the same time, the share of voters identifying as conservatives dropped to 33% from 37% in 2014.

The analysis by GOP pollster Bill McInturff, who looked at survey data from 2010 to 2015, found that the biggest ideological shifts came among women, young people, Latinos and well-educated voters, as well as people in the West and in cities…

These signs of an ideological shift come at a time when public opinion is rapidly changing in favor of gay marriage — a social view long regarded as liberal that is gaining wider acceptance among members of both parties. On the broader political landscape this year, liberal populism is gaining prominence in the anti-Wall Street rhetoric of presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist, and of liberal icon Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

“Americans’ growing social liberalism is evident not only in how they describe their views on social issues but also in changes in specific attitudes, such as increased support for same-sex marriage and legalizing marijuana,” the Gallup report said.

Mr. McInturff’s analysis of WSJ/NBC data found that the demographic group that now has the most liberals  – and that has seen the most dramatic swing to the left since 2010 — is women aged 18-49. Among those voters in 2015 polls, 37% said they were liberal, 23% said they were conservative — a 20 point swing since 2010 when 27% said they were liberal and 33% said they were conservative.

Younger voters also saw a notable swing to the left, with 35% of 18-34-year-olds saying they are liberal and 26% saying the are conservative. In 2010, that age group split 28% liberal-32% conservative.

Martin O’Malley Makes It Official: Second Liberal Joins Bernie Sanders In Race Against The Mass Of Conservative Candidates

Martin O'Malley Facebook Cover

Until today the choice among those officially in the 2016 race consisted of Bernie Sanders and a ton of conservatives, including Hillary Clinton and the Republican candidates. Martin O’Malley has now officially announced his candidacy adding a second liberal choice:

In the populist speech, he called to mind the “scourge of hopelessness” in Baltimore during the riots, as well as the “conditions of extreme and growing poverty” across the country that he said have put the American dream out of reach for many.

He also called for a crackdown on Wall Street, saying that “recently, the CEO of Goldman Sachs let his employees know that he’d be just fine with either [Jeb] Bush or Clinton. I bet he would.”

“Main Street struggles while Wall Street soars,” O’Malley said. “Tell me how it is that not a single Wall Street CEO was convicted of a crime related to the 2008 economic meltdown. Not. A. Single. One.”

Unlike Hillary Clinton who hides from the press and stands for nothing other than personal greed, Martin O’Malley is spending time with the media and talking about what he believes in. This includes this interview with Politico:

O’Malley says his record proves government can help, not hurt. He’s great at rattling off his “greatest hits”: “We passed the living wage [dramatic increases for employees of government contractors]. We raised the minimum wage to $10.10. We made college more affordable by freezing tuition. We made public schools the best in the country for five years in a row. We made it easier for people to vote and not harder.” The progressive list goes on: passing marriage equality, decriminalizing marijuana, repealing the death penalty.

He’s also building what he describes as a “generational” argument—a euphemism for arguing that the Clintons and the Warrens represent old, tired ways, and he’s the new model for “entrepreneurial, data-driven governance.” “My candidacy would offer something very different than hers [Clinton’s],” he says. “One that is not only progressive but accomplished. … I think the Democratic Party can get very excited talking about the things we need to do, but there’s only one of us [in the race] so far that actually did these things, in city at a very tough time and in a state at a very tough time in our economy.” O’Malley has caught some pundit flak for talking up mayoral achievements like his “48-hour pothole guarantee.” (“This wonk is not about to fire up the party base,” Dana Milbank wrote in March, calling O’Malley the “Bruce Babbitt of 2016,” a guy who’s “campaigning as if he’s running to be Clinton’s EPA administrator or her OMB director.”) But on the other hand, Maryland did earn the highest median household income in the country during his tenure. Or as one of O’Malley’s aides puts it, “If no one is getting their potholes filled, how are we going to get the health care system fixed?

But does he have a chance?

A snapshot of past Democratic insurgencies might also give O’Malley some encouragement. “Look at Memorial Day in 2003, where Howard Dean was in the polls. Or Memorial Day 1991, where Bill Clinton was. Or Memorial Day 2007, look at where Barack Obama was,” says Steve McMahon, a political consultant who worked with Ted Kennedy and Dean. All were way back in the field at this stage, or unnoticed. “Voters are just now starting to tune in a little bit,” says McMahon.

There is also, among Democrats, a time-honored tradition of obscure, long-shot governors rising suddenly (sometimes preceded by dull convention speeches), if not always getting all the way to the White House: Jimmy Carter, Clinton, Dean. “Do you remember Howard Dean in 2001?” says Zephyr Teachout, another progressive firebrand who nearly upended the New York gubernatorial race last year by giving Gov. Andrew Cuomo a scare. “Of course you don’t. No one does. I worked for Howard Dean in 2001. He couldn’t excite a dog then. It wasn’t until he went national as a candidate that he became a rabble-rouser.” And Dean was from Vermont, an even smaller and possibly more liberal state than Maryland. Like many progressives, Teachout is eagerly looking for alternatives to Hillary Clinton and finds O’Malley “interesting.”

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley speaks during an event to announce that he is entering the Democratic presidential race, on Saturday, May 30, 2015, in Baltimore. O'Malley has presented himself to voters as a next-generation leader for the party, pointing to his record as governor on issues such as gay marriage, immigration, economic issues and the death penalty. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

There is a difference in this insurgency campaign compared to many of the unsuccessful ones in the past. Hillary Clinton represents both the greatest obstacle and the greatest opening for an insurgency candidacy. On the one hand she has what appears like an overwhelming lead in the polls. On the other hand, we have never encountered a candidate who has so acted so unethically, violating so many of the principles which Democrats claim to hold. It will be a real test as to whether Democrats really mean what they say, or are willing to accept the same types of acts which they condemn from Republicans if  someone runs with a D after their name.

Even beyond her major ethical transgressions, Hillary Clinton is out of step with where the country, and the Democratic Party are moving, even beyond the economic issues which O’Malley and Sanders are concentrating on.  She has a long history of opposing transparency and attempting to govern in secrecy in an internet age where transparency is becoming the norm. She has aligned herself with the religious right in supporting a greater role for religion in government in a country which is becoming more secular. Her foreign policy views are difficult to differentiate from the neoconservatives. This ranges from being one of the strongest voices in support of the Iraq War, falsely claiming a connection between Saddam and al Qaeda, to supporting greater foreign military intervention during the first four years of the Obama administration. Clinton’s support for the Patriot Act has been criticized by both supporters of Bernie Sanders to her left and Rand Paul to her right.

Martin O’Malley is not as well known nationally as Hillary Clinton, or even Bernie Sanders, but his accomplishments have been noted by liberals for some time. For example, Washington Monthly had an article two years ago entitled Should Martin O’Malley Be President?

As governor, he’s pushed a series of bills that are all but guaranteed to impress Democratic primary and caucus voters three years from now, on topics ranging from guns (against), gay marriage (for), the death penalty (against), medical marijuana (for), and implementing Dream Act-like policies at Maryland’s colleges and universities. Just as Bill Clinton did in the 1980s, when he too was a relative unknown, O’Malley has also sought positions in recent years that have allowed him to sidle into the national limelight. In both 2011 and 2012, he served as chair of the Democratic Governors Association, and he’s since stayed on as the finance chairman, which will allow him to continue to meet top donors. During the election last year, he was a regular fixture on the talk show circuit, often playing the role of President Barack Obama’s personal attack dog. In one interview with ABC’s This Week last summer, O’Malley managed to mention former Governor Mitt Romney’s “Swiss bank accounts” and “offshore” tax havens seventeen times in three minutes flat.

With that iron message discipline, plus his standing as one of the Democrats’ most successful governors (with thirty statehouses in GOP hands, the Dems’ roster is slim), O’Malley won a coveted primetime speaking slot for the second time (he spoke in 2004, too) at the Democratic National Convention last September. He whiffed it—again, just as Clinton did in 1988—but spent the remaining time juggling a packed schedule of schmooze, addressing swing state delegates by day and jamming with his Irish rock band, O’Malley’s March, by night. In recent years, the governor has also made public forays into Iowa and New Hampshire and launched a political action committee, the O’Say Can You See PAC, to raise money that he will be at liberty to distribute, one of his critics groused, “like favor-doing fairy dust,” to fellow Democrats before the midterm races in 2014…

The truth is, what makes O’Malley stand out is not his experience, his gravitas, nor his familiarity to voters (Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden crush him in those regards). Nor is it exactly his policies or speeches (New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, both rumored presidential aspirants, have cultivated similar CVs). Nor is it that he plays in a band. Nor is it even the Atlantic’s breathless claim last year that he has “the best abs” in politics. (Beneath a photo of the fit governor participating in the Maryland Special Olympics’ annual Polar Bear Plunge, the author gushed, “What are they putting in the water in Maryland?”) Instead, what makes O’Malley unique as a politician is precisely the skill that was on display in that windowless conference room in downtown Annapolis: he is arguably the best manager working in government today.

That may not seem like a very flashy title—at first blush, “Best Manager” sounds more like a booby prize than a claim a politician might ride to the White House. But in an era where the very idea of government is under assault, a politician’s capacity to deliver on his or her promises, to actually make the bureaucracy work, is an underappreciated skill.

Of course, it was a conservative president who most recently demonstrated his woeful lack of such expertise (see George W. Bush, administration of), but it is the liberal and progressive bloc that stakes its identity on a belief in government, and therefore has a higher stake in getting government management right.

A writer at The Hill suggested in March that he might be able to pull a Carter and come from nowhere to win the presidency. H.A. Goodman wrote at The Huffington Post Why Martin O’Malley and Elizabeth Warren Can Beat Any Republican, Including Walker, Bush, Paul and Cruz. In April The Guardian asked, Martin O’Malley: If not Hillary Clinton, then how about this guy?  H.A Goodman wrote at The Hill Why Americans should consider O’Malley for president pointing out how  he is not guilty of the types of ethical violations seen in both Clinton and Jeb Bush:

Compared to ethical scandals by both Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, O’Malley was able to move Maryland towards the top of rankings for education, economic mobility, and entrepreneurship. Also, Maryland was one of only seven states to maintain its AAA bond rating during the recession.

As for innovation, O’Malley found ways to utilize data more efficiently than his predecessors. According to a recent Washington Post article, Maryland’s governor found innovative ways to harness data..

Furthermore, he can type an email without controversy. Unlike Hillary Clinton, O’Malley has used technology to help his state, not own a server for some bizarre reason. O’Malley has also made wealth inequality an issue, wants to expand Social Security, enacted Maryland’s version of the Dream Act, raised the minimum wage, and oversaw the passage of marriage equality. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, just recently changed views on marriage equality and has remained quiet on a number of other issues that O’Malley championed in Maryland.

According to The Washington Post in 2007, Jeb Bush’s tenure in Florida was “marred by frequent ethics scandals,” so O’Malley’s track record in Maryland beats (at least in terms of scandal) Bush’s years in Florida. For these reasons and more, O’Malley should be considered by Americans throughout the country as a potential pick for president. Unlike Hillary or Jeb, O’Malley hasn’t been linked to a major controversy and his track record can’t be correlated to any major failure. Martin O’Malley, not Hillary Clinton, should be towards the top of any Democrat’s wish list for president and Americans throughout the nation should pay attention to the former Maryland governor.

While he is officially starting his campaign this weekend, O’Malley has already spent a considerable amount of time in Iowa receiving favorable coverage, including being compared to John F. Kennedy:

O’Malley has the ability to captivate the nation and rise from a relatively unknown to a political juggernaut as John F. Kennedy did in the 1960s, more than 50 interviews with The Daily Iowan show.

“He’s a new breed of Democrats,” Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba, an Obama supporter, said following a private lunch with O’Malley on March 21…

He made a big splash here during his first return to Iowa in 2015, logging nearly 400 miles of travel and appearing at more than a half-dozen events, the Scott County Democrats’s Red, White, and Blue dinner, a Davenport Irish pub, a small town drop-in at Tipton, a visit to Des Moines, and a trendy Council Bluffs eatery.

Presidential historian and political pundit Tom Whalen, who specializes in the tenure and assassination of JFK, said the two have the same charisma, particularly in relation to domestic policies such as income equality.

O’Malley has worked to establish himself as a crisis manager while governor and mayor, as JFK did during the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis, Whalen said.

Whalen said O’Malley leads JFK’s early presidential career in at least one definitive area: speech delivery.

“JFK wasn’t really JFK until he gave that famous inaugural speech,” he said.

As of March O’Malley had been interviewed by The Daily Iowan alone fifty times, granting far more interviews than the number of questions answered by Hillary Clinton this year. He speaks to actual Iowans, not hand picked supporters for staged events like Clinton. These things could matter in states like Iowa and New Hampshire. Sure O’Malley is far behind in the polls, but the contrast between Hillary Clinton and far more honest and open opponents such as O’Malley and Sanders could change the race over time–and there is still a long way to go until the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.

 

Martin O’Malley Seeks To Be The Progressive Alternative To Hillary Clinton

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Martin O’Malley is trying to position himself as the electable progressive candidate who, as opposed to Elizabeth Warren, is actually running. He met with progressives in New York according to Politico:

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has a message for progressives clamoring for Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s entry into the presidential race: she’s not running, but I am.

As part of an effort to position himself as the most viable candidate challenging Hillary Clinton from the left, O’Malley traveled to New York City Monday night for an off-the-record meeting with about 30 progressive influencers and academics handpicked to meet with him by his team, multiple sources told POLITICO.

O’Malley asserted that he would be the best shot progressives have at truly challenging Clinton in a primary. “He went out of his way to mention the free trade deal,” which he — like Warren — opposes, said a source present at the meeting.

Clinton, in contrast, has failed to state her position on the trade deal, which President Obama supports and union leaders would like her to oppose.

“O’Malley’s operation sees that Warren isn’t running and that her progressive supporters can be persuaded to support him,” said one Democratic operative who was invited to the meeting. “If he does become a real candidate he can have more direct influence over Hillary than Warren. That seems to be his pitch these days.”

O’Malley’s attempts to be the progressive alternative to  Hillary Clinton are also complicated by the entry of Bernie Sanders in the race, with Sanders seeming to have caused greater excitement on the left  than O’Malley so far. While there is the risk that the two could divide the progressive vote, I am hoping that there will be value in having both candidates criticizing Clinton’s conservative record and views in the primaries. While Clinton remains an overwhelming favorite, should both Sanders and O’Malley do better than is now expected, ultimately I would expect most delegates pledged to either working together to attempt to keep the Democrats from nominating Hillary Clinton.

Many Democrats think that Clinton is a sure bet should she win the general election, but Nate Silver continues to think that Clinton has a 50:50 chance of winning, and warns that the “blue wall” which almost guarantees a Democratic victory is a myth.

While Clinton currently leads in the polls, much of this is due to name recognition. Despite her recent small bounce, expected to occur after announcing, Clinton only maintains a small lead nationally over the Republicans in most polls, is weak in the battleground state polls, and is considered to be dishonest by the majority of voters–along with a substantial number of Democrats. There is far greater risk of a Clinton campaign self-destructing over both scandals and Clinton’s inability to handle the media than a more mainstream Democrat who wins in the primaries.

Clinton continues to hide from the press, only having answered eight questions from the press since announcing her campaign, with most of these answers evasive. Her book tour, which should have been easy, was disastrous, and she couldn’t even handle an interview with Terry Gross on NPR. Her press conference after the email scandal broke was also a disaster, with fact checkers quickly reporting multiple false statements from Clinton. So far her campaign has consisted of staged events with hand-picked participants. This all predicts a candidate who will have difficulty expressing her views in a general election campaign. This is also likely suggestive of how she would govern considering her long-time hostility towards transparency in government.

Update: O’Malley is now expected to announce his candidacy on May 30.

O’Malley Scores Point Against Clinton On Same-Sex Marriage

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“History celebrates profiles in courage, not profiles in convenience.”

Martin O’Malley has demonstrated the benefits of having a liberal in the race to compete with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. He has been jabbing Clinton while campaigning in Iowa over her position that same-sex marriage should be decided by the states. O’Malley has been arguing in Iowa that “the right to marry is not a state right, it is a human right.” Clinton ultimately responded by expressing support for the Supreme Court to rule in favor of same-sex marriage nation-wide. Without mentioning her by name, O’Malley responded with a video stating, “History celebrates profiles in courage, not profiles in convenience.” Clinton has often lagged behind liberal thought on this issue.

News coverage has been using terms such as O’Malley jabbing, pinging, taking a shot, and taking a swing at Clinton on the abortion issue. There has been excitement among O’Malley supporters over the favorable publicity. While I do think that O’Malley would make a much better president than Clinton I am not terribly optimistic that this will make any difference in the nomination race–unless it is the start of a succession of O’Malley taking domination on the issues and forcing Clinton to respond. It is a point for O’Malley in terms of both both principle and obtaining favorable media coverage.

Making matters worse for Clinton, her campaign made the announcement through a spokesperson as opposed to directly talking to the press:

The process by which this major story was announced drew little attention elsewhere, but it was that decision to sneak this out via a spokesperson, rather than have it come from the candidate herself, that gave O’Malley an opening to grab all the ink he’s getting over it. If they had, instead, made Hillary available to one or more of these reporters, it would have been much bigger news, and that clip would be all over the news now instead of O’Malley’s.

Making that statement directly to a reporter with a background in reporting on LGBT rights would also have had the added benefit of strengthening Hillary’s relationship with that important constituency, rather than seeming like a down-low slight.

So far Clinton has only received gentle criticism for avoiding the press, but I bet this will intensify if this pattern continues. At this point I cannot recall a major party candidate who has avoided the press to this degree other than Sarah Palin.

O’Malley received additional favorable coverage with a column in The Hill looking at possible challenges to Clinton from Elizabeth Warren, Jim Webb, and Martin O’Malley:

…Team Hillary’s ascent to the Democratic nomination and White House isn’t a certainty and challengers like former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.), former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) and (perhaps one day soon) Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) could eventually overtake the former secretary of State. While Clinton has done great things for America over the years, she’s unfortunately become a liability to the Democratic Party. The citizens of Iowa and New Hampshire and Democrats everywhere can save all of us from a Clinton campaign that says one thing when it’s politically expedient, but does another (at the expense of cherished progressive values) when poll numbers aren’t behind a certain issue.

After all, Clinton was against same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization until recently. There’s a reason that many feel she has an “authenticity problem,” and it’s the same reason Clinton differs only slightly on issues like war from her GOP counterparts. Democrats in Iowa and around the country should evaluate the Clinton campaign by its actions, not words.

…Martin O’Malley has shown superior leadership skills, compared to Clinton’s, during his tenure as Maryland’s governor. As a mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland, O’Malley’s leadership led to a No. 1 ranking for his state in schools, entrepreneurship and women-owned businesses. In contrast, Clinton and the Democratic Party must now deal with “emailgate.” According to Dan Metcalfe in his piece in Politico, “Hillary’s Email Defense is Laughable”:

So yes, Secretary Clinton’s suggestion that federal officials can unilaterally determine which of their records are “personal” and which are “official,” even in the face of a FOIA request, is laughable. …

One cannot help but wonder how Secretary Clinton’s departure process was handled.

While The Daily Iowan has compared O’Malley to President Kennedy, Clinton will no doubt have her credibility and leadership questioned by future issues related to her email scandal.

In another column at The Hill, A.B. Stoddard discussed Clinton’s need to improve support among millennial voters.

Clinton had another problem when her stories of all four grandparents being immigrants was found to be untrue by BuzzFeed News–unless you consider Scranton and Illinois to be foreign countries. It is hard to see this gaffe by itself causing Clinton any harm, and it is certainly possible she was mistaken with no intent to deceive, but this might exacerbate her problem of being viewed by voters as dishonest.

Lincoln Chafee has also spoken again about running, maybe, primarily criticizing Clinton for her support for the Iraq war.

Clinton Receiving Criticism On Economic And Foreign Policy From Two Potential Democratic Challengers

With Hillary Clinton’s formal announcement that she is running for the Democratic nomination imminent, we now have something resembling a political campaign. Unfortunately (especially considering how Clinton is slipping in the battle ground polls) the race is rather one sided. Politico points out that even many of those who do not support her for the nomination see her as an unstoppable train. The article did look at a few possible challenges to Clinton from the left:

Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, former Virginia senator Jim Webb, and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders — the trio who have shown the greatest interest in mounting a challenge to Clinton — face a steep path, Democratic operatives say, while the two most famous names mentioned as potential challengers — Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren — seem increasingly far from running.

Lincoln Chafee, the former Rhode Island senator and governor, emerged in the last few days to stake a possible claim to be the Clinton alternative, raising Warren-like concerns about Clinton’s closeness to Wall Street. But he’s a maverick whose shift from Republican to independent to Democrat is unlikely to excite the progressive base.

…Clinton aides point to O’Malley as the most viable alternative candidate, believing he will eventually pick up support from many of the liberal activists currently urging Warren to run. The silver lining in his low name recognition is that he has an opportunity to introduce himself to the American people on his own terms.

Warren, meanwhile, repeatedly insists she will not throw her hat in the ring despite an organized campaign put together by progressive groups intended to draft the bank antagonist.

And even though the vice president has run for president twice before — including against Clinton and Obama in 2008 — he has no political operation to speak of. Biden’s supporters insist that he would need little preparation to jump in due to his existing networks and the goodwill generated by his trips to Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina earlier this year. But he shows no signs of seriously considering a run.

MSNBC, which might be expected to be more willing than other media outlets to cover a challenge to Clinton from the left, reported on Martin O’Malley campaigning in Iowa:

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley says if he runs for president, he will try to pull the Democratic Party back to its populist roots.

“You know what it’s about? It’s really about calling our party back to its true self,” he said in a wide-ranging MSNBC interview airing Friday. “Our politics has been greatly impacted, for the worse, by big money and the concentration of big money.”

O’Malley, in Iowa this week for meetings and a local Democratic Party event, took a break to talk about his potential 2016 challenge to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Smokey Row Coffee, a bustling coffee shop on the West side of Des Moines. Clinton is expected to begin her presidential campaign as early as this weekend.

Widely known as number-crunching technocrat, O’Malley sounds pretty blunt when criticizing what he calls Wall Street’s growing dominance of campaigns and government – including some members of the Obama administration.

“For 30 years we’ve followed this trickle-down theory of economics that said, ‘Concentrate wealth at the very top, remove regulation and keep wages low so we can be competitive – whatever the hell that means,” O’Malley says.

“What it led to was the first time since the Second World War where wages have actually declined, rather than going up – where almost all of the new income earned in this recovery has gone to the top 1%,” he says, invoking the famous phrase from the Occupy Wall Street protests.

“It doesn’t have to be this way,” he continues, arguing, “these things are not effects that blew in on a gulf stream or on a polar vortex – these are the products of the policy choices we made over these 30 years.”

O’Malley says the system is rigged “in many ways” – a concern pressed by the “Elizabeth Warren wing” of the Democratic Party – and contends middle class priorities should be “at the center of our economic theory.”

…O’Malley freely admits most Iowans he meets haven’t heard of him, but he believes they are receptive to his economic focus – and they aren’t all ready for Hillary.

Many Iowans want to literally “meet every candidate” before they decide, he says, and they don’t accept “the inevitability or the punditry or whatever the polls happen to say.”

O’Malley should know. He got started in politics working on Gary Hart’s 1984 presidential campaign in Iowa, and he believes history shows there’s really no such thing as inevitable candidates.

“There is an ‘inevitable’ front-runner who remains ‘inevitable’ right up until he or she’s no longer inevitable,” he says. “And the person that emerges as the alternative is the person that usually no one in America had heard of before – until that person got into a van and went county to county to county.”

O’Malley is careful not to criticize Hillary Clinton by name, but her presence clearly looms over his possible candidacy.

While O’Malley has avoided criticizing Clinton by name, Lincoln Chafee has no such reservations. The New York Times interviewed Chafee about his intentions to run against Clinton:

In an interview with The New York Times, Mr. Chafee offered sharp criticism of Mrs. Clinton’s support for the war in Iraq and for accepting foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation.

“The donations to the Clinton Foundation are alarming to me,” Mr. Chafee said, arguing that decision making can be compromised when enormous amounts of money change hands.

The Clintons have defended the family foundation’s acceptance of donations from foreign governments, which was mostly suspended when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state and resumed after she left. Last month, former President Bill Clinton said taking money from foreign countries, including those in the Middle East, was crucial to keeping the foundation’s programs running

As Barack Obama did as a senator in 2007, Mr. Chafee argued that Mrs Clinton’s support for the war in Iraq should disqualify her from the White House.

“It’s still relevant,” Mr. Chafee said. “I would argue that the next president of the United States should not have voted for that war.”

Besides Clinton’s vote, Clinton has additional problems on foreign policy. These range from being one of the strongest supporters of the Iraq war, falsely claiming a connection between Saddam and al Qaeda, to advocating a more hawkish viewpoint in the Obama administration.