Exclusive: Team Clinton thought the path to the White House led through a neo-McCarthyistic assault on Donald Trump as Vladimir Putin’s puppet, rather than addressing the real worries of Americans, writes James W Carden.
By James W Carden
Watching the returns come in on the morning of Nov. 9, my mind turned immediately to the question of blame. How could it be that someone so manifestly unqualified for the White House managed to beat a candidate who was widely acknowledged to be the most highly qualified person ever to have run for the nation’s highest office?
For answers, look no further than the hierarchy of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee under Debbie Wasserman Shultz, and, later, longtime Democratic operative and talking head Donna Brazile.
First, as Wikileaks has proven without a shadow of a doubt, it is clear that the DNC colluded with the Clinton campaign as well as with highly placed sources at CNN to fatally undermine and sabotage the progressive insurgency campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Throughout the primary, the Clintons and their vast network of high-profile surrogates in the media sought to undercut Sanders by painting his supporters as not only completely unrealistic in their expectations for what government can and should do, but as a group of bullying misogynists as well.
Once they managed to push Sanders out of the way, they launched a general election campaign that was stunning in both its incompetence and its cynicism. That the campaign was badly run can hardly come as a surprise, staffed as it was by a young, startlingly vapid campaign manager by name of Robby Mook.
Policy was handled by the equally young and wondrously overrated former head of the policy planning staff at the U.S. State Department, Jake Sullivan. On the evidence of its policy papers and press releases, the campaign, which relied on such “outsiders” as Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden, clearly decided that once Sanders was defeated, they had no lessons to learn from his candidacy.
Ignoring America’s Needs
They failed to recognize that despite the laughably inaccurate Labor Department unemployment statistics, which claim the U.S. unemployment rate is just under 5 percent, millions upon millions of Americans are without work, and are increasingly without hope.
A country which ranks right along side Albania and Bosnia in incidents of infant mortality; a country which has a Gini coefficient (a measure of income inequality) on par with Cameroon; a country with nearly 25 million of its citizens addicted to drugs and alcohol; a country that has a crumbling infrastructure and bad schools is a country whose government has repeatedly failed them.
Hillary Clinton, a former First Lady, U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State is, as Donald Trump rightly surmised, widely seen as the face of that government, as the face of those failures.
But instead of addressing the well-founded angst among large swathes of the population, Clinton and her team decided the path to victory would open up not by addressing Trump’s substantive critique of the American economy or his entirely appropriate (though never too well thought-out) questioning of the American imperium. No: Team Clinton, Mook, Sullivan, Podesta and Tanden had a better idea. Let us tie the albatross of Russian president Vladimir Putin around the neck of the gloriously unqualified billionaire candidate.
That, according to Team Clinton, was just the ticket. And so, as I pointed out in the pages of ConsortiumNews as the campaign was ending, the Clinton’s pursued a policy of Red-baiting with abandon. During each debate, at any of Trump’s mentions of Russia, the Clinton campaign apparatus would kick into high gear and release a flurry of press releases designed to cast doubt not only on Trump’s character but on his patriotism.
Unfounded and undocumented accusations of the Trump campaign’s illusory connection to the Kremlin were repeated ad nauseam by prominent voices of the liberal intelligentsia like MSNBC’s Joy Reid, New York Magazine’s Jon Chait, New America Fellow Franklin Foer, Mother Jones editor David Corn, among many others.
Their efforts failed in spectacular fashion in the early morning hours of Nov. 9. The electorate at long last has risen up against the suffocating, foolish and impoverishing neoliberal consensus, which has held sway in Washington for the past 25 years. The rush to normalize trade relations with China, the unbelievably damaging free trade agreements with Mexico, the vast governmental subsidization of Wall Street have ruined and, yes, ended more lives than the many wars this country has been unnecessarily been waging for the past 15 years.
As the University of Michigan’s Juan Cole recently pointed out: “A year ago Anne Case and Angus Deaton, Princeton University economists, published a study with the startling finding that since 1999 death rates have been going up for white Americans aged 45-54. It is even worse than it sounds, since death rates were declining for the general population.”
In other words, neoliberalism at home and neoconservatism abroad are killing Americans (as well as people in countries where the U.S. government has imposed “regime change” solutions). Yet instead of addressing the long, slow and sad decline of the U.S. in the quarter century following the end of the first Cold War, Clinton, Podesta, Mook and Sullivan decided that the correct course of action would be to dream up a fictitious Manchurian candidate scenario in order to defeat Trump, a candidate who, for all of his obvious faults, at least spoke to the problems of ordinary people.
In short: The Clintons and their friends and enablers in the Democratic Party and in the media have only themselves to blame for President-elect Donald J. Trump.
James W Carden is a contributing writer for The Nation and editor of The American Committee for East-West Accord’s eastwestaccord.com. He previously served as an advisor on Russia to the Special Representative for Global Inter-governmental Affairs at the US State Department.