The lack of conscience of a liberal: Paul Krugman’s new low against Bernie

Updated below (on Sunday, April 17, 2016)

In last night’s debate, it’s quite true that Bernie Sanders was dismissive of Billary Clinton’s big wins in the Deep South.*

I’m glad that he finally went there in the debate; I’ve gone there many times here myself.

But leave it to New York Times liberal (note that I said “liberal,” as in “limousine liberal,” not “progressive”) columnist Paul Krugman, who brands himself a progressive economist yet whom supports the center-right Billary Clinton, to proclaim, in his latest Bernie Derangement Syndrome-induced screed, that Bernie’s spurning of the South minimally is just like Sarah Palin’s having called the red states the “real America” — but probably also even is about Bernie (and, by extension, apparently, his campaign and his supporters) spurning black Americans. But only Krugman actually raises that specter:

… Over the past week, Mr. Sanders has declared that Mrs. Clinton leads only because she has won in the “Deep South,” which is a “pretty conservative part of the country.” The tally so far, he says, “distorts reality” because it contains so many Southern states.

As it happens, this isn’t true — the calendar, which front-loaded some states very favorable to Mr. Sanders, hasn’t been a big factor in the race. Also, swing-state Florida isn’t the Deep South. But never mind. The big problem with this argument should be obvious. Mrs. Clinton didn’t win big in the South on the strength of conservative voters; she won by getting an overwhelming majority of black voters. This puts a different spin on things, doesn’t it?

Is it possible that Mr. Sanders doesn’t know this, that he imagines that Mrs. Clinton is riding a wave of support from old-fashioned Confederate-flag-waving Dixiecrats, as opposed to, let’s be blunt, the descendants of slaves? Maybe. He is not, as you may have noticed, a details guy.

It’s more likely, however, that he’s being deliberately misleading — and that his effort to delegitimize a big part of the Democratic electorate is a cynical ploy.

Who’s the target of this ploy? Not the superdelegates, surely. Think about it: Can you imagine Democratic Party insiders deciding to deny the nomination to the candidate who won the most votes, on the grounds that African-American voters don’t count as much as whites?

No, claims that Clinton wins in the South should be discounted are really aimed at misleading Sanders supporters, giving them an unrealistic view of the chances that their favorite can still win — and thereby keeping the flow of money and volunteers coming. …

Maybe I have Krugman’s intent wrong — maybe (but probably not) — but why would he write such phrases as “on the grounds that African-American voters don’t count as much as whites” when no one ever said or otherwise even semi-indicated that that was the case?

Blacks voted more for Billary than for Bernie, especially in the earlier contests. She has worn — depressingly successfully — the mantle of wanting to be our “third” “black” president. I get that. (But that doesn’t mean that most black Americans are smart to vote for Billary — no one is smart to vote for her, unless he or she is a fellow millionaire or billionaire who wants to preserve his or her own little private empire by maintaining the insanely unjust socioeconomic status quo.)

The problem that Bernie, his campaign and many if not most of us Berners have with the South — which Krugman conveniently doesn’t mention in his hit piece — is that it indeed is a conservative, Repugnican Tea Party bastion, a spiritually dead, barren land where for the very most part Democratic presidential candidates don’t win presidential elections.

Therefore, one calling him- or herself the mostest Democratiest presidential candidate when he or she actually does the best in Repugnican Tea Party/red states and his or her opponent does the best in actually Democratic/true-blue states is, um, odd. This is, after all, the Democratic Party primary race that’s going on right now.

Further, the Repugnican Tea Party doesn’t exactly embrace such deep-blue states as California and New York and Massachusetts; why the holy fucking fuck, then, should Democrats, or at least those of us who actually are left of center, embrace such deep-red states as Texas, South Carolina and Georgia? (And Florida, while it might not be in the Deep South, is in the South, as is Texas. And both states were slave states, which Billary can “brag” that she won, so please, Paulie Boy.)

Are all of these political concepts foreign to Krugman? (He is not, as you may have noticed, a details guy.)

All of this said, a pledged delegate is a pledged delegate and at the party convention should count the same regardless of the state from which that delegate hails, and we progressives in the blue states probably should not abandon the good progressives of all races and of all other demographics who have the misfortune to live in the red states. I get that, but at the same time, the red states make it very, very difficult for us denizens of the blue states to wuv them.

The red states have, after all, been holding the nation back even before the Civil War. They have been a drag on the nation, not a boon to the nation. But we blue-staters are to just adore the red-staters even while the red-staters routinely openly show nothing but contempt for us, even though our tax dollars keep them afloat.

We Dems and those of us who lean Dem (usually having no other real left-of-center electoral option) have to ask ourselves if we really want our party to be overtaken by red-state beliefs and values (even more than it already has been, that is) — and, again, we should ask ourselves if the members of the Repugnican Tea Party would allow their party to be overtaken by blue-state beliefs and values.

Krugman does make one apparent quasi-valid point in his column, albeit buried within what as far as I know is a patently false accusation:

… So the Sanders campaign is arguing that super-delegates — the people, mainly party insiders, not selected through primaries and caucuses who get to serve as delegates under Democratic nomination rules — should give him the nomination even if he loses the popular vote.

In case you’re rubbing your eyes: Yes, not long ago many Sanders supporters were fulminating about how Hillary was going to steal the nomination by having super-delegates put her over the top despite losing the primaries. Now the Sanders strategy is to win by doing exactly that. …

To be clear, I haven’t yet seen or heard or read (in print or via video) any actual proclamation from Bernie himself that he wants the super-delegates to vote for him to give him the nomination even if Billary won the majority of the pledged delegates (the delegates won in the primary elections and caucuses).

I’ve seen this meme that Bernie “wants it both ways,” that he’s only OK with the super-delegates voting for him regardless of who ends up with the most pledged delegates, but, again, I’ve yet to see, read or hear him make that claim. (If you have a link to a credible, neutral source, please leave it in the comments section and I’ll check it out.)

I’ve long understood Bernie’s argument to be that if he manages to win more pledged delegates than Billary does, then the super-delegates should follow the will of the people who voted and caucused and vote to make him the nominee. That seems fair and democratic to me, even though under the current rules of the game the super-delegates certainly don’t have to do that.

I doubt that the meme that Bernie “wants it both ways” is true because I don’t see the super-delegates swinging to Bernie unless he manages to win more pledged delegates than Billary does. I don’t see Bernie seeing that happening, either. Call him whatever you please, but one thing he is not is stupid.

Secondly, if the candidate who wins the most pledged delegates doesn’t end up as the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nominee (under normal political circumstances), the Democratic Party will have a real problem on its hands, since Democratic and Democratically leaning voters nationwide are split almost 50-50 between Bernie and Billary, and one of the two winning the nomination through the super-delegates alone is going to be a real problem with about half of the members of the party.

Bernie knows this, and I very much doubt that he’d really want to be the presidential nominee with the dark cloud over his head that Billary, not he, had won the most pledged delegates.

Only if something serious were to happen — such as Billary being indicted (between now and the party convention) for her home-brewed e-mail server as secretary of state — could it be justified for the super-delegates to hand the nomination to Bernie if Billary had won the most pledged delegates.

Otherwise, wherever possible, we must respect the will of the voters, even when we believe, even quite correctly, that they’re quite wrong.

I mean, don’t get me wrong: I believe that Billary Clinton would be anywhere from lackluster-at-best (like President Hopey-Changey) to disastrous as president of the United States of America. And, again, I believe that unless they’re rich, those who support Billary aren’t very smart people, as voting against your own best interests isn’t very smart.

But you aren’t a true progressive if you don’t respect the democratic process. And Bernie and his followers are true progressives. And I’ll say it yet again: Despite the talk of Bernie “wanting it both ways,” I’ve yet to see, hear or read any assertion of his that the super-delegates should choose him over Billary even if she has won the most pledged delegates going into the convention (and details guy Krugman, alas, provides in his column no link for his assertion that Bernie anti-democratically and hypocritically “wants it both ways” on how the super-delegates should vote).

Krugman’s claim that “claims that Clinton wins in the South should be discounted are really aimed at misleading Sanders supporters, giving them an unrealistic view of the chances that their favorite can still win — and thereby keeping the flow of money and volunteers coming” is bullshit and condescending, as we Berners have known from Day One that preventing Queen Billary’s dynastic coronation would be an uphill battle. Very few among us don’t know that Bernie’s path to the nomination is razor-thin right about now. We have, in fact, done our research.

And Krugman indeed appears to be accusing Bernie Sanders of being an anti-black racist, because he ends his hatchet job with this:

Just to be clear, I’m not saying that Mr. Sanders should drop out. He has the right to keep campaigning [Oh, gee, thanks for the permission there, Paulie Boy!], in the hope either of pulling off huge upsets in the remaining primaries or of having influence at the convention. But trying to keep his campaign going by misleading his supporters is not OK. [It isn’t, but he isn’t.] And sneering at millions of voters is truly beyond the pale, especially for a progressive.

Remember … : We’re all real Americans. And African-Americans are very definitely real Democrats, deserving respect.

Krugman ends his hit piece by claiming, or at least heavily insinuating, that Bernie (and probably also his campaign and his supporters) have claimed that black Americans aren’t “real Democrats” when that isn’t at all the case. Krugman makes a false accusation and then attacks his own false accusation.

I cannot tell a lie: I don’t like the South. Many but probably most in the South don’t like me, a Californian progressive, either.

But when I think of the South and its politics and what’s wrong with its politics, of course I don’t think of black Americans, who historically and traditionally have been (yes, “have been” means that they still are) the victims of the South’s politics, as the problem of the South; for the very most part I think of the backasswards white Americans who hold this nation back, as they have for generations, as the problem of the South.

And when you look at all of Billary’s votes in the South, I’m quite confident that she received far more votes from stupid white people (if they were smart, they wouldn’t support her, unless, again, they’re rich) than she did from black people.

As far as black Americans are concerned, sure, we can call them “real Democrats,” since the term “Democrat” since the 1990s has degenerated to its center-right/Clintonian designation of today, so close to Repugnican that the distinction between Democrat and Repugnican is like the distinction between Coke and Pepsi, but if black Americans support Billary Clinton, we can’t call them both progressive and informed.

But ditto for everyone else in the South who has voted for Billary — again, most of them white people, I’m sure. Neither Bernie Sanders nor we Berners have singled out black Americans in our critique of the South.

Liberal, Billary-lovin’ Paul Krugman did that.

It’s a new low in his obedient, lockstep support of his fellow limousine liberal Billary Clinton, who one minute is telling us how much she loves black Americans and then the next minute unpresidentially is participating in what is to many an offensively racially insensitive skit.**

Perhaps Paul Krugman sees a juicy Cabinet post for himself in being one of Boss Billary’s hit men.

Update (Sunday, April 17, 2016): I stumbled upon an earlier anti-Bernie screed by Krugman, from April 8. Apparently his attempt to portray those of us who are anti-Billary as anti-black began no later than then. He wrote: “Given her large lead in delegates — based largely on the support of African-American voters, who respond to her pragmatism because history tells them to distrust extravagant promises — Mrs. Clinton is the strong favorite for the Democratic nomination.”

Again, I’m quite confident that Billary has won far more votes from whites than from blacks, even in the South. Blacks are an important part of the Democratic coalition, as are feminists, Latinos, non-heterosexuals, Asians, labor-union members, young adults, et. al., et. al., but Krugman, by repeatedly singling blacks out, is, methinks, up to something here.

His theory that black Americans gravitate toward Billary “because history tells them to distrust extravagant promises” is um, rather novel, and reads as though it were written by a Billary campaign operative: “Black Americans like progressives who can get things done!”

Methinks it’s much more the case that as Billary and Bill’s political careers began in Arkansas, and as Billy Boy was deemed the “first” “black” president, Billary simply has inherited that support, probably especially among older black voters. Also, of course, she’s been running for president at least since 2000, and is much better known than is Bernie Sanders (or at least she was so when the primary elections and caucuses began).

And if Krugman is going to write that blacks prefer Billary because “history tells them to distrust extravagant promises,” how about I write that blacks prefer Billary because history tells them to distrust old white men? I mean, as I wrote at the time, the only discernible reason that Black Lives Matter slacktivists hijacked two of Bernie’s campaign appearances last summer is that he’s an older white (albeit Jewish) guy. (I mean, he’s a progressive who’s on their side, so very apparently it primarily was his race that was their problem with him, and secondarily his sex and his age.)

Krugman in his April 8 column also casually brushes aside Billary’s disastrous 2002 vote for the Vietraq War (she said she was sorry!) and in criticizing Bernie’s policy positions as unworkable, writes, “You could argue that policy details are unimportant as long as a politician has the right values and character. As it happens, I don’t agree.”

I disagree with Krugman. Policy positions emerge from values and character, not the other way around, and in any event, all of us must realize that the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate must approve legislation in the first place (and the courts often get involved, too). And it’s the legislators’ job, not the job of presidential candidates, to hammer out all of the details.

It’s the job of leaders to give an overarching vision, and we have seen that in this race:

Billary’s “vision” is to maintain the socioeconomic status quo, with us commoners expecting no more than a crumb here or there; we are naive if we expect more than that bullshit incrementalism, an incrementalism that is so slow and that gives us so little that it never is anything remotely approaching commensurate with what is taken away from us — in large amounts and with great rapidity — by our plutocratic overlords.

Billary’s “vision” and “message,” in a few words, are “Stay the course.” Indeed, as I’ve noted many times, she uses Caretaker in Chief Barack Obama as her political human shield repeatedly.

Bernie’s vision rejects such foot-dragging incrementalism and rejects the status-quo bullshit that President Hopey-Changey has embraced and that Billary Clinton promises to continue. Instead, Bernie envisions a “revolution” in such areas as income inequality and combatting climate change; whether or not actual revolution can materialize is up for debate, but what isn’t very debatable is that if you don’t call for revolutionary acts at all, under your presidency there most likely would be no such acts.

Having been outside of the corporatized, duopolistic Democratic Party — and yes, corporate whore is a very appropriate way to describe way too many self-identified “Democrats” —  is the only way that Bernie Sanders can promise, with any credibility, that as president he actually would stand up for us commoners instead of doing the bidding of the Democratic Party establishment’s corporate sugar daddies.

Being funded by us commoners instead of by the millionaires and billionaires (with the average contribution being $27), as Bernie never tires of proclaiming that he is, is proof of Bernie’s allegiance.

Billary has zero credibility on these matters, which is why Bernie is doing as well as he is — within 1 percent to 3 percent of Billary among Democrats and Democratic leaners nationwide.

The vast majority of those who critique Bernie Sanders and us Berners as naive, foggy-eyed dreamers want Billary Clinton to win the White House because the socioeconomic status quo, which as president she would work tirelessly to preserve, benefits them.

These anti-Berners include limousine liberals like Paul Krugman — those whom the current socioeconomic system benefits greatly but who are concerned that if they don’t say the right things,*** one day the rabble might, just might, come after them and their wealth with torches and pitchforks.

*He said:

… Secretary Clinton cleaned our clock in the Deep South. No question about it. We got murdered there. That is the most conservative part of this great country. That’s the fact.

But you know what? We’re out of the Deep South now. And we’re moving up. We got here [New York]. We’re going to California. …. And having won seven out of the last eight caucuses and primaries, having a level of excitement and energy among working people and low-income people, doing better against Donald Trump and the other Republicans in poll after poll than Secretary Clinton is, yeah, I believe that we’re going to win this nomination, and I believe we’re going to obliterate Donald Trump or whoever the Republican candidate is.

I don’t know that he had to say “Deep South.” Just “South” would have sufficed.All of the South is backasswards — yes, including Florida (and, of course, Texas).

**Yeah, that skit — for the most part I’ll leave it to others to decide whether or not they’re offended, as I generally don’t believe in offense mongering, especially on someone else’s behalf (that’s one of the corollaries of our wonderfully toxic identity politics), but when I first saw video of the skit, actor Leslie Odom Jr.’s claim to be offended by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s use of the term “C.P. time” was so realistic that I didn’t realize, when I first watched the clip of the skit, that it was a pre-planned skit; I’d thought that Odom Jr. genuinely was registering his offense at a spontaneous joke by de Blasio, and when Billary stated that “C.P. time” means “cautious politician time,” I truly had thought that she had just very nimbly tried to rescue de Blasio from his poor-taste gaffe. (That the whole thing was scripted makes sense; the highly scripted, polished and pre-prepared Billary usually doesn’t think on her feet like that, nor has she ever struck me as that clever.)

I think that it would be difficult to call de Blasio a racist, as his wife is black and his two children are biracial, but minimally, we certainly can call him tone-deaf, and ditto for Billary for having participated in that skit, and what the hell was Leslie Odom Jr. thinking?

***The reason that the Democratic Party has embraced toxic identity politics and jettisoned socioeconomic justice is that for the very most part doesn’t hurt anyone’s bank account to, say, be pro-choice or to support same-sex marriage…

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