Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Between Elizabeth and Hillary

I think it's great that a Jew from Brooklyn who moved to Vermont and calls himself a democratic socialist is seriously being considered for President. It's great, seriously. I like and admire Bernie. I think the only problem is that a Jew from Brooklyn who moved to Vermont and who calls himself a democratic socialist can never be elected President. Ain't gonna happen. Hillary might get elected, but Bernie won't.

Hillary has some strengths, but there is a conflict when it comes to the banks. To my mind, Bernie's attacks on the big banks are entirely merited. No need to rehash the issues, but a very entertaining way to see what the banks are like is to see The Big Short, which I really liked. Den of evil, really. I liked the way Jamie Diamond's picture was flashed at the end with no mention of who or what, just the scent of evil.

Bernie gets this. But Hillary, to all intents and purposes, it seems, does not. He says the banks need to be broken up, she says no, it's more important to go after AIG and other bank-like institutions, hiding and showing off her sophistication in an obfuscation. She is really very lukewarm about it all, and we know that she and Bill have always been cozy with the big banks. Robert Rubin was Bill's pal, the awful Robert Rubin.

So, do I just hold my nose and vote for Hillary (in the general; in the primary, I could still go for Bernie)? Or, do I hope and rationalize?

I have made a decision. I'm going to bravely hope and rationalize. Here's what I'm thinking.

The greatest modern liberator, the greatest effector of civil rights, was Lyndon Baines Johnson, a man of the South. His friends were the Southerners in Congress, Richard Russell most of all, but Harry Byrd also. His sponsors were Jim Crow people through and through. But LBJ had been poor and discriminated against, embarrassed and reviled in his little town in Texas when his father failed in business. He identified with the poor minorities who were discriminated against. Then, when LBJ ascended, he used his power and acumen to do what that little boy had wanted to do, he righted the wrongs, as no one could have predicted he would. LBJ rose with the Southerners and then turned on them, to his everlasting credit.

Now, I want to imagine, what went on in December of 2014 when Hillary met secretly with Elizabeth Warren? People were talking about Warren for President then, although she obviously was wise enough not to want to do it. Still, Hillary wanted to tidily nail down another corner of her tent, so she met with Warren. What went down?

Here's where my rationalization comes in. I think she addressed Warren's viewpoint, which when it comes to the banks is pretty much the same as Bernie's. I think Hillary said that she thoroughly understood Warren's concerns, and she shared them. They were really on the same side. But, said Hillary, it's not so simple. I don't know what all the complications are, but there are many and they are severe, and a lot of them involve money and power that the banks have in abundance. It's not just a question of “Let's reinstitute Glass-Steagall,” I bet. There is a lot that has to be done, a lot of maneuvering, just as when Johnson got the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Right Act passed. And, in addition, before you do anything, you have to get elected.

So, I'm dreaming that Hillary said, “Elizabeth, I know exactly what you're saying, and I'm in your corner. But first I have to get elected, and to get elected I can't show all my cards. And then when I am elected, even then I can't show all my cards. I have to maneuver. But I want you to know, what you want is what I want.

“You can do what you want between now and then. I know you can't be totally and overtly supportive, and actually I don't want you to be. That would probably hurt me. You can support me subtly, until the end when we might need to pull out all the stops. But I want you to know that when and if I get in, I intend to pull an LBJ. It's only right; it would be the best thing to do for the country.”

So, given the state of the Republican Party, I'm going to support Hillary no matter what happens. But meanwhile, I'm rationalizing enough to feel really good about it.

Budd Shenkin

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