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Paste — It’s What’s For Dinner!

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Paste Magazine brings us the truly epochal pairing of Walker Bragman and HA! Goodman. They are very, very excited about WikiLeaks hacks of the Clinton campaign, which has taught them truly extraordinary things about American government. For example:

The leaks confirm that political machines have returned to American politics. Through the thousands of pages of documents, Americans get a glimpse into the inner workings of the most powerful one in DC.

Emails reveal how Clinton’s team tracks loyalty, and uses fundraising and access as a means of securing it from an extensive web of operatives including members of Democratic leadership, journalists, wealthy individuals, businesses, and outside organizations. Clinton operatives offered meetings with the Democratic presidential candidate as a means of securing endorsements. Tom Nides, an executive at Morgan Stanley who served as Clinton’s deputy Secretary of State, helped secure an endorsement from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in this way.

Are telling me that nowadays politicians try to obtain endorsements by meeting with people and then treat people who offer endorsements better than people who do not endorse them? This is truly an astonishing new development, one we could have had no idea existed before. And, obviously, this is clear evidence that the Democratic primaries were rigged.

Of course, this is nothing new for Young Master Bragman. In a recent solo venture:

From these remarks, it is clear [in fact, this is massive non-sequitur, but moving right along –ed.] that progressives under the Sanders umbrella were right all along: President Clinton would be a status quo candidate. She would govern as President Obama has, largely through administrative agencies rather than by pushing sweeping legislation through Congress.

First of all, the idea that the policy set by administrative agencies is inevitably the politics of the “status quo” is absurd. (Perhaps one day young Walker will learn about the Clean Power Plan or DAPA.) But what I really find amusing is the idea that Obama “chose” to govern through administrative agencies rather “than pushing sweeping legislation through Congress.” For two years, Obama did in fact sign an impressive raft of sweeping legislation. And then, suddenly, in 2011 he started governing primarily through administrative agencies. Perhaps something happened — say, in November 2010 — that explains this transition? Perhaps Julian Assange can leak some civics textbooks so Bragman can breathlessly report his findings.

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  • Charlie S

    My God, are these people children or what? Their naiveté about politics is absolutely mind boggling. It would almost be sweet if it wasn’t so stupid.

    • Captain Oblivious

      And if they weren’t getting paid to write this shit.

      • Warren Terra

        According to a comment on Paste‘s Writers’ Guidelines page, the pay per article is probably in the mid two figures. It’s absurd anyone would pay Bragman or Goodman to opine on politics, but they’re not getting paid a lot.

        • Origami Isopod

          I’d pay them to shut up.

    • John F

      Their naiveté about politics is absolutely mind boggling.

      It’s not naiveté, these are people who have had the real world explained to them countless times, there are pretty much two options at this point- they are simply stupid, or they are arguing in bad faith (or a combination)

      • weirdnoise

        You’re assuming they’re rational actors. Even otherwise intelligent people can get trapped in irrational belief systems that render them impervious to certain facts.

        The rest of us should treat them as the danger they are.

      • Spiny

        For some folks being “against the system/establishment” is attractive because they imagine it grants them a freedom to be irresponsible. No harm resulting from their choices, ignorance, or petty malice can ever truly be their own, it is the evil of the establishment that drove them to this sorry state.

        • nemdam

          This is what explains the H.A. Goodmans, the Glenn Greenwalds, the Michael Traceys. They aren’t primarily leftists. They are primarily anti-establishment who just happen to have a leftish leaning worldview. Since Clinton is the establishment and Trump isn’t, it’s more important to focus on taking down Clinton than Trump. It is also important to sympathize with Trump and his supporters since they are anti-establishment. What kind of change Trump will create when he takes down the establishment is of secondary concern to the fact that he will blow up the system. Some people are just wired to be permanent rebels.

          • so-in-so

            “Rebels without a Clue.”

            I’ll see myself out.

    • efgoldman

      My God, are these people children or what?

      Please don’t insult children. My three y o granddaughter has better logic and reasoning skills.

  • Captain Oblivious

    Perhaps relevant: Ecuador claims to have cut off Assange’s internet access to prevent him from meddling in the US elections.

    No doubt this will give Bragman a sad.

    • Thrax

      Hmmm. I doubt the Wikileaks servers are in the Ecuadorian embassy. Though I suppose Assange will have to think twice about giving whoever controls them the go-ahead to release more stuff. Most likely, they go ahead and he denies any involvement.

      • Though I suppose Assange will have to think twice about giving whoever controls them the go-ahead to release more stuff.

        Do you think he has (or thinks he has) a secure non-internet-based way to send such a message without burning Wikileaks irremediably? A “dead man’s switch” has been suggested somewhere or other, but that would (I presume) have to be pretty much an all-or-nothing thing.

      • vic rattlehead

        He would deny it, but how stupid would he have to be to bite the hand? I don’t see a government in the world objecting to Ecuador cutting him loose.

  • I have a (likely soon-to-be former) friend who’s a Jill Stein fanatic, and keeps going on and on on Facebook about how Hillary Clinton is actually more dangerous to this country than Donald Fucking Trump, because he thinks Clinton can manipulate the Republican in Congress. As opposed to Trump, who would blindly sign every piece of garbage legislation a GOP congress would send him. These types have no fucking idea how the political system in this country works.

    • Lit3Bolt

      Pffft, everyone knows Hillary Clinton controls the Deep One coalition in Congress as the Earthly Bride-Priestess of Dagon.

      Only Russia can save us now, for their leaders are always benign and good, and care deeply about informing the American people.

      • Not everyone here has BLUE HADES clearance.

        • N__B

          Whippoorwills call, evenin’ is nigh
          Hurry to my BLUE HADES
          Turn to the right, there’s a little white light
          Will lead you to my BLUE HADES

          You’ll see a pentacle, a tentacle, a human cull
          An end that was triggered by the latest poll

          Molly and me, and the baby makes three
          We’re dying in my, in my BLUE HADES

          You’ll see a pentacle, a tentacle, a human cull
          Little end that was triggered by the latest poll

          Just Molly and me, and the baby is three
          We’re so happy in my BLUE HADES

        • mds

          SQUAMOUS CALGARY was temporarily neutralized by its ill-timed late endorsement of TANGERINE CHUPACABRA, thereby likely postponing CASE NIGHTMARE BLUE. Elevation of SLAANESH LADYGARDEN to the presidency should ironically further de-escalate matters by allowing a pressure outlet for DUMBSHIT NEPHANDI. Meanwhile, we continue to monitor SLAV MUY MACHO for further signs of a developing CASE NIGHTMARE RED.

          • CornFed

            I am heartened beyond measure to see so many Stross fans here.

            • Ahuitzotl

              you should be suspicious, not heartened ….

    • Murc

      If Clinton could actually manipulate the Republicans in Congress to do what she wanted them to do, I would have probably voted for her in the primary. Because that would demonstrate an insane level of political skill and, probably, actual Charles Xavier style mind-control powers on her part.

      • Hillary is actually Mystique, using her imitation powers to fool the nation! It makes so much sense now.

        • Warren Terra

          As a shape-changer able to flawlessly mimic anyone, she doubtless plans to perpetrate a lot of in-person voter fraud.

          • and Tim Kaine is Quicksilver, who will snatch Trump ballots out of the boxes without anyone noticing.

      • twbb

        “If Clinton could actually manipulate the Republicans in Congress to do what she wanted them to do, I would have probably voted for her in the primary.”

        Seconded.

      • NonyNony

        If Clinton could actually manipulate the Republicans in Congress to do what she wanted them to do, I would have probably voted for her in the primary.

        No probably about it – if she had that magic power I would have broken my rule about always voting for the furthest left candidate in a primary and voted for her outright. And I would have been happy while doing it.

        • Rob in CT

          Of course you would have! Her mind control powers would’ve compelled you (and made you like it).

    • Colin Day

      Can Clinton manipulate the Senate into approving her appointments? And that’s a bad thing?

      • so-in-so

        She’s the worst neo-liberal that ever neo-liberaled.

        Plus, she’s a… a…. a WOMAN!

        Don't you see?

      • Spiny

        These types of voters always believe that their chosen demon candidate will have the absolute power to enact policy planks the voter hates, and no power at all to enact policy planks the voter grudgingly likes. The reverse is true for their chosen angel third party candidate. So it has been ever since the first leftier-than-thou neanderthal emerged from the cave and became Ron Paul-curious.

    • Matt McIrvin

      I’ve seen progressives passing around a John Pilger essay arguing that Clinton is the greater danger.

    • nemdam

      This shouldn’t be surprising since Jill Stein is now on record multiple times saying she thinks Clinton is more dangerous than Trump. I believe she has now stated that Clinton wants to start a war with Russia.

      • brendalu

        Well, maybe we’ll see, since I’m hearing they just repudiated the nuclear treaty.

      • And Russian gubblement spokesthings say the same, and warn US voters to go for Trump, so that’s independent corroboration.

  • Warren Terra

    You may disparage Paste Magazine as being to journalism what its namesake is to cuisine … but did you know that no less an authority than The Christian Science Monitor has adjudicated them to be “America’s finest rock-music magazine”?

    • Or just middle-brow, as we used to say:

      “The exhaustive, eclectic read is full of smart, insightful and occasionally funny writing. It’s hip without being too cool for school, exhaustive and far-reaching without being irrelevant or obsessed with minutiae and discerning and smart without being overly intellectual.”
      —MediaBistro

      • Warren Terra

        I like the part where the page lists awards it has won, but not the years in which it won them.

    • BigHank53

      In their defense, they do have some very well produced stuff on their YouTube channel.

    • sergius

      I used to subscribe to Paste in their early days when they still published a physical magazine, and I can attest that it has always been middlebrow. My tastes did overlap with theirs, but I got tired of reading the same boring reviews and articles. I canceled a few years before they went all digital in 2010. ETA I’m talking about their music and movie stuff, not their journalism. IIRC I don’t think they dabbled in politics much back in the print magazine days.

  • grouchomarxist

    “In summary … we got nuthin’.”

    The leaks confirm that political machines have returned to American politics.

    How I long for that glorious bygone age when political machines took a vacation from American politics … oh, wait a second …

    Hillary as Boss Tweed — now that’s how you do retro!

    • Hillary as Boss Tweed — now that’s how you do

      steampunk.

    • Richard Hershberger

      Fun fact: Tammany Hall sponsored the Mutual Base Ball Club, one of the top clubs of the 1860s. John Wildey, a New York City Coroner, was the club president, and parked players in fake jobs in the coroner’s office. Boss Tweed would pop up occasionally at games, and reportedly would bankroll it as needed.

  • Warren Terra

    I liked the bit in the (Brag/Good)man article where they inserted an “Authors’ note”, in italics so it will stand out.

    Just to be clear: that paragraph was written by the authors, as opposed to the rest of the piece, which I suppose was authored by the writers.

    • so-in-so

      Bots. They use bots to crank out the rest of the material.

      • Colin Day

        Aren’t bots bound by some kind of logic?

        • weirdnoise

          As the Microsoft twitterbot demonstrated, if you expose machine learning algorithms to dreck, they’ll dutifully pick it right up.

  • Murc

    As a dyed-in-the-wool Sandernista, these people are embarrassing to me.

    What’s most annoying is the way that the turds are floating in what would otherwise be perfectly good soup. Bragman’s column, for example, makes a number of perfectly true and salient criticisms regarding regulatory capture and Congresses abdication of its governing responsibility. (These points are utterly banal and have been made many times before but are often worth reiterating.)

    He also raises a number of issues that, yes, are things us progressives are going to need to keep an eye on while Clinton is in office; she’s always been far too friendly to corporate America, the Wikileaks dump did have stuff in it that ought to be making progressives go “okay, yeah, we’re going to need to keep an eye on this,” and it can be difficult to discern what Clinton is willing to go to the mat for and what positions she’s adopting out of political convenience. Where is pressure going to need to be applied? How is it going to need to be applied?

    Fine. Well and good.

    But there’s also stuff in there that’s just… I mean, he spends like five paragraphs railing against the hurdles placed in front of regulatory agencies to hinder them from promulgating new regulations. Then spends a bunch more paragraphs talking about how regulations are impermanent and can be changed at the whim of future Presidential administrations. Coupled with the stuff about regulatory capture, one would seem to come to the conclusion that he’s trying to make the point that regulatory agencies are bad and that Congress should make laws rather than delegate its power to agencies.

    But he doesn’t explicitly come out in favor of that. It’s not hard to see why not; Congress has never, ever operated in this fashion. It will often pass laws in response to pressing crises or to implement policy, but since the founding of the Republic it has often take the approach of telling the Executive Branch “here is a mandate, here is a budget. Go. Do your thing. Hire experts. If we don’t like what you’re doing, we’ll jerk your chain.” Or does Bragman really want all our regulations to have to flow throw Congress and the White House in the form of traditional laws? Because I can basically guarantee you he wouldn’t like that. He wouldn’t like that at all.

    He also would not like it if regulatory agencies could just pull the trigger on anything they wanted without a period of public comment. That lets industry groups marshal their forces, true. It also lets progressive lobbying groups do the same thing! An extended period of public comment was very helpful for things like the net neutrality rules.

    And as Scott says, this:

    it is clear that progressives under the Sanders umbrella were right all along: President Clinton would be a status quo candidate. She would govern as President Obama has, largely through administrative agencies rather than by pushing sweeping legislation through Congress.

    Is just nuts. Yes. This is an utterly true statement with regard to Clinton. Her politics are, basically, Obama’s politics. A little to the right on foreign policy but basically his. She would, by and large, govern as he governed. And she’d do that through the regulatory apparatus.

    You know what? So would have Sanders.

    Sanders would have gotten jack and shit through Congress, and for the same reasons Clinton will get jack and shit through Congress. (Offer void if we actually retake the House.) He, too, would have had to govern through the regulatory agencies. Would he do a better job at this than Clinton will? I absolutely think so; that’s why I voted for him. But I voted for him because I thought he’d put some real fire-eaters into the EPA and the DOJ and Treasury and work the executive branch hard, not because I thought he was going to walk into a joint session of Congress, toss a manifesto called “The New, Newer, Bestest Deal” in front of them, make a Sorkinesque speech, and then they’d pass socialism into law and we’d all be happy forever.

    If that’s why Bragman voted for him he’s an idiot.

    As for the Goodman article… I’m not even going to discuss that in depth. Like Bragman, there are individual bits in there that are of merit. But the bullshit-to-merit ratio is so much higher than in Bragman’s piece, and Goodman’s history of making batshit insane statements means that even his points that seem reasonable (of which there are few) need to be looked at with narrowed eyes.

    They both seem to have calmed down since the fever swamp days of the primary. Normal. To be expected. We’ve all cooled down somewhat since then. But they’re both… I don’t want to say naive, but they seem to have a remarkably blinkered view of how politics works. I’ve read their work before, and I’m part of their target audience, so I ought to be receptive to their message.

    But every time I start to think “Hey, this guy has a point” they toss out something that reflects a Schoolhouse Rock level of understanding of politics. “Political machines have returned” is the sort of sentence that could only be written by someone who doesn’t get that all politics are machine politics, have always been with us, and WILL always be with us. Not understanding that very basic point makes it hard to take further points coming from the same person seriously.

    • Warren Terra

      1) You really need to boil it down, or break it up.
      2) Re this, from before I gave up:

      the Wikileaks dump did have stuff in it that ought to be making progressives go “okay, yeah, we’re going to need to keep an eye on this,”

      Pshaw. The Wikileaks “dump” – an apt word – had nothing new in this vein. Absolutely, anyone who remembers Bill Clinton’s Presidency, or who wasn’t born yesterday, knew we need to push Hillary Clinton’s Presidency to the left and away from the corporate suites. But none of that requires Wikileaks.

      • Scott Lemieux

        You really need to boil it down, or break it up.

        Nah, I like it when Murc’s comments go longform.

        • Murc

          This may be the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me in the past decade I’ve been messing up your comments section, Scott.

      • Murc

        1) You really need to boil it down, or break it up.

        You must really hate it when Bijan and I start hurling thousand-word posts at each other, Warren. :)

      • ColBatGuano

        But none of that requires Wikileaks.

        Yup

    • “Political machines have returned” is the sort of sentence that could only be written by someone who doesn’t get that all politics are machine politics, have always been with us, and WILL always be with us.

      Well, maybe at the highest level of generality, but even then I’m not so sure. What characterised so-called machine politics in the US was the concentration of power in a few, typically unelected, political leaders with pretty systematic quid pro quos for personal benefit at every level. You typically need enough votes to be controlled by those bosses that 1) elections are uncompetitive and 2) *primaries* are non-existent or uncompetitive. (I guess you could relax the quid pro quos a bit.)

      I like how Wikipedia puts is:

      A political machine is a political organization in which an authoritative boss or small group commands the support of a corps of supporters and businesses (usually campaign workers), who receive rewards for their efforts. The machine’s power is based on the ability of the workers to get out the vote for their candidates on election day.

      Although these elements are common to most political parties and organizations, they are essential to political machines, which rely on hierarchy and rewards for political power, often enforced by a strong party whip structure. Machines sometimes have a political boss, often rely on patronage, the spoils system, “behind-the-scenes” control, and longstanding political ties within the structure of a representative democracy. Machines typically are organized on a permanent basis instead of for a single election or event.

      I think this captures your point that political machines are political so many elements you find in political machines are, unsurprisingly, normal elements of politics.

      I also think it’s worth pointing out that the mere existence of a machine doesn’t mean it’s bad or corrupt, though that sort of concentration of power is prone to corruption.

      Disciplined parties can look like machines, but, for example, it’s pretty clear that Labour isn’t a political machine even though Corbyn commands a decisive majority of the members. I mean, the turmoil alone suggests not :) but also the people voting for him are genuinely attracted to him. He’s definitely not fungible. (Now, perhaps how they are attracted is problematic…e.g., he may be fostering a cult of personality. That wouldn’t make Labour a machine unless Corbyn did some work to turn it into one.)

      ETA: Just meeting the quota.

      • DAS

        What if instead a local party being controlled by a hierarchy with an unelected boss at top, the local party is controlled by a clique of individuals (some of whom are elected, some of whom are, shall we say, donor responsive, and some just have free time on their hands and spend it at party “club” meetings)? Is that a machine if it acts just like a machine except it doesn’t have a boss?

        • Well, the Wikipedia article allows for a clique instead of a boss, so yeah. And I think this is sorta more typical. So sure.

          I think more characteristic is the control over the popular vote and of the candidates. The difference between a good modern GOTV effort and a machine GOTV might be subtle at the margin and more a matter of execution rather than strictly of structure.

          • Check this:

            http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/06/walking-around-money-how-machine-politics-works-in-america-today/276503/

            Walking around money seems very machinesque though I think you can have paid canvassers without becoming a machine.

            I wonder if you could characterise it by distribution of compensation, i.e., the larger the ratio of paid (directly or indirectly) to volunteer staff, or some such.

            • DAS

              Because “urban Democratic political machines are corrupt” is such an established meme that enframes political thinking, the continued stranglehold Democratic clubs have on urban politics is bad if only because it’s horrid PR for Democrats. Still, I can’t think of anything even our worst machine politicians do that is corrupt by the standards implicitly laid forth in Citizens United.

              OTOH GOP political machines are corrupt in ways that would make Justice Kennedy blush, but only recently are their activities getting any exposure.

              • Because “urban Democratic political machines are corrupt” is such an established meme that enframes political thinking, the continued stranglehold Democratic clubs have on urban politics is bad if only because it’s horrid PR for Democrats.

                Or the reverse, it’s so established the whether its corrupt or not doesn’t matter to the PR. Just like HRC’s truthfulness.

                (Now, of course, we shouldn’t be corrupt and HRC should be truthful, but there’s no PR benefit.)

              • Manny Kant

                Still, I can’t think of anything even our worst machine politicians do that is corrupt by the standards implicitly laid forth in Citizens United.

                My erstwhile congressman Chaka Fattah would beg to differ, I suspect.

              • efgoldman

                Because “urban Democratic political machines are corrupt” is such an established meme

                Of course they are, but who do they think found (or assigned) the jobs for millions of new immigrants around the turn of the 20th century?

          • DAS

            I would say that entrenched political machines only need to engage in GOTV efforts occasionally. Why do you need to GOTV if your candidate runs unopposed in the primaries and the other political party is marginal in your locality. The main function of the modern political machine is to groom friendly candidates for office and stifle support for opposition candidates. If no one supports the opposition, why GOTV for your candidates?

            Of course the lack of good GOTV efforts by local machines in heavily Democratic areas hurts us nationally, especially in swing states. It would hurt us even more if the President were elected by popular vote and if Congressional districts were more competitive.

            • MPAVictoria

              “Of course the lack of good GOTV efforts by local machines in heavily Democratic areas hurts us nationally, especially in swing states. It would hurt us even more if the President were elected by popular vote and if Congressional districts were more competitive.”

              Unions used to provide a lot of that turnout muscle. I wonder if some of the more centrist/right Democrats ever consider that?

              • FlipYrWhig

                I wonder if any of the people who long for the return of union influence ever consider that unions decided to piss away their influence with the Democratic Party over the desire to remain aggressively wrong about Vietnam and civil rights 50 years ago.

            • I would say that entrenched political machines only need to engage in GOTV efforts occasionally. Why do you need to GOTV if your candidate runs unopposed in the primaries and the other political party is marginal in your locality. The main function of the modern political machine is to groom friendly candidates for office and stifle support for opposition candidates. If no one supports the opposition, why GOTV for your candidates?

              Historically, a key point of the machine was turn out and a key mechanism of corruption was voter fraud (ballot stuffing, dead voters, etc.). So I’m hard pressed to separate GOTV from machine politics as traditionally understood.

              Machines don’t leave things to chance and massive votes are part of the game.

              That being said, if you are in an entirely non-competitive area, then you don’t need much GOTV with or without a machine.

              • Manny Kant

                Also: machines may seen an interest in using GOTV to curry favor with the state and national parties. The Philly Democratic machine doesn’t really need to GOTV for mayoral general elections, or whatever, but it’s absolutely in their interest to do that for gubernatorial and presidential elections.

      • gmack

        I haven’t worked this thought out fully, so apologies if it’s overly cryptic. But something I’ve been mulling over lately is the idea that elements of the Trump campaign (particularly its complete reliance on mass media and spectacle) is what politics looks like once we eliminate the traditional elements of party politics, many of which are, as you say, found in machine politics as well. Which is to say: my current working hypothesis is that a healthy electoral politics needs professional middlemen and party insiders that mediate between elected politicians and various constituencies.

        • JohnT

          I think that this is clearly happening. One obvious bit of writing on the wall: this must be the first election in a long time where both parties’ candidates have a) had high name recognition and celebrity stretching back at least 20 years and b) where that fame was not originally derived from their personal political achievements (Clinton has obviously had a successful traditional political career, but the starting point for that (and the source of her extraordinarily high profile) is her marriage.

          Barack Obama showed that with enough talent one can make it to the presidency without having been a household name beforehand, but I think it is really worth noting that of the 10 elections held from 1980-2016 only 2 or 3 (Bill Clinton, Obama and maybe GWH Bush) were not won by the person with the ‘household names’. Reagan was a famous actor, George W a president’s son and namesake, and H Clinton (assuming all goes well) a President’s wife. The parties did not make them, as they made figures like Carter, Ford, Nixon etc

          I know this is not new (e.g. Eisenhower) but it does seem to be accelerating.

          • ajay

            That is a really interesting observation. A few comments, though:

            –“He was famous before he got into politics” would apply to Reagan, for sure, but to George W. Bush? I don’t think he was famous before he became Governor of Texas.

            –You’re talking about the 1980-2016 period and that’s a lot of elections, but it isn’t so many candidates because (of course) presidents ran for re-election. Really it’s only three out of six winning candidates (including both Clintons).

            — In as much as this is a phenomenon at all, it’s definitely a new one. “He was famous before he got into politics” would definitely apply to Eisenhower, as you say, and also to Jackson, Grant and Hoover (famine relief), but I can’t think of any others, and certainly no others in the last hundred years.

            — If we restrict it to “famous for at least 20 years” I don’t think there are any others. Eisenhower wasn’t famous in 1932, nor was Grant in 1848.

            • JohnT

              All your observations seem right – the context for the second point (3 out of 10 elections) is to keep the post in line with the one it’s replying to.

              The name recognition (a critical requirement in modern US elections) of 1988 Bush (ish), 1992 Clinton and 2008 Obama was due overwhelmingly to their selection by their parties, and so they could be considered products of their parties. This is less true for Reagan, G W Bush, and H Clinton (and obvious Trump), and nor did it apply to any of the presidents running for a second term – their parties needed them, not the other way round.

              Put another way, the 1992 and 2008 elections were the only ones won by someone whose name was not already known by at least half the population before the primary election process began (and since 1981 Bill Clinton is the only candidate to beat someone with a name unambiguously better known than his own).

              • ajay

                Put another way, the 1992 and 2008 elections were the only ones won by someone whose name was not already known by at least half the population before the primary election process began

                And 2000. Did half the population really know the name of the governor of Texas? The only way he gets “name recognition” is because he had the same name as a previous president!

                • JohnT

                  Call me cynical but a) yes, a lot of low informed voters probably did get him mixed up with his dad and b) many people voted for him out of affection for the ‘family firm’. If Michelle Obama ran soon she’d get a whole whack of votes too.

            • Manny Kant

              Zachary Taylor had never even voted before voting for himself in 1848. So certainly him in addition to the ones you name. TR was kind of a politico all his life, but he became famous for the Rough Riders before he really got into electoral politics.

          • kped

            George HW Bush was famous when he won…he was the Vice President for 8 years, he was most certainly “known”. Really, only Obama and Clinton meet your criteria.

            • ajay

              George HW Bush was famous when he won…he was the Vice President for 8 years, he was most certainly “known”.

              But that fame was derived from his career in politics. JohnT’s point is that Reagan and Trump were famous before they ever got into politics.

              • John F

                Also Reagan had been a Governor and ran for POTUS several times before clearing the hurdle, in 1980 he wasn’t an actor running for office, he was an experienced politician/ ex-Governor, who used to be an actor in a former life, running for office.

                • ajay

                  Well, the same is true of Clinton in that case. She’s run for President before, she’s been a senator and secretary of state. She’s been in politics (on her own account, not as first lady) for longer now than Reagan had in 1980.

        • I was having the same thought! For a while there was nothing at all, no fundraising, nothing. Now it has some rudimentary stuff, but critically Trump isn’t functioning as a normal candidate in any way.

          • kped

            Well, he is following the time honored tradition of inviting the sitting Presidents half brother to the third debate, so he’s not completely unconventional…

            (I love it because no matter how I look at it..it doesn’t make sense. Is Hillary supposed to be rattled by it? Does she even know what he looks like? This is definitely Bannon’s move. It feels like a nonsense Breitbart play that works if you are deep in the hive mind, but doesn’t work for the other 70% of the population).

            • Yeah!

              It’s bizarre even for him. I mean, he’s not running against Obama. Why would HRC be rattled by Obama’s kooky half brother?!

              I mean, Trump is supported by the actual Kenyan Obama not the American Obama! Is it some sort of birther move?!

              Unintelligible.

              • kped

                I imagine it like the end of Chinatown:

                “Forget it Bijan, it’s Breitbart”

              • so-in-so

                Having denounced his own birtherism, Trump now seeks to prove that Obama isn’t an American, by making clear that the really Kenyan half brother supports Trump. No, I don’t see where even in the fever swamps that makes sense.

                • Colin Day

                  What makes you nelieve it’s supposed to make sense?

              • If Chewbacca lives in Kenya, you must acquit!

        • efgoldman

          a healthy electoral politics needs professional middlemen and party insiders that mediate between elected politicians and various constituencies.

          Well, yes. You need politicians to do politics properly; you need drivers to do truck driving properly; you need doctors and nurses to do medicine properly….
          The RWNJ conceit that any fool can do politics is one among many harmful things they have foisted on the rest of us.

      • Murc

        Well, maybe at the highest level of generality, but even then I’m not so sure. What characterised so-called machine politics in the US was the concentration of power in a few, typically unelected, political leaders with pretty systematic quid pro quos for personal benefit at every level.

        You know what, Bijan, when you’re right you’re right. I overstated my case to an extent. But only to an extent, I think.

        I also think it’s worth pointing out that the mere existence of a machine doesn’t mean it’s bad or corrupt, though that sort of concentration of power is prone to corruption.

        This is going to be one of these denotation/connotation things. The denotation of political machine is of course a neutral descriptor, but it carries with it the connotation of smoke-filled rooms and corrupt deals and brown envelopes filled with small-denomination non-sequential bills.

        It’s why you always describe your opponents operations as machines, but your own operations as a movement. :)

        That said, sophisticated political commentators, which Bragman and Goodman pretend to be, are supposed to know better.

        I mean, the turmoil alone suggests not :) but also the people voting for him are genuinely attracted to him. He’s definitely not fungible.

        You know, the question of how fungible Corbyn, Sanders, and Trump are is an interesting one, isn’t it?

        From my perspective, it seems that it is manifestly true that all those candidates were vehicles for pre-existing political sentiment that was looking for an outflow… but it also seems true that once that political sentiment finds a standard-bearer, he doesn’t become easily replaceable; any Not-Trump selling the same thing Trump is selling would probably have done as well, but once Trump actually got in, he is not replaceable with a generic store brand version.

        Fungiblility may be a quantum state, sometimes there, sometimes not.

        • (I agree with most of your quibbles, esp. with the generally pejorative nature of “political machine”, but *you* weren’t using it that way :) And I do think it’s a useful concept even if we need to ditch the term. Cf gmack’s comment below.)

          From my perspective, it seems that it is manifestly true that all those candidates were vehicles for pre-existing political sentiment that was looking for an outflow

          I think it’s temporal. There’s a potential which doesn’t actualise with arbitrary people, but with people of a certain profile (outsider, more extreme views, “principled”). Up until this point, assuming they are roughly equally competent, they’re fungible.

          Once they’ve caught the wave, we have a path dependence, because part of the wave’s dynamics is over investing in the particular avatar of it. This is esp. true when the wave includes a deep *personal* dissatisfaction.

        • Oh, one reason to separate out machine politics (MP) the concept is that it is analytically useful. For example, people talked about Clinton’s clearing the field and early super delegate pledges as a kind of MP…and bad as a result. This made the idea that the DNC was fixing the primary more plausible.

          But…the Democratic primaries are exactly a non-machine situation. The super delegates follow the votes. The DNC officials are both pretty neutral and…well…basically don’t have any power. The candidates have to do a ton of retail politics and sometimes that’s not as effective as you’d like! The clearing of the field didn’t come from a cabal saying to all likely candidates, “It’s her turn” but from independent assessments. Heck, if his family tragedy hadn’t happened, Biden might have given it a go.

          Now, “not a machine” doesn’t mean “non-broken”. Caucuses are pretty broken but most of them, afaict, aren’t machiney (they are shouty, but largely decentralised).

          Indeed, the “Party Decides” hypothesis was pretty much how you can get some elite control in a non-PM like way (e.g., through signalling).

    • MPAVictoria

      Just wanted to say I thought this was an excellent comment Murc. None of what has come out of the Wikileaks emails should be a surprise to anyone with even the most basic awareness of how politics works.

      • John F

        Yes, even most RWNJs are having trouble using these emails, just nothing there.

      • Murc

        I try. Sometimes I get out of my own way.

        You know what my favorite parts of those emails are? The banal, day-to-day ones. I saw one a few days ago that was Clinton putting her office lunch order in to the guy making the food run; one hot dog, sans bun.

        That was great. Someone who orders a hot dog without a bun must really want that hot dog, because there’s no dignified way to cut one up on your plate and eat it with a knife and fork; you always end up looking like you’re about three.

        Clinton doesn’t care. She wants her hot dog and she’ll eat it however she likes.

        I don’t much care for Clinton. That’s why, I think, it is important that I be reminded periodically she isn’t a lizard person, she’s just a person.

  • Hells Littlest Angel

    The same issue of Paste has an article about the Shaggs, claiming they were brilliant musicians who knew exactly what they were doing.

    It must be hard for a contrarian some days.

    • Origami Isopod

      Didn’t Frank Zappa also praise the Shaggs?

      • JohnnyPez

        Cobain loved them too, but that’s not the same thing as claiming they knew what they were doing. The whole point of championing the Shaggs is to make the point that there’s a certain exhilarating freedom in being utterly incompetent.

  • AndersH

    A Few Good Mans

  • Owlbear1

    Are telling me that nowadays politicians try to obtain endorsements by meeting with people and then treat people who offer endorsements better than people who do not endorse them?

    People would involuntarily swoon for the one true candidate.

    Just Sayin’

    • (((Malaclypse)))

      Well, they would have, but D W-S has their grandkids locked in a dungeon, so they had to keep their swooning to themselves.

    • Derelict

      People who don’t endorse Republican politicians may find that they develop “traffic problems” at their main bridge.

  • Manju

    I’m just popping in to say I clicked the Paste link and learned; “The Nobel Prize Committee Have Given Up on Trying to Get in Touch with Bob Dylan”.

    He outdid Jean-Paul Sartre. Give this fellow a MacArthur.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      Dylan must have got his fill of Scandinavians growing up in Minnesota

      • Manju

        That explains why he never wrote “Scandinavian Homesick Blues”.

        • Davis X. Machina

          +61

    • Caepan

      They do know he’s on tour, right? There’s a schedule and everything.

      Just spitballin’ here, but maybe the Nobel Prize Committee could send a rep to one of Bob’s shows? Maybe they could even score a backstage pass.

  • georgekaplan

    This is what our national addiction to “authenticity” has brought us to: a journalistic corps that is (I do believe) genuinely shocked to find out that politics is—and the irony in what I’m about to say hurts my teeth—run like a business. But then their idea of “business” is equally whacked. For heaven’s sake they’re still wanting to believe that Donald Trump is good at it.

    I am so fucking sick of American culture’s lingering fascination with the myths that the Roman Republic spun about itself. That’s whom I blame ultimately. The founding of this country got all mixed up with neo-classicism and copying the Pantheon and retelling stories out of Livy about plain simple farmers who selflessly gave themselves up to public service. Every politician since has pretended, to a greater or lesser degree, to be Cincinnatus. It was rubbish even back then, as Sulla and Caesar and finally that weasel Octavian were to prove. And it’s killing us now.

    • Origami Isopod

      +709 AUC

    • tsam

      out of Livy about plain simple farmers who selflessly gave themselves up to public service.

      Well, that’s always been a problem with the proles. We share bullshit stories about the happiest man in the kingdom having no shirt (translation: Be happy in your poverty and malnutrition), about self-reliance (The pioneer spirit, going it alone–except for the US Army who was more than happy to come out and eradicate a tribe of natives) and finally the idea that one puts down the plow and serves as a lawmaker, which is just plain fucking silly.

  • jpgray

    Coalition-building, back-scratching and quid pro quo APART from policy stances are, still, part of politics. The idea that their day has passed or that they represent an unnecessary stultifying status quo is sweet-tasting garbage for the purity crowd to eat up, tasting sweet as long as it comforts us to feel offended and righteous – so forever? A little history would be a useful corrective:

    Without overstating, Campaign FDR in 1932 was Mr. Status Quo, Captain Conventional and Welcome to the Machine in many ways.

    “Hey I’m no Catholic!
    “Gov’t costs too much! Let’s eliminate some of it!
    “Whoa, Hoover, you spend way too much, son! What do you think, Garner?”

    “Yeah, what is he trying to do, lead us into socialism?”

    “I know, right?”

    • Davis X. Machina

      In Maine we have this down to a science:

      Get the parties out of politics.
      Get the politicians out of politics.
      Get the politics out of politics.

      • Scott Lemieux

        At least it’s working out well, and you don’t have a Trumpian maniac as your governor or anything.

  • cleek

    She would govern as President Obama has, largely through administrative agencies rather than by pushing sweeping legislation through Congress.

    and people wonder if there could ever be support for a Trump-like figure on the left.

    • BigHank53

      Stupid people always assume that Dear Leader will devote himself to all their biases and favorite targets, regardless of their political orientation.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        it’s weird how many people on this side of the thing seem to grasp the idea they are part of a larger coalition yet also seem to think they sit front and center of every photo and that their concerns should be the primary concerns of the coalition’s leadership

  • Welcome my son, welcommmmme toooo the machine…

  • DAS

    BTW, if one is upset with the amount of quid pro quo in government, one’s first priority should be getting Citizens United overturned. What HA! and Bragman argue is machine politics at its worst is exactly how Kennedy thinks democracy should work. But how does opposing Clinton get us a better SCOTUS?

    • ASV

      Perhaps you haven’t heard — talking about the courts is just a scare tactic.

      • Scott Lemieux

        BLACKMAIL!

    • Tyto

      You also haven’t heard, apparently, that Clinton will not–NOT–nominate “left-leaning” judges.

      ETA: Imagine the above in Courier.

  • IM

    Walker Bragman is a really Dickensian name.

    • Colin Day

      Walker Bragman is a really Dickensian name.

      FTFY

  • Harkov311

    I love how he says that politicians meeting with each other and endorsing each other is somehow “political machines returning to American politics.” Truly, Clinton in the new Boss Tweed, asking a mayor in her own party for support…and then receiving it!

    And on to Bragman…

    She would govern as President Obama has, largely through administrative agencies rather than by pushing sweeping legislation through Congress.

    Yes, truly Obama was an abysmal failure for not using his secret mind control powers to make Boehner and Ryan do his bidding without question.

    • DW

      Just goes to show you how lazy and feckless that Obama is!

    • John F

      They show similar thinking to those RWNJs who are incandescent with rage at Boehner for failing to repeal Obamacare when he had the chance, at the House GOP for failing to impeach Hillary the day after Benghazi, etc etc.

      I literally do not think the Congressional GOP could have done any more than it did to obstruct Obama, they literally did everything within their power short of an actual coup- and it’s not nearly enough for the “base” – they have zero comprehension as to how US politics actually works.

      The pros who actually know things know that to simply pass what you want you have to to have the POTUS, both Houses of Congress and majority on SCOTUS (very rare occurrences)- otherwise you have to make deals.

      These guys come across as people who have never NEGOTIATED anything with someone else ever, it’s always all or nothing, take it or leave it. I’m a litigator, most litigation settles- if for no other reason that litigation is tedious and most people are actually reasonable if pushed, but every now and then you run into people who you can’t negotiate or settle with- not simply because they are pissed off (those people can get worn down like everyone else) – some it’s because they really are delusional- but you have people who will not make a single solitary concession, even though they know it’s possible that they can lose – they literally see compromise as a moral failing, something that they literally cannot do- they really would rather take a 75% chance of getting nothing than accept “only” 90% of what they want- and they don’t even agonize over it- God how I pity the people in such a person’s life.

  • D.N. Nation

    Back when Paste had a print edition (RIP), I had a few friends who worked there. It was a good little rock magazine, sort of a Pitchfork Without The Hipster Barriers To Entry kind of vibe. Sad what it’s become. This is cargo cult nonsense. They saw the toxic brew of smug bro nihilism and maudlin faux-populist dress-up that the Rolling Stone gets with Taibbi/Lund and thought, hey, we can do that too, using the duct tape and chewing gum rig that constitutes their in-house staff and freelancers. Hard pass.

    e: The complaints about rigging and party machinery are effing RICH coming from the same people who said that the Democrats should throw out all primary votes and install Bernie as the nominee because reasons. They pushed that as an actual strategy.

    • Scott Lemieux

      The key differences being that 1)Taibbi/Lund can actually write and 2)while they skirt the edges of Bern It Downism they never fall in.

    • mpavilion

      luv this, so on the nose: “the toxic brew of smug bro nihilism and maudlin faux-populist dress-up that the Rolling Stone gets with Taibbi/Lund”

  • BethRich52

    I was taught in law school that administrative action ususally follows the authorizing legislation. Amazing how that happens.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Before Barack Obama, statutory requirements were magically self-executing!

  • JL

    The leaks confirm that political machines have returned to American politics.

    I’m going to assume that neither of these people live in Massachusetts (you could substitute a number of cities or states in here), otherwise they would not be using the verb “returned” or considering this a revelation.

  • Joe_JP

    The Wikileaks stuff seems to be of this quality — we get the thrill of seeing the inside of the Clinton political machine. As Chris Geidner’s tweets on DOMA suggest, some of this is interesting to some extent. But, it shouldn’t be shocking or anything, even if a few people have the vapors. And, as Lessig recently noted, the invasion of privacy (see also release of names of rape victims) involved is concerning. There is a proper realm of privacy here. We don’t have some “right” to know the inner workings of political campaigns especially to get this sort of “news.”

    • so-in-so

      This has been Wikileaks all along. The Manning data wasn’t sorted and released as “look, here is something really bad that someone did!”. It was just a huge dump that buried the “American military kills civilians in Afgan theater” under mounds of “minor embassy flunky says something unflattering about leader of country X”.

      In this case, why would any sane group release an email about Risotto as part of trying to make a campaign look corrupt.

  • Lost Left Coaster

    I agree with them — we need a candidate who is pure of politics. That’s why I’m voting for Jill Stein — she’s so pure of politics, she’s never even met with anyone, let alone secured anyone’s endorsement. Furthermore, she is so pure that she doesn’t even really have a platform in any meaningful way. She’s so pure she hasn’t even stooped to the level of having a basic understanding of how government works. That’s the kind of purity we need these days.

    • Joe_JP

      John Oliver did a service in his last episode to take her seriously and show that basic lack of understanding. Ditto Gary Johnson, though seems a bit more “who cares” sentiment there.

      • Lost Left Coaster

        Yes, I saw that episode, and it was excellent. What really struck me about Stein is that she is, besides ignorant, a shameless panderer. And Johnson, besides being pretty dumb and hopelessly inarticulate, also seems to be a real jerk at heart.

  • Yankee

    In my feed they just say IT’S HORRIBLE STUFF! THIS IS IT! without feeling the need to get particular. Had a discussion about a screenshot where somebody (who?) is suggesting sanctions to pressure Saudi Arabia to play nice in Libya which shows HRC is getting paid of by ISIS, or vice versa. IT’S SO OBVIOUS!

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