Hillary at State: Boehner’s a Drunk, Let’s Impeach Clarence Thomas!

by Jim Geraghty

Our Brendan Bordelon reads Hillary Clinton’s e-mails so that you don’t have to:

New e-mails from Hillary Clinton’s private server released late Monday night by the State Department reveal the increasingly nasty tone and tactics deployed by her shadow adviser, Sidney Blumenthal, with the close Clinton confidant blasting Obama senior adviser David Axelrod, savaging Republican leader John Boehner, and suggesting ways to impeach African-American Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas . . .

Blumenthal was an equal-opportunity offender, singling out Republican John Boehner — then still Republican minority leader — for scorching criticism. “Boehner is despised by the younger, more conservative members of the House Republican Conference,” he wrote in a post-midterm autopsy on November 2, 2010. “They are repelled by his personal behavior. He is louche, alcoholic, lazy, and without any commitment to any principle. . . . He is careworn and threadbare, banal and hollow, holding nobody’s enduring loyalty.”

Then she and Blumenthal discussed a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision.

So these are the non-personal, work-related e-mails she didn’t delete?

Generational Economic Changes Are Bigger than Any Presidential Candidate

These are the sort of thoughts that come to mind when a bunch of conservative bloggers get together and start arguing about Donald Trump . . .

Americans came to think of the economic conditions of the postwar boom — low unemployment, easy entry into the workplace, job stability, considerable purchasing power and lots of consumer goods, high exports, good pensions, etc. as “normal.” What no one wanted to really acknowledge was how rare our advantage of that era was: We were an intact first-world economy on a planet where almost every other country was rebuilding from being blasted to hell during World War II.

Decade by decade, the rest of the world caught up and offered economic competition, primarily in the form of cheaper labor. The debate between trade and protectionism was largely one among elites. Non-wonk Americans lamented the decline of manufacturing jobs while buying Japanese (and then Chinese, Korean, and Taiwanese) electronics, German and Japanese cars, etc. Free trade is terrific for consumers but not so great when somebody overseas can do your job for less money. From where I sit, it’s on the whole advantageous but horrible if it’s your job being “outsourced” overseas.

The public’s interest would briefly stir for NAFTA or Most Favored Nation status for China, but by and large, Americans either applauded globalization, loved its benefits but lamented its costs without ever connecting the two, or just ignored it.

For a while, Americans were told that the graduate-high-school-and-go-to-the-widget-factory-assembly-line life model was disappearing, but was being replaced with a better one: graduate-from-college-and-go-to-the-white-collar-job. In fact, it was so much better, it was worth taking on tens of thousands or even $150,000 in debt, because you would make more money over the course of your lifetime.

And then, sometime around the Great Recession, that deal changed, too. Companies realized they didn’t need that many entry-level positions (or they could shift it to unpaid labor in the form of internships). Undoubtedly, some colleges let their standards slide, and too many young people focused on basket-weaving, gender studies, or humanities majors and found themselves with a degree that didn’t translate well to the needs of the job market. A dramatic expansion of unskilled labor in the form of illegal immigration put the squeeze on another corner of the workforce; automation did even more. For many, that path to the good life seems steeper, rockier, and less clear than their parents ever faced.

Some folks at the top of the economic pyramid were or are quite comfortable with the new arrangement, offering perspectives like, “if the transformation of the world economy lifts four people in China and India out of poverty and into the middle class, and meanwhile means one American drops out of the middle class, that’s not such a bad trade,” and, “We demand a higher paycheck than the rest of the world. So if you’re going to demand 10 times the paycheck, you need to deliver 10 times the value. It sounds harsh, but maybe people in the middle class need to decide to take a pay cut.” An American company may not self-identify as all that American anymore, and certainly doesn’t feel much obligation to put a national interest ahead of the bottom line.

These are giant, sweeping problems that are best measured on generational time-frames and go well beyond one law or one president or lawmaker. This change is tied to our nation’s long, slow, painful slide from a system of public schools where kids were likely to get at least a “good enough” education to prepare them for the workforce to one where public schools range from excellent to abysmal. It’s tied to the U.S. going from a nation of 14 million immigrants in 1980 (both legal and illegal, 6.2 percent of the population) to 40 million immigrants in 2010 (12.9 percent). It’s tied to changing from a world with one primary, stable, relatively predictable antagonist (the Soviet Union) to an asymmetric, multinational, amorphous, adaptive slate of demonic foes like ISIS and al Qaeda. And it’s tied up in going from a relative monoculture influenced by Judeo-Christian values and identities to a cultural Balkanization where the counterculture became the dominant culture, then shattered itself.

Ultimately, electing a better president is one step on the road — an important one, but only one. A lot of this comes down to what Americans expect of themselves. Do we want to compete in the global economy, and if not, are we willing to live with the consequences of closing ourselves off from the rest of the world? Are we willing to study hard to be qualified for good jobs and work hard once we get them? Are our companies willing to see themselves as national institutions instead of global ones? Are employers willing to show greater loyalty to their employees, and are their employees willing to reciprocate?

It would be spectacular if we could shake the country out of its fascination with caudillo-like figures. You would hope people would have learned from the experience of electing Barack Obama the Lightworker, the Munificent Sun God, the first man to step down into the presidency. But no, for far too many people, the lesson is not that we shouldn’t look to a president to be our savior, it’s that we chose the wrong one — but Hillary, or Donald Trump, or Bernie Sanders will be the right savior.

Hey, Remember When Conservatives Opposed Bailouts, Stimulus, & Pay Limits?

Does it matter to Trump fans that their man was a pretty big cheerleader for the stimulus, bailouts, and limiting executive pay? Here he is back in February 2009:

Larry King: Is Obama right or wrong to go after these executives with salary caps?

Donald Trump: Well, I think he’s absolutely right. Billions of dollars is being given to banks and others. You know, once you start using taxpayer money, it’s a whole new game. So I absolutely think he’s right.

King: What about the whole concept of bailouts?

Trump: Well, it’s a little bit different. A lot of people are not in favor of bailouts. You know, we talked about all the different things going on in this country. Let’s face it, Larry, we are in a depression. If they didn’t do the bailout, you would be in depression No. 2 and maybe just as big as depression No. 1, so they really had to do something. The problem is they’re giving millions and billions of dollars to banks and the banks aren’t loaning it . . .

King: If you were in the Senate, would you vote for the stimulus plan?

Trump: Well, I’d vote for a stimulus plan. I’m not sure that all of the things in there are appropriate. Some of the little toys that they have are not really appropriate, and they’re a little surprising that they seem to want it, because the publicity on it has been terrible.

And then he said to Greta Van Susteren, after the president made the pitch for his plan, “This is a strong guy, knows what he wants, and this is what we need.”

He sounded pretty amenable to the final package when talking to Neil Cavuto . . .

CAVUTO: Are you for this Obama stimulus that was signed into law today?

TRUMP: Well, something had to be done. And whether it’s perfect or not, nothing is perfect. And it’s a whole trial-and-error thing, Neil.

Talking to Wolf Blitzer, Trump contended it was too small.

BLITZER: What about the president of the United States? How is he doing?

TRUMP: Well, he’s having a little bit of a tough time. I have great respect for him. And I love the way he ran the campaign. He’s having a few stumbles now and then. But I think he’s going to be really terrific. I certainly hope he’s going to be great. And I think he will be.

BLITZER: And you like this economic stimulus package? The banking package? The home foreclosure package? God knows, there’s so many economic issues out there.

TRUMP: Wolf, it’s a step. And it’s a big step. But relatively speaking, it’s not very much money when you look at the overall economy. But it is something he inherited, a total mess from Bush. And you know, we have to remember, he didn’t cause this problem. He’s trying to fix the problem. It’s not going to be easy. It’s very deep seeded, and it’s even beyond this country.

Do we not care about this stuff anymore? How does the guy who allegedly represents fury with business and economic elites get to endorse TARP? Why do the other guys’ deviations from conservative orthodoxy disqualify them, but Trump gets a pass?

ADDENDA: Kevin in Albequerque, a big help with the pop-culture podcast, writes up a generous review of The Weed Agency.

For regular readers of Geraghty and of conservative Twitter, there are multiple easter eggs hidden throughout the book. (I won’t give them away here, go buy a copy!) There are also numerous appearances by people you’re familiar with from C-SPAN, or cable or network news, their dialogue written so much to the way you would expect to hear as to be frightening. A certain HUD Secretary’s ability to string words and sentences together without pause for breath made me laugh out loud in-flight. A House Speaker’s ability to get caught up in discussions of technology and philosophy, to his own detriment, just makes you shake your head. These elements of dialogue benefit from Geraghty’s interactions with the subjects in his capacities at NR.

Let’s just say there’s a former House Speaker who has an admirable ability to laugh at himself and take a joke:


Most importantly, as Geraghty notes through regular references, many of the words and actions of politicians and career agency staffers are driven by actual references and occasional quotes from other . . . well, they’re not scandals, in the traditional sense . . . but they’re examples of the hand-in-glove relationships between appropriators and agencies that exist in real life. The story in The Weed Agency is fictional, but the barest sheen exists between the fiction and fact so as to both make the tale completely believable and exceptionally depressing at the same time.

In other book news, Cam and I are wrapping up the copy edits, acknowledgements, and other finishing touches on Heavy Lifting, now with the subtitle, “Grow Up, Get a Job, Raise a Family, and Other Manly Advice.” I see the pre-order price is only $20.99 with Amazon Prime, down from the cover price of $27.99, so you may want to grab it, I don’t know how long that price will last. 

The Morning Jolt

By Jim Geraghty