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Saturday, September 3, 2016

Sam Webb doesn’t get Robert Reich [feedly]

I get Robert Reich -- a social democrat (that's not a negative in this context) with a big ego and a longstanding grievance against both Clintons for being fired as Labor Secretary by Bill for not being a team player. He does not get invited to Clinton parties or events anymore. If I read the news right, he was not exactly a team player with Bernie either: first he says (on the Clinton endorsement) he will respect whatever Sanders decides -- then -- when Sanders endorses Clinton, Reich publicly criticizes him for it! Typical crappy team player. If you hang your hat on Reich, you will be disappointed.

Hillary was to the left of her husband from the beginning. ON health care, on poverty, on women, on children. She is a politician who listens, and changes her mind based on evidence: something some of her critics could take some fucking time to learn. She is, like Bill, and like Obama, also a politician focused on winning, not posturing for the narcissistic mirrors.

I did not agree with Sam Webb's skeptical, critical  stance on the Sanders campaign. But then I know Bernie Sanders and his history well. I KNOW he is not a splitter. But most out side northern New England did not know him well.

Between the working class and progressive .supporters of Sanders, and the working class and progressive supporters of Clinton, there is a majority, if it can be  organized and united, ready to reverse austerity, inequality, racism, and hold back from the slippery slopes that can lead to world war. 

Any effort that seeks to divide this unity -- such as the reprehensible, dogma drenched, posts of Rick Nagin -- should be  sanctioned.

Reich is a friend, even if unreliable
Sam is a much better friend.

John Case


Sam Webb doesn't get Robert Reich
http://peoplesworld.org/sam-webb-doesn-t-get-robert-reich/

As supporters of Hillary Clinton, we disagree with some of the assertions and implications in Sam Webb's opinion piece, Robert Reich on Hillary Clinton: too smug, too sexist, which is Sam's critique of a Robert Reich blog. For example, he says that "Hillary-hating ... is nearly a national pastime" and implies that Hillary Clinton herself did not play a key role in the Clinton Administration.

If hating Hillary were truly a "national pastime," we supporters might get discouraged. However, we are bolstered by opinion polls from around the country that show Hillary is, for the most part, ahead of Donald Trump.

In taking issue with Reich, Sam implies that Hillary was less than an equal partner in the Clinton Administration with statements such as "Reich ... assumes that what Bill did, Hillary will do. In other words, she has to not only pay for the sins of her husband, but, as a dutiful woman and wife, she is programmed to repeat them."

By implying that Hillary, herself, separately and as an individual did not play a leading, responsible role in the Clinton Administration Sam is actually discounting one of the most important items on her resume and one of the reasons we believe she is so well prepared to be President.

Reich worked in the Clinton Administration. He saw firsthand that what "Bill did" Hillary in fact, "did," too.

No one we know says Hillary Clinton "has to pay for the sins of her husband." She, herself, in all her speeches takes full responsibility for the central role she played in Bill's Administration.

To deny that she was an equal partner is to deny her credit for efforts such as trying to establish universal health care.

Is Sam trying to discourage people from supporting Clinton? We don't think so. We think he is shadow boxing a specter he calls "some" on the left and that he did not think through the possible impact of what he wrote.

As an example, he states "Reich (and some others on the left) ... are far more likely to critique - at times blast - [Clinton]. I guess they think that to do otherwise might leave them open to criticism from others on the left, thereby tarnishing what is most precious to them - their progressive and radical credentials."

Sam presents no evidence for "guessing" that Robert Reich does not write what he really thinks or that Reich is pandering to the left. For that matter, Sam does not say who exactly are the "some others on the left."

Without evidence for Sam's claim, there is no way to evaluate it. However we doubt that Reich feels a need to protect his "credentials," radical or otherwise. Moreover, as a nationally known liberal thinker he has never, to our knowledge, identified himself as a "radical."

Along with mislabeling Reich as a "radical," Sam misrepresents him. Contrary to Sam's assertion, nowhere in his piece does Reich lock "Hillary into a tightly constructed political category from which he allows her no space to escape."

On the contrary, Reich is giving Hillary advice he thinks she needs to win. He obviously thinks Hillary is flexible enough to make changes. Furthermore, in other pieces he's written, Reich has fully described how the Clinton campaign has changed in ideas and tone.

Sam seems to take the approach that the only good Hillary supporter is a Hillary-right-or-wrong supporter. But, to paraphrase one of the best known quotes in American history, Reich believes in "Hillary right or wrong. If right, to keep her right, if wrong to make her right."

Furthermore, Sam uses ad hominin attacks against Reich, accusing him of being "sexist" and "smug." Those characterizations are not really descriptive, we think, of the arguments made by Reich.

Sam also says "Reich brings no evidence to bear on his claim that Hillary is tacking to the right."

Perhaps Reich assumes his readers already have some "evidence" of that. He might be thinking that they see the newspapers or listen to the news on TV or radio or see it on the Internet. In recent weeks, among other things, Hillary has asked Henry Kissinger and George W. Bush's former Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, for their endorsements.

The media has also widely reported that Hillary is courting "moderate" voters.

Is there something "wrong with this?" Sam asks.

Reich's position is that formulating a strategy to reach "moderate" voters is counter-productive because, Reich says, "There are no longer 'moderates.' There's no longer a 'center.' There's authoritarian populism (Trump) or democratic populism (which had been Bernie's 'political revolution,' and is now up for grabs)."

Reich presents evidence to back up his claim. Even though one might question Reich's conclusion, as supporters of Hillary, we feel we must carefully consider those conclusions. After all, Reich is a leading Hillary supporter and an experienced political campaigner. His opinion matters when we are considering tactics that will be useful in the fight to get her elected.

Reich says in his piece that he's worried that Hillary Clinton does not get that the "biggest divide in American politics is no longer between the right and the left."

Sam assures us that "The biggest divide - and Hillary clearly understands this well - has never been between the right and left." However, he does not tell us how he knows what Hillary does or does not understand.

Reich, on the other hand, is abundantly qualified for describing the ideas and attitudes of both Clintons. He knew them both during their college years and has remained friends ever since.

He says, as we stated above, that he's worried that Hillary doesn't get that the "biggest divide in American politics is ... between the anti-establishment and the establishment."

Sam agrees, "the establishment/anti-establishment idea has increasingly fractured U.S. politics and shapes popular thinking."

Therefore, one would assume that Sam would urge Clinton to zero in on this "popular thinking." That's what candidates do to win elections.

But Sam strongly implies that instead of doing what needs to be done to win, Hillary is somehow adhering to Sam's personal belief that "the main political division ... is between right-wing extremism on the one side and a broad, diverse, multi-class people's movement on the other."

Sam seems to think there's a difference between what he calls a "people's movement" and what Reich calls a movement for "democratic populism."

We think that the difference between the two formulations is mainly a rhetorical one, not a real one. But in election campaigns, language means a lot.

Reich's formulation may well help lead Hillary to victory in November. On the other hand, Sam's could lessen enthusiasm for Hillary among some former Bernie Sanders supporters and other progressives. In a close election this important that could mean disaster.

Photo: AP


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