WILL HIS PREDICTION PROVE TRUE?
Temecula, CA – This story was written before the Iowa Primary
took place and is being used to gauge whether the writer, Richard
Wolffe, was correct in his assessment. Feature editor PT Rothschild
is on assignment in the field.
'This is a tale of two Clintons. Not the politicians, but the
eastern Iowa town where both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders rallied their caucus-goers on
Saturday, just nine days before the first votes are cast in the 2016
One candidate campaigned in a brightly lit elementary school where
a warm and fawning audience was penned in by large screens telling us
Hillary was Fighting For Us. That crowd was full of precinct captains
organizing methodically for Clinton’s coronation who offered more
compliments than questions to the candidate herself, staging several
attempts at a standing ovation.
Meanwhile across town...
...the other crowd included at least two dozen canvassers who had
driven several hours from Chicago to cheer for their socialist hero,
so fired up they only sat down after the candidate had been talking
for some minutes. Bernie campaigned in the dark basement of a Masonic
center where a hot and raucous audience (twice the size
of Clinton’s) was fist-pumping its way to a revolutionary Future To
One candidate stressed her experience in the Situation Room,
assessing terrorist threats against Barack Obama’s inauguration and
making fateful decisions about the assassination of Osama bin Laden.
The same barely mentioned national security.
One campaign played Katy Perry and Jill Scott; the other played
Willie Nelson and David Bowie.
As they enter their final week of campaigning in Iowa,
the two Democratic front-runners are turning out very different
versions of the same party in the same state. Both can make a
credible claim to feeling that victory is within reach, depending on
which polls you choose to believe.
For Clinton, victory in Iowa would go a long way to silence her
Democratic doubters and deliver a reality check to the unexpectedly
strong challenge from the proudly socialist senator from Vermont. Her
campaign was particularly excited by its Des Moines Register endorsement last Saturday, as the leading Iowa
newspaper praised the depth and breadth of “her knowledge and
For Sanders, victory in Iowa would send shock waves through the
party establishment and suggest that the party’s base was more
interested in progressive idealism than presidential power. Sanders
is heading to a resounding victory in New Hampshire, next door to his
home state of Vermont, setting up epic battles to secure pole
position in Nevada and South Carolina in the second half of February.
In these final days of the Iowa campaign, the two candidates have
chosen to model themselves on two different Democratic presidents.
But in both cases, the comparisons are not entirely convincing or
Clinton’s economic plan now amounts to promising a return to her
husband’s boom years of the 1990s, including the former president
as some kind of chief economic adviser, a return to the wage and job
growth of that decade, and a balanced budget. Compared to her stump
performance of eight years ago, Hillary Clinton is a vastly better candidate who can retell some of her
husband’s best stories with a Clintonian sense of timing.
But more often than not, she ends up sounding like her husband’s
vice-president. Al Gore built much of his 2000 campaign on the theme
of fighting: he would fight on so many issues that it was hard to
keep track of his enemies. He would fight against the Republicans,
for working families, and for America’s future.
Hillary Clinton would likewise fight the healthcare industry and its drug
price-gouging, fight Wall Street and the tax-dodging evils of carried
interest, and fight for the middle class against tax increases (which
she says are the likely result of the Sanders revolution). In a
dangerous world of Trump and Sanders, Clinton is the only thing that
stands between us and the fall of the Roman empire.
In contrast, her opponent shamelessly compares himself to Obama at
every turn. He compared recent Clinton attacks on his campaign to the
Clinton attacks directed at Obama in early 2008. He trusted “the
people of Iowa” to ignore them, as they had eight years ago. He
shunned outside money and, like Obama, celebrated small donors
Even his slogan – and its white-on-blue font – is designed to
mimic Obama’s campaigns: from Obama’s Change We Can Believe In to
Sanders’ A Future to Believe In.
The only problem for Sanders is that his central policies are
nothing Obama could believe in. Sanders proposes “a massive federal
jobs program” of infrastructure investment, a British-style
single-payer health system, and free tuition at public colleges and
Beyond the enormous cost and ambition of his proposals, there is
little Obama-like about Sanders’ political tone and style.
Where Obama presented himself as a uniter of red and blue America
in 2008, Sanders seems to relish a them-vs-us struggle; where Obama
was reluctant to name his opponents, Sanders returns repeatedly to
name and shame his ideological opposites.
“Former president Bill Clinton has been running around the
country and the other day he said you know, Bernie Sanders is angry,” Sanders said in Clinton, Iowa. “Well, you
know what, it’s true. I am angry. And the American people are
“What Trump is doing with the anger that he sees is that he is
using it to scapegoat minorities. What he is doing is trying to
divide us up … What we are saying, which is profoundly different,
is that when we stand together as a people, black and white, Latino
and Asian American; when we stand together, gay and straight, male
and female, people born in this country and people who have come from
another country; when we stand together there is nothing that we
In almost the next sentence, Sanders went on to vilify Wall
Street, corporate America, corporate media and a handful of wealthy
families – notably the Walton family of Walmart fame in Arkansas.
(Left unstated was Clinton’s membership of the Walmart board of
directors for several years.)
“Where’s Robin Hood?” shouted one Sanders supporter at the
back of the crowd.
“Let’s get torches,” shouted another.
It is hard to recall a time in 2008 when candidate Obama – or
his supporters – adopted the same tone and tactics of vilification
as he was trying to win his party’s nomination.
In fact, his resistance to delivering this kind of personal attack
was a recurring source of friction with his senior advisers, and a
repeated point of criticism from none other than the Clinton
campaign. If he wasn’t prepared to be mean to Republicans, how on
earth could he expect to negotiate with them in Washington?
Obama was so far away from Sanders-style socialism that he refused
to embrace the “universal” part of healthcare reform, and
attacked the idea of mandating people to buy insurance.
Iowa nice, this isn’t. But then, if the out-of-state volunteers
are anything to go by, the Sanders crowd may be animated by people
who cannot vote in the caucus. That would set up the kind of
challenge Howard Dean faced in 2004, when his huge get-out-the-vote
effort – known as “The Perfect Storm” – sank into a
disastrous third place.
On many issues, Clinton and Sanders are competing with one other
to sound the toughest against the kind of opponents that animate
Democratic primary and caucus voters. Both have portrayed Republicans
as an almost mortal threat to the middle class and to the
environment. Both have been outraged by Wall Street and have promised
to jail – if not waterboard – financial executives.
Both have also strained to answer the other’s criticism, as the
campaigns have traded more aggressive blows in recent days.
Clinton started her pitch with a potted history lesson about why
the town was named Clinton: as homage to the New York governor who
built the Erie Canal connecting the Hudson to the Midwest. In case
the caucus voters of Iowa missed the point, she helpfully explained
that big ideas – and big infrastructure – were what we should
aspire to in our politicians.
Sanders started his pitch with an exhaustive overview of the
latest polls: especially those head-to-heads that gave him a greater
margin than Clinton in hypothetical match-ups against Republican
candidates. Elect-ability is an unusual argument for an ideological
and inspirational candidate, but it is a weakness the Clinton
campaign has been happy to exploit.
Still, in the tale of two Clinton events, there can be only one
Hillary Clinton displayed a detailed command of the policy
environment and a personal approach to storytelling that largely
escaped her candidacy eight years ago. She is a far more skilled
candidate than the one who lost to Barack Obama.
Whether her campaign can deliver is another question. As she
walked out to talk to the crowd, the candidate could only apologize
as the audio failed entirely on a slick biographical video that was
meant to serve as her introduction.
Bernie Sanders has no such problems. There are no videos, slick or
otherwise. In fact, there were no questions and answers either, at
least in Clinton. He seems unconcerned about his promise of several
large publicly funded programs, all based on taxation of corporate
profits and the income of the super wealthy.
Of course, it’s not the candidate or the campaign that really
matters. It’s the voters. And judging by the size and reaction of
the two crowds in Clinton, the candidate who has the momentum is not
the one called Clinton.'
(All emphasis - Ed)