Yes, Biden and Obama gave great speeches. But much of the country isn’t receptive to an optimistic message right now

REUTERS/Mike Segar
President Barack Obama speaking Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

First, eight bullet-items expressing my reactions/thoughts after watching Night Three of the Democratic convention last night from Philly, followed by some key quotes from the speeches and the commentators, in case you didn’t watch and don’t want to read the full transcripts:

  1. Several strong speeches, especially by Vice President Joe Biden (best I’ve ever heard him give) and President Obama (not his best, but solid, but also too long and ran past the end of the prime-time viewing window).
  2. It was smart to give time to a non-Democrat, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to rip Donald Trump (especially for his business practices, about which fellow billionaire and fellow New Yorker Bloomberg knows much), praise Hillary Clinton and appeal directly to independent voters to swing into the Dem column this year.
  3. But, given what we have witnessed so far this campaign season, and pending the next week or two of polling, it is best to assume relatively few hearts and minds in the broader electorate are being changed. Trump got a medium-sized bump out of the Republican convention and is ahead in most polls. Liberals who have convinced themselves that Trump can’t win need to start noticing that he definitely could. But don’t attach much importance to any poll numbers until the middle of next week, when both convention bumps have settled in. And even then, I can almost promise, the polls will show it to be a race either ticket has a realistic chance to win.
  4. Most people weren’t watching the Democratic convention and most of those who did watch would likely be already committed Dems. Most hearts and minds aren’t open. And the (to me, unreasonably) gloomy mood of the country doesn’t seem to be receptive to optimistic messages about what the government, and especially the Democratic Party, can do to make things better.
  5. This was night three of four and tomorrow will be Clinton’s night to speak. She is not known as a gifted orator. Maybe that will help by lowering expectations, or maybe she will reveal some new talents, but maybe not.
  6. It was often remarked during the Republican convention last week that the real energy seemed to be more anti-Clinton than pro-Trump. The same in reverse this week. Most of the lines last night were Trump put-downs.
  7. The story of the revolt of the Sanders people felt mostly over last night, although not completely. Several speakers, including Biden and Obama, took pains to express respect for Sanders and his peeps. The occasional shots of Sanders himself in the stands last night showed him looking sad, tired or disengaged. He has made clear that he will try to deliver his followers to the Democratic ticket. If he had known when the camera was on him, he might have perked up.
  8. Vice Presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine gave one of the weaker talks, although I can see why everyone calls him “likeable.” His best bit was imitating Trump’s voice and accent to show how he constantly tells Americans to “believe me,” about outcomes he will guarantee even though he has not disclosed the policies that will lead to the outcomes.

A few quotes:

Former Democratic congressman, CIA director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, referring specifically to Trump’s bizarre suggestion/request to Russian President Vladimir Putin to hack Hillary Clinton’s private server and divulge the contents of the missing email: “As someone who was responsible for protecting our nation from cyberattacks, it’s inconceivable to me that any presidential candidate would be this irresponsible. Donald Trump cannot become our commander-in-chief.

Also from Panetta: “We cannot afford an erratic finger on our nuclear weapons. (Actually, if you go for the “finger” metaphor, you have to also mention the metaphorical “button.”)

Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine, after doing the routine I mentioned above imitating Trump saying “believe me” this, “believe me” that, “believe me” something else: “Folks, you can not believe one word that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth.” (Note: The days of at least feigning respect for opponents seem to be over.)

Kaine again, summarizing his view of Trump: “A slick talkin’, empty promisin’, one-man wrecking crew.”

Chris Wallace, on Fox News Channel, reacting to Kaine’s list of Trumpian rip-offs, like Trump University and others: “Everyone has heard about these rip-offs and they don’t seem to care.”

Vice President Biden: “We cannot elect a man who exploits our fears of ISIS and other terrorists, who has no plan whatsoever to make us safer. A man who embraces the tactics of our enemies, torture, religious intolerance. You all know, other Republicans know, that is not who we are. It betrays our values. It alienates those who we need in the fight against ISIS. Donald Trump, with all his rhetoric, would literally make us less safe. We cannot elect a man who belittles our closest allies while embracing dictators like Vladimir Putin. I mean it. A man who seeks to sow division in America for his own gain and disorder around the world. A man who confuses bluster with strength. We simply cannot let that happen as Americans. Period.

New York Mayor Bloomberg: “There are times when I disagree with Hillary Clinton. But whatever our disagreements may be, I’ve come here to say: We must put them aside for the good of our country and unite around the candidate who can defeat a dangerous demagogue …”

Also Bloomberg: “We’ve heard a lot of talk in this campaign about needing a leader who understands business. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve built a business. And I didn’t start it with a $1 million check from my father.” 

Also Bloomberg: “Throughout his career, Trump has left behind a well-documented record of bankruptcies, lawsuits, and angry shareholders and contractors who feel cheated, as well as disillusioned customers who feel ripped off. He says he wants to run the nation like he has run his business. God help us… I’m a New Yorker, and New Yorkers know a con when we see one. Trump says he’ll punish manufacturers that move to Mexico or China, but the clothes he sells are made overseas in low-wage factories. He says he wants to put Americans back to work, but he games the U.S. visa system so he can hire temporary foreign workers at low wages. He says he wants to deport 11 million undocumented people, but he seems to have no problem in hiring them. What’d I miss here? Truth be told, the richest thing about Donald Trump is his hypocrisy.”

And one more from Bloomberg: “And so I say to my fellow independents: Your vote matters now. Your vote will determine the future of your job and your business — and our future together as a country. To me, this election is not a choice between a Democrat and a Republican. It’s a choice about who is better to lead our country right now: better for our economy, our security, our freedom and our future. There is no doubt in my mind that Hillary Clinton is the right choice.

From President Obama (the Obama quotes from his remarks as prepared):

Fair to say, this is not your typical election. It’s not just a choice between parties or policies; the usual debates between left and right. This is a more fundamental choice – about who we are as a people, and whether we stay true to this great American experiment in self-government.

Look, we Democrats have always had plenty of differences with the Republican Party, and there’s nothing wrong with that; it’s precisely this contest of ideas that pushes our country forward.

But what we heard in Cleveland last week wasn’t particularly Republican — and it sure wasn’t conservative. What we heard was a deeply pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other, and turn away from the rest of the world. There were no serious solutions to pressing problems — just the fanning of resentment, and blame, and anger, and hate …

… Does anyone really believe that a guy who’s spent his 70 years on this Earth showing no regard for working people is suddenly going to be your champion? Your voice? If so, you should vote for him. But if you’re someone who’s truly concerned about paying your bills, and seeing the economy grow, and creating more opportunity for everybody, then the choice isn’t even close. If you want someone with a lifelong track record of fighting for higher wages, better benefits, a fairer tax code, a bigger voice for workers, and stronger regulations on Wall Street, then you should vote for Hillary Clinton.

Ronald Reagan called America “a shining city on a hill.” Donald Trump calls it ‘a divided crime scene’ that only he can fix. It doesn’t matter to him that illegal immigration and the crime rate are as low as they’ve been in decades, because he’s not offering any real solutions to those issues. He’s just offering slogans, and he’s offering fear. He’s betting that if he scares enough people, he might score just enough votes to win this election.

That is another bet that Donald Trump will lose. Because he’s selling the American people short. We are not a fragile or frightful people. Our power doesn’t come from some self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order. We don’t look to be ruled. Our power comes from those immortal declarations first put to paper right here in Philadelphia all those years ago; We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that together, We, the People, can form a more perfect union.

From New York Times (conservative but anti-Trump) columnist David Brooks, on the PBS panel, reacting to Obama’s talk and the way it contrasts with Trump:  The one thing, the one word I’d apply to [Obama’s presentation] is conservative. I don’t mean in policy terms. I mean it in terms of values. Donald Trump has essentially walked away from the traditional values of the Republican Party, or let’s say the American Midwest: Hard work, not bragging, simple faith. And Barack Obama just grabbed that ground… There are going to be a lot of Republicans out there who are going to say: ‘These people [meaning Obama and other speakers last night] don’t sound crazy. And Donald Trump – is he one of us, with all that bragging, all that boasting, is that how we were raised?”

From Domenico Montanaro of NPR, after noting that Obama is the first president since Eisenhower to win election and re-election with more than 50 percent of the vote both times: “That coalition is still out there if, with Obama’s blessing and assistance, Democrats can turn it over to Hillary Clinton.”

Pollster Doug Schoen, who has Democratic credentials and worked for the Hillary Clinton campaign for president in 2008 but now seems to be a regular panelist for Fox, speaking to Sean Hannity after the convention last night:  “The amount of abuse Democrats are heaping on Donald Trump shows that they don’t think they can win with a positive case for Hillary Clinton.”

Britt Hume, of Fox, called the abuse heaped on Trump “powerful,” but then after noting that Obama’s valedictory of his own accomplishments seemed more fulsome than his praise of Clinton, said it reminded him of a famous Mark Twain crack about the work of opera composer Richard Wagner: “Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.”

Comments (33)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 07/28/2016 - 10:21 am.

    It shouldn’t even be

    …a close contest, but I expect it will be. Years of effective right-wing propaganda – not factual, but nonetheless effective – combined with a national agenda (regardless of party) that’s more pro-corporate than pro-public, have put some segments of the society in a sour mood that reinforces our culture’s usual anti-intellectual bent. That tendency toward a less-than-thoughtful consideration of political talk and proposals plays right into the hands of a demagogue, and Mr. Trump’s advisors are happy to use the national mood to their advantage.

    Michael Arnovitz has written a pair of excellent articles on the web supporting Hillary Clinton’s credentials, and disparaging Trump’s, but I think Eric is correct about the national mood. Few people who watched either or both conventions (I didn’t watch either one) are going to have their minds changed by reasoned presentations of the relative skills and experience of the two candidates. As noted political analyst Taylor Swift has pointed out, “Haters Gonna Hate,” and they’re unlikely to be swayed by arguments, fact-based or not, presented against their favored candidate, no matter which candidate that might be.

    Neither party is giving the public a Hubert Humphrey-style “happy warrior.” One candidate is sober and serious, the other angry. Both candidates have negatives that would probably have made political advisors of only a couple decades ago turn pale with anxiety over a coming election, but it is what it is: these are the candidates we have, so wishing for different ones is something to save for post-election planning and dreaming. That’s likely true for both parties. Hillary is the more traditional Democratic politician, but given the roiling of the waters provided by the DNC flap, I won’t be surprised to see quite a bit of shaking-up in the national party’s power structure once the election is over, and especially if Clinton loses. The shake-up will be, I think, even more significant on the Republican side if Trump loses. Traditional power brokers within the party have been shunted aside or ignored completely by the Trump campaign and by Trump himself, and I’d be very surprised if – assuming the national party survives – Republican powers-that-be allow that sort of insurgency to take place in 2020.

    I also won’t be surprised if, Eric’s piece about cramming multiple parties into our 2-party system notwithstanding, we end up with 3 major parties, at least for a while. Democrats appear at the moment to be more or less on the same page with Hillary as the candidate, excepting some Sanders zealots who won’t go quietly into the night. This amateur observer thinks, however, that a genuine chasm may have opened up on the Republican side, with disaffected middle and working-class whites finding Trump far more appealing than corporate and business groups seem to have done. I don’t know what they’d be called, but I could see a “Republican” party having a rival in a “Conservative” party. Doing so, of course, would make Democratic strategists giddy with anticipation, but there’s plenty of research to show that humans often behave irrationally, so there’s no assurance that Republicans won’t commit political suicide.

    We’ll see. That’s what elections are for…

    • Submitted by C.S. Senne on 07/28/2016 - 11:36 am.

      Great post

      Again, Ray. Great post. You make us think…and that’s a good thing!

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/28/2016 - 02:53 pm.

      I think

      that we’ll stay with two major parties; one of them badly wounded. Whether those wounds are fatal will be seen in November, and in 2018.
      We will also see an increased independent vote; more people not formally affiliated with either party, but registered Democrats and Republicans will still outnumber the independents.

  2. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/28/2016 - 10:26 am.

    Actually

    I think the country is plenty receptive to optimistic messages, the Bernie Burn provided that, they just don’t trust these democratic messengers. I think you’d find a very different reception if the candidate delivering that optimism was popular and trusted. 70% of the voting population doesn’t belong to the democratic party and all these great speakers can make all the great speeches they want, but none of them are running for president. You just can’t get around your candidate sometimes.

    Elite messengers rarely capture the mood of the majority. Obama can point to significant accomplishments but the lived experience of millions (if not the majority) of American’s is not reflected in those “gains”.

    I remember watching Charlie Rose a few months ago when the media was trying to explain Trumps success. Rose had a bunch of white twenty-something (maybe mid-thirty something) reporters gathered around the table and they all agreed that they couldn’t understand the anger Trump was tapping into because the country was doing so well. My jaw doesn’t actually drop very often but it did that night. The media and the elite are so out of touch with lived experience n this country it’s nearly breathtaking.

    AnywasI hope Clinton gets a post convention bump that carries through to November but I’m not holding my breath.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 07/30/2016 - 10:39 pm.

      Bernie Positive

      I must have missed that when I listened to him speak. Usually it seemed he was complaining about the greedy rich, the exploiting banks, expensive healthcare, expensive college, etc, etc. He reminded me a lot of Trump saying “Believe Me”.

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 08/01/2016 - 04:30 pm.

        Think maybe you did…

        Bernie seemed positive in his idealistic vision of some sort of American socialism, at least I thought so. Of course, he did trash very many status quo elements of both parties. How quickly we are supposed to not remember his anti-HRC establishment rhetoric now adjusted for “conventional” Democrats. Ha!

        How’s this for a silly conspiracy postulation? The DNC knew it could not place HRC in jeopardy by having her rail about all those “Leftist” dreams denied by both parties. She had to market to the middle section of line-straddlers and very moderate Republicans. So, Bernie was welcomed into the race, just so he could be the messenger of all that. I smirked regularly at the cable touts who truly tried to make us believe Bernie was
        making her move Left. Sure, whatever.

        Now Bernie has given a last pubic appearance to show us all is well under the Blue Big Top, if not completely to his personal liking. But, that’s OK. Just another juggler in the true “Greatest Show on Earth.”
        “Feel the Bern,” indeed.

        Rock & Rail is not dead…August rhetoric is on the cusp.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/03/2016 - 07:41 am.

          Conspiracy

          Now that is a Conspiracy Theory I can get behind. Everybody wins in the DNC, and only the far far Lefters are left frustrated.

          I mean Bernie gets a lot more visibility than ever before in his career.
          The DNC Chair gets a position on Hilary’s staff and maybe a National position if HRC wins
          Hilary gets the nomination and most Liberals behind her…

          Brilliant !!!

          • Submitted by Jim Million on 08/03/2016 - 11:42 am.

            Good Orchestrations

            This year’s Blue notes seem far more expertly arranged than in any of their prior compositions.

            You have clearly stated the prime 2016 objective: “Everybody wins in the DNC, and only the far far Lefters are left frustrated.” [“as usual” if I may add]

            And…….the RNC will never understand its musical ignorance in not featuring “The Red Hot Chilly Peppers”
            performing its classics.

  3. Submitted by Jim Million on 07/28/2016 - 10:34 am.

    Unreasonably Gloomy Mood

    In my mind “Gloomy Mood” stands alone, requiring no modification. Moods are not empirical beasts, except when carried to the voting booth; nor, are they simple emotional mind sets.

    To me, the1960 election certainly was based on positive/hopeful mood in this country. That was found to later be “unreasonable,” given events of 1963–1968. If empiricism held sway, analysis of JFK’s 1947 Southeast Asia trip with brother and sister would have modified the electorate’s mood in 1960. It’s likely JFK would still have won, perhaps by larger margin, had we all known about his “home movies” of that excursion. Seeing them now creates some gut-grabbing irony in retrospect. At least the American electorate would have been more “reasonable” in mood, perhaps a bit less shocked by ensuing events of that decade.

    In any case, we should all be far more “reasonable” with respect to VP selections on all tickets. Who can sensibly support either Kane or Pence as Oval Office heir? I prefer something more than “P/R Person-in-Chief, apparently the intended position of each.

  4. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 07/28/2016 - 10:40 am.

    About the debt?

    What have we heard about the $20 trillion debt this week and the huge debt heaped upon our children during the Obama years?

    Eric – I guess we only talk about that we the GOP owns the Presidency.

    • Submitted by David Wintheiser on 07/28/2016 - 11:12 am.

      Probably we haven’t heard about the $20 trillion debt…

      …because it’s not $20 trillion.

      For starters, that total includes intergovernmental debt, which is debt owed by one part of the government to another. This would be akin to considering a household’s total debt to include money owed by one sibling to another, which is pretty silly.

      In addition, many other line-items are not considered to be part of the national debt because they are obligations to government programs, which is like considering the kids’ allowances to be part of a household’s debt. Again, not really very useful.

      When considering debt, the Congressional Budget Office generally only considers debt owned by the public, which can include bond-holders and other sovereign governments, and amounts to about $14 trillion. Not chump change, but not nearly as frightening as the nice,even $20 trillion number. And in this case, the debt is arguably good for America, since current interest rates on that debt are below the level of inflation, meaning that the debt is growing more slowly than the buying power of the money held by the government. If you could refinance your home mortgage at a 1% interest rate, pretty much every financial adviser in existence would encourage you to do so, even if it meant increasing your overall debt, That’s where we stand with the national debt now, which is much more of a long-term concern than an immediate one.

      Of course, back in 2008, both the total debt and the percentage of debt as compared to GDP had risen extremely rapidly, despite wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the TARP bailout not being considered part of the public debt. That seems like much more of an immediate concern, at least for that time.


      David Wintheiser

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 08/01/2016 - 05:19 pm.

        Clarification From:

        http://treasurydirect.gov/NP/debt/current (clean and tidy graphical source)

        Current Debt Held by the Public.:……..13,976,589,446,058.20 I

        Intragovernmental Holdings:………………5,426,316,940,466.05
        ————————————————————————————-
        Total Public Debt Outstanding…………..19,402,906,386,524.25
        07/27/2016

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 08/02/2016 - 09:15 pm.

        Here’s Another Good One:

        http://www.justfacts.com/nationaldebt.asp

        Most charts here are noted as % of revenue, a better than nominal statistics when reviewing history.
        One significant consideration for everyone is the ability of central banks to keep interest rates low enough to service the national debt without disrupting things.

        The current differences of opinion in economic circles relate to projections after a significant global dislocation, as we have witnessed over the past 10 years (not simply 8, as many wish to cite).

        Perhaps the greatest issue of political contest is the large % of steady increase in social program spending.
        That seems the crux of debate, when other elements are reviewed. Economists disagree on future impact of current trends. My personal, reasonably educated opinion, is that smart minds tend to find good solutions, as in past times of concern. Politicians are generally not the smartest people in these matters. That said, I also believe none wish to endanger the public or the nation. It’s also a good thing to have citizens better understand some of this arcane stuff, in order to reasonably evaluate various promises from various contestants. Maybe we all need to better understand what we hear with respect to what we believe.

    • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 07/28/2016 - 11:36 am.

      If one is concerned about the national debt…

      … then the person one needs to direct their ire towards is George W. Bush, who inherited a surplus and handed over a trillion-dollar deficit and the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression to Barack Obama eight years later.

  5. Submitted by Peter Vader on 07/28/2016 - 12:35 pm.

    Tired, Eric?

    You seem tired.

  6. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 07/28/2016 - 02:45 pm.

    The country’s mood?

    So, what is the basis of the conclusion that America isn’t ready for a positive message. Do you have polling data at the conclusion of the convention. Your judgment is like trying to call the finish of a horse race before it is done. That is what I’d expect only from Fox News.

    Yesterday, Trump encouraged the Russians to commit espionage. Today, I read that analysts think Russia is Trump’s banker. Trump has already dismissed the importance of NATO, recommended we break our treaty obligations and insulted our military, not to mention advocating using ISIS terrorist tactics of torture and murder. And today he denies he was serious. Earth to Trump and the reporters that cover him – the worlds of the person who wants to be the most powerful leader in the world about such an issue should be taken seriously – as it is a sign of mental instability and lack of connection to reality.

    Of course, Trump has a base that will support him given whatever he says and is buying his malarky of him being the only person who can “deal” with the situation. “Believe me” and you will be saved. Does he think is a Dark Knight version of our Messiah? The ego is big enough that he might believe it.

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 07/28/2016 - 05:17 pm.

      Russia, if you’re reading this . . .

      . . . it would be helpful if — while you’re looking for the 33,000 emails Mr. Trump asked you to find — you could locate the 22,000,000 emails the Bush White House lost when it was conducting official business through the (non-government, private) Republican National Committee email server during the times of the firing of Federal Prosecutors, the run-up to the Iraq war and vice president Cheney’s and his assistant, Scooter Libby’s, outing of a CIA agent in (alleged) retaliation for her husband telling the press that the Bush administration had been misleading the American public by grossly exaggerating Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction.

      Thank you

      P.S. If you could find a copy of Mr. Trump’s most recent income tax returns I’m sure the press would reward you mightily for that help too.

      Thanks again

    • Submitted by Joe Musich on 07/28/2016 - 08:54 pm.

      Same …

      question here ? People. Might be grumbling but to extrapolate from that that people are not ready for a positive message might be a stretch. Actually I think it is more of a question of confidence and trust exuded by the conventions that will carry the day. And furthermore I think it will be the plan for opportunity that will finally lever the voter. Lots of people want their daily Iives to improve. And building a wall does not seem to be to be a call for more benefits and better wages. You cannot eat a wall. And Trump for breakfast sounds like a poor choice. Don’t get me wrong Clinton needs to energize her image and demonstrate more honesty and humility and put her inner attack dog into the discussion with better timing. But she is getting the practice. At some moment prior to actual voting she needs to verbally attack the continuing hedge fund outlandishness and capitalist shenanigans. I am still a Bernie person. That is what she needs to do for my vote. And I think she will.

  7. Submitted by joe smith on 07/29/2016 - 07:21 am.

    The reality is over 70% of Americans

    feel we are on the wrong track. I see most liberal posters here are bending over backwards trying to say things are better than folks think. Telling people how to think and feel is condescending and one of the many reasons average Joe voters can’t stand politics/politicians.

    Facts: as a country we have more folks on welfare than ever (not good), labor participation is at a 50 year low, middle class families have lost 4K in earnings the past decade, house ownership is at a 50 year low, we are nearly 20 TRILLION in debt, race relations are worse, the Mid East is on fire and the “love not war” policy is not working on ISIS, Russia has invaded 2 countries in the past 8 years. In conclusion, things are bad here and abroad. The fact that Obama and his Big Government agenda couldn’t fix it and in many cases made problems worse is too hard for liberals to believe. So instead of coming up with solutions their approach is “you are wrong, things are way better than you think or feel…..

    The Hillary as “change agent” message shows that the Clinton camp knows it can’t run on 4 more years of Obama….. So I guess it is ok for the folks here to admit things are not better in many areas after the last 8 years and start looking for ways to fix it not tell the 70% you are wrong….

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/29/2016 - 08:24 am.

      “Wrong Track” responses

      These wrong track responses are kind of like Rorschach tests in that they reflect back on themselves in terms of interpretation. People look at “wrong track” numbers and assume those opinions reflect their own opinions, when in fact they represent a broad range of perspectives.

      So we can look at Mr. Smith’s complaints but all that tells us is why Mr. Smith thinks we’re on the wrong track, it doesn’t tell us what that 70% is thinking.

      My bet would be that most people aren’t worried about Mr. Smith’s issues, I think in a broad sense what we’re seeing discontent with the nations elite leadership which is and has failed the majority of Americans. It starts with the fact that trickle down politics don’t work any better than trickle down economics and the majority of American’s have been left with less buying power than we had in 1973. Millions of Americans are working harder for lower incomes than they did before the recession and the elite simply has no response for that because it either doesn’t effect them, or directly benefits them. The elite goes on and on about employment numbers, the stock market, and GDP, but those are abstract number that mainly tell us how the elite is doing, not ordinary American’s. For instance the unemployment rate may be lower, but that’s because millions of Americans have traded down to lower paying jobs with few if any benefits.

      While Obamacare has improved some conditions it’s failed to address many of the most grievous problems and has still left millions of Americans in catastrophic financial jeopardy even if they’ve got insurance. Many Americans have come to realize that the mission of Obamacare was to push millions of Americans into a private insurance plan, but that wasn’t REALLY the problem in the first place.

      Meanwhile racial and gender disparities have been increasing along with the income disparities and regardless of which candidate wins in November they will be the most disliked and distrusted presidents to ever enter the White House.

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 07/29/2016 - 06:55 pm.

        Afraid you may be correct about Jan. 2017

        Did you really have to write the final line?
        Just when I’m thinking I might survive the media heat from all sides, you had to go and tell us what we really hope to deflect/deny/ignore.

        Looks as if I won’t even be able to tolerate C-SPAN live coverage of Congress these next 4 years.
        Wonder if Comcast still offers a basic cable plan. I might spend the monthly savings on ________.
        (Oh, and then there would also be greatly reduced monthly therapy billings from… .)
        Maybe I’ll also try to disregard much European news I now follow.
        Sounds like a plan??

        Thanks, Paul.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 07/30/2016 - 10:50 pm.

          Maybe you should drop the cable and get an antenna… The HD channels are pretty good and there is less national news available. Besides it is FREE… 🙂

          It told my daughter that the good thing about not being in a Presidential battle ground state…. We hopefully will have fewer negative Presidential commercials airing. And based on on how the 2 sides have been behaving lately, this is going to be a LONG 3 Mths.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/31/2016 - 09:45 am.

            Never had cable

            It’s always funny when I walk past they guys who promise to lower my cable bill…

          • Submitted by Jim Million on 08/01/2016 - 11:18 am.

            I’ll check it out

            But, John, bet on our TC stations airing very many campaign spots as the DFL works diligently on TC and outstate voters to give them total control at the Capitol. Power failures are not always a bad thing.

            Well, back to my western good and bad guys of the TV black and white Saturday mornings… Just check out my MinnPost member photo, if you have doubts.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/03/2016 - 07:48 am.

              Oh no

              You just reminded we that with Wisc next door. We may get a lot of Presidential ads… I guess I will be watching more Netflix and Amazon Prime… Or maybe some good books.

            • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 08/03/2016 - 12:47 pm.

              Don’t bother

              Unless you like commercials. Antennae don’t make TV free.
              I stopped paying for cable and subscribed to Netflix and Amazon Prime. I thought maybe I’d check out this new fangled “free” TV thing you can get over the air now, and found myself marketed to nonstop. If that wasn’t bad enough, it was the same 3 commercials over and over and over and over and over again. I can’t imagine trying to watch during election season.

              • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/03/2016 - 06:23 pm.

                Mute Button

                Oh come now… The mute button is so convenient and the commercials give the family time to bond, use the restroom, get a snack…

                • Submitted by Jim Million on 08/03/2016 - 10:18 pm.

                  Slight problem, John

                  Sometimes when I use the mute button for commercials, I wake up somewhere in the following program.

                  The button is key to pleasant sports viewing, however. Who needs audio with18 cameras, anyway?
                  Football in 5.1 sound is great without the center speaker. The field mics pick up all the important stuff directly from the field announcer, while dispensing with the minutia mouths in the booth.

                  For me the mute button is essential to watching golf tournaments, especially “The Open.” Given incredible closeup technology, who needs to be told the rough is “deep and gnarly”?
                  I may be getting old, but there’s lots of stuff I need not be told.

                  “Mute for Mental Health.”

                • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 08/04/2016 - 09:04 am.

                  Mute

                  If the mute button were the answer, I wouldn’t need speakers at all. I prefer to bond doing other things than sitting in front of the boob tube. Talk politics and current events over dinner. Talk about family and life events during a walk. Talk science and science fiction over a drink. But, if you want good TV to bond over, check out “Man in the High Castle” on Amazon. Now THAT is a show worth bonding over. And no commercials. The pause button is just as convenient as the mute button.

  8. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/31/2016 - 10:15 am.

    Actually, I guess I have to completely disagree

    After giving Eric’s thesis that people are rejecting optimism more thought, I’ve decided I have to just flat out disagree.

    I think the mistake Eric is making is assuming that the democratic is offering the most optimistic message. People may be rejecting the democrats, but they’re not rejecting optimism.

    Hillary Clinton and the democratic elite came out of the gate attacking the most optimistic message and platform on the stage as unrealistic and undoable. Meanwhile Sander’s optimism drew unprecedented crowds and attention. Clinton didn’t get the nomination because she’s the optimistic, she got the nomination because the party elite effectively suppressed the populist candidate with the most optimistic message. From elite perspective everything is hunky dory and the recession is ancient history, so they’re celebrating their accomplishment rather than striving for improvement. That’s not really “optimism” for the remaining 90%.

    Likewise in his own way Trump is actually offering a note of optimism in the sense that he’s promising to change a status quo that’s not working that great for most people. He spends a lot of time complaining but his basic message is positive in the sense that he’s promising to bring security and prosperity to the majority of Americans who feel left behind by the recovery. That’s actually a positive message and it’s clearly resonating with a lot of people.

    I mean look, these great speeches at the DNC, what you really have are a bunch of elite people who were never even slightly effected by the recession in the first place celebrating the end of the recession and current “prosperity”. That’s not optimism, its elite celebration pretending to be optimism. When presidents and presidents wives and millionaire billionaire governors and senators give happy talk speeches about how great things are you have to remember they don’t represent the lived experience of most Americans.

    Furthermore setting the economics aside and looking at the politics; at the DNC you see a celebration revolving around the elite ability to nominate a candidate that’s extremely unpopular and distrusted by the majority of Americans. That’s not an expression of optimism its an expression of elite power and some say even corruption.

    On the republican side you have candidate who appears to have defied the party elite and defied attempts at suppression. I think many of his supporters are encouraged by that and see it as a positive political victory for ordinary Americans.

    I think the only way you can claim that Americans are rejecting “optimism” is if you equate elite comfort and status with “optimism”. Everyone else is obviously looking for significant change and looking for someone who will be an agent of that change. Clinton can claim to be that agent of change but its largely a disingenuous claim in the eyes of most Americans who don’t trust her anyways. Trump is a fraud but he’s managed to position himself as common man with mission of change on behalf of the majority. Given a choice between a celebration of elite success or fraudulent populism all bets are off.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 08/01/2016 - 04:03 pm.

      Thanks for another good one here.

      Rejecting optimism is not the case, me thinks. Embracing too much pessimism might be, however.

      Seems to me most people do search for optimism, especially while being somewhat pessimistic.

  9. Submitted by Steven James Beto on 07/31/2016 - 10:39 am.

    Truth Just Ain’t So

    Game Theory (John Von Neumann, John Nash), Shock and Awe, stimulates and numbs. When the foundation of opinion is emotive, the end result is belief or disbelief, entertainment or boredom, but the truth often remains in doubt. Some of our politicians, and those that control them, manipulate citizens to vote with their feelings instead of their minds. This strategy is tacitly approved in our society, and shows a unique disdain for the voter.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 08/01/2016 - 11:27 am.

      Yup, take the pawns first

      And, they ain’t even playing chess.

      (Let’s discuss Chinese checkers another day.)

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