Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Coronation Is Off and Democrats are Restless

Commentary Magazine
Up to now, the political media has devoted its focus to the human wrecking ball that is Donald Trump. The near myopic fixation of the press is understandable; they are in the eyeballs business, and Trump got them 24 million  pairs of them who tuned into the last Republican debate. But the race for the GOP nomination isn’t the only exciting presidential primary.
The Democratic primary race that was once a sleepy coronation with a predetermined outcome has suddenly become not only competitive but also interesting and substantive. It is curious that the many in media have declined to give the contentious contest due notice.
Just to establish a baseline level of wonderment, it seemed likely Hillary Clinton’s strongest challenger for the Democratic nomination would be former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley as recently as March. The former secretary of state was a juggernaut who enjoyed astronomical levels of support from a committed base of Democratic voters. Those who challenged her were seen as engaged in an endeavor that could most charitably be described as quixotic. If you were inclined toward sympathy, you might have characterized a challenge to Clinton’s dominance as a kamikaze mission. And suicidal is exactly what socialist Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ frontal assault on the frontrunner initially looked like.
Flash forward six months, and that assessment of a leftwing populist candidate’s ability to exploit progressive frustration seems downright naïve. Sanders has achieved the impossible in that at least one survey of a critical early primary state, New Hampshire, now shows him leading Clinton by a considerable margin. While Sanders’ surge is certainly due in part to the candidate’s unique brand of far-left politics, his rise is almost certainly also attributable to Clinton’s self-inflicted wounds. Her candidacy has been hamstrung by the slow and constant drip of scandalous revelations regarding her mishandling of classified information on a secret and unauthorized email system while she served as secretary of state.
Clinton has also been hurt by the implication that her family foundation solicited high-dollar donations from foreign patrons and governments with the implication that America’s chief diplomat would happily provide quid pro quo. When asked about these matters in the press, Clinton routinely fudges the truth, and her trust ratings in the polls have correspondingly plummeted.
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