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Is Washington DC the new Hollywood?

Is Washington DC the new Hollywood?

What we are experiencing is celebrity politics. Much as Hollywood is, DC has become a land of illusions.

I really want to be encouraged about 2016 after reading Jonah Goldberg’s latest. But I fear that we live in a make believe world that may undercut Goldberg’s assumption.

In the Hillary Fascination, Jonah Goldberg argues that the Republicans ought not worry about Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The simple fact, by my lights at least, is that Hillary Clinton is not a compelling personality in her own right. Even Bill Clinton’s harshest critics have to concede that he was a masterful politician, a jazz impresario mixing deep insights, policy minutiae, and folksy cornpone peppered with compelling half-truths and daring outright lies. Barack Obama isn’t nearly as gifted as Bill was on the stump or in the backrooms, but the man has political talent. Hillary’s a very solid policy wonk, but the only thing that makes her a rock star is that people keep calling her one.

The same goes for her career. Quick: What has the woman done? As a lawyer, what important cases did she win? As a first lady, her only major “accomplishment” was a failed health-care-reform scheme that didn’t even get a vote in the Senate. As a carpetbagging senator from New York, what historic legislation did she shepherd? Most of her party, including the president, repudiates her vote for the Iraq War. Pretty much the only thing her biggest supporters can tout about her tenure as secretary of state is that she “traveled a million miles,” which strikes me as the ultimate triumph of quantity over quality (particularly given the hot mess that is American foreign policy).

Goldberg sums up his argument: “Candidates matter,” and, indeed, they do.

Goldberg made me feel really good. He’s right on all counts. Hillary has no real accomplishments. Surely if substance means anything, Paul Ryan or Chris Christie would beat her handily in the general election.

But …

But was Obama really a more compelling candidate? He was certainly a more compelling candidate to a certain subset of voters; that subset being overly represented in the mainstream media.

Matthew Continetti recently drew a picture of the man who defeated Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination and is the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, in The Court Reporters. (h/t Instapundit) The gist of Continetti’s portrait is that President Obama is devoid of any major accomplishments and that the media cocoon surrounding him doesn’t even care:

The Times has participated in an act of political evasion breathtaking in its shamelessness. One might object that the range of topics was limited to the subject of the president’s speaking tour on the economy. But if that were the case, why did the Times agree to such ground rules in the first place? Aren’t the readers of the New York Times interested in hearing President Obama’s answers to tough questions about the various controversies at home and crises abroad? Perhaps they are not. Perhaps they are far more interested in having their public morality, their view of the world, of who is bad and who is good, of what is important and what is not, confirmed for them in a series of advertisements for President Obama and the Democratic Party. Perhaps they are more interested in sitting back and watching, passively, as the president shifts the public’s attention away from scandal and turmoil, and defines his domestic opponents in preparation for budget and debt fights. Perhaps readers of the Times and writers of the Times and editors of the Times are not interested in information per se. What interests them is affirmation.

Granted, the image of Barack Obama that emerges here is through the prism of a deferential press corps that challenges him on nothing that matters. Rather the media acts a projector of the Great Obama, creating and inflating a legend in their own minds. But the legend of Obama didn’t just start, it’s been going on since the first term senator declared his interest in being president. He spoke well, or at least said the things that the opinion manufacturers wanted him to say, so that they could congratulate him on his insight and profundity.

In their initial endorsement of President Obama the editors of the Washington Post wrote:

But Mr. Obama’s temperament is unlike anything we’ve seen on the national stage in many years. He is deliberate but not indecisive; eloquent but a master of substance and detail; preternaturally confident but eager to hear opposing points of view.

For years later these same journalists wrote:

Mr. Obama alienated Congress and business leaders by isolating himself inside a tight White House circle that manages to be both arrogant and thin-skinned. Too often his administration treats business as an obstacle rather than a partner. He hardly tried to achieve the immigration reform and climate-change policy he promised.

After one term that unique “temperament” that they touted was reduced to “arrogant and thin-skinned.” Of course the earlier characterization was not based on any observable evidence. It was based on projection: this is what we want and, by God, Obama personifies it. It was a conjured image. The arrogance was already on display for anyone who cared to look.

What we are experiencing is celebrity politics. Much as Hollywood is, DC has become a land of illusions.

Al Qaeda is on the run.
ObamaCare will fix the American healthcare system.
The election of a black president will help heal the racial divide.

These are all myths supported and promoted by our opinion manufacturers.

But unlike the Hollywood dream merchants, Washington’s opinion manufacturers are not creating fantasies for entertainment and profit. They are creating their fantasies for self-aggrandizement, confirming their own superiority to the average American. And with that superiority comes their own (perceived) indispensability.

I thought that after Obama’s first term, their influence would wane, but I was sadly mistaken. Of course, as George W. Bush’s second term in office wound down, I assumed that he’d be succeeded by Rudy Giuliani. Of all the candidates from either party, Giuliani had a record of accomplishment unrivaled by anyone else running. But he ran an awful campaign and didn’t even make it out of the primaries.

When John McCain picked Sarah Palin there was someone in the race who had a compelling story that could compete with Obama’s. So the opinion manufacturers set out to destroy her politically. There mustn’t be any detours to the history they were creating.

When Mitt Romney had the temerity to question what happened in Benghazi the opinion manufacturers condemned him for politicizing the tragedy. But Romney was right to bring it up as we’re learning now there’s a lot more to the scandal that hasn’t yet come to light. The problem was that he was politicizing something that could have punctured the grand illusion of our political scene. He had to be stopped.

So yes, Jonah Goldberg is right, Hillary Clinton is terrible candidate. But as long as our opinion manufacturers significantly influence public opinion, she could very well be the next president. She didn’t beat Obama because his was a more compelling story for the mainstream media. But to them, the history making first lady will be more compelling than the white guys likely to throw their hats in the ring in three years.

Judging Hillary Clinton strictly on her political merits and accomplishments, Goldberg is absolutely right. But our Washington opinion manufacturers are imitating their fellow illusion makers in Hollywood. I have little doubt that they believe they have another blockbuster in the making.


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The novelty of voting for the first black POTUS and being a part of “history” appeared to be more important than having the first black POTUS be qualified. The double whammy could be electing the first woman POTUS. Now are the voters more willing to make “history” again by electing a female candidate with dismal abilities or will they vote for someone who would be better for the country? That remains to be seen!

    JimMtnViewCaUSA in reply to showtime8. | August 4, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    Rueful prediction: GOP support for illegals, and nomination of an insipid candidate will lead to high levels of votes for independent candidate(s), and give _any_ Dem a big head start.

    kevino in reply to showtime8. | August 5, 2013 at 10:52 am

    I think that the result is very predictable: Sec. Clinton wins the nomination and the Presidency in a walk.

    A lot of women are thoroughly ticked off that Hillary didn’t win last time, and they are going to insist that a woman get elected next time around. Period.

    The counter argument is that Hillary has no accomplishments. That doesn’t cut it. President Obama didn’t have any accomplishments, either, and he didn’t have a fraction of her experience. In what passes for US culture today, you can be famous for being famous, and Hillary is certainly famous. No one is going to measure her “accomplishments”. No one except republicans care about such things.

I’m glad it’s Martini Sunday and I’m on my way out to meet up with my buddies for some – after reading the above I need a drink or two.

Right Hilly is a lousy candidate. But she won twice in New York State, and New York voters still speak of her highly. And Gallup says 64% of Americans view her favorably. And if she runs you will have a two-fer candidate, the Hill-Bill Show, and I’m willing to give two for one odds at any Martini Bar in Los Angeles THEY kick the ass of any Republican who runs against them.

That’s not to say the would be the best choice for you social conservatives, but for those of us who made a ton of money during the Bill Clinton years, it’s a good enough reason to vote them in again.

One more thing – anyone who still mentions Sarah Palin’s as having been a credible VP choice for this nation is too delusional to be taken seriously about anything.

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to jayjerome66. | August 4, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    It is beyond not being a best case scenario for ‘you so social conservatives’. It i s a matter of salvaging the USA .

    The world is not what it was in the 90s .

    Rich Fader in reply to jayjerome66. | August 4, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    I have two words to say to the last: Joe Biden.

    Bruce Hayden in reply to jayjerome66. | August 4, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    Not as worried as some in regards to Hillary! Not only is she corrupt and unaccomplished on her own, she will be fairly old in 2016, nearing 70. Obama won this last time partly on the youth vote, and imagine them voting for their grandmother just because it is her turn now. No special appeal to Hispanics, and they tend to be younger than other demographic groups. And she isn’t Black, so I expect Black participation to be down too. Unions? Panicking about ObamaCare right now, and she is tied to it fairly closely. And as time goes on, her tenure at the State Dept looks less and less productive. Besides, where was she when her consulate in Benghazi was attacked and her people killed?

    gospace in reply to jayjerome66. | August 4, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Not popular in my part of New York State. Nor is Kirsten Gillibrand. But rural NY residents are outnumbered by NYC, Albany, Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo. All of whom are dependent on rural NY to eat. While we’re dependent on them for, um, um, um, gee, I’m not really sure. Can’t think of anything I have purchased in the last ten years that has any component manufactured in NYC. NYC’s financial center could be relocated anywhere in this electronic age.

    Juba Doobai! in reply to jayjerome66. | August 5, 2013 at 12:19 am

    Do a comparison of Palin’s and Hillary’s achievements over the past twenty or so years. No, traveling one million miles and achieving nothing is not an achievement, neither is going to Yale. Then asks yourself if Hillary is fit to be dog catcher.

      Observer in reply to Juba Doobai!. | August 5, 2013 at 9:05 am

      Hillary reminds me of another Democratic woman who constantly gets jobs for which she is not qualified, despite a long history of failure: Jaime Gorelick.

      Hillary, who is supposedly so smart, managed to flunk the D.C. bar exam. Then she was reportedly fired — for unethical conduct, no less — from her first job out of law school. Then she followed Bill to Arkansas, where she used her wife-of-the-governor status to steer state business to the law firm that hired her. She also was involved in several ethically questionable (if not outright illegal) ventures in Arkansas, including the shady pork futures deal that netted her a 6-figure profit in one day.

      When Bill started running for president, Hillary was involved in (and probably directed) the efforts to shame and silence the “bimbo eruptions” from his many paramours. When she tried to do something on her own, like her disastrous socialized medicine scheme, she failed miserably. So of course, she gets to become a U.S. Senator, presidential candidate, and then Secretary of State, where her incompetence actually got people killed.

      Say what you want about Sarah Palin, but at least she managed to accomplish something worthwhile in Alaska — and unlike Clinton and Gorelick, there was no body count attached to her tenure.

anyone that thinks bill was/is the power in the relationship is a fool. she ran him like she has run everyone.
and does anyone really believe an unknown senator could beat a clinton if they wanted to win ? really ???

BannedbytheGuardian | August 4, 2013 at 7:39 pm

If it is any consolation things are not much better anywhere in the world .

Perhaps the only outstanding leaders are Queen Elizabeth , Bad Vlad & Assad.

The Q issingle handedly holding up the realm with the Parliament being the worst it has ever been since Cromwell.

Putin rarely makes mistakes & Assad is overcoming US & Euro & Gulf mercenaries.

If people cannot see Clintomn was just off her head at the Benghazi hearings then there is no hope. It is scared to think that in the whole US Democrat Party thre is no one else – the Dems representing the majority party.

    ” If it is any consolation things are not much better anywhere in the world . ”

    Obviously you’re not too worried about the state of America today that such thoughts can console you.

    Maybe there is still some time to raise the “low information” level and change things for the better?

Don’t be too encouraged, nor too depressed. The Democrat party and their lapdog media will spend about $2 Billion trashing all opponents to the anointed one (it’s Hilary’s turn). Withstanding that onslaught is the criteria we need to be looking at in order to win the White House in 2016.

But, the message to low information voters is rather simple… The Democrat party platform can be summarized in 3 letters, B H O

B – as in BIG. The Democrat party stands for big government, big unions, big companies, big whatever.

H – as in HATE, The leaders of the Democrat party hate you. You are just a source of funds for their schemes, and a vote for their candidates.

S – as in SHUT UP. You don’t have the right to say anything about your betters, just be quiet and take it.

We can develop a good counter message if we understand what we are up against and keep the GOP establishment out of the picture.

“Creating an echo chamber in order to insulate yourself from ideas contrary to your dogma is generally unproductive unless your goal is to form a cult.”

And we all know how that tends to end. The loftier you build upon faulty premises and aversion and evasion of the truth, the harder you’ll fall upon the consequences of avoiding and denying reality.

Has it ever occurred to anyone that if Chris Christie changes parties, he could very well win in 2016? Go ahead and laugh, but think about it.

I usually JG’s columns but this one struck me as somewhat weak. We can do the same exact exercise with Obama. Quick: Name one accomplishment he had when he was a United States senator from Illinois. Quick! Name one significant piece of legislation he passed. Name one significant accomplishment as a state senator from IL that he had. What has he ever done prior to being President aside from being president of Harvard Law Review? And whatever did he do or review there that was so impressive? Name one thing. Much like Hillary, he gets elected to positions of power running on a resume of largely name recognition.

Hillary can win the Presidency easily because there’s more than enough LIVs, the lapdog media coverage she will get, and the people who are riding the apple cart that is America outnumber the people who are pushing it.

    jayjerome66 in reply to T-Bird. | August 4, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    If you don’t realize there’s an equivalent number of LIVs in the Republican Party you’re in denial.

      Unsupportable on the face of it. Every test and study has demonstrated Republicans en masse are better informed and have higher civic awareness than democrats. Not even close.

Hillary will not be the nominee, though the case for Hollywood, DC still obtains.

She is a sorrowful figure detsined for bitterness, and this will play out to the end. By 2016 she will simply be too old a dog to run with the party radicalized and dumbed down by Obama. Another female star will emerge, a flashier and more audaciously leftist one. I’d put good money on Elizabeth Warren. Clinton will look, at once, too old, too moderate and too pathetically pandering to the extreme elements of the party. She’s not a deft or exciting enough politican to finesse it; she’ll fall back on the Clinton name and star power, which will be pretty much spent by then and which she never really could instantiate in the first place.

No, she’s going to experience the full bitterness and sorrow of being put to pasture, having missed “her moment” in 2008. Of course, that was never her moment either; she utterly mis-read Obama and failed to make use of the ruthlessness she was famous for. If she were a more interesting person it would be kind of tragic.

Then there’s the reality that Mitt didn’t win.

And, his dad, George, lost to Richard Nixon. (Back in 1968.)

Of course, Nixon won in 1968. And, again, in 1972. While over at the New Yorker Pauline Kael said “she didn’t know of a single person who voted for Nixon.” (That’s when my mom said “she did.” And, she liked him, too.)

The thing about politics is that there are some contests that bring out the young voters. (As JFK did back in 1960.) Now the group who prefers not to vote tends also to be young, as well.

We once had the Whigs (as a party). They were the aristocrats. So, by definition parties that serve the aristocrats tend not to hold enough votes to win elections.

Reagan’s triumph was due to the blue collar democrats “crossing over.”

I suspect the GOP will blow an excellent opportunity to win. (Did you know the same thing happened back in 1948? General Douglas MacArthur would have jumped at the chance to run as a republican. So? Well, the party ran away from him because they didn’t know how to control him. Whom did they run? John Dewey. And, why? Because they thought when John Dewey ran against the dying Roosevelt, the voters didn’t see FDR dying at all.) Truman wasn’t like by the establishment democrats! He pulled out his victory in 1948 on sheer will power.

Maybe, that’s all Hillary has?

My fear is the low information, low thought density voters that make up the bulk of the DNC machine. They don’t really care that Hillary has accomplished, in essence, nothing. It is “just cool” to elect a woman Prez.

Obama’s race was an asset in 2008 because voters want a race neutral society. Likewise, Hillary’s gender will be an asset in 2016 because voters want a gender neutral society.

It’s not going to be Hillary. It will be Cory Booker.

And the press and the democratic fraud machine will make certain he is our next president.

Of this, I am certain.

Could Chris Christy beat Hillary?

Well – Hillary’s always had a low likability mark. She doesn’t communicate human, soulful qualities. She’s not charming, not humorous, doesn’t seem desirable as a friend, and for sure not lovely and appealing. Frankly she doesn’t know how to behave in any situation – except as a bully.

Chris has appeal. He would be a great friend. He seems to represent the blue collar crowd because he doesn’t come across slick. And importantly he communicates sincerity.

If the U.S. has a majority of ‘low-information’ voters that vote with their heart then Christy is a good bet. The rest of the Republicans with a low ability to score on the emotion meter should stay in the background.

I’m sorry to say that Jonah Goldberg is a waste of time. It’s also a waste of time for disenfranchised right of center Americans to wonder about the next democrat nominee. How do you define “the Republicans?” The Republican Party was essentially dead after the Nov. 2008 elections and was fine about it. The only reason anyone started talking about the GOP after that is because of the Tea Party. The GOP has no interest in coming back to life if it means conservatives having a voice. The GOP establishment adores and has merged with the democrats. This includes the Bush crowd and people Rupert Murdoch has on Fox News who make sure conservative voices don’t gain traction. They wanted Obama to be re-elected. The list of vicious things the GOP establishment has done in the past few years to sabotage our attempts to save this country is quite long. The US no longer has a 2 party system. There’s hope for this country but it begins with facing reality.

NC Mountain Girl | August 5, 2013 at 1:43 am

The relationship between favorable media coverage and results both at the box office and the ballot box are not quite as straightforward as the author fears. All the good press in the world can’t help a seriously flawed product. In politics the product being sold to swing voters is basically a heavily idealized vision of themselves. How many voters imagine themselves standing with a frozen smile next to a hound dog of a husband whose latest paramour was the same age as his daughter? The woman wronged narrative can be compelling. The woman as doormat narrative is not.

Some small observations:

1) “Of course, as George W. Bush’s second term in office wound down, I assumed that he’d be succeeded by Rudy Giuliani.” I question the judgement of anyone who would actually say that with a straight face.

2) Yes, politics has always been about more than the strength of a candidate’s resume. This should not be news.

3) The newspapers help shape elite liberal opinion. Their national influence is almost gone. If you doubt, look at the loss the NYT took on the Boston Globe the other day.

4) There is no four.

5) Obama is able to deliver his lines in a way that makes him seem like a good guy. (Sort of. If you don’t look too close) This helped him become president as much as the media blackout on actual facts about him. Hillary and Biden both lack that talent. Meaning:

6) No matter what you think right now, the race is still wide open.

Certainly there are elements in the Dems that are puching for a Hillary presidency, but I don’t think they have the support like they did in 08. Plus, Benghazi could also still nail her.

If nominated, I don’t see Hillary winning if an actual conservative runs against her. The press will be slobbering all over her of course, but there isn’t the same social power and glamor associated with the 1st woman president as with the 1st Black president.

But yeah, DC is becoming like Hollywood. Of course Hollywood is on the verge of collapse so…

Uncle Samuel | August 5, 2013 at 8:43 am

What do you all think of the Frederick Douglass Republican movement that has received Red State’s endorsement as a viable strategy for the GOP?

Be mindful that Politics, Hollywood, Big Money (Banking, Arms, Vice (alcohol, tobacco), Electronics/Internet) and the Various Agenda Movements (from Islam, to radical environmentalism, global warming, the multiple alphabet sexual agenda groups promoting pansexuality) and some under-the-table powerful groups (porn, human trafficking, drugs) are involved in a polygamous marriage and as the old saying goes, ‘Politics makes strange bedfellows’ (in more ways than one).

From The Right Scoop: “RNC tells NBC, CNN to drop Hillary documentaries or it will bar Republicans from their debates”

Well now.

[…] in 2012, Obama was a candidate without accomplishments or, when off the teleprompter, charisma.  The robots — er, oligarchs . . . er, political class . . . er, media — anointed him and ….  “We, the People” — our needs, desires, and existence — have become […]

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