Clinton loyalists are now showing their true colors. And they are not pretty.
Initially, it seemed better to leave Brad DeLong alone when he made a drive-by misfire at my Politico article on why many Sanders voters will never vote for Clinton. It’s a badge of honor of sorts when a Clinton hack, um, tribalist, gets so upset about a pro-Sanders story that he rushes in on the offensive.
However, DeLong’s piece was sorely deficient in intellectual integrity. He make it obvious he had not read the story by misattributing a reader comment to me and then compounding the error by riffing on the reader remark (Politico even provided the link so its audience could see the quote in context).
What is telling is that diatribes against Sanders supporters are increasingly of the “shoot the messenger” or “shoot the voter” variety, as the case may be. The Clinton camp is responding with ever-escalating levels of abuse to evidence that Sanders supporters have serious, reasoned objections to the Clintons’ track record, Obama’s policies, which Hillary Clinton embraces, and her neoliberal economic stance. If you want to confirm the view of the Sanders bloc, that the Democratic party is not interested in their issues, this is precisely the way to do it.
But the Clinton loyalists are stooping even lower and are purging dissenters on the left. Mind you, this isn’t a new practice. As Jane Hamsher pointed out in 2009, the Obama Administration successfully most put left-leaning groups in a “veal pen,” by attacking individuals and organizations that stepped out of line by doing things like criticizing Blue Dog (pro-corporate, pro-bank) Democrats, or criticizing the payment of bonuses to AIG staffers. Those organizations that didn’t fall in lime and had institutional funding (most) would be disciplined by calls to important backers pressing them to end their financial support.
A lot of good that did in the long run. Controlling the message in the Beltway hothouse did not seem to have much sway with voters at large. They’ve somehow managed, all on their own, to have a good enough grasp of basic things like their purchasing power and their job security to notice that things were not going well for them. Blue Dog Democrats in Congress were turfed out in 2010 and 2012, while the bona-fide progressives overwhelmingly held their seats.
But the purges are now becoming personal. As Corey Robin and others have pointed out, in a mere two weeks, Matt Bruenig was fired from Demos and Emmett Rensin was suspended from Vox. The Bruenig dismissal was seen by the Beltway insiders as retribution for his daring to target a widely-seen-as-sleazy Clinton backer, as opposed to the trumped-up charge of violating unwritten rules of discourse. But someone working for a neoliberal think tank, which Demos is, is at risk of being subject to loyalty tests. By contrast, as Robin stresses, the sanctioning of Rensin at the supposedly apolitical Vox is rank hypocrisy.
And now, in a sort of piling on, Brad DeLong threatens Zach Carter, a Huffington Post journalist who has done some fine work in the financial services beat. This is the headline and first sentence of his post (emphasis original):
The Huffington Post Has a Serious, Serious Quality Control Problem with Seth Abramson…
Live from the Huffington Post’s self-made Gehenna of Lies: It has a serious quality control problem with Zach Carter too. But the time to talk about that won’t come until November…
So we have a former Clinton Administration official calling a journalist a liar (with no supporting evidence) and threatening him with unnamed consequences in November. That is presumably on the assumption that Clinton wins, which is not at all a given.
So what can we expect will happen then? That the transition team will issue a hit list of disfavored journalists and Carter is sure to be on it? That seems to be the drift of DeLong’s thuggish promise.
And this was not an isolated threat. DeLong has been even more overbearing:
Mind you: The day will come when it will be time to gleefully and comprehensively trash people to be named later for Guevarista fantasies about what their policies are likely to do. The day will come when it will be time to gleefully and comprehensively trash people to be named later for advocating Comintern-scale lying to voters about what our policies are like to do. And it will be important to do so then–because overpromising leads to bad policy decisions, and overpromising is bad long-run politics as well.
Gerald Friedman is pretty sure he is on DeLong’s hit list:
Is Brad really threatening to trash me after the election?https://t.co/n2UPCEvQ9Z
— Gerald Friedman (@gfriedma) May 1, 2016
Now mind you, this blood lust comes from an economist who is part the Center for Equitable Growth, a think tank founded by John Podesta, who is also the chairman of Clinton’s 2016 campaign. Its steering committee includes Melody Barnes, who as former Director of the White Housed Domestic Policy Committee, was an Obama advisor, former Fed Vice Chairman Alan Blinder, a Bill Clinton appointee, and former head of the Council of Economic Advisers Laura Tyson, another Bill Clinton pick who later advised the Obama Adminsitration. DeLong’s posts, and his confidence that he will be able to serve up his revenge, thus isn’t simply a communication by an isolated blogger. It should be seen as official messaging.
This is from an economist who was part of the Administration that gave us Nafta, which instead of creating jobs as promised, cost America an estimated 850,000 to 1,000,000 jobs. This is from an economist who stood with the mainstream, pro-bank deregulation which led to the near-collapse of the financial system and to bailouts that constituted the greatest transfer of wealth in world history. This is from an economist who has consistently stood with mainstream neoliberal economic theories that have led to a flat real wages for ordinary workers, which only now as the chickens are coming home to roost, is being acknowledged as one of the causes, and arguably the cause, of secular stagnation. And he has the temerity to declare himself and his allies as having been truthful about the impact of their policies and having superior acumen as to what works and doesn’t work. On top of that, he charges others with “overpromising” when that is what he and his fellow travelers have done again and again.
Good liberals are supposed to respect the freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and academic independence. But good liberals circa 2016 are looking a lot like good Germans circa 1936.
As the Israelis say, “Love your enemy, for you will become him.” DeLong’s threats show that the difference between him and Trump are ones only of degree, not of kind.