New Yorker editor David Remnick spoke with Hillary Clinton for a wide-ranging profile in the magazine’s September 25th issue. Remnick interviewed Clinton and other players — both off-the-record and on — on the occasion of the publication of What Happened, her memoir of winning the popular vote but losing the more crucial electoral one to a crass, bigoted reality TV star.
Remnick considers the role the media might have played in this debacle by frequently, unfairly, painting Clinton in a harsh light. It’s nothing new, he acknowledges, pointing to a similar discussion in a 1996 profile in his own magazine:
Twenty-one years ago, in an article for this magazine called “Hating Hillary,” by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., she admitted, “I apparently remind some people of their mother-in-law or their boss, or something.” In the same piece, Arianna Huffington remarks on Clinton’s “self-righteousness,” Peggy Noonan on her “apple-cheeked certitude.” Gates observed that Clinton was widely perceived as Mrs. Jellyby, the character in Charles Dickens’s “Bleak House” who is as “intent on improving humanity as she is cavalier toward actual human beings . . . the zealous reformer with a heart as big as all Antarctica.”
Such ingrained habits of media antagonism proved to be another factor that allowed Trump, the biggest liar in the history of Presidential politics, to be seen by tens of millions of people as a figure of rude authenticity, their champion. In Clinton’s view, she could never win with people who had been trained to regard her as a high-minded phony. Her wariness and evasions drained their sympathy; her strained attempts to win people back too often fell flat. Why couldn’t she be admired for her intelligence, her competence, her experience?
It’s been a heck of a few days after a heck of a few months after approximately 900 years that got squeezed into this mutation of the space-time continuum we’re calling 2017.
Our president’s namesake has gotten himself into a bit of a pickle and the New York Times, as the saying goes, is on it. The first story, published on Saturday, noted how Donald J. Trump, Jr. said in March that he probably met with people that were Russian — who hasn’t, in today’s globalized world? — but no meetings “that were set up” and “certainly none” in which he was representing his father’s presidential campaign.
And then this beauty of a standalone single-sentence paragraph:
Asked at that time whether he had ever discussed government policies related to Russia, the younger Mr. Trump replied, “A hundred percent no.”
But then the Times tells Junior — and Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, and Jared Kushner, the young son-in-law with the security clearance and the mandate to fix the Middle East — that they know about a meeting.
How do they know about it? Well, that security clearance-wielding son-in-law’s lawyer went ahead and told them Junior invited his brother-in-law to it.
So back on Saturday, approximately 16 lifetimes ago, Junior says the meeting, with Krelim-connected Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, was just about adoption.
On Sunday, the Times publishes another story, this time citing five anonymous sources, two of whom are identified as advisors to the White House, saying Junior went to the meeting after being promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
This time, Junior says, OK, yes, we talked about Clinton — but it’s not what you think!
“After pleasantries were exchanged,” he said, “the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Mrs. Clinton.”
Russia was helping Clinton. Also, for what it’s worth, this Russian lady lawyer “made no sense,” Junior tells the Times.
On Monday, the Times has a new story. This one says there’s an email that explicitly told Junior the Russian lawyer had information on Hillary Clinton that “was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy.”
Yikes. What say you now, Junior?
Obviously I'm the first person on a campaign to ever take a meeting to hear info about an opponent… went nowhere but had to listen. https://t.co/ccUjL1KDEa
Other tweets that day include a New York Post story calling the Times’ work “a big yawn,” a Fox host claiming that calling the meeting a “nothing burger” is an “insult to nothing burgers,” and a retweet of Dad’s biggest fan, Laura Ingraham, re-upping a Politico story from January about Ukrainian efforts to help Clinton.
(In case you, like Ingraham, are too busy to click on the story, it says that Ukraine’s efforts “were far less concerted or centrally directed than Russia’s alleged hacking and dissemination of Democratic emails. Russia’s effort was personally directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, involved the country’s military and foreign intelligence services, according to U.S. intelligence officials.”)
Guys. Guys! Never give them more time to comment. This is the greatest lesson I ever learned from Andrew Cuomo’s press office. You politely say, “We’ll be happy to add in your comment whenever you send it!” and hit publish.
Russian Dirt on Clinton? ‘I Love It,’ Donald Trump Jr. Said
Whomever wrote this headline is having a great day.
Less good day for the person who wrote the email to Junior that explicitly stated they wanted to provide information on Clinton that “is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
To which Junior responded with a line that will make Carly Rae Jepsen weep missed-opportunity tears when she reads it:
He replied within minutes: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
This is LFO meets Icona Pop. This is a line from a perhaps too-perfect summer banger, the likes of which we’ve never heard. Junior, you have a calling.
The rest of the Times story includes incredible reporting, but more impressive is how it is written as a straight news story, but with the driest, most next-level shade investigative journalism has ever seen.
As part of their explanation of one of the characters involved, Emin Agalarov, whose father “boasts close ties to Mr. Putin,” they embed a music video featuring young Emin and our current U.S. president.
After quoting an email in which lawyer Rob Goldstone mentions “the Crown prosecutor of Russia,” the Times notes “there is no such title as Crown Prosecutor in Russia.” Another sentence refers to the damning Junior email (or future summer banger) as “his ‘love it’ reply.”
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
While all of this is obviously bad for Junior, it’s also not great for Kushner, whose lawyers have gone to lengths to emphasize his obliviousness to his surroundings before, during and potentially even after this meeting. And for Manafort, who said in February, “It’s not like these people wear badges that say, ‘I’m a Russian intelligence officer.'”
Both men were forwarded the email that promised Russian state-sponsored dirt on Clinton. And even if they didn’t open it, the subject line was, I kid you not, “FW: Russia – Clinton – private and confidential.”
At 12:03p June 8, day before the meeting, Kushner & Manafort were informed of a time change to "Meeting"—suggesting they already knew of it. pic.twitter.com/bVO40pe2L1
In conversations, though, with many of them over the past couple weeks, they all agreed: This, in the end, is probably how it had to be. A woman who operated purely as a feminist would have condemned herself to fighting a permanently outside fight. And a woman who never tested the limits of the role she agreed to play—tested it over and over—wouldn’t have built the thick skin and the savvy needed to keep going.
“Those experiences and changes she made to forge a path are so reflective of women of her generation,” said Sally McMillen, a 1966 Wellesley grad who recently retired as a professor of history, and women’s history, at Davidson College in North Carolina. “I have always maintained that our generation was the transition generation for women, pulled by traditions but grabbing for new opportunities as we could—constant compromises and even reinventing ourselves as needed.”
On stage a young black man, the president of the United States, warmly embraced an older white woman in front of god and all the world. It is now an iconic photograph. If it had occurred on a weed-choked street in Mississippi within the lifetime of many of the people who were cheering the moment, the young man might have been beaten, burned, hung, thrown into a river with a cotton fan tied to his neck. A song began to rise through the history of the moment:
Southern trees bear a strange fruit/Blood on the leaves and blood at the root/Black bodies swingin’ in the Southern breeze/Strange fruit hangin’ from the poplar trees…
But it was not those days any longer. The young man was the President of the United States and he has rung his changes on that song, and on an occasionally baffled democracy.
– Charles Pierce, writing in Esquire, on President Obama’s Democratic National Convention Speech and uniquely American brand of “cool.”
The idea that, at this point, there is some version of Hillary Clinton that we haven’t seen before feels implausible. Often, it feels like we know too much about her. She has been around for so long — her story, encompassing political intrigue and personal drama, has been recounted so many times — that she can seem a fictional character. To her critics, she is Lady Macbeth, to her adherents, Joan of Arc. As a young Hillary hater, I often compared her to Darth Vader — more machine than woman, her humanity ever more shrouded by Dark Side gadgetry. These days, I think of her as General Leia: No longer a rebel princess, she has made a wry peace with her rakish mate and her controversial hair and is hard at work, mounting a campaign against the fascistic First Order.
– Rebecca Traister followed Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail for this profile in New York magazine. With access afforded to few journalists, she saw both sides of the narrative made flesh: the stiff, loud, pedantic arena performer and the engaged, relaxed (yes, relaxed!), nose-to-the-grindstone public servant.
The question of whether or not it’s appropriate to refer to Hillary Clinton as “Hillary” has been unresolved for at least a decade now. It’s offensive, argues Peggy Drexler. It’s fine, says Peter Beinart. It’s complicated, shrugs McClatchy DC.
Back in 2007, the Chicago Tribune’s public editor wondered whether use of the former first lady’s first name was overly familiar, even provocative: “Mrs. Clinton or Sen. Clinton or former First Lady Hillary Clinton are all proper ways to address or refer to her, but just plain Hillary is almost guaranteed to trigger a reaction.” Editor Jane Fritsch told him via email that she disliked the double-standard: “The simple fact is that Hillary Rodham Clinton is running in a field of men who are never referred to by their first names.” Read more…
Bernie Sanders’ campaign website categorizes his platform as “progressive”; Hillary Clinton has recently started describing herself as “a progressive who likes to get things done.” And Beverly Gage has a fascinating piece over at The New York Times Magazine about the shifting definition of the word “progressive,” particularly in relation to its similarly left-leaning lexical cousin “liberal.”
According to Gage, “progressive” came into widespread use in the early 1900s, during “a moment when many Americans believed democracy was failing.” The time period doesn’t sound so dissimilar to today: the richest of the rich—robber barons like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller—controlled enormous wealth, while millions of Americans (many of them immigrants) lived in poverty. The first round of progressivism was a response to this massive income inequality, as the middle class “went in search of a new politics that would enable both the government and the citizenry to rebalance this distribution of power.”
The ‘‘progressive’’ movement was, at first, a big-tent enterprise, a ‘‘remarkably good-natured effort of the greater part of society to achieve some not very clearly specified self-reformation,’’ in the words of the historian Richard Hofstadter. The general impulse to do something inspired a bewildering array of social movements that had little in common by today’s standards. At its height, progressivism produced moralists, cynics and social engineers, with some progressives seeking to liberate humanity from its benighted superstitions as others sought to impose strict rules about sex, alcohol and racial intermingling. Urban reformers and pacifists and trustbusters and suffragists all called themselves ‘‘progressives.’’ So did prohibitionists and segregationists and antivaccinationists and eugenicists. Historians still refer to the first two decades of the 20th century as the Progressive Era, a time when the nation enacted its first federal income tax and food-safety regulations and women won the right to vote. But during that period, progressivism’s darker side emerged, too: the creation of the Jim Crow system and the passage of viciously exclusionary immigration restriction.
And if you think the currently squabbling over the true definition of “progressive” is confusing, 2016 has nothing on 1912, when both Democrats and Republicans simultaneously embraced the term. Former Republican president Theodore Roosevelt was running for office under the newly minted “Progressive Party,” with his two main opponents (Woodrow Wilson and William Howard Taft, one a Democrat and one a Republican, respectively) also self-describing with the term.
But the real narrative of the word “progressive” seems to be that of a shifting pendulum: it fell from favor in the aftermath of World War I, and Great Depression-era reformers abandoned it completely, instead identifying as “liberals.” As Gage writes:
This word [liberal] set them apart from the prim moralizing of some of their predecessors; one of Franklin Roosevelt’s first acts as president was to allow the nation to drink beer. It also suggested a growing respect for civil liberties, rejecting the progressives’ tendency to favor social control over individual freedom. When Washington reformers became ‘‘liberals,’’ ‘‘progressives’’ in turn became more radical. In the parlance of the 1930s, to be a ‘‘progressive’’ was suddenly to be a ‘‘fellow traveler,’’ someone who never joined the Communist Party but who felt that the Communists might have a point.
The pendulum shifts continued throughout the 20th century and, it now seems, will keep swinging well into the 21st.
Chevy Chase was on the plane with Bill Clinton. So was a former president of Brazil. The founders of Google. A former president of Mexico. And John Cusack.
They were all going to Davos, the Swiss resort that holds an annual conclave of the wealthy and powerful. The jet — arranged by a Saudi businessman — provided a luxurious living-room setting for a rolling discussion: Couldn’t the big names at Davos be doing more to solve the world’s big problems?
In the background, a Clinton staff member named Doug Band had an idea that would change the ex-president’s life.
“Only Bill Clinton could bring a group like this together,” Band thought.
Bill Clinton didn’t need Davos. He could do this himself.
The election model that’s most in vogue — that scored the highest when applied to presidential elections since World War II, correctly predicting every outcome since 1992 — is one created by Emory political scientist Alan Abramowitz called “Time for a Change.” Abramowitz argues that the fundamentals in a presidential election are bedevilingly simple: the incumbent president’s approval rating in late June or early July, the rate of real GDP growth in the second quarter, and how many terms the party has been in the White House.
In 2012, for instance, Obama’s relatively lopsided victory may have shocked Republicans on Election Night, but by Abramowitz’s reckoning it was practically preordained. Although second-quarter real GDP growth was a relatively unimpressive 1.5 percent and Obama’s approval rating was a good-but-not-great 46 percent that June, he was seeking reelection, and, according to Abramowitz, “first-term incumbents rarely lose.” In fact, he believes that being a first-term incumbent is worth 4 percentage points. There was nothing in the Abramowitz model that looked good for John McCain in 2008 (bad economy, bad approval ratings of a second-term president from McCain’s party). In 1988, by contrast, George H.W. Bush was also running to give his party a third term, but Q2 real GDP growth that year was a booming 5.24 percent and Ronald Reagan’s approval rating was above 50 percent.
—Jason Zengerle writing for New York about how Hillary Clinton stacks up as a candidate, and whether or not being a “good candidate” actually means anything in terms of winning the presidency.