The Progressive Click-Bait Epidemic: Robert Reich

I am finally finishing my new book about the unicorn left, which will be finished as soon as I can finish the cover and upload it. The book is about the damage these people are doing to the progressive movement and what we can do about it. And one key thing is, we need to go after bullshit whenever we see it. And I read something on my Facebook feed over the weekend that pointed up the exact problem. It was written by Robert Reich, who is a unicorn progressive if there ever was one and who is looked upon as somewhat god-like by all other unicorn progressives, despite the reality that….

I’ll get to that.

Reich was sharing an article from the New York Times taking Hillary to task for using her time to raise $143 million from (GASP) rich people. Now, look at the back-handed way he deals with it.

I think Hillary Clinton is 1000 times better than Donald Trump, but I continue to worry about how close she is to the moneyed interests that are taking over our democracy. The New York Times reports (below) that she’s raising huge money from big money. At a single event on Tuesday, 10 people paid at least $250,000 to meet her, raising $2.5 million. At other events the fee to meet her is $100,000.

More troubling is what she’s telling her wealthy hosts. According to the Times, when businessmen complain that Obama has been unfriendly to their interests, she says she’d approach business leaders more like Bill Clinton did during his administration. When financiers complain about Dodd-Frank financial regulations, she say’s she’s open to anyone’s ideas and sometimes notes she represented the banking industry as a senator. When wealthy contributors complain about her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and express concerns that Bernie Sanders of Vermont pushed her to the left on trade, she reminds them she has both opposed and supported trade deals in the past.

There’s more, but let’s stop here.

It’s the political equivalent of saying, “I think your wife is more beautiful than my hippopotamus; if only she wasn’t so fat.” The Times article is extremely slanted in the first place. But Reich actually slants it more. First of all, the impression that Reich gives is that all of Hillary’s donors were filthy, money-hungry “banksters,” when the article doesn’t mention who the donors are. Apparently, just the fact that people paid “her” $350,000 is enough to imply that she’s being asked for favors. However, the names mentioned in the article don’t exactly suggest the filthy rich, but ultrarich liberals. Look at the names in the article: Jimmy Buffett, Paul McCartney, Harvey Weinstein… these aren’t exactly Charles and David Koch she’s raising money from.

And what’s so bad about how Bill Clinton approached businessmen? As I recall, everyone did well during the 1990s, including the poor and the middle class. And what Reich says is not what the article says, in any case.  Here’s what the Times article says:

To businessmen who complain to Mrs. Clinton that President Obama has been unfriendly to their interests, she says she would approach business leaders more like Mr. Clinton did during his administration, which was widely considered amicable to the private sector.

When financiers complain about the regulations implemented by the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul, Mrs. Clinton reaffirms her support for strong Wall Street regulation, but adds that she is open to listening to anyone’s ideas and at times notes that she represented the banking industry as a senator.

Funny how Reich leaves out the part where Hillary “reaffirms her support for strong Wall Street regulation” and only notes the part where she will “listen to anyone’s ideas.” Gasp! How can anyone promise to listen to the ideas of rich people like Paul McCartney or Jon Bon Jovi alongside the ideas of Robert Reich? When Reich was part of the Clinton Administration during the 1990s, he didn’t seem to have much of a problem then. Funny, that. He was part of the very Administration he now complains that Hillary plans to emulate.

Here’s the rest of Reich’s missive:

The Times reports she’s extremely relaxed at these gatherings, unlike elsewhere on the campaign trail. “If she feels most at ease around millionaires, within the gilded bubble, it is in part because they are some of her most intimate friends.”

I suggest Hillary (1) commit that campaign-finance reform will be part of her first 100-day agenda – including full disclosure of who contributes what, government match of small donations, ending the revolving door between business and government, and reversing “Citizens United”; (2) immediately sever all family connections to the Clinton Foundation; and (3) pledge that her top economic advisors will not be former Wall Street executives or directors.

What do you think?

I think this kind of bullshit is why progressives are not taken seriously by the vast majority of thinking people.

What the hell does it mean that she’s more relaxed at these meetings than she is at rallies full of strangers, including people who hate her? It’s meaningless, really, so why is Reich suggesting that it means something else? Who would not be more relaxed in a crowd full of people who believe in her enough to pay $200,000 or $350,000 to hear her speak than she is in a crowd that may decide to heckle her? In a public space, she has to be careful to not say anything that might be picked up by the press. In a private gathering, she doesn’t. The article he’s referring to made this point, why did he ignore it?

Oh, yeah, and by the way; most of the $143 million she raised in August went to the national Democratic Party and state party committees; it did not even go into her campaign, let alone her pockets, so the implication that, somehow, the people attending these fundraisers were somehow buying access is ridiculous.

As for his recommendations at the end, the president can’t just enact campaign finance reforn of the sort he suggests in 100 days and, if Democrats don’t win everything they can to get as many Democrats elected as possible, they won’t happen at all. It will take a Supreme Court case to overturn Citizens United and Republicans like the current system better than anything. And invoking the Clinton Foundation is pure click-bait. She has already severed her ties to the Clinton Foundation and Bill Clinton has promised to do so if she wins, so he’s skiing for something she’s already agreed to. And as for the last one, all I can say is, who cares whether her economic advisors are “Wall Street,” really?  This is reminiscent of the whining about Tim Geithner. When you’re trying to run the US economy, who best to handle the problems than someone who understands them? Hillary is still in charge, just as Obama has been in charge, even when Geithner was Treasury Secretary.

Here’s the question, though; should everyone who has ever done anything for corporate interests be disqualified from participating in democracy? If that’s the case, why should we ever listen to Reich. I mean, he did spend several years working under Robert Bork when he was Solicitor General.

This type of thing is pure click-bait and it’s time we stopped paying attention to it.

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  1. Excellent points. If Robert Reich really believes Donald Trump is 1,000 times worse, then he should expound on that at least as much as he expresses his concerns about Hillary Clinton. I see this time and time again. They say Trump is unqualified or unfit or dangerous, but don’t elaborate on that, instead spending all their time speaking about the appearance of impropriety surrounding Clinton, when there’s actually concrete evidence of Trump’s shady business practices and violations of the law. Trump himself has bragged about bribing politicians. If the media, and everyone else, held Trump to the same standard they do Clinton, he would’ve been done long ago. He should actually have to prove himself more precisely because he has no experience, has no public record and hasn’t been scrutinized for 30 years.

  2. It has been years since I was a fan of Robert Reich, little use for those that butter their toast on both sides. In the articles I’ve read by him of late, one can’t help but wonder, did she somehow step on his toe or does he have a silent aversion to women in power?
    P.S. Thank you, your views are indispensable, even the times I don’t agree 100%, I’m aware you’re probably right.

  3. I never pay attention to Robert Reich, but I just noticed he’s on TUMBLR too, in case anyone wants to ignore him there. I might have to go over there and remind him about Bork, just for fun. Heck it’s labor day!

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