During last night’s MSNBC Townhall, Presidential “struggle” candidate, John Kasich was asked by an African American republican: “what would you do to build trust and reform social and economic injustice in the African American community”. Kasich’s reply was noteworthy as it hearkened back to the GOP posture of yester-year. Instead of offering strategies for attracting businesses and jobs to black communities or addressing inequity in school resource funding or offering initiatives to build thriving charter academies in black communities, Kasich seemed to view the question purely as a Criminal Justice inquiry and only when pressed by moderator Chuck Todd did Kasich discuss jobs or the economy in black communities. Hearing “social and economic justice” Kasich seemed to pigeon hole the question as a stereotype of black interests in police reform. While reforming the criminal justice system generally has profound economic consequences, the tepid police related reforms offered by Kasich missed the mark in a significant policy sense.
Kasich’s reply was to recall his creation of a committee that worked to express to the black community the good will of law enforcement and that officers simply don’t want to be “killed” or “taken out”. While the safety of law enforcement is a primary interest to all, it’s inclusion in his answer serves to curiously reinforce the notion that cops are under-siege and the black “super-predator” narrative damaging Hillary Clinton. It is worth pausing to consider that Kasich was asked how to improve social and economic injustices and his first statement was to emphasize officer safety from the violent impulses presumably in the black community? He went on to note that he revamped the use of deadly force policy and moved to create a police force that looked like the community it was serving. In the field of criminal justice reform, Kasich was offering very low hanging fruit. The primary cause of black incarceration is non-violent drug offense but as numerous studies have concluded blacks are no more likely than whites to use drugs. The outrageously high rates of incarceration are a result of targeting and unequal enforcement of drug laws against black communities. As John Ehrlichmen-former Domestic Policy Chief for Richard Nixon confessed, the drug war was created to target black people. Numerous exposes have uncovered how law enforcement routinely enforces drug laws through greater scrutiny of black and poor communities. Creating diverse police forces seems like a minor reform, given the totality of the issue and it’s profound implications for black families, black businesses and the black economy. He ended his statement by highlighting his attempt to let non-violent felons wipe their records clean, in order to gain employment which does address the economic incentive that generally drives recidivism but he felt the odd compulsion to book-end his statement with “IF YOU’RE A GANGBANGER, YOU WILL NEVER GET OUT”. The response in totality was peculiar. Kasich offered a winding reply that offered the African American questioner a more diverse police force and a potential cleansing of records for non-violent offenders as a paltry sandwich between assurances to the general GOP voting base that he was still tough on crime.
Kasich was asked about social and economic injustice which could broadly be seen as a question relating to the economy in black communities. Only when pressed by moderator Chuck Todd, did Kasich discuss creating minority set-asides for the construction of a road in his state. Kasich could have seen the question as a prompt to opine on entrepreneurship and improving prospects for funding minority start-ups. It could have be seen as a question prompting a discussion of systemic impediments to creating wealth and opportunity. Offering clean records to obtain jobs in jobless communities for individuals that have lost years of potential training and education as a result of being incarcerated for recreational drug use, is a half measure and only a band-aid after the state has already inflicted a severe wound to the family of black communities. For a candidate that has built it’s success on the Tone of it’s candidate this was quite possibly Kasich’s most tone def answer of the political season.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the Massachusetts Conference for Women in Boston, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
In an early Town-hall hosted by Fox News in Detroit Michigan, Hillary Clinton unveiled a new policy that bares a striking resemblance to the most celebrated policy of her primary opponent. Secretary Clinton’s New College Compact or Debt Free Tuition Policy will undoubtedly be seen as a mimic of Bernie Sanders’ Free Tuition proposal. Both proposals, according to each candidate would cover the cost of attendance at any Community College or Public University. Clinton claims however that the Free-Tuition proposal posited by Sanders would do nothing to curtail the rising cost of education. Clinton claims that by offering “Free Tuition” universities are under no pressure to lower costs. She believes that she improves on the Sanders proposal and halts the precipitous rise of tuition costs by requiring colleges to effectively audit their degree programs and remove costs that are unrelated to the degree students are pursuing. “If its not related to a young person getting a degree that will lead to them getting a job, DON’T CHARGE THE STUDENT” railed Clinton. Clinton says that she will expect states to invest in higher education, noting that “we have enough prisons“! Mrs. Clinton offered no specific details on how states will be convinced to cooperate with her plan but she noted that she has the funding worked out, unlike Bernie Sanders. Clinton offers existing students the possibility of refinancing their student debt and paying back existing loans as a percentage of income, relieving students from high interest rates.
2016 presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
Who is the rightful successor of the Obama Legacy? The fight to become the President’s standard bearer became the central theme of last night’s Democratic Townhall on MSNBC.
During the Townhall Hillary Clinton launched a series of attacks on Senator Bernie Sanders, alleging that he once encouraged disenchanted democrats to launch a primary challenge to President Obama’s second term in 2012. The attack while effective is also tactically blind to Clinton’s own previous actions.
Clinton has been informally running for President longer than any other candidate. One of the early narratives of her campaign was a direct rebuke of the Obama foreign policy. The Washington Post wrote that “there is little precedent for a secretary of state preparing a presidential campaign in part by criticizing the foreign policy being carried out by the administration she helped lead.” In the earliest moments of 2014 Clinton began a very public critique of President Obama’s Foreign Policy, highlighting moments when the President failed to heed her sage advice and the disastrous consequences of his naivete. At one point Clinton mocked the President (and his famous phrase) declaring that “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff is not an organizing principle” effectively attacking his reluctance to get the U.S. bogged down in long engagements.
While Clinton attempts to position Sanders as a disloyal soldier in the democratic ranks, her attacks on the President came at a much more precarious time for the President, while he was bogged down in the tumult of new complications in Iraq and the Ukraine. Clinton went even further, outpacing even right wing critics of the President becoming among the first to blame the President and the failure of his policies for the rise of Isis. Clinton stated in The Atlantic that “The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the Protests against Bashar al Assad-there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle-the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled”. The public spat evolved into a very embarrassing verbal joust, leaving a sitting President to publicly debate his former Secretary of State in the pages of the New York Times, in which he declared that the postulated scenario of success from Clinton’s recommendations had “always been a fantasy” (Washington Post 8/11/14).
Clinton’s early campaign was positioned to seek political benefits by distancing herself from the President. The Atlantic noted that Clinton repeatedly referred to the President’s policy as a “Failure” a remark she now assaults Sanders for making. As one who now seeks the mantle of the Obama Presidency, the inconvenient truth is that in the early months of 2014, Hillary Clinton was tacking right, praising President Bush and attacking President Obama as a failure (to summarize TheWeek.com 7/28/14).
The most costly charge for the Sanders team is the claim that Sanders once sought “someone” as a primary challenger for President Obama in 2012, however it is worth noting that the challenger most speculated about was Hillary Clinton. Team Clinton supporters, were the most vocal proponents of a Primary challenge for the President. In an article posted to TheHill.com frustrated democrats like Peter DeFazio suggested that a primary challenge might salve the wounds of disappointment he and other democrats felt about the President. A primary challenge he stated would “push the president and his advisers a bit……to give us back the candidate we had three years ago”. An unnamed lawmaker told TheHill.Com that Clinton was the only candidate that could “crystallize the issues”. The same liberal lawmaker told The Hill that “She could do the job and hopefully lead us to a better place”. The clamor culminated with articles like the Daily Beast’s “Hillary Told You So” in which numerous democratic acolytes loyal to Clinton asserted that the disappointment voters felt in Obama could have been avoided had voters made the wiser choice of electing Clinton. Redemption they argued could be earned by supporting a Clinton in 2012 primary challenge. While Clinton vociferously denied interest, fuel was given to fire by Clinton attacking her own Commander In Chief while serving as his Secretary of State, suggesting that Obama’s “Failure” economically was making her job harder as early as 2010.
In 2016, will it be Elizabeth Warren vs. Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden vs. Hillary? Who will attempt to take on the unstoppable juggernaut of Clinton Inc? Who would take on this fools errand? A simple sampling of the political landscape reveals that there is still one candidate, largely missed thus far by pundits. There is only one candidate, on the democratic side that has both a well known longing to be President and a compelling set of credentials to be President. That person is John Kerry! The current Secretary of State has run for President before and lost. While the typical cliche in politics declares that no one likes and looser, another popular political refrain notes that once someone gets the bug to be President, it NEVER goes away! And if this week goes well for the Secretary of State, John Kerry may have the only cogent argument a candidate can make against Hillary Clinton. If this week goes well, John Kerry might be able to say that he was a better Secretary of State then Hillary. The legendary Mrs. Clinton has developed a popularity and respect apart from her husband’s efforts, based on her mythical work ethic and often heralded competency. But if John Kerry is able to forge a strong agreement with Iran that curbs their nuclear ambitions he can claim to have done what Hillary could not. The truth of the matter is of-course more complex but in politics, truth isn’t just relative, it is malleable. This argument, in combination with the admittedly absurd Benghazi accusations undermines the mythology of Clinton’s competency. Pundits are in great error to exclude John Kerry in their endless prognostications of the next election cycle. He is qualified. He is capable. And most importantly, he really wants to be President!