Friday, October 16, 2015

The Trump, Clinton, and Sanders Show: Prelude to an "American Berlusconi"?

The Democratic Party debate (October 13) and its aftermath crystallized the political crisis the United States currently faces. Hillary Clinton was quickly declared the "winner," not because she made a convincing case for her politics, but because "no one laid a glove on her." Actually, that is not really true, as Bernie Sanders delivered a convincing rebuttal to Clinton's lame attempt to justify capitalism on the basis that it is the source of many successful small businesses. Aside from the fact that Clinton's stance is the standard GOP defense of capitalism, Sanders correctly pointed out that it doesn't matter how many small businesses there are if income gains accrue nearly exclusively to a microscopic minority of investors at the top, as has been the case for some time now in the USA.

In any event, it's certainly true that an honest picture of Clinton's ugly politics and the appropriate damage to her public image it should do, did not emerge from this debate. But given that the mass media function to conceal major state crimes, some of which Clinton has participated in, this was only to be expected. U.S. voters remain in the dark about everything they most need to know, even AFTER the debate allegedly designed to enlighten them. This is good reason to dismiss criticisms of the American electorate as "apathetic," since watching U.S. political debates is akin to taking a sleeping pill before studying for the final exam.

One gigantic opportunity was completely missed. Clinton's gushing reference to European leaders' fears of an imminent "mass genocide" (as opposed to those genocides in which only a handful of people are killed) in Libya during her tenure as Secretary of State presented a perfect opportunity to not only "lay a glove on her," but in fact to deliver a knockout punch. Unfortunately, the media "personalities" conducting the debate (Anderson Cooper, Dana Bash, et al) were solely concerned with the soap opera of Hillary's e-mails, which Bernie Sanders dismissed with appropriate irritation as a distracting charade. Meanwhile Sanders, Clinton's only significant rival for the Democratic nomination at the moment, failed to follow up with a critique of Clinton's role in deposing and murdering a popular head of state (Moammar Qaddafi) while plunging Libya into murderous chaos at the hands of Washington's de facto al Qaeda allies, chaos from which it has still not emerged four years later, nor will it anytime soon. Hillary called this "smart power at its best."

Let us here note that the charge of "genocide" has become a joke in U.S. political parlance, invoked only to justify Washington's constant military interventions abroad. In the Libya case, it refers to Qaddafi's insistence that rioters in Benghazi lay down their arms, a demand that any head of state would make in similar circumstances.

Sanders' silence on the all-important matter of Libya may be owing to his own support for going to war to stop fake genocide, namely in Yugoslavia in 1999, when the "socialist" Sanders repeatedly and enthusiastically supported Washington's 78-day bombing campaign that ultimately deposed a democratically elected president (Slobodan Milosevic) and reduced socialist Yugoslavia to a Third World colony of NATO. This alone completely discredits Sanders' alleged socialist credentials, a fact lost on the billionaire-blowhard Donald Trump, who immediately dismissed Sanders as a "socialist-communist" and a "maniac" (the three labels are considered synonymous by all "serious" commentators and politicians).

All of which leaves the way wide open for a Trump presidency. Aside from Ben Carson, all of Trump's GOP rivals are mired in single digits in the polls, nearly crippled by conventional political rhetoric and analyses that promise to further entrench a status quo the electorate desperately wants to see changed. Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Clinton's claim to be an "outsider" because she's a woman is not likely to convince more than a handful of political eunuchs of the Pussy Riot variety, while Sanders has shot himself in the foot on foreign policy and adopted a handicapping socialist label to describe his economic policy, when in fact he is simply a social democrat with modest (but nevertheless helpful) ambitions to revive the New Deal. (In the U.S.A. the New Deal remains popular whereas socialism is heresy.)

Will Trump prove to be the "American Berlusconi"? If he succeeds in convincing an electoral majority that government programs like Social Security and Medicare are akin to "giving everything away" to the undeserving (i.e., to the American people who pay for them), as he recently claimed, while his own plans to hand out budget-busting tax breaks like Halloween candy are somehow not, he may well be.

Stay tuned.


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