Bob Bennett’s Last Wish: To Be Misremembered

Bob BennettI’m not big on honoring the dead when I wasn’t inclined to honor them when they were alive. I mean, I would never go to the door of a grieving family and say, “You know, your father was an awful man who made the world worse when he had the power to make it better.” But that doesn’t mean that I will join in on the “What a good man!” chorus that’s going on. It’s all about Bob Bennett’s death bed wish to apologize to Muslims for the fact that Donald Trump will be the head of the Republican Party — Bob Bennett’s party.

Tim Mak reported on the story for The Daily Beast, Dying GOP Senator Apologizes to Muslims for Donald Trump. And it ends almost as poignantly as The Grapes of Wrath, “But even as he was passing away, Bennett struggled to press the issues — to ensure that though his life was ending, the ideas he held dear would not go with it.” But instead of a starving man being breast fed by a woman who just gave birth to a dead baby, it is the story of a multi-millionaire bigot who wants to be remembered as a Good Guy™.

Bob Bennett: Bigot

Bigot?! Was Bob Bennett a bigot? Well, when it came to the LGBT community, he sure was. When it came to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, the Human Rights Campaign gave him a 0% rating. That was when 103 of 535 members of Congress got a 100% rating. And another 69 got a 90% or greater rating. So one-third of Congress got 90% or better, and Bob Bennett got 0%. He voted against legislation that would make it illegal to fire someone because of their sexual orientation. What a kind and accepting man!

I appreciate that he didn’t want to be remembered as a bigoted war monger who really only cared about the rich. But that doesn’t mean we should change history and remember him as something he never was.

But none of that matters because, “He would go to people with the hijab and tell them he was glad they were in America, and they were welcome here.” Now just to be clear, this kind of ostentatious personal outreach is actually creepy. And it puts the person approached in an uncomfortable position of being simply a member of a group. The act isn’t about them feeling welcome but about Bob Bennett feeling good about being welcoming. Imagine if I stopped Native Americans on the street to express my regret for the Trail of Tears. That’s what he’s been doing but Muslims are so actively discriminated against in the US today that his act is seen by many to be noble. It isn’t; it is just a different kind of racism.

Bob Bennett: Typical Republican

Meanwhile, Bob Bennett did so much for corporation and so much to individuals. He voted against getting rid of the tax subsidy for companies that offshore jobs at the same time that he voted to make it harder for individuals to file for bankruptcy. He also voted multiple times to make it harder to sue corporations. He voted to further limit appeals on death penalty cases. He voted against taking racial statistics into account in death penalty appeals. And he was, of course, a big drug warrior. And he was against doing any rehabilitation in our prison system. He was, in other words, an entirely typical Republican.

When it comes to Donald Trump, it is hard to see how he’s all that much different. In 2006, he voted to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. He’s been against any kind of pathway to citizenship. So what we really see from Bob Bennett is your typical intolerant Republican who is upset that Donald Trump is so explicit about this stuff. It isn’t that he disagreed with Trump’s bigotry; it’s just that he doesn’t want to be associated with it.

There is another issue, however. Bob Bennett in general wanted to do whatever it was that big business wanted. So in general, he was pro-immigration — not for the sake of the individuals, but for the sake of the corporations that wanted to get low-cost workers. So even in his substantive disagreement with Donald Trump, Bob Bennett was still on the wrong side — for corporations and against humans.

So Bob Bennett is dead. He was 82 years old, so it isn’t that big a deal. And the man was very pro-war. He supported the Iraq War. And had he been in office, I’m sure he would have been against the Iran nuclear deal. He was one of many war enablers who allowed lots of Muslim children to never get the chance to live to 82 years. I appreciate that he didn’t want to be remembered as a bigoted war monger who really only cared about the rich. But that doesn’t mean we should change history and remember him as something he never was.

Update

Martin Longman wrote a great article that is similarly unmoved, On Bob Bennett and Donald Trump. It goes into Bob Bennett’s association with Nixon’s Plumbers. Longman sums up, “But it’s a sad testimony that the party is now too awful for a guy with Bob Bennett’s moral compass.” That is to say: Bob Bennett doesn’t have much of a moral compass.

“We Loved Sanders — Until It Mattered!”

Bernie SandersA lot of the liberal blogosphere is dumping all over Sanders — and this has largely been true since the beginning. This is partly because, as an older guy, I read a lot of older bloggers. And being older, they tend to be Hillary Clinton supporters. And that’s great! Bravo! I have no problem with people supporting Clinton. But let’s be honest about the reasons.

My prime example is PM Carpenter, who has spent the last decade telling the world that he’s a democratic socialist. But the moment Sanders became an actual threat, Carpenter posted, Why This Democratic Socialist Opposes Bernie Sanders. The short answer: because America is not ready for a socialist. Well, maybe one particular American whose initials are PMC. But he isn’t alone and it’s gotten to annoy me.

I’ve decided their slogan should be, “We love Sanders — as long as it doesn’t matter!” Because that’s the thing. As long as no choice had to be made, he was great. But the moment it was a decision between actually standing against our unjust economic system and just going along and treating it as a problem no more pressing than same sex marriage, their decision was clear.

As Matt Bruenig has pus it: the Baby Boomers just don’t like the idea that they are the conservative ones now. Here’s my usual caveat: I like Clinton. I don’t have a problem with people supporting her over Sanders. But I think it’s about time that these Clinton supporters admit that they prefer her because her policies are more to their liking — not because he is unrealistic or some of his supporters are jerks. Or because America isn’t “ready.”

When Clinton Was Sanders

It is, of course, ironic that when Clinton was in Sanders’ position in 2008, she acted very much like he is now. Of course, things are different between then and now: things were closer then. But they certainly weren’t categorically different. And just as Clinton claimed it was a good idea to stay in the race in 2008 because Obama might be assassinated, Sanders could certainly argue that he should stay in because she might be indicted. As far as I know, he hasn’t said anything that vile.

Sanders is very likely to get the Jackson treatment. Will he be offered the VP spot if he drops out after the last primary and endorses Clinton? I rather doubt it.

I’m not thrilled with some of the things Sanders is doing right now — just as I wasn’t thrilled with Clinton in 2008. But the main thing is I feel that yet again, the liberals in the Democratic Party are being told they must get in line or else the boogeyman (insert whatever Republican is running) will be elected and the world will end. And I’m tired of hearing it.

Sanders Is Jackson

Also, other than 2008 when (as I said) Clinton behaved very much as Sanders is now, we have to go all the way back to 1988 to find a Democratic primary that was anywhere near this close. In that primary, Dukakis won 1,792 delegates (42.4% of the popular vote). Jesse Jackson won 1,023 delegates (29.4% of the votes). And my recollection is that Jackson was treated very badly. And I say that as someone who worked on Dukakis’ campaign. But Jackson played nice and in the end got… nothing. There’s a history of this. The left is just supposed to remain silent and show up to vote for whatever candidate the establishment wants.

Clinton had a far better reason for (finally) playing along in 2008. I mean, hell, it got her a party elite that wanted to just give the nomination to her in 2016. But Sanders is very likely to get the Jackson treatment. Will he be offered the VP spot if he drops out after the last primary and endorses Clinton? I rather doubt it. And I wonder if this hasn’t already been made clear to Sanders.

The main thing is that it is hard to believe that Sanders will be treated well in the end given that the main complaint I’ve heard against him since at least January is that he isn’t a real Democrat and he refuses to raise money for other candidates. Because, you know, that’s what voters care about the most: the party’s fund raising problems. Actually, I think the conservative wing of the party thinks what it always thinks of us liberals: we have nowhere else to go.

Honesty About Sanders

But getting back to our liberal blogging friends, my complaint continues on because everything done by Sanders is always painted in the worst light possible. I think this is what you get when years of writing makes you someone who ought to support Sanders. You can’t make the policy argument, so you make the argument that he is unfit for the office. Josh Marshall has determined, apparently based on a polyp in his anal cavity, that all the negativity in this campaign comes straight from Sanders himself.

Personally, I’m willing to wait and see if Sanders will refuse to endorse Clinton as Steve M claims at No More Mister Nice Blog. But that’s probably because my belief about policy goes along with my support of Sanders. I don’t have to troll around looking for any excuse to not support the candidate who I always claimed I would support should they been on offer.

Afterword: It’s Personal Too

I also don’t like the fact that Sanders supporters are painted with such a broad brush. I do not think that I’m an outlier in terms of Sanders supporters. I think the people misbehaving are the outliers. And it bothers me that this is exactly the same kind of thinking that reinforces racist steteotypes. Over ten million Democrats have voted for Sanders and they are all just like those idiots in Nevada. With one or two exceptions, of course.

Update

I just saw Krugman’s newest, “Questions of Character.” He really is the king of the anti-Sanders filter. And I think he’s done great damage to his reputation. On Economist’s View, he is hounded in the comments for his knee-jerk Sanders slamming and for his stupid new claim that, “Reality has a well known center-left bias.” It just shows that Krugman now believes that he is keeper of Reality™. It’s sad, but it isn’t surprising. Great fame and wealth drives people crazy. It’s one of the under-appreciated aspects income inequality. But at least Krugman isn’t drugging and raping women — as far as we know.

Update 2

I haven’t read Krugman’s newest column. But I saw Mark Thoma’s edit of it. Apparently, in “Obama’s War on Inequality,” Krugman spends a good deal of time bashing Sanders. But as Thoma removed all the Sanders stuff. He’s done it lots before. And what you see is how easy it is to edit the Sanders slams out — because they aren’t central to what he’s writing about. Krugman just can’t help it. This is what we in the editing business call “bad writing.” I run into it with my own writers all the time where they get sidetracked about something they care about. Krugman is the new Jonathan Chait: if anything is more to the left than he is, it’s Wrong™.

Update 3

I found this article by Steven Attewell very interesting. Just as an aside, he mentioned that moderate Democrats “were happy enough to be for single-payer when it wasn’t going to pass.” This is what I’m talking about. There’s a big group in the Democratic Party that claims to be liberal for purely rhetorical purposes. If it were 1965, we’d find out suddenly that all their support for the Voting Rights Act vanished as soon as they were expected to vote on it.