The Other Side of the Hill

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Harris had been encamped in a creek bottom for the sake of being near water. The hills on either side of the creek extend to a considerable height, possibly more than a hundred feet. As we approached the brow of the hill from which it was expected we could see Harris’ camp, and possibly find his men ready formed to meet us, my heart kept getting higher and higher until it felt to me as though it was in my throat. I would have given anything then to have been back in Illinois, but I had not the moral courage to halt and consider what to do; I kept right on. When we reached a point from which the valley below was in full view I halted. The place where Harris had been encamped a few days before was still there and the marks of a recent encampment were plainly visible, but the troops were gone. My heart resumed its place. It occurred to me at once that Harris had been as much afraid of me as I had been of him. This was a view of the question I had never taken before; but it was one I never forgot afterwards.

Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs

The above is a description by Grant of the first time in the Civil War when he led troops against a Confederate position.  As in War, so in Politics.  We usually are eloquent in the weaknesses of the side we support in politics, but we forget that the other side have their share of problems also.  After the shellacking of the Democrats on Tuesday perhaps we should look at things from their point of view for a moment.

In 2008 they won a great victory, placing Barack Obama in the White House, winning 257 seats in the House and 57 seats in the Senate.  They controlled 29 governorships after the 2008 elections and 62 out of 99 legislative chambers.  After eight years of Obama, they go into 2017 controlling neither the White House nor Congress, with 16 governorships and 30 out of 99 legislative chambers.  Is it any wonder that some articles are being written by Democrats currently that read like this one by Thomas Frank, a fairly shrewd left wing observer of politics:

What we need to focus on now is the obvious question: what the hell went wrong? What species of cluelessness guided our Democratic leaders as they went about losing what they told us was the most important election of our lifetimes?

Start at the top. Why, oh why, did it have to be Hillary Clinton? Yes, she has an impressive resume; yes, she worked hard on the campaign trail. But she was exactly the wrong candidate for this angry, populist moment. An insider when the country was screaming for an outsider. A technocrat who offered fine-tuning when the country wanted to take a sledgehammer to the machine.

She was the Democratic candidate because it was her turn and because a Clinton victory would have moved every Democrat in Washington up a notch. Whether or not she would win was always a secondary matter, something that was taken for granted. Had winning been the party’s number one concern, several more suitable candidates were ready to go. There was Joe Biden, with his powerful plainspoken style, and there was Bernie Sanders, an inspiring and largely scandal-free figure. Each of them would probably have beaten Trump, but neither of them would really have served the interests of the party insiders.

And so Democratic leaders made Hillary their candidate even though they knew about her closeness to the banks, her fondness for war, and her unique vulnerability on the trade issue – each of which Trump exploited to the fullest. They chose Hillary even though they knew about her private email server. They chose her even though some of those who studied the Clinton Foundation suspected it was a sketchy proposition.

To try to put over such a nominee while screaming that the Republican is a rightwing monster is to court disbelief. If Trump is a fascist, as liberals often said, Democrats should have put in their strongest player to stop him, not a party hack they’d chosen because it was her turn. Choosing her indicated either that Democrats didn’t mean what they said about Trump’s riskiness, that their opportunism took precedence over the country’s well-being, or maybe both.

Clinton’s supporters among the media didn’t help much, either. It always struck me as strange that such an unpopular candidate enjoyed such robust and unanimous endorsements from the editorial and opinion pages of the nation’s papers, but it was the quality of the media’s enthusiasm that really harmed her. With the same arguments repeated over and over, two or three times a day, with nuance and contrary views all deleted, the act of opening the newspaper started to feel like tuning in to a Cold War propaganda station. Here’s what it consisted of:

How did the journalists’ crusade fail? The fourth estate came together in an unprecedented professional consensus. They chose insulting the other side over trying to understand what motivated them. They transformed opinion writing into a vehicle for high moral boasting. What could possibly have gone wrong with such an approach?

Put this question in slightly more general terms and you are confronting the single great mystery of 2016. The American white-collar class just spent the year rallying around a super-competent professional (who really wasn’t all that competent) and either insulting or silencing everyone who didn’t accept their assessment. And then they lost. Maybe it’s time to consider whether there’s something about shrill self-righteousness, shouted from a position of high social status, that turns people away.

The even larger problem is that there is a kind of chronic complacency that has been rotting American liberalism for years, a hubris that tells Democrats they need do nothing different, they need deliver nothing really to anyone – except their friends on the Google jet and those nice people at Goldman. The rest of us are treated as though we have nowhere else to go and no role to play except to vote enthusiastically on the grounds that these Democrats are the “last thing standing” between us and the end of the world. It is a liberalism of the rich, it has failed the middle class, and now it has failed on its own terms of electability. Enough with these comfortable Democrats and their cozy Washington system. Enough with Clintonism and its prideful air of professional-class virtue. Enough!

Go here to read the rest.  In politics it is not enough to know the strengths and weaknesses of your own faction but also that of opposing factions.  This year the Democrats knew nothing about Trump’s strengths, and denied they had any weaknesses.  The result is plain for all to see.  Fortunately for those of us who oppose the left, many of the reactions on the left to Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump indicate that they are learning nothing from it, or drawing the wrong lessons.  See the below video from “comedienne” Samantha Bee (strong language advisory):


Long may their blindness continue.

More to explorer

Thought For the Day

Three-Fifths of a Brain

    News that I missed, courtesy of The Babylon Bee:   WASHINGTON, D.C.—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came out hard against the Electoral College,

Saint of the Day Quote: Saint Jane Antide Thouret

  Remember to consider only Christ in the person of the poor.  Serve them always as you would serve Christ himself.  


  1. Cold war propaganda station’s five bullet points are accurate.

    The MSM did just that. They shined up their excrement and wrapped a green Pine Tree air freshener over her neck and said, magnificent!
    They will love this piece of €£*# because we will gloss over the imperfections. They will listen to us because we are ABC..NBC..CNN..MSNBC..and the talk shows will crush Trump. Our princess will prevail. Her ____ doesn’t stink!

    As far as this being a learning experience for many of the left. Well, let’s just say the tolerance they claim to possess has left the building.

  2. The Democrat Party….organized crime par excellence, full of lofty dreams and goals, but really unable to govern. 25 years ago, they hitched their wagon to the Clintons. Back then the Democrats still controlled Congress. Their grip on the House was iron-fisted. They controlled most state legislatures. Along comes William Jefferson Blythe Clinton. The media jumps in, covers for Clinton’s lies and corruption in Arkansas, and lets Clinton get away with telloing eveyone that the 1992 economy was the worst in 50 years. George Herbert Walker Bush, who tinkled away the policies and goodwill of Reagan because he, as an establishment GOP type never believed in ANY of it, got whupped. Clinton lied about his middle class tax cut. The Democrats pushed through another income tax increase,t he second in three years, lost the Senate and they lost their grip on the House.

    Many of the serious problems we have recently faced or face today…the housing bubble and subsequent economic crash, Islamic terror, illegal immigration, trade, radical enviornmentalism….can in some way be traced to President Clinton. Oh, they did not manifest themselves (not all of them) while he was behaving like an uncouth Howard Stern show devotee, but all of these showed up.

    Why is this ancient history important? The Clintons….and Obumbler…have done more to bring down the Democrat Party than any Republican. Since 1994, the Dems have had control for the House for four years. They gave us Obumblercare and Dodd-Frank.

    Hollywood, the media, academia….they are forever pining for another Camelot, some young Democrat politician to be another JFK. Camelot was a myth. Greatness from Clinton or Obama…another myth. The American people are, as Rush has said, is a center-right country and hard left policies both fail and annoy the American public. Not Manhattan or Hollywood, but between the Alleghenies and the Sierra Nevadas, hard-left is a loser. As long as the Democrat brain trust fails to understand this, so much the better for the USA.

    Hilary Clinton was a terrible candidate. She had no real record of administrative or legislative success. She put up with her husband’s disgusting behavior in order to further her own political career, which, besides getting rich, is all she really ever cared about. She could not lead a pack of rats to a garbage dump.

    It would be a mistake to consider the Democrats dead. They are not broke. Hollywood types have lots of money. Wall Street, long purported in nasty political ads to be a domain of the GOP, is in reality mostly Democrat. Never underestimate the propensity of the Republican Party to hand the Democrats a club to beat the GOP over their heads with it. Samuel Farancis called the Republican Party the Stupid Party for very good reasons.

    As for Trump being a failure as President, I can see no way he could be worse than the last four Presidents, especially the last two. Dubya was a one term governor and Obumbler was a undistinguished state senator and a one term backbencher US Senator.

  3. I picked up the phrase from a first generation Transformers cartoon in 1986. I was 22….watched some of them with my youngest brother. Star Scream claimed leadership of the Decepticons. One of the Decepticons told him he couldn’t lead a pack of rats to a garbage can.

    There was another great line. Megatron told Star Scream, “Either you’re lying…or you’re stupid.” Star Scream replied, “I’m stupid! I’m stupid!’

  4. I don’t think either Biden or Sanders would have beaten Trump.
    On the other hand, had it been obvious late last winter or early last spring that Clinton was unlikely to be the Democrat nominee, I’m not sure Trump would have been the Republican one.

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