Briefing Notes No 43
October 7, 2016
The Choice (2016)
The film will be followed by a discussion with Bill Barnard and Karin Robinson, chaired by Inge Kjemtrup, Vice-Chair of Democrats Abroad-UK
About the documentary:
The director Michael Kirk has said that the challenge for this edition of The Choice was “taking stories you think you know and, in a way, connecting the dots so you come away saying: ‘I knew that, but I didn’t know it that way’.’’
The New York Times review praised the documentary “as a striking example of how to avoid the journalistic pitfall sometimes labeled ‘false equivalency’.”
About Donald Trump: intentionally in smaller print!
The man and his world view
Many have described Trump as a narcissist: he must be at the center of everything. All of life is about winning in any way and at anyone’s cost.
With a reportedly short attention span, he is contemptuous of detail and dismissive of experts. He is impulsive and defensive.
His authoritarian impulses are at odds with our basic democratic and constitutional principles. His casual misogyny and bigotry have debased our civic discourse and inflamed attitudes.
Schwartz, his ghost writer, says: “Trump has the ability to convince himself that whatever he is saying at any given moment is true, or sort of true, or at least ought to be true.”
His claim to business acumen is challenged by his long history of bankruptcies, lawsuits from contractors and business associates.
His notion of public service and civic responsibility
Many business leaders who have never served in government nevertheless have a track record of civic engagement and philanthropy. Trump’s record is scant; it is smart not to pay taxes.
Recent Washington Post investigations have revealed how problematic his philanthropic activities have been; his charitable foundation has just been ordered to stop fundraising in New York.
Traditionally Republican newspapers and leaders—too many to list—have refused to support Trump or have actually endorsed Hillary. Praise comes Trump’s way from Putin, Kim Jong-un, the NRA, Sarah Palin and The National Enquirer.
Hillary Clinton: some highlights
Ezra Klein emphasises the gap between the public persona constructed via the media and the person those who work with her ‘know’. Clinton also refers to the discrepancy between how she is judged when she is running for an office (low favorables), and when she actually holds an office (high favorables).
Both Klein and Traister note that people who work with Clinton repeatedly stress that her distinctive trait is that she is a ‘listener’. And that is how she campaigns.
Klein weighs whether this is simply a gendered stereotype, but instead finds that it is a distinctive and vital skill that Hillary brings to campaigning and governing.
She listens attentively to learn: to get new perspectives and information. This feeds into her development of policy. She credits people for their input and work which then creates a virtuous circle. She also listens in order to build alliances in order to get things done and gain support.
The policy wonk
Hillary is renowned as a policy wonk. Wired and many of us see this as unequivocally good. When this is combined with the commitment to ‘get things done’, the clarity of her projects’ aims can get lost in our buzz word world; as Traister points out:
“Clinton’s holistic view of intersecting challenges and multi-tentacled solutions — tax incentives, subsidies, wage hikes, pay protections — is weirdly thrilling in its expansive perspicacity. But it does not fit on a T-shirt. It does not sound good at a rally.”
Another example: her Wall Street reforms address some key issues, e.g. hedge funds, shadow banking, high frequency trading—which are all central to avoiding a future crisis, but very difficult to convey in a straightforward slogan.
Clinton is renowned for building effective coalitions to get things done; building coalitions often involves compromise, recalibration of steps and priorities and incremental change. This is not an abandonment of principles, but a strategy.
Podesta says her “highest act of emotional respect is perhaps to find something to do, not just something to say.’
She is also a political risk-taker: in this campaign, demonstrated by her unequivocal challenges to the gun lobby and support for women’s reproductive rights. And for women’s and children’s rights, she has always been a trailblazer.
A resilient fighter
She does not tire or give up when under pressure or defeated. She will rise and fight again. Just 31 days !