The Shores of Tripoli 3.

In May 2011, Secretary Clinton met some rebel leaders in Rome. Their fight against the Qaddafi regime had stalled. They wanted more weapons to tip the balance. On behalf of the United States, she declined to help. The Obama administration worried that American-supplied arms would end up in the hands of Islamist extremists. (They had reason to worry. In June 2011, one load of arms from the French had fallen into the hands of a former inmate in a CIA “black site” prison.) The rebels went looking elsewhere. By Summer 2011, both Qatar[1] and the United Arab Emirates had emerged as major weapons suppliers to the rebels. Among those rebels were a number of Islamist groups, like those centered on the town of Misurata Cert.[2] As with her warning to the administration that France and Britain would go ahead with attacks on Libya without American participation, Secretary Clinton argued that the US had to participate if it was not to be left behind. Secretary Clinton persuaded President Obama to launch a covert program to arm the “moderate” rebels centered in Benghazi. On 15 July 2011, the United States recognized the rebels’ “Transitional National Council” as the legitimate government of Libya.

In August 2011, Qaddafi’s power-base had begun to collapse. Professional diplomats, like Jeffrey Feltman, were deeply alarmed at what had developed. Qatar continued to support Islamist groups as they maneuvered for power in post-Qaddafi Libya. Mohammed Jibril, the Libyan rebel leader with whom Secretary Clinton had been so impressed in March 2011, flew back and forth between Libya and Qatar to transmit orders. Jibril seemed totally unconcerned about disarming the foreign-armed militias that had—under cover of American air power—“defeated” Qaddafi.[3]

By October 2011, Qaddafi was dead. Secretary Clinton’s myrmidons celebrated her triumph. In an important step that reflected unhappy experience in post-Saddam Iraq, the State Department launched a $40 million program to “secure” (i.e. buy back from the militias) the huge stocks of weapons plundered from Qaddafi’s arsenals. In another important step, Secretary Clinton arranged for the release to the interim government of billions of dollars of Qaddafi’s “frozen” assets held outside the country.

Soon thereafter, Secretary Clinton disengaged from the Libyan issue. Partly, her tenure at the State Department began to wind down (and her preparations for another run at the White House in 2016 began to ramp up). More importantly, the Syrian front in the “Arab Spring” had blown up. Secretary Clinton switched her focus from intervening in Libya to overthrow Qaddafi to intervening in Syria to overthrow Assad. She urged President Obama to arm and train Syrian rebels.

President Obama resolutely refused to become embroiled in Libya as the Bush II administration had become embroiled in Iraq. He wanted the Europeans to take responsibility for Libya, but both France and Britain were pre-occupied with domestic issuers. He also rejected Clinton’s plan to arm Syrian rebels. Secretary Clinton had chosen adherence to President Obama’s wishes at the beginning of the crisis. She declined to change course afterward.

[1] See: “Your mind’s in the Qatar.”

[2] HA! Is art history joke.

[3] Scott Shane and Jo Becker, “After Revolt, a New Libya ‘With Very Little Time Left’,” NYT, 29 February 2016.

The Shores of Tripoli 2.

In an approach that would be repeated in Syria at the time of the chemical weapons “red line” incident, the President first decided for intervention and then asked his military advisers what was possible. As would be the case later, he didn’t like what he heard. The eastern Libyan city of Benghazi formed the heart of the resistance to Qaddafi. His troops were advancing on the city, driving people before them. A no-fly zone wouldn’t do any good because Qaddafi possessed a huge advantage in conventional arms. Qaddafi “would have lined up the tanks and just gone after folks,” in the later words of then then-CIA director David Petraeus. This forced the President to seek a mandate from the UN for more than a mere no-fly zone.

The big rock in the middle of the road here was the Russians. Russian dictator Vladimir Putin opposed to American interventionism.[1] At first, the Russians opposed even a no-fly zone. Clinton consulted with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. She assured Lavrov that the US didn’t want another war in the Middle East. “Doesn’t mean that you won’t get one,” he replied laconically. Still, for reasons that the NYT story artfully elides,[2] the Russians agreed not to veto a UN resolution allowing “all necessary means” to protect civilians. The resolution carried on 17 March 2011.

On 19 March 2011 Secretary Clinton was in Paris to co-ordinate strategy with French President Nicholas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron.[3] Here Sarkozy blind-sided her by saying that French jets were already airborne for strikes, but that he would recall them if she wanted. Although this meant that the Americans would not control the pace of the initial campaign, Clinton declined to ask for the recall of the attacks.[4]

President Obama claimed that he had no intention of engaging in regime-change. On 22 March 2011, Secretary Clinton publically stated that the purpose of the mission did not include tossing Qaddafi out on his ear. The president ordered the Defense Department to prevent any massacres, and then to pass the task to the French and the British after ten days. Within three days, American forces had suppressed Libyan air defenses and halted the advance on Benghazi. However, the anti-Qaddafi uprising then spread to other areas. These uprisings were rooted in tribal or regional or religious identities long suppressed by Qaddafi. Their success might tear the country apart over the long run. The debate among national security officials turned to questions that might well have been considered before intervention. Was the “protection” mission to extend throughout Libya? Could Libyans be protected without evicting Qaddafi? What kind of government would replace him?

Events moved ahead of debate. By April 2011, the US had deployed drones to strike Qaddafi loyalist targets and inserted CIA officers to provide rebel commanders with combat intelligence. Increasingly, it became apparent that the Qaddafi regime would be destroyed, regardless of what the mandate from the UN authorized. Even so, the rebel offensive couldn’t move beyond Brega, on the coast road to Tripoli, where Qaddafi’s initial offensive had stalled months before.

In Washington, the scales began to fall from the eyes of the interventionists. Many in Congress were angry with President Obama’s contention that the War Powers Act did not apply because Americans were killing foreigners, but no Americans were being killed by foreigners. The Russians claimed that they had not approved regime change. The Arab League said the same.

[1] There is a report that Putin suffered a stroke in the womb before he was born. His obsession with physical attainments, from his judo matches to his riding a horse bareback to his hunting tigers are expressions of a heroic will to master his environment. It shows up in his politics and diplomacy. Or lack of diplomacy.

[2] See: “Obama versus Putin.”

[3] Why was the Secretary of State, rather than the Secretary of Defense, coordinating military plans with allies?

[4] Did she vote for the attack on Iraq in 2003 because she didn’t want to be labeled a “dove” when she ran for President in 2008? It’s always difficult reading the crystal ball, but Obama won as a “dove” in 2008.

The Shores of Tripoli 1.

In Spring 2011, came the “Arab Spring”: Tunisia, then Egypt, and then Libya.[1] Unlike the Tunisian or Egyptian leaders, the Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi threatened to drown the rebellion in blood rather than yield power. Already in February 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looked forward to more trouble: “imagine how difficult [the transition of power] will be in Libya.”[2] By March 2011, the British, the French, and the Arab League—none of whom had real military power—wanted the US to intervene against Qaddafi. President Barack Obama, who had risen to prominence on the basis of his opposition to the 2003 attack on Iraq, was suspicious of the adventure. Compounding the difficulties, the government had little useful information about Qaddafi’s intentions. One State Department official told the NYT that they were captives of news reports to find out what was happening.[3]

Against this backdrop, a contest of policies raged inside the American administration. Voices of caution (notably Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) had warned against tossing overboard Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak just to gratify the young people in Tahrir Square. Now Vice President Joe Biden, Gates, and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon argued that the Bush II administration had “taken its eye off the ball” in Afghanistan by invading Iraq in 2003. Intervention in Libya would have the same effect when the Obama administration struggled to extricate itself from those two long-running conflicts. Some in the intelligence community worried about what would happen if Qaddafi lost power.

Against them were younger aides—not identified by the NYT—who made a moral and sentimental appeal: “Mr. President, you’ve got to be on the right side of history.” This exerted real power on President Obama, who favored a forward policy in responding to the “Arab Spring.” Still, it would be hard to go against the opinion of the adults in the room once again. On 15 March 2011, Susan Rice, the American ambassador to the United Nations, told the French ambassador that “you are not going to drag us into your shitty war.”

Abruptly, Secretary Clinton chose to join the side of the interventionists. Her motivations remain opaque. On the one hand, several of her former aides insist upon the “lessons of history.” President Bill Clinton had rejected intervention in Rwanda, to everyone’s regret; he had intervened against Serbia in the 1990s. Secretary Clinton did not want to stand idly by while another blood bath took place. On the other hand, she was very anxious to gain entry to the president’s inner circle of advisers.[4] Did she allow this desire to shape her policy?

On 14 March 2011, Secretary Clinton, who had voted for the attack on Iraq, met with the leader of one of the Libyan factions. “They gave us what we wanted to hear,” reported one of Clinton’s aids. “And you do want to believe.” Later that day, one French diplomat found her “tough” and “bullish” in favor of intervention. On 15 March 2011, even as Susan Rice made her blunt remarks to the French ambassador, Secretary Clinton warned the President and his other national security advisers that the French and the British were going to launch airstrikes on their own to create a no-fly zone. If things went wrong, the US would have to fish them out of the drink.[5] Clinton’s advocacy for action seemed to tip the balance, or at least to give President Obama the backing he needed to go against expert advice.

[1] Jo Becker and Scott Shane, “Clinton, ‘Smart Power,’ and a Dictator’s Fall,” NYT, 28 February 2016.

[2] Scott Shane and Jo Becker, “After Revolt, a New Libya ‘With Very Little Time Left’,” NYT, 29 February 2016.

[3] Those accounts inflated the death toll, claiming thousands had been killed where Human Rights Watch would later count 350. However, the real issue is the suggestion that neither the US nor—astonishingly—the French had important intelligence assets in Libya. Even the French vastly under-estimated the amount of weapons that Qaddafi had accumulated. See Shane and Becker, “After Revolt,…”

[4] The NYT story tells of one 2009 episode in which she learned from the radio that there was a cabinet meeting scheduled for that day. “Can I go?” she asked aides.

[5] Apparently one “lesson of history” that Secretary Clinton did not learn was that President Eisenhower had let the French and British get out of their own mess in Suez in 1956.

Snow on the roof.

In the Nevada caucuses, with 95.3 percent of the counties reporting, Hillary Clinton picked up 52.7 percent and Bernie Sanders picked up 47.2 percent of the vote.[1] This is an important victory for Hillary Clinton after Sanders tied her in Iowa and thrashed her in New Hampshire.

That isn’t the same as saying that it was a total loss for Sanders. A year ago, in February 2015, 58 percent of self-identified Democratic voters in Nevada favored Hillary Clinton, while 4 percent favored Bernie Sanders. In March 2015, 61 percent favored Clinton, while 7 percent favored Sanders. In July 2015, 55 percent favored Clinton, while 18 percent favored Sanders. In October 2015, 50 percent favored Clinton, while 34 percent favored Sanders. In December 2015, 51 percent favored Clinton, while 39 percent favored Sanders. In January 2016, 47 percent favored Clinton, while 43 favored Sanders. In early February 2016, they were tied at 45 percent each. In mid-February 2016 they were pretty much where they ended up, with 53 percent favoring Clinton and 47 percent favoring Sanders.[2]

Clinton’s numbers were pretty steady for a year, although there was a certain amount of erosion. Sanders’ numbers, however, shot up. Where did he get these voters? Mostly, they came from people who had previously favored Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden or Tommy Carchetti, or who had been undecided. Thus, Clinton has a hard core of steady support. There also appears to be a substantial Anyone-But-Clinton (ABC) group among Democratic voters.

Nevada actually is a big blank space on the map. Three-quarters of the state’s population lives in or around Las Vegas, the county seat of Clark County. In Clark County, Clinton won 54.9 percent and Sanders won 45.1 percent. According to the 2010 census, Clark County’s racial makeup was roughly 61 percent white, 29 percent Hispanic, 10.5 percent African American.[3]

Although African Americans made up 10.5 percent of the Clark County population in 2010, they turned out at a higher rate than did other groups, totaling 13 percent of the people at the caucuses. Then they voted overwhelmingly for Clinton (76 percent) over Sanders (22 percent). Clinton also did better among older voters than did Sanders.

The ABC movement is centered among younger people and Hispanics. Sanders crushed Clinton among under-30 voters (82 percent-14 percent); and among under-45 voters (62 percent-35 percent).[4] Among Hispanics, Sanders beat Clinton by 8 percent. While, 29 percent of the population is Hispanic, they turned out in much lower numbers, representing only 19 percent of the people at caucuses. Perhaps this represents the Clinton heavy use of Hispanic surrogates in the last stage. This may have suppressed part of the Democratic vote. Had Sanders found a way to fully mobilize the Hispanic vote, he might have won. Whites turned out at a rate of 59 percent, a hair below their share of the population. Clinton and Sanders essentially split this group.

Probably, this will not block her from winning the nomination. Will it affect Democratic turn-out in November? Does Clinton speak only for older people and African Americans?

[1] See: http://graphics.latimes.com/election-2016-nevada-results/

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statewide_opinion_polling_for_the_Democratic_Party_presidential_primaries,_2016#Nevada

[3] Yes, I know it doesn’t quite add up and leaves out Asians, etc. It’s the effect of the White, non-Hispanic versus White Hispanic mishagosh.

[4] Abby Philip, John Wagner, and Anne Gearan, “Black vote key in Democratic caucus in Nev.,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 21 February 2016.

Explaining Bernie Sanders—and Perhaps Donald Trump.

Two-thirds of Americans believe that there is at least one presidential candidate who would make a good president in the current crop. Most (75 percent) of Republicans believe that Donald Trump could win a general election—even though only about half of Republicans want him as their candidate. Virtually all (83 percent) Democrats believed that Hillary Clinton could win election–before Bernie Sanders ran even with Clinton in Iowa and then torched her in New Hampshire. Among the less-favored candidates are Ted Cruz (60 percent of Republican); Marco Rubio (55 percent of Republicans); and Bernie Sanders (54 percent of Democrats).[1]

In theory, Hillary Clinton wipes the floor with the leading Republican candidates when it comes to dealing with terrorism. Americans preferred her to Donald Trump (50-42), Marco Rubio (47-43), and even Jeb Bush (46-43).[2] On the other hand, that means that 43 percent of Americans want anyone-but-Hillary, no matter how clownish or inexperienced, to deal with terrorism. Is it the same for other issues? If it is, then she has remarkably high negatives for someone running for president. Still, so did Richard Nixon. Oh. Wait.

On the other hand, Independents fail to share this enthusiasm. Only 58 percent of them believe that there is anyone who would make a good president. (If Independents sit out in large numbers, then that might leave the November 2016 election in the hands of party regulars.)

Why are Americans so rabid for anti-establishment candidates?

In 2003, the net worth of the average American was $87,992. In 2013, the net worth of the average American was $56,335 in 2013. That amounts to a 36 percent fall in net worth, before allowing for nugatory inflation.[3] On the other hand (2003-2014), the net worth of the top five percent of earners increased by 14 percent over the same period.[4]

About one-third of Americans have no savings accounts at all.[5] Twenty percent of people aged 55 to 64 have no retirement savings. Almost half (45 percent) of people surveyed expected to live on whatever Social Security paid them.[6] Almost half (44 percent) of Americans don’t have an “emergency fund” to cover basic expenses for three months. Almost half (43 percent) of American workers would be willing to take a pay cut IF their employer would increase the contribution to the 401k retirement savings plan.[7] In August 2014, about 77 million Americans had a debt “in collection.” The median amount owed is $1,350.[8]   That’s not a lot of money. Unless you don’t have it.

If the “Great Recession” had not occurred, then college graduates entering the job market might have expected salaries 19 percent higher. The “normal” penalty for graduating in a recession is about 10 percent.[9] The recent unpleasantness has been unusually unpleasant. Also, state aid to public colleges has fallen during the recession. That means that students have been graduating with much larger debt loads than previously. They have to service those debts out of smaller starting salaries.

People hiring employees tend to favor those who are narcissistic over the humble.[10] Apparently, they are right to do so. “Narcissistic” CEOs make an average of $512 million more over their careers than do those who are not.[11] Will it be the same for voters? Hard to think of anyone more narcissistic than the Clintons. Unless it is Donald Trump.

[1] “Poll Watch,” The Week, 5 February 2016, p. 19.

[2] “Poll Watch,” The Week, 4 December 2015, p. 19.

[3] “Noted,” The Week, 8 August 2014. P. 14.

[4] “Noted,” The Week, 8 August 2014. P. 14.

[5] “The bottom line,” The Week, 15 February 2013, p. 32.

[6] “Noted,” The Week, 22 August 2014, p. 16.

[7] “The bottom line,” The Week, 22 August, 2014, p. 32.

[8] “The bottom line.” The Week, 15 August, 2014, p. 31.

[9] “The bottom line,” The Week, 1 August 2014, p. 31.

[10] “The bottom line,” The Week, 27 June 2014, p. 32.

[11] “The bottom line,” The Week, 1 August 2014, p. 31.

The Perils of Pauline (sorry, of Hillary).

Back in late August and early September 2015, only 37 percent of Democrats supported Hillary Clinton for President.[1] By late August 2015, 45 percent of Democrats wanted Joe Biden to get into the Democratic primaries, while 47 percent of Democrats wanted him to stay out, and 8 percent weren’t sure.[2] By late September 2015, 42 percent supported Hillary Clinton. Then Biden decided not to run. She’s back!

Nagging at the Presidential Revenant was polling data showing that she is unpopular with white male voters. In Iowa, 66 percent of white male voters had an unfavorable view of her, while only 27 had a favorable view of her.[3] Yes, Iowa is a conservative state and the polling sampled all voters, not just Democrats. Yes, she will do much better in liberal states. Yes, she is building a coalition of women and minorities. Still, in a tight race, she could not easily just write-off the white male vote.

The numbers show a real division of opinion among mainstream Democrats about Hillary Clinton. She can be beaten in at least some of the primaries, just as she was before. Moreover, depending on which candidate the Republicans nominate, she can be beaten in the general election. To believe otherwise is to ignore the strength of underlying opinion and organization among likely voters. Republicans hold the majority in both the House and the Senate, in 70 percent of state legislatures, and the governor’s mansion in 30 states.[4] Even if successful in winning the White House, a President Clinton likely would face the same situation that Barack Obama has faced. It wouldn’t matter what platform she had run on, legislation would be blocked by Congress and executive actions challenged in court by many states.

However, other poll numbers challenge this view. A late October 2015 poll found that 57 percent of Democrats saw their party as more united than divided, while only22 percent saw it as more divided than united.[5] The same poll found that 57 percent of Republicans saw their own party more divided than united, while 28 percent saw it as more united than divided. The Republicans had good reason to see their party as divided. On the one hand, it had a mass of candidates vying for the presidential nomination through personal vituperation. On the other hand, a bitter fight over the leadership ripped through the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.

Perhaps Hillary Clinton’s best hope is to run to the center and hope that the Republicans wreck their chances by nominating a complete clown. It isn’t clear yet how far she may have to veer left in the primaries. At least in some cases, her stance on social issues (enhanced background check for gun purchases, gay-marriage, a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants) and economic issues (a mandatory increase in the minimum wage, rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership) can be spun as either progressive or mainstream.[6]

For their part, Republicans are doing what they can to stir up both the Republican and Democratic bases. They have been pushing restrictions on abortion and on access to the voting booth, along with more tax cuts, and a politicized inquiry into the Benghazi disaster.

[1] “Poll Watch,” The Week, 2 October 2015, p. 17.

[2] “Poll Watch,” The Week, 28 August 2015, p. 15.

[3] Josh Kraushaar, “Clinton’s white male problem,” The Week, 23 October 2015, p. 12.

[4] Matthew Yglesias, “Democrats sleepwalking to disaster,” The Week, 30 October 2015, p. 12.

[5] “Poll Watch,” The Week, 23 October 2015, p. 17.

[6] “Clinton: lurching too far to the left?” The Week, 30 October 2015, p.16.

The Clin-tons. See: Theme for “The Simpsons.”

After leaving the White House in 2001, Bill Clinton found himself at loose ends. He didn’t have a ranch with brush to clear, so he started a little foundation to help children in Harlem. In 2002 he added an effort to raise money to lower the cost of AIDS drugs in Africa. In 2005 he launched the Clinton Global Initiative: an annual meeting of the smart, rich, and “concerned.”   This mini-Davos still runs, providing an opportunity for powerful people from many domains to hob-nob. However, the Clinton Foundation soon saw itself awash in donations ($2 billion and counting) from big business and foreign governments. In addition, Bill Clinton found himself much in demand as a speaker: he’s earned $26 million in fees.[1] It is, or should be, hard for any American to carp about this tale of a poor country boy who made good.

One fly in the ointment is that examination of the tax records of the Clinton Foundation for 2011-2013 shows that only 10 percent of the donations it has received go to actual charitable projects. The rest goes to administrative expenses.[2] Those administrative expenses include a staff of 2,000 that is packed with Clinton loyalists. .

A second fly in the ointment is that Hillary Clinton launched her own political career at the same moment that Bill Clinton launched his profitable post-presidency. She won election to the Senate, ran for the Democratic nomination for President in a year when the Democrats actually did win the White House, served for four years as Secretary of State as a consolation prize from Barack Obama, and is no the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for President. The millions of dollars pouring into their joint account began to look very much like a slush fund and as influence-peddling.

In the second term of the George W. Bush Administration, the US sold about $85 billion in weapons to twenty State Department-approved countries. In the first term of the Obama Administration, the US sold about $165 billion in weapons to twenty State Department-approved countries. Those twenty countries had made millions of dollars in donations to the Clinton Foundation.[3] For example, the government of Algeria donated $500,000 to the foundation, then received State Department approval for a 70 percent increase in authorized military purchases from the United States. That looks bad, to my eye, but it gets worse. The Obama administration had extracted a promise from the Clintons that all foreign donations to the foundation would be fully reported. Somehow, the foundation forgot to report this one and others as well.

When the Hillary Clinton e-mail “scandal” first broke, 44 percent of Republicans thought it was a “very serious problem,” while 17 percent of Democrats thought it was a “very serious problem.” After a week of both parties spinning the issue for all it was worth, the divergence had increased. By late March 2015, 68 percent of Republicans thought that it was a “very serious problem,” while 8 percent of Democrats thought that it was a “very serious matter.”[4] That “scandal” centers on Hillary Clinton’s use of a potentially insecure private e-mail server located in the Clinton family home in New York. Under pressure, she turned over 30,000 e-mail messages that bore on State Department business. Some Republican inquisitors may hope to find a smoking gun with regard to Benghazi. However, the real issue may be in the many other “personal” messages that she deleted. Worming around in the minds of many people is the suspicion that “If it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck.”

[1] “The Clintons’ controversial foundation,” The Week, 3 July 2015, p. 11.

[2] “Clinton Foundation: Is it a true charity?” The Week, 15 May 2015, p. 16.

[3] “Noted,” The Week, 12 June 2015, p. 16.

[4] “Poll Watch,” The Week, 27 March 2015, p. 17.

American Public Opinion in June 2015.

In 2014, 30 percent of people described themselves as social liberals, while 34 percent described themselves as social conservatives. That totaled 64 percent of the vote, while the other 36 percent were mostly “moderates.” In June 2015, 31 percent of people described themselves as social liberals, while 31 percent described themselves as social conservatives.[1] That totaled 62 percent of the vote, while the other 38 percent were mostly “moderates.”

What’s a “social liberal”? The share of the population favoring social liberal causes greatly exceeds the share identifying as social liberals. If the social liberals are added to the moderates in the two polls, we end up with totals of 65 percent in 2014 and 69 percent in 2015. Some 55 percent favor legalizing recreational marijuana, support gay marriage, and say that it is acceptable for two gay men to kiss in public.[2] All these would once have been identified with social liberalism. If it is posited that social conservatives would oppose these measures, then that makes it possible to conjecture how many “moderates” hold social liberal views. If 30 percent identified as social liberals in 2014 and 55 percent of the total favored the liberal causes, then 25/36 of the moderates supported these social liberal causes. Applying the same calculations to 2015, 24/38 of the moderates support these social liberal causes.

To belabor the obvious, there has been a shift of public opinion toward social liberal causes between 2014 and 2015: liberals added 1 percent who migrated from the moderates, and the moderates picked up 3 percent who migrated from conservatives. Any Republican wager on a socially conservative position in 2016 looks to be a loser. At the same time, the social liberal causes mentioned in the polls are all about enhancing individual rights, especially with regard to identity. The polling doesn’t tell whether the moderates will also support social liberal causes when it comes to expanding social welfare.

In June 2014, 53 percent of Americans regarded Hillary Clinton as trustworthy. Then came the e-mail story and the questions about the Clinton foundation accepting donations from foreign donors with business before the State Department. In June 2105, 41 percent of Americans regarded Hillary Clinton as trustworthy.[3] As views on her trustworthiness declined, her favorability numbers went up. In April 2015, 36 percent had a favorable view of Hillary Clinton; in May 2105, 42 percent had a favorable view[4]; in June 2015, 45 percent had a favorable view. Thus, although 45 percent of the June 2015 polling sample viewed her favorably, only 41 percent viewed her as trustworthy. So, some 4 percent of voters—all of them Democrats?—are rubbing their hands together and going “she’s a liar, good!” The same percentage, 49 percent, do not regard her as trustworthy (not trustworthy + don’t know) and view her unfavorably. It is likely that the people who distrust Clinton are divided between Republicans, Independents, and dissident Democrats.   The size of the dissident Democrat community is nothing to be sneezed at. In June 2015, 45 percent of self-identified Democrats believed that their party had too few candidates running for President in 2016[5], while 52 percent were pretty sure of for whom they would vote.[6] The dissident Democrats are never going to vote Republican. If push comes to shove, they will hold their nose and vote for Clinton.

[1] “Poll Watch,” The Week, 5 June 2015, p. 19.

[2] “The way we were in 2014,” The Week, 31 December 2014, p. 12. Curiously, 72 percent are OK with lesbians kissing in public. This groups all social liberals with all moderates and about one in seven social conservatives. Probably explained in part by the popularity of lesbian porn among men.

[3] “Poll Watch,” The Week, 12 June 2015, p. 17.

[4] “Poll Watch,” The Week, 15 May 2015, p. 17.

[5] In particular, there is reason to think that most Democrats would be happier if a different Clinton was running for President. One poll reported that 42 percent listed Bill Clinton as the most admired president of the last quarter century. At 18 percent President Obama ranked second. See: “The way we were in 2014,” The Week, 31 December 2014, p. 12.

[6] “Poll Watch,” The Week, 5 June 2015, p. 19.