Everybody Behaving Badly

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the DNC voter database flap, and finally I found somebody who appears to understand what happened.

Basically, the DNC uses a creaky old voter database setup with firewalls between campaign staffs. Because of a glitch on the part of the database company, at least one Sanders staffer suddenly had access to Clinton data. He was supposed to immediately report this but did not. This was stupid on his part, because user activity on the database is monitored. Instead, it appears at least one staffer tried to access lists of donors. He or they  would not have been able to download these lists, according to the source linked above, but they would have been able to view valuable “topline” information. So, the Sanders staffer(s) behaved badly. The person deemed responsible for the bad behavior has been fired. There is no indication Bernie Sanders himself was involved.

There’s a broad consensus that actual damage to the Clinton campaign from this mishap was minimal. Would have been minimal, anyway, except other people behaved badly.

In a normal world, the DNC would have quietly gone to both campaigns, investigated the incident, and perhaps request that responsible parties be fired. However, this is not a normal world. In a massive display of bad judgment, and in a bare-assed attempt to put her thumb on the scale for Hillary Clinton, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz went public with this incident and made it a big bleeping deal.

Temporarily cutting off the Sanders campaign from the database was not an unreasonable thing to do while the glitch was being investigated and the firewall patched up. But DWS made it seem the DNC was punishing the Sanders campaign. And then the Sanders campaign felt compelled to threaten a lawsuit to get their access back (which has been restored). Maybe that was grandstanding; maybe the Sandernistas feared DWS was going to keep them locked out long enough to seriously shut down their funding drives.

The Clinton campaign has accused the Sanders campaign of theft, when IMO HRC and her people would have been better off stepping aside and letting Sanders and the DNC duke it out, especially since the beef all along is that the DNC is entirely in the tank for HRC.  This is at Vox:

The back-and-forth here is emblematic of a larger struggle between Sanders and the DNC, which has persisted since the beginning of the primary. The DNC has pretty openly lined up behind Hillary Clinton, pushing for her to cruise to victory without splitting the field, as happened in 2008. The Sanders campaign sees the severity of this punishment as driven by the DNC’s broader bias against their candidate.

Charles Pierce:

Let us stipulate a few things. First, the DNC, under the barely perceptible leadership of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, has greased the skids for Hillary Rodham Clinton. (A debate on the Saturday night before Christmas, when half the country’s on an airplane going to visit the other half? Please.) Second, yes, it’s true, if the situation were reversed, and it was the Clinton campaign that had breached the Sanders campaign’s data, The New York Times would be screaming bloody murder and talking about a “culture” of slicker, and where’s there’s smoke etc. etc. Third, it’s true that, if I wanted to throw the Democratic primary campaign into a little chaos to distract attention from the fact that Tuesday night’s Republican debate more closely resembled a casting call by Roger DeBris, this is exactly the kind of story I would want to have out there. And, last, it’s true that, if I wanted to distract from the fact that Sanders on Thursday was endorsed by the Communication Workers of America, and by Democracy For America, this also would be exactly the kind of story I would want out there. So, all your paranoid speculations are as well-founded as paranoid speculations can be.

 Josh Marshall believes this is going to hurt HRC and the Democratic Party more than it’s going to hurt Sanders.

Let’s be clear on one point: It may not look like it. But the DNC/Clinton campaign actually needs the Sanders Camp much more than the Sanders Camp needs them.

Here’s why.

The overwhelming likelihood is that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. That means that 3 or 4 or 6 months from now her campaign and the DNC will need to unify the party. Whatever the data folks at the Sanders campaign did, by suspending their access the DNC will quite likely give a lot of Sanders supporters the idea that if they’d only had access to their data, Sanders might have won. At a minimum, many will be convinced that the game was rigged all along: that the DNC was operating as an arm of the Clinton campaign.

Now, Clinton is the candidate with overwhelming party establishment buy-in. We all know that the DNC and its apparatus is more friendly and inclined toward her campaign. But there is a world of difference before passive support or hopes for her victory and actively tipping the scales in her favor. If Sanders supporters get the idea the DNC and its chair are doing the latter, it introduces a toxic chemical into the bloodstream of the party. That could cause big, big problems down the line for Clinton and for the entire Democratic ticket.

Now, if that’s not depressing enough, read Andrew O’Hehir:

We have been told once again, for the 443rd time, that sooner or later all the leathery, old, white Republicans will wither away and Democrats will inherit the earth. Sounds good in theory, but I have two questions: What Democrats? And what earth? …

…Hillary Clinton is a symptom of a party that has lost its ideological moorings and more recently been eaten away from below by political termites. She is not the disease itself, and the Hillary vs. Bernie cage match, with its frequently unappetizing gender politics, is not the main event. This week’s report from the Center for American Progress, with its claim that the nation’s shifting demographics overwhelmingly favor the Democrats in 2016 and beyond, was hardly breaking news (least of all to Republican donors and strategists). One of the authors of that study, Ruy Teixeira, co-wrote the book “The Emerging Democratic Majority” — published in 2002. At least he doesn’t give up easily. But this time around, the report contains or conceals a grievous epistemological error: It assumes a bipolar universe of Democrats and Republicans, the traditional realm of traditional politics. And in this year of Trump and Sanders and generalized political madness, that universe is imploding around us….

…The demographic changes envisioned in that CAP report will take many decades to play out, and if you want to insist that the Democratic glass is half-full, you can see the Sanders 2016 campaign as the beginning of a badly needed internal process of reform or revolution. But all confident predictions of an endless future of Democratic hegemony involve a failure to observe the most obvious facts in American politics: Party identification is dropping to all-time lows, and outside the unique demographic leverage of a presidential election, voting is doing likewise. …

… The Democratic Armageddon of 2014 revealed a party with no fight, no strategy, no ideas and no soul. Its elected officials and Washington apparatchiks whined and wailed, blamed their own voters for accurately perceiving that they were clueless and defeated, and then capitulated and crawled away. That party still hopes to be rescued by the demographic advantage it has been promised for 25 years and counting. But it has done nothing to earn or deserve that advantage, has no idea what to do with it and, absent major change, will be sure to squander it if it ever gets here.

I can’t say he’s wrong.