First, some credit is due to Wikileaks. Few in the mainstream dare to thank them, but Wikileaks has obviously played a critical role in triggering the official resignation of DNC chair Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. These maverick conspirators, who have brought down many at the upper levels of power, and are disavowed by both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, were able to make public the vilest secrets of power. In a more democratic society there would be less justification for Wikileaks, but there's no sign the surveillance state is diminishing. Further revelations are likely against Paul Manafort about his relationships with the former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was backed by the Kremlin. This in turn carries toxic implications about Trump's "friends" in Moscow and if they are responsible for both the hacks and the leaks.
Second, Wasserman-Schultz took far more hawkish policy positions than the liberal Democratic mainstream and her absence will allow the party center to shift left. She belongs to the Cuba Lobby, which for years prevented any alteration between the US and Cuban relations. She was pressured to vote for the Iran nuclear agreement by the Obama administration and several of her close Democratic allies. The good news is that our new Cuba policy is stabilizing, with hundreds of thousands of Americans traveling there. On the other hand, The Iran deal is unstable, partly because the US and others are reneging on some key obligations and neo-cons are waiting to strike back.
Third, Senator Elizabeth Warren would not have been the best vice-presidential choice. Nor would Senator Cory Booker or Secretary of Labor Tom Perez. In the last few weeks alone, national security and safety have become far greater, even primal, worries for the American public. Sen. Warren would not have been a good "fit" for these issues. She nonetheless will be a powerful progressive voice of conscience on Wall Street, consumer and many other progressive issues. Booker is uncertain on foreign policy and his involvement with Silicon Valley backing of charter schools is divisive in education policies. Perez is perhaps the more progressive of the three, but too little known to the public. Additionally, Warren and Booker both come from states with Republican Governors, and thus would have put two Democratic Senate seats in the hands of Republicans.
Next, going forward, there will more of the same about trade and the Rust Belt vote. Fortunately, Kaine will adhere to Clinton's opposition to the TPP, and organized labor will play a key role in cementing her promise. It's a disappointment from the democratic left's point of view, but all we can say is that Bernie's revolution will continue in Congressional and statewide economic issues.
The greatest dividend this week will be a carefully orchestrated united front against Trump.
On foreign and defense policy, Senator Tim Kaine stands out for his strong and thoughtful defense of the 1973 War Powers Act, the chief policy victory of the Vietnam era. He will insist on the president's agreement on obtaining Congressional consent. Kaine, with Rep. Barbara Lee, he is expected to take the lead on a new Authorization for the Use of Force, including limits on American ground troops, full disclosure on casualties and taxpayer costs, timetables for troop withdrawals, and diplomatic negotiations. Hawkish as the Democrats turn out to be, they will never succumb to Paul Ryan's bloody scythe aimed at the civilian budget. Trump will restore an Imperial Presidency with a glowing green light to more torture, unrestrained bombings, austerity budgets, and the decay of social programs.
One priority for progressives could be to divert attention from the Trump's current and Sanders' former rhetoric about Hillary's blame for the Iraq War. Together the two must have condemned Clinton over a hundred times for, "the worst diplomatic catastrophe in American history."
Clinton has long admitted that her vote on Iraq was a mistake. But the hammers keep falling on her. The important fact politically, is that Trump has managed to turn his attacks on Iraq into a perpetual mantra with a bipartisan nodding of approval. Trump is now slithering rapidly towards conning the peace movement from now until November. Any citizen concerned with Trump's evasiveness (or brainwashing) should question empty rhetoric on Iraq. The facts show that Trump supported the invasion of Iraq before he opposed it. Actually, he never opposed the war, never called for the troops to come home, never joined Business Executives for Peace, never supported a peace candidate, or made any of the gestures that normal people define as provable. Yet on the 2016 campaign trail, Trump claimed that he fought, "Very, very hard against us going into Iraq”, was visited by people from the White House "seeking his support”, and could provide 25 different stories as evidence.
There is no record of proof behind any of these claims. On March 21, 2003, in an interview with Fox News’ Neil Cavuto, Trump was quoted as saying the war, "Looks like a tremendous success from a military standpoint," and predicted that the market would "Go up like a rocket," as a result of the war. And further: "The main thing is to get the war over with and just make it a tremendously successful campaign and it will be very interesting to see what kind of weapons they find."
There the record ends, but a powerful lie has been generated that Trump was in the opposition to the war. His revealing criticism of Senator John McCain, a Vietnam POW, shows what kind of victory standard Trump has used. McCain didn't deserve respect because to Trump he was a loser. That claim should be questioned everywhere by the peace movement, including Vietnam veterans.
Trump's most problematic foreign policy position is far worse that his fanciful commentary about Iraq. It's his strange affection for Russia's Putin and Paul Manafort 's lobbying relationship with a Ukrainian oligarch.
More reports to come from the ground in Philly. Be sure to follow my thoughts on Twitter.