I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the latest issue of Rolling Stone: The front page article was an editorial by Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner endorsing Hillary Clinton. Seriously. The magazine that inspired young Americans when they took to the streets for change in the 60s now calls for the election of a politician who epitomizes the Establishment. What does it say about our hopes of saving the US and the world from a hostile corporate takeover when the publisher who brought the world Hunter Thompson’s gonzo journalism can’t understand why the US needs a political revolution, or what Sanders means when he talks about it?
God help us when the magazine that introduced most of us to Matt Taibbi is now calling for the election of Goldman Sachs’ BFF. This is perhaps the strongest evidence yet of the deflated ambition that Clinton support by rank-and-file Democrats represents. Ignoring the obvious conflicts of interest inherent in Wall Street financing of her candidacy, Wenner relies on fully discredited arguments to support her campaign against someone whose whole purpose for running is to challenge the corruption of a political system that is breaking down. Does he seriously believe that she will “get things done” by working for incremental change within the same corrupt system that has led America and the world to the brink of existential crisis?
His most forceful argument regards climate change, an issue his young readers take much more seriously than those of their elders who back Clinton because of her putative support for less politically divisive issues such as the rights of women and children (she presumably favors puppies as well). It should be noted that despite the serious decline in Rolling Stone’s political reporting since the departure of Taibbi as a staff writer, it has managed to do a pretty good job covering the facts about global climate change. Where it has fallen woefully short is in its analysis of the politics of doing something about it.
Rolling Stone articles have praised Obama’s largely symbolic challenges to the fossil fuel industry in areas where it is weakest, but have failed to call him out on the fact that he consistently avoids talking about the reality of what it will take to deal with climate change. Is that what he means when he says that Clinton will carry on his legacy? Sanders has called it our most important national security issue, while Clinton has consistently supported the expansion of fracking and wars to control fossil fuel sources in the Mideast. Despite this, the editorial argues that Clinton can do more to address climate change with an incremental approach than Sanders can do by demanding a serious response to what Wenner acknowledges is a planet-threatening emergency. Has his advanced age rendered him too senile to see the obvious contradiction?
Wenner’s makes a couple of more or less original arguments in his editorial, both of which are equally fallacious:
First, he accuses Sanders of substituting anger for a real plan, while making virtually no mention of Sanders’ detailed plans for dealing with the economy, tackling global climate change, reducing income inequality, improving health care and education and regulating Wall Street. Is it any wonder that Sanders is angry about the Democratic establishment’s unwillingness to tackle any of these problems effectively? The fact that Wenner cites Obamacare as a key “victory” shows that like many other Democrats, he has become so preoccupied with defending his party’s timidity against Republican stupidity that he fails to see that both have contributed to the imperiled state of the American middle class. Every other nation has a system of universal health care, yet Clinton claims it cannot be done here. If she is right, it is because Democratic acceptance of the corrupt status quo makes it impossible.
Second, he compares Sanders to Nader as a “spoiler.” Not only does this perpetuate the myth that Nader cost Gore the 2000 election, but it ignores the obvious distinction between running in the general election when it might cause a more viable candidate to lose and running in a primary, where it is to everyone’s benefit that voters choose who shall represent them. Having muddled that point, he cites the devastating McGovern loss in 1968, in asserting that no matter how dire the circumstances, “America chooses its presidents from the middle” This is obviously false. It depends on how badly change is needed and how ready the country is for change. Has he forgotten that Roosevelt was considered a radical at one time? Given that Hillary’s supporters seem blithely unaware of the steady rightward drift of the party since Bill introduced the “third way,” they might be inclined to agree.
Wenner’s endorsement dismisses all concerns about Clinton’s veracity as if they are too silly to merit rebuttal. This is typical of her supporters, who refuse to honestly examine her record for evidence of how it reflects on her character. Given the distortions of the corporate media about various false accusations in the past, it is perhaps understandable that he admirers overlook the fact that she lied about having illegally established a private email server for government business, but shouldn’t it raise questions when she is caught lying about things for no apparent reason than to glorify herself, in Trump fashion? I have yet to see a Clinton supporter try to justify her claim that she landed under fire in Bosnia in 2008, when video shows she was welcomed by a ceremony rather than snipers. She also claims to have spoken out against the Iraq War before Obama and to have been broke when she left the White House, among other demonstrably false statements.
Speaking of lies, her claim to have opposed NAFTA has also been debunked (by CBS, no less!). Not only does Wenner ignore this, but he justifies his support for her in part by describing as disingenuous Sanders’ argument that free trade policies were not responsible for the decline of the US auto industry. He fails to mention that while there may be other factors in that example, there is absolutely no doubt that free trade agreements that she has consistently supported have devastated American manufacturing. And to add to her list of “disingenuous” claims, she now claims to oppose TPP, an agreement she was instrumental in negotiating.
There is no sense repeating rebuttals to the claims of Clinton’s superior electability and her ability to work with a hostile Congress when those who don’t know refuse to listen. Let’s leave it at this: Wenner is channeling Ronald Reagan in arguing that while young people tend to have idealistic expectations, when they mature they become conservative. That is only a natural conclusion to those who have benefited from the system as it is and don’t want to admit that they have compromised all the values they held when a better world seemed possible. Like other baby boomers that support Clinton, Wenner seems to have grown too old to appreciate the dismal future facing our grandchildren. He should be ashamed to risk leaving them to it when we have a chance to spark a real revolution by electing someone willing to lead the fight to save the US and the world from the forces that Clinton represents.
RIP, Rolling Stone. We hardly knew ya…apparently.