# The Coin-Toss Victory — And Other Hillary Clinton Myths

Hillary Clinton did not win the Iowa caucuses with a coin toss. She didn’t “win” at all. Not really. Delegates in Iowa are allotted proportionally. She won half. Bernie Sanders won half.

Yes, some of those delegates were decided by an obscure rule requiring the toss of a coin, and Clinton’s winning of the coin toss was something of a mathematical improbability. But she did not “win” and Sanders did not “lose” in Iowa, because “winning” and “losing” are meaningless terms in a situation in which the candidates split the delegate count right down the middle.

“Winning” and “losing” are meaningful terms in two ways. One, if Clinton won a runaway majority of delegates. For instance, if she won 70 percent and Sanders won 30. Two, if delegates are allotted according to the winner-takes-all rule. In that case, the candidate winning more than 49.5 percent wins all the delegates.

Only in the latter situation would it matter that Hillary Clinton mathematically improbably won a handful of Iowa delegates with a coin toss. But that is not the situation, and so all the controversy over the Iowa coin toss amounts to a lot of noise.

That doesn’t explain the cause of the noise, however. One cause is naturally our national media, which tends to treat every state contest as if it were winner-takes-all. I’m guessing that tendency comes mostly from the professional need for a kind of shorthand. “Win” and “lose” aren’t the only misused electoral terms. Even The New York Times this week conflated “primaries” and “caucuses.”

Another cause of noise is ignorance. Many Americans unfortunately don’t know how their federalist system works. This is amplified by international news outlets covering the campaigns.

Nominating elections are won and lost state by state. Some have primaries. Some have caucuses. Some primaries are closed, for party members only. Some are open. Democrats can vote for Republicans, and vice versa. Some states choose not to legally bind their delegates to candidates. They can change candidates at the convention. Both parties have what are called “super-delegates,” who can pledge themselves to whomever they wish regardless of winners. Such party officials serve as a bulwark against an “excess of democracy.”

Even as candidates fight from state to state, the real objective in their minds is the total number of delegates needed to secure the nomination. Achieving that number means ginning up enthusiasm, especially among base voters in early states like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, because the more energy generated, the more likely they are to win the Big One.

But part of me suspects the social-media hysteria over Clinton’s “coin toss victory” stems from the deep distrust of Hillary Clinton and her husband among left-liberals on the margins of the Democratic Party. They already believe the Clintons are crooks. A coin toss deciding who gets some Iowa delegates only confirms that perception. A barrage of media reports saying that Clinton beat Sanders by a hair only arouses a sense of rage that’s always already there.

I have been unconvinced that Clinton’s fiercest critics are motivated by sexism, but it’s hard to keep dismissing the claim. And I’m not just talking about what clothes she wears, her awkwardness on camera, or her clearly staged spontaneity.

Clinton, like the rest of the Democratic Party, has progressed enormously over the course of eight years under the leadership of Barack Obama. But Clinton’s detractors believe she’s stuck in the 1990s, a decade whose politics are unrecognizable in today’s Democratic Party. The Democrats are more progressive, more diverse, and more unified on issues than they have been in decades.

Yes, politicians can and do pander. They say things today. They’ll say the opposite tomorrow. But in Clinton’s case, that’s not flip-flopping. It’s the inevitable result of having a long public career. As Harry Enten noted last year at FiveThirtyEight, Clinton was liberal by the standards of the 1990s and she remains liberal. I’d go farther to suggest that thanks to the president and now Bernie Sanders, we have a Hillary Clinton who is more liberal than ever.

That probably will not appease her critics. Once a minion of Wall Street, always a minion of Wall Street, even as the Dodd-Frank financial reform law she supported is shrinking too-big-to-fail banks. The law’s capital-reserve requirements are preventing those big banks from being as profitable as they were. They are breaking themselves up. As president, Clinton could sit on her hands while the reform law continued to make for a more stable economy.

But there’s something about Clinton that her critics evidently know to be true, something that defies fact and history, something that’s universal and timeless and immune to concrete circumstance — and it’s that implacable belief that I find most troubling.

Photo: Bernie Sanders (left) greets Hillary Clinton after the Democratic presidential debate at Drake University. Mandatory Credit: Rodney White/The Des Moines Register via USA TODAY Sports

John Stoehr is the Koeppel Journalism Fellow at Wesleyan University and a lecturer in political science at Yale.

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## Wut? Kevin McCarthy Says He'd Prefer Santos As President Over Biden

@next2godwin
Rep. Kevin McCarthy

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) suggested in a weekend interview that it is “unfortunate” that lying Republican lawmaker Rep. George Santos (R-NY) has less power than President Joe Biden.

McCarthy made the bizarre claim on Fox News’ Life, Liberty & Levin in response to a rhetorical question tabled by longtime far-rightist and Biden critic Mark Levin in a segment awash with groundless assertions and right-wing conspiracy theories.

Levin kick-started the show with a populist tirade about the radicalization of school boards in the last 15 years — a period that encapsulates the tenure of two Republican presidents, including ex-President Donald Trump.

During that time, Levin alleged, “Academia, the radical left, and the American Marxists” have sought to “control what you think, but even more… what your kids think” via “advanced placement courses.”

After the outlandish tangent, Levin brought on McCarthy and opened the interview with a rhetorical question to pander to the base: “Who has more power, Joe Biden or Rep. George Santos [R-NY)?”

The softball drew a gleeful chuckle from McCarthy, who responded, “Well, right now, I think it is the president, Joe Biden, unfortunately.”

Then, Levin — an avid supporter of Trump, who publicly made over 30,000 false claims in his time at the White House alone — launched into a rant baselessly claiming that Biden had misled Americans on myriad issues, which Levin claimed mattered more to him than Santos’ fibs.

“[Santos] has nothing to do with me. That guy, [Biden], is President of the United States; every decision he makes affects me,” Levin cried at high volume, labeling the president as dishonest as Santos.

News outlets across the political spectrum have covered Santos’ many lies, from his name, education, heritage, career, marriage, and fundraising to the circumstances surrounding his mother’s death.

Despite Santos’ entanglement deep within a self-spun web of lies, spurring multiple investigations and calls from his Republican colleagues for his resignation, McCarthy put the freshman lawmaker on two House committees and deflected questions on the appointment.

The speaker has come under fire for caving into the fringe demands of the extreme-right wing of his conference in exchange for the U.S. House speakership, which he clinched only after 15 rounds of voting over four grueling days.

Levin, on the other hand, was one of the Fox News personalities who used their platforms to push, unfiltered, the false narrative that widespread voter fraud orchestrated by Democrats had cost Trump a resounding victory in the 2020 presidential election.

“Our Declaration of Independence and Constitution are being destroyed by the Democratic Party and the media, and they want to destroy what is left of it,” Levin told his viewers three days before a Trump mob stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, according to the New York Times.

Levin had also lambasted Republican senators who were steering clear of Trump’s Big Lie and called on the Supreme Court to intervene in the Republican Party’s fight to keep then-President Trump, who had lost his re-election bid, in power after his defeat.

In early December, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), himself an election denier, blasted Levin for calling out the ultraconservative bloc of House Republicans barring McCarthy’s path to becoming House Speaker.

“Levin is the biggest fraud in politics right now. For years, this guy castigated McCarthy publicly (with no shame). Now, he is all in for him and wants his audience to turn a blind eye. Total fraud,” Biggs tweeted.

Twitter users also ripped into Levin and McCarthy for their insidious allegations that Biden had misled the public just as much as — or, perhaps, even more than — Santos had, and that the latter deserved presidential power more than Biden.

## Don't Look Now, But The Presidential Campaign Is Upon Us

@LucianKTruscott

This is the first of what is sure to be way too many campaign columns to come. If you’d like them to land in your email inbox every time I write one, please buy a subscription.

There is very little I dislike more than covering electoral politics, but here I am, filling up my tank this time with coffee, not gas, getting ready to follow the bus once again. The bus, in case you are wondering, is a reference to the gang of political reporters who cover political campaigns. Tim Crouse’s epic The Boys on the Bus, which was about the experience of covering the 1972 presidential campaign between Richard Nixon and George McGovern, introduced non-professionals to the cloistered world of the gang – and yes, they were all male back then – of political reporters covering that campaign.

I covered, in my own fashion, the presidential campaign that year, chiefly by writing a 6,000 word article on the Republican National Convention in Miami for the late-lamented Saturday Review. I have no idea how or why the editors of that relatively straight-laced journal reached down into the so-called underground press, of which The Village Voice was the presiding Grande Dame, and gave me that plum assignment. The underground press, for those born after I-don’t-know-what-year, was the group of newspapers and some magazines like Creem and Rolling Stone which occupied the dark space beneath the sunlit mainstream press like the Washington Post, New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune – not to mention CBS, NBC, and ABC, all of which had reporters on the bus covering the Nixon and McGovern campaigns.

Needless to say, I wasn’t on the bus that year or any other, thus I followed the bus, as it were, covering, in addition to the Republican convention, lesser campaigns such as John Kerry’s losing run for Congress in ’72 in Lowell, Massachusetts. The most fascinating campaign I covered that year was for a seat on the county board of supervisors in White County, Illinois, far enough south in the state that the nearest “big” cities were Evansville, Indiana, and Paducah, Kentucky. In that race, “Pud” Williams, the Democrat, was running against “Fat” Ziegler, the Republican. The story I wrote for the Voice covering Pud’s campaign was called “Pud and Oop vs. Fat.”

A fellow farmer, Oop Gardner, was Pud’s campaign manager, whose job chiefly consisted of driving out to whatever field Pud was plowing or planting. Oop would pull up on a farm road and run out to Pud’s tractor and give him the news about Fat’s latest lie or vote-buying scheme, and together, Pud and Oop would decide how best to counter Fat’s most recent political move, and Pud would go back to plowing or planting, and Oop would drive over to the nearest general store that had a pay phone and issue orders to friends of the two men who were serving as campaign workers, and they in turn would man the rumor mill that was centered in cafes and gas stations and spread the word about Fat’s scams and questionable promises, which mainly consisted of assuring voters that he would endeavor to get them jobs on the county road crew.

It was politics at its most basic, county level, but Pud’s campaign involved everything that was being covered on the national campaign press bus – issues, turnout, appeals to the youth vote, attempts to manipulate voting laws, buying votes, personalities, grudges dating to old campaigns, families split down the middle politically – you name it, that campaign in the rich, flat farmland of southern Illinois had it all. The bus was a borrowed pickup truck, the hotel was a spare room in my friend David Vaught’s house, and best of all, the candidates were not named Nixon or McGovern.

Oh, for the days when presidential campaigns started the year of the election with the two parties’ state primaries followed by a general election that didn’t really get going until the day after Labor Day. It’s depressing to think that the current presidential race is already underway. If you read online stuff like Politico Playbook and Axios and if you watch MSNBC, the campaign has been underway since the last one ended, covering national political campaigns having turned into a full-time job at least a couple of decades ago. They were running presidential polls practically the day after Biden’s inauguration.

It is called the horse race for reasons that are at once obvious and disgusting -- the whole who’s ahead in the polls, who’s raising the most money, who’s talking about running, who’s “putting out feelers” – so you know not only what’s coming but what’s already here. This year’s horse race was centered on the questions of will he or won’t he followed by when will he – about Donald Trump announcing, naturally. As questions go, they didn’t amount to much, but then the political pros in the journalism game don’t require questions when raw speculation, informed or not, is always there waiting for a few hundred words in a column or a few flapping lips on the cable news shows. But don’t you wish they’d come up with somebody new to interview? I mean, James Carville was Bill Clinton’s campaign manager 30 years ago, and Steve Schmidt held the reins for John McCain 15 years ago.

And now the horse race has begun again. Every time Ron DeSantis gets indigestion, there are political reporters nearby to report what key he’s burping in. Chris Christie – remember the Governor of the George Washington Bridge? – chirped on one of the talk shows recently about Republicans who might announce for president, and it was like Moses had Fed Exed the tablets to a hundred newsrooms. If another story appeared about Trump’s “stalled” campaign, I was ready to turn off my newsfeeds and throw a comforter over my head and hide out for the duration.

You had to be deaf not to hear the collective sigh of relief by political journalists when Trump scheduled his first two official campaign appearances over the weekend. He spoke at the New Hampshire Republican Party’s annual meeting in some burg called Salem and then shot down to Columbia, South Carolina, where he introduced his state campaign leadership team, according to a report on PBS. Coverage of the South Carolina appearance centered on how many state Republican officals the Trump campaign wasn’t able to turn out, apparently because some were holding out for Nikki Haley, who is said to be considering a run for president herself.

Listen to some of the coverage: PBS interviewed Dave Wilson, president of conservative Christian nonprofit Palmetto Family, about support for Trump in the state. I have never heard of him either, but steel yourself, because we’re in for many more interviews with minor characters and political hangers-on as the year progresses. Anyway, Dave was good enough to tell PBS that while “Trump did some phenomenal things when he was president,” conservative voters in South Carolina weren’t happy with Trump’s recent comment that Republicans who don’t want exceptions for rape or incest in the anti-abortion laws sweeping the country were responsible for the dismal election returns suffered in the midterms last November.

The Washington Post covered Trump’s appearance in New Hampshire by emphasizing that some Republicans at the convention “would prefer a new face in 2024.” Karen Umberger, a delegate to the convention, told the Post that “it’s time for a younger person or someone new to have their time.”

The New York Times, in covering Trump’s New Hampshire appearance, said “his speeches carried a typically Trumpian timbre.” Among other promises, “Trump [said] his candidacy was a shield for the country from communism and Marxism and vowed to keep transgender athletes out of women’s sports.”

“I am more angry now and I am more committed now than ever,” Trump told the Republican delegates. The paper went on to note that “on his social media platform, Truth Social, Mr. Trump has been posting videos about his policy positions, including plans to protect Social Security and Medicare and ban Chinese citizens from owning U.S. farmland or telecommunications, energy, technology or medical supply companies.” Online, the paper even went so far as to enable the words “policy positions” if you clicked on them to link you to the streaming website Rumble where you can watch Trump on short videos pitching his policy promises.

Wow. That’s some news right there, isn’t it? I mean, I’ve waited two long years to hear what Trump has to say about communism and Marxism, haven’t you?

In all the coverage of the launch of his campaign, as “low key” as it was, I could find only one gentle mention, on CNN, of Trump being under investigation by the Department of Justice for his mishandling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago and for, as CNN carefully put it, “parts of the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.”

Of course, CNN immediately added that classified documents were found at President Biden’s personal residence and that Merrick Garland has appointed a special counsel to investigate the matter.

So get ready for it, folks. The august members of the national political press have taken their seats in the bleachers and the horse race is now officially on. Just don’t look for them to acknowledge that a suspected felon who faces grand juries in Washington, New York, and Georgia is running against a man who has never been accused of a felony, who has never been sued by a porn star, and who has never claimed to have grabbed women or anybody else for that matter by their nether regions.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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