65. Ready to Die – The Remaster – The Notorious B.I.G.

19 Songs, 1 Hour 16 Minutes Released: Sep 13, 1994 ℗ 2004 Bad Boy Records LLC for the United States and WEA International Inc.for the world excluding the United States, South America and Central America Also Available in iTunes About The Notorious B.I.G. In just a few short years, the Notorious B.I.G. went from a Brooklyn street hustler to the savior of East Coast hip-hop to a tragic victim of the culture of violence he depicted so realistically on his records. His all-too-brief odyssey almost immediately took on mythic proportions, especially since his murder followed the shooting of rival Tupac Shakur by only six months. In death, the man also known as Biggie Smalls became a symbol of the senseless violence that plagued inner-city America in the waning years of the 20th century. Whether or not his death was really the result of a much-publicized feud between the East and West Coast hip-hop scenes, it did mark the point where both sides stepped back from a rivalry that had gone too far. Hip-hop’s self-image would never be quite the same, and neither would public perception. The aura of martyrdom that surrounds the Notorious B.I.G. sometimes threatens to overshadow his musical legacy, which was actually quite significant. Helped by Sean “Puffy” Combs’ radio-friendly sensibility, Biggie reestablished East Coast rap’s viability by leading it into the post-Dr. Dre gangsta age. Where fellow East Coasters the Wu-Tang Clan slowly built an underground following, Biggie crashed onto the charts and became a star right out of the box. In the process, he helped Combs’ Bad Boy label supplant Death Row as the biggest hip-hop imprint in America, and also paved the way to popular success for other East Coast talents like Jay-Z and Nas. Biggie was a gifted storyteller with a sense of humor and an eye for detail, and his narratives about the often violent life of the streets were rarely romanticized; instead, they were told with a gritty, objective realism that won him enormous respect and credibility. The general consensus in the rap community was that when his life was cut short, sadly, Biggie was just getting started.The Notorious B.I.G. was born Christopher Wallace on May 21, 1972, and grew up in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. He was interested in rap from a young age, performing with local groups like the Old Gold Brothers and the Techniques, the latter of whom brought the teenaged Wallace his first trip to a recording studio. He had already adopted the name Biggie Smalls at this point, a reference to his ample frame, which would grow to be over six feet tall and nearly 400 pounds. Although he was a good student, he dropped out of high school at age 17 to live his life on the streets. Attracted by the money and flashy style of local drug dealers, he started selling crack for a living. He got busted on a trip to North Carolina and spent nine months in jail, and upon his release, he made some demo recordings on a friend’s four-track. The resulting tape fell into the hands of Mister Cee, a DJ working with Big Daddy Kane; Cee in turn passed the tape on to hip-hop magazine The Source, which gave Biggie a positive write-up in a regular feature on unsigned artists. Thanks to the publicity, Biggie caught the attention of Uptown Records producer Sean “Puffy” Combs, who signed him immediately. With his new daughter in need of immediate financial support, Biggie kept dealing drugs for a short time until Combs found out and laid down the law. Not long after Biggie’s signing, Combs split from Uptown to form his own label, Bad Boy, and took Biggie with him.Changing his primary stage name from Biggie Smalls to the Notorious B.I.G., the newly committed rapper made his recording debut on a 1993 remix of Mary J. Blige’s single “Real Love.” He soon guested on another Blige remix, “What’s the 411?,” and contributed his first solo cut, “Party and Bullshit,” to the soundtrack of the film Who’s the Man? Now with a considerable underground buzz behind him, the Notorious B.I.G. delivered his debut album, Ready to Die, in September 1994. Its lead single, “Juicy,” went gold, and the follow-up smash, “Big Poppa,” achieved platinum sales and went Top Ten on the pop and R&B charts. Biggie’s third single, “One More Chance,” tied Michael Jackson’s “Scream” for the highest debut ever on the pop charts; it entered at number five en route to an eventual peak at number two, and went all the way to number one on the R&B side. By the time the dust settled, Ready to Die had sold over four million copies and turned the Notorious B.I.G. into a hip-hop sensation — the first major star the East Coast had produced since the rise of Dr. Dre’s West Coast G-funk.Not long after Ready to Die was released, Biggie married R&B singer and Bad Boy labelmate Faith Evans. In November 1994, West Coast gangsta star Tupac Shakur was shot several times in the lobby of a New York recording studio and robbed of thousands of dollars in jewelry. Shakur survived and accused Combs and his onetime friend Biggie of planning the attack, a charge both of them fervently denied. The ill will gradually snowballed into a heated rivalry between West and East Coast camps, with upstart Bad Boy now challenging Suge Knight’s Death Row empire for hip-hop supremacy. Meanwhile, Biggie turned his energies elsewhere. He shepherded the career of Junior M.A.F.I.A., a group consisting of some of his childhood rap partners, and guested on their singles “Player’s Anthem” and “Get Money.” He also boosted several singles by his labelmates, such as Total’s “Can’t You See” and 112’s “Only You,” and worked with superstars like Michael Jackson (HIStory) and R. Kelly (“[You to Be] Happy,” from R. Kelly). With the singles from Ready to Die still burning up the airwaves as well, Biggie ended 1995 as not only the top-selling rap artist, but also the biggest solo male act on both the pop and R&B charts. He also ran into trouble with the law on more than one occasion. A concert promoter accused Biggie and members of his entourage of assaulting him when he refused to pay the promised fee after a concert cancellation. Later in the year, Biggie pled guilty to criminal mischief after attacking two harassing autograph seekers with a baseball bat.The year 1996 was even more tumultuous. More legal problems ensued after police found marijuana and weapons in a raid on Biggie’s home in Teaneck, New Jersey. Meanwhile, Junior M.A.F.I.A. member Lil’ Kim released her first solo album under Biggie’s direction, and the two made little effort to disguise their concurrent love affair. 2Pac, still nursing a grudge against Biggie and Combs, recorded a vicious slam on the East Coast scene called “Hit ‘Em Up,” in which he taunted Biggie about having slept with Faith Evans (who was by now estranged from her husband). What was more, during the recording sessions for Biggie’s second album, he suffered rather serious injuries in a car accident and was confined to a wheelchair for a time. Finally, in September 1996, Tupac Shakur was murdered in a drive-by shooting on the Las Vegas strip. Given their very public feud, it didn’t take long for rumors of Biggie’s involvement to start swirling, although none were substantiated. Biggie was also criticized for not attending an anti-violence hip-hop summit held in Harlem in the wake of Shakur’s death.Observers hoped that Shakur’s murder would serve as a wake-up call for gangsta rap in general, that on-record boasting had gotten out of hand and spilled into reality. Sadly, it would take another tragedy to drive that point home. In the early morning hours of March 9, 1997, the Notorious B.I.G. was leaving a party at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, thrown by Vibe magazine in celebration of the Soul Train Music Awards. He sat in the passenger side of his SUV, with his bodyguard in the driver’s seat and Junior M.A.F.I.A. member Lil’ Cease in the back. According to most witnesses, another vehicle pulled up on the right side of the SUV while it was stopped at a red light, and six to ten shots were fired. Biggie’s bodyguard rushed him to the nearby Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, but it was already too late. As much as Shakur was mourned, Biggie’s death was perhaps even more shocking; it meant that Shakur’s death was not an isolated incident, and that hip-hop’s highest-profile talents might be caught in the middle of an escalating war. Naturally, speculation ran rampant that Biggie’s killers were retaliating for Shakur’s death, and since the case remains unsolved, the world may never know for sure.In the aftermath of the tragedy, the release of the Notorious B.I.G.’s second album went ahead as planned at the end of March. The eerily titled Life After Death was a sprawling, guest-laden double-disc set that seemed designed to compete with 2Pac’s All Eyez on Me in terms of ambition and epic scope. Unsurprisingly, it entered the charts at number one, selling nearly 700,000 copies in its first week of release and spending a total of four weeks on top. The first single, “Hypnotize,” went platinum and hit number one on the pop chart, and its follow-up, “Mo Money Mo Problems,” duplicated both feats, making the Notorious B.I.G. the first artist ever to score two posthumous number one hits. A third single, “Sky’s the Limit,” went gold, and Life After Death was certified ten times platinum approximately two years after its release. Plus, Combs — now rechristened Puff Daddy — and Faith Evans scored one of 1997’s biggest singles with their tribute, “I’ll Be Missing You.” In 1999, an album of previously unreleased B.I.G. material, Born Again, was released and entered the charts at number one. It eventually went double platinum. Six years later, Duets: The Final Chapter (studio scraps paired with new verses from several MCs and vocalists) surfaced and reached number three on the album chart.In the years following Christopher Wallace’s death, little official progress was made in the LAPD’s murder investigation, and it began to look as if the responsible parties would never be brought to justice. The 2Pac retaliation theory still holds sway in many quarters, and it has also been speculated that members of the Crips gang murdered Wallace in a dispute over money owed for security services. In an article for Rolling Stone, and later a full book titled Labyrinth, journalist Randall Sullivan argued that Suge Knight hired onetime LAPD officer David Mack — a convicted bank robber with ties to the Bloods — to arrange a hit on Wallace, and that the gunman was a hitman and mortgage broker named Amir Muhammad. Sullivan further argued that when it became clear how many corrupt LAPD officers were involved with Death Row Records, the department hushed up as much as it could and all but abandoned detective Russell Poole’s investigation recommendations. Documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield used Labyrinth as a basis for 2002’s Biggie and Tupac, which featured interviews with Poole and Knight, among others. In April 2002, Faith Evans and Voletta Wallace (Biggie’s mother) filed a civil suit against the LAPD alleging wrongful death, among other charges. In September of that year, the Los Angeles Times published a report alleging that the Notorious B.I.G. had paid members of the Crips one million dollars to murder 2Pac, and even supplied the gun used. Several of Biggie’s relatives and friends stepped forward to say that the rapper had been recording in New Jersey, not masterminding a hit in Las Vegas; the report was also roundly criticized in the hip-hop community, which was anxious to avoid reopening old wounds. Outside legal matters, the B.I.G. legacy continued to be burnished with the 2007 compilation Greatest Hits, the 2009 biopic Notorious, and 2017’s The King & I. The third posthumous duets album, The King & I was co-credited to Evans, whose new vocals were combined with a mix of familiar and previously unreleased verses from Biggie. ~ Steve Huey HOMETOWN

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35. Greatest Hits – The Notorious B.I.G.

Running Your Mouth (feat. Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, Fabolous & Busta Rhymes) 3:33 Want That Old Thing Back (feat. Ja Rule & Ralph Tresvant) 4:58 #!*@ You Tonight (feat. R. Kelly) 5:44 17 Songs, 1 Hour 16 Minutes Released: Mar 6, 2007 ℗ 2007 Bad Boy Records LLC for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world excluding the United States, South America and Central America. Also Available in iTunes About The Notorious B.I.G. In just a few short years, the Notorious B.I.G. went from a Brooklyn street hustler to the savior of East Coast hip-hop to a tragic victim of the culture of violence he depicted so realistically on his records. His all-too-brief odyssey almost immediately took on mythic proportions, especially since his murder followed the shooting of rival Tupac Shakur by only six months. In death, the man also known as Biggie Smalls became a symbol of the senseless violence that plagued inner-city America in the waning years of the 20th century. Whether or not his death was really the result of a much-publicized feud between the East and West Coast hip-hop scenes, it did mark the point where both sides stepped back from a rivalry that had gone too far. Hip-hop’s self-image would never be quite the same, and neither would public perception. The aura of martyrdom that surrounds the Notorious B.I.G. sometimes threatens to overshadow his musical legacy, which was actually quite significant. Helped by Sean “Puffy” Combs’ radio-friendly sensibility, Biggie reestablished East Coast rap’s viability by leading it into the post-Dr. Dre gangsta age. Where fellow East Coasters the Wu-Tang Clan slowly built an underground following, Biggie crashed onto the charts and became a star right out of the box. In the process, he helped Combs’ Bad Boy label supplant Death Row as the biggest hip-hop imprint in America, and also paved the way to popular success for other East Coast talents like Jay-Z and Nas. Biggie was a gifted storyteller with a sense of humor and an eye for detail, and his narratives about the often violent life of the streets were rarely romanticized; instead, they were told with a gritty, objective realism that won him enormous respect and credibility. The general consensus in the rap community was that when his life was cut short, sadly, Biggie was just getting started.The Notorious B.I.G. was born Christopher Wallace on May 21, 1972, and grew up in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. He was interested in rap from a young age, performing with local groups like the Old Gold Brothers and the Techniques, the latter of whom brought the teenaged Wallace his first trip to a recording studio. He had already adopted the name Biggie Smalls at this point, a reference to his ample frame, which would grow to be over six feet tall and nearly 400 pounds. Although he was a good student, he dropped out of high school at age 17 to live his life on the streets. Attracted by the money and flashy style of local drug dealers, he started selling crack for a living. He got busted on a trip to North Carolina and spent nine months in jail, and upon his release, he made some demo recordings on a friend’s four-track. The resulting tape fell into the hands of Mister Cee, a DJ working with Big Daddy Kane; Cee in turn passed the tape on to hip-hop magazine The Source, which gave Biggie a positive write-up in a regular feature on unsigned artists. Thanks to the publicity, Biggie caught the attention of Uptown Records producer Sean “Puffy” Combs, who signed him immediately. With his new daughter in need of immediate financial support, Biggie kept dealing drugs for a short time until Combs found out and laid down the law. Not long after Biggie’s signing, Combs split from Uptown to form his own label, Bad Boy, and took Biggie with him.Changing his primary stage name from Biggie Smalls to the Notorious B.I.G., the newly committed rapper made his recording debut on a 1993 remix of Mary J. Blige’s single “Real Love.” He soon guested on another Blige remix, “What’s the 411?,” and contributed his first solo cut, “Party and Bullshit,” to the soundtrack of the film Who’s the Man? Now with a considerable underground buzz behind him, the Notorious B.I.G. delivered his debut album, Ready to Die, in September 1994. Its lead single, “Juicy,” went gold, and the follow-up smash, “Big Poppa,” achieved platinum sales and went Top Ten on the pop and R&B charts. Biggie’s third single, “One More Chance,” tied Michael Jackson’s “Scream” for the highest debut ever on the pop charts; it entered at number five en route to an eventual peak at number two, and went all the way to number one on the R&B side. By the time the dust settled, Ready to Die had sold over four million copies and turned the Notorious B.I.G. into a hip-hop sensation — the first major star the East Coast had produced since the rise of Dr. Dre’s West Coast G-funk.Not long after Ready to Die was released, Biggie married R&B singer and Bad Boy labelmate Faith Evans. In November 1994, West Coast gangsta star Tupac Shakur was shot several times in the lobby of a New York recording studio and robbed of thousands of dollars in jewelry. Shakur survived and accused Combs and his onetime friend Biggie of planning the attack, a charge both of them fervently denied. The ill will gradually snowballed into a heated rivalry between West and East Coast camps, with upstart Bad Boy now challenging Suge Knight’s Death Row empire for hip-hop supremacy. Meanwhile, Biggie turned his energies elsewhere. He shepherded the career of Junior M.A.F.I.A., a group consisting of some of his childhood rap partners, and guested on their singles “Player’s Anthem” and “Get Money.” He also boosted several singles by his labelmates, such as Total’s “Can’t You See” and 112’s “Only You,” and worked with superstars like Michael Jackson (HIStory) and R. Kelly (“[You to Be] Happy,” from R. Kelly). With the singles from Ready to Die still burning up the airwaves as well, Biggie ended 1995 as not only the top-selling rap artist, but also the biggest solo male act on both the pop and R&B charts. He also ran into trouble with the law on more than one occasion. A concert promoter accused Biggie and members of his entourage of assaulting him when he refused to pay the promised fee after a concert cancellation. Later in the year, Biggie pled guilty to criminal mischief after attacking two harassing autograph seekers with a baseball bat.The year 1996 was even more tumultuous. More legal problems ensued after police found marijuana and weapons in a raid on Biggie’s home in Teaneck, New Jersey. Meanwhile, Junior M.A.F.I.A. member Lil’ Kim released her first solo album under Biggie’s direction, and the two made little effort to disguise their concurrent love affair. 2Pac, still nursing a grudge against Biggie and Combs, recorded a vicious slam on the East Coast scene called “Hit ‘Em Up,” in which he taunted Biggie about having slept with Faith Evans (who was by now estranged from her husband). What was more, during the recording sessions for Biggie’s second album, he suffered rather serious injuries in a car accident and was confined to a wheelchair for a time. Finally, in September 1996, Tupac Shakur was murdered in a drive-by shooting on the Las Vegas strip. Given their very public feud, it didn’t take long for rumors of Biggie’s involvement to start swirling, although none were substantiated. Biggie was also criticized for not attending an anti-violence hip-hop summit held in Harlem in the wake of Shakur’s death.Observers hoped that Shakur’s murder would serve as a wake-up call for gangsta rap in general, that on-record boasting had gotten out of hand and spilled into reality. Sadly, it would take another tragedy to drive that point home. In the early morning hours of March 9, 1997, the Notorious B.I.G. was leaving a party at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, thrown by Vibe magazine in celebration of the Soul Train Music Awards. He sat in the passenger side of his SUV, with his bodyguard in the driver’s seat and Junior M.A.F.I.A. member Lil’ Cease in the back. According to most witnesses, another vehicle pulled up on the right side of the SUV while it was stopped at a red light, and six to ten shots were fired. Biggie’s bodyguard rushed him to the nearby Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, but it was already too late. As much as Shakur was mourned, Biggie’s death was perhaps even more shocking; it meant that Shakur’s death was not an isolated incident, and that hip-hop’s highest-profile talents might be caught in the middle of an escalating war. Naturally, speculation ran rampant that Biggie’s killers were retaliating for Shakur’s death, and since the case remains unsolved, the world may never know for sure.In the aftermath of the tragedy, the release of the Notorious B.I.G.’s second album went ahead as planned at the end of March. The eerily titled Life After Death was a sprawling, guest-laden double-disc set that seemed designed to compete with 2Pac’s All Eyez on Me in terms of ambition and epic scope. Unsurprisingly, it entered the charts at number one, selling nearly 700,000 copies in its first week of release and spending a total of four weeks on top. The first single, “Hypnotize,” went platinum and hit number one on the pop chart, and its follow-up, “Mo Money Mo Problems,” duplicated both feats, making the Notorious B.I.G. the first artist ever to score two posthumous number one hits. A third single, “Sky’s the Limit,” went gold, and Life After Death was certified ten times platinum approximately two years after its release. Plus, Combs — now rechristened Puff Daddy — and Faith Evans scored one of 1997’s biggest singles with their tribute, “I’ll Be Missing You.” In 1999, an album of previously unreleased B.I.G. material, Born Again, was released and entered the charts at number one. It eventually went double platinum. Six years later, Duets: The Final Chapter (studio scraps paired with new verses from several MCs and vocalists) surfaced and reached number three on the album chart.In the years following Christopher Wallace’s death, little official progress was made in the LAPD’s murder investigation, and it began to look as if the responsible parties would never be brought to justice. The 2Pac retaliation theory still holds sway in many quarters, and it has also been speculated that members of the Crips gang murdered Wallace in a dispute over money owed for security services. In an article for Rolling Stone, and later a full book titled Labyrinth, journalist Randall Sullivan argued that Suge Knight hired onetime LAPD officer David Mack — a convicted bank robber with ties to the Bloods — to arrange a hit on Wallace, and that the gunman was a hitman and mortgage broker named Amir Muhammad. Sullivan further argued that when it became clear how many corrupt LAPD officers were involved with Death Row Records, the department hushed up as much as it could and all but abandoned detective Russell Poole’s investigation recommendations. Documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield used Labyrinth as a basis for 2002’s Biggie and Tupac, which featured interviews with Poole and Knight, among others. In April 2002, Faith Evans and Voletta Wallace (Biggie’s mother) filed a civil suit against the LAPD alleging wrongful death, among other charges. In September of that year, the Los Angeles Times published a report alleging that the Notorious B.I.G. had paid members of the Crips one million dollars to murder 2Pac, and even supplied the gun used. Several of Biggie’s relatives and friends stepped forward to say that the rapper had been recording in New Jersey, not masterminding a hit in Las Vegas; the report was also roundly criticized in the hip-hop community, which was anxious to avoid reopening old wounds. Outside legal matters, the B.I.G. legacy continued to be burnished with the 2007 compilation Greatest Hits, the 2009 biopic Notorious, and 2017’s The King & I. The third posthumous duets album, The King & I was co-credited to Evans, whose new vocals were combined with a mix of familiar and previously unreleased verses from Biggie. ~ Steve Huey HOMETOWN

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Democrats Fear They’re the Wet Rag Party Magazine

Al Franken is a long-time liberal warrior accused of predatory sexual behavior who is now licking his wounds in exile. Brett Kavanaugh is a long-time conservative warrior accused of predatory sexual behavior who is now licking his wounds on the United States Supreme Court.
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Donald Trump—who faces a more extensive roster of allegations than either man but has never seemed to be licking any wounds about them—finds that contrast vastly entertaining.
The president’s gleeful taunts of Franken as a quitter at a campaign rally in Minnesota on Thursday night—he folded “like a wet rag,” Trump cackled—were, for Democrats, a wicked preface to their ash-in-mouth defeat this weekend in the Kavanaugh nomination fight.
Whether Trump knew it or not, his remarks were perfectly pitched to stoke anxieties that have haunted many top Democratic operatives for a generation: the fear that their party loses big power struggles because Republicans are simply tougher, meaner, more cynical and more ruthless than they are.
A belief in one’s own virtue feels good. Losing a battle that could shape the American political landscape for decades feels bad. The tension between the two left some Democrats grappling anew this weekend with the implications: Maybe they really are the Wet Rag Party.
“They are more ruthless,” said Jennifer Palmieri, who over a quarter-century has served as a top aide to Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. “And I don’t want to be like them. … The answer can’t be for Democrats to be just as cynical.”
This is more or less the Michelle Obama Doctrine, as articulated at the 2016 Democratic convention, just a few weeks before Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump: “When they go low, we go high.” Post-Kavanaugh Democrats interviewed this weekend aren’t exactly repudiating this idea—but they are qualifying it in important ways. As they articulate it, their answer is to be more realistic about what they see as Republicans’ strategy to disregard principle and process in their pursuit of power—as they argue the GOP did in ramming through Kavanaugh despite accusations of sexual assault—and more disciplined in a long-term way in fighting back.
One key, some prominent voices say, is more willingness to behave rudely, even in the respectable parlors where Democrats historically have turned for validation.
“Democrats are the first to believe elite opinion and editorial-page opinion represent America, and they don’t,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
When he worked as an aide to President Bill Clinton, Emanuel said, he often heard Clinton’s view that ever since Lyndon B. Johnson and Vietnam, Democrats have had “a physical allergic reaction about exercising power in pursuit of your goals.”
But the example of Michael Avenatti highlights a tension for Democrats. As he flirts with an improbable 2020 presidential run, the lawyer for Stormy Daniels says his motto is: “When they go low, we hit harder.” People on both sides of the nomination fight said he probably helped Kavanaugh by introducing less credible allegations, showing that scorched earth isn’t necessarily fertile ground for Democrats.
Emanuel, who recently decided not to seek reelection in part because of dissent from his leadership within his own party, doesn’t frame it so starkly. “It’s not about being meaner and more vicious than the other side. It’s being tougher and ruthless about achieving your real mission” on policies, he told me.
Two important points of context:
I have heard no Democrats say even privately that they think the path to victory involves being more tolerant of sexual harassers or other miscreants in the ranks (though it is not hard to find people on background who say the party may have been too quick to make Franken walk the plank).
What’s more, despite this weekend’s howls from Democrats, a generation as a Washington journalist reminds me that partisans of both stripes tend to fantasize that they are less effective because they have more conscience—that the other side is more hotly violent in the thick of battle, more coldly calculating about the long-term war.
Republicans treasure their own grievances about what they view as the opposition’s willingness to win ugly (see Bork, Robert), often with the added claim that the “mainstream media” are serving as accomplice. Whatever factors fueled Kavanaugh’s victory, it was hardly that Democrats were too nice to attack him personally.
It is also true that Democrats are not simply hallucinating about the history of the past three decades.
Since 1988, the GOP has won the popular vote only once out of seven presidential elections, in 2004. During the same time, Republican warriors starting with Newt Gingrich in the late 1980s regularly shattered political norms—as defined by establishment political figures and media organs like the New York Times —using a strategy in which politics and law were harnessed to a long-term pursuit of power.
This approach worked originally to attack Bill Clinton and Democratic congressional leaders as corrupt and vault Gingrich’s “revolutionaries” to power in the midterm elections of 1994. It did not succeed—though it did divert Clinton’s presidency for a year—during the impeachment battle of 1998. Most prominently, Republicans have engaged this long-term battle at the Supreme Court.
In 2000, during Bush v. Gore , a conservative court majority ruled 5-4 in a decision handing the presidency to Bush, even though there was nothing that supposed strict constructionists could cite in the Constitution to indicate that contested results like those in Florida should be resolved by the court.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, now regarded by Democrats as the face of shredding process in pursuit of power, blocked Obama nominee Merrick Garland and left a Supreme Court vacancy for a year until after Trump’s election and the nomination of Neil Gorsuch.
Neera Tanden, president of the liberal Center for American Progress—a group itself formed as a way of waging long-term ideological warfare in the manner that The Heritage Foundation and other conservative institutions had begun a generation earlier—said Democrats have fallen too often for Republican guile in pretending that the contest is on the level.
“Trump lives off the presumption of good faith,” she said, citing the example of Democrats’ willingness to turn over records from Elena Kagan’s White House service during the Clinton years when she was nominated by Obama for the Supreme Court, only to have Trump-allied Republicans block large portions of records from Kavanaugh’s service in the George W. Bush White House.
“They said, ‘Yeah we’re just not doing that,’” Tanden said, adding, “Democrats keep playing by a set of rules and then [Republicans] change the rules; but now that’s changing.”
An example, she said, is the attention of a new generation of Democrats not just to policy goals like heath care, but to structural factors affecting the balance of power—especially state-level issues like redistricting and obstacles to voter registration.
Paul Begala, a one-time Clinton aide who has long goaded his own party to show more fight, said the difference in the two parties’ mindsets was especially vivid during Bush v. Gore . Democrats turned in this legal and political battle to the placid, process-minded Warren Christopher; Republicans turned to a smooth Texas operator and veteran of decades of political scrapes, James A. Baker III. While Republicans dispatched young Washington aides to stage the so-called Brooks Brothers riot at election offices in Miami, Gore rejected suggestions that he mobilize mass demonstrations on his behalf and did not protest the court decision.
Begala said part of the explanation for this divide lies in Democratic psychology, citing Bill Clinton’s saying that, “Democrats want to fall in love; Republicans want to fall in line.”
But part of the difference lies in the political landscape. “Ruthlessness on the Republican side is rooted in the certain knowledge that they are in the minority,” after losing the popular vote repeatedly in presidential elections, and that the country is becoming ever-more demographically diverse in ways that, so far, benefit Democrats, Begala said. “They have to maximize every opportunity to assert the power they do have.”
Some Democrats say that classic Republican power moves—such as when then-GOP leader Tom DeLay shredded House rules in 2003 to hold a vote open for hours while he twisted arms to avoid a major defeat over Medicare, or McConnell’s obstruction on Garland—aren’t likely to become part of their party’s arsenal.
“Republicans are anti-government, so taking steps that attack or undermine governmental institutions come naturally to them, or at least to their more pugnacious leaders,” said Matt Bennett, a thought leader with the centrist group Third Way. “By contrast, Democrats believe in governing, and we are constitutionally incapable of trashing those institutions for political purposes. Democrats could never have sustained a precedent-shattering, yearlong filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee. It’s such a violation of norms that our senators, to their credit, just would not have had the stomach to do it.” He added: “I don’t think that makes us ‘weak;’ I think it makes us principled.”
Republicans counter that Democrats’ problem isn’t that they are insufficiently ruthless, but insufficiently effective. The leak of Ford’s allegations probably only moved a Senate vote or two, and may be energizing GOP voters to turn out in the upcoming midterm elections.
For now, many Democrats acknowledge that Trump’s implication that they are wimps hits a tender spot.
Ironically, Franken—the former “Saturday Night Live” star turned Minnesota senator—was himself representative of a new breed of fighting Democrat. He rose to political prominence with such smash-mouth books as “Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot,” and “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.”
The turn of events for a person once talked about as a possible 2020 Democratic presidential candidate left Trump chortling at Thursday’s rally in Rochester, Minn. Referring to allegations that Franken had demeaned women with unwanted sexual remarks and inappropriate humor, Trump said, “It was like, ‘Oh, he did something,’ ‘Oh I resign. I quit.’”
Trump’s ethos—always fight, never quit—is one he shares with Bill Clinton. The 42nd president believes that voters want toughness in political leaders more than they do perfection in personal lives or ideological purity. During the Monica Lewinsky scandal, many congressional Democrats were furious at Clinton, and some privately hoped he would resign. But they posed no threat after Clinton demonstrated that he had rallied the party behind him. As his poll ratings climbed just weeks after the initial stories broke, Jay Leno joked that Clinton “is doing so well in the polls he’s already planning his next sex scandal.”
“If they want me out of this office,” he told a young aide that year in a chipper voice, moving his head rhythmically from side to side for emphasis, “they are going to carry me out feet first.”
It was a mindset he had cultivated long before it pertained to sexual indiscretions. In early 1995, a few months after Gingrich’s triumph in the midterms, Clinton was beset with second-guessers and critics within his own party. Some Democrats were questioning whether he had core beliefs or had the spine to stand up to Republicans. “Those who fought me tooth and nail for the last two years know well that I believed in and relished the battles,” Clinton wrote the liberal intellectual Arthur Schlesinger Jr. “Now there are two choices—fight on or pile on. The latter is easier, the former right.”

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