Every campaign cycle there are a bunch of wishful thinking pieces written, hoping that the coverage will focus on substance instead of polls, ephemeral disputes, personalities, and trivia. I have never written such a post because I know better: it’s the way the MSM covers Presidential campaigns and they’re at at it again. Consider the case of GOP long shot Lindsey Graham:
Yet ever since Graham formally announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, his candidacy has been treated as something of a joke. Thus far, Graham’s bachelor status has attracted the most attention. His promise to have “a rotating first lady” drew giggles and jokes—including a quip by Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, that Graham was a “bro with no ho.” Graham then gave a somewhat melancholy interview insisting that being single did not make him a “defective person.”
Lurking behind the media’s fascination with Graham’s singlehood is an assumption about his sexuality. Gay rumors have long plagued the senator, and other South Carolina politicians have even implied that Graham is closeted. (Graham hasdeclared that he “ain’t gay.”) These whispers become shouts on the late-night circuit, where comedians like Jon Stewart and John Oliver earn laughs by ridiculing Graham’s ostensibly effeminate mannerisms.
Here’s the deal. There are many valid and substantive reasons to oppose Graham’s candidacy: his grandstanding on abortion, his chicken hawkery and fearmongering, or the mere fact that he’s a Republican at a time when they’ve gone certifiably insane. The fact that he *might* be in the closet or is perceived as “effeminate,” whatever that means, is not a good reason to take a dim view of his candidacy. In 2010, Mark Rogers who has outed other anti-gay politicians declared that he had “proof” that Graham was gay. That accusation was never followed up on and vanished into the ether.
Graham is clearly anti-gay and may be a closeted phony but it’s likely that he’s just an asshole. Remember when manly man Brian Schweitzer went on about how Southern pols were all swishy? Graham is just as likely to be like Lyle the effeminate heterosexual as part of an ambiguously gay duo. Additionally, I have no idea what they mean by effeminate. I thought Hemingway style machismo was out of fashion on the Left. As much as I love Charlie Pierce, I cringe every time he calls the Senior Senator from the Palmetto State, Huckleberry Butchmeup. Y’all need to make like Graham Parker and get over it and move on.
In other campaign notes, I watched Hillary’s announcement. It was a good speech and confirms that she’s running as to be a liberal variant on the HBIC. In 2008, she tried running as if she were America’s answer to Margaret Thatcher and rarely mentioned her gender. This change confirms that Dick Morris’ old pal Mark Penn is no longer being listened to. Wise choice. If I were involved in her campaign I’d suggest “Let’s Make History Again” as a slogan. Oddly enough, the fact that she’d be our first woman President is rarely mentioned by the boys on the bus. even the ones who are not boys.
I’ve also gotten a kick out of the punditocracy’s attempts to inject drama into the Democratic race. A few weeks ago, Steve Kornacki breathlessly announced on MSNBC that there had been a “dramatic surge” of support for Bernie Sanders. The surge was actually small and undramatic: Sanders at 14% support with white Dems but at 3% with minorities. I like Bernie and think he’ll play a useful role in the race but the only person who can beat the Democratic frontrunner is herself; even if he did get 41% in a straw poll in Wisconsin. I loved that: the same folks who mock Republican straw polls got all excited about that one. Remember the “dramatic surge” to Michelle Bachmann in Iowa back in 2012? You know the one that killed off that straw poll…
Speaking of MSNBC host silliness, I happened to be watching Melissa Harris-Perry’s show when
Tommy Carcetti MartinO’Malley announced. She proved once again that electoral politics are not her strong suit. She thought that O’Malley should have announced in front of the burned out CVS in Baltimore. Her logic was that he’s a long shot and that would have been a bold move. The problem with that logic is obvious: O’Malley was Governor of Maryland or Mayor of Balmer for 16 years. It happened in his hometown, so if you’re inclined to play the blame game…
One more thing about the
Tommy Carcetti Martin O’Malley campaign. He worked for Gary Hart in 1984 and his people are comparing this campaign to that one with Carcetti O’Malley as Hart and Hillary as Fritz Mondale; except for the whole neo-liberal with zipper issues thing. The problem with that logic is that the Dems lost 5 out of 6 Presidential elections between 1968 and 1988 but have won the popular vote in 5 out of 6 elections between 1992 and 2012. Holy bad analogy, Batman.
Finally, I have a new reason to dislike Jeb Bush, there’s an exclamation point in his campaign logo:
Who knew anyone was excited about Jeb Surname Omitted?
Writing about Lindsey Graham gave me an earworm, so I’ll give Eric Clapton the last word: