Category Archives: Elections

Your Mike B Feelings, Internet

All right, look.

Bloomberg, a rich racist asshole, would obviously be terrible.

Everyone is still mad at Bernie from 2016 and other stuff, he is 467 years old and a second heart attack waiting to happen.

Pete is … who the fuck is Pete, fuck Pete. Fuck South Bend and Notre Dame and every Republican in Indiana.

And yet.

Any of the three of them, and a sentient bag of dogshit besides, would likely sacrifice fewer of our children on the altars of endless gun violence, war with Iran, asylum and immigration bans, and cuts to food stamps.

Which is really what this is about. Every candidate on our side is going to be a dirtball in some massive way. Two weeks ago I’d resigned myself sincerely to Democratic nominee Joe Biden and was talking myself into him. I can do the same with Bloomberg and Pete and Bernie.

(Liz, obviously, is my first choice.)

I can talk myself into Tom Steyer or, who’s the other people, whoever, given enough time and *gestures vaguely at everything.*

Bernie’s campaign seems to be having lots of fun online and he’s gonna do his best to not have everybody die of medical bankruptcy. These things MATTER. The party platform matters. The aims of the campaigns matter. It is still being framed as who you’d have a beer with, now, in the year of Our Lord Blue Ivy 2020. As if people don’t depend on politics to live.

We’re still on national news on winners and losers and who’s up and who’s down and talking about strategy is so much easier than talking about dead kids. That’s what politics is: how do you want your kids to die? Of old age, warm and safe in their homes? Or on the street, in school, on a battlefield, too young to have ever even known love?

That’s the decision you’re making, every time you go and vote, and it infuriates me to no end that one party can have an endless debate over how to actually keep your living children that way while the other one is over there debating shot versus starved versus preventable disease in terms of cost-efficiency and pleasingness to Prosperity Jesus.

And we talk about a Bloomberg vs. Trump contest as if it would be “two billionaires.” First of all, as Mikey B has himself pointed out, Trump ain’t. Second, WHICH BILLIONAIRE STILL FUCKING MATTERS. We had a two-billionaires fight in Illinois recently and one of them shut down the government for three years out of spite and the other one not only runs things fairly decently, he gave us legal weed. They were not the same, and neither are Bloomberg and Trump.

I don’t love that the only voices at the top of our politics are rich ones, but that being unlikely to change in the next SIX GODDAMN MONTHS, can we please at least acknowledge that some rich people are going to be worse for the general public than others?

There’s so much to bitch about when it comes to the actual candidates. There are differences that actually matter. “Bernie’s supporters are rude online and so he’s JUST LIKE TRUMP” is not an argument and neither is “Bloomberg is rich and so is Trump and that just proves that EVERYTHING IS GARBAGE.”

(I got nothin’, with regard to Pete, I don’t understand the appeal of that weird little squirrel at all, but still: not like Trump in any way.)

This election, like all elections, is about who is going to give you a better life. It’s easy for me, the white mother of a white kid, to say Bloomberg wouldn’t be terrible for me. It’s easy for me, done having children, to discount someone’s squishiness on reproductive rights, and it’s easy for me, middle-class who went to college before that required crushing debt, to say that for shit’s sake at least a couple of the candidates have A Plan if not All The Plans.

But. We have the choices we have, and we’re gonna make the choice we make, and when we have to, whoever it is, even if it’s fuckin’ Pete, none of them will be anything like Trump. I’ve been hearing about refusing to choose the lesser evil my whole life and guess what, we tried the thing where we chose the greater one.

How’s that working out for us?

A.

Taken For Granite

I usually love elections as much as MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki. He has his big board whereas I’m a bit bored by the early stages of the 2020 Democratic race. Some of the candidates who excited me dropped out: Booker, Harris, and Castro. And the candidate I support, Senator Professor Warren is still in the race but gasping for breath after a dismal performance in the Granite State.

Perhaps it’s not boredom but the fact that what’s going on in the nation’s capital is more captivating as well as frightening. The only lesson the Impeached Insult Comedian has learned is that he can get away with anything as long as his party backs him up. More on that later today.

Bernie Sanders was the winner last night but given his spectacular performance in the 2016 Granite State primary, his victory feels a bit underwhelming. He polled about half the number of votes as in 2016 and won with the lowest percentage of the vote of any candidate since Jimmy Carter in 1976. He’s going to need a big victory somewhere to overcome the animosity his supporters have sown among Democrats. If he looks like a winner against Trump, people will come around. That’s what really matters, y’all.

I still don’t get former Mayor Pete’s appeal. He has a great comms staff and strategy and buckets of billionaire bucks. Otherwise, he’s the least qualified Democratic candidate in recent memory. Of course, the GOP topped us when they nominated Trump. That should serve as a cautionary tale as to why Democrats need a qualified nominee. And there’s a helluva mess to clean up after Trump shat in the national bed for four years.

Amy Klobuchar’s support had a growth spurt and she finished a solid third. Her speech was the best of the evening. She wisely aimed it at the country, not at the people in the room. It will be interesting to see how she handles the attacks that will be forthcoming now that she’s done well at the ballot box.

Biden had a terrible night. The man with universal name recognition finished fifth. Biden’s campaign considers South Carolina their firewall but he’s slipped everywhere, and it will happen there as well. The third time is not the charm: it’s slip sliding away.

Despite her fourth-place finish, Warren is a fighter and will soldier on. Her supporters on social media are in denial about how bad last night was. Massachusetts pols have traditionally done well in the Granite State including the least charismatic Greek in history, Paul Tsongas. It’s going to be hard for her to raise money after her single digit finish. If you’re a hardcore Warren supporter, donate today. I plan to.

I hope the candidates will learn something from Bloomberg’s anti-Trump media blitz. They’ve spent too much time in the weeds debating the details of their health care proposals and whatnot. Elections are not won on policy details; they’re won with themes and stories. Besides, there’s only one issue in this campaign: TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP. That’s the story, morning glory.

Repeat after me: The national house is on fire and the arsonist lives in the White House. The Democratic nominee needs to douse the fire, win, and rebuild our democratic institutions.

A final note about the process. The Iowa clusterfuck should lead to the abolition of caucuses. They exclude everyone who cannot devote an entire day to caucusing, which is inherently anti-democratic. The results from Iowa remain murky whereas they’re clear in New Hampshire. That’s a difference that shouldn’t be taken for granite.

Since I gave myself an earworm, the last word goes to Oasis:

Chaos-Causing Shitlords

I don’t for a second actually think Trump was in any way scared of Biden:

The point in all this isn’t to elect Biden, or re-elect Trump, or elect Trump or Hillary in the first place. What Putin wants is a dumb game to try to figure out, and what Republicans want is even dumber. They want to set shit on fire and dance around the flames yelling UR OWNED LIBS. They want to be DISRUPTION. They’ve seen way too many movies where people rebuild a society from the rubble and so they’ve taken to the dynamite. It’s childish and nihilistic but you tell me, what else better defines the average Republican these days.

That’s the thing we forget, the Washington “we” that marvels over Trump’s State of the Union and then expresses shock and horror when he turns back into a dickhole the next day. We forget we didn’t elect a politician and he didn’t hire politicians. We’re used to evil that dots the i’s and crosses the t’s and has an actual agenda beyond OH YEAH FUCK YOUR MOM. There is no, like, goal here. They just like being loud and mean.

And so Trump’s acquittal works perfectly in this context: now we have cause to doubt the results of the next presidential election, either because Trump’s out here screaming VOTER FRAUD like some kind of demented parrot, or because Rudy’s back on a plane to whoever asking them to screw with us for a buck. The feeling of panic and despair? That’s what they truly want.

I have yet to come up with a solution for not giving it to them that doesn’t involve a turnout so overwhelming, from sea to shining sea, that it cannot be questioned. Register and vote and if anybody tells you they aren’t doing the same, take them by the ear and drag them to the polls in November. Even if it’s for Pete. Even if it’s for Biden. Even if it’s for Mike Bloomberg. That’s all I’ve got right now.

A.

Score One For The Luddites

Some people love complexity. They think that technology can solve all problems and that an untested app can be used in the electoral process. I am neither a technophobe nor a Luddite but there are some things that should be as low-tech as possible: voting is one of them.

The best argument I’ve seen in favor of simplicity is by New York Times technology columnist Kevin Roose:

After Monday’s Iowa caucus debacle, I’ve decided that Americans should vote by etching our preferred candidate’s name into a stone tablet with a hammer and chisel.

Or maybe by dropping pebbles into a series of urns, as the ancient Greeks did.

Or possibly just by voting the way we voted for much of the 20th century, on analog punch-card machines that spit out paper ballots to be hand-counted by election workers, with zero iPhones in sight.

Basically, we should be begging for the most analog election technology possible. Because what happened on Monday night — a long and confusing delay in vote counting, due in part to a mobile app that was hastily designed and inadequately tested before being deployed in one of America’s most important elections — was an inexcusable failure. It caused distress and confusion, set off innumerable conspiracy theories, and started the 2020 election season by undermining trust in the democratic process.

The World War II generation was on to something with this slogan: KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID. We should pay heed to it and make the electoral process as analog as possible. The Impeached Insult Comedian cheated in 2016 and he will cheat again in 2020.

There are some ridiculous ideas floating around on social media among those who are conspiratorially minded:

First, the Iowa appocalypse is somehow a conspiracy by dark forces. Wrong. Software is glitchy. I believe in considering the simplest possible answer to any question: incompetence is usually the answer. Conspiracies do exist but they’re rarer than fuck ups.

Second, the DNC is behind the non-existent conspiracy. Wrong. The Iowa Caucuses are run by the state party. Primaries are run by the states. The DNC has nothing to do with either. The DNC is now and has always been a weak institution, not the KGB of the 21st Century.

Third, Trump wants to cancel the general election. Wrong. He doesn’t have the power to do so because the states run the election. Additionally, he’s desperate to be loved so he wants to run and win. President* Pennywise’s threat to the election is cheating. Repeat after me: he cheated in 2016 and he will do it again in 2020.

My solution to all of this dumbassery is to revive Civics classes. People have no idea how the government really works so they listen to trolls and idiots on social media. That’s what happens when schools spend all their time teaching students to take tests, not to think. Thinking is important and it’s an increasingly rare commodity in our country.

It’s time to post the Think Flag:

That is all.

 

Random Thoughts

I know what you’re thinking: all my thoughts are random. I stand accused and plead guilty as charged. I have some shame unlike some people. I mean a certain Impeached Insult Comedian with a dead nutria atop his. Fucker has no shame. He can’t wait to take his “victory” lap and brag about his “triumph.” It’s likely to be short-lived.

I want to assure Tommy T that I have his back while he’s having back issues. I’m not posting as early as he does because I try to keep normal hours. If only I could succeed in doing so. I woke up stupidly early this morning but not:

Iowa Blues: I don’t know about you, but I’ll be glad when the Iowa Caucuses are over. Polling them is notoriously unreliable and if the weather sucks, all bets are off. This is one time being a voter’s second choice is not a bad thing. If less than 15% support a candidate in the first round, they either leave or move to another candidate. It’s how Athenae’s boyfriend, John Kerry, won Iowa in 2004.

I pine for the days when Iowa didn’t matter. It’s all Jimmy Carter’s fault. He made it a thing in 1976. I loathe caucuses, they’re anti-Democratic and way too important for a small, rural, mostly white state.

Removal Trial Blues: I’m DVRing final arguments. I don’t have the heart to watch them live. The GOP’s misconduct should bite them in the ass come November. Typing that sentence felt good. I am trying mightily to remain a glass half full person. The numbers are on our side. Plus, President* Pennywise is bound to overreach and ask for help from Macedonia or some such shit.

Last Week Krewe Of Spank Blues: I don’t actually have the KdV blues, there’s just so much to do and only a few days to do it. This strikes me as a good time to link to last year’s minor masterpiece, Confessions of a Krewe du Vieux Member; written for the Bayou Brief before I became the 13th Ward Rambler. Speaking of which, I have some rambling to do so I need to sign off soon.

I have nothing to say about the Super Bowl. I was watching The Sorrow and the Pity. I am not making this up. I guess I stand accused of being a bad American. At least I know where Kansas City is located.

The last word goes to Elvis Costello:

Enough Already

Twitter is extra stupid this morning. It’s ablaze with a pitched battle between Sanders and Warren supporters with the former being particularly inflammatory. They seem to have forgotten CNN’s debate track record; they go for gotcha moments with gusto.

I used to watch CNN in the days of Bernie Shaw and Aaron Brown but it’s all about giant panels and loaded questions in the 21st Century. That’s why I skipped the debate and didn’t even DVR it. Enough already.

I like what Charlie Pierce had to say about this ridiculous flap:

…the Warren-Sanders business is going to be what people take away from Tuesday night. I have no idea what was said during the famous conversation about whether a woman can be elected president. But the response from the Sanders supporters, especially on the electric Twitter machine, has been so hysterically over the top—Responding with snake emojis? That’s only the oldest misogynistic smear of all time, going all the way back to Genesis.—that it does make me wonder whether or not there’s something in that campaign that attracts the Democratic equivalent of the incel boys. I hope it stops soon, but I doubt that it will.

It was inevitable that politics would break out between two candidates trying to be *the* candidate of the Democratic party’s portside. We’ve seen it before, and we’ll see it again. I see nothing in Bernie Sanders’ platform that would cause me NOT to vote for him in the general election. I’m a Warren supporter BUT the problem is not Bernie, it’s the Berners. Enough already.

We need a coalition, the proverbial big tent, to deliver a well-deserved comeuppance to Trump and his GOP lackeys. I think that Warren gets that. Hell, I think Senator Sanders gets that, but his supporters want to take over the Democratic party and burn it down. That’s nuts. We need all hands on-deck to beat Trump. He’s the real enemy, not moderate Democrats. Enough already.

The other thing that bugs the living shit out of me is that not enough people are talking about the Parnas files. It appears that an American ambassador was under surveillance approved by Crazy Rudy. The Impeached Insult Comedian might have okayed it There’s even a suggestion that Ambassador Yovanovitch’s life may have been in jeopardy. That’s a helluva lot more important than a he-said she-said squabble. Enough already.

People need to prioritize. The national house is on fire and the arsonist lives in the White House. I will vote for any Democratic candidate even one of the plutocrats, the unqualified Hoosier, or the former Veep who has lost his fastball. POTUS* may have authorized a hit on an American ambassador. That’s infinitely more important than what sort of pundit Bernie Sanders is and what Elizabeth Warren had to say about a private meeting. Enough already.

I’d like to paraphrase a  classic 2016 post by Athenae, I’m Done With All Your Liz and Bernie Feelings, Internet. Enough already.

Johnny Mercer didn’t say anything about prioritizing in the song below, but we need to organize our thoughts and accentuate the positive. The last word goes to Dr. John:

 

2020 Candidates In A Word

I haven’t been as wrapped up in the 2020 presidential campaign as I usually am by this stage. Instead, I’ve been following the twists and turns of the impeachment inquiry. It’s hard not to. The national house is on fire and the arsonist lives in the White House. I hate to give that stupid evil fucker the attention he wants but it’s imperative that his malefactions be exposed whatever happens in the Senate.

I thought I’d dip my toe back in the campaign pond by giving my impressions of the candidates in one word. It won’t be easy for a writer who dubbed his Bayou Brief column 13th Ward Rambler. I like words and word play but sometimes you gotta keep it short; unlike this introduction. If I miss anyone, too fucking bad. I’m including some of the dearly departed candidates for shits and giggles.

DEMOCRATS:

  • Biden:                Garrulous.
  • Sanders:            Grouchy.
  • Warren:             Brilliant.
  • Buttigieg:          Unqualified.
  • Bloomberg:       Plutocrat.
  • Booker:               Warm.
  • Klobuchar:         Smiley.
  • Steyer:                 Who?
  • Gabbard:            Troll.
  • Castro:                Impressive.
  • Patrick:               Late.
  • Bennet:               Eyebrows
  • Yang:                   Why?
  • Harris:                 Enigmatic.
  • Delaney:             Bald.
  • O’Rourke:          Gestural.
  • Williamson:       Flaky.
  • Sestak:                Huh?
  • Swalwell:           Young.
  • Gillibrand:         Blonde.

REPUBLICANS:

  • Trump:               Asshole.
  • Weld:                  Patrician.
  • Walsh:                Teabagger.
  • Sanford:            Olé.

I realize that the columns are crooked but so is the Current Occupant. I did them manually without resort to a manual or a chap named Manuel:

The last word goes to Yes and The Beatles:

Impeachment: Where Do We Go From Here?

I’ve been in the weeds of the impeachment hearings the last two weeks. It’s time to pause, take a deep breath, and look at the big picture.

The post title poses a rhetorical question: where do we go from here? It beats the hell outta me. Anyone who makes confident assertions or predictions is running a fool’s errand, which could be called pulling a Sondland.

As of today, the House will impeach on a party-line vote. There are some key witnesses we’d all like to hear from: Pompeo, Bolton, and Mulvaney to name a few. Slugging this out in the courts looks like a Sondland aka fool’s errand. There is a possible alternative: witnesses can be called in the Senate and it would be up to Chief Justice Roberts.  Josh Marshall has more about this at TPM.

As of today, the Senate will NOT vote to remove BUT the situation is more fluid than people believe. I think there are multiple Republican Senators willing to vote FOR at least one article of impeachment. But they’ll only do it if there are enough of them: five or more. Willard Mittbot Romney is the one to watch: he’s bulletproof in Utah and not on the ballot until 2024.

The reasons for any GOP removal votes will not be elevated ones. They won’t do it out of patriotism but out of self-preservation. In short, they’ll pull a Sondland if it looks like the GOP will be slaughtered at the ballot box in 2020. I suspect the Mittbot would like to be the Brigham Young of his party if electoral disaster looms.

A quick reminder that Republicans are 24% of registered voters. They cannot win without conservative leaning independents; many of whom are sick of Trump’s antics. Repeat after me: There’s gold in them thar suburbs.

The Turtle wants to preserve his majority as well as his own seat. Right now there are three GOP seats in serious jeopardy: Maine, Arizona, and Colorado. Georgia looks promising: when there are two Senate seats up in the same election, one party tends to win both. Doug Jones in Alabama is the most vulnerable Democrat by far but the prospect of a GOP donnybrook gives him a chance to hang on. Roy Moore, Jeff Sessions, and Donald Trump may give him a path to victory.

One overlooked possibility is Senate GOPers pressuring Trump to make up some cockamamie story and resign. It would have to be coupled with a threat of removal votes but it would serve their interests to get Trump to quit. Some say this is impossible: I disagree. Trump changes his mind on a daily basis about purt near everything.

I am opposed to impeaching Pence alongside Trump. He may deserve it but we should want someone tied to the Trump scandals to be the Republican nominee in 2020. Acting president Pelosi would only fuel GOP “coup” talk. It’s why Carl Albert wanted Jerry Ford confirmed quickly in 1974.

I have no idea which, if any, of these theories will play out in real life. One thing I know for sure is that the Insult Comedian’s fatal inability to STFU will continue to make things worse. Thanks, Donald

The last word goes to The Band:

Name. The. Problem.

No, not racism. For once. Well, kind of racism. Gimme a sec here, Pete. 

Do you wanna know something about partisanship? Partisanship is good. Partisanship is the whole reason we have a democracy. I have no interest in finding common ground with fucking Trump voters or with other assorted white supremacists. I have no interest in making sure those groups don’t feel demonized. I have no interest in making them feel COMFORTABLE when they have made so many Americans, and the world beyond, feel the precise opposite. I’m allowed to be angry at the state of things and I’m sure as hell allowed to loudly call out those responsible for it. I want to vehemently oppose those people, and guess what? I live in a country where I’m free to do that. I don’t like being told I’m out of line for doing so. So you’ll excuse me if I’m not exactly inspired by some South Bend pud who has no stomach for that fight, and doesn’t want me to have it either.

The usual caveats apply here: Pete is not remotely a problem in the way literally any Republican is, and would in fact probably be fine as president, and if he is our nominee I will enthusiastically vote and campaign for him because I’m not a fucking child.

But we are not having problems in this country because we are too partisan. We are not too divided. We do not hate each other too much. This isn’t about our feelings. This is about how we just got laid off and our parents got deported and our health insurance costs $5,000 a month to pay for nothing if we get hit by a bus and we can’t afford to work if we have kids and we can’t afford not to work if we have kids and when are you going to have kids already, you’re not getting any younger, and if you live in the country you’re a dumb hick and if you live in the city you’re a commie and oh, by the way, your street hasn’t been repaired since 1989 because we can’t afford it, vote to cut taxes again please.

Those problems are not “partisanship.” They’re not “division.”

We’ve been told so many times that our society is polarized because polarization just happened, probably because of our phones and social media, as if Facebook magically makes you mean and racist as opposed to exposing you to what your nice Aunt Jean-Marie really thinks. We hear this so many times from so many people we actually think it’s true.

It’s not true.

We’re “more polarized” because for once a whole hell of a lot more of us are being heard and the things we’re hearing about from our fellow Americans fucking suck and we’re feeling the urge to do something about it and the people in charge cannot have that.

So we hear about how bad it is to hear from so many people, about so many things they care about.

We hear that we’re so divided now. But we’ve always been divided and the problems we are having are not because of that that division. They’re because we’re being told any solution to the problem is beyond us and so all that’s left is to get madder and madder. When you let people tell you what’s wrong — and that’s over, cats and kittens, you can’t stop the signal — and then tell them to just, like, sit with that? Because we just, I dunno, can’t, or whatever, you wind up with the kind of rage that we’re seeing now.

And that rage frightens people. I get it, I’m a middle class white chick, I am likely first up against the wall, but my fear isn’t, you know, a thing I get to project on everybody else by telling them to sit down and shut up.

So the next time someone tells you the problem is we’re just too divided, ask them to articulate what that means, what that really means. And if they bring up some cable news asshole or Trump or someone speaking Spanish in the store, or sputter that this is just something everybody knows, then you’ll know you aren’t actually dealing with any kind of problem, and you don’t need to worry about their concerns.

Push on. We’ve got real things to do here. We have a limited amount of time on this planet and spending it worried that the cable news audience is upset is not, shall we say, a good use.

A.

Gret Stet Goober Race Update

I’ve haven’t written much about the Louisiana Governor’s race here for a couple of reasons. First, my Gret Stet ramblings are on display at the Bayou Brief nowadays. Second, the race is depressing for a variety of reasons that I’ll describe below.

In 2015, I was enthusiastic about the candidacy of Blue Dog Democrat John Bel Edwards. Why? He was running against David Vitter who, while good for the satire biz, scared the shit out of me as a potential Gret Stet Goober. When Edwards won, he became a dragon slayer. I am still grateful for that.

Edwards’ record as Governor has been fairly good. He undid some of the damage done by Bobby Jindal to state government with Medicaid expansion being his greatest accomplishment.

As he approached re-election, Edwards has moved steadily to the right capped off by the horrible abortion bill he signed in May. Here’s what I said earlier this month about Edwards and reproductive rights at the Bayou Brief:

I voted for Edwards in 2015 knowing that he was anti-choice. If he was a no-exceptions right to lifer then, I did not want to know: he was the anti-Vitter. I assumed that such a basically decent man would have the same position as former Governor Blanco and other Blue Dogs. I was wrong. These are darker times and the so-called pro-life right believes they can realize their dream of reversing Roe in one fell swoop. Their dream is my nightmare.

In 2019, I am strictly a clothespin voter in the Governor’s race. Team Edwards is so terrified of Louisiana Trumpers that they’ve taken the Democratic base for granted.  That hurt them in the primary: African American voter turnout was low. If they can’t fix that, Louisiana is in a fix.

The fix is Republican candidate Eddie Rispone. His platform consists of three words: Trump, Trump, Trump. He’s an ignorant rich dude who recites the same buzz words repeatedly: conservative, businessman, outsider, and his greatest hit, Trump, Trumpity, Trump.

Rispone is an insider posing as an outsider and a know-nothing posing as a know-it-all. In last night’s debate, he could not explain WHY he wants a constitutional convention. If elected, he will be the most ignorant Governor since singer-actor Jimmie Davis who is best known for buying and slapping his name on the song You Are My Sunshine as well as his staunch defense of segregation in the early Sixties.

The power behind Rispone is contractor Lane Grigsby who my Bayou Brief colleague Sue Lincoln dubbed The Great Grigsby. His goal seems to be to Trumpify, Kochify, and re-Jindalize state government. Rispone is his dim and sporadically genial front man.

Dr. A declined to watch last night’s Edwards-Rispone debate live and, as usual, she was right. I watched it later and found it depressing. The moderators sucked as did the candidates. It was Rispone’s only run-off debate and his performance was dismal. It was the battle of the unprepared vs. the overprepared, Governor Edwards who came off as a smug dick. It scares me that I like former Governor Mike Foster more than either of these bozos. And I never voted for the man that Clancy DuBos dubbed Governor Warbucks.

Eddie Rispone was so bad in the debate that he reminded me why I’m voting for Edwards. Both candidates suck but Rispone sucks harder. His best bet is to nationalize the race by making it about the Insult Comedian. The Governor’s best bet is to keep it local by making it about PBJ. It boils down to Trump vs. Jindal. Is it any wonder that I’m bummed out about this race?

Voting for the lesser of two evils is the adult thing to do but it’s not a helluva lot of fun. I’ll be glad when it’s over.

The last word goes to Wilco with a song that I’ll be singing on November 16th:

 

Why I Didn’t Watch The CNN Debate

The Tweeter Tube was jam packed with complaints about last night’s Democratic presidential debate. Some were shocked that it was set up to maximize conflict and drama. I was not. It was one reason I did not watch.

For many years, CNN has packaged debates as if they were reality shows. Reality shows require conflict and drama to hold the audience’s interest. While that might be true of a debate as well, that’s not what the candidates are there for. Their goal is to get their message out. That’s hard to do when the moderators want the candidates to comment on the other guy’s message.

A three-hour long debate with twelve candidates is simply too long and overcrowded. It’s aimed at filling time on CNN, not informing the voters. It’s also cruel and unusual punishment to force candidates to go that long without a pee break.

I don’t know about you but I’m fine with never hearing from Andrew Yang, Tom Steyer, and Tulsi Gabbard again. The two rich guys have no chance of being nominated and the Congresscritter from Hawaii sounds like she’s planning to run as an independent apologist for the Assad regime. The other candidates are viable until they’re not. Someone else is bound to drop out some time soon.

The biggest problem I have with the MSM focus on debates is two-fold. First, they have nothing to with governing. Normal presidents make important decisions in conjunction with advisers and experts. Second, debates don’t matter in the long run. It’s more important whether a candidate has a strong message and a good organization in the early states. John Kerry and Hillary Clinton were dominant in their general election debates but lost.

I may watch the next time around but if Tulsi is there gabbing, in the immortal words of movie mogul Sam Goldwyn, “include me out.”

Everything is Racism & Sexism and Nobody Will Say It

Look at these fucking contortions: 

Boston’s North Shore seems as if it should be prime Elizabeth Warren territory. It is home to working-class towns, and it’s a short drive from Warren’s own house.

But ever since she entered electoral politics in 2012, she has struggled on the North Shore. When she defeated Scott Brown, the Republican incumbent senator, that year, she lost in places like Haverhill, Peabody, Saugus and Methuen. Last year, when Warren won re-election easily, she performed worse in those towns than Maura Healey, the Democratic attorney general, who was also on the ballot.

As Warren has risen to the top of the presidential primary field, her North Shore struggles underscore the biggest question about her campaign: If she were the nominee, could she win back working-class voters who swung to Donald Trump in 2016?

I can’t imagine why. Maybe it’s because white people have been mainlining Fox News/Sensible Centrist heroin for two decades now and all they’ve learned is that Democrats want to raise Your Taxes so they can give Secret Great Welfare to undeserving minorities while poor white people get Bad Welfare which is No Help At All.

Let’s go to that notorious whisperer of the Average American Voter, fucking CHAIT:

I’ve argued before that Warren has an excellent overall agenda for combating wage stagnation and helping the working class, but that her support for mandatory Medicare and border decriminalization is a politically damaging mistake.

Jonathan Chait of New York magazine says that Warren’s policy positions are hurting her with swing voters. “She is a compelling orator with a sympathetic life story and a gift for explaining complex ideas in simple terms. Yet she has spent most of the last year positioning herself as if the general election will never happen,” Chait writes.

Warren’s policy positions. Are hurting her. With swing voters.

Well goddamn, if only she’d bake them some cookies and tell them a story! About her personal life! Stop saying things like “we should quit locking up children fleeing violence and persecution” and “maybe you shouldn’t go bankrupt if you get brain cancer,” Lizzie!

Mandatory Medicare. You absolute jackass.

Warren’s working-class issues also matter in the primary. The political journalist Ron Brownstein coined the terms “beer track” and “wine track” to describe two different parts of the Democratic electorate, and the beer candidate (Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Walter Mondale) usually beats the wine candidate (Bill Bradley, Paul Tsongas, Gary Hart). Barack Obama was the exception because he added black voters to the wine track.

No one wants to have a beer with some chick!

Obama added black voters to the wine track? It’s 2019 now. Everybody fucking drinks wine. This isn’t the 80s when American wine was garbage; even box wine is good now and this metaphor is goddamn embarrassing. Stop quoting people still masturbating to the catchphrase they invented 20 years ago.

Are we genuinely, in the age of Donald Trump, still doing this? If so, I’d like to trademark the Crackpipe Track, whereby we all vote for the candidate least likely to make us want to freebase until we go blind.

Right now, based solely on this opinion piece, that’s Warren.

“Liberal college whites are growing as a share of the Democratic electorate, and Warren, in particular, has shown the potential to become a very strong candidate among them, as demonstrated by the huge crowds she recently drew in the white-collar enclaves of Minneapolis and Seattle,” Brownstein writes for CNN. “But many party strategists remain dubious that Warren — or anyone else — can win by consolidating those voters alone if Biden maintains an edge with the party’s other two biggest blocks: blacks and blue-collar whites.”

Well, Lord knows the party strategists have NEVER been wrong about who was the most electable candidate, given that they were all in the tank for Hillz and she lost to a sentient bag of dogshit because they all missed the fact that this is a racist-ass country full of angry old people posting Facebook memes about pressing 1 for English.

This isn’t about Warren vs. Biden. I’ve said before and I’ll say until we’re done here that if Joey the Shark is our nominee I will vote for him and campaign for him and post pictures of him and B. Barry Bamz looking sexxxxxy on the trail because that’s kind of our thing and because I’m not a fucking child, I know what’s at stake here.

But this constant regurgitation of the conventional wisdom of the Clinton years and the conflation of “working” with “white” and the elevating of those voters over all other voters and the goddamn arsing chickenfried refusal to acknowledge voter suppression and Republican misinformation in order to make the case that somehow the Democrats just don’t manage to “connect” with Chait’s imaginary whiskey tango proto-voters down the trailer park makes me want to tear off my own head and eat it.

We have serious problems and there are, lest we forget, parts of the country goddamn underwater, and other parts where there are immigrant kids in cages, so you’ll pardon me for skipping the part where we ask all the Democrats what kind of cocktail they are.

A.

Don’t Spike The Ball

The hot takes are flying about the Israeli election. I’m a Bibi-phobe in good standing but here’s a reminder that what we’ve seen thus far is an exit poll showing the opposition with a narrow lead. Israel has proportional representation and a multi-party system, which means a coalition must be built. Netanyahu is down but not out. He trailed Shimon Peres in the 1996 exit polls and won that election.

Josh Marshall knows a helluva lot more about Israeli politics than I do:

But there is an ocean of tears of Bibi-haters who put their faith in Israeli exit polls. We have seen repeated examples of narrow Likud defeats which overnight turned into narrow victories. This is definitely looking like a tough situation for Netanyahu. But I’ve been Charlie Brown and seen this football teed up far too many times to put much stock in these numbers…

Ever since exit polls showed John Kerry winning the 2004 presidential election, I haven’t put much stock in them. Hopefully, this one is right, but now is not the time to spike the ball. Just ask Charlie Brown:

INSTANT UPDATE: The votes are in and the opposition Blue and White has 32 seats and Bibi’s Likud 31. That will give Benny Gantz the first crack at forming a government BUT bad shit could still happen. What I said about spiking the ball still applies.

Mark Sanford Hikes The Appalachian Comeback Trail

It’s getting crowded and confused on the campaign trail. As the Democratic presidential field narrows, the Republican field expands. The latest entrant is former Palmetto State Governor and Congressman Mark Sanford. He’s best known for two things: an embarrassing sex scandal as Governor and losing a primary to a Trumper last year.

Sanford is challenging the Kaiser of Chaos from the right. Even though he voted for the Trump-Ryan tax scam, he’s running as a fiscal conservative. Perhaps he’ll branch out and discuss the other disasters wrought by Team Trump but right now Sanford is lost in the fog of scandal.

Exploding the budget deficit strikes me as one of the lesser Trump scandals. It’s what Republican presidents have done since Reagan: cut taxes, explode the deficit, then try to shred the social safety. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.

Sanford’s fellow former “Freedom Caucus” member, Justin Amash, has cited Trumpian gloating after Sanford’s defeat as a decisive factor in his departure from the GOP. The Insult Comedian is not a gracious winner.

A reminder of  Sanford’s hilarious 2009 sex scandal. He went missing as Governor. While he was holed up in Argentina, his aides claimed that he was “hiking the Appalachian Trail.” He was exposed as a liar, resigned as Governor, was divorced by his wife, and married his Argentine lover. One would think the Insult Comedian would identify with a liar and a cheat but apparently not.

The lame Appalachian Trail excuse was in the news again the other day. Without a hint of irony or self-awareness, Trump has taken to mocking Sanford for it but he’s easily confused: the other day he called it the “Tallahassee Trail.” There is no such thing and anyone who hikes in Florida’s capital city in the summer is apt to get heat stroke. Holy trail mix-up, Batman.

If Sanford had a sense of humor, one of his campaign planks would be to save the Appalachian Trail from the Trump regime and the oil companies. It’s under attack and needs all the help it can get.

There are now three primary challengers to the Current Occupant: Sanford, the Other Joe Walsh, and Bill Weld. The more the merrier. If one of the cable networks schedules a GOP debate, it’s easy to imagine Trump impulsively deciding to participate thereby violating the iron clad rule that incumbent presidents do not debate intra-party challengers because it elevates them. His handlers would be wise to place him in a straitjacket so he won’t accept. It’s where he belongs anyway.

In other campaign news, the Democrats are debating on ABC tonight. I’m undecided as to whether I want to watch. I might have better things to do but if I don’t, I’ll file an instant analysis post.

That’s all, folks.

Jay Inslee Is Out, The Other Joe Walsh Is In

Regular readers will recall that I used this image of Harold Lloyd in Safety Last to count down the 2018 mid-terms. Tick tock, motherfuckers.

Since American democracy is hanging by a thread as long as President* Pennywise is in office, it seemed fitting to re-purpose it for 2020. Let’s take a look at the ins and outs of the presidential race.

OUTS: Jay Inslee exited the race with the same class, grace, and substance that he entered it. His focus on the crucial issue of climate change made a positive impact and prodded the leaders of the pack to respond. He was always my favorite among the no-hopers. I’m glad he’ll be running for re-election for Governor of Washington state.

Seth Moulton pulled out after I wrote the post title. His impact was minimal. It struck me as a vanity campaign, which like that of Tim Ryan was essentially an extended fuck you to Speaker Pelosi. He can return to the Hill to annoy Nancy Smash. My hunch is that he’ll be joined by Ryan sooner as opposed to later.

The presidential race knocked the former Governor of Colorado for a Hickenlooper so he exited. He just declared his candidacy to challenge the most vulnerable Senate GOPer, Corey Gardner, thereby morphing from a political minnow to a whale.

The last word of the segment goes to Stephen Stills and Manassas, which is in Virginia but the song is about Hickenlooper’s home state. Go figure:

INS: The Other Joe Walsh came to our attention as an unhinged Tea Party Republican. He served one term in the House before losing to Tammy Duckworth who is now the junior Senator from Illinois. Walsh is a strident opponent of Barack Obama turned strident opponent of Donald Trump. His twitter feed is highly entertaining.

The Other Joe Walsh is on the verge of entering the presidential race where he’ll join Bill Weld as a GOP no-hoper. I still think Weld will do fairly well in New Hampshire but I welcome anyone who’s willing take on Trump from the right. Thus far, the Never Trump Republicans have been all talk, no action.

I like what Slate’s Jim Newell wrote about the GOP “race” in The Surge:

Joe Walsh, Mark Sanford, Jeff Flake, John Kasich

Let’s get slaughtered and be legends.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’re cheating by lumping four candidates together. But (a) the greatest trick the Surge ever pulled was convincing you there were rules, and (b) each of these four Republicans considering a primary challenge to President Donald Trump amounts to roughly ¼ of a legitimate presidential contender, so the math checks out. As the Washington Post reported this week, “the anti-Trump movement inside the Republican Party—long a political wasteland—is feeling new urgency to mount a credible opposition to Trump before it’s too late.” This “movement,” which appears to be the usual gang of Bill Kristol and a couple of his interns, has been displeased with the lack of enthusiasm out there for the existing Republican primary challenger, boring patrician Bill Weld, and is working the phones for a new candidate to also elicit zero enthusiasm. The idea is that only one of them should run to unify the anti-Trump conservatives. Much like Weld, though, this idea is boring and makes the primary challenge easier for Trump to ignore. All of them should get in, and there should be televised Republican primary debates, tempting Trump to participate.

The Insult Comedian loves shooting off his big fat bazoo and showing off his “very good brain” so that’s actually a possibility. Run, Republicans, run.

The last word goes to the Real Joe Walsh:

President* Pennywise

Image by Michael F.

We recently watched the 2017 movie IT, which is based on the Stephen King novel. I wasn’t terribly familiar with that terrible tale except for the sinister clown Pennywise. I loved the movie and realized that it was remade for two possible reasons: the popularity of Stranger Things and the rise of Trumpism.

Pennywise the evil clown (is there any other kind?) thrives on fear. He gets stronger the more he fearmongers. It’s what emboldens him to get out of the gutter and come into the open. The Insult Comedian never leaves the gutter BUT he too thrives on fear. That’s why I mock him: he feeds off our fear and recoils from our scorn. President* Pennywise is a pussy. He should grab himself.

I don’t see Trump as a figure of fun even though he’s funny. What he’s doing to the country is not funny but he cuts a ridiculous figure as he wreaks havoc. At the risk of sounding like a Reader’s Digest feature, laughter is the best medicine against Trumpism. Their dear leader has no sense of humor unless the joke is on his enemies. That’s why one should laugh at him, not cower, especially when the laughter is provoked by his latest outrageous statement. Remember the Maddow Doctrine:

Words to live by.

I seem to have missed the Insult Comedian’s exchange with California Governor Gavin Newsome during the 2018 campaign. Trump called Newsome a clown, here’s his tweeted response:

SNAP.

Courage is what the resistance to Trumpism requires. I know that many are still traumatized by the 2016 election BUT remember that Democrats won the mid-term popular vote by 9 points. And Trump is running on the same issues that flopped in that campaign.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Trump’s only path to electoral college victory is to destroy his opponent and resort to massive electoral fraud. He will not win the popular vote and has a narrow path to winning the electoral college, particularly with the economy circling the bowl. He’ll try and blame the Fed or Democrats but the voters blame the Current Occupant for economic woes. It couldn’t happen to a “nicer” guy.

Trump’s opponents need to take a deep breath and keep fighting. Remember: this guy and his cretinous followers thrive on your fear just like Pennywise. It’s up to us to look at the big picture and not be pennywise and pound foolish. Laugh at him, mock him, but don’t let him spook you. Victory belongs to the brave at heart. President* Pennywise can fuck off back to Trump Tower in 2021.

The last word goes to Elvis Costello and the Attractions:

 

The Fog Of History: 1992

When Ross Perot died the other day there was a surge of hits on a post I wrote in 2015, Enough Already With The Perot-Trump Comparisons. Thanks, y’all.

I never voted for Ross Perot but he was much better person than Trump. Perot was a genuine self-made man who had “a very good brain.” Perot also knew his way around a folksy aphorism whereas Trump merely babbles and repeats himself; NO COLLUSION, NO COLLUSION, NO COLLUSION. Additionally, Perot gave freely of his time and money to a variety of good causes and we all know about the Insult Comedian’s stingy ways.

The New York Times obit of Perot is a classic of the genre:

And in 1992 he became one of the most unlikely candidates ever to run for president. He had never held public office, and he seemed all wrong, like a cartoon character sprung to life: an elfin 5 feet 6 inches and 144 pounds, with a 1950s crew cut; a squeaky, nasal country-boy twang; and ears that stuck out like Alfred E. Neuman’s on a Mad magazine cover. Stiff-necked, cantankerous, impetuous, often sentimental, he was given to homespun epigrams: “If you see a snake, just kill it. Don’t appoint a committee on snakes.”

Timesman Robert D. McFadden also described Perot as a “wiry Texas gadfly.” I’m fond of gadflies. I’m one myself.

1992 was one of the most exciting elections of my lifetime. It had everything: sex scandals, a huge Democratic field, and an incumbent president who was good at governing but rotten at campaigning. Poppy Bush was challenged by wingnut gadfly Pat Buchanan whose insurgent campaign damaged the incumbent enough to doom his candidacy. Thanks, Pat.

And then there was Ross Perot. He entered the race on Larry King Live, exited the race during the Democratic Convention, then re-entered the race just in time to debate Bush and Clinton.

The featured image is of my favorite moment in the first debate: Bush checking his watch. Does anybody really know what time it is, does anybody really care?

Perot did well in 1992, winning 19% of the popular vote and his candidacy was the final blow to Poppy Bush’s chances.

Perot was quirky and idiosyncratic. The term eccentric billionaire seemed to have been coined for him. I’d like to thank him at this point for helping to elect the Clinton-Gore ticket thereby breaking the Democrats losing streak in presidential races. It was a helluva campaign y’all.

Perot’s third party candidacy in 1992 showed the utility of such an effort whereas his 1996 campaign showed its futility: he won only 8% of the popular vote and wasn’t invited to debate Clinton and Dole.

I used to do a wicked Ross Perot impression but I lost it after he left center stage. It typically involved the phrase “great sucking sound,” which he used to describe NAFTA but is equally applicable to the Trump Regime.

The last word goes to Patsy Cline with the song Team Perot played as he hit the stage to concede in 1992:

 

 

Instant Analysis: Cattle Call Debate Act One

Nothing that happened on that glitzy stage in Miami mattered all that much. Some candidates performed well and others bombed but in the end, a good ground game in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina will matter infinitely more.

Hell, I don’t even think general election debates matter all that much: Hillary and Kerry destroyed their opponents, which is the political equivalent of winning the battle and losing the war.

One jarring thing about the debate was the performative Spanish speaking by several candidates. It started to feel as if it were a Canadian debate where they break into French from time-to-time. You say gracias, I say merci. Let’s call the whole thing off.

I have a few random thoughts about this random group of candidates:

Warren: My candidate performed well as always. There were stretches where she was quiet but she’s the frontrunner in this group so she didn’t need to mix it up with the likes of DeBlasio, Ryan, Delaney, and Gabbard.

Her closing argument was superb. It’s a good example of why I believe she’ll win the nomination and go on to be our first woman president.

Booker: He helped himself. He was strong, forceful, and passionate. He seems to have good chemistry with both Warren and Castro. A good thing since they’re her most likely running mates if she picks within the field of candidates.

Castro: The strongest performance of the night. He’s an impressive guy with a great back story. He’s making a real contribution to the race with his focus on immigration. It’s easy to imagine him cleaning up the Homeland Security Department in the next Democratic administration.

Beto: He’s an outstanding stump speaker but a poor debater. He came off as a nervous windbag who was trying too hard to be a 21st Century Bobby Kennedy.

It finally occurred to me who Beto reminds me of:

Like Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder, Beto never uses one word when ten are available. And they both have big, scary teeth.

He should reconsider running against Senator Cornhole in Texas. Running for president was a bad Beto…

Klobuchar: I like the Senator from Minnesota, but this was not her best performance. Her closing argument was a dud: I’m electable yadda, yadda, yadda. Why? At this point in time, Trump looks like a stone cold loser unless his pals in the Kremlin bail him out again.

Inslee: In a word, inconsistent. Gave some good answers on climate change but rambled at other times. His makeup was a disaster. It made him look 20 years older than he is.

DeBlasio: Tall, annoying, and loud.

Delaney: Why was this bozo even onstage? He looks like a wrestling coach.  I halfway expected him to apply a Half-Nelson to one of his opponents.

Ryan: He gave a decent answer early on about guns then became increasingly incoherent. He spent much of the second half giving forgettable answers about the forgotten people. I forget exactly what he said.

Gabbard: Ryan was so inept that he gave Gabbard a chance to shine. I hate to say that because she’s awful and should exit the race, stage left.

On Nostalgia, Joe Biden, and the ‘Shortcomings’ of the Young

God, it’s such good sport to beat up on Joe:

Don’t misread here: He’s being a tool about a lot of things and if he’d just shut his goddamn trap he could likely coast to a primary victory, but he can’t stop setting his brand on fire in the street. Whether that’s good or not is totally impossible to say, since “electability” is for suckers and national head-to-head polls are stupid as hell.

Nobody knows what’s going to happen next spring. Shit, we barely know what’s going to happen next WEEK, so my enthusiasm for wading into this nonsense at this point is pretty limited. I was a Deaniac and still am a Kerry stan, guys. Once bitten, etc. But there’s something going on with Biden that I think is interesting beyond just the usual “here’s a dude running for president.” I mean, there are lots and lots of dudes running.

(We hear about them constantly because it’s either that or talk about the women, after all.)

So, Biden:

“I know how to make government work,” Biden said. “I’ve worked across the aisle. I’ve worked to reach consensus.” It wasn’t just a call back to his time as Barack Obama’s wingman vice president but also to his days in the Senate when, to hear him tell the tale, politicians ruled in the best interests of everyone, regularly struck bipartisan deals, and didn’t shout at or demonize their opponents in the pursuit of scoring political points.

There is, of course, a hunger for what we think of as normalcy, which is really a return to a time when we were happy. When that was depends hugely on what you look like, where you live, and what you want. I remember the late 1970s/early 1980s as joyous because my grandparents were alive and I was five years old. Every day was sunny and we had enough to eat and my dad was stealing cable from the neighbors. It was excellent, you know?

Iranian-American children might not have had as much fun in those years, just for example. So while I would dearly love to go back to a time when I was totally ignorant of the world’s problems, I can understand that for others the lure is less. If you can legally marry the love of your life now, you might not want to return to a time when you could be jailed for such a thing. Again, just for example.

The Biden Administration is unlikely to go out of its way to put immigrant children in concentration camps nor attack loving couples whose adopted children were born in the United States. The Biden Administration is unlikely to nominate an actual fascist to replace RBG. The Biden Administration is unlikely, perhaps, to slap its collective dick on China’s dinner table. And if what we face is four more years of Trump cosplaying the Declaration of Independence BUT AS KING GEORGE then I will loudly, enthusiastically, and downright gleefully vote for the Biden Administration in all its dumbass 1950s glory.

I will post memes. I will quit my job and buy a panel van and follow that shit around like the Grateful Dead. My Jackie-O suits will come out of storage.

That’s not the choice yet, though, so here’s my thing with nostalgia. It’s fucking pointless, and it’s sad, and it doesn’t help anything, and its entire function is to let you off the hook for working hard to keep up with the world and being wrong about it as you try to understand.

Do you know, I run in a lot of totebagger circles. I spend SO MUCH TIME listening to people lament division and partisanship and information silo-ing and how we’ve somehow suddenly developed the inability to tell fact from fiction and listen to each other. We need to build bridges, don’t you know. We need to reach out to each other. We need to come together and remember we’re all human!

WE NEED TO STOP KILLING EACH OTHER, is the main thing I want to scream in response, as white supremacists shoot up schools and synagogues week after week after week, as the price of insulin skyrockets, as kids with cancer beg their friends to run lemonade stands for them. Middle- and upper-class white people need civility because then politics can stop distracting us, but everybody else needs to be able to stop dying.

And in order for that to happen we’re going to have to reckon with the world we created in a way that I know our mainstream media sources, the morning shows and quick sports-radio asides that drive the thrust of our national narrative, don’t have the resources or the intelligence or the desire to do.

So to spend the next two years talking about being nice to Republicans, about “reaching across the aisle,” about yearning for the days when things were simpler and kinder … it isn’t just that the prospect doesn’t appeal to me personally (though of course it could). It’s that all it’s going to do is make us smaller, weaker, more powerless, less able to do what needs to be done.

The cultural fracturing isn’t going to stop; too many new stories are being told. Republican malfeasance, criminality and treason aren’t going to stop. And previously marginalized people who are developing the ability to fight back aren’t going to stop, because it’s not the culture or civility or some idea of their childhood they’re fighting for. It’s their lives, right now, right fucking now, today.

In the face of that reality we need someone who can recognize it for what it is, and greet it warmly, arms wide open, enthusiastic for the tumult and the shouting because burning is the only way anything new can be born. More likely it’s not just one person who can bring the energy we see all around us to our politics. More likely it’s dozens, elected by people who aren’t interested in our yesterdays, who can see the waves coming into the shore and not turn their backs.

Who can greet what we have now with strength and courage, and not deplore the lack of what never was, not for all of us, not even once.

A.

Memories Of The Muskie Administration

The MSM punditocracy hasn’t learned anything from the 2016 election. They’re still fixated on early polling and “discovering” bright shiny objects instead of reporting the campaign. I *had* hoped they’d learned that insider political journalism was bankrupt as declared by Ben Smith last summer. But they haven’t learned a damn thing and continue to focus on the horse race aspects of the “why not me” campaign. Remember the Avenatti boomlet? I’d prefer to forget it.

After declaring Joe Biden’s candidacy DOA, many in the punditocracy now think that he’s the inevitable nominee. They’re wrong in both instances. Frontrunner status has a way of bringing a candidate crashing to earth, especially in such a large field. Remember President Dean?

I have fond memories of the 2009-2017 Hillary Clinton administration. She was the frontrunner that time around and ended up losing the nomination. Secretary of State was a pretty damn good consolation prize. Thanks, Obama.

The ultimate Democratic frontrunner who failed was Senator Edmund Sixtus Muskie of Maine. 1972 was my formative year as a political junkie. It was the first time I was old enough to pay attention. I supported George McGovern but liked Muskie and didn’t understand why he was torn down by a media that had built him up as the inevitable nominee for two years. I was too young to get it then.

Ed Muskie was Hubert Humphrey’s running mate in 1968. The contrast between him and the man I refuse to claim as my countryman, Spiro Agnew, was stark. Muskie was calm, thoughtful, and qualified. The self-loathing Greek, Ted (Don’t Call Me Spiro) Agnew, was the exact opposite: bombastic, shallow, and unqualified. He was also a crook who took bribes while serving as Veep.

One of the best ads of the 1968 election cycle mocked Agnew:

Back to Ed Muskie. He emerged from the ’68 campaign as a national figure. His calm, reasoned reply to a frenetic midterm broadcast by Tricky Dick in 1970 made him a star and the ’72 frontrunner. The tall Senator was called Lincolnesque by many observers. What candidate wouldn’t want to be compared to Honest Abe?

Muskie led in every Democratic preference poll from that moment on. He was frequently ahead of Nixon in head-to-head polls through the early months of 1972. One of his campaign themes was Trust Muskie, drawing an obvious contrast to a president whose nickname was Tricky Dick.

This button is a good example of Muskie’s message:

Muskie was inevitable, until he wasn’t. His frontrunner status made him a target for Nixon’s dirty tricksters and at 6’4″ he was a big target. Attacks on his wife, Jane, caused Big Ed to snap and cry in public, which in the uber-macho atmosphere of 1972 helped doom his candidacy. Nixon and his lackeys had the opponent they wanted in the general election.

Among the many ironies of Muskie’s doomed campaign is that he actually won the New Hampshire primary, but the punditocracy, unaware of Nixonian dirty tricks, declared McGovern the “winner.” Muskie’s campaign might have come a cropper anyway: he was over reliant on big name endorsements and blurred his strongly liberal political views into blandness on the advice of his advisers.

Muskie was also dogged in 1972 by a bizarre and untrue story concocted by Hunter S. Thompson about his use of a hallucinogenic drug, Ibogaine. Thompson later claimed it was a joke and that nobody believed the story anyway. That just wasn’t so. I think of Ed Muskie every time I hear Hunter Thompson lionized as a voice for fearless independent journalism when, in fact, he was in the bag for Team McGovern. Projection thy name is Hunter S. Thompson.

What lessons can be drawn from my memories of the Muskie administration?

It’s not over until it’s over.

Don’t trust the MSM punditocracy and early polls. They’re both eminently changeable. Just ask former media darling Beto O’Rourke.

Insider political journalism *should* be dead, but it’s not.

The last word goes to Alice Cooper with a hit song from 1972: