The Phony Campaign

2015-09-06 Update

We welcome Dr. Ben Carson to the phony poll, as PredictWise puts him with a 2% probability of being our next president. But how does he stack up against the crowd, phony-wise?

Query String Hit Count Change Since
2015-08-30
"Jeb Bush" phony 1,190,000 -1,150,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 421,000 -69,000
"Donald Trump" phony 381,000 +38,000
"John Kasich" phony 175,000 -10,000
"Joe Biden" phony 158,000 -10,000
"Bernie Sanders" phony 123,000 +1,000
"Ben Carson" phony 120,000 ---
"Scott Walker" phony 112,000 -3,000
"Marco Rubio" phony 105,000 +1,000

  • We've occasionally noted politicians reading their stage directions out loud was considered a gaffe. (The classic example: George H. W. Bush's " Message: I care.")

    But now, as Andrew Ferguson notes in the WSJ, it's become a trend: "The 2016 Race Has Already Gone Meta".

    Even now, so early in the presidential contest, we are seeing vivid signs of the “meta-campaign”—the spectacle of candidates who would rather describe the wonderfulness of their campaign than tell us what they’ll do in the unlikely event it succeeds.

    I can't help but think this is a symptom of campaigns that hold voter intelligence in contempt. And the campaigns may find it a successful tactic, at least this time around.

  • At the Daily Beast, one Betsy Woodruff headlines her article "Scott Walker: Anti-Immigrant Phony", and chronicles the candidate's "every position imaginable" on birthright citizenship and other immigration-related matters.

    Charlie Sykes, one of the most influential conservative talk-radio hosts in Wisconsin, estimates he’s interviewed Walker hundreds of times over the last 20 years. Sykes said there may be a very simple explanation for why Walker has had so much trouble talking about the issue: The governor doesn’t believe what he’s saying.

    We'll give him points for being an obvious phony.

  • As noted at Power Line, Hillary tried out yet another e-mail talking point to a complaisant interviewer, Andrea Mitchell:

    AM: Did anyone in your inner circle say, “This is not a good idea. Let’s not do this?”

    HRC: You know, I was not thinking a lot when I got in. There was so much work to be done. We had so many problems around the world.

    I didn’t really stop and think, “What kind of e-mail system will there be?”

    Note that Andrea Mitchell did not follow up with the obvious queries:

    1. "You claim you were 'not thinking a lot' when you became Secretary of State. Can you give voters any reason to believe you'll be 'thinking a lot' if you become President?"

    2. "But wait a minute. You had to have made a conscious decision to set up your private mail system; otherwise you would have just settled on the default State Department system. Didn't you just tell me an obvious lie?"

    We can only hope that someday Hillary will have the bad luck to get interviewed by someone able to nail her down on obvious dishonesty.

  • For example, some future interlocutor might read Timothy P. Carney's article: "Hillary’s ethanol flip-flop reveals a Democratic sclerosis on cronyism". She was agin' ethanol mandates… until it was time to start campaigning in Iowa.

  • Speaking of ethanol: Our phony poll newcomer, Ben Carson, has come out in favor of taking "$4 billion a year we spend on oil subsidies" and using that to support "fueling stations" with a 30% ethanol blend.

    He took this stand immediately after saying "I don't particularly like the idea of government subsidies for anything because it interferes with the natural free market."

Safe House

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

An action thriller with Denzel Washington! What could go wrong?

Well, for starters, he plays Tobin Frost, kind of a bad guy. A disgraced CIA super-agent, who has spent years on the run, allegedly freelancing his intelligence services to any and all enemies of the US.

Well, that's the story anyway. But after a transaction with a similarly disenchanted MI6 agent in Capetown, he finds himself hotly pursued by a shadowy assassination squad, one with an uncanny ability to track his every move. His only recourse is to turn himself into the American consulate. Which in turn puts him in the titular "Safe House", a dumpy suite of drab rooms maintained by young CIA agent Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds). Weston has been in this position for a year, hardly anything ever happens, he's totally bored. Frost's arrival is an unexpected fireworks show.

But much, much worse, because the assassination squad knows that Frost is there, and is still out to get him. Pretty soon Frost and Weston are on the run together. Car chases, gunplay, knifeplay, fisticuffs, explosions, betrayal happen apace.

It would be pretty ludicrous if not for Denzel's acting talent; Ryan Reynolds does pretty well for himself too.

Funny: Brendan Gleeson sports an American accent, and does OK with it.