The Phony Campaign

2016-03-27 Update

As last week, PredictWise says the following folks have a 2% or better shot of being Our Next President. Enjoy:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Donald Trump" phony 301,000 -162,000
"John Kasich" phony 189,000 -66,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 105,000 -62,000
"Ted Cruz" phony 81,300 +1,900
"Bernie Sanders" phony 60,800 -10,100

The ordering remains the same as last week. Why, it's almost as if nothing is happening!

  • At the New York Times, Ross Douthat asks the question: "Who is Ted Cruz?" The answer is one that a lot of NYT readers will find comforting: he's a big phony-face. Unlike other politicos (Douthat specifically names Rand Paul, Rubio, Sanders, Obama, and Goldwater) …

    With Cruz, though, even the most fervent peroration always feels like a debater’s patter, an advocate’s brief — compelling enough on the merits, but more of a command performance than a window into deep conviction.

    This doesn’t mean that Cruz’s conservatism isn’t sincere. But the fact that he seems so much like an actor hitting his marks fits with the story of how he became Mr. True Conservative Outsider in the first place. Basically, he spent years trying to make it in Washington on the insider’s track, and hit a wall because too many of the insiders didn’t like him — because his ambition was too naked, his climber’s zeal too palpable. So he deliberately switched factions, turning the establishment’s personal disdain into a political asset, and taking his Ivy League talents to the Tea Party instead.

    Cruz critiques often seem to boil down to "Hey, the guy just rubs me the wrong way." Since Cruz is the only major-party candidate left that I can stand, that's disappointing.

  • At the NR Corner, Mona Charen provides a brief retelling of this week's Trump/Cruz imbroglio over their wives. Her sympathies: "Defend Heidi Cruz":

    Is Trump the political genius that some have been hinting? Who else, without staff or experience, could rocket to the top of the polls and remain in that perch month after month despite everything? Maybe it’s genius, or maybe its shamelessness. The latter can be mistaken for the former. This week’s new slog in the mud demonstrates one of Trump’s techniques to perfection — he flings filth at an opponent and then invites the docile press to conclude that “both sides” are engaged in unseemly brawling. (This is usually John Kasich’s moment to shake his head sadly and remind voters that, golly gee,  he would never do such things.)

    If you're not a Trumpkin, Ms. Charen will convince you further that you are correct.

    If you are a Trumpkin… well, I'd suggest you read it, but all evidence says you're pretty immune to such appeals to reason and decency.

  • Campus kerfuffles continued among the fragile flowers of some student populations.

    • At Emory, various surfaces were chalked with pro-Trump messages. Even while reading the most student-sympathetic report I could find (Newsweek), I got the distinct impression that the author tried hard to keep a straight face while writing.

      The draft [of a complaint letter being written by "several student organizations"] says that those who wrote the chalk messages “attacked minority and marginalized communities at Emory, creating an environment in which many students no longer feel safe and welcome…. For some students, simply seeing the word ‘Trump’ plastered across campus brings to mind his many offensive quotes and hateful actions.”

      “I legitimately feared for my life,” a freshman who identifies as Latino told The Daily Beast. Another student told the publication, “Some of us were expecting shootings. We feared walking alone.”

      Scared. By chalk.

    • And out in sunny Pomona:

      Scripps College’s student president says she alerted campus police after “#trump2016” was found scrawled on a dorm room door, calling it “racist … violence,” according to an email she sent to the campus community, a copy of which was circulated Saturday on social media.

      A disproportionate response, to be sure. Also, I think I would take an even-money bet that, if the perpetrator is revealed, it will turn out to be yet another campus fake "hate crime".

  • But to Emory's credit, they do employ at least one sane professor, Paul H. Rubin, who wrote in the WSJ early last week on a too-neglected topic: The Zero-Sum Worlds of Trump and Sanders:

    Mr. Trump’s anti-immigration and anti-trade positions make him essentially a disciple of mercantilism—a protectionist economic theory refuted by Adam Smith in 1776. Bernie Sanders proudly calls himself a socialist and advocates vast increases in taxes and government power. The history of the past century, from the Soviet Union’s fall to the impending collapse of Venezuela, amply shows that a socialist economy isn’t only “rigged”—to borrow one of Mr. Sanders’s favorite words—it doesn’t work.

    Trump and Sanders are also alike in that their followers seem to be (sorry to repeat myself here) True Believers, in the Eric Hoffer sense.

  • Rolling Stone (in the person of 70-year-old publisher Jann Wenner) endorsed 68-year-old Hillary Clinton for President. To its credit, sort of, RS also published a rebuttal by 46-year-old Matt Taibbi headlined "Why Young People Are Right About Hillary Clinton". Taibbi is pro-Bernie, so being "right about Hillary" also implies being "a total left-wing idiot". But you can't help but agree with his naked-empress prose:

    Young people don't see the Sanders-Clinton race as a choice between idealism and incremental progress. The choice they see is between an honest politician, and one who is so profoundly a part of the problem that she can't even see it anymore.

    I'm old enough to remember the endless sappy "listen to the wisdom of the young people" mantras of the late-sixties. I was a young person then, and I thought it was stupid at the time. It hasn't gotten any better.