The Phony Campaign

2016-04-24 Update

PredictWise has dropped John Kasich below our arbitrary 2% inclusion threshold.

Nevertheless, his campaign lumbers on. Maybe someone has made this observation already, but: I see him someday as having an Alec-Guinness-in-The-Bridge-on-the-River-Kwai moment. Suddenly thunderstruck by the enormity of his own actions, saying "What have I done?"

Ditto, for Trump/Clinton voters.

[Update: Almost certainly, I was semi-remembering above what Jonah Goldberg observed last month.]

Anyway, Hillary leaps into Kasich's vacated number two position this week:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
2016-04-17
"Donald Trump" phony 256,000 -116,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 198,000 +8,000
"Ted Cruz" phony 97,600 -155,400
"Bernie Sanders" phony 78,200 -3,600

  • The story that seems to have made the biggest phony splash recently: ‘Hot sauce truther’ Trump calls Clinton ‘phony’.

    Donald Trump ripped into Hillary Clinton on Tuesday morning during an appearance on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” show, calling the Democratic presidential candidate “phony” for claiming she carries hot sauce with her at all times.

    Context: Trump claimed Hillary was pandering, since she made this claim on an NYC "urban" radio station. But it appears that this might be a rare instance in which she's actually telling the truth.

  • To be fair, Trump was almost certainly making what he thought was a safe bet. At the Washington Free Beacon, Matthew Continetti reviews Hillary's long, tired history of dishonesty and poorly-hidden naked power hunger. Why has her primary campaign failed to sew up the nomination so far?

    A lot of the reason is Clinton: her tin ear, her aloofness, her phony eagerness to please, her suspicion of the press and of outsiders, her let us say complicated relationship with the truth, the blithe way in which she dissembles and deceives.

    Continetti repeats something we've noted in the past: when caught off-guard, Hillary's first instinct is to lie.

  • Also, to assume the rules don't apply to her. At Reason, Scott Shackford notes another example: "SuperPAC to Spend $1 Million to Target Hillary Haters on Social Media" At issue is the "Correct the Record" SuperPAC run by Hillary flack David Brock, and how it's doing something that's supposed to be illegal: coordinating with Hillary's campaign organization. It's a convoluted tale, but:

    The reason this is worth noting and worth mocking is how much it implicates Clinton's attacks on Citizens United as hypocritical and self-serving. Sanders has attacked Clinton for all the money her campaign has received from corporate donors and her corporate speeches, and she has insisted that this money has not corrupted her positions—which is actually a defense of the Citizens United decision.

    She's special, once again exempt from the rules she wants to make everyone else follow.

  • Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times opines on "Ted Cruz’s Phony Concern for ‘The People’".

    How can you tell when a politician like Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is lying? When he talks about the need to let “the people” decide. What he really means is “the game is rigged and the insiders get to decide.”

    Yeah, yeah. Please note Andrew Rosenthal was the guy who wrote the dishonest yarn about George H. W. Bush and the supermarket scanner back in 1992. ("Bush Encounters the Supermarket, Amazed")

    So how can you tell when a "journalist" like Andrew Rosenthal is lying? When he's writing about Republicans.


Last Modified 2016-04-26 12:50 PM EDT

So You've Been Publicly Shamed

[Amazon Link]

Reading Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test last month reminded me how much I enjoyed his writing, so I prevailed upon UNH's main library to borrow a copy of So You've Been Publicly Shamed from UNH-Manchester's stacks. It's pretty good.

Ronson examines the relatively recent phenomenon of people changing their behavior, losing their livelihood, or getting exiled from polite society due to negative attention, often ginned up via social media sites.

It begins when Ronson notices a spambot named "Jon Ronson" unleashed on Twitter, with his photo attached, babbling nonsensically about fictional gastronomic adventures. Ronson tracks this back to a couple of arrogant Internet wannabe-entrepreneurs who refuse to take down the bot when asked politely. Ronson organizes a mini-campaign of ridicule and abhorrence, which saves the day: the spambot is removed. Good news, right?

Well, in that instance perhaps. Ronson expands his investigation through various case studies: a journalist who gets caught making up quotes; the girl who made a stupid tweet about AIDS in Africa; the race-car executive whose fondness for sado-masochism was revealed; the girl (a different girl) who posted a Facebook photo mocking a "silence and respect" sign at Arlington National Cemetery; and more.

Details and results differ. To put it mildly. Ronson is somewhat bemused by his failure to find an overarching, universal, story. (Malcolm Gladwell would have.) Some shamees have their lives irretrievably altered; but some don't. Some handle it well, some don't. Sometimes the social outrage is well-earned, in some cases it's totally out of proportion to the offense.

That's OK. With Ronson, following him on his wide-eyed, open-minded journey is the reward.

Oddly enough: even though NJ's ex-Governor Jim McGreevey is profiled (he's now working in prison reform and ex-convict rehab), Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky are absent. Too obvious? What brought this to mind was Lewinsky's most recent career move: public discussion of public shaming herself, giving a Vanity Fair interview in 2014 ("Shame and Survival"); a TED talk in 2015 ("The Price of Shame") And a Guardian interview just the other day (" Monica Lewinsky: ‘The shame sticks to you like tar’")

Oh, wait. The interviewer in that last link is Jon Ronson. Never mind.


Last Modified 2016-04-25 5:47 AM EDT