The Phony Campaign

2016-07-31 Update

PredictWise odds on Hillary are unchanged from last week, a 70% chance of winning. But Trump's lead is widening in the Phony Standings:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
2016-07-24
"Donald Trump" phony 829,000 +7,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 780,000 -33,000
"Jill Stein" phony 489,000 +79,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 35,900 -1,700

You might have thought that the Democratic National Convention this past week would have given Hillary more of a bump in phony hit counts. But we report, you decide.

  • Mickey Kaus called the convention "Hillary’s Pantsuit Uniparty", and the opening minutes of her acceptance speech a "festival of phoniness". Glad I missed it.

    Mickey quotes from her speech:

    I believe that our economy isn’t working the way it should because our democracy isn’t working the way it should. That’s why we need to appoint Supreme Court justices who will get money out of politics and expand voting rights, not restrict them. And we’ll pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United!

    Others have mentioned the obvious point: the Citizens United case was all about trying to suppress an Hillary-critical movie. It's more than a little depressing to realize that the official position of a major political party and its presidential candidate is to (at best) partially repeal the First Amendment, because it successfully protected speech critical of said party and candidate.

    Mickey points out that the imaginary process that translates First Amendment repeal into economic improvements flowing to the "middle class" is the political equivalent of one of those elaborate Rube Goldberg mechanisms. You have to be a dedicated ideologue to believe that causal chain would work.

    Or, as the Underpants Gnomes might put it:

    Phase 1: Overturn Citizens United!
    Phase 2: ???
    Phase 3: A thriving middle class!

    The amendment process is (fortunately) cumbersome, and I'd wager (also fortunately) there's zero chance that a First Amendment repeal could get through all the necessary hoops. No doubt Hillary and other equally cynical Democratic pols know this.

    Additionally, there's the pedantic point I've made before (about Mitt Romney's advocacy of a "Balanced Budget Amendment): the Presidential role in the process of amending the United States Constitution is: none whatsoever.

    Which makes the proposal … that's correct, phony.

    Painting the Citizens United decision as an all-purpose bogeyman must focus-group extremely well. Which is also depressing.

  • And another thing: you want "big money" out of politics? Here are a couple of ideas that would work far better than First Amendment repeal:

    1. If you're a politician, don't accept "big money".
    2. If you're a voter, don't vote for politicians who take big money.

    If you can't manage that, maybe you really don't believe the problem is "big money": maybe you just want to force people you disagree with to shut up.

  • Phoniness also appears in the second spot on the ticket. At Reason, Steve Chapman describes "Mike Pence's Towering Hypocrisy". Chapman attended a 2010 Federalist Society speech given by Pence, and describes it as "an exercise in pomposity and sanctimony so insufferable that I walked out before he was done."

    But pompous and sanctimonious as it was, it was an argument for Presidential restraint, dignity, and humility. And a mere six years later:

    But when Pence accepted the second spot on a ticket with Donald Trump, he made clear that he didn't believe a word he said. The address is full of lines that would disqualify Trump from a moment's consideration.

    Trump has not the slightest trace of the humility and dignity Pence once deemed essential, and it's hard to imagine his being constrained by the limits of presidential authority. As for the Constitution, Trump thinks it contains an "Article 12" and wants to censor the internet without regard for the First Amendment. "Somebody will say, 'Oh, freedom of speech, freedom of speech,'" he snorted. "These are foolish people."

    I can't begin to comprehend why any respectable pol would chain himself to the Trump dumpster fire.

  • It's unusual for me to quote an entire blog post, but here's Patterico, short and sweet and reality-based: "Your Vote Does Not Matter".

    So you really don’t have to be a jerk to your friends because they’re not voting the way you would like.

    No individual vote ever matters in a presidential election. We learned this in Florida 2000. If it’s close enough that your vote could theoretically matter — which is far less likely than your winning the lottery — a swarm of Democrats will swoop in and start reinterpreting the votes of people who could not vote competently to begin with. The brief moment when your vote seemed to matter will pass, and your vote will be swallowed up in all the phony reinterpreted votes.

    So your vote simply doesn’t matter. To use the language of the beloved alt-right: you are “virtue-signaling” by announcing for whom you will vote. Some of you are signaling the virtue of being on the team or part of the tribe. Some of you are signaling the virtue of adherence to abstract principle rather than group membership.

    But none of it really matters. So just relax.

    Also see: United States Senate election in New Hampshire, 1974. Literally too close to call, so they had a do-over.

  • Which leads me to your tweet of the week:

    "Indeed."