The Phony Campaign

2018-12-09 Update

[phony baloney]

This week, Hillary Clinton has dropped below our inclusion criterion (3% or better nomination probability according to Predictwise), and Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, for some reason, has (barely) met it. So: still 16 candidates, with a more bipartisan split: 9 donkeys, 7 elephants. But President Trump widened his phony lead on the field this week:

Candidate NomProb Change
Donald Trump 67% unch 3,210,000 +890,000
Nikki Haley 5% unch 1,340,000 +310,000
Beto O'Rourke 18% unch 724,000 -127,000
Kamala Harris 18% +1% 583,000 +24,000
Sherrod Brown 4% +1% 290,000 +134,000
Bernie Sanders 7% unch 239,000 +1,000
Mitt Romney 3% unch 221,000 -18,000
Joe Biden 9% -1% 211,000 -7,000
Elizabeth Warren 5% -1% 201,000 +7,000
Kirsten Gillibrand 4% unch 198,000 +7,000
Paul Ryan 3% unch 187,000 -406,000
Mike Pence 8% unch 165,000 -3,000
Amy Klobuchar 4% -2% 87,900 -4,400
Cory Booker 4% unch 62,900 -3,100
John Kasich 4% unch 60,900 -4,400
Tom Cotton 3% --- 21,100 ---

Standard disclaimer: Google result counts are bogus.

  • At Inside Sources, Michael Graham gives his view of the Democratic nomination horse race: Beto’s Up, Warren’s Down and Avenatti’s Out. We've managed to ignore the so-called "creepy porn lawyer" up until now, but apparently …

    Lots of 2020 news for New Hampshire, starting with the departure of 2018’s Summer Superstar, Michael Avenatti.  The L.A. lawyer had an electric effect on the crowds at Democratic events in New Hampshire, and some longtime Granite State politicos had high praise for him.

    Alas, we'll have to make do, for now, with more conventional pols. And Trump.

  • Fox News reporter Lukas Mikelionis put his ear to the ground and noticed: New York Democrat Gillibrand mocked for saying future is 'female' and 'intersectional'. The New York senator tweeted, she thought inspirationally:

    If we could only somehow harness the renewable energy of millions of eyeballs rolling skyward when reading Senator Gillibrand's tweets, our climate change problems would be solved. Among Lukas's tweet harvest:

    That's… not bad, actually. In a saner world, the president would delegate his tweeting to Junior.

  • We gave up on following Andrew Sullivan years back, when he was obsessing over Sarah Palin's uterus. But he's on target in pinpointing America’s New Religions.

    Everyone has a religion. It is, in fact, impossible not to have a religion if you are a human being. It’s in our genes and has expressed itself in every culture, in every age, including our own secularized husk of a society.

    Maybe I like that because I've said the same damned thing hundreds of times myself. (I'd like to know what Sean Carroll says about it though.)

    Anyway, Andrew gets around to commenting on Senator Gillibrand's tweet:

    I get the point: Women are succeeding more than ever before, are poised to do even better, and this is a great thing. But why express this as if men are also not part of the future? And “intersectional”? It’s telling that, in Democratic circles, this is such a mainstream word now that she doesn’t have to explain it to anyone.

    Gillibrand’s evolution, of course, has been long in the works — and reveals, I’d say, where the Democrats are going. When Gillibrand was a member of Congress, she identified as a Blue Dog conservative Democrat. She once campaigned in defense of gun rights, was in favor of cracking down on illegal immigration, voted against the 2008 bank bailout, and opposed marriage equality. Fast-forward a decade and look at the change.

    "Evolution" is, for our pols, a shorthand for "changing positions to maximize electability".

    I would wager that the senator not only feels that she doesn't have to explain her use of "intersectional" to anyone, I bet she couldn't explain it to anyone without sounding ridiculous.

  • The staid NYT casts a cold eye on Senator Fauxcahontas: Elizabeth Warren Stands by DNA Test. But Around Her, Worries Abound.

    The plan was straightforward: After years of being challenged by President Trump and others about a decades-old claim of Native American ancestry, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts would take a DNA test to prove her stated family origins in the Cherokee and Delaware tribes.

    But nearly two months after Ms. Warren released the test results and drew hostile reactions from prominent tribal leaders, the lingering cloud over her likely presidential campaign has only darkened. Conservatives have continued to ridicule her. More worrisome to supporters of Ms. Warren’s presidential ambitions, she has yet to allay criticism from grass-roots progressive groups, liberal political operatives and other potential 2020 allies who complain that she put too much emphasis on the controversial field of racial science — and, in doing so, played into Mr. Trump’s hands.

    Apparently (according to the last link) it's standard Native American dogma to eschew genetic tests. So the senator is in a tad of trouble from them, too.

  • But James Freeman of the (maybe paywalled) WSJ asks: Too Soon for Democrats To Dump Elizabeth Warren?.

    President Donald Trump has famously ridiculed Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s claims of Native American heritage. Perhaps more damaging to the Massachusetts leftist as she considers running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, many natural allies aren’t buying her story either. But before Democrats reject her as a potential leader of their party, they ought to consider the alternatives. She is not the first and won’t be the last politician to make phony autobiographical claims.

    For example, Freeman notes, compared to Senator-Non-Elect Beto O'Rourke (quoting Alfredo Corchado in the Dallas Morning News):

    O’Rourke was born in prestige, lived a charmed life, raised in an upper-class lifestyle by people accustomed to power -- a sharp contrast to that of a mostly Mexican-American, hardscrabble city where workers still barely make ends meet...

    In the backdrop of the city’s multicultural community, his father, Pat O’Rourke, a consummate politician, once explained why he nicknamed his son Beto: Nicknames are common in Mexico and along the border, and if he ever ran for office in El Paso, the odds of being elected in this mostly Mexican-American city were far greater with a name like Beto than Robert Francis O’Rourke.

    We can only hope that this who's-phoniest issue gets brought up in debates.

  • At NR, Jonathan S. Tobin notes a side effect of the truth-challenged current president: Donald Trump Makes Joe Biden Plausible.

    Also like Trump, Biden has a famously loose relationship with the truth. When asked in Montana about the accusations of law-school plagiarism that helped derail his 1988 bid for the presidency, he said, “It all came out in the wash — I never did plagiarize, I never did — and it all was proven that that never happened.”

    That, of course, was a brazen lie. Biden even admitted to his guilt at the time. And even setting aside that particular incidence of plagiarism, the sum of his conduct in 1988 speaks for itself. He embarrassed himself over and over again during that campaign. He was found to have blatantly stolen the stump speech of another politician, British Labour-party leader Neil Kinnock, and to have lifted passages from speeches by JFK, RFK, and Hubert Humphrey. He was also found to have lied about his college grades and the degrees he had earned while campaigning.

    Tobin further notes that Biden is the "only likely Democratic contender who is capable of competing with the president when it comes to wild, exaggerated accusations and rhetorical excess."

    Professional fact-checkers would have guaranteed job security if it came down to Trump vs. Biden.

  • In the Boston Globe, Jeff Jacoby dares to recommend that the country Break the Iowa/New Hampshire duopoly. The criticisms are the ones we've heard for years: Iowa and New Hampshire are too white, too old, etc. And the rest of the country is shut out from participating in the inevitable winnowing of the field that happens after (and sometimes before) the Iowa/NH action.

    The problem being that his recommended method…

    Here’s a better system:

    Every four years, the Republican and Democratic parties should hold a drawing to choose two different states to go to the head of the line. Limiting the drawing to, say, the 15 smallest states would preserve the traditional “retail” campaigning that voters and candidates prize in Iowa and New Hampshire. But — this is the crucial reform — the drawing should not take place until Jan. 1 of the presidential election year.

    At least in New Hampshire, the Secretary of State is empowered to set the primary date "7 days or more immediately preceding the date on which any other state shall hold a similar election". So the "parties" can do whatever they want, but they can't stop us from voting when the SoS says.

    (Well, they could say: "we won't recognize the delegates from your state at our conventions." But see how well that goes over.)

    So: Neener neener, Jeff.

Last Modified 2018-12-20 6:54 AM EDT