The Phony Campaign

2018-12-23 Update

[phony baloney]

In this week's update, we (once again) have a little chaos in the low-probability end of our table: Hillary has failed to meet our inclusion criterion (3% or better nomination probability according to Predictwise), but John Hickenlooper has risen (barely) to take her place. Among the more likely candidates, the big mover this week was Uncle Joe Biden, popping up to a 13% nomination probability, challenging Beto (17%) and Kamala (18%).

Phony-wise, Sherrod Brown has leapfrogged over Kamala, and is in a position to challenge Beto!

Candidate NomProb Change
Donald Trump 61% unch 2,150,000 -750,000
Nikki Haley 7% -2% 1,020,000 -350,000
Beto O'Rourke 17% -2% 722,000 -118,000
Sherrod Brown 4% +1% 683,000 +209,000
Kamala Harris 18% unch 592,000 +20,000
Mitt Romney 3% unch 233,000 +7,000
Bernie Sanders 9% +1% 229,000 -54,000
Joe Biden 13% +3% 184,000 -18,000
Paul Ryan 3% unch 183,000 -20,000
Elizabeth Warren 4% -1% 176,000 +7,000
Kirsten Gillibrand 4% +1% 169,000 -17,000
Mike Pence 7% -1% 157,000 -42,000
Amy Klobuchar 6% +2% 111,000 +19,500
Cory Booker 3% -2% 58,900 -2,500
John Hickenlooper 3% --- 56,900 ---
John Kasich 5% +1% 51,900 -6,800

Standard disclaimer: Google result counts are bogus.

  • So what about Senator Sherrod? Well, this Vanity Fair article explains Why Sherrod Brown May Have an Edge on Warren and Sanders.

    Sherrod Brown sounds like a quintessentially Midwestern rust belt white male pol: His voice is gravelly and passionate, bordering on pugnacious. The weathered voice is one of Brown's signal assets, one that helped Ohio’s oft-underestimated senior senator, a populist Democrat, win re-election fairly comfortably in a state Donald Trump carried by eight points in 2016. Is it the right fit for a Democratic Party that appears to be moving in another direction?

    Brown, who is potentially looking to challenge the president directly in 2020, refuses to be typecast—or to cede blue-collar politics to Republicans. “Populism and patriotism are not racist, they are not anti-Semitic. They don’t push some people down in order to lift some people up. They don’t appeal to the darker side of human nature,” Brown tells me. “We should not yield the hallowed ground of patriotism to extremists. We see that in Columbus, and we see that especially in the White House. You don’t practice a form of phony populism where you turn people against one another.”

    Um. I don't think you can be a credible populist without turning people against one another. A significant amount of Us-against-Them is baked into the populist pie. And (sure enough) we get it just a couple paragraphs later, where a whole bunch of villainous Thems are rattled off:

    “The fact that this White House looks like a retreat for Wall Street and oil-company executives tells you that it has been on the wrong side of almost every major issue,” Brown says. “In the fall of 2017, I presented the president, in person, a copy of my Patriot Employer Tax Credit bill. If a company pays good wages and provides decent health care and retirement and makes its products in the United States, it gets a lower tax rate. Conversely, if a corporation pays $8 and $10 and $12 an hour, and taxpayers end up subsidizing that corporation by paying for Medicaid for those workers, and food stamps for those workers, we should levy on them a corporate freeloader fee. Trump gave me all the right platitudes—and then he turned around and threw in with the interest groups for a tax cut that goes overwhelmingly to large corporations and people of his social class."

    Sherrod's one of those pols who can't figure out that discouraging companies from hiring low-productivity workers by tax/regulatory/trade policies will directly lead to companies not hiring those low-productivity workers.

    Back in 2008, Senator Sherrod wrote a WSJ op-ed, Don't Call Me a Protectionist, in which he explained … why he was a protectionist. A masterpiece of phoniness.

  • The AP Stylebook says you probably shouldn't capitalize "first lady", since it's not an official title. But Melania's not AP-compliant:

    Nice picture, right? Kind of looks like Pun Salad Manor, except for all the lights, trees, decorations, columns, high ceilings, and Trumps. But not everybody thinks so! Specifically, via Ann Althouse, a Guardian article from Jonathan Jones which you couldn’t create a creepier Yuletide scene if you tried.

    The absence of intimacy in the Trumps’ official Christmas portrait freezes the heart. Can it be that hard to create a cosy image of the presidential couple, perhaps in front of a roaring hearth, maybe in seasonal knitwear? Or is this quasi-dictatorial image exactly what the president wants to project? Look on my Christmas trees, ye mighty, and despair! If so, it fuels suspicions that it is only the checks and balances of a 230-year-old constitution that are keeping America from the darkest of political fates.

    There's the obligatory Nazi reference ("uniform decorations are arrayed like massed soldiers or colossal columns designed by Albert Speer"), psychologzing (Trump "gives full vent to his inner tyrant").

    In short, says a lot about the fevered mental state of Jonathan Jones, not much else.

    Looking for a Trump-vs-Obama Christmas comparison? Check out Elite Daily:

    However, it's worth noticing one key area where their two portraits aren't exactly the same. Donald and Melania are standing shoulder to shoulder, holding hands, facing directly forward to the camera in a more formal stance, with a full picture of the hall behind them. Comparatively, Michelle and Barack stand close together at an angle with their arms around each other, and the camera is set in a close-up and more intimate shot.

    Yeesh. It's just a picture!

  • At the Atlantic, Franklin Foer interviews Senator Spartacus on Cory Booker's Theory of Love. No, I'm not kidding.

    Let’s spin the globe right now and put our finger down. Go to, say, the Middle East. You’re going to see tribal connections. But we said we were going to found a country where we’re not connected by those things. We’re connected by ideals. I think about those words at the end of the Declaration of Independence, our declaration of interdependence, our declaration of love. If we’re going to succeed, we must mutually pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor. That is not just about tolerance, isn’t just bipartisanship. We are at our best when we give the ultimate sacrifice of putting other people, putting the country, putting our communities ahead of ourselves. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

    [Narrator: "He doesn't know what love is."]

  • At GraniteGrok, Percy Blakeney claims, plausibly enough, that Integrity Is A Cornerstone of Character.

    Earlier this month Kamala Harris, now California Senator Harris, said she had no knowledge of harassment allegations against her top aide Larry Wallace. The situation the allegations arose from occurred while she was serving as state Attorney General (AG). Now, the Sacramento Bee (Bee) reports the California Department of Justice (CDoJ), the agency she oversaw, knew about the complaint three months before Harris left her position in 2017. Was her claim true and why should we care?

    Answer to those last two questions: probably not, and I can't think of any reason. A savvy Democrat maintaining plausible deniability? Say it ain't so!

    At the American Spectator, George Neumayr offers up a factoid about how Senator Kamala got her start:

    Were it not for her fanatical support for abortion and all things culturally degenerate, NOW and NARAL would see Harris as an annoying and unworthy rival to Elizabeth Warren. A nubile Harris, after all, slept her way to the middle of California politics after she had an affair with a pol thirty-some years her senior, Willie Brown. An open crook with a Cosbyesque marriage to a long-suffering wife, Brown had no problem arranging lucrative state jobs for Harris after they trysted. The legendary San Francisco columnist Herb Caen called Kamala Harris Brown’s “steady.”

    Kamala makes us long for the relative honesty of Elizabeth Warren.

  • At Reason, Matt Welch derides The Fantasy of a 2020 Independent Centrist.

    So are you ready for that Joe Biden/Mitt Romney unity ticket? Conservative D.C. socialite Juleanna Glover, writing in Politico, sure is! Ideologically adrift Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin is dreaming of "a new party or a center-right independent ticket," headed by blue-state Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland. And there is no TV camera in front of which Ohio Gov. John Kasich won't float his own centrist boat

    "Let's just say that Donald Trump is nominated and Elizabeth Warren is nominated," Kasich said on ABC's "This Week" last month. "You have this ocean of people who sit in the middle."

    A sitting ocean. I could never vote for someone who mixes metaphors like that.