The Phony Campaign

2018-12-30 Update

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In a completely unexpected move, Kamala Harris takes over our top phony position this week, her phony Google hits increasing by a factor of 6.4.

Yeah, that's not real. Expect that to return to reality next year.

In other news, Hillary Clinton returns to our chart after dropping off last week. She's now (according to Predictwise) at a 4% nomination probability, which seems… I don't know what it seems like.

Historical note: I note that Donald Trump didn't appear in our standings until after he officially announced his candidacy in June 2015. One of our first links about him was a Ben Zimmer column in the WSJ from which I quoted:

When Donald Trump gave a speech announcing his candidacy for president last week, he seemed to utter whatever thoughts popped into his uniquely coiffed head.

As Mark Plotkin, a contributor to the Hill newspaper, put it, “To say he has ‘no filter’ would be a gigantic understatement.”

And I wondered:

I'm all for "no filter" in theory. In practice, however, would we really want a president who was in the habit of saying the first thing that popped into his head? I see downsides.

I'm not the best prognosticator in the world, but geez that was spot on.

Anyway, our results this week:

Candidate NomProb Change
Kamala Harris 18% unch 3,810,000 +3,218,000
Donald Trump 59% -2% 2,160,000 +10,000
Beto O'Rourke 17% unch 1,040,000 +318,000
Nikki Haley 7% unch 906,000 -114,000
Sherrod Brown 3% -1% 876,000 +193,000
Hillary Clinton 4% --- 799,000 ---
Bernie Sanders 7% -2% 225,000 -4,000
Mitt Romney 3% unch 206,000 -27,000
Joe Biden 10% -3% 189,000 +5,000
Kirsten Gillibrand 5% +1% 179,000 +10,000
Paul Ryan 4% +1% 170,000 -13,000
Mike Pence 7% unch 153,000 -4,000
Elizabeth Warren 5% +1% 146,000 -30,000
Amy Klobuchar 5% -1% 109,000 -2,000
John Hickenlooper 3% unch 73,800 +16,900
John Kasich 6% +1% 52,700 +800
Cory Booker 5% +2% 52,600 -6,300

Standard disclaimer: Google result counts are bogus.

  • I appreciate the sheer bitchiness of this Vanity Fair story: “Democrats Don’t Like to Be Told Who to Vote For”: Obama Has Flirted with Beto and Other Potential 2020 Rivals, and Biden Is Upset.

    Word of Barack Obama’s mid-November meeting with Beto O’Rourke cheered the millions of O’Rourke fans who want the Texas congressman to run for president in 2020. And it delighted the political pundit-verse, which is always hungry for new gossip and intrigue. Joe Biden, however, is said to have been less than thrilled. Obamaworld insiders describe the former vice president as upset—not specifically by Obama’s conversation with O’Rourke, but by the former president’s willingness to talk to other plausible Democratic contenders while Biden is still deciding whether to run himself. “This is unequivocally false. Period,” Biden spokesman Bill Russo says. So just how does Biden feel about his ex-boss chatting with potential primary rivals? “I’m not going to comment further,” Russo replies.

    OK, I get that Vanity Fair writers don't get paid unless they write something, no matter how superficial and thinly sourced. But do they really have to make actual grown-up politicians sound like a bunch of middle-school adolescent girls worried about perceived slights and clique memberships?

    Or maybe it really is like that.

  • At the WSJ, Michael B. Mukasey describes The Phony Attack on William Barr.

    William Barr is probably the best-qualified nominee for U.S. attorney general since Robert Jackson in 1940. Jackson had been solicitor general and would later serve on the Supreme Court. Mr. Barr has already served as attorney general under George H.W. Bush, as well as assistant attorney general in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel, the authoritative voice within the Justice Department on issues of law throughout the government.

    Yet critics decry his nomination, or at least insist that he recuse himself from supervising special counsel Robert Mueller, because of an unsolicited memo he wrote last June to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who then had supervisory responsibility for the Mueller investigation, and Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel, current head of the Office of Legal Counsel. The memo criticizes one obstruction-of-justice theory that some have speculated Mr. Mueller is pursuing.

    Mukasey points out that if expressing one's opinion on a matter of controversy is disqualifying, then the only "qualified" candidates will be "those who are ignorant of public issues or indifferent to them." That probably has downsides.

  • At Power Line, Paul Mirengoff invites us to Name that Senator.

    Democrats bemoan (as I do) the resignation of James Mattis. It made me wonder how many of them had voted not to confirm him. I knew that, although Democrats and their media allies had raised questions about Mattis, almost all of them voted for his confirmation in the end.

    I guessed that around five hard core leftists voted against him.

    It turns out that only one did: Kirsten Gillibrand.

    Paul's observation:

    She seems to be making it up as she goes along. She seems to be a phony.

    No foolin'. But she'll have to do better to compete with Kamala.

  • Via GraniteGrok comes a story from out in Ohio, where outgoing Governor John Kasich rejects GOP gun bill even without 'stand your ground' language. There's a lot of theological-style angels-dancing-on-pinheads argument surrounding when it should be legal to use deadly force in self-defense. Kasich dispensed with all that, however:

    “If you think I’m going to sign a bill that gives more power to the gun folks, are you kidding me?” Kasich told reporters. "That’s a moral issue: gun violence."

    Moral issue. For Kasich, them "gun folks" are not just mistaken, but evil.

    The Ohio legislature (also apparently full of evildoers) overrode Kasich's veto last week.

  • At Hot Air, Allahpundit has spotted The most fun political subplot of the new year: Bernie Sanders fans hating Beto O'Rourke. An NBC News commentary is quoted:

    Nomiki Konst, a progressive activist and 2016 Sanders supporter who is now running for public advocate in New York City, said liberal activists mostly kept quiet about their concerns over O'Rourke's record, including the backing he got from the centrist Blue Dog Democrats, before he lost a Texas Senate race to Republican Ted Cruz in November.

    "They sucked it up while he was running" because they wanted him to win, Konst said. "But now it’s a different story."


    But Konst said it makes sense that progressives are vetting O'Rourke now that he is being mentioned as a possible presidential candidate. It's important, she said, to make a distinction between the cool image he's crafted with progressives, in part by giving them a window into his daily routine with frequent livestream episodes, and what really matters to them.

    "Reading Karl Marx is cool," she said. "Doing a livestream while you’re doing your laundry is a gimmick.”

    What portion of the Democrat primary voters think that reading Marx is cool? That's something to keep an eye on.

  • Back at Power Line, Paul Mirengoff's eagle eye espied Democrat senators asking a judicial nominee, in effect, Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Knights of Columbus?.

    Recently, Sen. Mazie Hirono claimed that Democrats have a hard time connecting with voters because they (Democrats) are so “smart” and “know so much.” If Democrats are smart and knowledgeable, you can’t prove it by Hirono. She embarrasses herself routinely on the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she almost invariably finds herself in over her head.

    The latest embarrassment is her attack, along with Sen. Kamala Harris, on a judicial nominee for belonging to the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic social and charitable organization founded in 1882 that, in the words of Ramesh Ponnuru, has heretofore been roughly as controversial as the Rotary Club.. Hirono and Harris are insisting that Brian Buescher, nominated for a U.S. district court judgeship, drop his membership in that organization and recuse himself from cases in which it has taken a position.

    Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are the gift that keeps on giving… to Republicans.

  • And Ann Althouse noticed that The NYT makes its 2020 presidential choice obvious.. Quoting the paper:

    Senator Kamala Harris of California.... Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator... Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey... And Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.... These four high-profile Democratic senators are poised to enter the 2020 presidential race in the next several weeks...

    The speed of the senators’ efforts reflects intense political pressure to establish themselves as leading candidates in a Democratic field that could get crowded, fast.... and they don’t want to lose a step to a rival fresh face, such as Representative Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas Senate candidate who has been the focus of intense speculation in recent weeks as a potential presidential candidate....

    For the Senate foursome, moving quickly into the race is also a pre-emptive effort to undercut the early advantages of a duo of universally known contenders, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who may enter the race in the coming months. Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders would start off with important advantages, including existing networks of support among early-state activists and party donors, and the stature to generate impressive displays of support at early rallies.

    But as white men, Mr. Biden, Mr. Sanders and Mr. O’Rourke do not reflect the gender and racial diversity of many Democratic candidates and swaths of the electorate that dominated the 2018 midterms. Ms. Harris, Ms. Warren, Ms. Gillibrand and Mr. Booker, by contrast, would instantly make the 2020 Democratic field the most diverse array of presidential candidates in history. And they might well scramble the early polling leads held by Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders, who benefit from strong name recognition but would be in their late 70s by Election Day 2020, at a moment when some in the party are agitating for generational change....

    The number of male operatives under consideration for campaign manager posts has raised concerns among some female Democratic strategists who hoped the diversity of the 2020 field would prompt more hiring of female and minority staffers for senior roles.... The focus on staff diversity reflects not only the influence of the #MeToo movement on Democratic politics but the demands of a party that has shifted to the left during the Trump era....

    Is there any doubt, Ann observes, who are the NYT's "decent choices" and who needs to "step back and get out of the way?