The Phony Campaign

2019-01-06 Update

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Our first phony update of the new year, and the big news is that Elizabeth Warren has officially launched her "exploratory" campaign. The betting markets reacted by sending her nomination probability (as summarized by Predictwise) rocketing from 5% to … 7%. Still, that's better than nothing. Also better than Bernie, Amy Klobuchar, Tim Kaine (a new face on our list this week), Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, and Sherrod Brown. And better than Hillary Clinton and John Hickenlooper (who both dropped below our 3% inclusion criterion this week).

Also: the 3.2 million phony Google hits Kamala gained last week really were ephemeral, vanishing this week. She'll just have to try harder. Or at least pretend she's trying harder.

This week's results, which return Donald Trump to his rightful leading phony status:

Candidate NomProb Change
Donald Trump 61% +2% 1,740,000 -420,000
Beto O'Rourke 17% unch 920,000 -120,000
Sherrod Brown 4% +1% 792,000 -84,000
Nikki Haley 7% unch 790,000 -116,000
Kamala Harris 18% unch 566,000 -3,244,000
Mitt Romney 4% +1% 234,000 +28,000
Bernie Sanders 6% -1% 208,000 -17,000
Tim Kaine 5% --- 206,000 ---
Paul Ryan 3% -1% 185,000 +15,000
Joe Biden 11% +1% 176,000 -13,000
Elizabeth Warren 7% +2% 176,000 +30,000
Mike Pence 7% unch 163,000 +10,000
Kirsten Gillibrand 5% unch 161,000 -18,000
Amy Klobuchar 5% unch 120,000 +11,000
Cory Booker 4% -1% 55,300 +2,700
John Kasich 5% -1% 46,000 -6,700

Standard disclaimer: Google result counts are bogus.

  • Elizabeth Warren's announcement came as no surprise to Viking Pundit, who writes: Knock me over with a little feather. He shares the observation of Legal Insurrection: "If elected, she would be the first person who has committed an ethnic fraud to hold the presidency." He adds his own (it's short, so reproduced in full):

    When it was advantageous for Warren to be a Republican, she was a Republican.

    When it was advantageous for Warren to be a "minority," she was a minority.

    When it was advantageous for Warren to be a Massachusetts liberal, she was a Massachusetts liberal.

    Warren 2020: "What principles do you want?  I got 'em."  Bookmark: ElizabethWarrenWiki.

    I hope the Wiki maintainers are able to keep up with reality. That's always a challenge.

  • At Power Line, Paul Mirengoff describes Warren’s woes in appealing to African-American voters (linking to a Washington Post story on that topic):

    The Post cites several factors that could explain Warren’s lack of appeal to African-Americans. Her economic populism places too much blame for poverty on capitalism (in effect) and not enough on racism. Two of her rivals are African-American and a third served as vice president to a black president. Her home state is very “white.” Her DNA test revealed she was lying about her ethnicity (the Post puts it more politely).

    Each of these factors may be at work. The DNA test may not count for much in itself, but it does suggest an inauthenticity that could work against her.

    The bigger problem, though, is that there’s little in Warren’s persona that is likely to fire up African-Americans. Warren is an academic. She lacks the common touch. She can scold, but she can’t preach.

    Like Woodrow Wilson with a skirt?

  • And I try to avoid linking the same website twice in one post, but Scott Johnson has an additional useful perspective on Warren’s kitchen cabinet. Scott works off the "cringe-worthy" Instagram live video where she announced her campaign, accompanied by pounding back a Michelob Ultra.

    “Fight” is the motif of her remarks. She wants to duke it out for us, the little people. Indeed, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, she is one of us. She cracks open a beer to prove it. She can “fight” while guzzling it down. Like the Okies out of Grapes of Wrath, she recalls mama and daddy. She makes no mention of Indian ancestry.

    Warren disapproves of pharmaceutical companies making “ginormous profits.” (What about technology companies like Amazon and Apple? I hear they are somewhat profitable too.) Warren also disapproves of for-profit colleges. The common factor is profits; we can extrapolate Warren’s bogeymen to free enterprise generally. She favors consumption over production, so long as she has a hand in distribution.

    Incidentally, while we are on the subject of the pharmaceutical companies, perhaps we should note that their products save lives. The only thing Elizabeth Warren has ever produced is bogus scholarship.

    But about that Michelob Ultra. Shameless "I'm a regular Josephine" pandering aside, apparently she later characterized her preferred brand of suds as the "club soda of beers". At the Takeout, Allison Shoemaker wonders what she means by that:

    I can find no references to Anheuser-Busch’s Michelob Ultra as a particularly effective stain remover, so that’s not why it’s the club soda of beers. I cannot imagine it would serve well as a mixer for vodka, gin, or Scotch, so it’s perhaps safe to assume that that’s not why it’s the club soda of beers. Nor is it non-alcoholic. It does not come in tiny clear bottles. It is not easily confused with tonic. This American light lager cannot be consumed on its own with lime in a highball glass, a presentation that makes it seem as if the drinker is drinking a cocktail while eating all the free food at the happy hour when in reality she has not actually paid for anything.

    Oh, so close in that last sentence. But Allison quotes a beer reviewer who hits the target:

    A barely noticeable yellow, barely noticeable grainy smell, and no taste. This, considering its price point, was rather disappointing, and maybe even depressing. I have friends who swear by this, but I don't see the appeal. If you want to get wrecked drink a wine, if you want a beer, there's so many more out there. What is the point of this? To act drunk at a fancy party? Ugh...

    Off-color, slightly smelly, zero taste, high price point, seemingly designed to appeal to phonies? A perfect choice for Senator Warren.

  • Language Log analyzes the linguistic folksiness of the senator's "I'm gonna get me a beer": The dagnabbit effect strikes again. Technically, this is known as the "personal dative". And she seems to be channelling a different Massachusetts pol:

    We're back in John Kerry country again, when the *obviously* elitist Kerry was mocked for his own Personal Dative.  Here's the (right-wing) Washington Times shortly after the event:

    Mr. Kerry's Ohio hunting adventure started last Saturday, when the senator, campaign entourage in tow, went into a grocery store and asked the owner: "Can I get me a hunting license here?" Even the phraseology sounded staged. Mr. Kerry ordinarily doesn't talk this way, and his language sounded fake and patronizing — as if he was pretending to talk like someone from rural Ohio. [WT, Oct. 22, 2004]

    Kerry was subsequently savaged in numerous gleeful right-wing blogs and columns for his inauthentic modeling of "uneducated redneckese", "hick" or "ignorant" speech, or "dumbed-down grammar". Commentators wondered rhetorically, "Is poor grammar something that amounts to reaching out to them-there dumb, gun-loving right-wing rednecks?"  Kerry was widely portrayed at the time as having asked "Can I get me a huntin' license here?" (and note the comment to this effect in Warner Todd Huston's tweet in Twitterstorm), actual recordings of Kerry's query at the time clearly confirm that he used the upper register velar nasal. In any case, two weeks later Kerry barely lost Ohio to George W. Bush and with it the election.  At least Warren is getting her PD out of the way early, for better or worse.

    Maybe she really talks like that at Harvard faculty soirees. Upper register velar nasal and all. Who knows?

  • National Review doesn't usually go for the clickbait headline style, so I assume Jim Geraghty is doing that for chuckles: Bernie Sanders: Twenty Things You Didn’t Know About Him. Let's go with number …:

    19) In 2016 and 2017, Sanders made more than $1 million, mostly from book advances and royalties. He received a half-million-dollar advance for this year’s book, Where We Go from Here. (Ironically, back in 1974, Sanders told the Burlington Free Press, “Nobody should earn more than $1 million.”) When the senator received some grief during the 2016 campaign for not releasing his tax returns, he said his wife does the couple’s taxes. Days later, he released his 2014 returns, showing adjusted gross income of $205,271. Despite Sanders’s 1981 statement that he didn’t believe in charities, he and his wife donated $8,350 to charity, according to the return.

    How would Bernie put it? "I'm grabbing a beer. No, not Coors Light. Not Sam Adams. Not Budweiser… Come to think of it, where did you put the Stolichnaya?"

  • The NYT looked at the True Man of the People, Uncle Joe: How Biden Has Paved the Way for a Possible Presidential Run.

    When officials at the University of Utah invited Joseph R. Biden Jr. to speak there in December, Mr. Biden’s representatives listed a number of requirements for the appearance. His booking firm, Creative Artists Agency, said the school would need to fly Mr. Biden and his aides to Salt Lake City by private plane. It would buy 1,000 copies of his recent memoir from a designated vendor. There would be no insertion of the word “former” before “vice president” in social media promotions. And the speaking fee would be $100,000 — “a reduced rate,” it was explained, for colleges and universities.

    Spoiler: He wound up relenting on the $100 K.

  • Oh, yeah: Mitt Romney (4% nomination probability, up 1% from last week) penned a Trump-trashing op-ed in the WaPo. Reason's Robby Soave says: Senator-Elect Mitt Romney, Welcome to the Resistance.

    Reactions to the op-ed have been mixed. Some have branded Romney a hypocrite for accepting Trump's endorsement in the Utah Senate race and then turning on the president after he was safely elected. Fox News talking head Dan Bongino called him a sell-out, a fraud, a phony, and a fake.

    Nobody with memories of the 2012 election will be shocked by people calling Mitt names. But that last link is pretty classic:

    [Romney] is a sell-out. He is a fraud. He is a phony. He is a fake. This is the kind of guy who has absolutely decimated the Republican Party. You know, Brian, when there is a museum left to the remnant of the swamp GOP. And we’re all walking through this museum in 20 or 30 years when there used to be the GOP, exhibit 1 will be Mitt Romney followed closely by Jeff Flake. You know, Jeff Flake had to pass the baton of GOP sell-outs. And the race isn’t even over yet. Romney doesn’t even swear in, I believe, until Thursday. They couldn’t even wait to pass the baton. What’s even more disgraceful about this Romney op-ed — and, listen, I spoke positively about Mitt Romney for a very long time. We ran in the same election cycle. This is a disgusting move. This is the same guy who went up to Bedminster, Donald Trump gave him a chance even after Romney shellacked him, unnecessarily so. Trump gave him a chance. He gave him another chance having dinner with him in Manhattan, the President, that is, and interviewed him for jobs. And do you know what? He endorsed Romney, the president. You want to talk about character? You big phony fraud fake. You know what? You should have never taken that endorsement if this is how you felt. This guy is a disgrace. He's an embarrassment. I’m embarrassed for him, the people of Utah and anyone who supported this fraud. What a fake.

    But how do you really feel, Dan?