The Phony Campaign

2019-01-20 Update

[Amazon Link]

Yes, that's a phony (pardon me, "Faux") rock, available for a mere $51.69 at Amazon. No idea how much of that price is due to the hoity-toity "Faux" descriptor.

In nomination-odds news this week, both Hillary and Julian Castro have dipped below our 3% Predictwise criterion for inclusion, as bettors thought better.

In our phony standings, Kamala has taken the lead with a (almost certainly illusory) 4.9 million increase in her Google hits over last week. Beto has come crashing back down (losing 11.5 million hits) and so has Nikki Haley (down 1.7 million).

Candidate NomProb Change
Kamala Harris 19% unch 5,750,000 +4,915,000
Donald Trump 64% -1% 2,220,000 +130,000
Beto O'Rourke 19% unch 1,090,000 -11,510,000
Nikki Haley 6% -2% 793,000 -1,727,000
Sherrod Brown 5% +1% 411,000 -513,000
Kirsten Gillibrand 5% +1% 315,000 +155,000
Mitt Romney 4% +1% 211,000 -11,000
Bernie Sanders 6% +1% 203,000 -16,000
Joe Biden 12% -1% 181,000 +12,000
Elizabeth Warren 6% unch 164,000 +18,000
Mike Pence 5% -2% 131,000 -22,000
Amy Klobuchar 5% -1% 95,500 -14,500
Cory Booker 5% +2% 48,500 0
John Kasich 3% -2% 43,900 -3,900

Standard disclaimer: Google result counts are bogus.

And there was no shortage of phony news this week. I hope this is the cream of the crop:

  • George F. Will does not care for the cut of the presidential jib, nosirree. His recent column is a mixture of contempt and pity: The shabbiest U.S. president ever is an inexpressibly sad specimen.

    Dislike of him should be tempered by this consideration: He is an almost inexpressibly sad specimen. It must be misery to awaken to another day of being Donald Trump. He seems to have as many friends as his pluperfect self-centeredness allows, and as he has earned in an entirely transactional life. His historical ignorance deprives him of the satisfaction of working in a house where much magnificent history has been made. His childlike ignorance — preserved by a lifetime of single-minded self-promotion — concerning governance and economics guarantees that whenever he must interact with experienced and accomplished people, he is as bewildered as a kindergartener at a seminar on string theory.

    Which is why this fountain of self-refuting boasts (“I have a very good brain”) lies so much. He does so less to deceive anyone than to reassure himself. And as balm for his base, which remains oblivious to his likely contempt for them as sheep who can be effortlessly gulled by preposterous fictions. The tungsten strength of his supporters’ loyalty is as impressive as his indifference to expanding their numbers.

    Just brutal. And accurate.

  • Via Power Line (Welcome to the Class Struggle Primaries), Brit researcher David Klemperer provides Progressive Yanks with the only rating that matters. (For the rest of us, it's a measure of how screwed we'll be, should any of them win.)

    I assume the "1793" suffix on David's Twitter handle refers to the French Revolution's "Year I", back when Louis XVI went to the guillotine. Good times!

    Comments Paul Mirengoff:

    It’s a safe bet that Kirsten Gillibrand had a lower “class struggle” rating when she represented a less than out-and-out liberal congressional district, rather than the entire state of New York. She’s a phony.

    I wonder how much her phoniness can be expected to degrade her class warriorship?

  • But as long as we're talking Kirsten, she announced her candidacy this week. And, according to the Washington Examiner, It looks like Kirsten Gillibrand was lying about running for president the entire time. From her October 25, 2018 debate with whoever her opponent for the NY Senate seat was:

    Moderator: Can you tell New Yorkers, who plan to vote for you on November 6, that you will, if re-elected, serve out your six-year Senate term?

    Gillibrand: I will.

    Moderator: Just want to make this clear, you’re saying that you will not get out of the race and you will not run for president? You will serve your six years?

    Gillibrand: I will serve my six-year term.

    Well, congrats to Kirsten. Dishonesty on that level shows her to be a worthy competitor for Donald Trump. An impressive display of New York values!

  • But Kirsten is a target-rich environment, phonywise. At NR, Alexandra DeSanctis looks at The Opportunism of Kirsten Gillibrand. She details the needle-threading history of her public pronouncements on Al Franken's wandering hands.

    It wasn’t until December 6, 20 days after the first claim had surfaced, that Gillibrand leapt out ahead of her fellow Democrats to call for Franken’s resignation. Her statement was followed, within minutes, by similar calls from other Democratic senators.

    To join the Democratic donor class in blaming Gillibrand for Franken’s demise, then, is wholly unfair. But so too is it unfair to celebrate her as a #MeToo hero who put her popularity on the line for the greater good. She was merely holding up a finger in the wind and drifting wherever the ethos of the moment dictated.

    This tendency has defined her career. Consider just one example: When she ran for the Senate in 2010, she held an A rating from the NRA. That rating was immediately downgraded to an F after she won the election and, following her party’s trend, completely reversed her stance on the Second Amendment.

    She will probably distinguish herself in the Democratic field by being the candidate most likely to say whatever she thinks … will help her get the necessary votes.

  • A twofer from Jim Geraghty this week, the first about the guy who is trying to catch up with Beto and Kamala. Yes, I'm talkin' Uncle Joe Biden: 20 Things You Probably Didn't Know. Let's take a gander at number…

    12. Biden publicly stated that, at the moment of decision about the raid that would ultimately kill Osama bin Laden, he had believed the mission was not worth the risk and told Obama, “Mr. President, my suggestion is don’t go.” But in a 2018 interview, he said he had publicly overstated his doubts to ensure Obama got more credit for making the decision to launch the raid. Unnamed Biden aides also claimed that Hillary Clinton had falsely claimed she had completely supported the decision to launch the raid, calling her account of the raid decision the “a**-covering, opportunistic version.”

    A debate for the ages: who's phonier, Joe or Hillary? They each have their special qualities.

  • Well, how about Kamala Harris: 20 Things You Didn’t Know? Again, there's a wealth of information to choose from, but:

    15. For nearly ninety years, California state law prohibited images of handguns from being used in signs for gun stores. In 2014, after Harris’s office cited several gun shops, they sued, arguing that the law violated the First Amendment. Harris’s office argued that the law was needed to prevent handgun-related crime and suicide. Last year a federal judge ruled “the government has provided no evidence directly linking [the law] to reduced handgun suicide or crime,” concluded that the law was a “highly paternalistic approach to limiting speech,” and declared it “unconstitutional on its face.”

    That was when Kamala was California's Attorney General. I'm sure you're wondering: didn't she have to take an oath to support and defend the Constitution in order to land that gig?

    Answer: yes she did.

    Any chance Kamala would take the US presidential oath of office more seriously? I would bet against.

  • And Beto O'Rourke, should he decide to run, has a different phony approach to the issues: O'Rourke Not Sure How to Address Illegal Immigration: 'I Trust the Wisdom of the People'.

    Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D., Texas) opposes the White House's desired southern border wall, but he deferred to the "wisdom of the people" on a range of other immigration questions in a new interview.

    O'Rourke, one of dozens of potential Democratic 2020 White House contenders, wasn't sure what to do about visa overstays—"I don't know"—and told the Washington Post that the answers to other questions surrounding illegal immigration will come through open debates […]

    Noted above: Kirsten Gillibrand will take whatever position necessary to get people to vote for her. Beto, on the other hand, will avoid taking positions, lest those positions cause people to not vote for him.

    A bold strategy! By which I mean: cowardly and phony.

  • And he even is unable to take a strong stand on what should be a slam dunk. Beto O'Rourke Not Sure the Constitution Still Works. (Kyle Smith at National Review, looking at the same WaPo interview as the item above.)

    Most of the WaPo interview on Beto O’Rourke is a nonprescription sleep aid. O’Rourke thinks he maybe has something to say about immigration and the border but apart from opposing the wall he isn’t too sure what. He says things like “I don’t know” and “worth debating.” He equivocates on what to do about border security, about withdrawing troops from Syria, about the Green New Deal. He says “I don’t know what to do” in so many ways that you wonder why he bothered to give an interview. Apparently it went on for two hours. How many espressos reporter Jenna Johnson needed to ward off somnolence is unknown.


    O’Rourke blathers on. It takes a moment for it to sink in that he isn’t sure the Constitution still works. “I’m hesitant to answer it because I really feel like it deserves its due, and I don’t want to give you a — actually, just selfishly, I don’t want a sound bite of it reported, but, yeah, I think that’s the question of the moment: Does this still work? Can an empire like ours with military presence in over 170 countries around the globe, with trading relationships…and security arrangements in every continent, can it still be managed by the same principles that were set down 230-plus years ago?” (Emphasis mine.)

    Beto, like Kamala, will have to swear (or affirm) to "preserve, protect and defend" the Constitution if he wins, a tough call if he doesn't think it "works" any more. I hope someone asks him about that.