The Phony Campaign

2019-04-14 Update

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No changes in our phony lineup this week, but Elizabeth Warren creeps even closer to our (arbitrary 2%) elimination threshold. Where she would join Tulsi, Amy, Cory, Julian,… and, um, Hickenlooper. And more. No shame in that! Unless you think it's shameful to waste your supporters' time and money, but what pol has ever been ashamed of that?

I for one am plugging for a Buttigieg/Hickenlooper ticket. Because I identify as having a 12-year-old's sense of humor about funny names.

Speaking of Mayor Pete, he expands his phony lead this week over President Orange:

Candidate WinProb Change
Pete Buttigieg 7.5% +1.9% 5,480,000 +2,300,000
Donald Trump 41.2% +0.4% 2,210,000 +440,000
Bernie Sanders 11.6% -1.7% 452,000 +166,000
Joe Biden 8.3% +1.4% 258,000 +24,000
Elizabeth Warren 2.0% -0.1% 183,000 +20,000
Kamala Harris 10.1% -1.7% 113,000 +27,100
Beto O'Rourke 5.6% -0.9% 80,300 -5,600
Andrew Yang 2.7% -0.6% 13,400 +300

"WinProb" calculation described here. Google result counts are bogus.

And maybe it's a good time to point out that since we started tracking the candidates' Betfair-based "WinProbs" back in January, Trump's has gone from 29.2% to 41.2% (as I type). Hm.

  • At the Bulwark, Benjamin Parker urges us: Let's Not Forget About Biden's Gaffes. There are a lot, but my favorite is a New Hampshire oldie:

    At least Biden doesn’t have to worry about appearing low-energy. During the 1988 presidential race, a New Hampshire voter asked Biden about his law school record. Biden interrupted the man, gesturing vigorously,

    I think I probably have a much higher IQ than you do, I suspect. I went to law school on a full academic scholarship, the only one in my class to have a full academic scholarship. The first year in law school I decided I didn’t want to be in law school, and ended up in the bottom two thirds of my class, and then decided I wanted to stay, going back to law school, and in fact ended up in the top half of my class. I won the international moot court competition. I was the outstanding student in the political science department at the end of my year. I graduated with three degrees from undergraduate school and 165 credits — only needed 123 credits – and I’d be delighted to sit down and compare my IQ to yours if you’d like, Frank.

    Poor Frank was eventually able to finish his question after Uncle Joe’s tirade, much of which turned out to be false. But hey, at least he fights?

    Good times. There's a 2008 Keene Sentinel article recalling the incident here. Biden's interlocutor was Frank Fahey of Claremont, identified in 2008 as "a lifelong Republican who is now an ardent Obama supporter."

    Somewhat sweetly:

    Last fall, Fahey encountered Biden again at a campaign event in Claremont’s Broad Street Park. The senator rushed to make amends.

    “You’re Frank Fahey, aren’t you,” Fahey recalls Biden saying, before he had finished introducing himself.

    “I owe you a big apology. It’s 20 years too late.”

    Fahey, in turn, offered his own apology for how news coverage of their 1987 dustup had affected Biden’s campaign.

    How did that apology go, Frank? "I'm sorry that I revealed you to be a thin-skinned bullshitter, sir. With all due respect."

  • CNN "Senior Washington Correspondent" Jeff Zeleny revealed even older news about Joe Biden: Letters reveal how he sought support of segregationists in fight against busing.

    Joe Biden's road to a third presidential bid has been lined with a series of explanations and apologies, illustrating the challenges of preparing a long record of public service for fresh scrutiny under the spotlight of the 2020 campaign.

    Yet he rarely discusses one of the earliest -- and most controversial -- issues he championed in the Senate: his fight against busing to desegregate schools.

    This all happened circa 1977. And (as it so happens) Biden was kind of right: busing created far more problems than it solved, and it arguably diverted time, resources, and attention from other policies that might have been more effective.

    But (of course) the interesting point here is not 4-decade-old history, but how the Watchdog Press lacked all curiosity on this until now. It would have remarkably "inconvenienced the narrative" if it had been revealed (say) before the 2008 election.

  • At the Miami Herald, Jay Ambrose gripes about disparate impact: Biden hugged, Harris ruined lives. Guess who’s more reviled?. We all know about Biden's Tactile Nukes, but Ambrose reminds us:

    As San Francisco’s district attorney and California’s attorney general, Harris compiled an astonishing record of disregarding legal flubs that stuck people in prison as she then insisted they stay there. In effect, she shoved due process in a paper shredder by way of technicalities, thereby enabling the ruin of people who, in some instances, were likely innocent. We’re not talking about emotional disturbance after a supposed kiss on the back of the head. We’re talking about the prolonged, debilitating torture of prison.

    Harris, smart, tough and quick to offer freebies we can’t afford to citizens perhaps returning the favor at the voting booth, offered little to defendants when she served as a district attorney. She didn’t tell defense attorneys, for instance, that a lab technician had messed with drug evidence by such methods as theft, and so you got convictions based on a fair share of hooey. A judge let 600 of the victims go home despite Harris’s unprincipled protests.

    This is not news to (say) Reason readers, but it might be news to Miami Herald readers.

  • Speaking of Reason, Ira Stoll writes there, claiming Pete Buttigieg Is the Most Interesting Democrat Running for President. Interesting? There are all sorts of ways to be interesting! But let's let Ira tell it, because he attended a couple of Buttigieg events in Boston:

    In more than a few moments, he was downright impressive.

    Facing a question from a tenant-rights activist complaining about Northeastern fueling “gentrification,” he pivoted to an answer about affordable housing that included the words “rethinking exclusionary zoning.”

    That is a big deal coming from a Democratic politician. Left-leaning economists and journalists such as Eduardo Porter, Paul Krugman, and Lawrence Summers have been making this point about zoning restrictions artificially constraining the supply of housing. It’s ideologically consistent with libertarian aversion to regulatory interference in free markets. But politicians have been slow to seize the issue. Another Democratic presidential candidate, Beto O’Rourke, had earlier handled a housing affordability question by talking about aggressive antidiscrimination enforcement by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, leaving me wishing he’d at least also mentioned something about zoning.

    Uh, fine, Ira. You're not wrong about zoning. But is it really a Federal-level, let alone a presidential-level, issue?

  • And then there's another way to be "interesting". And that's discussed by Ben Shapiro at NR: Pete Buttigieg Attacks on Mike Pence Are in Bad Faith.

    Back in 2015, South Bend, Ind.’s mayor, Pete Buttigieg, came out of the closet as a gay man. Asked about the news, Indiana governor, Mike Pence, simply responded, “I hold Mayor Buttigieg in the highest personal regard. I see him as a dedicated public servant and a patriot.”

    A year earlier, Buttigieg had been deployed to Afghanistan as a member of the U.S. Naval Reserve. According to the Indianapolis Star, “a noticeably moved Pence called Buttigieg the day he was driving to the base.”

    There is no evidence that Pence has ever said an unkind word about or done an unkind thing to Buttigieg.

    So, naturally, Buttigieg is attacking Pence as a homophobic bigot nearly every day on the campaign trail. Appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Buttigieg sneered, “He’s nice. If he were here, you would think he’s a nice guy to your face. But he’s also fanatical.” Speaking at the LGBTQ Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch in Washington, Buttigieg tore into Pence’s supposed intolerance: “That’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand. That if you got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me — your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.” This week, Buttigieg tweeted, clearly in reference to Pence, “People will often be polite to you in person, while advancing policies that harm you and your family. You will be polite to them in turn, but you need not stand for such harms. Instead, you push back, honestly and emphatically. So it goes, in the public square.”

    I'm not Pence's biggest fan, but I assume he will continue to exhibit Christian compassion and kindness even to those who revile him.

  • And David Harsanyi provides some news about a declared candidate who is stuck in the sub-1% regions of Betfair betting: Eric Swalwell Claims Kids Live In A Bullet-Riddled Dystopia. The Opposite Is True.

    “First, we must address the single greatest threat to young Americans’ lives: gun violence,” Rep. Eric Swalwell explained in an essay laying out the reasons for his vanity presidential run. “It is astonishing and unacceptable that we have let school massacres become part of daily life.”

    In the real world, guns aren’t even in the vicinity of being the “single greatest threat” in the lives of young people. And school massacres are a rare event that the vast majority of American children will, luckily, never experience—other than those moments when adults subject them to another traumatizing and useless shooting drill or politicians tell them they are in constant mortal danger.

    If it weren't for fear-mongering, would Eric Swalwell have anything to say? Unsurprisingly, he bills himself—proudly!—as "the only candidate calling for a mandatory national ban and buyback of military-style semiautomatic assault weapons".

    But did he 'suggest nuking' gun owners who resist confiscation?. Well, yes, sort of. Even left-leaning Snopes is left to claim (with Swalwell) that was a "joke". Hilarious!

    And would someone please buy me the Amazon Product du Jour so I can wear it if Eric Swalwell ever decides to hold a campaign event I can attend?