The Phony Campaign

2019-06-23 Update

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The wise punters at Betfair have sorted the Democratic candidates into four tiers: (1) Joe, the putative favorite (WinProb 14.7%); (2) contenders Fauxcohantas, Bernie, Mayor Pete, Kamala (WinProbs 6.3-7.3%); longshots Beto! and Andrew Yang (2.1-3.2%); (4) everyone else (less than 2%).

Hey, maybe the debates this coming Wednesday and Thursday will shake things up! The Bezos Bulletin reports: Democrats try for a ratings blockbuster during two nights of presidential campaign debates. Oooh, blockbuster. Which, let us recall, was originally a synonym for "big ass bomb".

The rules seem stacked against fun:

The candidates will not be allowed opening statements, props or prepared notes onstage, but there will be 45-second closing statements, according to debate rules circulated by moderator NBC News. The candidates will get timing lights, water to drink and pens and paper, as well as a chance to use the bathroom during longer commercial breaks. NBC has refused to rule out the possibility of a lightning round, according to multiple campaigns.

Zzz. What I want to see is a Jeopardy!-style test of current events, science, economics, and basic civics. That would be interesting, a real-life Saturday Night Live skit. But it's not in the cards. And nobody's paying me extravagant sums of money to watch, so I will not.

In phony standings, Bernie got an impressive bump this week, moving into a solid second place:

Candidate WinProb Change
Donald Trump 45.2% -1.3% 2,120,000 -50,000
Bernie Sanders 6.7% +0.1% 1,410,000 +570,000
Pete Buttigieg 6.4% -0.4% 1,220,000 -580,000
Joe Biden 14.7% -1.8% 1,000,000 +319,000
Elizabeth Warren 7.3% +0.2% 206,000 -17,000
Kamala Harris 6.3% +1.0% 94,000 +4,000
Beto O'Rourke 2.1% -0.1% 70,100 +3,500
Andrew Yang 3.2% +0.5% 20,900 -2,800

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

  • At National Review Kevin D. Williamson reported on Joe and the Segs. (NRPLUS article, I don't know what that means for peon-visibility).

    Joe Biden has stepped in it, good and deep.

    Biden, if he has any hope of ever being elected president, will be dependent on residual goodwill among African Americans from his time as Barack Obama’s loyal and deferential vice president — so deferential, in fact, that he stood aside for Herself in 2016 even though this was obviously against his wishes.

    This makes his recent sentimental reminiscing about his cordial relations with Democratic segregationists in the Senate particularly ill-advised. He was not really wrong in anything he said — and it is not often you get to write that about Joe Biden — but in our time politics is less about ideas and policy and more about . . . cooties. Senator Biden sometimes went to lunch with Senator Talmadge, a Georgia Democrat and a committed segregationist. For the modern progressive, that is an unforgivable sin — the correct reaction, they believe, is to point at the other guy and shriek like Donald Sutherland at the end of Invasion of the Body-Snatchers.

    If you can see it, Kevin provides a good ideological/political history of the Democratic Party's "frank and energetic racism".

  • Jonah Goldberg notes that, when it comes to getting re-elected, Trump's Personality Is His Biggest Obstacle.

    “What’s your pitch to the swing voter on the fence?” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked President Trump on Sunday.

    Comment: Stephanopoulos was perhaps trying for the coveted "Most Muddled Metaphor" prize with that question. Very "inside baseball"!

    Trump’s initial answer started off following the standard script. He got four words off that must have had his political advisors cheering, “Safety, security, great economy.”

    Ideally, this is where Trump should have stopped talking.

    But the president kept going, boasting that he won 52% of the women’s vote in 2016 — he didn’t, that was the white woman vote; he got 41% of women overall. Then Trump talked some more about how the economy would help him with minorities.

    “So,” Stephanopoulos asked, “that’s the pitch?”

    Trump briefly got back on message. “No, I have no pitch. You know what I have? The economy is phenomenal. We've rebuilt our military. We're taking care of our vets. We're doing the best job that anybody's done probably as a first-term president … .”

    This was another good place to stop. But he was only getting warmed up: “I have a phony witch hunt, which is just a phony pile of stuff. Mueller comes out. There's no collusion. And essentially a ruling that no obstruction.”

    As Jonah notes, Donald Trump wants the election to be about what Donald Trump considers to be the most important issue. Which is: Donald Trump.

    And if he's successful in doing that, he will lose. Because if there is one issue on which a large majority of the voting population agree, it is: Donald Trump is not a good person.

  • At Reason, Scott Shackford notes that, Apparently, Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Know the Difference Between Revenue and Profit. And, well, the evidence Tweets for itself:

    In the tweet, Sanders confuses "revenue" with "profit." This is not an insignificant mistake, but it's one that is common in reporting about large American corporations. All too often, reporters talk about how much money a company takes in without offering any analysis of that company's expenses. Amazon, for example, despite massive revenues has only recently begun making an actual profit. In the Time story that Sanders links to, writer Alana Semuels similarly fails to differentiate between revenue and profit when covering the efforts to organize.

    Scott notes that Bernie has a "long history of failing to grasp the basics of market economics." Belaboring the obvious, but it's a good idea to remind people of that.

  • The Daily Beacon reports on some of the candidates' responses to the query posed by the NYT: Does anyone deserve to have a billion dollars? O'Rourke: 'I Don't Know That Anybody Deserves to Have a Billion Dollars'.

    "I don't know that anyone deserves to have a billion dollars," O'Rourke told the Times when asked if anyone deserves to have that much money.

    It is unclear if O'Rourke thinks his father-in-law, who is estimated to be worth $500 million, deserves his money.

    Modest proposal: The New York Times should ask more specific questions, like: "Does Carlos Slim, the largest single shareholder of The New York Times Company, deserve to have a net worth of $63.1 billion?"

  • Back to Joe Biden for our last item, from Politico: Biden appears to be softening his stance on the death penalty.

    Joe Biden said in a 1992 speech that criminal justice legislation he was pushing was so strict that “we do everything but hang people for jaywalking.” Two years later, his signature crime bill made dozens of additional offenses punishable by death.

    But in a little-noticed remark earlier this month in New Hampshire, the Democratic presidential front-runner seemed to offer a decidedly different stance on the death penalty.

    Fielding a question from a voter aligned with the American Civil Liberties Union about how he’d reduce the federal prison population, Biden gave a long and winding answer: He defended his crime bill, advocated for reforms to the criminal justice system involving nonviolent and drug offenders, and said he was proud of his work with President Barack Obama to cut the federal prison population by 3,800.

    Then, unprompted, Biden added: “By the way, congratulations to ya’ll ending the death penalty here.”

    Ya'll? Well, first, that's wrong, Politico.

    And: geez, Joe. Where did you think you were, South Carolina? If you're gonna condescend to Granite State Democrats, try something like:

    "Ayuh, as I told my wife, Dr. Jill Biden, while we were having a coupla Hoodsie cups, New Hampsha repealing that death penalty thing was wicked pissah."