The Phony Campaign

2020-03-08 Update

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Wow, what a difference a week makes. Our field of Four Old White Guys has become a field of Three Old White Guys with the departure of Mike Bloomberg, who (as it turns out) could not get it done.

And so much for the prediction power of betting markets. For all their alleged wisdom, the bettors failed to foresee Wheezy Joe Biden's comeback. Despite Joe's continuing battle with coherent thought, he and Comrade Bernie neatly switched places in the Win-probability standings. The net probability change between Joe and Bernie over the past week is about 46 percentage points.

And the likelihood of having a Trump/Biden election in November instead of Trump/Sanders shaved about four percentage points off the probability of a second Trump term.

Biden and Trump "lost" about 11 million Google phony hits over the week. Poof. Just disappeared. Trump still maintains a comfortable lead, though.

Candidate WinProb Change
Since
3/1
Phony
Results
Change
Since
3/1
Donald Trump 52.4% -4.1% 1,630,000 -5,740,000
Bernie Sanders 4.1% -18.6% 456,000 -5,634,000
Joe Biden 38.8% +27.7% 442,000 +39,000

Warning: Google result counts are bogus.

  • At the Federalist, Christopher Jacobs summons up an epitaph for a failed campaign: Mike Bloomberg Ran For President Like Mr. Burns Ran For Governor. If you need it, Christopher provides a synopsis of that wonderful Simpsons episode, "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish" from 1990 (aka "back when The Simpsons was funny"). But here's the comparison:

    As with Burns, Bloomberg’s campaign seemed designed for him to win the presidency without leaving a television studio. He entered the campaign very late—ostensibly because he developed second thoughts about whether former Vice President Joe Biden could win, but perhaps because he never wanted to bother himself with retail politicking (i.e., interactions with actual voters) in early states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

    While Bloomberg thought he could float above it all with hundreds of millions of dollars in ads, the first time he received a serious challenge—in the form of his fellow candidates on stage in Las Vegas—all his prior shortcomings came to the fore: His history of offensive comments towards women, his lack of transparency, and his sudden flip-flop regarding his policing policies while mayor of New York.

    In the morality play of an animated drama, the fictitious Mr. Burns found out the hard way that, try as he might, he ultimately couldn’t hide from voters—or his history. Bloomberg learned the same difficult lesson in Nevada, in a way that foreshadowed his candidacy would suffer the same ignominious end.

    Our Amazon Product du Jour is an adorable Blinky keychain, which will only set you back a mere $79.99.


  • Also dropping out of the race this week was Senator Elizabeth Warren. Katie Herzog has the campaign obituary at Reason: Sexism Didn’t Kill the Warren Campaign. The Warren Campaign Killed the Warren Campaign. In case you were wondering.

    The candidate herself addressed the issue of sexism at a press conference outside her home Thursday, when a reporter asked about the role gender (née "sex") played in the campaign.

    "Gender in this race?" Warren said. "You know, that's the trap question for everyone. If you say, 'Yeah, there was sexism in this race,' everyone says, 'Whiner!' If you say there was no sexism, about a bazillion women think, 'What planet do you live on?'"

    I live on the planet where the Democratic electorate chose a woman to be their candidate in 2016—and where that same woman won the popular vote. I suppose it's possible that the last four years of President Donald Trump have turned Democrats more sexist than they were before, but did that just temporarily stop for the several months Warren was at the top of the polls before Democrats realized they actually don't want a woman after all? I doubt it.

    There's a simpler hypothesis: she was off-putting.


  • Bernie's still alive, though. But (really) the mainstream knives are out for him. I can't help but wonder why Fareed Zakaria waited until now to let us know about Bernie Sanders’s Scandinavian fantasy.

    Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says that his proposals “are not radical,” pointing again and again to countries in Northern Europe such as Denmark, Sweden and Norway as examples of the kind of economic system he wants to bring to the United States. The image he conjures up is of a warm and fuzzy social democracy in which market economics are kept on a tight leash through regulation, the rich are heavily taxed and the social safety net is generous. That is, however, an inaccurate and highly misleading description of those Northern European countries today.

    Take billionaires. Sanders has been clear on the topic: “Billionaires should not exist.” But Sweden and Norway both have more billionaires per capita than the United States — Sweden almost twice as many. Not only that, these billionaires are able to pass on their wealth to their children tax-free. Inheritance taxes in Sweden and Norway are zero, and in Denmark 15 percent. The United States, by contrast, has the fourth-highest estate taxes in the industrialized world at 40 percent.

    More Scandinavian fun facts at the link. A useful article to have ready when some Facebook progressive starts touting them as countries to emulate.


  • One reason Bernie's still a viable candidate is that Wheezy Joe could gaffe his way out of contention. Tristan Justice at the Federalist has the unenviable job of noting the slipups, and here's an unforgivable one: Joe Biden Forgets The Declaration Of Independence.

    Former Vice President Joe Biden appeared to forget words to the Declaration of Independence Monday during a campaign stop in Texas, the day before Super Tuesday primaries.

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” Biden began before trailing off to forget the rest of the line. “All men and women created by- go- you know- you know the thing.”

    I just tested myself, and—yay, not senile yet—was able to get the quote correct without peeking.

    This is good news, because yesterday I was confronted with a WSJ acrostic clue: "Oscar nominee as Karen Blixen, Julia Child and Margaret Thatcher (2 wds.)" I immediately knew who that was, saw her in my head, I could name at least a dozen other movies she's been in, but it took me a disappointingly long time to remember her stupid name. If I ever get on Jeopardy!, I predict dreadful embarrassment.


  • Oh well. At NR Kyle Smith has an observation: Joe Biden's Super Tuesday Resurgence Should Make Democrats Very Nervous.

    So, let me get this straight.

    After a year of campaigning, discussion, and debate among the Democrats, as of early February the party had decided Joe Biden was the favorite for its presidential nomination: He led in 19 of the 21 national polls taken before the Iowa caucuses. Then people started to vote, and it turned out they didn’t like Biden at all. He finished fourth in Iowa, fifth in New Hampshire, and a distant second in Nevada. As of last week, the Democrats had decided to be an openly socialist party: Bernie Sanders led 20 consecutive national polls after Iowa, half of them by double digits. And then, this week, Democrats decided not to be socialist after all: They just gave Biden, the doddering avatar of the party establishment, a resounding Super Tuesday victory.

    Maybe the Democrats really have no actual policy except beating Donald Trump. Biden and Sanders haven’t been saying anything new this year. (Though it’s possible voters were unaware that Sanders was so extreme he would — in 2020! —go as far as publicly defending Fidel Castro’s Cuba in both a 60 Minutes segment and the South Carolina debate). The thing that has changed twice is voting momentum and its attendant publicity. Sanders rocketed up in the polls when he looked like a winner, and Biden surpassed him after building momentum from a blowout win in South Carolina. Mike Bloomberg looked like a loser from the moment Elizabeth Warren tenderized him in the Las Vegas debate, and today dropped out after spending $500 million to win American Samoa.

    Fun fact: American Samoa has only been mentioned once previously on this blog, back in 2013, where we (for some reason) looked up the legislation

    Stop Tobacco Smuggling in the Territories Act of 2013 - Amends the federal criminal code to include American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam in the definition of "state" for purposes of provisions prohibiting trafficking in contraband cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.

    Thanks goodness for that.


  • Also at NR, Kevin D. Williamson looks at Joe Biden: Not a Socialist, Just a Scoundrel.

    He is a vicious self-serving political hack, for one thing, one whose ambition leads him from time to time into shocking indecency. You may have heard that Biden lost his wife and daughter in a horrifying drunk-driving wreck, the fault of a monster of a man who irresponsibly “drank his lunch,” as Biden puts it.

    Never happened.

    Biden’s wife and daughter did, in fact, die in a car wreck. That is true. It is not true that the driver of the other car was drunk, that he had been drinking, or that there was any reason to believe he was drunk or had been drinking — or even that he was at fault. The late Mrs. Biden “drove into the path of [the] tractor-trailer,” the police report says. But Biden, like every other third-rate ward-heeler of his ilk, thinks and speaks only in terms of good guys and bad guys, white hats and black hats — and if something bad happens to good people, then it must be because somebody in a black hat did something nefarious. The driver of that truck went to his grave haunted by Biden’s lies, to the point where his children were forced to beg the vice president to stop defaming their late father. The casual cruelty with which Biden is willing to subordinate the lives of ordinary people to his political ambitions — for the sake of a petty tear-jerker line in one of his occasionally plagiarized stump speeches — is remarkable.

    When you are utterly convinced of your own self-righteousness, ordinary checks on behavior can wane.