The Phony Campaign

2020-05-10 Update

Mr. Ramirez, if you please:

[Tara Who?]

The oddsmakers have cooled slightly on the probabilitly of President Hillary Clinton come January 2021, but she's still hanging in above our 2% inclusion threshold. Bubbling underneath, if you're interested in long shots: Andrew Cuomo (1.7%), Mike Pence (1.0%), Michelle Obama (0.8%), and good old Bernie (0.6%). Speculation on the scenarios playing out in peoples' heads is fun. Go at it.

And as far as phoniness goes, Google says President Bone Spurs showed considerable improvement, widening his already ample lead over the week:

Candidate WinProb Change
Donald Trump 49.0% +0.5% 2,280,000 +990,000
Joe Biden 42.1% +0.1% 651,000 +267,000
Hillary Clinton 2.7% -0.8% 613,000 +94,000

Warning: Google result counts are bogus.

  • I knpw she never appeared on our list, but this bit from Jazz Shaw at Hot Air about a campaign untethered from reality is too good to pass up: The Marianne Williamson zombie campaign marches on, screwing over vendors.

    The candidate who was going to defeat Donald Trump “with love” isn’t showing much compassion to vendors who engaged with her campaign. In case you’d already forgotten about her, spiritual guru Marianne Williamson spent some time running for president last year. She withdrew from the race in January, suspending her campaign operations and removing one of the more entertaining aspects of an otherwise dismal primary. (Full disclosure: The author was a Marianne Williamson donor. I sent her a dollar to help her qualify for the first debate because I thought she would be hilarious.)

    Speaking of campaign contributions, Williamson took in a fair amount of cash during her pointless bid for the nomination. She also ran up a lot of bills. And that’s the main subject of today’s story. As the New York Post reports, she’s still sitting on a ton of campaign debt and doesn’t appear to have any intention of making good on those obligations, leaving some smaller vendors in a serious bind. Meanwhile, she’s still racking up campaign expenses for a campaign that supposedly shut down months ago.

    The "love" on which Marianne claimed to have an inside corner seems now to be directed toward her campaign staffers staying in five-star hotels, not so much toward the vendors she's stiffing.

  • At the NYPost, Michael Goodwin is Piecing together the 'phony' case against Michael Flynn.

    The best way to understand the dismissal of the phony prosecution case against Gen. Michael Flynn and the release of secret congressional testimonies is to imagine a giant jigsaw puzzle. We know the final picture will show a broad conspiracy by law enforcement and intelligence agencies under Barack Obama to undermine Donald Trump’s campaign and help Hillary Clinton win the 2016 election.

    When that failed, many of those same people turned their efforts to sabotaging Trump’s presidency. Some are still at it.

    Goodness knows I'm not a Trump fan, but it seems pretty clear that the Obama Administration, getting off pretty much scot-free from turning the IRS into a political weapon against its opponents, decided to double down with the DOJ/FBI.

  • Not only were the instruments of law corrupted in going after Orange Man, but also the instruments of mental health. Because, as Jacob Sullum notes at Reason, We Don’t Need a Psychiatric Diagnosis To Assess the President’s Obvious Faults.

    Anti-Trump D.C. lawyer George Conway, who somehow has managed to remain married to senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, offers a characteristically harsh take on the president in a recent Washington Post op-ed piece. His assessment of Donald Trump as a narcissistic, erratic, impulsive, mendacious, petty bully with modest intellectual abilities is familiar and, I think, essentially accurate. But in the midst of describing the conspicuous evidence of these character traits, Conway tries to bolster his portrayal by citing "tens of thousands of mental-health professionals" who have "test[ed] the bounds of professional ethics" by "warn[ing] for years about Trump's unfitness for office."

    Far from clinching Conway's evaluation, that citation makes it less credible. If Trump's "unfitness for office" is as glaringly obvious as Conway argues, why would we need "mental-health professionals" to verify that conclusion? And what do those experts add to our understanding of Trump's manifold shortcomings, which were clear long before he was elected and have been on public display every day of his presidency? Absolutely nothing. By dressing up a political judgment as a quasi-medical diagnosis, Conway, who describes Trump as "deranged" and "nuts," clouds the issue while alienating anyone who is appropriately skeptical of psychiatry's audacious claim to dominion over all human foibles and failings.

    What I've long found credible: most politicians, especially those arising to national prominence, are obviously several sigma outside the norm on many mental characteristics. Does that make them "crazy"? Increasingly, that seems to be an arbitrary distinction without a lot of scientific basis.

  • Michael Brendan Dougherty looks at The Vaporware Presidency.

    The status of the COVID-19 fight is this: In the win column, the American people have made tremendous sacrifices and succeeded in saving our hospital systems from the overwhelm that drove up fatality rates in Northern Italy and Wuhan, China; in the loss column, the federal government has failed to stand up a “test and trace” system that would warn the exposed and quarantine the sick, rather than quarantining everyone.

    There’s a term in Silicon Valley for software that’s advertised before anyone can guarantee it will even exist. It’s called “vaporware.” Much of the federal government’s response to the crisis has been vaporware. We’ve gotten lots of advertising and an implicit promise of a world-class operation to fight the disease. But it doesn’t exist yet and it’s becoming clearer that the White House is spinning its wheels, looking for something — anything — to do other than solving the crisis at hand.

    As has been clear … well, ever since he came into our awareness, Trump is obsessed with his own image. His skills in managing a large, complex organization to the end of accomplishing an important task are effectively absent.

    Ah, well, it's not as if people are dying… oh, wait, they are.

  • On that note, Alex Berezow of the American Council on Science and Health has observations on Coronavirus, Trump, and Our Dangerous Social Pathology.

    The conservative Fox News commentator Brit Hume likes to say (paraphrased) that President Trump's biggest flaw is that he thinks everything is about him; his critics' biggest flaw is that they agree.

    That statement succinctly summarizes what I believe has become a dangerous social pathology, namely, that we as Americans pin our collective hope and hatred on a single person, the President of the United States. This problem precedes Donald Trump, but the coronavirus pandemic has greatly intensified it.

    I see Alex's point, and agree somewhat. But (see above) when the President's narcissism and demands for loyalty surrounds him with incompetent yes-men, that can (and probably does) damage an effective crisis response.

  • Ah, but then there's Joe. KC Johnson (a longtime commentator on campus sex stuff) looks at Joe Biden’s Hypocritic Denial of DeVos’s New Title IX Regulations.

    Normally, it would be unremarkable to hear the opposition party’s presumptive presidential nominee criticize a major policy initiative of the incumbent administration. But Joe Biden’s public repudiation of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s new Title IX regulations was not a normal circumstance. After several days in which Biden and key Democratic allies celebrated the importance of due process in evaluating sexual-assault allegations, Biden denounced DeVos’s own efforts to ensure that accused college students receive fair procedures. Even in an era of heightened political cynicism, the apparent hypocrisy was striking.

    At one level, Biden’s reaction was understandable, since the new regulations undid an Obama-era initiative in which Biden was the key player. Convinced that male students typically stood by as they saw “a brother taking a drunk freshman coed up the stairs to his room,” Biden oversaw a multiyear effort to use Title IX tribunals to “change the culture” on campus. Due process, the rights of the accused, or the possibility of false allegations appeared in no public speeches that he gave on the topic; indeed, the concepts were obstacles to his goal. Too many not-guilty findings wouldn’t produce the needed change.

    So it's pretty clear that a Biden Administration would (shamelessly) drag us back to the bad old days.

  • And a number of folks noted this tweet from the APStylebook on Twitter.

    And what these folks are saying: this is a just-in-case prophylactic against the M-word appearing in news stories if Biden chooses Kamala as his running mate. Let's just make that a word polite people don't use.