The Phony Campaign

2020-10-04 Update

[Amazon Link]

Yeah. Sometimes you want to just shout it out to the world: Whoa!

(And our Amazon Product du Jour allows you to do that for a mere $37.77 as I type.)

It was, to put it mildly, not a great week for President Donald J. Trump at the betting markets. His Tuesday debate performance gave Biden a boost. (And Biden's failure to display any obvious incoherence—at least any unusual incoherence—didn't help Trump either.)

And then the Covid-19 diagnosis. The bettors really jumped on that.

We usually look at the probability gap, and that swung by a net 16.6 percentage points in Biden's favor over the week. And Mike Pence reappears in our standings for the first time since March, with a 2.1% probability of taking the Presidential reins come January 2021.

You'll note that the probabilities displayed by the betting markets don't come close to adding up to 100%. I think this means you could make some money (possibly legally) by betting the entire field. Assuming that nothing even crazier happens between now and … I don't know when.

Candidate WinProb Change
Since
9/27
Phony
Results
Change
Since
9/27
Donald Trump 30.9% -12.6% 2,180,000 +640,000
Joe Biden 57.9% +4.0% 815,000 +246,000
Mike Pence 2.1% --- 489,000 ---
Jo Jorgensen 0.0% unch 145,000 +19,000
Howie Hawkins 0.0% unch 25,600 +4,300

Warning: Google result counts are bogus.

  • To remind us of how (relatively) normal things looked like last Monday, Amber Athey wrote in the Spectator: The Trump campaign’s best line of attack against Joe Biden.

    The one attack line for which Biden has not surmounted a reasonable defense is that he is a phony. Biden spent his early childhood in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and his once-wealthy father fell on hard times and had to clean boilers for some time, prompting the family’s move to Wilmington, Delaware. But that’s about as far as his working-class roots run. Biden went on to law school and was first elected senator at the age of 29. Biden’s long-running political career since then has been characterized by his support of policies that sold out blue-collar America and his embellishments of his record and background.

    It was, remember, Biden’s dishonesty that sunk his promising 1988 campaign for president. The candidate lifted entire phrases from a speech by British Labour party politician Neil Kinnock. Conveniently, Biden’s plagiarized speech was intended to demonstrate that he was a champion for the working man:

    ‘Why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go to a university?… Is it because I’m the first Biden in a thousand generations to get a college and a graduate degree? That I was smarter than the rest? Those same people who read poetry and wrote poetry and taught me how to sing verse? Is it because they didn’t work hard? My ancestors, who worked in the coal mines of northeast Pennsylvania and would come up after 12 hours and play football for four hours?’

    It quickly came to light that this wasn’t the first time Biden had taken credit for other people’s work — he had failed a class in law school after being accused of using five pages of a law review article without attribution. And other political speeches, Biden had ripped off Robert F. Kennedy’s populist message warning against using the GDP as an indicator of national health and Hubert Humphrey’s famous passage about taking care of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens.

    Here's one drawback to the "Biden is a phony" attack: the person who would have to make it is Donald J. "Bone Spurs" Trump.


  • Reason magazine has done America a solid favor by bringing out a couple articles from the latest print edition. First up is Matt Welch with The Case Against Trump.

    Focusing on Trump's deeds, instead of words, from Inauguration Day until just before the first reported U.S. death from COVID-19 on February 29, is a clarifying, even liberating, exercise. At a time when so much of American discourse is about symbolism instead of policy, adjectives instead of nouns, feelings instead of facts, this approach waves away the toxic political fog and drills down into the bedrock of this presidency. What has the Manhattan real estate developer actually built in Washington; how has that already impacted the lives of his constituents; and what lasting changes are likely if his job performance is ratified by the voting public in November?

    Working through those questions will produce different answers for everyone, but here's a preview of mine: On the broad federal issues I care about most—limiting the size and scope of government, protecting individual liberties, allowing for peaceable exchange between willing partners, and contributing to international peace and human flourishing—Trump has been not just passively suboptimal but actively malign. Rewarding his record will cement bad policy and complete the Republican Party's transformation into a vehicle for big-government nationalism that's openly suspicious of free markets and perceived enemies.

    Yeah, I miss the days when the GOP at least pretended to care about those things.


  • But here's Jacob Sullum, in the same issue, with The Case Against Biden.

    During a Democratic presidential debate last year, Cory Booker weaponized one of Joe Biden's proudest accomplishments. The New Jersey senator noted that the former vice president, who represented Delaware in the Senate for 36 years, "has said that, since the 1970s, every major crime bill—every crime bill, major and minor—has had his name on it."

    Said was an understatement. Biden has not just noted his leading role in passing those laws; he has crowed about it repeatedly over the years, throwing it in the face of Republicans who dared to think they could be tougher on crime and fellow Democrats he viewed as too soft. Now here he was, after a notable shift in public opinion about criminal justice issues, bemoaning the excessively, arbitrarily punitive policies he had zealously promoted for decades.

    "The house was set on fire, and you claimed responsibility for those laws," Booker continued. "You can't just now come out with a plan to put out that fire."

    Jacob notes a recurring theme with Wheezy Joe: "Even when Biden changes his positions—as he has on issues such as gay marriage, immigration, the Iraq war, and the death penalty, as well as drug policy and mandatory minimum sentences—he tends to rewrite history, saying he only did what everybody else was doing, implying that he acted based on the best information available at the time, or suggesting that he voted strategically to prevent even worse outcomes."


  • Philip Greenspun observes and asks, from that state to our immediate south, whether Trump’s date with coronavirus proves that He gives shape and meaning to Democrats’ lives?.

    Donald Trump has given us additional evidence that the Swedish MD/PhDs were correct when they said, back in March, that nearly everyone in western countries would eventually be exposed to coronavirus and that shutdowns and hiding in bunkers merely delay the inevitable.

    Unlike Jair Bolsonaro, however, Trump did not say “I gave the finger to the virus back in March so now I’m just going to recover at home.” Instead, by going to Walter Reed he is apparently hoping to prove that coronavirus is a mild disease from which anyone who has a helicopter, 50 physicians, and four experimental drugs with limited availability can easily recover.

    Phil (like me) has a lot of Democrat Facebook friends. Unlike me, he hasn't unfollowed them, but I believe his take: "They are careful to point out that they don’t want Trump dead. They want him to live so that they can then concentrate on prosecuting and imprisoning him for his crimes in a multi-year process that will begin in January 2021."


  • And David Harsanyi has a word today, from the NYPost: Joe Biden ready to stand for whatever you want him to.

    Lost in the blinding gaslighting over President Trump’s remarks about white supremacists during this week’s presidential debate was the fact that Joe Biden proved again that he’s little more than a stand-in propped up by a compliant political press.

    Biden was unable to answer even the most rudimentary queries about his beliefs, never mind specifics about policy. Apologies to the Twitter expert class, but opposing Donald Trump is neither a moral doctrine nor a policy agenda.

    Biden has one redeeming, and irrefutable, quality: he's not Trump. And that may be enough this time around.


  • And John Sexton (Hot Air) goes spelunking among the Trump-COVID truthers: Michael Moore and others on the left suggest Trump is faking illness.

    I mentioned this last night, but there’s a significant number of people on the left who are expressing skepticism of President Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis. I saw random people on Twitter expressing this last night and figured it would die down by this morning. That doesn’t seem to be the case. On the contrary it seems to have picked up steam overnight, enough that even some people on the left are calling it out. Here’s Joy Reid saying it’s a lot of what friends are saying to her in text messages:

    S'truth: here's Joy, to the world:

    John provides a bunch more examples, including the headline-promised Moore example.

    My (additional) observation: I've noticed the lefty fascination/obsession with the nutbars at QAnon. For example, searching at the Wired website gives 84 results (as I type, maybe more in the pipeline). Some examples of its reporting on the QAnon Menance:

    A certain fraction of humanity will be susceptible to lunatic conspiracy theorizing. And that's independent of politics.

    However, confirmation bias is also universal, independent of politics. So Wired (and the MSM generally) will largely ignore the leftwing looniness. They certainly won't demand that Facebook/Twitter/YouTube/etc shut down Joy Reid and Michael Moore for promulgating their own brand of paranoia.