The Phony Campaign

2015-04-12 Update

[phony baloney]

It looks as if Hillary is officially getting into the race today. The official response among people betting actual money on the outcome was… to wager a little more heavily on some other Democrat to win. Martin O'Malley (as I type) is given a 2.3% chance of becoming our next president, and Joe Biden is coming in at 2.0%. So by our (arbitrary) standards (2% or above), we welcome them both to the phony standings:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Jeb Bush" phony 775,000 +12,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 386,000 +4,000
"Rand Paul" phony 198,000 +46,000
"Joe Biden" phony 145,000 ---
"Scott Walker" phony 109,000 -6,000
"Martin O'Malley" phony 92,100 ---
"Marco Rubio" phony 83,700 -1,400
"Elizabeth Warren" phony 76,800 -4,800

On the Ted Cruz watch? PredictWise says his odds are improving! From 1.5% last week to… a solid 1.8% this week! Hang in there, Ted!

  • Even though The New Republic is kind of a bad joke these days, I am obligated to mention a recent article by Elspeth Reeve appearing there: "Hillary Clinton Needs to Be More Fake". Really? Well, here's the argument, I think: Hillary was "real" back when Bill was running for president. And, while some people found it appealing, most were turned off. Ms. Reeve concludes:

    To become more “authentic,” Hillary must become even more fake, set us at ease by playing to all the dumb tropes of the popular portrait of the everywoman—one who is devoted to slopwave food (premium juice, premium oatmeal, kale slurry) but is a little embarrassed about it. A wacky career gal who is unlucky in ... something. Clinton should consider tripping publicly, perhaps while eating yogurt. Then laugh really loud, but not inauthentically loud. The only thing worse than being fake in politics is being real.

    Perceptive commentary or barely coherent drivel? You make the call!

    The blurb at the end claims Elspeth Reeve is a senior editor at The New Republic. And she couldn't get away with lying about that, could she?

  • Also welcoming Hillary's Official Announcement was Ian Tuttle at National Review: "Hillary Clinton’s Truman Show Campaign".

    For decades, Hillary Clinton has had her entire life scripted. She has existed in a world insulated by handlers and managers and “her people,” all of whom are employed for the overarching purpose of mediating her engagement with the calamitous world “out there.” Yet every time the bubble is pricked, and we no longer have to see Hillary Clinton through limousine glass darkly, we rediscover her vices — her obsessive secretiveness, her arrogance, her shrewish treatment even of those closest to her — and the unmistakable fact that she is simply not equipped to deal with the world unmediated.

    As you would expect a right-wing troglodyte to say: Ian Tuttle is on-target here. I wonder if low-info voters will catch on?

  • We couldn't let this NYT report go by: "Jeb Bush Listed Himself as ‘Hispanic’ on Voter Form".

    The NYT (somewhat surprisingly) compares this to Elizabeth Warren's self-identification as Native American. But that misrepresentation (as Ian Tuttle notes) helped Warren gain traction on academia's slippery promotion slope; there doesn't seem to have been any obvious benefit for Jeb to fib to the voter-registration officials. So does it imply anything? At Power Line, Paul Mirengoff speculates that it was a Freudian slip. David Frum is quoted:

    Both Jeb Bush and Barack Obama are men who have openly and publicly struggled with their ambivalence about their family inheritance. Both responded by leaving the place of their youth to create new identities for themselves: Barack Obama, as an organizer in the poor African-American neighborhoods of Chicago; Jeb Bush in Mexico, Venezuela, and at last in Cuban-influenced Miami. Both are men who have talked a great deal about the feeling of being “between two worlds”: Obama, in his famous autobiography; Bush, in his speeches. Both chose wives who would more deeply connect them to their new chosen identity. Both derived from their new identity a sharp critique of their nation as it is. Both have built their campaign for president upon a deep commitment to fundamental transformation of their nation into what they believe it should be.

    (I have duplicated the emphasis that Mirengoff added to Frum's words.)

    At National Review, Mark Krikorian believes that this was Jeb's way of "subscribing to the tribalism that … has replaced color-blindness and assimilationism". Maybe. I like his further point:

    But rather than pick on Señor Arbusto (sorry!), it’s more productive to use the incident as a teachable moment (ugh!). Jeb’s fakery suggests why we should abolish government racial and ethnic categories, building a wall of separation, as it were, between race and state, as we do between church and state. No one would think of asking your religion on a voter-registration form or job application — in fact, it’s illegal. So should it be for other attributes that are irrelevant to the content of your character — hair color, say, or handedness or what country your grandparents came from.

    Mr Krikorian and Pun Salad have been in agreement on this for years.

  • Another must-read for students of political phoniness this week: Dartmouth's own Brendan Nyhan in the NYT explains "How Scott Walker Has Escaped the ‘Inauthentic’ Label So Far" Among the insights, after summarizing the recent history of (successful and unsuccessful) political phoniness:

    It also helps that Governor Walker is likely to become a better political performer than Mr. Romney or Mr. Kerry ever were. Candidates who seem too programmed appear to fall in the uncanny valley between politicians and regular people, which reminds the news media that all candidates are artificial and sets off a search for (often dubious) evidence of their inauthenticity. By contrast, more skilled performers like George W. Bush or Fred Thompson can attempt wholesale reinventions and face less scrutiny.

    I will only quibble that "skilled performer" Fred Thompson's 2008 campaign went pretty much nowhere.

  • At Hot Air, the headline of Allahpundit's article about Rand Paul's South Carolina campaign is chuckle-worthy: "Anti-war candidate gives speech in front of big-ass warship"

    At Reason, Nick Gillespie used the occasion and the theatrics to ask: "Has Rand Paul Turned Into a Neocon Hawk?". (Spoiler: no, not really.)

Last Modified 2015-04-15 5:45 AM EDT