The Phony Campaign

2015-04-19 Update

[phony baloney]

Last week's O'Malley/Biden boomlet at Predictwise fizzled out this week, as their Oval Office Occupancy probabilities have dropped to 1.5% and 1.1%, respectively. So, by our arbitrary cutoff of 2%, they're outta here:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Jeb Bush" phony 1,970,000 +1,195,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 511,000 +125,000
"Rand Paul" phony 227,000 +29,000
"Marco Rubio" phony 160,000 +76,300
"Scott Walker" phony 114,000 +5,000
"Elizabeth Warren" phony 95,500 +18,700

And what of Ted Cruz? He was tantalizingly close to inclusion last week at 1.8%. But as I type, his odds have gone back to the are-you-kidding level: 0.9%. Ted's poor impressions of characters from his favorite episodes of The Simpsons may have contributed to this fade.

But when it comes to phoniness, everyone's a sure thing:

  • On Monday, Hillary went to a Chipotle in Maumee, Ohio. The media picked up this momentous story and ran with it. She eats! At Vox, Matthew Yglesias called it "the dumbest media frenzy of 2016 (so far)". That did not stop him from writing about it, though.

  • Hillary's phoniness got talked about a lot this week. Michael Walsh was especially acerbic in "The Sham Candidacy of Hillary Clinton — and What It Means for the Republic".

    Let us please stipulate that in a rational world, a woman like Hillary Rodham Clinton would have absolutely no chance of being nominated for, much less elected, president of the United States. She has achieved nothing, accomplished nothing (unless you count the four dead Americans at Benghazi, for which she will ultimately be held responsible); she is an exremely [sic] poor public speaker, full of annoying verbal and physical tics; she is legendarily dishonest; she is a hard-core Alinskyite; and in general a wretched human being. By rights, she should be laughed off the stage, the same way the smart set laughed at Lurleen Wallace, who succeeded her husband George Wallace, the racist Democrat, as governor of Alabama back in 1967. She has no natural political constituency, except the manufactured “women’s vote,” and no rationale for her candidacy except that it’s “time” for a woman president, just as it was “time” for a part-black African, part-Arab, half-white, paternally cultural Muslim to pass for a traditional African-American Christian and be elected president in 2008.

  • At Power Line, Paul Mirengoff discussed Hillary's Wednesday lie that all her grandparents were immigrants. (This took approximately 40 seconds to be debunked: only one of her grandparents was born outside the US.)

    Why did Clinton lie about her grandparents? Perhaps because she wanted to show an authentic connection to the American experience.

    Unfortunately for Clinton, the more desperately she seeks to demonstrate authenticity, the more inauthentic she looks.

    As I said a few months back: With Hillary, as with her husband, dishonesty is the default setting.

  • The great Charles Krauthammer worked the topic into an entire column: "Hillary’s Authentic Inauthenticity". This is about as sympathetic as conservatives will get on the issue:

    She doesn’t just get media coverage; she gets meta-coverage. The staging is so obvious that actual events disappear. The story is their symbolism — campaign as semiotics.

    This quality of purposeful abstractness makes everything sound and seem contrived. It’s not really her fault. True, she’s got enough genuine inauthenticity to go around — decades of positioning, framing, parsing, dodging — but the perception is compounded by the obvious staginess of the gigantic political apparatus that surrounds her and directs her movements.

  • Face it: when it comes to phoniness, we could be all-Hillary all the time here. Let's force ourselves away. Jeb Bush was in our fair state this week, and…

    On a New Hampshire radio show Friday morning, Bush acknowledged that campaigning requires a person to reveal "vulnerabilities" and "get outside your comfort zone," two ways of proving that a candidacy is "not all staged in some kind of phony way."

    … demonstrating that Jeb failed to take Jonah Goldberg's advice from a few months back: stop reading your stage directions.

Last Modified 2015-04-20 4:28 AM EDT