The Phony Campaign

2023-05-07 Update

Vivek Ramaswamy has yet to make it into our phony standings; as I type, Election Betting Odds has him a 0.9% chance of winning. And Nick Gillespie notes that he's pretty misguided on an important issue: Vivek Ramaswamy Is Wrong About the National Debt. Video:

And from the transcript at the link:

If you want to get a politician to change the subject, ask them how they're going to deal with the federal debt, which is growing to be bigger than the U.S. gross domestic product and has us on a path to fiscal disaster. Economists across the political spectrum agree that large, persistent, and growing annual deficits and the national debt depress long-term economic growth, the one known way to increase living standards.

As Nick points out, Vivek joins Trump, Biden, and the other pols that refuse to entertain any cuts to entitlement spending, preferring to embrace Pollyanaish fantasies.

And it's not just entitlement reform. Alexander William Salter notes another Vivek whiff: On Fed Reforms, Ramaswamy Swings and Misses.

Vivek Ramaswamy, investor and declared Republican presidential candidate, proposes ambitious Federal Reserve reforms in the pages of the Wall Street Journal. He promises to “[preserve] the US dollar as a stable financial unit to help prevent financial crises and restore robust economic growth.”

Purchasing power stability is all well and good, and there’s a strong economic case for it. Unfortunately, Ramaswamy’s arguments reveal he is unfamiliar with the ins and outs of monetary policy. His suggestions are poorly motivated and won’t result in a stronger economy. He’ll need to do better if he wants to rein in the Fed.

[Amazon Link]
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You can click over for a detailed analysis. Salter is a fan of replacing the Fed's "discretion" (i.e., whims, pushed by politics) with predictable rules. Amazon link at to his book (co-authored with Peter Boettke and Daniel Smith) at your right.

So Vivek isn't likely to get sworn in on January 20, 2025. That mere fact wouldn't stop me from voting for him, because my number one criterion is, and probably will remain, "better than Biden".

In our phony lineup, Nikki Haley has (sigh) once again dropped below our 2% inclusion threshold. But we have two new faces making their first appearances: Robert Kennedy Jr. and—whoa, Nellie—Michelle Obama!

Candidate EBO Win
Hit Count
Ron DeSantis 14.1% +0.6% 7,470,000 -9,030,000
Donald Trump 26.6% +0.3% 1,090,000 +30,000
Joe Biden 35.0% +0.3% 355,000 -45,000
Michelle Obama 2.7% --- 179,000 ---
Robert Kennedy Jr 4.1% --- 177,000 ---
Kamala Harris 2.8% +0.1% 103,000 -3,000
Other 14.7% -6.1% --- ---

Warning: Google result counts are bogus.

Yes, despite losing nine million Google hits in a single week, Ron DeSantis maintains a comfortable phony lead over Donald J. Trump.

  • Megan McArdle has a relevant observation: DeSantis’s Disney attacks are pointless political pantomime.

    Once upon a time, politicians and corporations held an uneasy truce.

    Sure, if politicians threatened a firm’s bottom line, the business would fight back. But there were limits: Companies tended to conduct these battles politely, for fear of offending regulators who held a great deal of power over them, or customers who might disagree with them. And they did not pick fights on matters that didn’t directly affect their profits.

    Sometime in the past decade, that truce broke down. A mass corporate boycott forced Indiana to substantially amend a religious freedom law that critics said would roll back LGBTQ+ rights, Delta withdrew a group discount from the National Rifle Association convention, and CEOs signed open letters protesting abortion bans.

    Conservatives are understandably unhappy with the new “woke capital” and eager for their politicians to push back. Hence the ongoing fracas between Disney and the Florida GOP, which started with Disney offering a mild criticism of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act (better known to residents of blue states as the “don’t say gay” law) and has now escalated to a lawsuit in which Disney accuses Gov. Ron DeSantis and other state officials of retaliating against the company for its constitutionally protected political expression.

    The lawsuit is an excellent illustration of the merits of the old truce: Disney’s criticism of the law achieved nothing except attracting the ire of Republican politicians who were spoiling for a fight. But it is also an excellent illustration of why Republicans keep failing to restore the truce, because they have gone about these fights in the dumbest possible way.

    I'm currently seeing ads (during Jeopardy! on WBZ-Boston) for DeSantis, who (remember) has not announced. One of the images is a guy placing a DeSantis bumper sticker over his old Trump one.

  • The bettors tracked by EBO still have Trump bumper stickers on, though: 63.8% probable to win the GOP nomination. Joseph Epstein is pretty bereft about that prospect: America Hits Bottom With Trump and Biden in 2024.

    How have we come to the pass where two undistinguished, not to say deeply flawed, men will be competing for the highest office in the land? Does it say that the system by which our political parties nominate presidential candidates needs radical revamping? Have party politics in America now devolved to a point lower than the Founding Fathers—or anyone since—reckoned possible? Has the time come to reread, and possibly rewrite, the Federalist Papers? What does it say about the U.S. that it can do no better in choosing a president than the choice presented between the gross Donald Trump and the unctuous Joe Biden?

    A forthcoming presidential election between these two men would only seem to prove the sad wisdom of Joseph de Maistre, who wrote that “every country gets the government it deserves.”

    Also see Mencken's corollary: "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."

  • There must be a pony in here somewhere, says Ira Stoll, finding The Bright Side of Biden vs. Trump.

    The prospect of a rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump strikes many commentators as dismal. But the two have recently been vying over who will provide more freedom for the American people. If that continues, the campaign could be surprisingly uplifting.

    Mr. Biden announced via video last week that he is seeking re-election. “Freedom,” he opened: “Personal freedom is fundamental to who we are as Americans. There’s nothing more important—nothing more sacred.” He casts the election as turning on that notion. “MAGA extremists are lining up to take on those bedrock freedoms,” he says, referring to Republican efforts to dictate “what health decisions women can make,” ban books, and tell people “who they can love.” We hear the word six times in only three minutes.

    Mr. Trump sounded similar notes at a recent campaign rally in Waco, Texas. “If you put me back in the White House,” he said, “America will be a free nation once again.” He would “defend free speech” and “hold a competition to build new freedom cities throughout our country.” Mr. Trump proposes to spur economic growth and expand the housing supply by creating 10 cities on what is now federal land. “We will liberate America,” he added. “We will rescue freedom, liberty and justice.”

    Stoll doesn't convince me to cheer up, but you might be swayed.

  • But what about the (likely) other guy? Matthew Continetti points out that Biden Finds New Ways to Fail. Spurred by the announcement (from Kamala Harris) that Uncle Stupid would fund "seven new AI research institutes" and would tell companies "they have a role to play in reducing the risks and that they can work together with the government."

    The hubris of Progressives never ceases to amaze. They flit about, from issue to issue, never bothering to consider the real-world effects and unintended consequences of the policies they take up and impose at whim. What’s been happening on the border since Biden took office, for example, is the definition of a man-made disaster. By overturning Trump-era enforcement policies, and by raising the prospect of a comprehensive immigration reform that would provide amnesty for illegal immigrants, this administration contributed to record-levels of unauthorized border crossings and to a spiraling humanitarian crisis that affects not just the southwest but also far-flung cities like Chicago and New York.

    Continetti also goes on to lampoon Surgeon General Vivek Murthy's 82-page public health advisory on loneliness. As did I, a few days back.

    Folks, you aren't even getting the basic functions of government right. What makes you think… ah, never mind. They're not listening.

  • But you'll notice that our phony list is (currently) contains three non-senile Democrats. OK, they're long shots, and they're various flavors of awful. But it's a signal that agrees with Matt Welch's take: Biden More Vulnerable in 2024 Primary Than Trump Ever Was in 2020.

    It's possible that Democratic voters, after indulging in a brief fling with political competitors, no matter how weird, will rally back around the old incumbent. For the moment, most major party figures, led by power-thirsty California Gov. Gavin Newsom, are being good soldiers. But if the anti-establishment fringe continues to attract nearly one-third of Democratic polling support, or even increase on that, keep on the lookout for three potential responses: 1) The Biden campaign strong-arming ostensibly neutral party institutions; 2) the media opening up an all-out assault on the (very assaultable) record of RFK Jr., and 3) the more ambitious of establishmentarians beginning to quietly edge off the sidelines.

    Beto again? Mayor Pete again? America needs you, Bernie!

    This would be fun to watch. Except that I'd have to forget that the future of the country might be at stake.

Last Modified 2024-01-13 10:56 AM EDT