Senility, Incompetence, Incoherence, Phoniness, Corruption, and Bad Musical Taste

[Non Compos Mentis]

No big movement in the election betting odds over the past week, although it's easy to pick out the relative gainers (Trump, Michelle, Vivek, Nikki, RFKJr, and Kamala) and the losers (Biden, Newsom, DeSantis). And "Other" took a big hit, as bettors may be coming to realize that there's no charismatic white knight about to ride over the hill, announce his candidacy, and save us all from this bunch of clowns.

Candidate EBO Win
Joe Biden 34.9% -0.9%
Donald Trump 28.9% +0.9%
Gavin Newsom 5.0% -0.6%
Ron DeSantis 5.0% -0.5%
Michelle Obama 4.6% +0.6%
Vivek Ramaswamy 4.1% +0.5%
Nikki Haley 3.9% +0.6%
Robert Kennedy Jr 3.8% +0.2%
Kamala Harris 2.7% +0.6%
Other 7.1% -1.4%

David Friedman takes a serious look at Vivek, and finds him a mixed bag.

He is the most entertaining of the presidential candidates and I agree with several of his positions, but his defenses of some of them strike me as largely bogus. Having proposed that the Fed should maintain stable prices via a commodity bundle, a reasonable if politically novel idea, he defends the proposal by claiming that current Fed stabilization policy is somehow the reason real incomes have not risen, goes on to claim that if only the Fed were not messing things up we would have enough more economic growth to let us eliminate the deficit without cutting spending, thus saving him from having to specify specific cuts — any of which can be expected to offend some interest group whose support he wants.

For some unexplained (but completely obvious) reason, David quotes an 83-year-old essay:

They will promise every man, woman and child in the country whatever he, she or it wants. They’ll all be roving the land looking for chances to make the rich poor, to remedy the irremediable, to succor the unsuccorable, to unscramble the unscrambleable, to dephlogisticate the undephlogisticable. They will all be curing warts by saying words over them, and paying off the national debt with money that no one will have to earn. When one of them demonstrates that twice two is five, another will prove that it is six, six and a half, ten, twenty. (H.L. Mencken, The Politician)

Meanwhile, Audrey Fahlberg wonders how all Vivek's schtick is playing in Peoria Dublin, New Hampshire: Will Voters Buy What Vivek Ramaswamy Is Selling?

At just 38 years old, Ramaswamy is the youngest candidate in the field, and the biotech entrepreneur—worth hundreds of millions dollars—has embraced his time in the spotlight. He recites those 10 principles with an almost robotic precision at just about every campaign stop, and isn’t shy about sharing his “America First” policy agenda with voters. If elected, for example, he pledges to abolish the FBI, deploy military force against Mexican drug cartels, and cut off U.S. support for the Ukrainian war effort.

But with all the post-debate attention comes heightened scrutiny, and a sustained look at Ramaswamy’s record—from the media and his opponents alike—has unearthed a number of inconsistencies. Is Juneteenth a “celebration of the American dream” or a “useless” holiday? Is climate change “real” or is the “climate-change agenda” a “hoax”? Was Donald Trump’s behavior on January 6, 2021, “downright abhorrent” or is it “unproductive for our country to blame Trump for January 6”?

Someone who's definitely not buying it is Farhad Manjoo of the New York Times, who was unimpressed by attempts to woo him: Vivek Ramaswamy Is a LinkedIn Post Come to Life.

In the wake of his breakout performance at last month’s Republican primary debate, much has been made of Ramaswamy’s irrepressible annoyingness — is it a bug that could prevent him from winning the G.O.P. presidential nomination, or is it the feature that could help him secure it? But what I found striking about Ramaswamy, both in our conversations and on the debate stage, was not that he’s especially irritating (how many people who run for president aren’t?) but that he represents a distinct, very familiar flavor of irritation: He’s the epitome of millennial hustle culture, less a Tracy Flick know-it-all than a viral LinkedIn post come to life. The guy who’s always mining and nurturing new connections, always leveraging those connections into the next new thing, always selling and always, always closing.

Ouch. You'd think that Farhad Manjoo and Vivek Ramaswamy might at least bond over their funny names.

Also of note:

  • Pretty good grip for a feeble geezer. Barton Swaim notes unexpected strength in Joe Biden’s ‘Iron Grip’ on His Party. Sorta like Trump's hold on the GOP. But:

    Whatever may be said about the GOP’s solicitous attitude to Mr. Trump during the years of his presidency, it compares favorably with the left’s omertà in the face of President Biden’s obvious mental infirmity, incompetence and what appears to be a history of self-enrichment.

    Mr. Trump’s election occasioned some unlovely shifting of principles on the right, but it also precipitated fierce debate. Some Republicans refused to find fault with the new president for anything. Others made their peace with his election but remained critical when his conduct and decisions merited it. A few made it their mission to destroy him. Right-oriented policy organizations and conservative publications endured rancorous public schisms. Conservative religious leaders, including evangelical Christians, fell out with each other.

    That is more than one can say for the Democratic Party and the mainstream left of the 2020s. The deficiencies of Mr. Trump are different from those of Mr. Biden, but the latter’s personal culpabilities and political liabilities are what any normal, uninvested person would call grave. Mr. Biden’s cringe-making decline is on display nearly every time he appears in public; examples are too many, and too painful, to describe. His diminished state might be funny in a novel or a movie, but in the real world it’s a continuing invitation to bad actors to engage in devilry and expect no consequence.

    It's quite the pickle!

  • Hey, voter, you wanna buy some tulip bulbs? Power Line's Elizabeth Stauffer outlines A case study in the madness of crowds. After looking at Trump-bashing from the left and right:

    But, in the end, all three fail to explain why Trump is dangerous, why he’s a depraved madman who is “willing to smash our nation’s soul — our democracy.” The lack of specifics and the unfounded contempt in these pieces show just how vast the reality gap has become between the media’s portrayal of Trump vs. Biden.

    Yes, Trump is a flawed man. At times, his conduct has been decidedly unpresidential. Most Republicans will readily admit that Trump is prone to exaggeration and that his behavior is sometimes boorish and infantile.

    But his obvious patriotism and his clear record of achievements are among the strongest of any U.S. president. There was never anything dangerous about his policies. Despite his Grand Canyon-sized ego, he always put America first.

    Well… I'm pretty sure I can think of some instances where Trump didn't put "America" first. And I would use a stronger adjective than "flawed".

    But Stauffer notes the obvious differences between "journalist" treatment of Trump vs. Biden, and she's right about that.

    (Puzzled by the headline snark? See here.)

  • It's a low bar, but he clears it. I'm expending one of my five NR "giftable" articles for September so you can read Andrew C. McCarthy establishing that There Is No Insurrection Case against Trump.

    You know insurrection is a crime, right?

    Just to recap, under Section 2383 of the federal criminal code, a person is guilty of a felony, punishable by up to ten years’ imprisonment, if he

    incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto.

    And why do we need a refresher on this? Because the Department of Justice has been investigating Donald Trump and the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot for nearly three years, yet no insurrection charges have ever been brought against Trump or anyone else.

    That should be in the front of our minds as anti-Trump obsessives, of the left and the right, proceed with their incendiary plot to disqualify Trump from seeking the presidency by inducing sympathetic state officials to brand him an insurrectionist under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

    This seems completely obvious to me. I dislike Trump intensely, but come on.

    Of course, I have not read the Baude/Paulsen law review article that purports to have an ironclad 14th-Amendment Trump-disqualifying argument. But I have a good reason: it is 126 pages, and I am lazy.

    I'd like to know how they deal with McCarthy's point, though.

  • Inexplicably, nobody listed "Won't Get Fooled Again". Politico got some of the politicos to "Pick the Songs That Stir Their Souls". Which is fine, although only two candidates from our table, Vivek and Nikki, responded.

    Much more amusing: the commentary from Jeffrey Blehar. His take on Vivek's choices:

    America’s foremost pen salesman was able to respond to Politico’s entirely reasonable request with only eight picks. He performs one of those picks regularly on campaign stops. One is by Fall Out Boy. Another by Aerosmith. Two by Imagine Dragons. He probably hasn’t even listened to the Dolly Parton song he listed. Finally, he ends with a song by a communist.

    VERDICT: Vivek Ramaswamy must be launched into the sun, or at the very least the Libertarian Party.

    Also commenting on the Politico poll is the curmudgeonly Armond White:

    The far-left publication Politico revealed its bias in a poll soliciting all the presidential candidates. This market sampling, titled “We Asked the 2024 Candidates to Pick the Songs That Stirred Their Souls,” forced the contenders to follow the Obama playbook. The upshot? Left media will always own the Right when they hoodwink conservatives into behaving just like liberals.

    At a moment when outsider songs from Jason Aldean and Oliver Anthony have enlivened the pop charts, getting Republicans to praise the music business that largely — openly — despises them was a devious move. Politico enticed candidates to strike a “common man” pose, kissing the music industry’s behind just like pols used to kiss babies’ asses to win over susceptible constituents.

    White notices that Trump's rallies often play the Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want". But maybe that's out of tune with today's zeitgeist. Which is more like, "I'll always get you what you want."

Last Modified 2024-01-28 3:01 PM EDT