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    Never forget Spicey:

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    I actually don’t agree with much of Judis’s take on why Buttigieg is up and Warren isn’t, though it’s a good question because the reason is the same in both cases. It’s pretty simple to me: Buttigieg is a master storyteller and in campaigns, as this blog has argued for ages, this is everything. Certainly it is in the primaries. It’s powerful enough to take a small-town mayor into serious contention for the nomination. I’ve become much less of a fan of the guy as it’s becoming clear that he’s being pushed by the absolute worst people out there (David Axelrod being the most recent), but he clearly understands how politics actually gets processed by humans. You have to connect emotionally first if you’re to have any hope.

    The odd thing is that I think Warren gets this too. She’s just not doing it. She seems to be trying to win the Vox primary by flooding the zone with white papers, which isn’t a bad thing by any means. But she’s been lacking in the storytelling, gut-level prowess on display in the viral video moments that made her one of the nation’s most popular politicians in the first place. Honestly, her Wells Fargo grilling or her “nobody got their on their own” moments were more memorable than any moment or rhetoric Bernie Sanders ever created. I thought she’d leave Sanders in the dust but her campaign seems like a more lefty version of Hillary’s, i.e. all head and no heart, but minus the massive empire of upper-middle and upper-class Boomer and early GenX women who think she’s a goddess. Not that she necessarily needs that (my guess is that virtually all of them are for Biden anyway) but without that sort of base you can’t just chase the votes of people who read white papers for fun. There just aren’t many of them.

    Given that I’d much rather prefer Warren to Biden or Sanders, it’s time for a change of direction for her. It’s certainly not too late, but there’s a change in thinking that needs to occur if she’s to have a shot.

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    Lev filed this under:  

    Fun fun fun! Shame I’m too busy today to get into it.

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    Not surprising that Bernie’s FOX romp was a big success: the promise of conflict tends to do that. But while all the Clinton fans were (and are) mistaken about the virtues of their idol, I’m starting to think that they might not have been all that wrong about Sanders. Going on FOX was a win for him though it probably won’t be a win for his imitators, but it will soon become normalized and then we’re back where we started with “is FOX News ok or not?”

    But at least Bernie’s done well for himself at the expense of the party.

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    Lev filed this under: ,  

    It’s been what, eight months or so since he died, and I will admit that even I’m surprised by how few “if only John McCain we’re still around” takes our illustrious media has given us. Considering that his entire legacy over 30 years in Congress amounted to a decent campaign finance bill, a failed immigration bill, and (after the late 1990s) fathomless calls for war, it was never clear why anybody besides the press would keep his legacy alive, as even great senators get forgotten pretty quickly and McCain wasn’t one of those. And it turns out that they didn’t even care enough about him to do that.

    I would say that I preferred McCain to be remembered by history as an insane hawk who picked a simpleton as his running mate, but let’s be real, history won’t remember him at all. Not significant enough. There was McCain-Feingold and his star turn killing off Paul Ryan’s health bill (which could have been accomplished if he’d just stayed home, incidentally), but it’s not much and there’s no cottage industry to remember senators as there is with presidents.

    But we’ll always have this:

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    Lev filed this under:  

    Bernie Sanders’s impending FOX News appearance is bizarre if you actually think he’s some sort of leftist radical instead of the slightly unusual discourse liberal that he is. A real incendiary charge I know but if you’re going on the opposition’s propaganda network because It’s An Audience Democrats Don’t Usually Reach, well, the shoe fucking fits. There are other examples also: his endless defense of the non-racism of Trump voters, of course, is a big one, as all discourse liberals have spent the last decade or so pretending that the right isn’t as bad as it is so as to maintain the essential belief that they can still be reasoned with. There’s more: if you read between the lines, both his newfound defense of the filibuster and his longtime push for an anti-Citizens United Constitutional amendment are both such obvious mistakes for someone who wants major progressive change, but what if he believes that he can Find The Words to crumble all obstacles to progressive change in this country such that even the most massive barriers to change won’t matter? It strikes me as highly risky and frankly pretty dumb. But if you think that the political divide is so easy to fix that it can be fixed with some words, I guess it makes sense.

    FWIW I don’t think Sanders is operating entirely out of a motivation of white racial innocence here. I just think he’s in a bubble. Vermont is 93% white and less than 20% urban, and yet it is arguably the only actual blue state (as in the party dominated the entire state and not just urban counties) in the union as Democrats won just about all the counties in 2016. (Hawaii is the only other one that might qualify.) Combining the racial and rural makeup of West Virginia with highly progressive politics is pretty unusual! It’s a very quirky state, but Sanders truly seems to think that it’s the norm nationally and that there is a left-wing WWC that can be unleashed simply by making class-based arguments. Seems dubious (the weakness of evangelical Christianity in the Northeast might have a little something to do with Vermont functioning the way it does, after all), but it is a hallmark of discourse liberalism that our political debates are fake and that people only think they hold the views they hold. Usually discourse liberalism is a vehicle for centrism and talks a lot about civility and all that, but there’s no reason it has to be for any given ideological strain, and I can’t think of another explanation of the facts here.

    The irony is that Sanders’s supporters who migrated to him after being so disappointed by Obama just wound up getting the same thing but with a slight rebranding. That said, while Bernie’s natural coalition couldn’t win a Democratic primary last time, with more candidates running this time maybe he can, and that would not be great. With Warren in the race, we can do better.

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    Lev filed this under: ,  

    The polls don’t drop after that touching stuff, though probably they will make it a lot harder to staff the campaign with anybody who isn’t also a very old white guy. Which he might have preferred anyway as it would match up with the good old senate of yore that he so misses. But that’s not going to make for the best performing campaign.

    Here’s the thing: Biden is seemingly unstoppable now because he’s quiet. He’s not officially in, he’s above the fray, almost a blank slate. Quite a lot of Democrats feel that beating Trump is more important than a historic candidacy, which is largely a false choice but I do sort of get it intuitively. If Trump’s fundamentals point to a loss then just about any viable candidate will beat him, but given that the public has been inundated with Game Change bullshit masquerading as journalism for so long it’s not all that surprising that they think that choosing just the right candidate is all-important. And Biden can powerfully represent himself as the heir of the Obama Administration, of course. It’s not a bad place to be.

    But once Biden starts mixing it up it’s going to fall apart. He’s gonna say dumb shit and go off message constantly. He’s going to be windy and boring on the stump. He’s going to release policy proposals that are likely to be ripped apart. In spite of how he presents himself he’s never really been any sort of steadfast beacon of stability. He’s also going to have to talk an awful fucking lot about a career that certainly has some positives but also has a lot of really bad things as well. Biden has always presented himself as a working class guy but he had an iron grip on a seat from a rich state back before it was a safe blue state, albeit one that now tends to produce the least progressive Democrats around. Basically a breeding ground for bank friendly, corporate politicians. All I’m saying is that the bankruptcy bill is certainly not the only favor he did for the bankers and fighting for the little guy is only going to be tenable if much of that stuff is ignored. It won’t be.

    Biden will have to talk eventually, it’s unavoidable, and that’s when the magic ends. Honestly the smartest thing he’s ever done strategically is to prolong the silence it as long as he can. If he can keep his current silent posture up until a few weeks before Iowa he may be unstoppable.

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    Lev filed this under: ,  

    I just kind of figured that was the case all along.

    And yes, there are some Republicans that don’t like children in cages but I’m guessing that few don’t dislike it enough to even vote for a spoiler candidate, let alone a Democrat. No doubt some are like that dummy from The Newsroom who want to take their party back (though that clod wouldn’t have been welcome in the GOP after 1980 IRL), but that’s not how political parties work. A vote for fascism is a vote for fascism, whether reluctantly or wholeheartedly given. And quite a few Republicans do actually like this stuff. I’ll confess that I don’t get it on an intuitive level but it’s not like Trump is doing stuff that only 10% of the party likes. Doing stuff that 60-70% of the party likes and counting on the rest to resort to whataboutism in order to stay onsides was perhaps not the best move, but it was good enough for 2016 and he has a decent if small shot for 2020 so it wasn’t like the worst strategic play.

    But I’m sure a white guy Democrat will finally give us the (white) national unity that we so desire. Biden/Beto 2020!

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