Translation: “Our Candidate Is Going To Stink In The Debate, But Pay No Attention.” What IS This?

Honest? Sad? Desperate? Hilarious?

I’ve never seen anything like the memo above sent via Twitter by the John Fetterman Campaign in advance of tonight’s only debate between the GOP and Democratic candidates for U.S. Senator, and I don’t mean just in politics. The Philadelphia Phillies are preparing to play the American League Houston Astros in the World Series, and are obviously out-matched: the Astros were the best team in their league and have won every post-season game so far. The Phillies didn’t even win 90 games (the Astros won 106) and finished third in their own division. Yet the team hasn’t issued a press release saying, “The Astros are the superior team, so we don’t want baseball fans to expect very much from the Phillies. Frankly, we’re just not that good.”

Here is the memo’s equivalent effort at lowering expectations…to the floor:

“…As reporters tune in for the PA Senate debate on October 25th, let’s be clear about this match-up: Dr. Oz has been a professional TV personality for the last two decades. As The Philadelphia Inquirer’s top political reporters wrote: “Even before his stroke, Fetterman wasn’t great at debates.” We’ll admit – this isn’t John’s format. Look no further than the debates from the primary earlier this year. On the other hand, “Oz is a polished daytime TV host who knows his camera angles and how to craft TV moments.’ John is ready to share his vision for Pennsylvania, defend his record, and make the case against Oz. He’s going to be talking about his real ideas to help real people. But if we’re all being honest, Oz clearly comes into Tuesday night with a huge built-in advantage….”

Fetterman’s memo raises the obvious question: Why is this guy a candidate at all? This paragraph is especially amusing….

“We are prepared for Oz’s allies and right-wing media to circulate malicious viral videos after the debate that try to paint John in a negative light because of awkward pauses, missing some words, and mushing other words together. The captioning process may also lead to time delays and errors in the exchanges between the moderators and the candidates. In fact, because the captions are going to be typed out by human beings in real-time, on live TV, some amount of human error in the transcription is inevitable, which may cause temporary miscommunications at times. It is impossible to control and unavoidable. That’s OK – what matters is that people get to see and hear John’s values.”

John’s values are already clear: he values his own political advancement over the public’s need to have a fully capable representative in the Senate who can both understand spoken communication and clearly communicate himself. As for the rest: It’s “malicious” to circulate video clips of a candidate who can’t string his words together? Isn’t that relevant to the public’s decision? If the captioning process is so prone to error, how can Democrats argue that the technological assistance is all Fetterman needs to function competently in the Senate?

I cannot imagine a clearer example of why Democrats have resorted to a full-on Rationalization #64, Yoo’s Rationalization or “It Isn’t What It Is”  strategy in this election cycle than this throbbing example of how bad the “It is what it is” approach works when what it is is indefensible.

24 thoughts on “Translation: “Our Candidate Is Going To Stink In The Debate, But Pay No Attention.” What IS This?

  1. Fetterman goes in hoping that he has built up enough of a lead in early voting by the cities and those people who would vote for a ham sandwich if it had a D next to it that when he crashes and burns in the debate he doesn’t take his campaign down with him.

  2. Let’s give Fetterman the benefit of the doubt — in one respect only. He may have interesting and important thoughts, but if he can’t communicate them, how can he possibly be effective in the political arena (or any other, for that matter). How he became a candidate is totally beyond me: a party death wish is the only rationale I can think of.

    Or, is this a joke? A test of the morons who vote Democratic in every election regardless of the candidate? I’d rather it be that than the concept that he is the best the Democrats can offer. Death of a party coming soon. And completely the fault of the ‘seers’ who run same.

    • This is enlightening. Fetterman is Joe Biden 2.0. Joe is our first animatronic sitting president. He doesn’t think. He can’t. He simply does as he’s told by his handlers. Fetterman is the same. He doesn’t have to speak or debate or think about anything. All he has to do is show up on the floor, or be escorted onto the floor, when there’s a vote and vote as Chuck Schumer tells his handlers or wife to vote. This is all modern-day legislators are. They’re just votes. They do as their leadership instructs them. See e.g., Mark Kelly. And of course, unfortunately, No. 34 of Donald Trump’s New Jersey Generals falls into the same category. Calling this, “it isn’t what it is” is not strictly correct. Fetterman’s being elected to the Senate is current U.S. politics. It is what it is.

    • E2 wrote, “Let’s give Fetterman the benefit of the doubt — in one respect only. He may have interesting and important thoughts…”

      …and a broken clock is correct twice a day. Fetterman no longer gets the benefit of the doubt, he and his fellow Democrats flushed that honor down the toilet a while ago. As Jack wrote at the very end of his September 13th blog post, “Pennsylvania Democrats are attempting to lie, fake, deceive, stall and cheat their way to a victory, relying on lazy, apathetic, knee-jerk and none-too-bright voters”, the benefit of the doubt sailed off into the sunset long ago.

      E2 wrote, “How [Fetterman] became a candidate is totally beyond me: a party death wish is the only rationale I can think of.”, “Or, is this a joke? A test of the morons who vote Democratic in every election regardless of the candidate?”

      To be fair, the same thing could be said about Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.

  3. Better pre-debate memo:

    “Our candidate can’t walk, talk in complete sentences, understand spoken English, or form coherent thoughts. But pay no attention to the man behind the curtain who can do all those things, because he’s got an unfair advantage of decades in front of the camera.

    And be sure to ignore the actual issues raised in the campaign. Just because our candidate is still too sick from his stroke to properly debate his opponent on these points, you can trust us to tell you that he represents all the right positions. Oz The Great and Powerful will try to snow you like his namesake, but you know you can’t trust him.”

  4. I certainly believe that the Democrats are continuing to push Fetterman’s campaign forward simply because they want to flip that Senate seat and don’t have any way to feasibly replace Fetterman and win. I don’t know Pennsylvania’s laws for when a candidate has to withdraw after his name is on the ballots, but I would hazard a guess that at this point it is far too late. Maybe if they had pulled him and replaced him in May, they had time, but maybe they were gambling he would quickly recover and the whole stroke episode could be swept under the rug. Either way, just as the Republicans are essentially all-in on Walker, flipping the seat is far more important than the person sitting in that seat. If need be, Fetterman could resign due to health issues, forcing a special election that hopefully the Democrats can handle once the dust settles and the Senate remains in Democratic control.

    However, to play something of a devil’s advocate, I don’t think Fetterman’s need for closed-captioning should be a game-ender, in and of itself. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that Fetterman is a genius politician. The bills he writes and sponsors are articulate, well-reasoned, nuanced, and specific (as almost all bills aren’t, it seems). He is able to reach across the aisle to garner bipartisan support. He builds up respect for the Senate. Unfortunately, he’s trapped in a body that doesn’t respond quickly. Does a brilliant political mind have to withdraw just because he requires assistance? Are we that concerned that he might not be able to keep up on the Senate floor? If the Senate is supposed to be such a deliberate body, wouldn’t slowing things down so that Fetterman could process everything and then, perhaps Hawking-like, have a computer spit out his brilliant response that simply floors his opposition, be a good thing overall?

    Now, all of that is working from the assumption that Fetterman is a genius who has not been affected mentally by his stroke. I think this debate should be good, so that we can see if Fetterman can really process and respond, even if it takes some time to get to the response. Given family members I’ve witnessed suffer from strokes, cognition is typically somewhat impaired and takes a long time to recover, so I’m skeptical that Fetterman can really pull it off. I’m also looking for some gimmick that makes it seem like he’s not as bad as he really is.

    • The guy’s a slug, Ryan. Even on his best day. He’s the poster boy for “Why would anyone in their right mind WANT to go into politics?”

      • Oh, I agree. If I thought for a moment that the DNC thought him anything except a heartbeat with a D next to his name, they’d be playing him up on his own merits. But, for the sake of argument, what height of mental acuity would a candidate need to possess to offset the debilitation of a stroke? How would you prepare your constituents to understand what to look for in a debate where, if style is everything, you are indeed at a gross disadvantage? What manner of debate would you propose so that constituents can see how effective your candidate actually is, even with a handicap?

        What do I think will really happen at the debate tonight? I think there’s a dumpster fire gif somewhere around here…

        • I suspect debates have become a quaint relic from the past, Ryan. It’s all about money and television ad buys. Who even watches debates anymore? That has to be the thinking in the Fetterman campaign and throughout the political consultant class.

          • We’ll certainly see how it plays out in Arizona, where the democratic candidate is going all-in on Biden’s basement strategy.

          • The value of debates in the modern age is solely to provide short clips for online consumption. It’s a double edged sword:
            if you manage to land a solid zinger, it’ll go viral. If you step on your own dick and beclown yourself, that’ll go viral, too.

            Wanna wager on which outcome is more likely with Fetterman?

        • There’s a comparison I keep thinking of: Churchill. From about the nadir of the war until the end of his last government in 1954, he overcame a series of strokes.

      • But still, losing that series had to be catastrophic for the Dodgers. I know the old Howard Cosell saw of “That’s why they play the games!” But still. Come on Dodgers, the Padres finished fourteen games behind you. Of course, the Dodgers are making so much money they’ll sign Aaron Judge to whatever it takes to get him. The owners evidently made enough off their initial TV contract to recapture the franchise’s purchase price.

          • Jesus. It was that bad. Following the Diamondbacks nice, young, little Triple A club in the same division, the numbers from the bottom got kind of blurry.

          • The TV people made a point with that stat — the only other playoff series where the winner had a bigger difference in records versus the loser was the 1906 World Series, where the Cubs were 23 games better than the White Sox during the regular season. The so-called ‘hitless wonders’ beat the Tinkers to Evers to Chance Cubs in 6 games.

            The Houston-Philadelphia series will have the second largest difference in World Series history.

      • As they are in NBA basketball. They could just as well skip the season and have a month and a half long single elimination tourney. The season is completely meaningless.

    • Well, that begs the question of how did the Mets lose to the Padres?

      How did the Braves lose to the Phillies?

      But actually the NL playoffs were very consistent — the home team lost every single series. Even the NLCS, the Padres were the higher seed and lost.

      In the AL that only happened once in the wild card round, all the other series went according to form.

      Only another 2 days, 19 hours, 26 minutes before the Series starts….

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