Ethics Dunces: Fetterman Voters

Exit polls are showing that the reason John Fetterman, the Democratic candidate for the open Senate seat in Pennsylvania, won his race against “Dr. Oz” despite not being able to speak clearly or understand English without technical assistance was that they were inspired and impressed by the fact that he continued his campaign after a stroke, and even by his willingness to debate his opponent when he had obviously not recovered.

Naturally, the New York Times frames this depressing logic in Democratic-Spinnese:

Rather than seeing his difficult recovery and uneven debate performance as evidence of lack of fitness for office — as Mr. Fetterman’s Republican opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz, tried to frame it — voters said they found Mr. Fetterman relatable, even an inspiration. His personal revitalization, however incomplete, echoed a promise he campaigned on — the resurgence of Pennsylvania communities that feel left behind

Ugh. Fettermman’s debate performance wasn’t “uneven,” it was disastrous and frightening, probably the worst debate display by a candidate for national office in history. Oz didn’t need to “frame it” as evidence of lack of fitness to serve in the Senate; it was definitive proof of lack of fitness. Anyone who couldn’t figure that out didn’t know what Senators do.

Fetterman’s “courage” in going through with the debate while brain-damaged—it just as easily could be described as stupidity—didn’t demonstrate promise as a future effective Senator. Whatever positive qualities it might show from a character perspective was more than offset by the disgraceful lack of responsibility he displayed by not stepping aside when it was clear that he was disabled, however temporarily. Worse, his deliberate efforts to keep the public in the dark about the extent of his cognitive problems showed a lack of transparency and trustworthiness.

Voting for a U.S. Senator candidate because he had the “guts” to speak gibberish in a debate that was supposed to inform the public signals an unethically unserious approach to democracy, and a reliance on emotion to guide what should be a responsible, rational, practical decision. As for the Fetterman voters who simply chose him because of his party, and would have done so if he were in a coma, an octopus, or dead (a dead Democrat in fact did win in Pennsylvania, and in a landslide), they represent democracy at its worst. Pavlov’s dogs could do their civic duty with equal care and acumen.

Yes, if Republican primary voters, with equal duncery, hadn’t voted for a TV doctor with no political credentials or experience simply because Donald Trump endorsed him, Fetterman might have needed to show more than just the willingness to do what he knew he couldn’t do competently on TV. Or not.

This was another example of why the Founders distrusted pure democracy: too many lazy, ignorant, emotion-driven citizens.

14 thoughts on “Ethics Dunces: Fetterman Voters

  1. I guess it was all about the “feelz,” just like the younger voters apparently prioritizing fornication without consequences and getting “free” stuff from the guvmint over humanity and sound policy. Good job, everybody!

    • Good point on the “feelz”. Bear with me a bit on this, but this is one of the reasons I really dislike contest shows like “The Voice,” though all contest shows now do it. I, to a small degree, blame this exact mentality.

      Every person that auditions tells a bit of background, and every story – almost without exception – includes some Fetterman-esque story of woe, heartache, or personal tragedy. “I was bullied in school” or “I lost my mom to cancer” or “I was stuck in Ukraine in the war” or “Lost my home in the hurricane” or “My sister ate my dog’s homework”…just on and on. And then there’s the part about how music was always there and was the one thing he/she could turn to, and it saved him/her from the mire. There’s always this playing-to-my-courage in the face of adversity that’s supposed to win the hearts of viewers. And apparently, audiences care about this, otherwise the show’s producers wouldn’t do it incessantly. Sympathy is big business.

      Well, I’m sorry for your troubles, friend, but nobody in the music business cares about your troubles. They care about one thing: can you perform?

      Senator-elect Fetterman has pretty much done the same thing…audition for a spot, being sure to advertise his hardship, playing to his courage, and gaining the sympathy of his audience. And his audience bought it. The only problem is that this isn’t a stupid singing competition…it’s the highest governing body in the country. And it isn’t as though Fetterman’s tragedy hasn’t affected his voice. He not only struggles to speak, he struggles to think and cogently process information. These are vital to performing in the Senate. Maybe Fetterman’s stroke-related issues will improve over time, and that would be great, but what if they don’t?…

      I would like to think that citizens of Pennsylvania thought through the consequences of their votes before they cast them, but I fear too many just watched “The Voice” instead.

      • Reading that snipped on Ann Althouse this morning made me think the same thing, Joel. There’s a very, very significant component of the voting public whose mantra and entire policy outlook is “Be Kind.” I guess this is Jack’s “Imagine” objection. It manifests itself even in international policy: “Be nice to the Iranians or the Chinese or the Russians and they’ll like us and want to be normal and enter into the modern world.” “It’s not illegal to be human” and “Immigration is a human right” fall into the same ditch. This kind of stuff is fine in the Unitarian Universalist church but it’s no way to run a nation or its economy or maintain social order. But Jesus H. Christ, it’s become ubiquitous. Too many people vote for Dems because Republicans are MEAN!

        Has anyone seen the stories out of NYU where the pre-meds are complaining that Organic Chemistry is “Too Hard!” Are you fucking kidding me? Of course, Organic Chemistry is hard. When you look up “difficult” in the dictionary, there’s a picture of Organic Chemistry next to it. I can’t wait until these people are practicing medicine

        • And then there’s “Imagine World Peace.” And “Co-Exist.” Tell these to guys like Putin and the Mullahs and whoever the then current leader of China or North Korea is.

        • Anyone who whines that O Chem is too hard has no right to be practicing medicine. I want my doctors to have proven that they are smarter than the average bear, and while I don’t think that passing O Chem proves smarts (after all I did it, so it couldn’t be that bad), it is at least a start.

          I dealt with an eye doctor this year who would not check my daughters’ eyes because my three year old will not keep a mask on her face. This is not a practice of a smart person who paid any bloody attention to the last few years where we said that kids were less susceptible or less prone to transmission if they had it, much less the negligible rate of transmission of asymptomatic patients, especially asymptomatic children. Medicine needs intellect and the ability to problem solve, not just tape masks to kids faces. People who whine about O Chem being hard have neither the intellect nor the mental fortitude to make it as a decent doctor in my opinion. Somehow we have forgotten to teach people that life is hard. You cowboy up and deal with it.

          • Si, si, si. The new dodge is, if you can’t play the game according to the rules, make people change the rules. If you can’t handle organic chemistry, go to law school. Sheesh.

      • Spot on Joel, insightful.

        Has me wondering if staying in was a spontaneous move by Fetterman and/or his handlers or a more considered strategy to hopefully push him over the finish line. Dropping out guarantees an Oz victory.
        If he can function well enough to push a button and vote, it is a big win.
        If he decompensates over time and is mostly absent, it is still better than an Oz victory.
        That is just good ol’ fashion bare knuckles unethical politicking.

        Would republicans have done the same if everything were reversed?

        • I wondered if that almost meant that if Fetterman won, and then cratered, the Pennsylvania Governor could appoint the heir-apparent to step. Maybe that’s what is going on here. Perhaps the Democrats will witness him crash and burn and the real person they wanted (who might not have been electable) will step up and finish out Fetterman’s term. Sounds all conspiracy and insurrectiony but . . .


          • One problem with the idea that he can just be replaced — Senators are not appointed for the balance of the term, only until the next election. So if Fetterman has to resign in 2023, his replacement would only be appointed through the 2024 election — that is why we have states (such as Georgia in 2020) that have two Senate elections in one year. Warnock was elected for the balance of that term which ends this coming January, so he’ll serve two years or eight, depending on how it goes.

  2. Fetterman only confirms what we have known for a long time, right?
    90+% of who gets elected in rep vs dem election are merely placeholders for party platform.
    Like the ACA, it might as well be said that you have to vote for the party to see who gets elected.

  3. ” . . . voters said they found Mr. Fetterman relatable, even an inspiration.”

    I wondered about this before the debate and how Oz should have handled it. It is the same thought I had during the Zimmerman trial when Jeantelle testified. From my perspective, Zimmerman’s defense team had to tread very carefully because the jury could perceive their cross-examination as a bunch of adults picking on and beating up an uneducated black woman who was clearly unprepared for what was happening. She, though, threw any sympathy away by being surly, combative and obnoxious, thereby alienating the jury.

    But, let me play Devil’s Advocate for a moment: We “United Statesers” love the underdog. We love the guy who looks defeated but gets back up and keeps on keepin’ on and finally winning. We love the rags-to-riches stories. We love those with disabilities who persevere, even in the face of insurmountable odds. Hell, we love the down-and-out who makes good. We love those stories about the high school football team who, on the last play of that last (likely irrelevant) game, gives the ball to the disabled player while the other team “tries” to stop him/her as he/she makes his/her way to the end zone. How many movies are made about it? “Rocky” anyone? “Star Wars”?

    So, why would it be surprising that potential voters would look at Fetterman, not as a guy who can’t do the job he wants to elected to do but as a person who suffered a terrible medical condition but got back on his feet and wouldn’t let that drag him down? That is a quintessential American ethos, right? Oz rightly criticized him for now releasing his medical records or being honest about the nature and extent of his disability/condition but those watching it likely saw it as an unfair attack by a rich, healthy Trump-infused doctor, playing directly into the “us v. them” narrative crafted by Fetterman and his team, clearly promoted by corrupt media unwilling to do its job.


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