Verdict: Worst Candidates Debate Ever, Part IV: Weak, But Strong On Pandering [Corrected]

You want “a weak presidential field”? I’ll show you a weak presidential field!

[Part 1 is here; Part II is here; Part III is here, and the November debate review is here.]

David Leonhardt, whom I sometimes think is the worst of the horrible stable of New York Times op-ed writers until Michelle Goldberg launches into another fact-free rant or Charles M. Blow authors the latest escalation in his campaign to convince readers that President Trump is the spawn of Satan, wrote an op-ed last week attacking the parties’ nominating processes and asserting that “We have an unnecessarily weak presidential field, especially the incumbent.” Read the article. There is no logic to it, nor consistency; it is yet another “I wonder how gullible and ignorant my readers are?” experiment. Essentially the piece is anti-democratic, as a majority of progressives seem to have soured on democracy once it “failed” by not electing Hillary Clinton President. (I regard the election of Donald Trump over Clinton as one of the most important and exhilarating expressions of democracy in our history, though it was substantially due to moral luck.) Leonhardt’s argument is also historical nonsense, as he claims that the parties were better at picking qualified and electable candidates in the past. They most certainly were not: overage generals like Winfield Scott*, W.H. Harrison and Zachary Taylor, the latter two who, though elected,  promptly died, thus elevating to the White House VPs that nobody ever wanted or envisioned as Presidents…popular generals with no governing experience whatsoever, like U.S. Grant and John C. Fremont…wildly popular outgoing Presidents’ handpicked successors who would never have been nominated otherwise, like Van Buren, Taft, and Bush? Packaged puppets like Warren G. Harding and William McKinley? Doomed losers like Horace Greeley, James Cox, Bob Dole, Walter Mondale, George McGovern, Mike Dukakis  and (yechh) John Kerry? Already once or twice beaten past candidates like Henry Clay, William Jennings Bryan, Thomas Dewey and Adlai Stevenson?  Brilliant!

Leonhardt even offers Abraham Lincoln as an example of the effectiveness of past party nominating systems, ignoring, or, based on his established level of acuity, unaware of the fact that Abe won despite getting only 38% of the vote, or about the same proportion Barry Goldwater and George McGovern received while losing in landslides. That he turned out to be a great President was more moral luck: Lincoln had no executive governing experience at all before being thrust into the most difficult challenge a President had faced since Washington, hadn’t even been a general, and was known mostly for his wit and oratory. With the nation teetering on destruction, the candidates selected by the Democratic and Republican parties in 1860 consisted of Lincoln, John Breckinridge, Buchanan’s inert Vice-President, who had also no executive governing experience, and Stephen Douglas, who also had never run anything and had been a full-time legislator for two decades. In his favor, he had a lot more relevant experience than Lincoln. On the deficit side, he would die in 1861, meaning that if Douglas had been elected the new President would have been the immortal Herschel Vespasian Johnson.

Leonhardt explains why the current field of Democrats is so weak, as if that wasn’t already depressingly obvious, but he never points to a single current non-candidate who would be any more promising, because there aren’t any.  He muses about Democratic governors who might be more promising: Like who, exactly…the ridiculous Andrew Cuomo? How many Democratic governors have distinguished themselves enough to have any national name recognition at all, other than Cuomo and Virginia’s Ralph Northam, of blackface fame?

It’s not the process, obviously, it’s the people. Then Leonhardt ends with “Of course, the biggest sign that the process is broken isn’t any of those seven. It is the man in the Oval Office.” Got it. The op-ed is just more anti-Trump teeth gnashing.

Whatever Donald Trump may be, the fact that he beat a supposed Democratic star overwhelmingly expected to win proves that he was not a weak candidate by definition, and as an incumbent President, he is stronger now. Incumbent Presidents are usually strong candidates because no matter who they are, if the economy is thriving, their foreign policy weaknesses haven’t crippled them, and there’s no prominent third party candidate to siphon votes away, they win, like Obama, Bush, Clinton, Reagan, Nixon, Ike, Truman and FDR (and going back further yet to the beginning of the 20th Century, , Wilson, Teddy, and McKinley).

But I digress. The shocking deficiencies of the current Democratic hopefuls were on full display as the awful awful, awful December debate wound down.

Pete Buttigieg began the worst pander-fest of the evening: Continue reading

Someone Needs To Remind Poor California That It Is Just Another State, And In Need Of Therapy

It isn’t just your Democratic friends that Donald Trump’s election and presidency have caused to obsess in an unhealthy manner. The entire state of California just can’t move on with life. Bitter and angry, it is somewhere between the second and third stages of grief ( denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance).  If the state had knees, it would be going down on one, and screaming.

The legislature has passed a law requiring that Presidential candidates who want to appear on the California ballot would have to release their previous five years of tax returns. Tax returns are part of the impeachment crowd’s imaginary smoking gun evidence package. As with the emoluments clause, the Russian conspiracy theory and the “he’s not sufficiently like other Presidents so he must be insane” argument, the Trump-Obsessed are certain that if we just knew the truth about what was in the President’s tax returns, reversing the election would just be a few creative steps away.

Senate Bill 149 passed on September 15, and it is waiting for Governor Brown’s signature. Brown has not always been a fan of releasing candidate tax returns, like his own, for example.  He released his tax returns in his first two gubernatorial races, but not in 2010 or 2014 , after his opponents refused to  release theirs. I’m sure Brown will sign the bill, though. He has shown less and less inclination to restrain his increasingly alienated state’s political over-reach. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Politico

experience

“This is the fundamental tension of being Clinton’s chief speechwriter: How do you write effectively for a policy-driven candidate who is allergic to campaign-speak? …But it’s also deeper than just a speechwriting problem: It’s about how the most experienced person to ever run for the White House continues to struggle with one of the most basic parts of the job: committing to a message that helps establish a general sense of affection from the electorate.

—-Annie Karnie in Politico, in a post called “Has Hillary finally found her voice?”

The news media has become so biased, so incompetent, so arrogant and so dishonest that I could fill this blog every day with only posts aimed at exposing the horrific and damaging “profession” of journalism. The increasing boldness with which reporters and editors aim to manipulate public opinion and government policy by intentional disinformation is staggering. In focusing on Politico’s Big Lie about Hillary’s credentials, I chose not to write about several others, such as, for example, Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Jessie Balmert, who wrote that the number of murders in the U.S. last year was 15 times higher than it actually was. Another candidate was liberal website ThinkProgress, which headlined a story “GOP Platform Proposes To Get Rid Of National Parks And National Forests.” (It proposes nothing of the sort, but ThinkProgress’s false headline operates as both clickbait and confirmation bias fodder for its readers.)

I chose Politico’s bland statement as fact what is not a fact, but rather easily disprovable pro-Hillary propaganda, because this technique is so insidious. The  biased news media repeats falsity over and over again until it is accepted as truth. No, Trump did not say that “Mexican immigrants were rapists.” No, equally qualified women do not get only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. Those two examples however, have some arguments, however unfair and warped, to justify them. By no possible interpretation can it be claimed that Hillary Clinton is “the most experienced person to ever run for the White House.”  It is an unequivocal falsehood, perpetuated by the news media out of incompetence and ignorance, or in order to intentionally mislead the public. Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Week: Senator Rand Paul

Senator Paul, forever young.

Senator Paul, forever young.

“I think that’s the real hypocrisy, is that people on our side, which include a lot of people who made mistakes growing up, admit their mistakes but now still want to put people in jail for that. Had he been caught at Andover, he’d have never been governor, he’d probably never have a chance to run for the presidency.”

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky), in reaction to Jeb Bush’s admission that he smoked marijuana heavily as a student. Bush currently opposes the legalization of medical marijuana.

Oh, great: Rand Paul is 16 years old.

The chip off the old libertarian block Ron Paul (who would legalize heroin, ecstasy, LSD, you name it) now proves that he has no idea what hypocrisy is. It is troubling: Senator Paul is an MD, and can be an articulate and powerful speaker;  he can take bold strategic political steps that his Republican colleagues are too timid to try, like correctly charging Hillary Clinton with complicity in her husband’s sexual predation,  but he repeatedly conveys the impression that he’s just not all that bright. This quote is a sterling example. Continue reading

Herman Cain Flunks The Presidential Candidate Competency Test

Herman Cain's Consitution

The legal ethics standards do not require that a lawyer be fully knowledgeable and competent to handle a particular representation when he or she accepts the assignment, but does require that the lawyer be sufficiently up-to-speed in the legal area at issue when the work commences. That standard is reasonable for the law,  but the American public should expect more when an individual has the audacity to pronounce himself fit to be President of the United States. One area I would hope a candidate wouldn’t need to bone up on after the fact: the nation’s founding documents.

Former pizza CEO and conservative radio host Herman Cain officially entered the contest for the GOP nomination over the weekend with this statement, following his exhortation to America’s public to read the Constitution:

“Keep reading! Don’t stop at life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.”

Meet me at the bridge; I’ll be jumping at noon. Continue reading