Sunday, August 30, 2020

The Malarkey Derby: And they're off . . . way off!

By A.J. Liebling
Meta-Content Generator

After the Democratic Convention and the drug-fueled Trumpublican Hate Fest, we could all use a break from politics.  That's why we were so glad to hear that the Kentucky Derby will be held in September, albeit in an empty Churchill Downs.

Until then we'll have to enjoy the quadrennial post-election spectacle, the Run of the Poseurs, also known as the Malarkey Derby.  This highlight of the political horse race calendar occurs this time in each election cycle, when America's thoroughbred bloviators and gasbags compete for the greatest prize in political-year punditry: the race to tell the Democratic nominee what he (or last time she) must do to win the race, in the expert opinion of said gasbag.

Bad ToupeƩ breaks fast but
starts leaning to one side

Normally the advice is that the Democratic center must pivot to the center, attract white voters, and repudiate the progressive wing of his own party.  Because that worked out great for Presidents Michael Dukakis and John Kerry!  And invariably they have no advice for the Republican nominee who, no matter how corrupt, drug-addled, demented, and vile, is regarded as a political mastermind whose instincts are flawless.

Before we start, a quick reminder: while in most years the winner has been one of a select group over over-60 white geldings, the race is theoretically open to superannuated nags of any gender.   As they lumber toward the starting keyboard, let's look at some of the contenders.

Here's a long-time champion of many past races, George Will.  What's his terrible advice for Joe Biden?

He needs a Sister Souljah moment. In 1992, this rap singer was pleased by the deadly Los Angeles riots following the acquittal of the police officers involved in the Rodney King beating: “If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?” Candidate Bill Clinton’s criticism, not of extremism in general, but of her explicitly, reassured temperate voters that he was not intimidated by inhabitants of the wilder shores of American politics.

FFS.  Yeah, because that's the message of the Black Lives Matter movement: kill white police.  And we know that because . . . .  So Will's advice is that Joe Biden should gratuitously smear his most impassioned and devoted supporters reeling from the agony of repeated unpunished police shootings of unarmed Black men and women by finding some Black voice, however extreme or lonely, he can verbally assault.  That's got to make Will an early favorite!  

But there's a crowded field here.  One of his Washington Post stablemates, Kathleen Parker, had a similar, um, take:

. . . while Bretbug skitters along the rail . . .

Biden needs to distance himself from the rioters and agitators and troublemakers who are scaring people out of their wits. 

Are they?  Which people?  The ones who are too scared to dine at restaurants, fly on planes, and send their kids to school because they fear adding to the coronavirus carnage that has so far claimed over 180.000 lives with no end in sight?  Maybe she's talking about the racist Republican base that wields assault rifles at peaceful protesters, whose wits are so tiny they could fall out of their noses during reloading.

And notice how this old horse adopts the broad-brush Republican smear of unnamed “rioters and agitators and troublemakers,” a group large enough to encompass any and all protesters but narrow enough so that the speaker can claim she wasn't speaking about the good, peaceful, not-too-uppity protesters.

Let's take a look at the contenders from that other stable that has raised so many other winners of the Malarkey Derby, The New York Times.   Here's the young old gelding who's regarded as one of the strongest entrants in the field, Bretbug;

If Joe Biden isn’t careful, Donald Trump might have a new nickname for him: “Shutdown Joe.” Or maybe, “Shut Down Joe.” Those monikers came to mind after the former vice president’s biggest blunder in the campaign thus far. 

I’m referring to Biden’s comment, in his interview last week with ABC’s David Muir, that if scientists advised him to shut down the country again to contain a winter surge of Covid-19 and the flu, “I would shut it down; I would listen to the scientists.” It’s the sort of remark that surely plays well with voters who already support him. It might even have notional majority support. 

But it doesn’t help with the voters Biden needs to avoid antagonizing in swing districts.

So Bretbug believes that Biden should promise to keep America doing business as usual even if trained scientists tell him that doing so would cause the needless deaths of thousands of more Americans? I mean who needs science anyway?  Just a reminder that Bretbug is running true to form: he first raced to prominence by mocking the science of human-caused global warming and the people of Lake Charles, Louisiana will be thanking him for years. 

Not to be outdone, his fellow aged clodhopper Tom Friedman, having run hard throughout the Iraq War and then been put away wet, found the platform that Biden should run on at the end of a random email:

I have an idea for Biden’s bumper sticker.

As I think about what kind of president Biden wants to be and what kind of president America needs him to be, the slogan that comes to mind was suggested to me by . .  a recent email to me by writing: “Respect science, respect nature, respect each other.”

I thought — wow, that’s a perfect message for Biden, and for all of us. It summarizes so simply the most important values Americans feel that we’ve lost in recent years and hope to regain from a post-Trump presidency. . . .

We have so many important issues to discuss among ourselves right now, but for that discussion to be productive we can’t just go from justifiable outrage straight to firings, public shamings or disbanding police departments — without pausing for respectful dialogue and moral distinctions.

Wow indeed.  That's a perfect message for Biden if you think he should avoid criticizing the culture of white policing that has resisted all efforts at reform for decades while spewing insane paranoid hatemongering and threats against any politician who dares demand that the police protect, not shoot, members of the public. Again, the important thing for Biden is not to appear as if he believes that the Black critique of white dominated America is correct. 

Once again the Post and Times stables have fielded an impressive array of nags ready to b.s. their way over the entire course of a campaign.  But don't overlook some promising non-newcomers.

Here's Jack Shafer, from the reliable Politico stable of long-running hacks:

Biden might be able to defeat Trump in November, but as a creature of the Washington swamp for 48 years, he’ll never convince voters that Trump is less authentic than he is. That task would be easier for a candidate attacking Trump from the right, pointing out that Trump claims the Russia thing is a hoax but that QAnon is harmless, pointing out that he hasn’t built the wall, that he didn’t lock Hillary up, that he didn’t really crack down on the rioters, that he has failed to bring back the manufacturing base, and that it’s not 1955 again.

Genius!  Joe Biden should remind America that the Tangerine-Faced Grifter promised to lock Hillary Clinton up without charges and . . . failed!  That'll make the difference in swing counties.

But the odds-on favorite to win is The Atlantic's own former Iraq war flack, ol' George Packer, for his advice to Biden to put himself in a no-win political trap on live TV:

. . . and Six Months Tom takes a leap of faith

Biden, then, should go immediately to Wisconsin, the crucial state that Hillary Clinton infamously ignored. He should meet the Blake family and give them his support and comfort. He should also meet Kenoshans like the small-business owners quoted in the Times piece, who doubt that Democrats care about the wreckage of their dreams. Then, on the burned-out streets, without a script, from the heart, Biden should speak to the city and the country. 

By the way, did Hillary Clinton's decision not to campaign personally in Wisconsin really prove fatal?  Is there anyone who could shed any light on this, like in a respected publication such as The Atlantic?  Come on down, Ron Brownstein

The price of that emphasis [on FL and NC] was extraordinarily little attention to Michigan and Wisconsin, which she did need to win, and also did not. . . . Yet that explanation doesn’t fully explain the outcome. Clinton also lost in Pennsylvania, which she pursued with enormous resources. 

If the explanation is falsified by other relevant cases, it's not much of an explanation, is it?

But you can't expect a thoroughbred hack like George Packer to read his own magazine when he can advise Joe Biden to parachute into an explosive situation controlled by unsympathetic white supremacist police and expect only good things to happen.  What could go wrong?

At any rate, the Malarkey Derby will run hot and heavy until Election Day.  The best part?  Even if they turn out to be wrong about everything (remember ol' George Will exalting the wisdom of the Electoral College in 2017?), they'll be back again for the next race.  

Because when it comes to America's white male gasbags, there's no such thing as finishing out of the money.

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