"The Democratic Party debates are that way."
The most apropos headline describing the Dem primaries thus far
It's not been the best of weeks for humankind, I'm afraid. After days of a trickle of new coronavirus cases, we've just had a record thirteen out of nowhere. National health authorities ain't waiting for the WHO to say the obvious any longer, so it seems, with the German health minister asserting that it's already a global pandemic, alongside leaked projections from America predicting close to 100 million cases, and half a million deaths.
The finger-pointing has begun in earnest too, after China's apparently-successful containment of the outbreak, with zero new cases being reported in the entirety of Hubei outside of Wuhan (population: nearly 50 million); given the policy about district leaders being strung up were there any new cases (as noted a couple of weeks back), I can only say: cool story, bro. More specifically, some Chinese sources are hinting that the coronavirus originated from elsewhere (with a long, meaningful glance across the Pacific), after basically abandoning the seafood market cover, and affirming racial susceptibility differences. Iran, one of the hardest-hit, is meanwhile swinging about at unspecified countries as well, but with all the clinic-burning and shrine-licking going on there, one has to suspect that foreign transmission might be the least of their troubles.
Much as one loves to critique the gahment here, I have to grudgingly admit that they seem to be making almost all of the right moves here, with an additional S$150 million earmarked for nurses and other support staff, and national servicemen actually getting a cost-of-living adjustment, while also promptly pushing out relevant research and supporting a Singaporean who tio hoot in London by uncouth chavs, as the ugly side of sociopathic misfits regrettably rears its head in crisis.
There's no call for wallowing in despair just yet, for all that's happened, and the fallout from Super Tuesday makes this a fine opportunity to catch up on the Democratic Party nomination process, as promised. I had initially intended to cover each debate, but frankly they were largely exceedingly tedious exercises revolving around piling on the perceived frontrunner; not entirely devoid of comic value, but nothing remotely approaching GEOTUS's many legendary 420 no-scope pick-offs in 2016, such as "Because you'd be in jail". I suppose you could search for the many summaries available if you so desire.
Instead, in the spirit of good cheer in testing times, we'll be taking a leaf out of GEOTUS's Valentine's book, in providing a fair & balanced review of the major unfortunate dropouts from this trainwreck of a race, in generally-chronological order of campaign suspension. *lugs out bag of participation trophies*
Yes, I know, she's still like five years from eligibility, but given how often she's been suggested by Bernie's Chapo Trap House bunch, I'd say she warrants a honourable mention here.
Make no mistake, she has her strengths - bumping an incumbent in New York politics to be the youngest Congresswoman ever is no mean feat. And, you've got to admit, she's more photogenic than 99% of House Representatives crying over an empty parking lot would have been; certainly, you wouldn't expect Politifact to white-knight Nancy Pelosi with a fact-check rating of "False! That's not an empty parking lot, that's a mostly-empty road with some parked cars, liar liar pants on fire!" quite as eagerly.
Among her many other achievements is being the poster girl for satire websites like The Babylon Bee, who have been assured a steady stream of headlines from her antics, some admittedly meaner and more low-effort than others. I mean, sure, they could have replaced her with Bernie in most of those articles, given they inhabit much the same mindless-economics-free space, but let's get real - if you have got to watch somebody spout entirely-impractical socialist bullcrap, would you rather it be a scruffy seventy year-old curmudgeon, or a kinda-attractive twentysomething Latina?
Women should have a chance to mess the world up too!
Democratic politics, while all sunshine and roses on the outside, can however be a vicious beast; while AOC may currently be the golden child of its progressive wing, it could be noted that her actual influence remains spotty, as evidenced by the big zero she came up with for her Green New Deal (covered last year), even from fellow Democrat veterans who knew better.
It begins to get somewhat personal when one sacrifices other people's jobs on the altar of one's own righteousness, though, and that's before she unveiled plans to build a Progressive campaign arm to unseat fellow Democrats, while refusing to pay party dues, to top it off. Given how irritating all the horseplay from AOC's Four Horsepeople of the Apocalypse is compounding up to be, Pelosi and friends going for the total Suicide Squad reboot by eliminating her House seat must be fairly tempting. On the bright side, they'll always have a job at The Babylon Bee, because where else are they gonna get material like that?
Kirsten Gillibrand is living proof that one can be a presentable female congressperson from New York without going off the far left wing. Very unfortunately, AOC apparently sucked all the air and attention from those quarters, leaving us with next to no records of her ever running. If it's any consolation, she should be able to restart with a clean slate in 2024, because I suspect everybody else forgot too.
Has ever a hyped-up frontrunner collapsed so precipitously? The eminently Irish/Welsh Robert Francis had at one point been third in the polling behind only Biden/Sanders just a year back, having run Ted Cruz close in Texas. Beto would carve the standing-on-table and posing-for-Vanity Fair niches (to his dog's evident discomfiture) out for himself, before word got out that he had previous arrests for burglary and driving under the influence, leading to a hit-and-run.
It has to be said that neither of these transgressions are disqualifying for Dem candidates, though (and indeed, might even be a plus given the direction they're heading), but Beto had a bigger problem - he didn't have a natural base. Being faux-Hispanic and printing cheer guides can only get one so far, and after indecisively dangling a run while still flavour of the month, he then demonstrated a complete lack of awareness by advocating for gun confiscation... in the Lone Star State. I've never seen a political career crater so quickly, as TRUMP's initial assessment of Beto's credibility proved only too accurate. GEOTUS took particular delight in rubbing his exit in, and from the looks of it, it will be permanent. Adiós, Robert.
The Democratic Party is all about intersectionality these days, which is like diversity but with three more syllables, because intellectual pretensions are also in. Kamala Harris was its flagbearer, because she's not white, not male and not ancient, unlike the remaining contestants. She rode these rare and valued attributes to third favourite for much of the past year after Robert began to fade, because no-one was going to say she wasn't, when she had all those checkboxes ticked.
As strategies went, she had a ready-made one: win her home state of California, which as everyone knows, has like four bazillion delegates. Even the seasoned pundits over at FiveThirtyEight were questioning whether she had to even try before that. So the idea went, all she had to do was to coast along for the first few contests on the in-ter-sec-tion-al-li-ty, then along comes California and then bam!, she's off and away.
Well, she didn't even make it to 2020.
One of the critiques of intersectionality is that it deindividualizes its subjects, by reducing them to a predefined set of labels. Kamala Harris isn't just a not-white not-male not-antediluvian, she's a person underneath it all. It seems the voters agreed, and peeled back the wrapping, and... didn't like what they saw.
To begin with, she's a cop. As far as occupations go, this had to be one of the worst for a presidential bid from the Democratic side, because liberals are really not very keen on the whole concept of law and order (being a lawyer like Clinton and Obama is okay, because they can get you out of jail). Thus, she got hammered from the left for enforcing rules and regulations, and from the right for comparing immigration officers to the Klan. Moreover, she was cursed with conscientiousness, and got called out for refusing yet another climate change pity party in favour of raising funds, while being unable to tread the tightrope on healthcare and housing plans, not having caught on that she was supposed to just make up the numbers, like the rest of them. This left her with few supporters in the party.
Her campaign was also marred by one of the weirdest hijinks of the entire primaries, and that's saying something. Empire actor and close acquaintance Jussie Smollett would make national news with claims that he had been set upon by two white males, who allegedly beat him up before releasing him with a noose around his neck... coincidentally as Harris was promoting an anti-lynching bill. The outrage was incandescent, but too many details didn't add up, like how supposed white supremacists would target an actor of a show they don't watch while yelling "This is MAGA country"... in the middle of a sub-zero Chicago blizzard. Turns out Smollett hired two Nigerians (gotta help each other out) to play the part. Since it was Chicago, he appeared to have gotten away with it for awhile too, but it was ultimately too high-profile to keep under wraps. That's six felony charges carrying up to three years each and a ruined television career... and she didn't even make it to Iowa.
But it's not all bad for Harris. Her intersectionality fundamentals remain very much intact, and as such, she remains an entirely tenable vice-presidential pick for either old white male that emerges victorious. If I were her, I'd just lay low and wait for my number to come up, and refrain from accusing Democrat voters of being racist and sexist until firmly ensconced in office.
Unlike Beto, Julian Castro is a true Hispanic. Unfortunately, he would automatically lose Florida, and it's not even really his fault. As suspected, he would endorse Elizabeth Warren instantly upon dropping out, because he's exactly what a campaign manager would manufacture as her foil.
Kindly spiritual healing lady Marianne Williamson brought good vibes and New Age love to the otherwise-hostile debates, and I guess she did some helpful juju to the rest of the candidates' chakra alignments (she wants you to know that she's not big on crystals or woowoo, though). Anyway, spending a few months with that lot had her admitting that conservatives were nicer to her then the Dems, and perhaps had her re-evaluating her association with them. Probably one of the sanest and best-adjusted of the candidates, she's currently marshalling her psychic energies in support of Bernie against Biden.
Cory Booker was described as "one of the bigger name politicians" to throw his hat into the ring, when he declared his candidacy. He did get in a jab or two at Biden, but by the time he quit mid-January, the general reaction was a quizzical realization that, hey, did anybody at all ever declare their support for Booker here? This about sums it all up.
We're coming to the actual big guns now, and I would like to say that Andrew Yang caught the imagination of the American public for a brief, shining moment, as Linsanity did in 2012. Frankly, forward as it might be, I can see a bit of myself in him - he's ethnically Chinese, supports blockchain and cryptos, is about the only candidate even talking about A.I. and automation, promotes financial literacy, peruses Reddit, and has an opinion on computer games; I like to think we have quite a bit in common.
Sadly, his candidacy was doomed from the beginning. Yes, I'll say it - it's because he's Chinese. He had zero chance.
But wait, some might say. The Democrats are huge on this identity politics thing! Weren't you just pumping Harris up on her intersectionality score? Well, first off, it's not the same with Asian guys, see - if they succeed they're a model minority, if not they're honorary whites. Just observe the Dems' horrific behaviour - when Obama was POTUS, sure the Republicans didn't much like him, but any attempt to disparage him based on skin colour would have been censured. However, say "Orange man bad" nowadays, and Democrats laugh. I had thought that America had moved beyond such revolting dermatologism, but it seems I thought wrong. This will take time, Andrew. Black, orange, yellow, they surpass discrimination and racism in turn.
In CNN MATH, 3 is less than 1
That aside, Yang had another big disadvantage. Running on a platform of proto-socialism like Bernie is one thing, but doing it as a Chinese? His opponents can just run pre-1970s Communist posters as attack ads, and they wouldn't even need to photoshop the faces! I'm not joking about the establishment bias against him either - when your microphone gets cut halfway in debates, you get dropped for Beto in CNN presentations of top vote-getters despite, well, getting more votes, and the bloody New York Times edits you to be the shortest male candidate from being of average height (only retracted after protest), one has to eventually suspect an underlying current of media racism.
All this considered, one understands why Yang named his UBI giveout a Freedom Dividend, because one can hardly find two words in the dictionary that are more quintessentially American. A more-involved discussion of UBI would take up entire blog posts, so suffice to say that I'm not very convinced of his math for now - mostly due to unaccounted second-order effects - though I can give credit for him at least trying to show the working (as opposed to Warren having the figures sorta, and Bernie just handwaving everything). His rational approach did win him a small but loyal core of Yang Gang diehards (to the possible confusion of tens of thousands of Chinese of that name); his (accurate) analysis last month that "Donald Trump is not the cause of all of our problems and we are making a mistake when we act like he is" would sadly be the beginning of the end.
Just to clarify, I'm hardly down with all of Yang's stands (e.g. on the Green New Deal), and thought that his whipped cream stunt was in doubtful taste. And, like, MATH as a slogan? Really? Worst of all, joining CNN as a commentator? It's small wonder that some of his supporters, in seeking a new candidate, have turned to the light of the Emperor - MATH is halfway to MAGA, after all!
Tom Steyer's a hedge fund billionaire who attempted to beat Biden at his own game (i.e. getting the black vote out) in South Carolina, by straight up offering them cash through reparations (which can obviously get pretty tricky to assess). He was also all-in on fighting climate change, but overall, his candidacy never made much sense, other than as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get on the big stage. Bloomberg's presence and his dance to "Back Dat Azz Up" did apparently make him the Dem voters' preferred billionaire, which means they eat him last.
It was barely a month ago that Mayor Pete was soaring highest with his upset win in Iowa, but alas, it wasn't to be. Buttigieg was admittedly an easy option for party powerbrokers to congeal around, were they of a mind to - guy's clean-shaven, fairly well-spoken, the very picture of inoffensiveness. They could conceivably mould him into an agreeable platitude-spouting figurehead (e.g. "The shape of our democracy is the issue that affects every other issue", which got him panned by Williamson, of all people); he's clearly been mimicking Obama's speech patterns all the way up to memorizing soundbites, and from how the mainstream FAKE NEWS pushed him over Bernie in reporting the New Hampshire results, I'd gather that the establishment Democrats would be pretty okay with his nomination.
Sure, all that prep could make him seem somewhat inauthentic and calculated in the eyes of some, and he's relatively inexperienced with a thin record to boast of, but both these drawbacks could plausibly be countered. Ditto for his father being Marxist, or controversial positions on after-birth abortion, Supreme Court packing and not going far enough on free college. No, his problem was very simple: he's gay, and blacks flat out won't vote for gays, as South Carolina kingmaker Jim Clyburn said matter-of-factly in driving his state's support to Biden.
Just a moment here... isn't that homophobia? Why isn't the zero-tolerance Democratic Party censuring these blacks, or at least angling for equal acceptance, like in Singapore?
In any case, intersectionality wasn't working in Mayor Pete's favour here, and his campaign was done after polling approximately 0% with African-Americans and getting chased into his car by Black Vote Matters protestors. That said, that constituency isn't going for Bernie despite him not taking the (D) either, and under these circumstances, him yielding to Biden in consideration for a possible juicy Cabinet slot is only logical.
I'll be first to admit that I haven't been following her career closely, but make no mistake, this lady's a fighter. She demands accountability, she's won all her elections in Minnesota, she's managed to wrest half of the New York Times' endorsement, and she'll eat her salad with an unwashed comb if she has to. Do you have anything on that? I don't. A Redditor has dubbed her "The Starscream of Karens", but I doubt she'll be fazed.
Position-wise, she has said her piece on whether English should be the national language, but from her debate appearances, the issue dearest to her heart is bringing Pete Buttigieg down. I'm not talking about a run-of-the-mill feud here, like TRUMP vs. Ted Cruz. This is legit "from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee" stuff. Initially, there was suspicion that she would be staying in for Super Tuesday to block Bernie in Minnesota, but it turned out that she was simply lying in wait for Buttigieg to drop out first, before doing a little jig.
Can't wait for them both to be back for 2024.
Let's play Spot the Bloomberg!
[N.B. Full series thus far, Bloomberg's own entry]
Mini Mike Bloomberg's campaign will be remembered as an objective study on what money can and can't buy. What it can buy is some 12% of the Democratic base's support at nearly US$29 million per percent, the second-most endorsements of any candidate from prominent party members despite joining up barely a year ago, a gaggle of new party members to boot, access to the Democratic debate stage despite not meeting preset criteria, and possibly a box to stand on during said debates (it comes with the full package). As to what it can't buy, the 2020 Democratic nomination's out of his reach, since as GEOTUS said, he came up very short after lighting half a billion dollars on fire and not winning a single state. If nothing else, Jeb! can be thankful for Bloomberg making him look good.
Fine, maybe we've been too harsh on him here, so we'll say it again - Bloomberg's loaded. To the tune of
Definitely, many Democrats aren't happy with Bloomberg all but buying the election, which had led to low attendances and stage-stormings at his events. His inexperience however showed, from him reportedly considering Hillary as his running mate, after rumours that she was planning a return in response to his entry. I mean, I'm hardly a fan of Bloomberg, but unintentional suicide doesn't sit well with me. Don't do it, Mike! Your billions won't save you here! Thankfully, it seems the threat has been averted.
What does rankle me, personally, is Bloomberg's attempt to buy memes. Instagram accounts, fine, false advertising, shrug, and influencers exist to get bought for the right price, but it's just not the same with memes, man. Perhaps I'll recount my admittedly tiny role in GEOTUS's ascension via the GREAT MEME WAR of 2016 someday, but let's just say that I don't think Bloomberg will be able to buy that kind of freely-given devotion.
he who memes with his hand has forgotten the face of the Emperor;
I meme with my mind.
I do not troll with my words;
he who trolls with his words has forgotten the name of the Emperor;
I troll with my heart.
I do not shitpost with my phone;
he who shitposts with his phone has forgotten the glory of the Emperor;
I shitpost with my soul.
Anyway, from Bloomberg's empty campaign offices, one suspects he had expected this result all along. Come to think of it, given the Democrats' insistence that TRUMP swung 2016 thanks to US$100,000 in lousy Russian Facebook ads, shouldn't Bloomberg have done slightly better with seven hundred million bucks?
And we come to Pocahontas.
She's the only candidate to score a dedicated blog post here, as far as I can recall, thanks to her ill-advised genetic test brouhaha. Okay, to be honest here, I've accumulated an entire folder of Liewatha/Fauxahontas jokes without going out of my way to do so, but really, there are only so many variations on virtue smoke-signalling, folding up of teepees, not having a reservation and rejecting of peace pipes that one can spin up.
As acknowledged then, Warren does have her advantages - ample feminist backing, decent name recognition, no excessive scandals outside of reflexive hypocrisy, such as lying on school choice. She supposedly got Obama's private support (which may say more about Biden, though), and successfully wrecked Bloomberg in the debates after he pulled level in the polls through the power of moolah. Trouble was, she tried too hard to please everybody after nearly taking the lead last October, to become a mythical "unity figure" that both moderates and progressives could rally around. Unsurprisingly, she failed, because as Aristotle noted, a friend to all is a friend to none.
This triangulation ensured that she would never be wholly trusted by either faction, with moderates cautious about her flighty concessions to Medicare for All and other money-haemorrhaging designs, and progressives feeling betrayed that she wasn't backing Bernie's incoherent shouting to the hilt, and ready abandonment of her vow to forego super PAC funding. In the end, with Berniebros turning on her for splitting the progressive vote by not dropping out, and coming in third in her home state, she would seek refuge in misogyny, because it's not like women make up 60% of Democratic primary voters and are free to vote for whichever thoroughly-unlikeable female candidate they want.
Not that not being a candidate's gotten Warren off the fence, as she's resolutely refusing to endorse anyone. Big heap sad.
Getting it straight here, Tulsi Gabbard's still officially in the running. Yes, she's made the podium! Frankly, I was rooting for her throughout - certified badass, probably the fittest of them all (I'd take her over Biden in a push-up contest without a second thought), centered, sensible, refused to back the embarassing impeachment hoax against tribal pressure, Chris-Christied Harris, called out the FAKE NEWS for what they were, stood up to Crooked Hillary after she accused her of being a "Russian asset" out of the blue... I mean, she's like the dream candidate there. So, of course the Democrats conspire to shut her out of the next debates, after she qualified according to their rules. Misogyny, indeed! Can anyone blame her from wanting out from that garbage organization, after enduring all this?
Myself, I imagine her seated in the back of the bar with her hard-won delegate (the other one's off to barter some firewater from Warren), playing the long game. Consider: Gabbard's a very healthy 38; her opponents are nearing eighty, one's just had a heart attack, and the other can barely remember who he is; now, no-one's wishing anything bad to happen to them, but with the coronavirus going around, let's just say that it's hardly outside the realm of possibility that she might be the only non-suspended candidate left standing, when the convention begins in July...
Next: Yes, The Suspension!
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