Hi Birdies, I’m posting a separate thread because this is a Deconstructed podcast transcription, and it is very long. I’ll be posting it in several parts, for archival purposes to ensure it’s handy when we need to remember some of the points (or should I say counterpoints) raised by Ryan Grim and his guest, Anat Shenker-Osorio, the founder of ASO Communications.
Two Weeks ago, I read an op-ed by Maureen Dowd, “Still Feeling the Bern. ” It’s a favorable interview and review of Ari Rabin-Havi about his book on working for Bernie Sanders as a staffer, later as “Earl’s” deputy campaign manager and close political adviser. The memoir is entitled The Fighting Soul: On the Road with Bernie Sanders.
Dowd supplies some good leads about the book, but I will include for brevity only this summation:
When Sanders met with Barack Obama at his Georgetown office in 2018 to tell him he was thinking about running for president again, Obama offered this advice: “Bernie, you are an Old Testament prophet — a moral voice for our party giving us guidance. Here is the thing, though. Prophets don’t get to be king. Kings have to make choices prophets don’t. Are you willing to make those choices?”
Rabin-Havt (whose brother, Raphi, worked with me at The Times for a spell) writes: “Obama continued, making the point that to win the Democratic nomination, Bernie would have to widen his appeal and convince the party to back him — which would mean being a different type of politician and a different type of candidate than he wanted to be. Bernie listened to Obama, but it was clear to me he never accepted that premise. He has a fundamental belief that he could lead an uncompromising movement that would challenge those who ran the Democratic Party while also leading that same institution, one he steadfastly refused to join.”
The author sums up with a trenchant point: Bernie may never see “the promised land,” but he did win.
“While Bernie Sanders will never be president, his two campaigns have transformed the Democratic Party and this country. Old orthodoxies about government spending and foreign policy have crumbled as a result of the unceasing efforts by an old socialist.”
I labeled this post part one for a good reason. Thanks to Dowd’s op-ed, I decided to buy a Kindle edition of the book and it arrived yesterday. I’m about 20% of the way through. It’s very relaxed in its prose, and candid at times about the frustrations in creating work arounds to make the trains run on time. Some of it has surprised me, such as learning that Bernie is a football fan. I thought he liked baseball and basketball, hereto alas, he likes football and roots for the New England Patriots. (The author is a Giants fan and finds the Pats annoying) I enjoy reading about Bernie’s proclivities and use of foul language when away from microphones. Dowd put it this way in her piece:
I relish hearing about what Rabin-Havt calls “Bernie’s natural impatience” with the frivolous — pretty much everything except the sweeping changes he wants in the country.
There are some happy moments with co-chairs of the campaign, such as Nina Turner’s great effort of personally adopting SC for one of the first primary states in campaigning for the senator. Rabin-Havt shared more of the strategy in the book, which political historians will appreciate. Much of it we knew from reports in the news and all of us who attended rallies, but Rabin-Havt reveals the thinking behind it.
Thus, this is my part 1 since I’m only a 1/5 of the way in the book. It’s a pleasure so far to read. I’ll give my own review later.
I’m posting some videos and reviews in the comments. feel free to add your own. I’ll be reviving this later in the week.
Voting for Shitty Biden If you do decide to vote, it’s important for somebody to acknowledge directly that you don’t have to vote for Joe Biden.
You probably should vote for him at the top of the ticket, but you don’t have to. You’re not a shitty person if you don’t.
Or, at least, you’re no shittier than the millions of people who ensured the Democratic establishment would foist Biden on you by loudly proclaiming #BlueNoMatterWho a year and more in advance of elections.
Remember how it was that you ended up with this terrible option the next time people ask you to give away all of your political leverage in advance.
That said, I’m going to offer some reasons why you should vote for Joe Biden, prefaced by common lies about why Joe Biden is great or at least not shit. For each, I repeat the common lie, explain why it’s a lie, and suggest a reason you should probably vote for Biden anyhow.
For the sake of brevity, I’ll skip over a bunch of ways people talk about Joe Biden that aren’t exactly lies, but are just ugly and gross and complete turn-offs in every way. (Like when they did the quick hypocritical turnabout from believing women in general to adamantly not believing the specific woman who accused Biden of sexual assault, Tara Reade, which made them all sound awfully like Republicans.) I’ll also skip over a bunch of things people get super unhappy about when Republicans do it, but basically refuse to notice when Democrats do it. (Like the fact that the cages Trump put those kids in were built by Obama and Biden.)
Some Lies about Why Biden Is Good
Lie #1: Biden fights for the “little guy” and is a “straight shooter.”
This is an idiotic and obvious lie. Biden fights for big pharma and for the banking industry and for the war manufacturers and for the insurance companies. He fights for the CEOs and the Boards of Directors. And they fight for him. He’s a terrible candidate for the little guy, like nearly everyone in both major parties. He’s not a lesser evil. He’s also a giant liar. Not as big a liar as his opponent, who basically never says anything true except that politicians lie, but still: when you vote Joe, you get lots and lots of malarkey. Voting for Biden is worthwhile because it’s a vote against somebody who’s actively trying to destroy all the good or even semi-okay parts of the government. Including voting itself. And we’ll need those bits to still exist, including voting, if we ever hope to have a real democracy. That’s it. That’s the reason.
Lie #2: Biden is good for Black Americans.
No, he’s not. He’s terrible for Black Americans. He’s spent most of his career locking up Black Americans and lying about being part of the Civil Rights movement. Joe Biden is good at ingratiating himself with a subset of wealthy and politically strong Black Americans, but at the level of both policy and communication style (both past and present) he is just normal American white supremacist bad. His opponent is no better—much uglier in his personal racism, but about equally bad for Black Americans at the level of policy. They’re both worse. Voting for Biden is worthwhile because it’s a vote against somebody who’s actively trying to destroy all the good or even semi-okay parts of the government. Including voting itself.
Lie #3: Biden’s platform is the most progressive in American history.
Not even close. Basically all of the left-wing third-party platforms have been more progressive. Go ahead and start with Eugene Debs. Biden’s might be the most progressive Democratic Party platform ever, but it also might not. If it is, this is also the highest-numbered year in American history. Shouldn’t the platform of the party that supposedly believes in progress by definition be more progressive than ever? More importantly, saying you’ll do nice things doesn’t mean you’ll actually do them—especially when you’ve spent your whole life not doing them and have already begun assuring all of your shitty major donors that you won’t do them. Past behavior is an indicator of future performance. Still, on this one Biden is genuinely better than his opponent, who is incoherent and malicious, and so mostly says he’ll do mean things for no good reason. If there’s enough popular pressure AND widespread disaster, a Biden presidency might end up being very modestly left, but that’s a pretty big “if.” A better bet is that voting for Biden is worthwhile because it’s a vote against somebody who’s actively trying to destroy all the good or even semi-okay parts of the government. Including voting itself.
Lie #4: Biden is mentally fit.
He’s in extremely clear cognitive decline. Democrats should be embarrassed to be running him as a candidate. They’re trying to make you feel bad by lying about it, pretending his obvious mental lapses are a stutter and you’re a jerk for noticing and not understanding it. But watch videos of the guy from when he was pushing with a stutter but also great lucidity the crime bill that has destroyed so many lives since he got it through in 1994 (he was still lying about how great it was in 2016, by the way). Biden’s had a stutter all his life, but the speaker in older videos–all the way up through his time as a vice president–is a highly effective orator. Gaffes, sure, a carefully managed stutter, sure, but not clear cognitive breaks and big confusion like nowadays. In fairness, Joe Biden’s opponent is equally obviously unfit, not only cognitively in decline but seriously deranged. Once more, they’re both worse. Voting for Biden is worthwhile because it’s a vote against somebody who’s actively trying to destroy all the good or even semi-okay parts of the government. Including voting itself.
Lie #5: Biden will “pivot left” in office if we push him.
No, he won’t. They never do. And this one especially not. He’s a cozy, clubby shithead who likes to be comfortable and feel important, and who relies entirely on the ultra-wealthy to make that possible for him. Unless the ultra-wealthy decide a little left pivoting is necessary to save themselves from the guillotine, Joe Biden will stay true to the shitty course he’s followed for many decades. The guy he’s running against is a lot worse still, in terms of I-got-mine-so-fuck-you personal ideology, but electing Biden runs the real risk that all the millions of people who stopped sleepwalking for ten seconds here recently will go right back to sleep once “their” guy is in the White House. So, it’s a wash again who’s worse: they both are. Still, voting for Biden is worthwhile because it’s a vote against somebody who’s actively trying to destroy all the good or even semi-okay parts of the government. Including voting itself.
And so okay, fine, I did lie about the one thing. I said there would be reasons plural. There’s basically just one solid reason to vote for Biden.
Voting for Biden is worthwhile because it’s a vote against somebody who’s actively trying to destroy all the good or even semi-okay parts of the government. Including voting itself. And we’ll need those bits to still exist, including voting, if we ever hope to have a real democracy. That’s it. That’s the reason.
The problem for mainstream Republicans who would like to retire Mr. King in a June 2 party primary is that, with four challengers in the race, all sensing an opportunity and aggressively campaigning, the anti-King vote will be split four ways.
“Not to be Captain Obvious, but four people in the race always helps the incumbent,” said Rick Bertrand, who challenged Mr. King in the Republican primary in 2016 but is not running this year. “If this was a mano a mano race, King would be in trouble right now.”
In January 2019, Republican leaders stripped Mr. King of his House committee assignments after he suggested that white nationalism was not offensive. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, urged Mr. King to “find another line of work.” Mr. King defiantly remained.
His penchant for incurring the wrath of party leaders has marked his campaign. Over the weekend he raised the stakes by claiming to have recorded a phone call with Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House minority leader, and contradicted Mr. McCarthy’s public statements.
Mr. King had told Iowans at a debate on May 11 that Mr. McCarthy had promised him “exoneration” and pledged to recommend “to put all of my committees back with all of my seniority.”
There was just one problem. Mr. McCarthy denied any such thing. “Congressman King’s comments cannot be exonerated, and I never said that,” he told reporters four days later. Should Mr. King win re-election, his committee assignments will be reviewed at the start of the next Congress by the Republican Steering Committee, “just like every single member,” Mr. McCarthy said. “Talking to members on the steering committee, I think he’d get the same answer that he got before.”
But on Saturday, during a candidate forum, Mr. King effectively called Mr. McCarthy untruthful. Brandishing papers that he said were transcripts of a phone call he had recorded with Mr. McCarthy, he insisted that the Republican leader told him in April he would lobby for the return of his committee assignments. “All Kevin McCarthy really needs to do is do what he said,” Mr. King said.
A spokesman for Mr. McCarthy did not respond to a request for comment.
Even though Mr. King’s long history of inflammatory comments about immigration is not far removed from President Trump’s own rhetoric, Republicans are worried that with Mr. King on the ballot in November, a safe seat for the party could fall to Democrats.
“J.D. Scholten is waiting,” one of Mr. King’s challengers, Jeremy Taylor, said at a debate last week, referring to Mr. King’s general election opponent from 2018, who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. “He cannot be the representative in this district.”
Mr. Scholten came within three percentage points of flipping the seat, in a Northwest Iowa district where Mr. Trump won by nearly 20 points in 2016. A rematch would bring a flood of outside money to Mr. Scholten, a former minor league baseball player, but his chances would be considerably lower if he faces one of Mr. King’s primary challengers.
“A generic Republican should win convincingly,” said Dane Nealson, a Republican City Council member in Nevada, Iowa, in Mr. King’s district. “It speaks to King’s ineffectiveness as a congressman and embarrassment to our state, more than anything, that it was that close last time.”
If neither Mr. King nor any of his four challengers receives at least 35 percent of the vote on June 2, the nominee will be picked at a district convention. Convention attendees are drawn from the party’s most committed activists, and Mr. King is thought to have an advantage under that scenario.
Mr. King’s closest rival, Randy Feenstra, has been endorsed by mainstream Republican-leaning groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Right to Life Committee. A state senator, Mr. Feenstra has raised far more money than Mr. King, reporting $415,000 in cash on hand in the latest reporting period, compared to Mr. King’s $26,000. An internal poll that Mr. Feenstra released on May 11 showed Mr. King leading the field with 39 percent, closely trailed by Mr. Feenstra at 36 percent, a gap within the margin of error.
More tweets, videos, stories in the comments section. See you there!