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Sometimes It's Just the Sum of the Parts

In recognizing that none of the things in my head right now are compelling enough to justify thinking through an entire post to pretend there's depth behind the bored sketched out thoughts that amount to a couple of tweet threads I'm putting it all together in one post:

Schrödinger's Candidate

Matt Yglesias wrote a piece at Vox suggesting the left should worry Joe Biden's chance at winning the nomination. Almost simultaneously someone who'd have bet against Biden entering the race a month ago expressed some dismay over his sustained poll numbers. I think that what they both get wrong, and which will grow increasingly clear, is that Biden's numbers aren't real. While I'm sure he has some core supporters he's still being evaluated as a potential candidate, not on the basis of what he will do as a candidate. What we know so far is that he's poised in contrast to Bernie to be dismissive of the economic system his policies leave behind for millennials and a balm to the hurt feelings of billionaires. While on the surface his recent #metooish moment with several women coming forward to say that Uncle Joe gave them "creepy feelings" might have appeared to be designed to hurt his numbers I think it was meant to serve another purpose. None of the women are accusing him of sexual assault or impropriety or anything behind closed doors. It was all about his weird touchy-feely boundary crossing behaviors that have been well documented; it's the appearance of "bad" with no real substance. It's a rhetorical tar-baby that in touching it his potential opponents would become enmeshed in morality by commenting even as Uncle Joe waved it away. Rather than hurting Joe it was a shield from deeper inspection of his actual record while setting him up as a victim of the obviously dastardly Sanders campaign. This is all well and good for Uncle Joe as a potential candidate, but once he becomes an actual candidate he'll have to answer questions on his actual record. It's not pretty. Frankly, giving speeches as a potential presidential candidate pays better than being president while being easier than being president or answering for every speech given. I think Joe would rather go out well liked than endure the kind of scrutiny that still has Hillary Clinton with favorability lower than Trump's.

Who Needs Policy When it Only Gets in the Way?

I was reflecting on a way too long back and forth over Mayor Pete I had with a  friend after his town hall. I say way too long because for me it was just a question of if he had said what he wanted to do. He hadn't. There was no further need to consider him as a candidate as a young mayor running for president not on the basis of something he had done that he wanted to scale up or wanted to do that other candidates weren't considering but essentially just on his identity. The purpose of such a candidacy should be obvious. I recalled the conversation in light of Mayor Pete's rising poll numbers while noting that the whole not running to do anything but just to "be" seems to be his new schtick. Call me cynical, but if you're running for president neither highlighting what you have done or might want to do your media fluffed rising popularity probably won't withstand scrutiny. I was going to write about the similarity between the media making Trump a viable candidate and Mayor Pete's rise but I'm simultaneously too annoyed and bored by his candidacy and others have recently written about the emptiness of his campaign.


Reparations is the Freddie Krueger of Ideas

Kevin Drum wrote something for Mother Jones that was wrong but I kinda agreed with.  I agree with the notion that reparations is an idea for winning the primary and losing the general. He's wrong that it's a purity idea for the left. It's a libertarian notion of dispensing justice that is less popular among the people it's meant to benefit than the universal policies it exists in the discourse to stop. It's supported by the "left", the same people who think it's important to call white people racist on the basis of their votes and who swear by identity politics. Since I've been blocked on Twitter by the leaders of what amounts to an internet campaign I've mostly ignored the ongoing arguments. It's been weirdly gratifying tuning in to find the people who'd been arguing with me a month ago now questioning the underlying anti-immigrant sentiment in the current demand.

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