a Presidential Primary round-up, May 2023
eighteen months left of this political death-march
the frequency of posts at this Substack has been down, recently.
This place is becoming more like Twitter (pre-Musk Twitter), and I don’t like that. And the limitations of the medium are becoming stifling. But, for certain topics (such as the 2024 Presidential Election), our coverage here will continue, whether we are happy or not.
Insanity from the Self-Declared Gatekeepers
After eight years, the zombie narrative of “just ignore Trump” still has credence among people who should know better:
Michael Fanone, for Rolling Stone: “CNN Is Hosting a Town Hall for a Guy Who Tried to Get Me Killed”
Perry Bacon Jr., for the Washington Post: “Some media critics and people on the left have said that the town hall legitimizes a man who, among his many misdeeds, tried to overturn the 2020 election and, effectively, U.S. democracy.”
My take, from a Note:
You people think you are gatekeepers.
And perhaps you are, in that you can invite people into the national narrative.
But Trump has been that narrative for almost a decade. And for that decade, you people have constantly said “if we ignore him, he will go away”.
IT. HASN’T. WORKED.
A plan to combat “4 more years of Trump is a disaster and we must stop it” that relies on nobody talking about him is insanity.
There is a second theory, almost too stupid to put into writing, that suggests the real problem is that media has been too fair to Trump over the past eight years; and if the media were to start being genuinely biased against Trump now, it would surely stop him from being elected in 2024.
Yet Another Kennedy
There is a certain sense that I was hoping for a “new” candidate with gravitas to run in the Democratic primary. Apparently, asking for that candidate to be somebody I liked was too much.
Because there is such a candidate. It is Robert Kennedy Jr., who starts with name recognition and political talent.
Current views of his campaign are a mix between the type of denial that many journalists viewed the 2015 Trump campaign with, and Matt Yglesias types ironically-or-not leaning into the campaign. But (unlike Marianne Williamson) RFK Jr is a serious threat to win multiple primaries against Biden.
In New Hampshire, Biden appears to have established rules prohibiting him from participating. For an octogenarian incumbent who didn’t want to campaign anyway and expected no serious challengers, perhaps this was logical. But now it gives other candidates an easier path to an early win.
Later on, if he maintains a campaign throughout the primary cycle, RFK Jr will possibly be the favorite to win the West Virginia primary. The “Demosaur” voters are moving to the Republican party, but many are still registered Democrats. In 2012, “virtually unknown convicted felon and perennial candidate Keith Judd” got 40% of the vote against Barack Obama.
A New Contender
The efforts to trot out “some dude who is not a politician” to run for President continue.
First was Perry Johnson, who (apart from a ludicrous Super Bowl commercial) does not seem to have the presence or support to make a serious campaign.
Next was Vivek Ramaswamy, who seems to have a lot of under-the-radar support from certain circles of rich people. But, the Newslettr’s position is that he is a charlatan1 and likely to be corrupt if elected.
Now, a new name: Ryan Binkley. He is a serious candidate in the sense that the Des Moines Register has recently run a profile of him. Who is he?
Some rich dude. He made his money the new-fashioned2 way: his father John started a business with him as a partner, and now, 20 years later, Ryan is the face of the business.
Religious. He started a “non-denominational” (which, in this context means Charismatic) church in suburban Dallas.
Previously employed at Proctor and Gamble — a name I much prefer to see over “McKinsey” on a resume.
There is no point analyzing his political positions yet; at this point in a campaign the press coverage is simply connect-the-dots.
If various evangelical groups in Iowa like him, we could be hearing a lot more from him soon. If they don’t like him, there will be some other person running next month.
To claim Ramaswamy is a charlatan, it should be sufficient to point to the recent situation where he quoted the Federalist Society as calling him one of the “most compelling conservative voices”, when he was actually quoting the biography he provided the Federalist Society.
As far as the argument that “Ramaswamy probably didn’t do that himself”, a fish rots from the head.
As opposed to the old-fashioned way of making money: inheriting it.