This Weak in Politics, Vol. LXV
Motto: It Smells Like Something Died Inside The Darkness of Democracy
March 2, 2017
It is not every week that the leadership fight of a minor party in the United States could lead the news, yet here we are.
The “Democratic” Party held its leadership election this week, with the result being that journalists everywhere were given the opportunity to use the phrase “internecine warfare,” a term which translates literally to “shit-show that underscores how and why Trump won.”
The race for chairman of a party that has failed to make inroads into red states, and is losing ground in purple states, boiled down to a candidate from a state that has voted Democratic all but three times in the last 15 elections versus a candidate from a state that has done so all but three times in the last 17 elections. Add to that, one of the candidates was a 53-year-old man of color while the other was a 55-year-old man of color. One earned a law degree and focused on civil rights, while the other earned a law degree and focused on…civil rights. The differences were like day and…slightly later in the day.
Seriously…the two are so alike, if they were Republicans they’d be Lindsey Graham and Joe Manchin.
When all was said and done, former Obama Labor Secretary Tom Perez (or “Keith Ellison,” according to the accounting firm of PriceWaterhouseCooper) was declared the winner. The reaction to Perez’s election was mixed, with 97% of Americans responding, “who? Uh-huh. And he was elected to what?” and the other 3% responding, “don’t know/not sure.” Note: we used professional pollsters for this, so it might be wrong.
Among just Democrats, however, the reactions were less nuanced, with 68% of Democrats saying “Huh. Glad that’s over. So, can we start working on 2018 now?” and 32% saying “This is the equivalent to spitting on Kennedy’s grave, extinguishing the eternal flame and embracing Reaganomics. I will NEVER “work” for Democratic candidates again!” #KeithOrBust
The election did harken back to a recent internecine (two uses of that word in one handy column. Impressive, right, Andrea Mitchell?) battle in which one camp said “let’s just do the same thing we always do!” while the other said “we should have nominated the guy who didn’t win, because he is the only one who knows how to win.”
As for the party that controls everything (and is using that power to regulate where transgender kids can go potty) the big news of the week was the president’s state of the union. Now, those of you who are sticklers for “accuracy” will note the first address of a presidency is not technically called the State of the Union (SOTU). Correct. In this case the speech was in fact called a “Joint Beauregard Sessions, III.”
In the hours before the speech “Education Secretary” Betsy DeVos called America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, most of whom were established out of the need to educate black students who would otherwise be denied an education, “real pioneers when it comes to school choice.” This statement raised more questions than it answered, chief among them, “did she really fucking say that?” and “no seriously, …Google it…are you sure?”
We now know that DeVos’s tweet was simply a harbinger (catch that word @BarbaraJWalters?) of things to come in the president’s speech later that day when Trump declared that education is “the civil rights issue of our time.” While Trump is not the first to use that phrase (in fact he is now the third president in a row to do so) he is the first to apply it to the act of giving snotty white kids the capacity to abandon public schools. (Before you get all huffy over our use of the phrase “snotty white kids,” do note that we are, and we have, snotty white kids ourselves. In fact, some of our best friends are snotty white kids. We are the least anti-snotty white kids blog you will ever meet.)
In his joint address to the Congress and the nation, the president veered away from the darkness of the “American carnage” imagery he used during his inaugural address and moved into the light of “lawless chaos.”
For the most part, during the speech, Trump exceeded expectations. He did this, largely, by not doing a “Me Chinese, me play joke” routine when referencing China, and by not referring to the assembled attendees as “bros and hoes.”
In addition to those pleasant surprises, Republican leaders were also relieved that Trump finally went on the record as being somewhat anti-anti-Semitism.
One of the more controversial pieces of the speech was when the president spoke of a new program that establishes an office, which, among other things, will keep and publish a log of immigrants who commit crimes. The log, known as “a really small percentage of crimes committed in the U.S.,” is part of the broader program, called VOICE (Verifying Our Ignorant Classism and Ethnocentrism). While VOICE sounds like an acronym meant to hide its true intent, it apparently tested better than the more accurate title/acronym, “Reclaiming America’s Cultural Identity by Stopping Mexicans).
Attending the speech were members of both chambers of the legislative branch, members of the president’s cabinet, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who had not been seen or heard from in weeks, and yet to be confirmed Secretary of Energy appointee, Rick Perry. Perry looked uncharacteristically smart at the speech for 3 reasons, 1) his glasses, 2) he didn’t speak, and 3) Betsy Devos and Jeff Sessions were also in attendance.
Reaction to the speech was split along ideological lines
In Wisconsin, for example, Meg and Scott Gustafson were thrilled with the speech and the job the president has done to date. “He inherited a big mess from Obama — the economy was a disaster, and now in just 30 days, unemployment is at 4.8%!” the couple noted. They also noted that there have been zero ISIS attacks at their cabin in Egg Harbor (“We could have been the next Bowling Green!”) — a double shot of success (low unemployment and no terrorist attacks) that the couple calls Trump’s “Door County Miracle.” And we wonder how he carried Wisconsin?
At the other end of the spectrum, liberal activist Anthony Cappo suffered an injury from repeatedly slamming his head against the wall while watching Fox News “analysts” praising Trump’s speech. Cappo was last seen muttering “Are you fucking kidding me?…Praising him for a good speech off a TelePrompTer? You don’t see the irony of this???”
Note: The names of the above individuals have been changed to protect the innocent. Except in the case of Anthony Cappo. He is real, and is in fact one of the snotty white kids we count as friends. He is also an accomplished poet whose work you can and should purchase here.
As for a more formal reaction, the Democratic “National” Committee and Democratic “Leadership” dispatched former Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky to give the Democratic response to the president’s speech, because nothing says “we are a forward looking party” better than having a 72 yr. old former Governor deliver a speech from a closed diner. (They close at 3pm on Tuesdays, we checked. But damn, the fish and chips look good.)
All the news about the president’s speech and his pivot from a fascist, loofa-faced, shit-gibbon to a fascist, loofa-faced, shit-gibbon who can stay on message with strict guidance and a teleprompter, has served to take the spotlight off the ever-growing scandal involving Trump associates and Russia.
For those of you unaware, there are allegations of electoral collusion by Russian government officials on behalf of Trump, as well as allegations of a possible blackmail-opportunity-laden dossier that intelligence officials have on Trump. Many people are saying that the dossier alleges Trump may have used the services of prostitutes to do, well….things…while he was in Moscow.
Unnamed sources tell us that Trump has privately stated that there is no way anyone involved in the Moscow incident talked, as the women who accompanied him were notoriously secretive and reluctant to speak. He even noted that one of them had a nickname based on her secrecy, saying she told him her friends call her ‘one cagey b.’
The news also over-shadowed the president’s announced budget proposal. A funding package which his aides, ever prone to exaggerating, said called for a $54 billion increase in defense spending. Keen observers noted the actual increase was about $18 billion. Still, Trump aides crowed it would be “the largest increase in military spending in our nation’s 720 year history.”
And finally, to the White House staff. It looks as though the power sharing agreement apparently reached by “White” House staff is indeed proving workable. Steve Bannon was able to get some casual racism thrown into the Joint Session speech, and was able to get the president to refer to himself as “a nationalist in the true sense,” while at the same time, Reince “Toyota” Prius (motto: I may not look cool doing this job, but I’m going to get mileage out of it for years to come.) was able to maintain some discipline on the overall message. This was evidenced by the fact that the news of the week was dominated by debates over immigration policy and the size of the budget’s military increase rather than debates over The Apprentice’s ratings and the president’s penis size.
We’ve come a long way, baby.
And that’s the way the weak spent the week, in a nation where an alleged-shit-gibbon’s administration can make a $36 billion error and no one notices because we were busy chastising a woman for putting her feet on the sofa.
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