Reality Bites

You might find this snippet of Daniel Henninger’s latest Wall Street Journal column, on the dilemma the Democrats are facing, interesting:

With Mr. Trump’s approval rating stuck permanently in the low- to mid-40s, and 57% thinking the country is headed in the wrong direction, one would expect Democrats to be buoyant. Not the nonactivist Democrats I talk to. They’re depressed.

They like Mr. Biden, but it’s striking how many don’t think he’ll make it to the nomination. And if he falters, for them there is no Plan B unless Mr. Biden (or in their dreams, the sainted Barack Obama ) were to throw his support to one of the “normal” Democrats at the bottom of the standings—Sen. Klobuchar, Sen. Michael Bennet, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock or perhaps an undeclared candidate such as Ohio’s left-leaning but blue-collar Sen. Sherrod Brown. History’s most reluctant dark horse, Michael Bloomberg, might even re-emerge in a post-Biden vacuum.

Their frustration is born of the belief that a “normal” Democratic candidate should be able to beat the increasingly mercurial Mr. Trump. It’s a plausible scenario, but what really depresses many Democrats is the expectation that a normal candidacy isn’t going to happen.

It won’t happen because the Democratic left holds the commanding heights of politics now—traditional and social media, whose combined powers of candidate intimidation (as CNN’s climate groupthink proved) seem impossible to overcome. Building out from this “base,” the Democratic left thinks it has a once-in-a-lifetime chance to win the presidency.

Or, alternatively, Trump might be re-elected. Feel lucky, punk? The key problem is that the non-“normal” Democratic presidential candidates do not share the views of the voters of the Democratic electorate but of the progressive wing of the Democratic electorate which is less than half. And Democrats are presently around 30% of the total electorate.

The non-“normal” Democratic presidential candidates do represent the views of the supportive media outlets which means that it’s very difficult for that message to get out. The assumption is that every prospective Democratic voter hates Trump as much they do.

Pointing to President Trump’s low approval rating is meaningless. People can disapprove of him yet vote for him anyway if the alternative is bad enough.

18 comments… add one
  • Guarneri Link

    Hmmm. From my perspective the progressive Democrats have constructed the ultimate lazy strawman arguments. It is not at all clear to me the so-called mainstream Dems don’t largely agree. I don’t believe they hold no sway with media outlets. In any event, its very self destructive.

    What do we hear? Trump lies. Trump is a crook. Trump is a traitor. Trump is a cad. Trump is an egomaniac etc etc. Really.

    JFK and Bill Clinton didn’t chase women? Clinton claimed “the most ethical administration in history.” And his wretched wife. Heh. Dripping out day by day, Obama’s administration was filthy dirty. And his ego tremendous. He snuggled up to SA just for his Iran deal. And so it goes. They are all politicians, boys and girls. Be very afraid.

    So a hysterical narrative has evolved. Whether in the punditry/blogosphere like an OTB, Vox, Slate. The WaPO or NYT rags. Or the execrable CNN, and terribly biased CBS, NBC etc.

    Meanwhile, the economy performs, immigration is a legitimate issue with voters, as is trade. And the Dems, progressive or not, criticize Trump on these only because Orange Man Bad, or because they are crazy as loons. Perhaps a new tune is in order.

    With the caveat that I haven’t really studied her positions in detail, the most sane sounding Dem candidate I’ve heard is Tulsi Gabbard. And the loons are running her out of town. Compare an interview with her to one with that idiot Beto, or Bernie or Lizzy. Joe is rapidly becoming a tragi-comic figure. Where are the adults bringing sanity to the Dem primary process: too busy kissing Omar’s ass? This is a self inflicted wound of the first order.

    Contra steves blather, there are plenty of people who would like a more refined Trump with many of the same positions on a few key issues. But right now, all he has to do is equate the Democrats with the Fab Four, truly stupid environmental policy, obviously destructive immigration stances, free beer and, presto, he wins.

    Democrats, heal thyself.

  • Andy Link

    The problem with de-facto binary choice elections is that popularity isn’t dispositive. As I see it, Democrats can’t decide if they are for something or simply against Trump. I don’t see a coherent strategy yet.

    And they also have a bench problem – it’s composed of (literally) old veterans with lots of political baggage (Biden, Warren, Sanders) and untested rookies (pretty much everyone else), a consequence of the Clintons sucking all the air out of the room and Obama’s neglect of the party during his tenure.

    Another thing is that personality matters as much as policy. A lot of people vote on instinct and likability – two qualities that made Reagan and Bill Clinton so successful. Who can bring that to the table? Biden is, shall we say, a bit too personable. Sanders is an angry old man. Warren – maybe, I haven’t seen enough of her to judge. Same with the rest of the remaining field.

  • Grey Shambler Link

    And hasn’t the Left Leaning Media exhausted their ammunition? Trump’s been accused of treason and rape, tax evasion, racism, everything but outright murder. He’s fought these all off. What do they have left?

  • Grey Shambler Link

    This, from the AP, to me summarizes what Democrats feel they have to offer better than the GOP:
    “Tonight’s debate features several women, people of color and a gay man, a striking contrast from the increasingly white and male Republican Party.”
    “increasingly white and male” is offered up as an understood negative which needs no clarification.

  • The problem with de-facto binary choice elections is that popularity isn’t dispositive.

    Plus the “Trump effect”. People lie to pollsters.

  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    Meanwhile, the drumbeats to impeachment grow closer.

    81 Representatives to go.

  • steve Link

    “Trump lies. Trump is a crook. Trump is a traitor. Trump is a cad. Trump is an egomaniac”

    In order, True and on a scale we have never seen before, true (see Trump University), probably not, true if you consider screwing porn stars and Playgirls while your wife is pregnant immoral, absolutely.

    The issue here is not if Trump is despicable. Of course he is to anyone for whom morals matter, but that won’t change any votes on the right. This looks to be a turnout election. Will Dems show up for a candidate looking to appeal to the far left like the GOP does for a candidate looking to appeal to the far right? I am not so sure. My working assumption is that this election won’t be different from every other election and the Diem candidate will trend back to the middle, but then maybe they lose part of the far left.


  • Guarneri Link

    Work it, steve. Work it.

    Its a brilliant strategy. Work it.

  • walt moffett Link

    I see where Warren is going after the AARP vote by proposing social security increases which might set off a bidding war and bring folks to the polls.

  • CuriousOnlooker:

    Impeachment proceedings will begin when Nancy Pelosi says they should begin and not a moment before. It would be a gamble for the Democrats. They might be able to use impeachment proceedings to drive Trump’s approval rating down to where they can impeach him with impunity. Or they might actually drive his approval rating up to where they lose not only a chance at the White House but the House as well.

  • TastyBits Link

    The only reason to nominate the old white guy is to get the racist, misogynist, and homophobe votes. That explains why a sitting KKK Exalted Cyclops was elected Senate Democratic Majority Leader.

    (An Exalted Cyclops recruits new members for the KKK or, in this case, voters.)

  • You’ve got to narrow it down for me, TastyBits. There are three old, white guys in the running, one Republican and two Democrats.

  • TastyBits Link

    Only one is a Democrat.

  • TarsTarkas Link

    57% of people polled think the country is headed in the wrong direction? I would like very much to see the methodology behind THAT poll.

    Bottom tier candidates getting a ‘bounce’ from an Obama endorsement – really really REALLY doubt any significant bounce coming from that happening. The Wild and Woolly crew amongst the candidates, plus the Feckless Four, are trashing 44’s ‘legacy’ day after day. He’s far too conservative now for the twitterocracy.

    The most ‘normal’ Democrats in the field are a mystic and a Hindu by religious adoption (please don’t quibble about that). Neither are in tonight’s debate by intentional exclusion. That tells you a lot about the Democratic Party.

    Right now IMO the only way the Democrats win the Presidency in 2020 is they outright steal it, retail, wholesale, and in bulk. I think many of the pundits and poobahs know that. Their backup plan will be to accuse Trump of everything they intend to do and then some. The POTUS delaying a tariff hike in July 2020? CHINESE COLLUSION!

  • Guarneri Link

    I’ve always assumed people realize that the Dem leadership has no intention of impeaching Trump. It’s a strategy of constantly dirtying him up through the fall of 2020. Charges up the base. They hope it taints Trump.

    Kabuki theatre.

  • steve Link


    Says the guy who supported 8 BENGHAZI! investigations and 200 votes to repeal the ACA.


  • Grey Shambler Link

    I don’t see any way to defend the Obama administration’s handling of the Benghazi debacle. Obama was asleep doesn’t cut it.

  • I think that what Steve is saying here is that the Republicans made too much of it, which I think is right.

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