Frank Bruni, the master of competently written know-nothing-ism, laments in today's column that the campaigns run by this year's candidates offer no "visionary plan" for solving the big problems we have. That's true, if trite. But pay attention to some of his specific examples of how the candidates have failed us:
In Iowa, Joni Ernst and Bruce Braley talked of Harleys, hogs and chickens. In Florida, Charlie Crist and Rick Scott bickered over a fan. In Colorado, Mark Udall’s focus was more womb-centric than "The Handmaid's Tale." While I believe strongly in reproductive freedom and salute him for defending it, I also wish I could tell you, without intensive research, what sort of script he has for restoring this country’s confidence.Let's go to the beginning of that excerpt. "Joni Ernst and Bruce Braley talked of Harleys, hogs and chickens"? No -- Joni Ernst has talked of Harleys and hogs, reminding voters in her ads that she rides the former and used to castrate the latter. And it's Ernst alone who's made an issue of Bruce Braley's dispute with a neighbor about chickens on his property.
But I don't know the answer -- for him or for just about any of the other 2014 candidates. I know where they stand on the minimum wage and maybe on immigration reform, though there's been a whole lot of waffling there. I know that they think the Islamic State is evil and Ebola scary.
But a visionary plan? A detailed route back to the optimism at the core of the American character? I didn't catch those....
"Charlie Crist and Rick Scott bickered over a fan"? No. Crist brought a portable fan onto a debate stage. Scott had the option of being an adult and letting this slide, but he's the one who refused to take the debate stage for six long minutes.
So when Republicans reduce a race to trivia, Bruni says it's both sides' fault. But when Mark Udall stresses women's issues too much for Bruni's tastes, it's all the Democrat's fault -- Republican Cory Gardner gets none of Bruni's blame.
Regarding this year's candidates, Bruni writes, "I know that they think the Islamic State is evil and Ebola scary." That's an across-the-board complain from Bruni -- never mind the fact that it's primarily Republicans who are taking the lead in demagoguing these issues, with some Democrats struggling to play catch-up.
That's why Bruni is the ideal pundit for our times. Nothing is ever just the fault of Republicans. Whenever anything bad is being done in politics, either Democrats do it or both sides do it.