Wednesday, February 13, 2019

FRANK BRUNI TO DEMOCRATS: STOP PAYING ATTENTION TO PEOPLE LIKE ME

Frank Bruni is scolding Democrats again:
Democrats, Stop Groveling

To triumph in 2020, care less about pleasing all of the people all of the time.


Kirsten Gillibrand confronted a piece of fried chicken in South Carolina over the weekend. She began to eat it with a fork, realized that others around her were using their hands, asked if she should do likewise and ditched the utensils. Reading the reports of this, you got the sense that she would have grabbed that chicken with her pinkie toes if she’d been told to; she would have sucked it through a very large straw if those were the cues. Anything to conform. Anything to please.
I'll pause here and say that if you think the coverage of the 2020 election seems likely to be as abysmal as that of 2016 or 2000, you're probably right.



Back to Bruni:
Cory Booker, in Iowa, fielded a question by a reporter representing a foreign news organization. “Puedes hablar español?” he responded, misidentifying the reporter’s accent, according to a video distributed by David Gelles, a CNN producer. The reporter corrected Booker: “No, Swiss radio.” “Swiss!” Booker exulted. “I do not speak Swiss. I cannot even say Swiss cheese in Swiss.” Vegan humor? Booker is a vegan. He’s also pathetically eager to connect.

Memo to Democratic presidential candidates: Stop it. Just stop it. Lose the sycophancy. Reclaim your dignity.... Don’t invent languages — there’s no such tongue as Swiss — just to win points.
I am shocked, shocked, that a politicial might be "eager to connect" with people!

"Pathetically"? Booker wanted to show off his fluency in Spanish, made a mistake -- omigod, a Democrat committed a gaffe! Maybe we should give it a "-gate" suffix! -- and then, out of mild embarrassment, quipped in a not particularly clever way about the Swiss. As one does when one has committed a minor mistake in conversation. I don't think that was a vegan joke, and I don't think Booker decided to "invent" a language called Swiss. (I sometimes need to think for a second before I remember what languages are spoken in Switzerland, or Belgium for that matter.)

And while we're talking about Gillibrand's approach to fried chicken, which Bruni clearly regards as inauthentic, let's recall this now-forgotten food incident from the 1984 campaign trail, starring the King of Authenticity:
NORTHPORT, ALA. -- President Reagan, doing what millions of Americans do for lunch on the fly, bagged a Big Mac at McDonald's Monday.

"What am I supposed to order?" the president asked aides after reaching the counter of the fast-food outlet near the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where he had given a campaign speech.
Bruni says that 2020 Democrats are "desperate" and "groveling," and that the candidate field is "lousy with obsequiousness." As is often the case, Bruni doesn't have a good word to say about any Democrat.

With one exception: He likes Nancy Pelosi.
Consider Nancy Pelosi. She’s having a moment in part because she’s speaking bluntly and not afraid to ruffle feathers. (“The green dream, or whatever they call it,” she said when asked about the resolution.) She helped lead the party to triumph last year. She can point the way to an even more important triumph in 2020.
He's Frank Bruni, so of course he praises her for appearing to be dismissive of a progressive idea. But he's also praising her because she "helped lead the party to triumph last year" -- which is odd because he sided repeatedly with Democratic candidates who wanted to dump her.

Here's Bruni in 2017, just after Democrat Jon Ossoff lost to Republican Karen Handel in a highly publicized special House election:
My guess is that Handel’s success owed a great deal to the assertiveness with which Republicans painted Ossoff as a liberal puppet, ready to have Nancy Pelosi pull his strings.
Here's Bruni a few months later, a little more than a year before the 2018 midterms, in a column titled "Democrats, Please Get Ready to Lose":
... one prominent Republican strategist ... marveled that Democrats had done nothing to take away one of Republicans’ most trusted targets: Nancy Pelosi. As long as she remains the Democratic leader in the House and Republicans can describe their opponents as servants of a San Francisco liberal in office for so many decades, they’re in good stead, he said.
Here's Bruni in March 2018, after Conor Lamb won a special House election in Pennsylvania:
[Lamb] blunted Republicans’ favorite weapon against Democratic candidates for the House — they’re just would-be pawns of the dreaded Nancy Pelosi! — by running an ad that made clear that he would not support her as his party’s leader in that chamber.
Funny that Bruni didn't think Lamb was being desperately eager to please centrist Pennsylvania voters with that ad.

But I agree with Bruni about Pelosi: She's just let criticism wash over her. She knows what she's doing and she trusts her own judgments.

In other words, she doesn't pay attention to criticism from the likes of Frank Bruni. I hope more Democrats follow her example.

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