Wednesday, July 31, 2019


I understand that Donald Trump won in 2016 and therefore Nobody Knows Anything, but I know this: However diverting Marianne Williamson's debate performance may have been last night, she will be a non-factor in this race, and we can stop acting as if she's the next black swan in American politics. Does anyone remember the last round of debates, when she allegedly had a "moment" almost as "compelling" as last night's "moment"? Well, Real Clear Politics says she's getting 0.3% of the Democratic vote. That previous moment didn't do her much good.

The New York Times asked its op-ed writers to score last night's debaters. Maureen Dowd, a terrible judge of human character, gave Williamson a perfect score.
(10/10) — Sneer if you will, but a call for a little spiritual healing is in order in the unspiritual, racist, hate-filled era of Donald Trump. As Jaboukie Young-White, a “Daily Show” correspondent, tweeted, Williamson is about to be the first president to take the oath of office with her hand on a stack of Tarot cards. Debates are about the visceral, and Williamson has that down. Not since Admiral James Stockdale, a fan of the Stoic philosophers, opened the vice presidential debate in 1992 by asking “Who am I, why am I here?” has there been a line as arresting as this one by the philosopher of love: “If you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I’m afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days.”
I'm old enough to remember that Stockdale moment in the 1992 vice presidential debate (kids: ask your parents). It did not resonate with the public, except as a punch line (although many of us stopped snickering when we learned that Stockdale had been a tortured POW in Vietnam). The dated cultural reference is very on-brand for Dowd, but it tells us nothing about whether Williamson genuinely appeals to voters.

Bret Stephens, of all people, nails it:
(2/10) — She is to this debate what Jimmy "The Rent Is Too Damn High" McMillan was to a past New York City mayoral debate, except McMillan was right.
Exactly. McMillan, with leather gloves and amazing facial hair, ran for both mayor of New York City and governor of New York State based on one core principle: the rent is too damn high.

McMillan was compelling -- and his mantra was correct. He was remixed and portrayed on Saturday Night Live. But at the ballot box he won 0.89% of the vote in the 2010 governor's race and 0.18% in the 2013 mayor's race.

That's Williamson.

I don't care that full-time adult shitposter Donald Trump Jr. said on Twitter that Williamson "is actually winning this thing," or that Lindsey Graham said she won the debate. These people are trolls. Even Democrats who aren't extremely online know better than to vote for a candidate who's being praised by Trump World.

Besides, when we talk about this race, what are we always talking about (other than the brief moments when we're talking about Williamson)? We're talking about whether we dare tiptoe out of the soft centrist cocoon of Bidenism to embrace a progressive like Elizabeth Warren, a moderate progressive like Kamala Harris, or even another centrist -- do we dare throw caution to the winds and throw in our lot with Amy Klobuchar? What if that's the fatal mistake that dooms us to four more years of Trump????

We're extraordinarily risk-averse, and yet some people believe we're going to tear off our clothes and hold prayer circles at the polls in honor of a spiritualist has-been whose last mega-bestseller was in the 1990s. I don't think so.

I can give you many other reasons why this won't happen -- in fact, I did, a month ago, after Williamson's previous debate "moment." The short version: Democrats, unlike Republicans, don't think a lack of basic knowledge is a sign of wisdom. Democrats aren't itching to pick a nominee who's deemed unsuitable just because it will piss off the establishment. Democrats, unlike Williamson, value science.

Williamson might experience a small bump in the polls. If so, it won't last. Trust me on this.

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