Monday, November 21, 2022


Mike Pompeo wants to be president, even though everyone but Pompeo himself knows that he's going to emerge from the primaries with, at most, two or three convention delegates. He's trying, though. He just gave an interview to Semafor's Dave Weigel and Shelby Talcott, in which he said something I think he regards as clever, but I find chilling:
I tell the story often — I get asked “Who’s the most dangerous person in the world? Is it Chairman Kim, is it Xi Jinping?” The most dangerous person in the world is Randi Weingarten. It’s not a close call. If you ask, “Who’s the most likely to take this republic down?” It would be the teacher’s unions, and the filth that they’re teaching our kids, and the fact that they don’t know math and reading or writing. These are the things that candidates should speak to in a way that says, “Here’s the problem. Here’s a proposal for how to solve it. And if given the opportunity, these are the things I will go work on to try and deliver that outcome that fixes that problem.” Pretty straightforward stuff.
At the end of this, you realize he intends it as a standard Republican riff on the alleged evils of teachers' unions, something a country-club Republican could have said in 2006 (or 1996 or 1986 or 1976).

But calling the head of the American Federation of Teachers "the most dangerous person in the world"? Comparing her to Kim Jong-un and Xi Jinping? Really?

We live in a country that has seen a significant increase in sometimes brutal anti-Asian violence since the days when we regularly heard Donald Trump, as president, say that COVID-19 was caused by "the China virus." Much of the country believes that the COVID virus spread to humans because of a lab leak in Wuhan or (although some right-wing influencers might piously deny that they've given credence to this scenario) because China deliberately spread the virus in an attempt to sabotage America. Either way, much of America thinks Xi Jinping is a mass murderer. And Pompeo wants to persuade these same people that Randi Weingarten is worse?

Rank-and-file right-wingers are now primed to believe that many people are so evil they deserve a violent end, or at least deserve to be intimidated by violent threats so they'll retreat from public life. Every drag performer in America is now in this category, according to many (most?) right-wingers. We see what that's leading to. There's anger directed at teachers perceived as "woke" or pro-critical race theory or welcoming to LGBT students. How much is Pompeo adding to this atmosphere or rage?

Okay, probably not much, because the only people who seem to care about his campaign are journalists naive enough to believe that someone other than Donald Trump or Ron DeSantis will be the 2024 Republican presidential nominee. But even if he's a sure loser, Pompeo could well say Weingarten is the world's most evil person in a nationally televised debate. If he does, he might get a vigorous round of applause from the all-GOP audience. And in doing so, he might paint a target on Weingarten's back, because Republicans voters these days believe that they're at war, and that only the rules of war apply.

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