Rick Is Dead, Long Live Rick

(snipped from Zero Hedge, link to YouTube)

Almost everyone sez Perry lost the R debate last night with a gaffe so humungous as to convert the name “Rick” into a synonym for “gaffe.”  The world’s other Ricks will have to hope that the very nature of the gaffe – blackout forgetfulness on stage – will result in those who might invoke the new term forgetting to do so.

Political scientist and pundit Jonathan Bernstein thinks that even a world-historical Rick didn’t make Perry the worst debater of the night.  Bernstein gives the award instead to “Prince Herman,” and unloads like a Malacca-class superfreighter on him:

No substance, at all. No evidence from this debate that he knows, well, anything at all about anything.

Remember, I’m not going to be upset at a politician for not answering the question asked, or for message discipline; to the contrary, I think it’s a good and useful skill. But doesn’t even do that well, since his transitions wind up being nonsense, too.

No, seriously. I’ll call Newt Gingrich a fraud because I think he massively oversells his “ideas”, which are often just buzzwords, but Newt certainly is well informed about the world. Romney, of course, can speak about policy and substance. Rick Perry can barely spit out a sentence, but if you listen he’ll occasionally wander into substance (see for example his answer on education) and you can tell that he is familiar with the way people talk about these issues, and (perhaps) knows more than he can manage to say. Santorum has a firm and apparently complete grasp of standard conservative boilerplate — indeed, he’s able to recognize when other candidates deviate from it and call them out on it. Even Michele Bachmann may essentially live in a fantasy world, policy-wise, but she does really know her way around that fantasy world.

Cain doesn’t come close to meeting that very, very, low standard. He’s an insult to Republican voters, to conservatives — and they are insulting themselves if they don’t laugh him off the stage.

I frequently comment at JB’s “plain blog” (though I like the blog, I’m usually on the theme of the inadequacy of political science, not to any noticeable effect).  I re-produce an edited version of my comment for two reasons, even if it repeats prior posts to some extent, and if I’ve generally done too much Caining lately:  1) I think it’s a little less “in dialecticalese,” a little more clear than prior attempts at saying pretty much the same thing, and 2) I hit “post comment” too soon, and so this is my only chance to correct, for no good reason at all, some flubbed subject verb  agreements, at the beginning and end of the comment:

Cain and to a somewhat lesser extent the entirety of the field construct a simulacrum of collective auto-decapitation. That may read as bizarre, but the underlying ideology has deep roots in American political culture, all the way back to radical Whiggism and then Anti-Federalism. The merely alternatively insane Ron Paul expresses the same impulse when he refers to the President’s use of executive orders as “dictatorship.” If you hate the federal government or if your opposition to “government intervention” reduces to the same thing, Washington DC as Babylon or Rome, then why not support a vacuous creep for Emperor, to paralyze or perhaps to sabotage the imperial structure from the inside? That no one, even Cain, more than pretends that he has a chance, makes the gesture utterly safe: In your mind, as a conservative revolutionary, you may know that electing a predatious buffoon isn’t the best way of going about your Tea Party Leninist worse-the-betterism, but that’s not really what this is about: In the minds of most cons, to the extent that their powers of reason are engaged, Herman Cain is just a stink bomb flung in the general direction of the rigged neo-liberal game that is ruining/has already ruined this country etc. They know or strongly suspect by now that their betters will foist Romney or some facsimile on them, now as ever. They haven’t yet, for the most part, confronted the fact that their movement doesn’t produce candidates like these, or fail to produce better ones, by chance.

I’ll keep on working on it until I get it right, I guess.

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13 comments on “Rick Is Dead, Long Live Rick

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  1. Remember MF Global, if anything Sutton/Dillinger as I’ve dubbed it should have prevented such a disaster, of going all in with Customer’s accounts, but when when you have a Goldman minion like Gensler at CFTC, all bets are off. Cassani the man who in many ways, cracked the market, back in 2008, was the one who earmarked the funds that put him back heading the banking committee, And let us just say that the field of mortgage backed financial instruments held more than an intellectual interest with Barney Frank, but the man who helped crash Jersey’s finances, was considered good to go.

  2. With regards to Cain, there have been some rather bewildering things he has done, but if one reads his columns, or excerpts from his radio show, linked at Verum Serum, he has a rather consistent world view.

    • Consistent? To credit Cain with a “consistent world view” is like crediting Derrick Rose with a consistent dribble:

      to say that Herman Cain has an imperfect grasp of policy would be unfair not only to George W. Bush in 1999 but also to Britney Spears in 1999. Herman Cain seems like someone who, quite frankly, has never opened a newspaper.

      But I suspect Cain’s flubs are unrelated to intelligence. In 2010, Julian Sanchez of the Cato Institute set off a lively debate by suggesting conservatives had fallen prey to “epistemic closure,” a fancy way of saying that they were getting all their information and opinions exclusively from one another. This may or may not be true of the conservative movement. But it is certainly true of Herman Cain.

      “I can honestly say that if I hadn’t been on the radio, I wouldn’t have been as familiar with the issues as I am now,” Cain has written. “I believe that having that program was God’s way of forcing me to understand the critical issues confronting our nation.”

      In short, Cain’s briefings on politics came from heated right-wing callers on talk radio. “Epistemic closure” is probably too mild a term for such conditions.


      • It is further arguable that Cain, for good or ill believes in redemption, hence hiring the likes of Bloch
        and Brazil, and his attitude toward Gitmo, Maybe he is a little too trusting on that score, like Huckabee was in many ways.

  3. Ah ‘epistemic closure’ was an absurd notion a year ago, as it is now, except in the sense of perception. One might attribute
    Cain’s flub on Gitmo, to the pervasive influence of the Levick Group’s p.r. effort, no matter what J.D. Gordon told him,

    • Saying “it’s an absurd notion” doesn’t deal with the critique or with its contents, just as getting upset about Sullivan’s parenthetical statement regarding Palin has nothing to do with the substance of his remarks on the Rs as they are.

      The very poor quality of the Republican conservative discourse at this point in time says it all – an economic debate in Michigan, on the day the Dow dropped 400 pts on continuing Euro problems, and hardly a word on either the auto bailouts or the Euro except for stale repetition of the same old generic talking points that were being talking-pointed in 1982, 1992, 2002, and by all appearances will be the sum and substance of the Republican policy platform in 2012.

  4. And you think a bailout will solve the European debt crisis, how much have we either directly outlayed or secured, in the tens of trillions of dollars. They weren’t really interested in that question at CNBC, as I recall the details,.The whole thing is as absurd as Death playing Battleship, The Euro may have been a good notion back when Monnet first conceived of it, There is enough money on Trantor to deal with the problem as currently constituted, so a very derivative follower of Beard decides to play his little word games,

    • miguel cervantes: And you think a bailout will solve the European debt crisis

      actually didn’t say anything of the kind. My comment was on the absence of discussion at the debate, not that I would have had any high hopes for such discussion, but it’s not even that they have bad ideas, or weak understanding of alternative ideas. They hardly even seem aware of the possibility of discussion.

  5. I find a lot of these debates, sponsored by the same fools, who got us in this mess, like Spitzer supporting Cramer, CitiCorp’so own money honey, Martiromo and the like, aggravating. Little light will arise from them, and that is their
    purpose, ‘the beatings will continue till the morale improves’

    • and if you look into it, you’ll find that every debate was handled by a Republican Party auxiliary or ad hoc org in conjunction with those evil media outlets – but it’s truly ironic to see you assert that epistemic closure is an absurd notion at the same time that you’re casting all media other than Fox (“possibly”) into the lake of fire never to be heard from again.

  6. I’m not terribly impressed with Fox either, it is just the lesser evil, whereas the others, are more up Cthluthu’s ally.

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TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

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[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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