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CSotD: Identity Politics

Carmen and Winslow have begun sorting through the candidates over at Prickly City, and today’s episode brought a couple of things to mind.

First, to set my disclaimers, I’ve lived next door to Vermont for 30 of the last 32 years, in New York for most of those years, in New Hampshire for the past decade and the missing years were spent in Maine, so I’ve had a close-up look at Bernie since he was mayor of Burlington and I like the guy.

But his time has passed and, genuinely ageist joke in the last panel aside, he and Joe Biden need to leave the game to the younger crowd. And I’m close enough in age to both of them that I can say that without guilt.

And yet they sit at the top of a lot of polls.

However, back when I followed college football, I noticed that Notre Dame and USC and Michigan were always in the Top Ten pre-season polls, regardless of what their actual prospects were for the coming season.

Those pre-season football polls might as well ask “Name 10 college football teams you’ve heard of.”

Which is also how people like Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders find themselves at the top of the pre-season political polls as well.

As in football, it’ll shake down when they actually start hitting each other, but that familiarity factor is a large part of the incumbent advantage in elections.

It’s seen more starkly in Third World countries, where a substantial portion of the population seem to think they’re being asked which of the three names on the ballot is the president, but let’s not get too high and mighty here.

There are plenty of American voters who not only choose the person they’ve heard of but who try to predict the winner rather than state which candidate they actually prefer.

There’s no fair way to qualify people to vote, but I wish pollsters would ask more questions, such that they could report, “Of people who knew that Venezuela is in South America, 63% agree with our policy there.”

Meanwhile, there have been several cartoons about the large number of Democratic candidates in the running, to which I would respond that (A) it’ll shake down and (B) it’s better than the last time, when the DNC made the choice before the campaign began.

It’s temporary, and once the season gets under way, we can at least hope that the familiar names will start to give way to the actual qualified contenders.


Steve Sack has my favorite comment on the current incumbent.

I’m mystified as to how a draft dodger can maintain the support of blue-collar conservatives when he goes after an obvious hero.

Granted, McCain should be judged as a Senator by what he did as a Senator, but people are familiar with him as a war hero, just as they were familiar with Bill Bradley, Jack Kemp or, for that matter, Jim Bunning as star athletes.


There have been a number of cartoons with Trump disrespecting McCain’s tombstone, but RJ Matson brings up the draft-dodging aspect.

I get annoyed with youngsters — which is anybody too young to remember the draft — who natter on about Trump taking “five deferments,” because four of them were the same student deferment every non-ROTC-scholarship male student took in those days, including many who enlisted or were drafted after graduation.

Rocky Bleier was a senior my freshman year, so I never met him, though I interviewed him several years later. But he took the same deferments I did and I don’t think that made him a draft dodger.

I almost (almost) wish I had been drafted, too, because I know what I think I’d have done but that’s like knowing what you’d do in combat or if you stumbled into a bank robbery: The “Bullshitting Yourself Factor” is paramount.

You don’t know until you’re there.

I knew people who, despite all their revolutionary speeches ahead of time, knuckled under and went. I knew people who refused and served jail time. I knew people who went underground. I knew people who were close enough to minimum weight that they fasted a few days before their physicals to be certain.

But the real draft dodgers were the ones who got that letter from the family doctor and golf partner.

Like the kids who bribed their way into college, they were exploiting their social status and they should have been ashamed but hadn’t been raised with that much character.

And yet Cadet Heelspurs appeals to the same flag-wavers who hated Clinton for skating around the draft, and who were willing to believe the Swift Boat Liars who slandered Kerry’s service.

I think the answer is that they’d heard of Trump but that they thought of him not as a draft-dodger but as a TV star.

Which to me is like thinking of OJ Simpson as a football player, but, then, I wasn’t on the jury that let him go.


Andy Marlette offers the simplest explanation for last weekend’s unhinged Twitter explosion and yesterday’s incoherent rant at the tank factory.

But the problem with the 25th Amendment is that it did not anticipate a Senate that would rally to keep an incompetent but amenable president in place.

People talk about Woodrow Wilson’s last days in office following his stroke, but the American people knew he was disabled and adjusted their expectations accordingly. Edith stepped up, as Nancy Reagan did under similar but more hidden circumstances, but the system was the real hero, plus the fact that his desk was relatively clear at that point anyway.


However, as Tom Toles points out, while this president may not be fit for the office, he’s certainly not going to keep his incapacity on the down-low, nor will he bow out gracefully.

Well, over in Thimble Theater, the sheeps are starting to wise up to their dictipater.

So perhaps there’s hope.

Meanwhile, I vote we swap out “Hail to the Chief” and start playing this for his appearances. See if it sinks in with anybody:



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