Turkeys and Drumsticks 2019
Over at the old Right-Thinking blog, I would take advantage of the Thanksgiving Holiday to give out my awards for Turkeys of the Year and Golden Drumsticks. The latter are for those who exemplify the best traits in our public sphere. The former are for those who exemplify silliness and stupidity. I rarely give them out to someone who is evil; they are reserved for those who regularly make me shake my head and wonder what they’re thinking. It’s a sort of “thank you” for making snarky tweeting easier.
We’ll start with the Turkeys of the Year. For reference, the past winners are:
2007: Alberto Gonzalez, Nancy Pelosi, Hugo Chavez
2008: Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin’s critics, Hillary Clinton, Congress, Joe Biden
2009: Mike Steele, Glen Beck, the State Department, Sarah Palin, Andrew Sullivan.
2010: Janet Napolitano and TSA, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, MSNBC, Lower Merion Schools, California Voters.
2011: Nancy Pelosi, Republican Presidential Field, Occupy Wall Street, Anthony Weiner, the Eurozone.
2012: The Culture Warriors, Unions, The Poll Unskewers, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, MSNBC
2013: Healthcare.gov, the Platinum Coin, the Shutdown Caucus, the National Park Service, Fiscal Cliff Panic Mongers.
2014: Jonathan Gruber, Lamenting Democrats, Barack Obama, Jim Ardis, Paul Krugman
2015: The Presidential Field, College Students, The Election Media, Rolling Stone, Barack Obama
2016: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Clinton Supporters, the Clown Panic
2017: Donald Trump, the Resistance, Anti-Anti-Trumpers, Congressional Republicans, David Mueller
2018: Michael Avenatti, Jacob Wohl, Donald Trump, Delicate Trump Supporters, NBC
I must say that last year’s picks were some of my best ever.
Without further ado, here are this year’s biggest turkeys:
The Democratic Presidential Field: The Democrats are going into what should be one of the easiest elections in history. They have a President who is intensely disliked, an economy that is still healthy but stumbling a bit, a disheartened conservative wing and a progressive wing that can smell blood.
And they are running out what has to be one of the weakest slate of Presidential candidates in their history. Joe Biden is the current front runner but, with all due respect, he’s a 77-year-old man with a tendency for verbal gaffes and a history of imploding campaigns. The only reason he’s leading is because the rest of the field is even worse. Kamala Harris was running high until her weak policy knowledge was exposed (with an assist from Tulsi). Beto was gone by Halloween. Bernie is sounding increasingly looney. Warren was goaded into presenting an absurdity of a healthcare plan and can’t seem to get past Bernie despite a sycophantic media. Mayor Pete is currently surging but his popularity in the African American community is non-existent. Klobuchar should have everything going for her — a woman from the Midwest who has won a big state and appeals to moderates. But you could throw a binder further than her campaign has gone.
Look at the slate: the mayor of a midsize town; a half-term Senator; an unremarkable Congresswoman; a crackpot Senator who’s not even a Democrat; a couple of billionaires with nothing better to do. Look how little executive or foreign policy experience is out there. Yeah, Trump was less qualified than any of them. But he’s coming into this race with four years of experience under his belt. Bad experience, of course, but experience nonetheless.
Maybe I’m just a pessimist, but I really think these dopes are going to get Trump re-elected. And this isn’t an anomaly. During the Obama years, the Democrats lost thousands of seats at the local level — state legislatures, governorships, etc. They don’t have the kind of farm system that can build their grass roots, increase popular support and occasionally cough up a real political talent at the national level. They have made the Presidency the whole game. And as a result, they may lose.
The Trumpists: There is no argument too stupid, no rationalization too strained, no smear too ugly for the defenders of our embattled President to unleash. And there is no limb they can climb out on that Trump will not happily saw off. How many times will they rush out to proclaim some Donald Trump Pravda (“Stormy Daniels is a liar!”) only to have Trump admit to whatever it was and send them out to proclaim a new Trump Pravda (“It was all perfectly legal!”). How many times do they have to defend the indefensible?
(For why I call Trump’s utterances ‘pravda’, read this.)
They know what they’re doing. Watch this look between Devin Nunes and Steve Castor after Sonland’s testimony.
I’m not gonna read into looks too much, but after the first two hours of Sondland testimony, Devin Nunes doesn’t seem…ecstatic. pic.twitter.com/QXXirs04ix
— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) November 20, 2019
That’s the look of people who know they’re screwed but have to persist anyway. In some ways, it’s reassuring to know the Republicans aren’t complete cement-heads. But it’s also appalling.
The thing about Donald Trump is that…he’s the Devil. Oh, I don’t mean he has a pointy tale and a pitchfork (unless he likes to play dressup in his extramarital flings, which would be the most relatable thing about him). What I mean is … classically, the Devil doesn’t do bad things. What he does is persuade good people to do bad things, to go against their better natures. This is what Donald Trump does. He turns good people bad. He makes good people defend his racist utterances; he makes good people defend his corruption; he makes good people defend his incompetence and brutality and callousness.
And just like the victims of the Devil, the Republican Party has sold its soul. And for what? A few judges? A “tax cut” that we’ll have to pay for tenfold?
Elon Musk: A late entry based on his disastrous rollout of the Tesla truck. But Musk has thoroughly earned this spot. He’s currently being sued for defamation for calling one of the men involved in the rescue of the Thai soccer team a “pedo”. His Starlink program is contaminating the night sky and creating a hazard to space travel for unclear benefit. To be fair, he’s done some real things: SpaceX is a big success. But much of his success seems to be improving existing tech and presenting it with a lot of flash.
Anonymous: As Andrew so perfectly said, make yourself know or shut the hell up. Anonymous is a perfect emblem for the Resistance and the anti-Trump forces in general. Big on show, big on words, light on success.
Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn: After becoming Prime Minister, Johnson saw defections from his own party and a string of humiliating defeats in Parliament. By any reasonable standard, he should be facing an utter rout in the coming election.
But he isn’t because his opponent is one of the biggest horse’s asses in the Western World. An old-style Marxist crank who has coddled and tolerated anti-Semitism within the Labour Party so manifestly that a number of party members have fled rather than be associated with it. A man who has tried to have one foot on either side of the Brexit debate and, as a result, is falling through the middle. Say what you want about Johnson, at least you know where he stands.
Polls can be wrong and we’ll see what happens in the election. But no matter who wins, Britain loses.
Dishonorable Mentions: William Barr, Josh Hawley, Young Adult novel mobs, Ralph Northam, AOC, AOC’s critics, Trump, Michael Cohen, Seth Abramson, Ilhan Omar, Ilhan Omar’s critics, Theresa May, the parents who bribed their kids into college, Rudy Giuliani, Jacob Wohl, Michael Avenatti
Here’s a summary of the past recipients of the Golden Drumsticks (links above). Some of these I’ve eventually come to regret. Praising anyone in politics is bound to backfire on you eventually. But I put them out in the interest of honestly owning up to my past blogging.
2007: Arnold Schwarzenegger; Ron Paul; Barack Obama; David Petraeus; Juan Carlos; Burma’s monks
2008: US Military; Jeff Flake; Ron Paul; Republican Governors; Barack Obama
2009: The American Fighting Man; Kimberly Munley and Mark Todd; George W. Bush
2010: The Tea Party; Chris Christie; Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles; the Next Wave of Republicans; David Cameron and Nick Clegg; American Soldiers
2011: Seal Team Six; Mark Kelly; The Arab Spring; the Technicians at Fukushima
2012: Down Ballots; The Sandy Responders; Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods; Mathew Inman
2013: Francis I; Edward Snowden; Rand Paul; The American Military; The Institute for Justice
2014: Ebola Responders; Francis I; Rand Paul; David Brat; The Supreme Court
2015: New Horizons and Dawn; Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler; Amnesty International; Video and Body Cameras; The Non-Crazy Presidential Candidates
2016: Dallas Police Chief David Brown and Dr. Brian H. Williams; Disillusioned Democrats; Kellyanne Conway; Nate Silver
2017: Women Speaking Out; Ronan Farrow; Jake Tapper; the Competent Trump People; Houston
2018: Robert Mueller; Justin Amash; Justin Trudeau, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron; The Sane Republicans; the Thai Soccer Team and their Rescuers
This year’s recipients:
Justin Amash: Amash may be the only person in Washington who actually read the Mueller report. And he is the only Republican to come to the obvious conclusion: that Donald Trump tried to obstruct justice flagrantly and repeatedly. And that the only reason he didn’t actually obstruct justice was because his own people refused to carry out his orders. Rather than trust that safeguard to hold forever, Amash came out in favor of impeachment.
As a result, he has been driven out of the so-called Freedom Caucus and the Republican Party. Amash, one of the most conservative members of Congress, has been denounced a sell-out and a liberal trying to curry favor with the media. But he hasn’t backed down. He hasn’t wavered. He continues to say what he thinks. And, in my opinion, he continues to be right.
Amash is now facing a tough re-election bid as an independent. I hope he pulls it off. But even if he doesn’t, he’s one of the few Republicans who has shown any real spine in the Trump era. I respected him before; he was my runner-up last year. I respect him more now.
Seth Moulton: Moulton’s Presidential campaign never went anywhere. But what I appreciate him for is this:
Moulton is one of the few people on the national stage willing to discuss his struggles with mental health. Not being a veteran, I can’t tell you what his words might have meant to others. But being someone who sometimes struggles with mental health, seeing someone talk about it in that spotlight — stigma be damned — meant a lot.
Nancy Pelosi: Look, I’m as surprised as you are. She has been on my Turkey list multiple times. But it tells you how bad things have gotten when Nancy Pelosi — 79 year old die-hard San Francisco liberal Nancy Pelosi — has emerged as the voice of reason. She shrugged off an attempt by the progressive wing to replace her. She faced down Trump over the shutdown and won. She’s kept the party on a Center Left trajectory that is keeping them viable as a national party. She didn’t jump into the impeachment waters immediately but eased into them as the evidence accumulated. If the Democrats defeat Trump next year and keep Congress, there will be one person who will deserve the most credit. For all of her failings while Obama was President, she has proven to be an outstanding foil in opposition. I’m not too proud to admit it.
The NATO Stalwarts: Trump is abandoning our alliances and giving Russia a free hand. The UK is in the midst of a Brexit meltdown. But the European leaders have managed to keep the alliance together so far.
I once drew a parallel between NATO and vaccines. Everyone is so worried about the potential (and mostly fictional) side effects of vaccines that they’ve forgotten the horrors vaccines protect us from. Right now, Americans are so worried about the costs of NATO that they have forgotten the horrors NATO protects us from.
Honorable Mention: Dan Crenshaw, William Weld, Marie Yovanovitch, Jake Tapper. Of course, everyone at OT is on the drumstick list.
As always, use the comments to nominate your own or flame my slate, as you wish. And have a Happy Thanksgiving.