Harsh Your Mellow Monday: Answer the Question Edition

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast.

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57 Responses

  1. InMD says:

    This was an exceptionally good write up, Andrew, thank you.

    HM1-3 really illustrate how hollowed out the media has become. It takes a retired rapper with no formal training to ask a politician a real question (and that’s not even getting into the exposure of these sad candidates as hot house flowers). The supposed pros in the press corps are utterly outmatched by appeals to social media. And the wingnut firebrand is persona non grata in right wing media because she’s too principled in her wingnuttery/has a memory of longer than 5 seconds.Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    How is it Charlamagne tha God has pulled out of three different presidential candidates this cycle more interesting soundbites and insight into how the candidates think than a year plus of concentrated media scrutiny.

    It’s because Charlamagne had questions that he wanted answered instead of questions that he thought would do the best job of letting him ask questions again next week.

    And that’s without getting into the conspiracy theory of what a journalism profession full of people with journalism degrees from journalism departments will get you.Report

    • InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

      It’s almost like the key to getting answers is asking questions.Report

    • Aaron david in reply to Jaybird says:

      Joe Rogan is in the same boat. They started as entertainers, made their money and are now able to ask questions without starting out beholden. For the most part, I find them uninteresting. But when they sink into the right place, interesting things come up.

      There are some good journalists out there (Zeto, Taibbi) but they are few and far between. Most are either to young to know anything, or too old to assume they don’t.Report

  3. Saul Degraw says:

    To quote Wanda Skyes: “Biden feels at home speaking to the black community. He made a joke. Comedy ain’t easy, but he didn’t say 2 shoot Clorox in our tits. Now, I wouldn’t make a blanket statement to say that voting for Trump means you’re not Black. I’d say that it means you’re not smart.”

    Mean while, Trump spend the weekend golfing with at least 100K dead. Well he wasn’t also golfing, he also tweeted conspiracy theories and petty attacks. But both sides do it must be maintained at all costs so we need to make a big deal out of an attempted joke.


    • InMD in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Verily I shall do as is said and not as is done.Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      “Now, I wouldn’t make a blanket statement to say that voting for Trump means you’re not Black. I’d say that it means you’re not smart.”

      Neither black nor smart…

      Someday, probably not 2020, the Democratic party is going to wake up to exactly the constituency Movement Conservatism woke up to. Lots of money and sinecures but surprisingly fewer votes than they thought they were entitled to.Report

      • InMD in reply to Marchmaine says:

        You’re telling me that hunting for people flashing ‘ok’ signs one day and making excuses for racially charged jokes the next might drive the exact kind of nihilism we’re so worried about? Uhhhhh… check your privilege!Report

        • greginak in reply to InMD says:

          I’ve seen no excuses for biden’s being biden. I’m sure someone did but I saw a hell of lot of condemnation and then him apologizing the next day.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Marchmaine says:

        It’s weird for me, as a resident of Los Angeles and California to hear these claims of the Democratic Party not being in touch with some latent majority out there. In this state which is larger than some nations, a state which is as diverse and varied as the entire United States, the Democratic Party is the overwhelming preferred choice.

        I get it, that plenty of people in other states prefer the Republicans and sometimes by a lot.

        But to make the suggestion that it is the Democrats, and not the Republicans, who are the choice of an increasingly narrow and shrinking demographic pool seems absurd.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          I think it has to do with political traditions in the United States. The Republican Party has advocated that it was the party of real true Americans since the end of Civil War, the North European Protestant America. The Democratic Party represented the outsider. It used to be White Southerners and White Ethnics, now it is people of color, liberal professionals, and non-Christians, etc.Report

        • Colorado’s blue swing became visible in the 2006 and 2008 elections. During the 2009 session, one of the Republican members of the state senate did a nice rant at the podium about “the Democrats are out of touch with Colorado voters.” Another of the Republican members followed him, saying something like, “I would like to remind the members who sit on the same side of the aisle with me that three years ago we Republicans held the governor’s office, a majority in both chambers here in the Capitol, both US Senate seats, and four of the seven US House seats. Today, of those positions, we hold three US House seats. I suggest that it is not the Democrats who have lost touch with Colorado voters.” He was one of my favorite state senators when I was working for the legislature — very much in touch with reality.

          In the Mountain West more generally, in 2018 the Democrats flipped two US Senate seats from red to blue. If the current polls hold up, three more will flip this year. That would make the “score” 10-6 Democrats. Twenty years ago it was 13-3 Republicans. It is a strange time to be a Democrat in the Mountain West.Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          I thought from the context my comment was clear… perhaps not.

          I’m not suggesting that tomorrow a bunch of disaffected democrats wake up and vote for republicans; I’m suggesting that when your party has an upward trend of disaffected members they will wake up and vote for a democratic candidate that answers their disaffection, rather than toe the line. I think democratic disaffection is trending upwards (and not all in the same vectors); once Trump is gone, nothing will surprise me with regards Democratic unity.

          The lesson of 2016 isn’t that lots of folks switched to democrats, its that the Republican Party and the “Movement Conservatives” that set the agenda lost its base.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

            Every time I think “man, I should really stop posting my ‘three types of voters’ comment”, something like this pops up again.Report

            • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

              Yeah… I’ll wait to see if this has more legs… we still have 6 more months of gaffes to get through.

              Kinda funny, I googled Biden Apology to respond to Greg above, and I swear Google threw shade to the effect, “can you be more specific?” and started with a page full of Anita Hill apologies – like we were gonna start from the beginning and just work our way to Friday.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

                I think it’s this one:

                “I know that the comments have come off like I was taking the African American vote for granted. But nothing could be further [from] the truth,” Biden said. “I’ve never ever done that, and I’ve earned it every time I’ve run. I was making the point that I have never taken the vote for granted. And in fact, I know in order to win the presidency, I need the African American vote. And it was the driving force, as I said, in the beginning of my campaign [a] year ago, to my being able to win in the first place and win the primary. And it is going to be critical to my winning the presidency.”

                As apologies go, it’s one of the better ones that doesn’t admit error.

                The one that tripped me up was starting to google “Biden apologizes for Black” and the autofill completed with “Biden apologizes for Black History Month Menu” and I thought “oh goodness help us” but that seems to be some autofill chicanery as there doesn’t seem to be a Biden-related Black History Month Menu event.

                Whew, I guess.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

                NAACP: Dude, you’re endangering our tax-free status. Just go back to your basement, we’ll talk about this later.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Jaybird says:


              • Aaron David in reply to Aaron David says:

                Right now there are some cracks in the wall. Will it hold until November? That is what remains to be seen.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Aaron David says:

                If I were looking for a counter-argument, I’d point out that Shaun King is currently undergoing being cancelled.

                Which, of course, changes nothing about what he said… but given that he’s criticizing Democrats, it’s an opportunity for lefties to pick up the arguments that the righties have been using against him for the last decade.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Jaybird says:

                And the worm Ouroboros lives in us all…

                But, as the kids say, “interesting.”Report

              • InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

                Deep in that twitter thread was a link to this article that I think gets closest to the mark. It’s focused on black voters but you could make this observation more generally about Democratic politics and identity-based essentialism, epitomized by all the wokeness run amok.


                I think it’s consistent with March’s point above. The black vote is not going to turn Republican (or, despite what some might like, libertarian). Even where libertarianism has a salient critique of the problems in our system as a movement it has no solutions to the challenges of working people. But this is the issue with our politics writ large, especially at the national level. We have serious collective action problems that our system and parties are increasingly unable to address or even talk about in a way relevant to all the non-millionaires without seats at the table.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to InMD says:

                Thanks for the link… that was a very good article.

                The thing about the Biden apology – which is what I was searching for above – is that it doesn’t deal with the fundamental premise of the critique/anger.

                It’s tautological… I don’t take Black votes for granted because black votes are necessary for my victory.

                Ms. Gray sums up:

                “But he still hasn’t meaningfully addressed Charlamagne’s questions, taking for granted that he doesn’t need to to secure our votes. “The apology is cool,” Charlamagne said Sunday on Joy-Ann Reid’s MSNBC show, “but the best apology is actually a black agenda. . .”

                The rest of the article is just baseline political reality… reminds me of the sensible Reformocon “hey, better makes some small policy corrections or you’ll lose your base” before they lost their base.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Marchmaine says:

                I’m still a bit confused about what the black agenda is, at least insofar as it’s a bargaining chip, or even leverage, in electoral politics. In 2016 black voters soundly rejected Bernie despite his advocacy for criminal justice reform, going so far as to launch very high profile attacks on his character. Black voters instead supported Hillary, who effectively offered them nothing.

                In 2020 black voters had the opportunity to support black candidates or other candidates of color during the primary, but soundly rejected all of them in favor of Biden, who, like Hillary, promised them nothing in terms of advancing the “black agenda”.

                If black voters don’t want their support for institutional Dem candidates to be taken for granted they, as a group!, probably should stop supporting institutional Dem candidates who take them for granted.

                And I say that as someone who has suggested that the black community should effectively extort the Democratic party for policy concessions.Report

              • InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

                I think part of what the article is getting at is the flaws in the assumption that there is a unified black agenda now that we’re post 60s Civil Rights Movement. I read support for institutional Democrats as less about race (though it absolutely matters, especially where the GOP puts itself adjacent to positions similar to those that propped up Jim Crow) and more about the fact that the bloc that votes is older, southern, and religious.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Stillwater says:

                Well, I certainly can’t answer that question.

                I can offer an observation learned second hand from folks who work very closely with another minority group on political matters. The stories aren’t mine to disclose, so I’ll have to be circumspect.

                But, one of the overriding aspects of working in politics with “leaders” of various parts of a coalition is that these leaders have built networks that are tied to institutions which in turn feed the network and increase the influence of the leader. For very prosaic reasons, at some point the leader’s role changes from representing the interests of his network to the political party to representing the political party to his network… lest the hard work of building the network and leadership is diminished.

                It is at this point that discussing policies become secondary to advancing the party… which fuels the network.

                That is, there’s *nothing* you can offer the thought leaders because they no longer represent the thought that made them leaders in the first place. The party must survive and from the Party flows the goods.

                That’s the disconnect that happens internally and isn’t directly influenced by “the other side” ™.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to InMD says:

                I haven’t had a chance to RTFA, but one of my long standing thoughts was that the AA community shouldn’t run to either party, but back, vocally and financially, candidates that will support and work on the issues that are important to that community.

                Anything else is a trap, the same trap they have been in for the last 50 years.

                (As far as anyone turning Libertarian, it is, please to remember, a vector, not a destination.)Report

              • InMD in reply to Aaron David says:

                I get the vector thing. Hell I think the libertarian movement is the only one that makes a compelling, intellectually honest case against a number of abusive and asinine policies that disproportionately harm minorities.

                However I also think the traction is going to be limited when it spends equal time on the case against all kinds of services and civil infrastructure on which working class people rely. I have a lot of libertarian sympathies but I do think there’s a real blind spot as to why a number of social programs were implemented in the first place. Conor Friedersdorf has written some good pieces about that.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to InMD says:

                Libertarianism is similar to Communism, NeoReaction, Progressivism, and that weird little fire-worshiping sect that still exists in the mountains of Iran insofar as it has really interesting insights and criticisms of the current broken system.

                It’s when it gets to the “therefore, we need to” paragraph that you can safely put the book down.

                Not because there aren’t some good suggestions in there!

                But because they’re right next to some really stupid suggestions.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to Marchmaine says:

            Here is the thing though. I disagree that there is an upward trend of disaffected members. What I think there is a lot of people looking at cosplaying bolsheviks online like Nathan Robinson and Brianna Gray and thinking it equals disaffected Democrats. It does not. Robinson and Gray were nominal Democrats when it looked like Bernie was in it but as soon as he was not, they dropped being Democratic like hot potatoes. The 90 percent of Warren supporters who said they would support whomever the nominee of the Democratic Party is, those are the party. Not Robinson, not Gray, not the Jacobin set, not the twitterati.

            What is so controversial about the idea that Biden won the Democratic nomination because a lot of Democrats think he will be a good President and want him to be the nominee of the party?

            Twitter is just a lot of noise. Nothing else. Biden told his staff to ignore twitter. Turns out this was good advice.Report

            • InMD in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              The concern I have is less that people like him and more that he’s the Bob Dole of the Democrats, i.e. the last grasp at the old unity before intra-party elements become irreconcilably fractured.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to InMD says:

                He does feel like Bob Dole, doesn’t he?

                I’m currently in a place where I know that Trump doesn’t get re-elected and maybe he loses the Senate.

                But I remember 2016. Here is where we were on May 26, 2016.

                I thought that Trump was the xenomorph back then, apparently. (I used to be smart!)

                For what it’s worth, I don’t think that today.

                But we have 5 months and change until November, a global pandemic that is comfortably coalescing into a debate over whether or not hugs are owning the libs, China is this close to invading Taiwan, and economic numbers that are weird.

                Given that we have about 300 news cycles between now and November, anything could happen.

                But Trump is no longer the xenomorph.Report

              • InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

                Agreed. On the one hand he’s probably lost his biggest case he had for himself with the economy crash (Recession? Depression? Whatever we’re officially in). On the other the game seems to be really different than anyone anticipated, and my suspicion is it’s going to get weirder before it gets normal-er.Report

            • Marchmaine in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              I hear you… but sometimes its the 47% in your own coalition you never see coming.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              I disagree that there is an upward trend of disaffected members.

              Saul, the context of this subthread is that the Dem nominee was white people’s third or fourth choice, but the first choice of a large majority of black voters who are now complaining that he takes the African American voting block for granted.Report

            • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              Biden is not popular among white liberals and leftists for some reasons. Warren fans have been better at growing accustomed to him being the nominee than Bernie fans because Warren fans tend to be actual Democratic Party members but even then, more than a few seem disgusted at having to vote for Biden. They simply can’t believe African-Americans went for a white man.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:

                “He’s the best we can do, folks.”Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Stillwater says:

                Considering that Joe Biden had the best understanding of who votes in the Democratic primary and every other candidate kept making big missteps, he might be a lot better than you think. Bernie, Warren, and many others kept competing for the very online and failed. Biden told his staff to avoid twitter and go after middle aged or older voters via the traditional method and won big. That shows at least some intelligence.

                Nobody ever made a persuasive case against Biden. They just say things like “He’s the best we can do, folks” but never explain who the Democratic primary voters should have gone for. The anti-Biden seems to have this weird idea that we can still select candidates in the back room deal way. Who should have the Democratic Party selected instead of Biden? Who?Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

                Now make a persuasive case.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

                He wants to get rid of the DST change.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’m seeing why Yang failed to catch on as a candidate.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Biden told his staff to avoid twitter and go after middle aged or older voters via the traditional method and won big.

                Nah. Biden had a lock on the African American vote, received a timely endorsement from Clyburn in advance of the South Carolina primary, then was the fortuitous beneficiary of his two main rivals for the moderate vote deciding to suddenly, unexpectedly!, end their campaigns.Report

              • InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

                I actually think the fact that this happened is a credit to the DNC. Whether it was the right call or not we won’t know until November but at least they made a decision with an aim towards winning.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Lee the only reason you think Biden is the best candidate is because he gets the most votes, and racks up the most endorsements, and polls the best against Trump and is the one most likely to win in November.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Exactly. Joe! is the best the Dems can do.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

                I’m sure you have all sorts of cogent arguments for why someone else should be the nominee, and I would probably agree with half of them.

                But if this gets us a win in November, I (and I suspect about 63 million other Americans) am perfectly fine with that.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I mainly got on the Biden bandwagon because African-Americans supported him and they usually have very good political instincts. That and the cults surrounding Saint Bernard of the Green Mountain and Saint Warren of Arc were annoying me.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq says:

                I’m on the Just Win, Baby bandwagon.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

                I believe part of the problem is that, while twitter is Not Real Life, every single journalist is on twitter.

                Which means that, every day, every single journalist is drinking deeply from Not Real Life.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                By that metric the media hated Joe Biden and should have been able to sway public opinion against him. Yet it/they obviously didn’t.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                “Journalists” is a smaller circle than “The Media” but I’d say that “hate” is not the word I’d use.

                I’d say that there is hate for Trump but all Biden got was the Just Another White Dude treatment when everybody knows we should, instead, prefer someone younger or blacker or femaler.

                Biden was journalists’ fifth choice. That’s not hate. It’s just a recipe to have them all ask “how is the nominee Biden? I don’t know anybody who voted for him!”


              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                Well, you’re receding to a semantic distinction that doesn’t seem relevant. At least to me. If, as you claim, twitter informs journalists views on politics, and if (as was the case) twitter didn’t like Joe Biden, then Joe Biden should not be the nominee, yes?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                Are we using “didn’t like” to mean “dislike”? Then I disagree with how you’re reading me. If we’re meaning it to mean “failed to actively like”, then, I guess I agree but I don’t see how you got from that and leapfrogged to “therefore Joe Biden should not be the nominee”.

                It’s like pointing out that the sports writers all thought the Phillies would win and they’re all Phillies fans but the Yankees won.

                The game’s outcome isn’t decided by the sportswriters. Even if they all know each other and talk to each other and explain to each other why the Phillies are a better all-around team. “Pound for pound”, they opine, “The Phillies are a lot better on paper than the Yankees.”Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                No, we’re talking about your claim that journalists are drinking deeply from “not real life” and why that’s interesting. I assumed you thought it was interesting because you think journalists have some power to shape public opinion outside of the Twitter-sphere. (Hence my comment that if they did Biden wouldn’t be the nominee.)

                Is that accurate?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                It’s not that I think they can shape it. It’s that I think that they should be able to describe it.

                Twitter gives them a lot of garbage in.Report

      • George Turner in reply to Marchmaine says:

        “We should challenge these students, we should challenge students in these schools to have advanced placement programs in these schools. We have this notion that somehow if you’re poor you cannot do it, poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.” – Joe Biden, 2019

        That’s an improvement over the old Joe Biden. In ’75 he said:

        “I think the Democratic Party could stand a liberal George Wallace — someone who’s not afraid to stand up and offend people, someone who wouldn’t pander but would say what the American people know in their gut is right.”

        Perhaps Joe Biden is the liberal George Wallace that America needs. ^_^Report