Bernie and Joe, plus Drum: This is a terrible field.
By any traditional standard, two of the top five candidates are way too old for the job. Another member of the top five is way too young.
Of the remaining two top contenders, one spent several decades saying on official forms that she was an AMERICAN INDIAN. It's hard to believe that she ever could have believed that. It's impossible to avoid the possibility that she did this in hopes of career gain. We'll all be hearing more about this if she's the nominee.
That leaves Candidate Harris. We're somewhat surprised that she hasn't caught on, though she strikes us as tilting toward faux and mirage.
This terrible field is confronting the madness of the ongoing Trump era. The era calls for abnormal insight from national leaders, a bit like that required from Lincoln (see below). We don't see that level of insight anywhere in this field.
How poorly do we function as a people at this point in time? On the most simplistic level, consider this early exchange last night between two of the top three contenders:
STEPHANOPOULOS (9/12/19): Senator Sanders.Sad. We say that for several reasons.
SANDERS: Let us be clear, Joe, in the United States of America, we are spending twice as much per capita on health care as the Canadians or any other major country on earth.
BIDEN: This is America.
SANDERS: Yes, but Americans don't want to pay twice as much as other countries, and they guarantee health care to all people. Under my Medicare-for-all proposal, when you don't pay out-of-pocket and you don't pay premiums, maybe you've run into people who love their premiums. I haven't.
First, Sanders never remembers to say that we spend two to three times as much per person as compared to other countries whose health care outcomes are as good or better than ours.
He did remember to say that these other countries provide universal coverage. But he never says that those countries' outcomes are at least as good as ours.
This omission probably helps explain Biden's peculiar response. "This is America," the Democratic front-runner said, apparently suggesting that we're spending more because we do it bigger and better than anyone else in the world.
That's an amazingly clueless (apparent) response from the party's front-runner. But this peculiar response is made possible because Sanders always fails to say that other countries get outcomes as good as ours.
Does any of this actually matter? Almost certainly, no. That's because you can't leave a discussion this big to the vagaries of a ten-person "debate" during a White House campaign.
The nation's political, academic and journalistic "elites" have spent decades failing to discuss the remarkable fact which Sanders partially stated.
Why do we spend so much per person as compared to everyone else? Where does all that extra money go? Are we all, red and blue together, being systematically looted in the general area of health care?
Very few people have ever heard a discussion of any such questions. Most people have no idea that we're all being systematically looted in the provision of health care—and you can't expect people to clamor for change on the basis of a few shards of alleged information tossed out in the midst of a ten-person "debate" marked by a thousand-dollar cash give-away plan and a comically awful attack upon Biden's alleged failure of memory.
That exchange between Sanders and Biden ought to be a national embarrassment, but no one is going to view it as such. Reason:
We just aren't especially sharp—and we aren't sharp enough to notice!
Drum is right and wrong: We recommend Kevin Drum's post, "Things Are Pretty Good in America These Days."
We recommend the post because Drum is very right, but also because he's remarkably wrong.
Drum goes through a list of indicators which suggest that American life has been getting much better. "Just about every social indicator you can think of has been moving in a good direction for the past couple of decades," he says.
Drum does note a few exceptions. Along the way, he also explains why we the people tend to think things are getting worse when they're actually getting better.
So far, so basically good. But then we get to the very large problem with the post. This is the way he ends:
DRUM (9/12/19): Nickel summary: Things are generally pretty good in America! Not everything, but most things. We sure don’t act like it, though.Is he missing something important? In our view, yes, he is.
Am I missing anything important here?
Donald J. Trump is in the White House! This is the leading indicator of a terrible, ongoing dislocation which, absent some type of leadership, won't be going away.
As he departed Springfield, President-elect Lincoln said this:
"I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington."
Mind-boggling death and destruction followed, a fact which Lincoln assessed in the deepest possible way in his Second Inaugural Address.
Our current situation won't likely be going away, and our human skills are extremely limited. This strikes us as a terrible problem, and it may not be going away.