In search of what Credico thought: Just think how different the landscape would be if our (ridiculous) presidential primary system had been ridiculous in a different way in this particular year.
Within our current (ridiculous) system, the caucus/primary nomination system starts in Iowa, then moves on to New Hampshire. After that, it's on to Nevada. South Carolina comes next.
Imagine a different system this year. In this different (ridiculous) system, South Carolina would have gone first.
What would have happened had South Carolina gone first? Let's make a sensible guess:
Almost surely, Candidate Biden would have racked up a win, possibly by a strong margin. Inevitably, the nation's pundits would then have staged one of their standard stampedes, hailing the way the candidate had enhanced his pre-existing front-runner status.
As the children staged this stampede, polling results in Nevada, Iowa and New Hampshire would perhaps have started to change in Uncle Hoe's direction. Biden's numbers in those states would have improved, further fueling the pundit stampede.
Almost surely, this is what would have happened if our (ridiculous) nomination system had been ridiculous in a different way this year. None of this would have made any sense—and yet, this is us.
Our primary system makes little sense. The same is true of other leading political systems which have started to fail.
Over the course of our last five elections, our electoral college system has sent two candidates to the White House who lost the popular vote. There's little sign that this emerging pattern is necessarily going to change. It may already be "the new abnormal."
Other systems are failing to hold at this point in time. Our system of "Senate math" is becoming increasingly ludicrous, giving the smallest, least populous states an inordinate amount of power. Here's Gerald Seib in the Wall Street Journal, just a few years back:
SEIB (11/21/17): David Birdsell, dean of the school of public and international affairs at Baruch College, notes that by 2040, about 70% of Americans are expected to live in the 15 largest states. They will have only 30 senators representing them, while the remaining 30% of Americans will have 70 senators representing them.Thirty percent of the nation's people will hold 70 percent of the Senate's seats. So that system keep trending.
As for our two-party system, that system is failing in a somewhat comical way, with each party struggling to nominate presidential candidates who belong to the party in question!
There's a comical element to these breakdowns, but they suggest that our political system may be coming apart. That said, the largest ongoing breakdown may involve the system by which we the people receive information, advice and guidance from the press corps and the academy.
Everyone knows what the press would have done had South Carolina gone first with Joe Biden scoring a win. They would have staged one of the famous stampedes. They do such things every four years.
That said, does any system lie in shambles the way our information system does? In the past few days, we found ourselves asking this question again and again and again.
We think of what we saw last Friday night, as Rachel and Tucker each told millions of viewers that we're living in a banana republic, with their own tribe getting the shaft as the breakdown continues.
We'd had the same reaction that morning when we read the latest column by the Washington Post's Monica Hesse. The essay is a parody of political analysis, but it's standard fare at the Post.
Perhaps most strikingly, we were struck by the journalistic breakdown when we read Michelle Goldberg's most recent column in the New York Times.
The column appeared in yesterday's Sunday Review. It concerned the kind of question which can now divide our warring political tribes. The question at issue was this:
Should Roger Stone be sentenced to 7-9 years in prison, as the Justice Department originally recommended? Or should his sentence be only 3-4 years, as Justice is now recommending?In our view, Stone has resembled a crackpot throughout his adult life. On the other hand, viewers of Carlson's Friday night program were told that Stone is currently the victim of "a two-tiered justice system."
We'll review what Carlson's viewers were told as the week proceeds. Yesterday, Goldberg considered this matter. Here's how her column began:
GOLDBERG (2/16/20): Randy Credico is the witness from Robert Mueller’s investigation whom Roger Stone, Donald Trump’s longtime adviser, has been convicted of threatening. A few months ago, Credico texted me, “If Stone goes to jail I’m a walking dead man.” On Thursday, after the president’s intervention to get Stone a lighter sentence convulsed the Justice Department, I spoke to Credico, a left-wing comedian and activist, and he elaborated on what he’d meant. “The guy goes to prison and I’m to blame, and you’re being called a rat, you’re worried about somebody with a red hat, a MAGA hat, doing a Jack Ruby on you,” he said.For the record, we once knew Randy a tiny tad too. Back in the 1980s, we hired him to perform at Baltimore's award-winning Charm City Comedy Club.
His fear has national implications, because a central question in the Stone sentencing is whether Credico truly felt endangered when Stone promised to cause him harm. Despite what the administration’s defenders say, the answer is yes.
Did Randy "truly feel endangered when Stone promised to cause him harm?" Goldberg assured her readers that the answer is yes. We were struck by the frustrating way she tried to establish this point.
Goldberg is a very high-ranking journalistic thought leader. Watching Tucker and Rachel, and reading Hesse, we were truck, as we often are, by the way our information/opinion systems are falling apart.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our intellectual skills are quite slight. We have a much stronged drive toward tribal belief. We'll examine this system all week.
Tomorrow: Listening to Tucker and Rachel
Also this: Did Goldberg start with a factual error? We tried to fact-check the point yesterday, but we still aren't sure.