INFIRMITIES AND DELUSIONS: Two people "rule the world," Dowd says!


She fails to name fifty others: Presumably, we all know what the columnist meant.

This morning, we're going to direct you to what she actually said.

The columnist is Maureen Dowd, who has become less influential in recent years. Yesterday, in the New York Times, Dowd's column started like this, headline included:

Sinema Stars in Her Own Film

Just like the original Sphinx, the Phoenix Sphinx is blocking the way until those who would move ahead solve her riddle:

What does Kyrsten Sinema want? And why doesn’t she stick around to explain it?

Somehow, we have gotten ourselves in a perverse situation where Sinema and Joe Manchin rule the world, and it’s confounding that these two people have this much sway. As Hemingway wondered in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” what are those leopards doing at this altitude?

Sinema and Manchin are now directing what Joe Biden gets to do and deciding how his presidency will be defined. Some Democrats even worry that the recalcitrant pair could be helping Donald Trump vault back into the White House.

Is it possible? Is it possible that Senators Sinema and Manchin "could be helping Donald Trump vault back into the White House?"

Given the fact that everything's possible, that's certainly possible too! But do those "two people" really "rule the world?" 

Only if you forget to name the fifty other people who are currently ruling it too!

We refer to the fifty Republicans who currently sit in the Senate, each of whom opposes the Build Back Better proposal. If any two (or ten; or twelve) of those other fifty solons favored Build Back Better, it wouldn't matter what Sinema and Manchin wanted to do.

Putting it another way, of the 100 members of the Senate, only 48 seem to favor the proposal as it generally stands; 52 of the 100 do not. And the margin for possible passage is quite narrow in the House, where Democrats currently hold a very slender majority.

Dowd understands these facts, of course. Presumably, we all know what she meant in the part of the column we've posted.

But with regard to what Dowd said, she rushed past a basic fact. It's a fact our underperforming tribe very much likes to ignore:

Despite our enormously high self-regard, we've been doing a terrible job getting people elected to Congress. Even after four years of Trump, our "majorities" in the two chambers of Congress are amazingly thin.

We haven't been doing a very good job getting people elected to Congress! Consider what happened in November 2020, in the nationwide elections which followed (almost) four years of President Donald J. Trump.

We refer to the 435 separate elections which sent people to the House of Representatives. Even after four years of Trump, these were the best results our self-impressed tribe could produce:

House elections, November 2020
Democratic candidates: 50.8% of the nationwide vote
Republican candidates: 47.7% of the nationwide vote 
Resulting membership: 222 D, 213 R
(150.3 million votes cast)

Democratic candidates did receive more votes nationwide, but only by a strikingly slender margin. This was the best we were able to do as Biden was elected to the White House following four years of Trump!

Tomorrow, we'll show you how those numbers look compared to a second set of numbers. We'll compare those numbers to the corresponding numbers from November 2008—from the election in which Barack Obama was elected to the White House after eight years of Bush.

In 2008, we elected Obama; last year, we elected Biden. But over the course of those twelve years, we lost a lot of ground with American voters, at least with respect to the way people voted in our nationwide House elections.

Our liberal / progressive / Blue tribe spills with self-regard. Despite this fact, we aren't especially good at getting people elected to the House and the Senate—and then we point to Manchin and Sinema, forgetting to note that fifty other (elected) senators stand in the way of our programs.

We may fail to appreciate another pair of facts:

The only way we got to fifty senators was because of one guy who has somehow managed to hold onto his seat in West Virginia, a massively pro-Trump state. And because we elected someone in Arizona who has seemed to possibly be a bit nutty for a fairly good chunk of time.

Why can't we do a better job getting people elected to Congress? Our self-impressed tribe has an answer for that. Inevitably, it's an answer which flatters Our Tribe as it sweepingly denigrates Theirs.

In fact, our own tribe is expansively dumb, and has been for some time. We ourselves are a major part of our tribe's own failure to thrive. Very few things could be more clear, except to human like Us.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. Their Tribe may be crazy at this point, but Our Tribe just isn't real sharp.

There's a liberation in coming to acknowledge that fact, but will our tribe ever do that? According to experts, we probably won't. We expect to spend several weeks focusing on the various facts our own tribe will never address, according to those despondent scholars.

As for Dowd, this afternoon we're going refresh your recollection about some of her own past work. We in our fabulously self-impressed tribe just stared into air and sucked our thumbs as she engaged in the jaw-dropping nonsense with which we will briefly refresh you. 

Our self-impressed tribe is quite self-impressed. Given the fact that we're all humans, we also aren't super-sharp.

Infirmities rule Our Town, experts say. Infirmities, but also delusions.

Tomorrow: November 2008


  1. Dowd uses a trick to make those resisting an enormous change seem like the main actors, rather than those pursuing an enormous change. Note the power of the default. If one takes the Dem proposal as the default, then, yes, its Congressional opponents "rule" the world. However, if one takes the current situation as the default, then Pelosi, Biden and fewer than 300 Democrats in Congress "rule the world" by pursuing a dramatic change in government.

    1. I was for climate change action, but the thought of your grandchildren suffering throughout their lives due to climate change has made me rethink it.

    2. The thought that white people, suffering from the effects of climate change, will not beg Daddy Government to save them is incredibly naive.

    3. Yes. Who can forget all the small government, Libertarian Masters of the Universe in the Executive Suites begging for Daddy Government to save them from the effects of COVID last Summer.

    4. Anon 11:43 Being "for climate action" can make you feel superior, but it's not enough. What actions will you support that will actually cause a decrease in the % of CP2 in the atmosphere?

    5. So you can pass it along to your grandkids to beg for? No thanks. Let the little "collateral damages" suffer.

    6. David @ 3:49 -- you ask this in all seriousness? Trump showed us that adopting a policy of ignoring covid resulted in a shutdown of our economy and lockdown that measurably reduced CO2 in the atmosphere. Clearly there exist some policies that can have an impact, but the challenge is to find ones that don't hurt people in the process.

      You seem to be saying that if something is difficult, it shouldn't be attempted. If that were everyone's attitude, we wouldn't have a vaccine -- a result of a monumental effort by scientists to address a major threat.

  2. We went through four years of 90% negative coverage of Trump, and the narratives about Trump and Russia are still toppling and the master-spooks-cum-cable-news-analysts are exposed as liars, scoundrels, and clowns.

    These revelations slide like greased otters off the backs of Bob and the media. Bob writes off The Others as lunatics, while his own side hates him for bemoaning that Dems can’t get coronated with these odds.

    1. The reason the media is ignoring Trump and his cronies plan to overthrow the United States is they can't find a Democrat to "both sides" it.

    2. "the master-spooks-cum-cable-news-analysts are exposed as liars, scoundrels, and clowns."

      This is only true in the alternate universe that conservatives inhabit.

    3. @6:30

      Unfortunately for your argument, the liberal universe is also closer to reality than the media universe or the conservative universe.

      It is nice that you are celebrating Halloween early, using the term spooks as if it meant anything at all. Next you'll be talking about the deep state and inviting us all to bob for apples at the next Q-Anon get-together.

    4. The liberal universe maybe closer to reality than the conservative universe but in this case the liberal universe is kept totally in the dark about master-spooks-cum-cable-news-analysts being liars, scoundrels, and clowns. So in this case the liberal universe is not closer to or anywhere near reality. That's why it's interesting.

    5. Yes, liberals are also kept in the dark about imaginary fleas, two-headed gnus, Bigfoot, and whistling pigs. Because they don't exist.

      This is the conservative playbook. Invent some bogeyman, make people afraid of it, then ask them to vote for whoever promises to allay their fears. Like Trump when he claimed that only he could fix what was wrong with our country.

      I think you should take this stuff back to whatever blog thinks you're clever.

    6. You think that because you come from the universe that liberals inhabit and are kept in the dark about many enormous issues, eg. FBI/CIA mass propaganda on major networks, political campaigns playing the FBI and media playing off each others to get "stories" going about events they know are false. etc. etc.

      There's a lot of things you are kept in the dark about if you are in the liberal universe. They end up only being discussed in the universe that conservatives inhabit.

    7. In the Conservative universe, they discuss how everything they say outside their universe is a lie.

    8. Same with the Liberal universe. The Liberal universe discusses how everything said outside their universe is a lie.

      You have done it here!

      "This is only true in the alternate universe that conservatives inhabit."

      Which is true. The truth about the spooks is called a lie in the liberal universe because it is said outside it.

    9. Mr. Privvy at 10:48,
      What reason do they give for suppressing the votes of minorities in the Conservative universe?

    10. There's a more "conservative universe" than the NY Times?
      Who knew?

    11. 12:04

      I don't know. I am from the Liberal universe and only enter the Conservative universe for the truth about master-spooks-cum-cable-news-analysts being liars, scoundrels, and clowns as well as a few other huge stories that the liberal universe is kept totally in the dark about.

      That's why it's interesting.

  3. If the media wanted to be fair to Trump, they'd point out he's the "go to" person when it comes to knowing how to file bankruptcy.

  4. "This was the best we were able to do as Biden was elected to the White House following four years of Trump!"

    Without a doubt the culprits are all those dead people who selfishly refused to join a few good ones who voted in 2020.

    1. Mao,
      Thanks for the reminder that Trump tried to gaslight a viral pandemic, like it was some common New York Times reporter.
      What a dope.

  5. 'In fact, our own tribe is expansively dumb, and has been for some time. We ourselves are a major part of our tribe's own failure to thrive.'

    Certainly Somerby would be a negative for any tribe he is a part of. For instance, he defended Roy Moore fervently, but was unable to get him to win election. However, Somerby is too ineffective to be a major part of anything.

    But I agree that Somerby is indeed expansively dumb since he thinks (using that word loosely) that he can defend Trump, Moore, Ron Johnson, Guiliani etc. and still claim to be a liberal rather than the malevolent Trumptard that he is.

  6. Anonymouse 2:29 p.m., fair couldn’t get HRC elected. Neither could unfair.

  7. The media spent 2016 pretending they cared that Republicans were pretending to care about HRC's email protocols.
    As soon as the election was over and Trump was using an unsecured phone to conduct government business, both dropped the fake concern.

  8. Down is a horrible columnist. This statement of hers is flat out untrue:

    "Sinema and Manchin are now directing what Joe Biden gets to do and deciding how his presidency will be defined. "

    Biden's presidency is already defined by being not-Trump, and his handling of covid coupled with his relief package have already defined his presidency. Anything more is gravy at this point.

    Sinema and Manchin are defining themselves, not Biden. Biden cannot help the numbers in Congress. He can make the best deal possible under the circumstances but nothing he does defines himself as opposed to these obstructionists. Their lobbyists and donors are defining them, not Biden.

  9. "Why can't we do a better job getting people elected to Congress?"

    Because Republicans have gerrymandered districts, engaged in voter suppression, and are now rigging courts to permit tampering with the voting process, to turn elections their way when they ought to go to more Democrats. Funded by corporations, wealthy donors, and Russian oligarchs funneling money through the NRA, Republicans also outspend Dems and have the resources to focus on grassroots where they can manipulate downballot races.

    Democrats do not fight dirty in the same way as Republicans (remember the North Carolina ballot stuffing scandal?). Dems don't lie their way into office by promising coal miners that their industry will come back. They don't sell their souls to lobbyists and donors (like Kyrsten Sinema, the exception proving the rule, and Joe Manchin). Dems take their constitutional oath seriously and don't wave guns in the Capitol building.

    Why does Somerby have to ask such a question if he is actually a liberal? This is only Somerby's rhetorical device for pimping the conservative meme that Democrats are in disarray and cannot win elections (or do anything effectively, including govern -- following the most inept presidency in our nation's history, among many Republican failures.

    You can boil it down to one simple answer -- Republicans cheat.

    1. Absolutely agree with you Corby. Bob seems to have missed the massive gerrymandering that happened after the 2010 census. Take Ohio for example, the state legislature managed to grab extra Republican House seats despite the fact that Ohio has an almost 50/50 electorate. Packing and cracking Congressional districts is how the GOP has built a slim minority in the House. How are you pretending that this is solely a problem of turn out and not a crooked map is beyond me.

  10. Hillary won the popular vote and would have won those blue states too had not there been interference from Russia -- read the Mueller Report. Her legitimate victory was stolen by Trump, abetted by Republicans.

  11. Somerby is whining about Democrats being big fat losers again. Here is what his buddy, Kevin Drum, thinks of that premise:

    "Now, it's true that liberals have won their share of battles. In recent years alone, you can count Obamacare, gay marriage, and lots of stimulus spending among its victories. On the other hand, Republicans have won additional tax cuts for the rich, lots of freshly minted conservative judges, and the imminent prospect of striking down Roe v. Wade. They haven't done too badly either.

    It should be entirely unexceptional to say this. Since 2000, voters have opted for 12 years of Republican presidents and 12 years of Democratic presidents. The Senate is currently split 50-50, and the House is on a knife edge. The federal judiciary outside the Supreme Court is almost exactly 50% Democratic and 50% Republican. Presidents are routinely elected by margins of a few percentage points.

    We have been a 50-50 nation since at least 2000, and we still are. Conservatives have hung on to their half thanks to Fox News giving them a steady boost of a few percentage points based on fearmongering and white backlash. At the same time, liberals haven't really tried to build a bigger majority, instead experimenting with pushing the progressive envelope as far as they can without falling too far below 50%."

    This is far from the doom and gloom picture that Somerby always paints. Drum does have a penchant for saying that no difference exists, in whatever he analyzes, but I do think he has less of an axe to grind than Somerby.