MONDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2021
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