THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2021
Top pundit, rich in script: We start this post with a full confession—we stopped reading Dana Milbank a long time ago.
His work was simply too slight and too scripted. A look at two of his points today helps establish our point.
First up, recitation of script! Milbank explains why Candidate Youngkin won the Virginia election:
MILBANK (11/3/21): Virginia voters decided not to return [McAuliffe] for a second nonconsecutive term as governor, instead electing Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin, who ran a Trump-inspired campaign of disinformation, conspiracy theories and race-baiting. It wasn’t terribly close. Republicans were leading the the lieutenant governor and attorney general races, too, and were within sight of a majority in the House of Delegates.
With respect to the Trump-inspired race-baiting, Milbank was typing from script. For the record, he didn't mention the fact that the race-baiter's successful running-mates for lieutenant governor and attorney general were 1) a black woman and 2) an Hispanic man.
What he said came straight outta script, as did what he omitted.
(Gail Collins also omitted Winsome Sears' breakthrough win for attorney general from her list of heartwarming breakthrough wins today. Tribal sifting of information is like that.)
Next, Milbank turned on the congressional Democrats. This attack on "the Jayapals" is extremely dumb:
MILBANK: The Manchins and the Sinemas on the right side of the Democratic caucus and the Jayapals on the left must recognize that their carping over relative trifles has imperiled an agenda they (and their constituents) overwhelmingly support, and increased the likelihood that the people who brought us the Jan. 6 insurrection will be returned to power in next year’s midterms. The Manchins and the Sinemas and the Jayapals, by making the perfect the enemy of the (very) good, have handed an advantage to an illiberal faction that is stoking White nationalism.
Out of that jumble, we'll focus on Milbank's ridiculous statements about "the Jayapals."
We've never been big fans of Pramila Jayapal, especially so after reading this Buzzfeed takedown concerning the way she allegedly runs her congressional office.
That said, we've come to admire the remarkably consistent way she has behaved during the battle over the reconciliation bill. As leader of the House progressive caucus, has Jayapal been "making the perfect the enemy of the (very) good?"
That's just very dumb all the way down. Consider:
Jayapal has been making the following very sound bet. She's been betting that, if the House progressives go ahead and vote for the so-called "infrastructure bill," the so-called "reconciliation bill" will never come to pass.
She's been betting that Manchin and Sinema would never vote for the (larger) reconciliation bill if the (smaller) infrastructure bill isn't being held hostage. That seems like a perfectly sensible bet. Whether the strategy works out or not, it has had nothing to do with "carping over meaningless trifles," or with "making the perfect the enemy of the (very) good."
This piece was vintage Milbank. First, he rattled talking-points about the (unspecified) race-baiting. Then, he rattled talking-points about the irresponsible, silly/dumb Dems.
He went to one of the finest schools. While there, he was actually Skull and Bones!
There's always room for improvement, of course. But as of this very day, this is the way it's turned out!
The sound of a possible flip: At the start of the week, it began to sound like the House progressives—"the Jayapals"—may be preparing to go ahead and vote on the infrastructure bill. Several leaders in the caucus seemed to be saying that they were prepared to trust Biden's claim that he would be able to get Manchin and Sinema to support the reconciliation bill even post-infrastructure.
That sounded like a startling flip. Because of all the election chatter, we've seen no one discuss this.