THE CRAZY: "We May Have Reached the Limit of Crazy!"


Where did the red wave go? The colloquy appears on the OPINION page of this morning's New York Times, under a ROUND TABLE heading.

The headline gives voice to a cheerful possibility. That headline posits this:

‘We May Have Reached the Limit of Crazy That Will Be Tolerated’

The quotation comes from Michigan legislator Mallory McMorrow, one of four participants in the roundtable discussion. 

During the colloquy, Frank Bruni refers to the fact that Colorado crackpot Lauren Boebert is currently trailing, though by just a handful of votes, in her race for re-election to the House. 

At that point, Bruni posits a possibility. McMorrow replies as shown:

Bruni: They have not yet called the Boebert race. But even if she somehow squeaks through, the narrowness of that victory remains a huge shock, no? And, I don’t know, an answer to how much crazy Americans will tolerate?...

McMorrow: Exactly. That race alone, to me, signals we may have reached the limit of crazy that will be tolerated, Madison Cawthorn’s earlier loss in the Republican primary being a sign of that. 

Some proponents of The Crazy are being voted out of office. To the highly capable McMorrow, this signals that "we may have reached the limit of [The Crazy] that will be tolerated."

Needless to say, everything is possible! It's also true that our politics has been swimming in a sea of The Crazy over the past quite a few years.

It started with the idea that Bill and Hillary Clintons had murdered a wide array of people—a notion that was widely advanced by the Reverend Falwell, but also by Gennifer Flowers, who the lovesick boys of the mainstream press came to treat, by 1998, as an unassailable goddess of truth.

Twenty years later, with new technologies firmly in the saddle, The Crazy was much more widespread—and The Crazy was widely believed:

Barack Obama was born in Kenya! Hillary Clinton was trafficking children out of a D.C. pizza joint!

Also, the 2020 election was stolen! It was Antifa who raided the Capitol—and Paul Pelosi had been attacked as part of a lover's quarrel!

On a political basis, has The Crazy reached the point where it will no longer be tolerated? We can't answer that question, but we'll once again offer this point:

Tuesday's elections may well end with the GOP—the current source and enabler of The Crazy—in control of both the House and the Senate. If this is what deliverance looks like, our nation remains in a very large world of hurt.

We don't mean this as a criticism of Bruni or McMorrow. We do want to suggest an answer to a very hot current question:

Whatever happened to the red wave? Where did the red wave go?

Democratic candidates lost a lot of elections this week. Within our tribal redoubts, our corporate-paid tribunes have been loudly cheering the fact that we didn't lose even more.

Except from a "cable news" marketing standpoint, this strikes us as very unwise. But as to where that red wave went, we'll offer the following points:

We start in November 2008, when Barack Obama won his first White House election. By the standards of our electoral politics, turnout was fairly high.

According to the official count, 131 million people cast votes for president that year. Of that multitude, 122.5 million people cast votes for candidates in House races.

Two years later, a red wave plainly did occur—famously, "a shellacking." Democrats lost 63 House seats in the process—but here is one additional turnout figure:

Total votes cast in House elections:
2008: 122.5 million
2010:   87.1 million

Thirty-five million fewer people cast votes in House elections that year! Traditionally, this drop-off in turnout for midterm election helped explain where our recurrent "wave elections" came from.

In this morning's New York Times, Blake Hounsell explains the process. The headline on his report promises this:

Five Takeaways From a Red Wave That Didn’t Reach the Shore

One of Hounsell's takeaways is highly salient. Where did this year's "wave election" go? The gentleman offers this:

HOUNSELL (11/10/22): The biggest question hanging over Democrats all year was just who, exactly, would show up to vote for them. In a typical midterm election, like 2010 and 2014, turnout drops by about 20 percentage points from a presidential year.

But turnout smashed all records in [the midterm elections of] 2018, when voters repudiated Mr. Trump and Democrats retook the House. So far, preliminary research by the Democratic data firm Catalist suggests that this year looks much more like 2018 than it does the sleepy affairs that took place under former President Barack Obama. Many analysts now think the United States may have reached a new plateau of permanently high participation, stoked by each party’s fear of the other side.

Rave on! Almost surely—or at least possibly!—that passage explains where this year's "red wave" went. Pending numbers from this year's elections, the story would go like this:

By tradition, midterm elections were dominated by disgruntled voters from the party which didn't hold the White House. 

Those disgruntled voters would angrily turn out to cast their disgruntled votes. Satisfied voters from the party which did hold the White House were far more inclined to stay home.

Angry losers would show up and vote. Satisfied minds would relax. 

By now, that pattern may have disappeared. In this Age of The Crazy and Donald J. Trump—also, in this age of 24-hour propagandization—voters aligned with both major parties are on permanent high alert. 

There are very few satisfied minds. Far fewer people stay home.

Many Dems stayed home in 2010. A red tsunami occurred.

We Dems are now on perpetual high alert. Many fewer Dems stayed home this year, and the rumored red wave disappeared.

Does this mean that the nation has reached "the limit of crazy that will be tolerated?" To some extent, it may! Under the 2010 paradigm, Boebert would have won re-election by now. This time around, she may lose.

That said, Marjorie Taylor Greene has won re-election. It looks like Kari Lake will end up winning in Arizona. 

In New Hampshire, the guy who said that schools maintain litter boxes for kids who identify as cats got almost 45 percent of the vote! Anthropologically, it's amazing to see how wide a berth our species provides for those who spread The Crazy across the widely fruited plain.

As of last week, Kyrie Irving was being widely discussed on news and sports cable shows. What manner of crazy belief was involved in that complex, deeply tragic matter?

Tomorrow, we'll show you some of what Irving seemed to be recommending when he linked to that "documentary" film. The Crazy is deeply involved in this deeply tragic story—and then too, there are the peculiar things Irving said, four and five years ago, about the utterly pointless question of whether whether the earth is flat.

Have we started turning a corner in our national politics? It's rather clear that the current era of The Crazy leads straight back to Donald J. Trump.

Absent Trump, our recent epidemic of The Crazy would never have gotten so far. Meanwhile, everyone turned out this week—and when everyone did, it turned out that the party which has widely accepted The Crazy may still end up in charge.

That said, The Crazy is never that far away from the affairs of us "rational animals." It has always played a key role in human life. To some extent, that's even true over here, within our own infallible tribe.

Irving's link involves mountains of pain, historical and present-day. Our tribe is struggling, perhaps with little success, to know how to deal with such topics—with the questions which arise from the brutal history of our nation, our species, our world.

Tomorrow: Kyrie Irving's link—but also, the shape of the earth


  1. tl;dr
    "Some proponents of The Crazy are being voted out of office."

    That's good. But somehow, dear Bob, we have the impression that -- alas -- a whole bunch of believers in wimmin trapped into men's bodies (and other such brain-dead idiocy) still do manage to hold on to power. Good decent persons all of them, of course.

    What do you think can be done about this sad state of affairs, dear?

    1. And also, dear fat slob, there are the crazies making nonsense up about liberals saying wimmin trapped in men's bodies, though it's usually even more stupid and venal than that.

  2. To a shocking extent, what happened during the Clinton years has been forgotten and rewritten but the entire media/political structure. Morning Joe had Ken Starr on
    the program in the middle of the Trump years, they
    treated him as a God, and represented the era as a
    time when Bill Clinton just wouldn't cooperate with
    an honest, well meaning crusader for truth. Joe
    could literally be heard screaming off camera about
    Clinton's refusal to cooperate! Mika had nothing to
    say about Starr's inability to help sexual harassment
    victims at Baylor.
    Among the complete majority silent about this
    sad display was one Bob Somerby. A few days later
    Starr was defending Barr's shielding of Trump,
    that was the last we heard of him on the Show,
    Such examples would need a LONG book to cover,
    but by, say, 2005, The Daily Howler joined the
    chorus of silence. Too be sure, forfeiting the legacy
    of our time's most successful President was a
    lot to give up for the Democrats, and they have
    themselves to blame for a lot of it. The media
    grudge against the Clintons for being innocent
    of 98 percent of what they tried to hang on them
    was obvious. But again, Bob stopped commenting
    too, it's impossible he didn't notice.
    Bob's speculation about high voter turnout
    may not be completely empty, but there is not much
    very conclusive about it either. It might also be
    true that everything MSNBC says about the danger
    of the Trump movement is not only true but quite
    understandable to a mot of people who still
    care about the Country, a kind of concern Bob
    has abandoned if he did indeed ever possess
    it. So they voted.
    We might note here that Glen Youngkin has
    apologized for his course comments about
    Speaker Pelosi in a fashion that seems

    1. The speculation about high turnout seems to be ignoring the greater ease of voting in many states, where ballots are mailed to every registered voter and can be returned early, at drop boxes, and by mail. That makes it much easier for more people to vote. Why wouldn't turnout be higher under such circumstances?

      That means this may have very little to do with who is angry and who is complacent.

      I was struck by how steadfastly Somerby refused to acknowledge women's anger over Roe v Wade. He wants to make this about craziness, but it is not crazy for women to want to protect their own autonomy by coming out to vote against the MAGA candidates, who not coincidentally are also the anti-abortion candidates.

  3. Republicans won the popular vote Tuesday. Things are changing.

    1. Don’t bogart that joint, my friend.

  4. "It looks like Kari Lake will end up winning in Arizona."

    Why would Somerby say that? She is behind by 13,000 votes. It is close, certainly, but she is not leading.

  5. Isn't it odd that Biden gave a speech calling this a strong showing for Democrats while Somerby is pretending that the results still show that no one likes us, even if he has no evidence supporting that idea at all.

  6. Total votes cast in House elections:
    2008: 122.5 million
    2010: 87.1 million

    Aside from the fact that people care more about a presidential election than the midterms, where there are only lower offices contested, Obama's campaign was different because he brought out more previously uninvolved voters, including black voters, young voters and first-time voters. People considered his candidacy historic because he is black and his race motivated more opposition from white voters and also a greater effort to counteract whatever effect race had on his candidacy. Even Oprah endorsed a candidate (Obama) for the first time ever in her life -- having previously stayed detached from politics. She gave Obama a televised interview and an endorsement.

    It is obvious that once Obama was in office, there was no longer the need for these new voters to come out again and they reverted to their old habits. Similarly, there was no reason for the racists to come out either, since Obama was already in office. But note that the Tea Party movement started in 2009, to oppose Obama's efforts and make his presidency a failure, and that the Tea Party was the forerunner of the MAGA extremists today.

    No one will say it, but race was a catalyst for the higher turnout in 2008 both for Obama and against him. Interpreting the midterms without talking about that makes no sense.

    Further, post hoc explanations are pretty useless because there are always several different explanations and few ways to test them. Notice that the traditional explanation did not hold up as a good predictor for these midterms, suggesting they were wrong, perhaps also for those previous midterms as well.

  7. "Absent Trump, our recent epidemic of The Crazy would never have gotten so far."

    Somerby never explicitly mentions why Trump was elected in 2016. He had financial support from Russian oligarchs, campaign support from Manafort (who had ties to Russian-supporters in Ukraine and worked for free), ongoing social media support by Russian troll farms and ad buys, media support to undermine Hillary via negative press, investigations of Hillary in Congress, Comey violating FBI rules to attack Hillary the week before voting, and help from Bernie and Gabbard and Jill Stein to split the Democratic vote, even after the primaries. Even so, Hillary almost won. But after the election, it became very clear that Trump was Putin's puppet and that foreign meddling helped swing the election to Trump, who never would have won otherwise. The 2020 election made it very clear how Americans felt about Trump when a female candidate was not on the ballot to push male votes toward Trump. Trump clearly did not win based on his own charisma, absent all that help.

    How can someone pretend to understand politics while never mentioning the obvious factors?

  8. "Barack Obama was born in Kenya! Hillary Clinton was trafficking children out of a D.C. pizza joint!"

    Are these two false facts in any way equivalent? The one about Obama is benign compared to the one about Hillary (and that was not the only one against her). Obama supporters were even repeating the major lies about Hillary all during the primaries, spreading craziness among Democrats in advance of her 2016 nomination.

    1. "Barack Obama was born in Kenya!"

      So, in your, dear Bob, liberal universe it's crazy ... sorry The Crazy! to be born in Kenia? Seriously? Even when one's own literary agent prints a brochure where it says that one was a Kenia-born demigod?

      Nice. You're getting better at brain-dead dembottery every day, dear.

      ...also, what's so crazy about suspecting upper-class liberals of trafficking children? Ever heard of Jeffrey Epstein, dear Bob?

    2. The best part of all, dear fat slob,
      is that you really don’t see you
      are making Bob’s point. And by
      the way, sicko, go straight to

    3. The literary agent nonsense has been debunked for years, and debunked to Mao directly here in comments, so there is no way to avoid it, Mao is lying here. You don't bother lying unless you are on the losing side, such as Mao.

    4. Even if Obama or his agent once incorrectly said Obama was born in Africa, the evidence that he was born in Hawaii is overwhelming.

    5. Obama didn't say he was born in Kenya, and he should know.

  9. "it turned out that the party which has widely accepted The Crazy may still end up in charge."

    This remark by Somerby is so incredibly stupid, it is hard to know where to start debunking it.

    First, Biden is still president.
    Second, it is highly likely the Democrats will retain control of the senate. Dems are leading in the uncalled races, except for Warnock's.
    Third, the House has not yet been decided.
    Fourth, if the House goes to Republicans, it will only be by a handful of seats, much like the majority Nancy Pelosi has.
    Fifth, Nancy Pelosi is a more talented speaker than McCarthy or any other proposed Republican leaders, so it seems unlikely Republicans will be able to pass as much legislation as the Democrats did with their slim majority.
    Sixth, with a Democratic senate, they will get no cooperation.
    Seventh, if they pass something Republican, Biden still has veto power. Neither party has enough votes to overturn that.
    Eighth, Republicans in the House are likely to waste a lot of time on empty investigations, like they did with Hillary and Benghazi, decreasing their impact on other issues.
    Ninth, there has been an increase in Democratic governors and state officials in swing states, making the country more Democratic.
    Tenth, Republicans did not pick up as many new districts as they might have, confining their wins to red states and red districts. These are not inroads in building their constituency. Somerby has ignored this.

    These reasons are why Biden has called this election a strong showing for Democrats. Somerby is out of his mind these days and doesn't seem to be dealing with reality very well. His arguments today seem to rest with calling the as yet undecided races for Republicans (regardless of who is leading) and then telling us again that we aren't defeating the crazy.

    The crazy is defeating itself. Meanwhile, Democrats are going to do their jobs in office and take care of the needs of the American people. Somerby can go whistle in the yard.

    1. Again, this is just day two of
      sour grapes, Bob didn’t get his
      red wave.,

    2. There is the phenomenon of Miami-Dade County and Latino voters.

      In another two years you’ll likely be here railing against Somerby for never ever suggesting that Democrats try to broaden their appeal in order to pick up more centrists and independents.

    3. The problems with your analysis is manifold. The centrist Dems generally lost this election, it was the progressive and woke Dems that carried the day - this has been the trend since 2018. Furthermore latin voters in Florida are atypical of latin voters nationally - Florida went red, but in PA, Texas, New Mexico etc latin voters went blue, refusing to vote even for latin Republican candidates, and even flipping a seat in NM.

      Your analysis just does not hold up, and if you bothered spending a little diligence on Google you could have easily discovered this yourself - or you know all this, and still write garbage comments, which is typical of Republicans and probably why you are not seeing the latin red wave you had hoped for.

      Generally speaking you and Somerby reliably always state the opposite of what actually is, so much so that you can set your clock to it.

    4. My “analysis”? It was a statement of fact. Republicans flipped a very blue county in Florida that included a large Hispanic pop.

      There were hopes that Republicans might pick up some Hispanic votes, but no one one predicted Miami-Dade.

      It’s a start, and as I said, my analysis…is that two years from now you’ll have memoryholed any notion that Bob encouraged the DNC to appeal to a wider swath of people because things can change.

      Just like you’re pretending now that Bob had wanted a red wave rather than fretting that there would be one.

    5. Hispanics have helped Democrats all over the country, outside of Florida (where Hispanics tend to be conservative cubanos). You cannot generalize from Florida hispanics to those in the rest of the country. And no, it isn't a start. Cubanos have been voting Republicans for decades, going back to Richard Nixon.

      Somerby has been doing some advance gloating about that red wave, not fretting. Name-calling liberals is not fretting.

      Fretting definition: "be constantly or visibly worried or anxious"

      Chiding is not anxiety.

    6. Anxious, fretting, and chiding about things general and in particular, is it.

      It’s who he is and what you get.

      Not ear-tickling. That’s why you call him an imposture.

  10. When extremists on both parties have crazy ideas, that's normal and merely amusing. When the mainstream has a crazy idea, that's dangerous. Today, Washington is in love the with "new economic theory", which says that deficits don't matter. They love it. They can increase spending and cut taxes making everyone happy -- for a little while. Of course, comeuppance will follow.

    1. "Reagan proved deficits don't matter."

      Dick Cheney

    2. David's ignorance of economics aside, boy he really stepped in it today. Hmmm unusual, Republicans really are starting to lose it.

  11. Somerby has given up talking about any of the topics he has teased in the past week or so. Now he is promising to talk about Kyrie Irving again -- don't hold your breath.