FRAMEWORKS: Senator Warnock won by three points!


The possible role of our frameworks: Our endless Election Day is over, and Senator Warnock won.

He won re-election by something like 3.5 points. In this morning's New York Times, Gail Collins ponders the meaning of that somewhat narrow victory margin:

COLLINS (12/8/22): As the sun sinks over Georgia, we bid adieu to the Senate runoff election that seems to have been contested since the beginning of time.

Yes, dinosaurs once ruled the earth and Senate candidate Herschel Walker probably has a theory about how they could be killed by a werewolf. Or maybe a vampire.

This certainly was a race to remember. But now it’s over; Georgia very rightly decided that Senator Raphael Warnock, an estimable candidate, was better for the job than a guy who couldn’t seem to be clear about how many children he’d fathered or abortions he’d paid for.

But … Wait! Wait! Warnock got only a little more than 51 percent of the vote. That means more than 1.7 million Georgians thought it’d be a better plan to have a senator whose theory on global warming is: “Don’t we have enough trees?”

"Let’s face it," Collins says a bit later. "Warnock was running against one of the worst candidates in modern American history."

In our view, Collins may have been understating that point. Judged by any conventional standard, it's possible that Candidate Walker was the worst major-party nominee in modern Senate history.

Senator Warnock won by three points. Under the circumstances, that can seem like a weirdly narrow victory margin, as Collins notes.

At any rate, there is Collins, wondering about the 1.7 million Georgians who went out and voted for Walker. As to who those people are, Caroline Randall Williams was willing to tell us, or at least to suggest an answer, in a new essay for The Atlantic.

She offers a possible framework of understanding. Her presentation starts like this:

WILLIAMS (12/7/22): I watched the film version of Friday Night Lights almost obsessively during my senior year of high school. My father had just died. He was a diplomat, a businessman, and the general counsel of the U.S. Army, and he loved conservative optics and southern spaces and all manner of iconic Americana, for good or ill. So the movie connected me to him, or something—offered me catharsis, or something. The movie immersed me in all of the hard, strange things about the South, the questions about achievement and race and class and excellence and objectification, and what it can mean to lose or win or talk to God about any of it.

But there was one scene I hated to watch.

Quickly, a bit of background. Williams' father was Avon Williams III, a highly accomplished black conservative who died at the age of 45 after a severe asthma attack.

Williams herself, a high school student at the time, proceeded to watch the film version of Friday Night Lights "almost obsessively." As she continues, she describes that one scene, the scene she (understandably) hated to watch: 

WILLIAMS (continuing directly): Coach Gaines is getting ready for the start of the season, and attending a booster-club dinner with a table of wealthy white donors who presumably love God and football and Texas and not a whole lot else. It’s a subtle scene, the dinner party spliced with distracting clips of the players at a raucous high-school party. A woman talks almost salaciously about the physicality of the young men she saw on the field during practice: “What I saw was speed out there, but where’s the beef, Coach? I saw me some small boys.” The master’s wife, perusing the auction block. 

That's the background to the scene Williams (understandably) hated to see. (The woman's conduct gets worse from there.) A certain framework of understanding may already be appearing in Williams' essay at this point.

We can't find video of that scene at YouTube, or anywhere else. For that reason, we can't say whether we agree that the woman in question was speaking "almost salaciously" about those high school football players when she said those things to Coach Gaines.

We can say that this was a fictional woman in a fictional scene, one part of a fictional movie. When Williams describes that fictional scene, she describes the salacious fictional woman as "the master’s wife, perusing the auction block."

Who knows? That may be the way that fictional woman was actually meant to be seen! At any rate, Williams continues her account of that scene—but at least for today, we'll leave her account right there. 

We'll even skip her apparent explanation of (all? most of? some of?) those Walker votes, along with her account of the way she feels when she observes such elections.

Concerning Williams herself, we'll offer some basic background. 

Williams is a Harvard graduate (class of 2010). Before attending Harvard, she prepped at St. Paul's.

Her mother, the writer Alice Randall, is also a Harvard graduate (class of 1981.) As noted, her father, a Williams graduate, was general counsel of the U.S. Army when he suddenly died. 

As for Williams herself, she's a writer in residence at Vanderbilt. Her mother is a writer in residence at Vanderbilt too. 

Earlier in her career, her mother wrote a significant number of country music hits as part of the Nashville music scene. She's also the author of six novels, one of which was included in the Washington Post's listings for "Best fiction of 2004."

In connection with her Atlantic essay, Randall Williams was interviewed last night by Lawrence O'Donnell. One hour earlier, her essay had been discussed and praised on Alex Wagner Tonight.

In our view, Williams' essay advances a certain framework of understanding. As applied by Williams in her essay, that framework may or may not seem to make perfect sense in at least several ways. 

That said, it's a framework which persistently comes to us blue tribe members, live and direct from our floundering tribe's political and "journalistic" elite.

Is it possible that this framework helps generate the large number of votes which went to history's all-time worst nominee? Is it possible that this framework may lead our tribe to future defeats, if Donald J. Trump ever stops directing his party to nominate such deeply flawed major candidates?

You will never see such questions "interrogated" from within our own blue tribe. Our elites have handed us a basic framework of understanding, one which we see our tribal elites express again and again.

Stating the obvious, Caroline Randall Williams is a good, decent person. She became a major star on O'Donnell's show after an earlier guest essay in the New York Times.

Williams is a good, decent person—but could it be that the framework she expresses in her Atlantic essay isn't necessarily accurate and isn't especially helpful? 

For the record, we aren't saying that Williams' reactions to public events are somehow morally "wrong." We're asking if it's obvious that they're accurate and helpful.

You will never see such questions examined by our currently underwhelming tribal journalistic elite. People like Collins will note the oddness of Senator Warnock's narrow victory margin, but only one framework will be employed as our tribunes explain such events.

Is it possible that our mandated tribal frameworks aren't necessarily accurate and aren't especially helpful? Tomorrow, we'll return to the greatest film of all time, but also to Finnegans Wake.

Tomorrow: "Bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk," our greatest writer once wrote.


  1. "Warnock was running against one of the worst candidates in modern American history."
    Meh. Walker was a standard-issue Reagan Republican. Just blacker.

  2. Here again, any illusion to white racism in
    2022 Bob finds “unhelpful” at best.
    Actually, white people in the South
    switched parties when it was clear
    that Democrats were going to allow
    blacks to participate as equals.
    Since then it’s been very hard for
    Dems to win in the South. Bob
    finds bringing that up “unhelpful.”


  3. "Judged by any conventional standard, it's possible that Candidate Walker was the worst major-party nominee in modern Senate history."

    Meh. Not even close.

    Judging by the most common sense standard: Candidate Walker is not a liberal tribesman, not a good decent person. And therefore, dear Bob, without a doubt, he's certainly a much better candidate than most. Nicht wahr?

    1. Mao, there's one thing pretty much beyond any doubt, Mao, it's that that God is not the least pleased with your post here. And neither, in all probability, is George Soros (a/ka Satan).

  4. “Don’t we have enough trees” should have put any candidate, anywhere, over the top.

    1. It worked well for Ronald Reagan, who famously said "If you've seen one tree, you've seen them all."

    2. Not clear who you mean is not as good as who, but Reagan meant the same thing as Walker. They both see no reason to protect trees to help the environment or benefit the public who use parks and forests. They both want to see increased development of natural resources -- a Republican position.

  5. "We'll even skip her apparent explanation of (all? most of? some of?) those Walker votes, along with her account of the way she feels when she observes such elections."

    Then why bring it up at all? Isn't this the reason Somerby wrote today's essay -- to examine such things? Or does he want to shit on some journalist for writing about a fictional scene in a TV show? And why pick that journalist -- because she is female and black. The usual reasons.

  6. "Is it possible that this framework helps generate the large number of votes which went to history's all-time worst nominee?"

    As others have pointed out above, race is certainly part of politics, especially on the right and in the South. That makes it germane when Williams writes about it. Warnock's race was why he was chosen to run against Warnock. For Walker, he thought Trump was a genuine friend and supporter. As a sports figure with obvious brain damage, he was acceptable to white right wing voters -- no chance of him becoming suddenly militant over race. And he might pull some black votes away from Warnock. But black voters were not fooled and they were not tempted to vote for Walker. Meanwhile, the white Republicans supported Walker in order to keep a Democrat from winning.

    Somerby objects to the white master reference, but Walker was clearly being used by the Republicans in GA, for political motives. The only one who doesn't know that is Walker himself, who doesn't appear to know much of anything. And that makes the Republican's use of him worse.

    1. Typo: Walker's race was why he was chosen...

    2. Why wouldn’t it make sense in that district to run a black candidate against another popular black candidate?

      We see court cases for or against the redrawing of districts that are prefaced on that goal.

      Walker certainly got the full gauntlet of scrutiny, criticism, parody, and insults, which comes with the job descrIption. The span of that treatment is monitored according to media druthers.

      Monitors decided and Walker got the full-on Republican Stepin Fetchit treatment from black commenters appearing on tv specifically to do that job.

      Interesting too, in light of the Fetterman campaign and news show panels, was that Sen. Fetterman’s aphasia, which came from a cerebral vascular accident, morphed into NOT being an effect that should be described as brain damage.

      However, Walker was fair game as to the anatomical damage that his career may have waged upon his noggin.

      Walker’s brain was also critically analyzed as to the cultural effects of being a famous male sports figure.

      In the minds of some knowledge workers who are contributors on news shows, that status doesn’t bode well for humanity.

      Depending upon personal history, there is likely some truth in that analysis, however, allowing the knowledge workers to come on the show and to go there is also the province of the monitors.

      So, a Democrat with brain damage, was protected by the media, which also approved of unquestioning voter support for the candidate due to the political stakes for their party.

      A goofy “poppa was a rolling stone” guy (…formerly known as legendary ) is brain damaged both physically and culturally and is also emblematic of racism and Republican political cynicism.

      At this point, Hershel Walker would have to be shot by the police in order to go from his current stratus of damaged Republican shoe-shine boy, back to African-American icon.

      Trust me, THAT identical label will be trotted out if Condoleezza Rice ever runs for political office.

      One way or another, blacks are always your tokens.

    3. ":So, a Democrat with brain damage, was protected by the media, which also approved of unquestioning voter support for the candidate due to the political stakes for their party."
      Are you suggesting this is payback for the media spending 2016 pretending to care that Republicans were pretending to care about Hillary Clinton's email protocols?
      Either way, we owe the media a huge thank you. Warnock's election ended the caravans of terrorists at the southern border, and sent the urban crime rate into the dumpster.

    4. “Are you suggesting this is payback for the media spending 2016 pretending to care that Republicans were pretending to care about Hillary Clinton's email protocols?”

      Goodness, no. It was business as usual.

    5. District? It wasn't a district. It was the whole state of Georgia, which is about half white and only a third black.

    6. "It was business as usual."
      Sycophancy to the rich?

  7. “Is it possible that this framework helps generate the large number of votes which went to history's all-time worst nominee?”

    Warnock already defeated a standard-issue, presumably non-worst Republican nominee, Kelly Loeffler. Twice. By 7 points in the first round and 2 points in the runoff.

    1. Would Walker really be that far below other idiots that have become mainstream in the Republican Party? Dubious.

    2. See Andy Borowitz's book, Profiles in Ignorance:

      "Democrats don't get a pass, but Borowitz clearly demonstrates that Republicans are unrivaled in behaving as if stupidity was a virtue. "

    3. Just like there is no greatest movie ever, there is no worst ever candidate for the U.S. senate. You can say Walker was bad - but there's been tons of senate candidates, and probably some of the others, maybe many, were pretty bad also. But seriously, I suppose lots of persons who voted for Walker voted for him because he wasn't a democrat, and what harm could he do as senator, he'd just vote like other republicans, and not have any major bills he wrote passed. I assume many dems vote for the dem candidate because he/she/them/whatever is not a republican.

    4. More bothsiderism. Dems are not just Republicans with a different party name. You seem to have drunk too much Somerby kool-aid.

    5. Anon 9:45, there's no "both-siderism" in my post (horrible as that might be to acknowledge that there are two sides to a dispute!) , the only side is my side. If thinking that TDH very often makes legitimate points is drinking his "kool aid", so be it.

    6. Maybe Rationalist can look for Somerby's legitimate points, after he finds that Republican voter who cares about something other than bigotry and white supremacy.

  8. “could it be that the framework she expresses in her Atlantic essay isn't necessarily accurate and isn't especially helpful? “

    Since Somerby has already decided it isn’t helpful, his only task is to show that it isn’t accurate.

  9. “only one framework will be employed as our tribunes explain such events.”

    Chris Hayes has frequently been asking (and worrying about) what would have happened if Trump hadn’t promoted such terrible candidates. In fact, many in the media have declared Trump a loser when it comes to picking candidates.

  10. "We can say that this was a fictional woman in a fictional scene, one part of a fictional movie."

    The scene may have been fictional, but Williams, a black woman, is not fictional. Her reactions are real, and like those of all who view such shows, they matter. Saying that such shows cannot be offensive or upsetting because they do not depict real events, is ridiculous. The TV shows was made by real people to be watched by more real people, and as such it reflects real pop culture. There is a lot more reality in that TV show than Somerby is willing to acknowledge. But by dismissing the show as fiction, he dismisses a lot more than just the content of the show.

    Perhaps in some sense, Republicans and Somerby don't think that lies matter because their content is not real either. But some people do believe lies, and others are upset because anyone would tell such a lie. Those feelings too are real and they matter.

  11. "Walker stands up at podiums, and I feel shame and sorrow and resentment. He is incoherent, bumbling, oily. He smiles with a swagger that does nothing to disguise his total ignorance of how blatantly he is being taken advantage of by a party that has never intended to serve people who look like him."

    Somerby dares to call this perception of Walker's relationship to the Republican party inaccurate. It is obvious to everyone, but more so to an African American woman who understands how black people have been and are currently used in certain circumstances, like the one Walker was recruited for.

    Somerby doesn't discuss the political analysis. He only suggests that a framework is being advanced, as if people on the left were all passive recipients of propaganda. But the reasoning in nominating Walker is obvious -- the right hoped he would pull black voters away from Warnock. He didn't do that because black voters recognized what was going on. There have been other interviews with black voters in Georgia, who have said that explicitly, supporting Williams' view. But more than that, look at the nomination of Sarah Palin, who was chosen to attract disgruntled Hillary voters and Pumas after Obama won the nomination. Like Walker, she had no competence or qualification for the VP position and was being used by the right. This is a longstanding tactic on the right, not a racialized invention by Williams. Her extension of Walker's function to misuse of black football players, boxers and other athletes (which is widely acknowledged) and back to slavery, is appropriate too. That extension is not part of any liberal framework because there are plenty of ignorant white people on the left, people who do not understand racial issues the way Williams does. If this racial narrative were part of such a framework, why would it not have caused liberals to switch to Walker? Because Walker was still unqualified, and in fact his lack of qualifications are part of the evidence that he is being used for racial motives. And if liberal whites were not swayed by a framework that Somerby disparages, which he claims is ubiquitous, how did Walker manage to lose more votes than Warnock in the runoff, right-wing votes? It seems a greal deal more likely it was because of the new revelations about Walker that reflected badly on him, alienating Republicans. Warnock did not have such liabilities. He also did not benefit from that shift, so those Republicans who stayed home did not switch to Warnock, for ideological reasons or because he was not the right kind of black candidate (one who wouldn't make waves by calling anyone racist).

    But Somerby doesn't even go through the motions of analyzing political impacts. He just makes accusations without argument or supporting evidence. And who does he attack? Williams. The woman who is saying race-related things that make Somerby uncomfortable, things he doesn't like to hear. So he assumes that other liberal bigots will react similarly to himself, except they don't. The numbers would be different if they did. They may not have voted for Warnock, because he is black, but they were even less attracted to Walker, because he is black and incompetent and doesn't support issues beyond race that are important to liberals. There is no planet where they would have switched to Walker because they didn't like being reminded of their own bigotry. You have to be someone like Somerby to do that.

    1. There's nothing you can do about it. You're pissing in the wind.

    2. For a boy to piss in the wind is one thing; for a girl it’s entirely different.

    3. You don't matter.

    4. "You don't matter."
      1:16 is playing the role of the Republican voter, to Somerby playing the role of the Republican politician.

  12. Cecelia is a good, decent person who thinks we have enough trees.

  13. Somerby says: "We can't find video of that scene at YouTube, or anywhere else."

    I found this in a matter of seconds:

    What Somerby means is that he is unwilling to rent and watch the film, even as research for an essay he himself chose to write, including the topic. In fairness to Williams, Somerby should not imply that the scene doesn't exist if the actual problem is that he doesn't want to spend $3.99 to check facts. Williams says she watched and rewatched the film obsessively. Why wouldn't the scene be there? You don't get to hint that someone is a liar without bringing the proof, Somerby.

  14. In terms of research, Bob does not like to work too hard.

    1. Bob may not be a Right-winger, but he's certainly as lazy as one.

  15. "In the world of psychology, there's a term for a strategy domestic abusers use against victims: "DARVO," which is short for "Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender." This also describes the rhetorical strategies the right uses when justifying bigoted or dangerous rhetoric or behavior."

    Today, Somerby tries to reverse the victim by making Williams the perpetrator of a "framework" and Republicans the innocent victims who are being called racist just for supporting an incompetent black man for political reasons. When Somerby makes journalists the perps, he implicitly makes the objects of such journalism the victims. It is Somerby's purpose.

    But he doesn't only use this strategy with journalists. He targets a prosecutor for daring to try Rittenhouse for murdering two protestors and wounding a third. Rittenhouse was the victim of those who tried to hold him accountable for his misuse of a firearm. And when a black person tries to call out a bigot for doing racist things, it is the black person who is in the wrong, and the bigots who are being offended to the point that they have to vote for other bigots such as Trump, or the incompetent Walker. Republicans are thus never responsible for what they do -- they are forced into it by their dislike of being called racists by those nasty woke lefties. Turning tables and redefining words are two of the techniques used by the right to evade responsibility for their own actions. Somerby is part of this effort, by routinely attacking the messengers, those who point out right-wing malfeasance. Those poor poor Republicans!

  16. Tomorrow, Somerby is going to review James Joyce without having read him.