Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy, a Republican Senator, and Hillary Clinton walk into a bar. Bartender looks them over and says, “Christ, this is 60 percent of the Democratic presidential campaign field? You motherfuckers make Richard Nixon look like Leon Trotsky.” Then Jim Webb knifes him, because Jim Webb is a fucking maniac.
Ha ha, hey, you remember that time, oh man, that time when the right spent seven years calling Barack Obama the vanguard of insurgent leftism in America? Man, that was a gas. I had a hearty laugh at that one when the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee extolled the virtues of capitalism as such ...
... and proudly reaffirmed her vote for the USA PATRIOT Act in the middle of a primary debate, and even the cranky democratic socialist standing next to her on the stage couldn’t muster more than a Hey, whatever floats your boat shrug in response to either. Спасибо, товарищ Обама! The proletarian revolution marches on, to the drumbeat of extrajudicial drone murders!
Where the Republican Party is incoherent, the Democratic Party makes too much damn sense. The compromise Bill Clinton himself embodied—WE WILL ABANDON ALL TENETS OF A LEFT THEORY OF GOVERNMENT FOR VOTES—has left it a party incapable of identifying itself as anything but un- or other than- or not-Republican; its platform is “We like winning elected offices, and will not loudly express a desire to liquefy the poor and inject them into the lips of the rich.” Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy, a Republican Senator, and Hillary: it’s not that the Democratic Party’s constituencies, like the Republicans’, are too many or too various; it’s that it has one constituency, whose sole organizing characteristic is utter horror at what the GOP has become. In the streets and in the fields, one hears the fearsome rallying cry: Good Christ, anything but that!
This is how you get Jim Webb dogwhistling about affirmative action—All college applications matter!—and bragging about this dude he killed this one time in what putatively was not the psycho right-wing party’s primary debate. It’s how Bernie Sanders can come off like Eugene fucking Debs for giving voice to such mild takes as Wealth inequality to rival that of Ancient Egypt is bad and The government should help poor people pay for healthcare—the type of shit with which Nixon himself, who was indistinguishable from fucking Voldemort on like 87 percent of policy issues, would have agreed without blinking, and not just because he had his eyelids sewn to his forehead in 1971 so he’d never lose sight of George McGovern.
It’s how Lincoln Chafee, this cornball, sad-sack motherfucker ...
... who has campaigned for and won actual by-God elected office as a Republican, wound up on the stage at all, and it’s why the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee felt perfectly safe literally laughing at him for saying that a Secretary of State deliberately circumventing the Freedom of Information Act to deny the public access to definitionally public records might be worth talking about.
Look at that sad ostrich man. One of the debate’s low points came when Anderson Cooper asked him why, in 1999, he voted to effectively kill the Glass-Steagall Act’s separation of commercial and investment banks, and his defense was, “My dad had just died.” No, really:
This poor friggin’ doofus. I bet that’s the suit his father was buried in.
Lincoln Chafee’s campaign pitch is that by certain technical criteria he is not a dead person, and it was enough to make him one of the five people on this our planet Earth to be permitted on that stage. How many miles of the journey back to Providence do you think he’d hitchhiked before he realized that “I may have switched parties, but my positions on the issues have never evolved at all” isn’t actually the sort of thing one boasts about? He’s the perfect Democratic candidate for our time, in that the only difference between him and a Republican is that he says he’s not one.
Here’s the punchline of the tragicomic practical joke that is Lincoln Chafee’s presidential candidacy. Bernie Sanders—your stoner roommate’s idea of a lefty saint—was out there flogging Vermont’s low population density to excuse a record on gun control that puts a tent in Wayne LaPierre’s pants, when not incoherently shrugging off the idea that citizens should have access to public records as a petty distraction from the cause. Jim Webb looked you dead in the eye and said hackers—not, say, China financing our federal government*, or economic injustice, or the imminent and onrushing collapse of the global ecosystem, but hackers—are the greatest threat to national security. He is a lunatic. Hillary Clinton has been wrong—aggressively wrong, flamboyantly and brazenly and outspokenly wrong—on virtually every foreign policy, national security, government transparency, and international trade issue on which she’s had the opportunity to render an opinion since Married... with Children was on the air, and is now selling her candidacy on the record of the very same guy against whom, seven short years ago, she deployed the most cynical and overtly racist campaign strategy since Willie Horton ads were running in Married... with Children’s commercial breaks. The punchline is: Lincoln Chafee is at least as credible as any of these people.
But hey, they’re not Republicans! If that’s a reason to think any of them represent a less-atrocious possible outcome than having Donald fucking Trump in the most powerful office in the world, fine. It’s also not remotely a legitimate claim to the privilege of governing. In these United States, nothing is. Let’s dissolve this motherfucker.
(Also, Martin O’Malley was there. There’s roughly a zero-percent chance Martin O’Malley’s not into some sick shit, isn’t there? He’s got the look of a guy who knows his dick is Out There. It’s lurking, laying in wait, slowly working its way back to him. How many DMs do you figure he has slid his dick into? A trillion? I can’t even look at him.)
Photo via Getty