Two, Four, Six, Eight, Let Us All Tergiversate

tergiversate

Mitzie, our friend from upstairs, reads the blog and thinks I use too many fifty cent words. “You intend to amuse, but instead you confuse,” she claims.

A few days ago, Mitzie asked if I knew the meaning of “tergiversate.” I replied—truthfully—that I did not. But I promised to look it up, and then to use it in a sentence.

This morning, I awoke to find the pundits in full-throated cry to the effect that, in Joe Biden, we have finally found the Bernie Slayer. Well, we will just have to see.

So here’s my sentence: My best guess is that, after Super Tuesday, progressive voters will still be tergiversating over who is most electable.

And here’s something else. If you, like so many, including myself, are inclined toward tergiversation, here are some things to bear in mind.

Thing Number One

All of our prospective candidates have flaws. In some cases, their main flaw appears to be that they can’t get anyone to vote for them. But that’s still a flaw, and a rather big one at that.

Thing Number Two

Every member of the human race has flaws.

Thing Number Three

Though I was fond of Clinton and Obama—and still am—they, too, had flaws.

Bill Clinton’s flaw was that he couldn’t keep his pants zipped, which is a pretty big character deficiency.

Obama’s flaw was that he thought his superpower was sweet reason and willingness to conduct a rational discussion with the other side. That the other side was amenable to sweet reason and rational discussion was a delusion. Delusion is a major flaw, especially if you are the President of the United States.

Thing Number Four

We must not search for the flawless candidate, because we will not find her. We must, instead, find the candidate whose flaws are not disabling, and whose strengths are right for our time.

All the Pundits Agree: Here’s a Howdy Doo

This morning, the punditry here in the Disunited States of America well and truly has its underwear in a bunch over the state of the Democratic primary.

Though I am not a member of the Megan McArdle fan club, I think she just about nails it this morning: The Berniemobile is filling up with Realist-Idealists, Revolutionaries and Bandwagoners.

Meanwhile, Bill Kristol—and I am most assuredly not among his fans—writes An Open Letter to the Democrats Defending Their Party Against Bernie Sanders. Kristol offers pretty much the same advice I would offer. But inasmuch as Kristol is always wrong, I must be wrong this time, too. It follows as the night, the day.

But, all seriousness aside, here’s my own summing up.

On stage Tuesday we will see one hedgehog, who knows one big thing, and six foxes (like a bad penny, Steyer is turning up again) who know many little things.

What the Hedgehog Knows

Bernie, of course, is the hedgehog, and the one big thing he knows is the working class, a lot of the middle class, and a fair number of the professional class are in a world of hurt: the social safety net is frazzled, the return on capital is soaring, the return on labor is sinking, and the gig economy is driving them bonkers.

What the Foxes Know

As to the six foxes, a lot of the little things they “know” are either untrue or highly questionable or somewhat questionable or more or less beside the point. Here are examples.

Example of an Untrue Thing: Biden seems to “know” that he will be able to “work across the aisle” with Republican senators and congressmen.

Example of a Highly Questionable Thing: After the results in Nevada—and in particular the results among union members with good medical plans—and after the recent polling in Michigan, I submit we don’t at all “know” that Sanders will be “unelectable” because union members will fear loss of their medical plans. It’s possible, but, on the evidence, highly questionable.

Example of a Somewhat Questionable Thing: That the world “socialism” will scare so many voters out of their boards that they will, zombie like, pull the lever for Trump.

Example of a More or Less Beside the Point Thing: Biden thinks that he has come up with a neat-o keen rhetorical device by asserting that “Sanders and Bloomberg are not even Democrats.” That’s right, given a perfectly reasonable construction of the word “Democrat” with a capital “D.” But in his blindness, Biden fails to grasp that not being a traditional Democratic politician is probably a big plus in the minds of folks who are in are in a world of hurt: the social safety net is frazzled, the return on capital is soaring, the return on labor is sinking, and the gig economy is driving them bonkers.

And Finally, Two Examples of True and Important Things the Foxes Know: They know that Bernie can’t get his programs through Congress, and they know that Bernie has no detailed plan to pay for his programs.

But Here’s the One Big Thing the Foxes Don’t Appear to Know

They appear not to know that a great many of their constituents are in are in a world of hurt: the social safety net is frazzled, the return on capital is soaring, the return on labor is sinking, and the gig economy is driving them bonkers.