Politics & Media
Aug 03, 2023, 06:29AM

It’s a Marvelous Month for Daydreams

Doug Burgum’s odds at winning the GOP presidential nomination are slimmer than slim, but he’s the best candidate.

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I don’t normally care for ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” (it never recovered after Jon Miller was ditched after 20 years at the helm), but despite the current lackluster crew, the beauty of the Baltimore Orioles steamrolling Luis Severino and the New York Yankees made for pleasurable viewing on July 30th. Earlier this week, I wrote about sportswriters, made eunuchs by today’s instantaneous media, turning into mere fans, just like me and you and a dog named Leo Gorcey. I don’t at all care for Yankees ass-kisser Buster Olney, but he made a smart point when talking about the Orioles. Olney covered the team for two years in the mid-1990s and said his Baltimore Sun editor told him—I’m paraphrasing—that the Orioles job “is just as important as the White House beat.” I believe him: too bad he didn’t break ESPN protocol and admit that both baseball and political beats no longer matter to anyone but those in the business.

An impartial observer, looking at political commentary at the beginning of August, 2023, must be baffled by the disproportionate amount of coverage about a presidential election that won’t occur for over a year, in addition to the five polls posted daily (some bogus, some perhaps reliable, but meaningless, for this stage in the cycle). As I recall, the first avalanche of reporters decrying the “horse race” nature of electoral reporting started around 1984—usually by those placing the bets—but I don’t think, say, Jack Germond or Bob Novak, would recognize the breakdown of their craft today.

Not deviating from the past eight years, Donald Trump is topic #1, not only because of his multiple indictments (does anyone really believe he’ll be convicted?) but, as is common knowledge, he brings in revenue, ratings and internet clicks for the media, which is why the Beltway/NYC prognosticators (they’re no different from the aforementioned sportswriters picking the World Series winner in April) all want Trump to prevail over his opponents. It’s possible that some are plumping Trump because they believe it’ll help Biden—if he runs; and I maintain that Dr. Jill is guilty, as in prison-time guilty, of spousal abuse in allowing her mush-brain 80-year-old husband to keep even half the rigorous presidential schedule when he should be fishing, or, more fun, telling tall tales at the local Delaware bar—and preserve both democracy and “the American Experiment,” but I doubt it.

And, to that end, the media is in slam-Ron DeSantis mode, since he is (was) the putative chief challenger to Trump, who looks and sounds haggard. (Special counsel Jack Smith’s flimsy charges in the Grand Jury’s federal indictment of Trump on Tuesday will hog the news cycle for… two days?) Whatever the motive, it suits me that DeSantis—who last November looked like a young and smart contender—is getting the shit kicked out of him. He deserves it: he’s running to the right of Trump with insane abortion views (in flux), which can’t be reversed if he wins the nomination (write off 90 percent of the female vote), gets more vicious every day about “aliens” trying to cross the border and rape America, and can’t let go of his war against “the woke,” a now-nebulous term for liberals that DeSantis might hate more than Mexicans. I guess he’s not so smart, after all; he takes after Trump in hiring really lousy consultants.

Not that anyone cares, or should, but my daydream of this month is that North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (I had no idea who he was until reading a Wall Street Journal article about him last month) qualifies for the Aug. 23rd GOP debate in Milwaukee, mostly because the 66-year-old (young!) wants to slash the bloated federal government workforce, is a staunch advocate of fracking (with some admittedly double-talk about how, as he’s supposedly learned in North Dakota, that it’s in fact environmentally sound), has no interest in today’s cultural wars—woke vs. non-woke, gender disputes, national abortion bans and imposing federal mandates that trample on the 10th Amendment. Translated: he doesn’t sound like a pandering kook. He’s taciturn about foreign policy—he supports U.S. efforts in Ukraine, but not with a “blank check.”

Maybe in the post-2015 political world, a “normal” politician is extinct—I don’t believe that, although it could be another four years before the current cycle ends—and a guy who wants to focus on the economy instead of ultimately picayune issues like gays baring their dicks, asses and tits at Pride parades (I think “the children” will survive) is too weird to win the White House. Burgum, if he can make any traction with sensible Americans, and, if so, isn’t exposed as a perv or embezzler, for example, is a candidate I’d support. Lower taxes, far less government waste, recognition of China’s intelligence threat, and a live-and-let-live attitude on social issues: there’s much to like.

The Washington Post’s George Will (whose wife “advises” rival Sen. Tim Scott) is, at least now, a Burgum fan. He writes: “Discussing governance with Burgum is like conversing with a Gatlin gun. It involves a rapid-fire fusillade of his achievements (e.g., cutting $1.7 billion from his state’s $6 billion general fund) and aspirations (e.g., ending irrational immigration policies that enable Canada to poach high-skilled immigrants whose U.S. visas have expired)… He is sufficiently unlike the other candidates. He might be noticed in Milwaukee and gain the national attention he merits.”

Will all but admits that a Burgum presidency is about as likely as the Oakland A’s winning every one of their remaining games. Hard to disagree: in January of 1976 I lost $10 on a bet that Fred Harris would win the Democratic nomination. But the political world is far more chaotic today, and I’ll Keep Hope Alive/Yes We Can! until it’s extinguished.

—Follow Russ Smith on Twitter: @MUGGER2023

  • You are correct: The whole Trump cycle is about ratings and money, (just like Trump himself?); You're wrong: Smith's charges are not "flimsy" in my book; you may be right: Trump might not get convicted, but he would if the Republicans wanted to be free of him forever; they'd just have to show some testicles...

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