Politics & Media
Jul 10, 2024, 06:24AM

Office Politics

Revolutionary fervor yields personnel shuffles.

Untitled.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

Over 100 years of propagandizing for Progress, and the Democratic Party’s grand schemes are probably going to come down to a hasty series of Zoom conferences next month to figure out which winner of their last-minute secondary primary (so to speak) will replace their decrepit current figurehead, Joe Biden, as their presidential candidate for November.

Because of the format and schedule now contemplated, it’s hard to imagine any sort of competing visions for society or rhetoric about “rescuing democracy” swaying the Democrat electorate—or the delegates or the donors or the tech staff or whoever at the Democratic National Committee will be calling the shots—at this late point. The winning argument anointing the ultimate Democratic Party 2024 nominee for president will inevitably be something like: “I swear I’m healthy and won’t do anything surprising or alarming for the next few months, not like Joe.”

You can tell young, hapless staff members are the ones now scrambling to make this happen, too—as with most rushed assignments—since some of the leaked verbiage about the plan spins the whole situation in an adorably naïve way as a huge positive, claiming that the sort of rapid-fire, high-tech engagement the Democrats are now contemplating may be just the thing to re-inspire the electorate. (Can do, boss!) It’s like talking up modernist Art Deco furnishings hauled out in the final minutes of the Titanic’s voyage.

If you want the pick to be you, Vice President Harris, you’d better move quickly. Beat Hillary Clinton to the punch. Don’t let it turn into a divisive battle between you and Michelle Obama. Try offering your old California pal Newsom a guaranteed Cabinet position. Lock this thing down!

You know virtually all the media will have the nominee’s back once the party’s plan is clear, but don’t trust them to be smart enough to execute it smoothly. MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, reacting to Biden’s recent bad debate performance, suddenly thinks now of all times is when we should eliminate high-pressure one-on-one candidate debates and go to a format in which each candidate brings his entire staff of advisors onstage with him, turning to them as needed to answer questions, thereby more closely approximating the actual bureaucratic process of governing. (Biden is still big—it’s the debates that got small!)

The all-advisors-included tag team format isn’t such a crazy idea but surely not the thing to institute during the already-cramped Zoom conference lightning round that’s about to determine the nation’s destiny, likely with as little involvement from the actual voting public as the Democratic Party can get away with. Come to think of it, O’Donnell once condemned me for my performance in a CSPAN2 appearance, so I hope he’ll give me a chance to assemble a vast panel of advisors, likely to include at least one comedian or comic book professional, before harshly judging my next media appearance, if any.

I hope for Harris’ sake her own advisors are at this point just telling her to avoid saying unsettling (and false) things like “I’m running the world,” as a testy President Biden told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos the other day, reassuring no one. Trump has very wisely remained mostly silent during Biden’s self-destruction, just as Trump was uncharacteristically restrained during their fateful recent debate (it was almost off-brand for him, but by now he has the yahoos all sewn up and can focus on calming the moderates).

Trump’s subsequent swearing from his golf cart about Biden was much more in-character—perfectly so, really. But then, it would take a lot of very off-kilter remarks right now to look more embarrassing than Biden’s meandering mumbling. Remember just weeks ago when it seemed the most embarrassing noises in American politics must surely arise from Trump’s snarling or RFK’s raspy anti-establishment rabble-rousing—or maybe from the right-leaning candidate at the Libertarian Party nominating convention who said he was too high on pot edibles to give a speech? The left-leaning young man the Libertarians actually nominated looks less embarrassing with each passing day, despite what some of his right-wing detractors within the Party say.

Now it is the Democrats’ time to cringe. Yet they have a tendency, in their arrogance, to keep thinking the worst must’ve passed, which makes them vulnerable to the next round of pain. They spent the past four years denying Biden sounded out of it. They spent the four years before that denying that Hillary Clinton is a creepy, uninspiring machine politician. They will spend the next four weeks trying to convince America that she or some other last-minute replacement completely restores the confidence that Joe has lately lost. And after that, they’ll spend four months pretending they are ready to run the country like a fine-tuned Progressive machine, er, device.

When you really think about how prone to delusion they are, you must begin to suspect that they may also have been bullshitting for the past 130 years or so about how to improve civilization through taxing, regulating, and centrally directing it. All their current aspiring replacement-candidates might be wise to avoid any pretentious, lofty speeches about all that stuff during the big Zoom conference series ahead. The contrast between their hopes and their grubby current reality will be too absurd to pass without notice.

Under the circumstances, best to avoid “I believe in a brighter tomorrow” and “the great state of Michigan blah blah blah” and stick to “I can have the tour bus up and running by next week if everyone definitely wants me to proceed. So, uh, shall we sign off for now?”

—Todd Seavey is the author of Libertarianism for Beginners and is on X at @ToddSeavey


Register or Login to leave a comment