Friday, February 10, 2023


RIP Burt Bacharach. I love this one, which for all its
tricky syncopations is fresh and free and swinging.

The State of the Union is seldom intrinsically interesting; I do recall the first of Bill Clinton’s ass-breaking-long SOTUs showing his tendency to bury the opposition under an avalanche of proposals, but I have no memory of which if any of those proposals ever saw life. 

The same is true of the Biden 2023 edition, but it had a couple of amusing outcomes: First, it got the Republicans to scream (literally, in the case of the less well-bred Republicans in attendance) that Biden was lying when he said they wanted to fuck up Social Security and Medicare.  This was the easiest out in the world for Biden because every American, liberal and conservative alike, knows Republicans want to rip open both programs and spill their contents into the pockets of their major donors, and post-SOTU polls suggest they haven’t changed their minds.

Nonetheless conservatives sputtered like the parents in a 90s video that it was a dastardly ruse – “BS,” huffed Byron York at the Washington Examiner – notwithstanding the voluminous documentary evidence of Senators like Mike Lee, Rick Scott and Ron Johnson admitting as much, which the White House cleverly provided in an official “fact sheet.” Mitch McConnell effectively telling Scott to shut the fuck up was a sweet bit of lagniappe. 

But the weirder development, for me, is Peggy Noonan calling Biden’s speech “Trumpian” – which I wrote about in an essay at Roy Edroso Breaks It Down that I’m releasing to non-subscribers today. As it turns out, the Crazy Jesus Lady isn’t the only one trying that one. “Biden’s State of the Union address last night was conspicuously heavy on what could only be described as Trumpian economic themes,” said National Review’s Nate Hochman; Ross Douthat at the Times claims the speech’s “key themes and most enthusiastic riffs could have been lifted — albeit with more Bidenisms and fewer insults — from Trump’s populist campaign.”

These guys are all bought into the idea that Trump is a “populist” despite his never having achieved the support of a majority of voters. To them the term seems to mean “acting like a vicious dumbass and pretending to give a shit about the proles.” Trump was always great at the first part, but I doubt anyone outside the deranged yokels one used to see at his rallies ever believed the second part, and if they did the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, with its massive giveaways to the rich, convinced them otherwise. 

Conservatives seem to think that the damage they’ve done to American institutions over the past several years is all to their own benefit – that by ruining faith in education, for example, they’ve brought to life the Florida Golem with his Don’t Say Gay (or Black) Laws that they expect to sweep the nation. They don’t seem to realize that while chaos may inspire the feral types of the Republican base to tear down what’s left of the rubble, most of us -- old folks who remember and young folks who dream – want government to, at the very least, do what it used to and insulate us from the caprices of the rich and the insane. The main difference between Biden and Trump is the former can call up that vision and be believed. 

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