So I watched some excerpts from the Dems’ debate last week, which is all I could take.
Once again the top of the bill was frontrunner Joe Biden. (And boy, does that description tell you a lot about the strength of this field!)
His debate performance was uneven. To his credit, he looked less crazy than most of the people surrounding him on stage. (But then again, Marianne Williamson has managed that, too, so I’m not sure that that’s such a high bar to get over.) On the other hand, he came dangerously close to having his dentures come out on stage. Considering that in the last debate his eye filled up with blood, I’m almost afraid to watch his next debate.
Best-case scenario: he pulls out a 19th century ear trumpet to try to catch what one of those whippersnappers are saying next to him.
Medium-case scenario: He tumbles sideways from behind his podium, then lies on the stage smacking at his medic alert bracelet and muttering, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”
Worst-case: the ear trumpet, the fall, and then incontinence.
Anyway, when I saw that, I started to feel sorry for the old guy.
Until I remembered that just a few years ago, he told a black audience that Milquetoast Mitt Romney and the moderate GOP — the team so spineless that they can’t even take their own side in a fight – were “gonna put y’all back in chains!” And I didn’t feel sorry for him anymore.
Especially when he came up with his best line. When someone asked him about how to deal with the achievement gap between black and white children, he jumped in with advice that only a young hipster like himself could dish out: “Play the radio… make sure the television” (here he closed his eyes, trying to correct himself and struggling for the right words), “excuse me… make sure you have the record player on at night… the, the… phone…”
That last collection of words – you grammarians out there may have noticed that it’s not a sentence – is not my hilarious send-up of the former Vice President’s speech. It is a verbatim transcript of one of his answers.
Let’s do a close reading of it. First he says to play the radio – the way, for example, my dad used to tell me that his dad and some of his friends used to sit in a semi-circle around a radio, listening to Jack Dempsey lose a heavyweight fight to Luis Firpo.
Then he says, “Make sure the television…” before catching himself, and realizing that maybe the best advice for children who aren’t doing well in school is NOT to watch more tv.
But no problem. He’s got another cutting-edge example chambered and ready: “…make sure you have the record player on at night.” Because kids these days love nothing more than spinning the hot new Benny Goodman platter, and doing the Charleston with their best girl all night long.
I probably shouldn’t disclose this. But I’ve got a super-secret contact in the Biden campaign, and he told me that during Biden’s rehearsals for the debate, his original answer to this question was even worse, and it took his campaign brain trust several hours to talk him into going with the radio and record player answer.
His first pass at that question: “Kids need to blow off steam, and take a break from the pressure. Maybe they’ll want to take a metal hoop out into the street, and roll it up and down the block with a stick that they use to steer it. Or they could climb onto one of those new-fangled bicycles with the giant wheel in front and the tiny wheel in back, and ride it down to the general store and get some penny candy. If they’re older, they might want to take the horseless carriage downtown to catch a vaudeville act. And don’t forget your friends who are stuck in an iron lung because of their polio; stop by the sanitarium on your way to catch a Negro League baseball game, and crank up the Victrola and leave it playing right by their head, so that they’ll have some entertainment, too!”
With all of that top-shelf Biden to choose from, live socialist Julian Castro managed to look more hapless than dead socialist Fidel Castro, when he waded in on Biden with an attack about his slipping mental state. Incredibly, he chose the only time all night when Biden was correctly stating his position. The other Dems onstage turned on Castro for his classless attack… until their anonymous spokes-weasels reinforced the message after the debate about how Joe really seems to be slipping lately.
Amy “Hillary 2” Klobuchar’s high point was when she correctly pointed out that page 8 of Bernie Sander’s health care bill calls for ending private health insurance as we know it. Earlier, Bernie had proudly claimed, “I wrote the damn bill,” and Klobuchar responded that, “I read the damn bill.” In a rare fit of lucidity, Pope Pete then said, “The problem with that damn bill you wrote… is that it doesn’t trust the American people.”
Then he launched into a fiery sermon entitled, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Gaia,” with its warnings about how anyone who disagrees on environmental or tax policy, or for what occasions one should be forced to bake cakes shall surely be cast into a lake of unquenchable fire. And also have OHSA and the ACLU descend upon them with fuuuuurriious anger.
Kamala Harris managed to remind voters of one of Hillary Clinton’s most disturbing personality quirks: laughing maniacally in a manner psychotically disconnected from anything even remotely humorous being said. Harris’ perplexing moment came when Biden pointed out that it would be unconstitutional for a president to unilaterally declare that the 2nd amendment is null and void, and forcibly take away Americans’ guns.
Harris’ response? “Instead of saying ‘no we can’t,’ let’s say, ‘yes we can!’ AH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!” The only thing missing was “CAW CAW CAW!” at the end.
Skateboarding Doofus gesticulated his way into another cringe-worthy admission, as he responded to a gun-control question with a shouted, “Hell yes, we’re going to take away your AR15!“ The trained seals in the audience cheered, and some of the dopes on stage supported his claim. But all across America, professional Democrat pollsters and reasonable Democrat voters vigorously face-palmed themselves into unconsciousness, their last thought being, “For 25 years we’ve mocked all GOP claims that we want to come and take Americans’ guns away….”
Grandma Squanto played it safe, staying away from saying anything that she was really thinking. The closest she came to danger was when a moderator peppered her with questions about whether her Medicare for All socialized healthcare plan would necessarily result in a huge middle-class tax increase. (Everyone from Inuit children in igloos with no tv reception, to coma patients kept alive only by machines, to single-celled organisms in the depths of the Marianas Trench shouted, “Of course it would!”)
But Big Chief Purses Her Lips in Disapproval (#wemustneverstopmockingher) ducked and dodged and refused to give a straight (no offense) answer, insisting only that middle-class people need not be concerned with taxes, but only with “total cost.”
Which, every sentient being in our solar system knows, will skyrocket if we put geniuses like Sanders and Warren in charge.
But enough about yet another cavalcade of Dem hopefuls beclowning themselves on a debate stage. I want to end by talking about the most fantastic story of 2019, and maybe of this century so far.
I’m referring, of course to the epic tale of “Big Joe Biden vs. the Dread Gang Leader Corn Pop.”
If you’ve not heard this story, you must drop everything and Google it right now. It’s a story that Biden included in an autobiography over 10 years ago, and that he’s been retelling over the years. The video version I saw was from some kind of speech that Joey Gaffes was giving to an audience of mostly young black people around a pool where he had apparently worked as a lifeguard, shortly after the earth cooled.
Anyway, Joe is a lifeguard in a pool on the edge of the ghetto, a job he took so that he could get a better understanding of black folks. (I’m not kidding.) And gang leader Corn Pop makes the mistake of getting up on the diving board on Big Joe’s watch. Joe lets us know who he was dealing with: “Corn Pop was a bad dude. And he ran a bunch of bad boys.” (Um, Joe, old white guys aren’t supposed to call adult black males “boy.”) Joe points dramatically at Corn Pop and says, “Hey, Esther. Off the board, or I’ll come up and drag you off.”
Because that’s straight out of “Dealing with Gang Bangers 101: Open with an Insult, preferably by calling him by a Woman’s Name.” Oddly, Corn Pop did not like that, and said that he’d be waiting for Joe with some of his homies (not a word that Joe chose, but I so wish it was!) with straight razors. Joe takes a little rhetorical detour to explain the straight razor to his audience of extremely bored black teenagers who are showing zero interest in this old blowhard white guy telling self-aggrandizing fairy tales in their midst. Quoth Joe, “In those days, remember the straight razors, you’d bang them on the curb, get ‘em rusty, bang ’em on a rain barrel, get ’em rusty.”
Now I’ve seen straight razors in old movies, but no, I don’t “remember” them. And I can’t understand why banging them on a curb, or on a “rain barrel” – by the way, did you say this story took place in the 1960s or the 1860s? – would make them rusty. Or why you’d want a rusty blade in the first place, if you intended to use that blade as a weapon.
But never mind. Joe takes a six foot length of chain to meet Corn Pop, but first he apologizes for calling the guy “Esther,” explaining that he was referring to Esther Williams.
Who was a lady swimmer in a bunch of old movie musicals from the 40s, and therefore super-relevant to young black gang bangers. Hence such famous rap songs as “I’ve got 99 problems but Esther Williams Ain’t One.”
Luckily for Corn Pop, the hardened, streetwise thug was so touched by Joe’s apology that he closed his straight razor, and he and Joe called a truce, and Joe lived to become an ancient old windbag who wants to be president.
My favorite part of the story is the gangster’s name. “Corn Pop” is a perfect, right-out-of-central-casting name for a minority gang member… if you’re an old white guy who watched a lot of late 60s and early 70s cop shows, like Mannix and Banacek and Hawaii 5-0.
You just know that if any of his listeners had trolled him by asking, “What were some of the other bad dudes in his gang called, Grandpa Joe?” Biden would have said, “Well, there was his crazy sidekick Frosted Flake. And his enforcer, Captain Crunch. His right-hand man was Raisin Bran, and his best girl was Sugar Smacks.”
Ugh. Trump has given his critics plenty of ammunition by his often juvenile braggadocio – his crowds are tremendous, his wall is going to be the biggest, most beautiful wall ever – but he’s got nothing on Joe Biden.
And it seems like the Democrats are absolutely determined to choose a candidate – either the old white lady in Redface, or Joe the Fantasizing Plagiarist – who makes Trump’s tall tales look like stoic self-effacement by comparison.
Avenatti/Corn Pop 2020!