Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

Balloongate Stretches on for Another Day

Actually, another thing about the State of the Union (see above) that will be at least a little bit interesting will be exactly how much time is devoted to the Chinese "weather" balloon that was shot down over the weekend. Will Biden do a little explaining/bragging? Will Sarah Huckabee Sanders try to make hay out of the situation? Tune in to find out!

What we do know is that, as we wrote yesterday, the initial Republican response was to point fingers at the Biden administration, and to do a lot of chest-puffing and posturing about how a Republican president would have taken that balloon down tout suite, and that Republican partisans might just have to take things into their own hands the next time.

There is still plenty of chest-puffing and posturing going on, from Republicans who are trying to use this to burnish their "tough guy" credentials. To take one example, among a vast sea of them, Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) posted this photograph to his Twitter feed yesterday:

J.D. Vance, dressed in blue jeans
and a hoodie and aviator sunglasses points some sort of high-powered gun skyward

Either Vance does not understand how guns work (not enough range for this task), or he's assuming that his constituents don't. In any event, we don't know what this image suggests to readers, but we know what it suggests to us (Hint: allsmay enispay).

As to pointing the finger at the Biden White House, and its alleged incompetence, that's not working out so well anymore. First, it's now clear that the President handled things... well, perfectly. As soon as the balloon was sighted, he held a meeting with defense officials. At that meeting, he signed an order to down the balloon as soon as that could be done without endangering people on the ground. Once the balloon was no longer over U.S. land, a fighter downed it with one shot, and in a way that will allow the equipment on the balloon to be recovered mostly intact. What more could Biden have done here?

There's also a second problem with the "Biden is an incompetent moron" narrative. As it turns out, several ballons flew over U.S. airspace during Donald Trump's term in office, and not only did Team Trump not do anything about them, they didn't even notice them. Oops! Exactly how this is known now, when it apparently wasn't known then, is not clear. Maybe the DoD now knows what the balloons look like on radar, and went back over past radar records.

Anyhow, this new news has forced Republicans to change course. Trump, for his part, is claiming "fake news." His supporters/enablers, like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), have declared that this speaks to deep-state corruption at the Pentagon, and are calling for an investigation. How Republicans might have time for that, when Hunter Biden's laptop needs looking into, is not clear. In any case, it's example number 4482 of how Trumpers' criticism of, well, just about everyone, is almost entirely knee-jerk, and is almost completely unrelated to facts or reality.

Meanwhile, in the piece we wrote yesterday, we wondered exactly how much value the Chinese government might get out of information-collecting balloons. But maybe collecting information wasn't the point. Maybe the goal was to stir the pot a little, and to rile up partisans on both sides. If so, mission accomplished. (Z)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates