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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  I Fought the Law (and the Law... Got Nervous)
      •  Beware the Trump Legal Polls
      •  More Conservative Brands Are Becoming Inclusive
      •  Pride: The View from the Street
      •  Ted Cruz Said Something Intelligent

I Fought the Law (and the Law... Got Nervous)

Yesterday was a holiday for government employees, and yet there was a fair bit of news on the Trump legal front. Let's run it down.

The biggest news of the day (perhaps), and the inspiration for the headline, is a new report from The Washington Post. According to the Post's sources, as early as February 2021, federal prosecutor J.P. Cooney and others within the Justice Department were pushing for an investigation of connections between the 1/6 insurrection and Donald Trump/his inside circle. FBI Director Christopher Wray and, once he was on the job, AG Merrick Garland (sworn in on March 11, 2021), both demurred. They feared the appearance of political bias and, despite the fact that Trump had already been impeached for his actions related to the insurrection, insisted that normal order for investigations be observed (i.e., start at the bottom and work up from there). It took a year before the green light was given to DoJ personnel to begin putting Trump and his associates under the microscope.

What this story indicates, of course, is that far from these various investigations being a "witch hunt," the DoJ has bent over backwards to make sure Trump has been treated fairly, arguably to the point of going easier on him than on other suspects. This was always evident to politics-watchers, but now we have rather firm evidence. Of course, it's not going to change the opinion of the Trumpers one bit; they will see the Dear Leader as a martyr regardless of whatever information they receive to the contrary.

Moving on to news specific to the Mar-a-Lago documents case, Special Counsel Jack Smith has the wild idea that Trump, as he flails around wildly and tries to convince people of his innocence, might just share classified information that he's not supposed to share. Who knows where Smith comes up with these things, but in any case, he requested a protective order, which has already been granted by Judge Bruce Reinhart. Not only are Trump, his co-defendant Walt Nauta, and their lawyers forbidden from sharing any documents publicly, but the former president is not allowed to possess any of the classified documents related to the case, and can only examine them under supervision from his lawyers. Undoubtedly, it will be just delightful when Todd Blanche has to say: "Mr. Trump, you can only see that document in the secure room at my office, and with me keeping an eye upon you."

And speaking of the delights of defending Trump, the former president continues to make very public and very admissible statements that undermine whatever defense he might put up. He appeared on Fox for a rather contentious interview with Bret Baier and, as part of the discussion, asserted that he didn't give the classified documents back in a timely manner because "I was very busy" and that "The only way NARA could ever get this stuff, this back, would be 'please, please, please, could we have it back?'"

And over the weekend, Trump uncorked this ALL CAPS tantrum on the same subject:


The "Clinton socks" thing is the latest angle cooked up by right-wingers to try to justify Trump's actions, so we'll briefly explain what it means for those who are not familiar. While Bill Clinton was president, he sat for numerous interviews with historian Taylor Branch with an eye toward compiling an oral history of his presidency. Clinton kept the tapes of those interviews in the bottom drawer of his dresser, traditionally the place where socks are kept (but hopefully not the place where Socks was kept). Clinton took the tapes with him when he left office; ipso facto, Trump was entitled to take whatever records he wanted when he left office.

There is one small problem with this precedent, however, that Trump and his allies are conveniently forgetting to mention. The Presidential Records Act applies to records produced in a president's (or vice president's) official capacity. If a president writes a poem for the First Lady, or they get a birthday card from their grandchild, or they keep a personal diary, those would be personal and would not be government property. There are gray areas (e.g., a birthday card from a foreign leader), which is why mistakes are made and cleared up each time a president leaves office. But the "Clinton socks" tapes are not in that gray area. In 2010, the conservative activist group Judicial Watch filed suit demanding that Clinton surrender the tapes. And Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that the interviews were indeed personal records, and not subject to the Presidential Records Act. By contrast, there is no world in which the nation's nuclear secrets are a "personal" record, even if Trump turned them into a sonnet and sent that to Melania. (Shall I compare thee to a Korean ICBM? Thou art more lovely and more temperate. Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, but not the three silos in southwest Pyongyang.")

In any event, the upshot is that Trump is making very clear what his state of mind was: He did not have the documents by "accident," and he was not ignorant of the fact that they were in his possession at a non-secure facility. He took them and kept them because he decided he was entitled to them. The problem for the defense is that it's easy to prove that he was not entitled to them, and that he was warned multiple times by NARA and the FBI that was the case. If he disagreed, the correct approach was to go to court and ask a judge to decide. On the other hand, to declare "nuh-uh!" and then hide the documents and lie about it? Not so much.

And to wrap up today's Trump legal report, the second defamation trial instigated by E. Jean Carroll has been put on the federal docket. If the matter is not dispensed with by then, the trial will commence on Jan. 15, 2024. That's about 6 weeks before the Iowa caucuses. Trump is going to be a busy fellow next year, indeed. (Z)

Beware the Trump Legal Polls

Yesterday, we had an item about how Donald Trump's legal troubles appear to be affecting his political prospects. (The short version: He's still in OK shape, though there are signs his support might be fraying at the edges.) Today, we want to talk about a different, albeit related, type of poll you should expect to see a lot of in the next year, namely people weighing in on Trump's guilt/lack thereof, what his punishment should be, etc.

Our case study here is going to be the latest (pdf) from Harvard CAPS-Harris poll, which produced the eye-opening result that, to borrow RollingStone's headline: "Majority of American Voters Shrug at Trump Indictment. 53 Percent Want Him Pardoned If Convicted." We took a closer look at the poll and (spoiler alert!) we were not impressed.

There are at least a couple of very big problems facing any pollster who wants to figure out how people feel about Trump's various legal quagmires. The first of these is, of course, ignorance. Even well-informed politics-watchers (e.g., readers of this site) know only part of the case against the former president (and probably only a small part). Most poll respondents are not well-informed, particularly so early in the process. So, their answers are going to be based on their reflexive partisan response, or perhaps their general sense that Trump is a crook/a martyr, or a naive (in our view) belief that one grand gesture from Biden and the divisiveness of American politics will end. As more information comes out, the general public's responses may become somewhat more meaningful, but in the end, people outside the courtroom invariably have a vastly different understanding of things than people inside the courtroom. And the latter is the only one that matters.

The second problem is that people who talk to pollsters tend to be driven by feelings, particularly when those feelings have no consequences. The most common expression of this is all the people who claim they are going to vote third-party, right up until the time comes to cast ballots, and they decide that would be a wasted vote. It's easy enough to shower Trump with pardons, or demand that he get the death penalty, when the person expressing the viewpoint is not at risk of being responsible for the consequences. It's much harder when a person's opinion has an actual, concrete effect.

In short, when one sees a headline like the one in RollingStone, it's easy to conclude that: (1) they'll never find a jury willing to convict and/or (2) if Trump loses and goes to prison, the majority of the country is going to be upset about that. However, because of the issues we outline above, those conclusions are not actually supported by the data.

Moving on to this specific poll, we've noted several times that Harvard CAPS keeps producing right-leaning results, to the point that there appears to be something very different about either their respondents or, more likely, their model of the electorate. There are numerous clues in this particular poll that we should look askance at their sample/model. To start, while the full cross-tabs have not been provided, the breakdown makes clear that questions like "should Trump be pardoned?" were asked of everyone who answered the phone, including people who... hadn't even heard Trump was indicted. Recall what we wrote above about not-so-well-informed respondents.

In addition, there were other results of the poll that suggest something screwy going on with the sample/model. Harvard CAPS says that if the 2024 election was held today, 45% of respondents say they would vote for Trump, 39% for Joe Biden, and 15% don't know or would vote third party. Just about all polls of Trump vs. Biden have the vote pretty close. But not many have it Trump +6. In fact, the only other pollster that has produced a poll in the last month that had Trump doing that well? Rasmussen.

Let's take a look at one more question that raises significant questions about the sample/model. Harvard CAPS asked: "Do you think Joe Biden took a $5 million bribe when he was Vice President, or is that a false charge?" The result is that a staggering 57% said the President took the bribe, whereas just 43% said it was a false charge. We simply do not believe that 57% of the electorate believes Biden took a $5 million bribe. In fact, we do not believe that 57% of the electorate even knows about this claim. It's almost exclusively a right-wing talking point. So, what happened here? Well, as noted, we suspect a wonky sample/model. Another issue is that there was no room for "maybe" or "I don't know;" it was either "yes" or "no." There's also a third problem we will get to in a moment.

Thus far, then, we've laid out why we're leery of polling on Trump legal questions in general, and why we are leery of any results produced by this poll, in particular. Now let's dig a little deeper and take a look at the poll design, which was... deeply problematic. The question about the $5 million bribe was preceded by several other questions about Biden corruption allegations, including one about his son and one about whether the FBI is corrupt. Among those preceding questions (this one came three before the bribe question) was this:

Do you think that the FBI report from an informant alleging that Joe Biden took a $5 million bribe while he was Vice President should be made public or kept secret by the FBI?

That is a very leading way of asking that question, as it could be understood to say that the FBI itself is alleging a bribe was proffered. Keeping in mind that many respondents apparently don't follow the news closely (remember, some percentage weren't even aware Trump has been indicted again), and keeping in mind that people are going to be hearing this verbally and aren't necessarily going to pick up on qualifiers like "alleging," this kind of question pushes the Harvard CAPS poll dangerously into the realm of, well, push polling. Although in the context of survey design, the term that is generally used is "priming."

And how about the question about whether or not Trump should be pardoned? Here is the exact wording:

If Donald Trump were convicted and sentenced to jail for his handling of classified documents, would you support or oppose a president pardoning him in the interest of national unity?

Again, that is dangerously leading, as it's not clear if "in the interest of national unity" is meant as a descriptor of the president's motivations or the respondent's. In other words, the question could very well be interpreted to mean this:

If Donald Trump were convicted and sentenced to jail for his handling of classified documents, would you, in the interest of national unity, support or oppose a president pardoning him?

We don't think that was the intended meaning, exactly, although when you get sloppy about your dependent clauses, and when people are hearing the questions verbally, you're opening up a lot of potential for misinterpretation.

Another problem with this question, which is the linchpin of the "newsworthy" results is, once again, priming. It follows a series of questions about alleged similar behavior by Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton. You can click on the pdf link above to review for yourself, but the most problematic of the questions (seven prior to the "Should Trump be pardoned?" question) is this one:

Do you think indicting a former president for taking classified documents after leaving office, something done by Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and other senior officials, is a fair application justice or selective prosecution?

Again, note the poor wording. The question is presumably written to assert that Clinton and Biden also took documents after leaving office. That's not a great representation of things, as it omits a lot of important context. And beyond that, the question could also be understood to declare that Clinton, Biden and others are guilty not of taking documents, but of "indicting a former president for taking classified documents after leaving office." It's nonsense that Clinton, in particular ever did such a thing, but when respondents are poorly informed, and when they hate Clinton already, it's not too hard to effectively hear that question as something along the lines of: "When Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and all these other government officials indict former presidents, are they being fair or just persecuting their enemies?"

We don't know exactly what happened here. Did the folks at Harvard CAPS just have a bad day? Maybe, although there's really no excuse for so many badly worded questions that are open to multiple interpretations, not to mention so many questions that prime respondents to give a particular response. It could be a case of bothsidesism, and that all the questions about Clinton/Biden corruption are so the pollster can claim to be "fair." More probable, in our view, is that "surprising" results get more attention, and the poll was crafted to generate such results. That's actually a significant problem in academia, and has led to many notable ethical breaches. Yet another possibility is that the folks running Harvard CAPS are putting their thumbs on the scale for Republicans, the way Rasmussen does. One tends to assume that academics are fair-minded and/or liberal-leaning, but that's not always the case. And we can tell you that Harvard faculty and political scientists are both more likely to be right-leaning than the professoriate as a whole.

The conclusion here is contained in the headline: You really shouldn't trust these polls, regardless of who is conducting them and regardless of what result they produce. Gauging how the indictments are helping/hindering Trump's political prospects is legit, since we can compare his "before the indictment" numbers to his "after the indictment" numbers. But gauging the public's assessment of the legal case against him, and what the ultimate disposition of the case should be? That's just polling porn. (Z)

More Conservative Brands Are Becoming Inclusive

The brouhaha over Target's tuck-friendly bathing suits hasn't really died down yet, but Target's management was never a bastion of conservatism, so "losing" that chain was not a big defeat for conservative forces. Losing well-known conservative companies is a whole different kettle of fish or, perhaps more apropos, barrel of crackers. In particular, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, a fixture in the Deep South and a conservative bulwark, is now embracing Pride Month, to much conservative dismay. The Texas Family Project, a conservative group, tweeted: "We take no pleasure in reporting that @CrackerBarrel has fallen. A once family friendly establishment has caved to the mob."

The company didn't respond, but its website says: "Our food and décor celebrate warm memories of the past, and our inclusive culture and beliefs help us make way for an even brighter future, together. Discrimination, overt or through unconscious bias, has no place at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store." How dare this Southern company say it won't discriminate? To make it worse, they have set up rainbow-themed rocking chairs in pride-themed seating areas. Also, on Facebook, the company wrote: "Everyone is always welcome at our table." It's enough to drive a conservative to drink—but not at Cracker Barrel.

As we've noted previously, another longtime conservative company, Chick-fil-A, has also "fallen." It was threatened with a boycott after conservatives discovered that it hired a VP of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Although in truth, the conservatives were slow on the draw. VP Erick McReynolds has held that job since Nov. 2021. Anti-LGBTQ pundit Joey Mannarino tweeted: "It's only a matter of time until they start putting t****y semen in the frosted lemonade at this point." Then he ran a poll asking whether he should start a boycott of the company. He got 110,000 responses, but the majority voted for "No, do not boycott."

McReynolds responded to all this by saying: "Chick-fil-A restaurants have long been recognized as a place where people know they will be treated well. We are committed to ensuring mutual respect, understanding and dignity everywhere we do business."

And before we leave this subject behind, let's make it a trifecta. We suspect this one hurts as much as Cracker Barrel and Chick-fil-A combined. Garth Brooks is the highest-selling (and presumably most popular) country musician of all time (not counting crossover artists like Elvis Presley). He's moved 170 million albums in the United States, which is about 1½ for every single Southerner.

Consistent with Brooks' fame and popularity, he owns a bar in Nashville named Friends in Low Places, after (arguably) his most famous song. At the moment, and for the foreseeable future, Bud Light is cervisia non grata with right-wingers. So, how will Brooks' bar be handling that? The singer was happy to tell reporters:

We're going to serve every brand of beer. We are. We just are. It's not our decision to make. Our thing is this: If you come into this house, love one another. If you're an a**hole, there are plenty of other places on Lower Broadway to go. Everybody's got their opinions. But inclusiveness is always going to be me. I think diversity is the answer to the problems that are here and the answer to the problems that are coming. So I love diversity. All inclusive, so all are welcome. I understand that might not be other people's opinions, but that's OK, man.

One wonders if the people angry about this decision will notice Brooks' allusion to Biblical verse.

We already wrote about this at the outset of Pride Month, but the bottom line here is that increasingly many businesses are standing up to right-wing threats of boycotts. If entities with long-standing iconic status among right-wingers, including Disney, Cracker Barrel, Chick-fil-A and Garth Brooks are lost, it is beginning to look like the business sector (and, in particular, the hospitality sector) has decided that discrimination against its customers is not a good strategy. (V & Z)

Pride: The View from the Street

When we write about the above subject (the pressure operating on corporations to be inclusive), we generally note that this isn't just a question of doing the right thing, it's also a question of self-interest. That is to say, there are outspoken right-wing activists, but they are often canceled out by outspoken LGBTQ activists. There's also the question of being welcoming to as many potential customers as is possible. And employees also play a role in all of this, as the workforce is disproportionately young and educated, and young and educated people are disproportionately socially liberal.

It is all good and well for us to claim that's the case, but we thought it might be nice to have some first-hand evidence. So, we asked regular mailbag contributor P.W. in Valley Village, CA, to share some thoughts about this year's pride parade in Los Angeles. Take it away, P.W.:

While it may not seem so at first glance, there is a fascinating parallel between modern LGBTQ+ Pride parades and St. Patrick's Day parades. Here's why.

The tradition of St. Patrick's Day parades is an American phenomenon that goes back centuries, with the first in New York City taking place in 1762. Even to this day, Ireland itself doesn't celebrate the day to anywhere near the degree that we do here in the U.S., and for a very important reason.

The mid-19th century was the time of the Irish potato famine, an event that caused upwards of 2,000,000 people to abandon their homeland, with most finding their way to America. These people were poor, disease-ridden, unskilled refugees who huddled in rickety tenements. Even worse, they were Catholic. The discrimination they faced was monumental. To this day we remain aware of "Help Wanted" signs appearing in windows, along with the note "No Irish Need Apply."

And so, the St. Patrick's parades of the 18th century found themselves repurposed in the 19th century as "Irish Pride parades," a way to counter and push back against the blatant discrimination against the Irish that was so much a part of the day, with contingents of employee groups marching to ensure the delivery of that message. Here comes the contingent of nurses. You remember that wonderful nurse who cared for your sick mother and brought her back to health? She's Irish. And now come the firemen. That day you were so thankful that your house was saved by those brave firemen? They were Irish. Policemen marching down the street in uniform. How about that fine policeman who chased down that thief and recovered your purse? He's Irish.

Move forward a century, and the organizers of the very first permitted, street-closing gay pride parade in Los Angeles in 1970 copied this exact same model to mark the 1-year anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riot in New York City. And to do the exact same thing, counter and push back against the blatant discrimination of the day. With marching contingents of community members to ensure the delivery of that message.

In the early years (including the very first), the LGBTQ+ Pride parades were part protest and part Mardi Gras. And very much a celebration of "We're here, and an integral part of the community. COME SEE!!!" But just as the "Irish Pride" parades evolved, so have the LGBTQ+ Pride parades, these days embracing a much larger rainbow, including full-throated support for those of the gender-identity minority as well. Which brings us to the present, and the most recent L.A. Pride parade on Hollywood Boulevard.

I've participated in Pride parades since the 1990s, and have myself organized eleven Pride festivals and parades. I also know two of the three people who organized that first L.A. Pride Parade in 1970. So I think I've got a pretty good perspective on the Pride movement, and how it's evolved over the years. Every once in a while, this evolution produces a sea-change, with 2023 being one of these sea-change years.

While for many years, corporate participation has been a fixture of Pride parades, it's largely been in the interest of promoting this vodka, that beer, and that upcoming movie. And while this year also had its corporate promotion, there was very little "Drink this beer." Instead, it was contingent after contingent after contingent of hundreds of marchers, doing so behind a banner proclaiming "Employees of [COMPANY]". Kaiser Permanente Healthcare, NBC Universal, the L.A. Dodgers, Delta Airlines, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, the L.A. Galaxy, Space-X, Disney, L.A. Cares Healthcare, the National Football League, and on and on and on. Affinity group after affinity group after affinity group marching down Hollywood Boulevard.

Here comes the contingent of healthcare workers. You remember that team of doctors and nurses who cared for you when your health took a turn for the worse? They're LGBTQ. Policemen marching down the street in uniform. Remember who came to your home after you'd been burglarized, and helped you get your life back together? They're LGBTQ. Look, it's Delta Airlines. A sea of smiling faces that make sure you get to your destination safely? Yet again, LGBTQ.

This isn't a change, as employee affinity groups have been participating for many years. This change this year is the dramatic increase in the numbers, as corporate affinity groups represented upwards of two-thirds of the 150+ organizations participating in the parade. This was a sea-change. Combined with yet another sea-change development this year, that of trans being a much more visible part of the LGBTQ rainbow.

The absolute numbers of T in the workforce is dwarfed by the number of LG, making the T issue a minor one by comparison in terms of the numbers within corporate culture. This "minor," however, wasn't in evidence by this year's corporate contingents. Rather, the trans flags were everywhere. The trans colors were everywhere. The trans support signs were everywhere, with upwards of two-thirds of the corporate affinity groups making it abundantly clear that they have the back of their trans coworkers. That speaks well for the future.

There is a quote (wrongly attributed to Mahatma Gandhi) that speaks a great truth: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

The gay community fought the gay marriage issue:
  • Gay marriage—Huh? (the 70's)
  • Gay marriage—That's ridiculous (the 80's and early 90's)
  • Gay marriage—No way. No Way! NO WAY!!! (the late 90's and 2000's)
  • Gay marriage—The law of the land (2015)
While the current situation with what's going on with the trans Americans and with drag performers is just horrible, the path to "win" has no alternative but to go through the first three. So, despite the fact that the troglodytes are fighting with all the strength they can muster, take heart. The only reason they're doing so is because you've made it past the first two, and are well into the thick of the third. And... the gay community, the ones who won the gay marriage battle, has your back. Take solace from this situation, redouble your efforts, and keep up the good fight.

You're winning.

Thanks, P.W., for sharing your thoughts! (Z)

Ted Cruz Said Something Intelligent

We have wrestled, numerous times, with the reputation that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has for being extremely smart. He's certainly got the résumé of a highly intelligent person, and folks who have interacted with him say he's sharp as a tack. On the other hand, we've never seen much evidence. Is he dumbing things down when he speaks publicly (very possible)? Or are people judging too much based on reputation and résumé, and unwilling to be the one to say the emperor has no clothes (also possible)?

Late last week, the Senator finally said something that impressed us with his intellectual heft. He was on the program of Joseph "Joe Pags" Pagliarulo, one of the seemingly endless army of right-wing radio talkers. Pags asked about the possibility of impeaching Joe Biden, and Cruz said that it would end in disappointment, because there is nothing Biden could do that would lead to his being impeached by the Senate. Here is the exact quote: "I don't think Senate Democrats, if you had video of Joe Biden murdering children dressed as the devil under a full moon while singing Pat Benatar, they still wouldn't vote to convict."

That had a lot of people scratching their heads, and we presume that virtually everyone reading right now is thinking: "Wait. That's evidence of intelligence?" Please bear with us. Obviously, Cruz was pandering to right-wing elements who believe the system is unfairly stacked in favor of the Democrats. That's just tacky politicking, and is not the evidence of intelligence. Meanwhile, because Cruz is an unpleasant person who has no problem taking cheap shots, particularly when it involves people who cannot fight back, most people interpreted the remark as a bizarro, out-of-left-field smear of Pat Benatar.

That's not actually what was going on. Cruz was born in the 1970s, and his cultural references are both kind of square and are permanently frozen at roughly the year 1993. That said, to a person born around that same time, and familiar with the popular culture of Cruz's youth, it should have been immediately apparent what he was going for. Benatar has a song called "Hell Is for Children," which includes the refrain "Hell is for Children/And you shouldn't have to pay for your love with your bones and your flesh." Once you recall that, then it becomes clear why he put Benatar, the devil, and murdering children in the same sentence. Although the Senator's wording does leave open the question of whether he was referring to Biden, in devil's costume, murdering children, or if he was referring to Biden murdering children who are wearing devil costumes.

The upshot here is that when your mind, and your train of thought, move faster than your mouth can move, that's actually a pretty compelling sign of intelligence. Well, assuming that once the thought is parsed, it makes sense. Donald Trump's rambling speeches, by contrast, are just word salads, and do not tend to contain reasonably relevant references that can be decoded.

We bring this up because Joe Biden had a rather similar incident over the weekend. He delivered a speech on gun control in Connecticut, and at the very end he looked at someone in the audience and said: "God save the queen, man."

For folks who have decided that Biden is senile, and who are determined to persuade everyone else, this was treated as ironclad proof that the President has lost most of his marbles. It was mentioned, for example, on every Fox show over the weekend, and on Monday The Story turned over an entire segment to the "scandal." Fox commentator Charly Arnolt, for example, opined: "I think people are really realizing how quickly he is losing it. I would be shocked if he's the 2024 candidate." Fair and balanced, every time.

We are, as you may imagine, disinclined to this interpretation of events. Even if you presume that Biden meant the remark literally, well, it's not a sign of massive cognitive decay to repeat a phrase that's been correct for the last 70 years of his life and has only been incorrect for the last 6 months. But looking right at someone in the audience, and adding "man" suggests he was responding to something specific. Exactly what, we do not know, since we are missing the other side of the conversation, and since we only have four words from Biden. Apropos to the example above, we will point out that "God Save the Queen" is also a song, one that came out in 1977, when Biden was in his thirties. Do we think he's a huge punk fan, and that he was following the latest trends in music as a young widower and freshman U.S. senator? Probably not, but you never know.

Indeed, per the example above, it's entirely plausible that the line, far from being evidence of senility, is actually evidence of an active mind. One that is operating at a speed such that the connections being made aren't always evident to outsiders. We don't know for sure. What we do know is that it doesn't read as "dementia" to us. And we also know that when Cruz made an equally incongruous remark, or seemingly so, people said many things about him, but "he's clearly growing senile" was not among them.

It might be asked why, if Biden's remark was innocuous, the White House hasn't explained the whole story. And the answer is that they have explained that the President was responding to someone in the crowd, but have not gone beyond that. There's little upside in doing so, especially if the explanation is complicated, and especially since the Foxes of the world are determined to see evidence of mental dysfunction regardless of what the administration says.

We do not mean to suggest it's impossible that Biden is in decline, and that this remark is a worrisome sign. It's certainly possible. After all, we now know Ronald Reagan was in decline as he moved into his eighties. But our sense is that Biden is fine, this incident is not revealing, and that some people need to be much more cautious about reaching conclusions they are not trained to reach. Sorry, Charlie. And God Save the Queen, man. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jun19 Maybe This Time Will Be Different
Jun19 When the (ex-)President Does It, It is Not Illegal
Jun19 One of These Is Different from All the Others
Jun19 Biden Is Starting To Campaign
Jun19 Loser, Loser, Loser
Jun19 Newsom Is Preparing to Be the Backup
Jun19 Smith Is Hot
Jun19 Mike Gallagher Won't Challenge Tammy Baldwin for Wisconsin Senate Seat
Jun19 The South Carolina Republican Primary Will be Feb. 24
Jun19 Twenty-nine States Are Super
Jun18 Sunday Mailbag
Jun17 Saturday Q&A
Jun16 Cannon Comes Out Firing
Jun16 Today in Dumb Op-Eds: Pardon Me?
Jun16 Today in Unsubstantiated Nonsense: The Biden Tapes
Jun16 Yet Another Invented Power of the Senate
Jun16 What Is Greg Abbott Up To?
Jun16 This Week in Schadenfreude: An Overreach of Biblical Proportions
Jun16 This Week in Freudenfreude: To Give Is Better Than to Take
Jun15 How Will Trump's Lawyers Defend Him?
Jun15 Why the Judge Matters
Jun15 Trump Raised $2 Million after Arraignment
Jun15 The Gap Keeps Growing
Jun15 To Pardon or Not to Pardon, That Is the Question
Jun15 Fox News Calls Biden a Wannabe Dictator
Jun15 Ohio Supreme Court Orders Changes to Ballot Measure Rules
Jun15 Inflation Is Down for the 11th Straight Month
Jun15 No Censure-Schiff
Jun15 Always Room for One More?
Jun14 Don't Arraign on My Parade
Jun14 Newsom Is Better at This Than DeSantis
Jun14 No Labels Is a Sham
Jun14 Rage Against the Manchin
Jun14 House Returns to Doing the People's Business
Jun14 I, The Jury, Part II: Voir Dire
Jun14 Year 20 Begins: The Results
Jun13 Here Comes the Arraigned Again
Jun13 The Florida Case against Trump Is Not a Slam Dunk
Jun13 I, The Jury, Part I: Overqualified!
Jun13 Freedom Caucus Ends Rebellion... for Now
Jun13 Blumenthal Has Some Questions for the PGA
Jun13 Soros Passes the Torch to His Son
Jun13 Year 20 Begins: The Answers
Jun12 Trump Won't Drop Out Even If He Is Convicted
Jun12 Trump's Primary Opponents Are Still Scared to Death of Dumping on Him
Jun12 Trump's New Indictment Could Further Complicate Kevin McCarthy's Life
Jun12 The Republican Donor Class Is Looking for Alternatives to Trump
Jun12 New Poll of GOP Primary Voters Has Trump at 61% and DeSantis at 23%
Jun12 New York Democrats Are Making Progress on Redistricting
Jun12 Governors Matter