Loose Ends (136)

The Saturday essay in tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal review section will be an excerpt from the forthcoming Peter Bergen book on The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden, and one passage has this curious detail:

[bin Laden] explained that killing President Barack Obama was a high priority, but he also had General David Petraeus, at that time the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, in his sights. Bin Laden told his team not to bother with plots against Vice President Joe Biden, whom he considered “totally unprepared” for the post of president.

Cast your mind back to 1984, when John Glenn thought his reputation as astronaut-hero and the boost from the feature film of the Tom Wolfe book The Right Stuff would boost his presidential prospects. But once the primary voting started he bombed worse than Kamala Harris.

I’m wondering right now if J.D. Vance, who is running for the Senate in his home state of Ohio, might turn out to be the John Glenn of this election cycle. Despite his celebrity on the right, and the sympathetic feature film of his memoir Hillbilly Elegy, it seems most voters in Ohio haven’t heard of him and don’t know much about him. That’s what Politico reports anyway:

A candidate who built his national brand as a voice of the Appalachian region, and who campaigns as a populist trying to represent salt-of-the-earth Ohio voters, just isn’t all that well-known among those salt-of-the-earth voters yet—at least not as a political candidate. . .

But in nearly two dozen conversations with politics watchers and regular voters here before and after Vance officially announced his candidacy, a few did not recognize Vance’s name at all. Most voters, with some prompting, possessed a sometimes-vague knowledge (or loathing) of him as someone they had seen on the news, or whose life story had been made into a movie on Netflix. Almost none knew much about him as a politician, and those Republicans that did had learned about him recently from Fox News or directly from his campaign. And to observers here, that makes his chances at a Senate seat look very different than they might look from Washington.

“I think this is a candidacy that looks really good to the Twitter crowd, and that looks good to folks who aren’t in Ohio and are thinking about the glide path that J.D. Vance has been on,” said David Niven, a political science professor at the University of Cincinnati and former speechwriter for Democratic governor Ted Strickland. “But I don’t know that rank-and-file Ohio Republicans have given him a moment’s thought.”

Thought for the day: There are only two things I don’t like about the Biden Administration—its domestic policy, and its foreign policy.

That quip is actually borrowed/adapted from M. Stanton Evans, who first said it of the Nixon Administration. Before going on to say later: “I wasn’t for Nixon until after Watergate. After wage and price controls and the opening to Red China, Watergate was a breath of fresh air.” (You can pre-order the book that tells his whole story here.)

There’s another Evans question from the mid-1970s that is freshly relevant these days: “If the Constitution is to be changed from age to age merely by interpretation, why does it contain within itself a rather elaborate process for formal amendment?”

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