Democratic candidate Rob Quist, shortly before his guitar was repossessed
Tomorrow is the last day to vote in Montana’s special election. That means opposition researchers have only 24 hours to reveal one more embarrassing detail about Rob Quist’s personal life on the internet. For a second it looked like the photo finish would go to Brent Scher, who published an item in the Washington Free Beacon today claiming that the National Archives had no record of Quist registering for the Selective Service. But it turns out Scher filed the records request wrong. I quote his correction:
After publication of this article, the Washington Free Beacon obtained a copy of Rob Quist’s Selective Service System registration card, which was filed on January 10, 1966, five days after Quist’s 18th birthday. The registration card was indeed held at the National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri, but could not be located for the below referenced records request because not enough information was initially supplied [emphasis added] to locate a record from Montana, where the registrations are organized by local board, according to an archive supervisor.
A-plus use of the passive voice in that second sentence, bro. It turns out no one could find Quist’s draft card because Sher asked for it wrong. This correction retracts the entire story. Instead of pulling the article, though, the Washington Free Beacon has left it up, but with the correction at the top saying none of it is true. It’s almost as though the Beacon were not a responsible news organization. It’s almost like it’s a propaganda site that was founded by a dark-money group and then spun off into a for-profit news venture.
Such outlets are everywhere, and they find no shortage of ethically flexible young people to write for them. You may remember Scher from this report that Quist had genital herpes, which cites his former urologist, whom the candidate sued for malpractice. Those are the kind of sweet moves you get when you use a PR flack instead of a reporter, but the downside is basic screwups like the one above. Kombat! Kids: Remember to tell the truth, or you won’t know if you’re becoming evil later.
Photo by Raoul Wootliff via Twitter
Times of Israel Knesset correspondent Raoul Wootliff took this picture of Trump’s entry in the guest book at Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to victims of the Holocaust. The president visited that site today as part of his larger Middle East junket, a whirlwind tour that left little time to write in guest books and even less time to think about it. According to Wootliff’s Twitter, Trump wrote:
It is a great honor to be here with all of my friends—so amazing + will Never Forget!
I guess that didn’t need to be a block quote, but I wanted it to feel important. It’s the guest book at Yad Vashem, after all. Here’s a tip for writing in solemn guest books: Don’t use exclamation points. Refrain from all types of exclaiming at the Holocaust memorial, unless you are directly addressing the Hebrew God. Do be sure to include in your inscription the official motto of the State of Israel, Never Forget! Capitalize both words, as you learned at Wharton.
The Washington Post offers this comparison between Trump’s remembrance of his trip with his friends and Barack Obama’s genuinely moving entry from his own visit to Yad Vashem, in 2008. Click on the Post thing, read that, and take a deep breath. Then note that old Max Bearack has been a little unfair to the Trumpster in his lede, which describes his handwriting as “all-caps.” Those are drop caps, in which lower-case letters are clearly distinguishable from initial capitals by their half size. Drop caps are the choice of many of us whose cursive handwriting is straight fucking inscrutable to everyone but ourselves.
Now that I’ve lightened the mood and our minds have shifted from the millions who died in the Holocaust, can we talk about Melania’s signature? That’s a nice signature. Obviously it can’t be bigger than Trump’s. Nor can it be on the opposite page or in the corner or something. It has to relate to his signature. Perhaps it is only because we are thinking in this vein that it look like her signature is perched on his, right where the p’s intersect. Her cramped bubble letters sit perfectly on his giant swoop. It’s like she is the pleasant person who comes along with Trump the way certain birds will ride around on the back of a warthog, theoretically free but dependent on the dumb beast.
“Persist,” modeled after Wall Street’s “Fearless Girl,” atop party HQ in Sacramento
Last year, public opinion was split over a symbol of feminism that turned out to be a symbol of corporate power. Of course I am referring to Hillary Clinton. But the Democratic candidate for president found a robust analog in Fearless Girl, a statue of a five year-old defying Wall Street’s iconic charging bull. That statue was nice, right? It encouraged young women to be strong, and perhaps it inspired adult women working in the financial district to carry a little of that defiance into their traditionally male-dominated workplaces. It seemed like art was finally improving people’s lives, but then we found out that it was a marketing stunt by State Street Global Advisors. Here’s State Street Executive VP Lynn Blake:
“We placed the Fearless Girl there to be a partner to the bull, to represent the power of women. We certainly never expected her to be a challenge…It was not really about the social or political issue, it was absolutely about the investment issue and the benefits of having women in the corporate world.”
Ah yes—the power of women not to challenge the corporate world, but to partner with it. Along with their expressed opinion that “the image of the girl would be more relatable than one of an adult woman,” comments like these suggest that State Street’s commitment to feminism might be problematic. Even if you regard Fearless Girl as a net good, its complications leave a bad taste in the mouth. But one mouth remains as ready to partner with the bull as ever: the California Democratic Party’s. On Friday, CADEM unveiled its own variation of Fearless Girl called She Persisted, which now stands atop its San Francisco headquarters.
Michael Cohen does work.
If Donald Trump lied any more often, he’d have to guard a door in a logic puzzle. He does not always lie. He’s not at the dry cleaners like, “I’m Marie of Roumania, and I’m here to pick up my dog.” But although he periodically speaks truth, he is so much more likely to disregard it that his defenders urge us not to take him literally—that is, as though his words had fixed meaning. Trump is a bullshitter. He might be the chief bullshitter of our bullshit age. So can you imagine being his lawyer? One pities such people. How much bullshit must Michael Cohen, Sheri Dillon, and the rest of Trump’s team of paid advocates wade through to convert his raw, jazz-style bullshit into something finished enough to bullshit a court of law? Today is Friday, and even the president needs fixers. Won’t you make this all go away with me?
From an ad by friends of in-touch tech multimillionaire Greg Gianforte
Montana’s special election is one week away, and the Rob Quist campaign is starting to look like a series of unforced errors. Let us begin with his nomination. Quist was handpicked by the Democratic Party, not by the usual primary system. Somehow, no one in that august political body thought to run a credit check. Pretty much the first story that came out was about the liens filed against their candidate for unpaid property taxes in 2011 and the bill for which he stiffed a contractor in 2001. I can see such problems haunting a popular favorite, but the Democrats chose Quist for his electability. Surely there was some other Democrat in the state who lacked not just political experience but also a debt trail.
Fortunately, the Quist campaign is staffed by experienced operatives from the state party. These old hands know the voters of Montana well enough to find sure ways to distinguish Quist from his opponent—for example, by running the exact same campaign ads. That’s how you win as a Democrat: by acting like a Republican. This principle explains why Quist downplayed his support for single-payer health care and emphasized his support for guns. It also explains why Hillary Clinton is president now. It does not explain why campaign manager Les Braswell accidentally tweeted as The Montana Cowgirl from the Quist campaign account, but we can’t explain everything. He probably got hacked.
Anyway, the Democratic Party is incompetent, even in the last best place. Facing an opponent who just lost a statewide election for governor in which he underperformed the top of his ticket by 20 points, they appear to be headed for defeat. Now is the time to reflect on deep questions. My deepest: In the present economic climate, how is being rich not the biggest obstacle a candidate can face?
American inequality is the worst it’s been in 100 years. Montana has the second-lowest per capita income of any state in the Union, and a politically inexperienced billionaire is on the verge of impeachment in Washington. Yet Quist has said nothing meaningful about inequality. Republicans, convinced we love millionaires as much as they do, are using his personal debts as a cudgel. Call me a pinko, but I wonder if voters might identify more with the guy whose $20,000 debt is wrecking his life than the guy who sold his company to Oracle for $1.5 billion. You can read all about this strange discrepancy in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. It’s a particularly exciting issue, containing not just my inchoate palaver but also the story of a growing schism in the Montana Libertarian Party and your girl Michael Siebert’s feature-length essay on why the left should embrace gun ownership. Check ’em out. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links!