Once again readers of the New York Times were treated to sage analysis about how the Democrats are a pubic hair away from complete irrelevance. In today’s Sunday Review section Frank Bruni moans that the Dems continue to fail nationwide because they haven’t “put forward the right candidate for a largely working-class region whose barns need paint, whose town centers want for bustle and whose manufacturing plants are too few and far between.” Of course, he takes for granted that the Dems could do such a thing without impacting their majorities in the big cities where voters don’t have barns to paint, but do have legitimate urban-centric concerns.
I’m always fascinated by such articles that declare the Democratic party all but dead. A disconnected dinosaur. In no way do I believe the Democrats are mostly ept (as opposed to inept), and any political party can always do better. But damn, why are commentators always chanting kaddish over the corpse of the Democratic party when the stats suggest something else. Consider:
- In 2016, the Democrat candidate for president captured almost 3 million more popular votes than the Republican. If Dems have a problem with winning the presidency, it’s largely due to an archaic Electoral College system that disfavors them – not a lack of voter enthusiasm. (Sidebar: the last time a Republican won an open presidential election with a majority of popular votes was almost 30 years ago with George H. W. Bush’s victory over powerhouse Mike Dukakis in 1988.)
- Although Senate Democrats represent 55 percent of the population, they hold an emasculated 48 percent of the seats in the U.S. Senate. Their weakness in the Senate is more a function of the stilted way in which each state is allotted two Senators than their crappy campaigning skills.
- Republicans control the House of Representatives in large part through blatant gerrymandering which took place after the 2010 Census was completed. Although each party has taken advantage of this decennial opportunity to redistrict their states, it was only in 2010 that the computational and data mining capability advanced far enough to enable widespread, pinpoint gerrymandering. The result was that in many states the Reps took 60-80 percent of the House seats even though they had won the state with just a bit over 50 percent. The House Reps are ahead of the Dems by 39 seats, but the gap is largely because of gerrymandering rather than voters’ disgust with the donkey party.
So it’s fair to say the Dems could do better, but the litany of commentary that excoriates them for loss of influence in American government seems misguided. Perhaps the pundits should look at the systemic flaws in our electoral processes at least as hard as they look at Hillary Clinton’s pants suits.
At the end of the NYT article, Bruni reports on a conversation he had with Renee Gardner, a hotel maid in Fleischmanns, NY in the heart of the old-time Catskills. I guess because she’s more than 75 miles from a big city, she was compelled to vote for Trump (who presumably promised to bring back the borsht mines.) Here’s what she had to say: “Everything Trump was talking about sounded fantastic. And I believe most politicians are crooks, so let’s get a real person in there — even if he’s a crook, too. But I’ve learned a lot … he’s a moron.”
There may be hope yet.
RIP Adam West
Although die-hard Batman fans favor the darkness of the franchise captured in the several films – especially “The Dark Knight” featuring a staggering performance by Heath Ledger as the Joker – over the campy, 1960s television take on the DC Comics’ heroes and villains, the TV series was nevertheless a generally popular success during its bumpy three year run.
As a boy of about 10, I chose to skip joining the Boy Scouts because the den meetings took place on Thursdays – the same bat-time that the show aired on the ABC bat-channel. The network, hurting for content, decided to air two Batman episodes on consecutive days each week, ensuring the series would become particularly addictive to those with pliant minds. (Sidebar: It was common for the script writers to title each companion episode for the week as a couplet unworthy of Shakespeare, e.g.: “The Puzzles are Coming” followed by “The Duo is Slumming”.)
Adam West, who played millionaire Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego Batman died the other day at 88, thus reviving oldster’s memories of that campy Batman show.
Forced to recall 1960s Batman in West’s wake, I fondly remembered one of my favorite episodes (#37 & #38) entitled “Hot Off the Griddle” / “The Cat and the Fiddle.” In the first half of the two-part episode that aired on a Wednesday lo the many decades ago, the Catwoman has incapacitated Batman and sidekick Robin on the roof of a building where a pair of giant magnifying glasses loom over the Dynamic Duo. Catwoman has put a plan in motion whereby the sun will soon align with the magnifying glasses and griddle the two heroes. Like every baddie in the movies, she inexplicably bolts the scene before the sizzling destruction occurs. In the second half, Batman and Robin miraculously escape the clutches.
Can you guess/remember how they got away? Answer below. Hint: Think “Apocalypto.”