Sunday’s Forum

Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Teve says:
  2. sam says:
  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @sam: They’re Christian but not quite the right color of Christian.

  4. Teve says:


    I think I may know why white people are so upset about this Dr. Seuss/cancel culture thing. I was reminded of this story today.

    It goes back to the second-most devastating day of my life:

    The day I found out the Hardy Boys were white.

    A thread
    Some people know I was homeschooled until I was 12. I recently found out my mother was conducting an experiment. She told me she doesn’t believe “a black child fully realize their humanity in the presence of whiteness.”

    A lot of people think that’s racist. Here’s why it’s not.
    I was raised in a Black neighborhood, in a Black church, and in a Black family. But it’s not that I didn’t know white people existed.

    The guy who delivered fresh eggs every week was white. My grandmother sold Avon and her plug was white. I saw white people at the Piggly Wiggly.
    But my mom did other things. When my sisters and I were really young, she would read bedtime stories. But she would change all the names. When she worked at night, she recorded cassettes of her reading for us to fall asleep to.
    She even removed covers from books with white kids on the cover. We also couldn’t watch reruns of “Sanford & Son,” “The Jeffersons” or “Good Times” until we were older.

    I’ll explain why in a minute. But just know that our TV habits were very limited
    It’s not she woke us up every morning with “Lift Every Voice” or told us “Beware the whites” before we went to sleep. But this was my normal. I had seen Diff’rent Strokes and Sesame Street. I liked Arthur Fonzarelli.

    I knew white people were a thing.
    But, if you had asked 8-year-old me, I would have told you that MOST people were Black.

    And so, never having seen them, I assumed the Hardy Boys were 2 niggas from the suburbs of Detroit. Same with Encyclopedia Brown.

    Black was my default.
    I also grew up in a family that didn’t celebrate Christmas. We didn’t eat pork. But I had a cousin who was raised as my sister, and HER mom ate bacon and gave Christmas gifts.

    One year, she came back with something incredible.

    A Dr. Seuss book.
    See, a LOT of Black parents always knew Dr. Seuss was lowkey racist. It’s WHITE people who are just finding this out. My mom forbade him.

    Now, I assumed my mom was against the book because of his repeated references to pork. But, So when Robin brought home Green Eggs and Ham…
    It was OVER for mom’s cassette tapes. I hid that book under my mattress and Robin and I read it every day.

    To this day, my sisters and I can recite every single word of “Green Eggs and Ham.”

    Then I started going to public school. And the school was mostly white.
    Sometimes, I’d be reading a book and the plot would seem vaguely familiar. That’s when it clicked:

    “This is just white Encyclopedia Brown!”

    Oh shit! The Hardy Boys are white, too? I was devastated.

    One day I came home from school, and my mom was sitting in the yellow chair
    She NEVER sat in the yellow chair. It was my grandmother’s chair. The ONLY time she ever sat in that chair was for one reason:

    House Court.

    Y’all, we had WHOLE ASS TRIALS in my house when we got in trouble. There were juries and everything. Even the neighbors would get involved
    But on this day, my mom was just sitting there, rocking in that faux leather Lazy Boy with a copy of Green Eggs and Ham.

    Technically, it wasn’t my book. But I kept it under my mattress because my sisters were all snitches. So I know, if it was ever found, they were GONNA tell.
    My legal team (my sisters) prepare my defense. We couldn’t come up with anything, so I confess and plead my sentence down to 2 weeks punishment (the max sentence)

    Doing time in the hole wasn’t that bad, because it gave me an ace card:

    For 2 weeks, I had a servant (Robin).
    For months, I held that over their heads. If it was my turn to wash dishes, I could blackmail Robin with: “What if mama found out about Green Eggs and Ham, tho?”

    I had forgotten this story until today, when my sister texted:

    “Remember when you got in trouble for Dr. Seuss?”
    I had totally forgotten about it. But I’ve actually had this conversation with my mom about insulating us from whiteness like this and she explained why.

    The belief that a Black child cannot realize their humanity in the presence of whiteness had nothing to do with white people
    She had nothing against Fred Sanford or George & Weezy. Or the Hardy Boys. Or white people.

    The few representations of Black people on TV & in books were WHITE PEOPLE’S versions of us. Not necessarily negative as much as they are stratified…Sassy or subservient. Poor or lucky
    The criminal or the hero. Our existence is defined by how white people see us.

    As an adult, I realize what mother went through for this experiment. Checking every book, teaching us at home, checking our TV habits.

    It sounds like a LOT of labor. And it was.
    Most white people can’t comprehend what that’s like. I honestly believe that the reason a lot of white people think I’m “the real racist” is because I never learned how to care what white people think. There is a subtle, subconscious deference to whiteness that MOST of us have
    But here’s the thing: I understand why they can’t understand it. Who cares if Dr. Seuss was racist one time in that one book? Should he be canceled?

    They don’t realize that the ONLY time a Black child saw themselves in a Seuss book was in a racist illustration.
    They can’t comprehend because, even if there’s 1 bad characterization of whiteness, there are ONE HUNDRED other characters in the book. Even when the villain in the TV show is white, so is the hero…And the hero’s sidekick…And the lawyer…And the cop…And judge…
    And the anchor on the news…And the weatherman…And the QB…And the commentator…And everyone except the ONE Black person.

    The point is: THEY GET TO CHOOSE!

    The only way to stop a Black child from ingesting this inescapable harm is to LITERALLY insulate them from whiteness
    The ONLY way to prevent them from looking into society’s mirror & seeing a white man’s caricature of their reflection is to build a white people-free cocoon.

    But it’s hard for them to imagine what it’s like when books, TV, movies, etc. have predetermined how the world sees u
    My mom manufactured a bizarro world where white people were the minority, they did not control the narrative and Black was the default.

    The whites are absolutely right about one thing, though. Y’all canceled Dr. Seuss.

    Trust me, I know.

    I was today years old when I realized:
    I grew up in a “cancel culture.”

    Thank you
    Thank you
    Black, I am.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:
  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: Michael Harriot is a must read.

  7. Mikey says:


    While Trump was president, EVERY Democrat voted for the $2 trillion CARES Act, even though doing so helped Trump.

    While Biden is president, ZERO Republicans voted for the $1.9 trillion American Relief Plan, because hurting Biden is more important than helping Americans.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “Do you ever notice, how all the scary internet conspiracy theorists – the radical QAnon people – when you actually see them on camera or in jail cells, as a lot of them now are, are maybe kind of confused with the wrong ideas, but they’re all kind of gentle people now waving American flags? They like this country.”

    -Tucker Carlson.

  9. JohnMcC says:

    Just got here from yesterday’s Forum (because once the tournaments started I was gone to a better place–smiley face). Was interested by the banter r/t “insurrection” v “coup” v “riot”. Have no personal opinion strong enough to matter but became curious: Is there an accepted ‘Oxford English Dictionary’ definition for these words? In the Intelligence field? Or Legal world? Just wond’rin’.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    LA county may return beachfront land seized from Black family a century ago

    Manhattan Beach used eminent domain in 1924 to force Willa and Charles Bruce, the city’s first Black landowners, off the land where they lived, KABC-TV reported on Friday. The Bruces also ran a resort for Black families during a time when beaches in the strand were segregated. Part of the land was developed into a city park. It is now owned by Los Angeles county and houses lifeguard headquarters and a training center.

    County supervisor Janice Hahn said she was exploring options to restore justice for the family, including giving the land back, paying for what they lost or leasing the property from them so the lifeguard building can remain at the location. “I wanted the county of Los Angeles to be a part of righting this terrible wrong,” Hahn told the station.

    Meanwhile, a Manhattan Beach city task force is recommending that the city council considers issuing an apology and creating a commemorative plaque to acknowledge the Bruce family.

    Anthony Bruce, one of the family’s last living direct descendants, now living in Florida, said the seizure robbed him of his family’s legacy. “It was a wrong against the Bruce family,” he said. “I think we would be wealthy Americans still living there in California … Manhattan Beach probably.”

    Let’s see, give the land back or say your sorry and put up a plaque.

    Decisions decisions… It’s so hard to know what’s the right thing to do.

  11. CSK says:

    The land was seized under eminent domain, which is, unfortunately, perfectly legal as long as the owners were paid a fair price. That would be the issue here. I had a childhood friend who lost her family home–a beautiful 150-year-old farmhouse–to eminent domain.

    Of course eminent domain can be abused. We all know how Trump engaged in it to build his ghastly Atlantic City casinos.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Yes, I read the article. Do you really think LA county paid a black family fair market price in 1924? Either way, it is a highly abusive practice quite often used for the sole benefit of private actors under the banner of “progress.”

    They recently seized a bunch of land near us to put in a new transmission line for the sole purpose of reopening an old iron mine. That was 10 years ago and the only jobs it has produced are for mining consultants and geologic assayers. Pretty sure none of them were local folks, certainly not any of those who had their land taken.

  13. CSK says:

    That’s why I emphasized “paid a fair price,” because clearly L.A. County didn’t. I’d love to see the family get what the land is worth–adjusted for inflation.

  14. Moosebreath says:


    “they[QAnoners]’re all kind of gentle people now waving American flags”

    This sort of sh!t, like the comment that the insurrectioners were just “aggressive tourists”, shows how far some people will contort themselves to avoid seeing the danger our country is in. If we just sweep under the rug people’s malicious intent to violently attack others for political reasons, we will lose the ability to peaceably make public policy.

  15. Jax says:

    So I guess Schumer invoked cloture on Garland and a couple others right after the big vote on the aid bill, after a bunch of R’s left and he temporarily had a quorum.

    I will happily admit that I underestimated Schumer. 😉

    The video clips are worth watching, Hickenlooper was downright giddy and laughing behind his mask!

  16. CSK says:

    This sounds a hell of a lot more entertaining than Oprah Winfrey’s interview with the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk this evening:

    It’s free on Youtube.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Moosebreath: It’s not the flag they are waving, it’s their AK-47s and AR-15s, but I can see why tucker might be confused considering how the right likes to wrap themselves in the flag while worshiping their talismans.

  18. CSK says:

    Don’t forget the gallows they constructed outside the Capitol. “Gentle people” always build gallows, force their way into buildings, and rampage through them chanting “Hang Mike Pence!”

  19. @Jax:
    Remember that invoking cloture on nominations only requires 50 votes plus the Veep’s tie breaking vote

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: And carry bear spray and stun guns in DC, because you never know when you might run into a bear.

  21. CSK says:

    Well, they’ll tell you they were only doing what Trump wanted them to do. Speaking of which, has any one of them ever commented on the fact that their brave leader, after promising to be with them at the Capitol, scuttled right back to the White House to watch them on tv?

  22. This is a slightly modified version of comment I made on James Joyner’s post on Covid-19 and international trade.

    The biggest impact from the pandemic on the travel and hotel industry from the pandemic is likely to be the decline of business travel. The Covid-19 lockdowns have made meeting via applications like Xoom and Skype have made communication with potential cusmunicating with potential and potential and actual clients possible without leaving your desk oeven your office. This is likely to be less willing to assume the cost of international and long distance travel.

  23. Jax says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Yeah, I forgot til after I posted it and started looking for the video clips. I’m just glad Tom Cotton got the rug pulled out from under him on trying to stall Garland’s nomination even further.

  24. CSK says:
  25. Mimai says:

    @Teve: I think this gets at a key thing that makes discussions of DEI so frequently difficult. What it means to have “representation” is so foreign to many members of the dominant cultural group – I’ve heard it described as like trying to explain the color red (or any color) to someone who has achromatopsia – that they can’t engage in a productive discussion about it. Moreover, this often leads to defensiveness and accusations that the other person is being a [insert any number of epithets that are frequently used in this context].

    The “solution(s)” to this is not readily apparent. Travel can help, but that’s not particularly scalable or long-lasting. Other ideas?

  26. @sam:

    The Trump Cult formerly known as the Republican Party only supports church in politics when it is the right color church

  27. CSK says:

    Multiple outlets are reporting that Donald Trump is very angry with Jared Kushner over his election loss.

    Two things here. The first is:
    Is Trump admitting he lost the election? He must be if he’s blaming Kushner.
    Second thing:
    Why is Trump blaming Kushner?

  28. CSK says:

    Answering my own question:
    Trump blamed Kushner for his election loss because Kushner ordered too much coronavirus testing. Trump didn’t want the testing done because it would reveal too many cases of the illness.

  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I was gonna say it’s because shouldering the blame for his own failures is the responsible thing to do.

  30. CSK says:

    Has Trump ever taken the responsibility for anything?

    “I don’t take responsibility at all for that,” he said on March 12, 2020 when queried about the lag in testing. Then he blamed that on…Barack Obama.

  31. Loviatar says:

    When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.
    — Maya Angelou

    A friend quoted this to me a few years ago and since then I’ve kept it in mind whenever I’m tempted to be surprised by the actions of others.

    A Mexican restaurant in Texas kept its mask rule. People threatened to call ICE on the staff.

    We’re being shown daily who the Republicans are, yet we’re not believing.

  32. CSK says:

    How do these same people feel about “Christian” bakers being “forced” to bake wedding cakes for gay couples? I presume the rights of businesses to make their own rules are sacrosanct then. Right?

  33. Teve says:

    There’s a fascinating Gordon Ramsay show where he goes into failing restaurants and tries to fix them. Different prices, different sourcing of ingredients, whatever’s wrong. It is stunning how stubborn people are about changing. This dude had a little bistro where he was serving food that was last popular in the 90s, ingredients were super explensize, he was losing $2 grand a week and his wife called in Ramsey and he was refusing to change because 20 years ago he got a Michelin star. Entrées were like 40 bucks and nobody was coming to the restaurant anymore. After an entire week of cajoling Ramsey finally got him to change the name of the restaurant, change the sourcing of the ingredients, and change the menu. And guess what the restaurant was suddenly in the black and the dining room was full and everything was going great. But he must’ve changed back as soon as Ramsey left because several people in the comments knew the story and said that the guy was so-and-so and declared bankruptcy six months after the episode aired and his wife left him. WTF.

  34. CSK says:

    Didn’t, or doesn’t, a guy named Robert Irvine have a similar show called Restaurant: Impossible, in which he hits some failing place and has 2 days and 10 grand to turn it around?

  35. gVOR08 says:


    How do these same people feel about “Christian” bakers being “forced” to bake wedding cakes for gay couples? I presume the rights of businesses to make their own rules are sacrosanct then. Right?

    I am constantly reminded of a study some years ago that claimed conservatives understand liberals better than the reverse. They asked on a list of issues what the other side would support or pppose. Conservatives did better at predicting liberal responses. So yes, they kind of understand liberals better. But what it really showed is that conservatives don’t know from week to week what they support. How am I supposed to keep up?

  36. CSK says:

    I could be wrong, but this inconsistency that you astutely pointed out seems to have grown far greater since the advent of Trump. The man’s a weathervane. He has no convictions, no principles, no beliefs except in his own self-aggrandizement, so it makes it difficult for any of his followers to latch onto any kind of coherent “Trump doctrine.” There isn’t any. Recall that after the Parkland shooting, he wanted to grab all guns and ask questions later. Well, someone obviously talked him out of that, and quickly, because the right to keep and bear arms is vital to Trumpkins.

    I sometimes wonder what would happen if Trump came out as pro-abortion and pro-LGBTQ. How would his fans rationalize that?

    The point is, if you’re going to follow Trump, you have to be prepared to switch sides very, very frequently, or simply close your ears to Trump’s inconsistencies.

  37. Teve says:


    If you were to grade @POTUS’s ability to keep his promise on opening schools, he would get an “F”. It’s a well deserved grade because he promised to have schools open all across America within 100 days. He’s failed. Instead, he got in line behind teachers’ unions.

    Barrasso don’t math too good-like.

  38. Teve says:

    @CSK: yeah. Haven’t seen that yet.

  39. Kathy says:


    1) I doubt there’s much reality shown in “reality shows.”

    2) “Happiness is doing it rotten your way.” Isaac Asimov.

  40. gVOR08 says:


    The point is, if you’re going to follow Trump, you have to be prepared to switch sides very, very frequently

    And they don’t even know they do it. They’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

  41. CSK says:

    Well, I think that has to do with the fact that they’re infatuated with his ghastly personality. They identify with him. So ultimately what he says or does is immaterial.

    It’s important also to bear in mind that anything Trump says or does that could offend them is immediately dismissed as fake news. I’m sure the more delicate souls among them believe the pussy-grabbing tape was faked, because Trump said it was–after apologizing for making it.

  42. Mikey says:

    Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour won’t hurt businesses. My company is proof.

    At our company, CareCentrix, we froze the wages of the top 20 executives to help raise our company’s minimum wage to $15 an hour seven years ago, and good things followed. Productivity increased and we cut employee turnover in half. With our frontline employees finally able to focus on their jobs and not worrying about their bills, profits rose and everyone in my company benefitted.

  43. We are just about a week away from the first anniversary of the day the world changed.

    It started on 3/16/2020:

    It was the sports world that gave us the first indication of what was to come. In a few short hours we saw the first cases in the NBA, I believe it was the Utah Jazz that saw a spike in among its players. This led to a swift response from the NBA to shut down, a move that led to the last few games of the season and the playoffs and finals in a bubble. The NHL ended up following the bubble plan. NCAA Conferences shut down all Conference Tournaments and March Madness.

    Within days, businesses to do shutdowns of their own and Governors across the country put their states on shutdown status with some states issuing “Stay at :Home:” orders that applied to everyone who wasn’t considered an essential employee.

    What a year it has been.

  44. Gustopher says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Sinema wants to say it’s sexism why she’s being singled out, but it’s because she was being a performative asshole.

    If every Senator votes for every bill with a thumbs up por down and a curtesy, I will happily be corrected.

  45. Kathy says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    What a year it has been.

    It had a redemptive moment on Nov. 3rd.

  46. Teve says:


    This feels like a game changer. US politics became totally performative. If no bills can pass why talk substance. So GOP strategy of just owning the libs made sense.

    But when one side is passing stuff and the other is talking Dr Seuss not sure performative politics cuts it now.

  47. @Kathy:


  48. @Gustopher:

    She seems to have adopted ths Thumbs Down thing from John McCain

  49. Teve says:
  50. Gustopher says:

    @Doug Mataconis: And the curtesy? Did she get that from John McCain too?

    John McCain was also being a performative asshole when he did that, by the way. He could have stayed in Arizona, just blown off the vote, and the ObamaCare repeal would have failed. Instead, he decided the the best use of some of his last days on Earth were to fly across the country, personally tell his Republican colleagues to go fuck themselves, and then fly back.

    It was all the more exciting because the only reason to fly across the country would be to vote yes, and because he was the deciding vote.

    He fooled everyone by announcing he was flying out, and then gave a performance that was the equivalent to taking a shit on Donald Trump’s desk. And he knew it. And we all know he was grinning from ear to ear on his way back, letting calls from his angry colleagues go to voicemail.

    Utterly spiteful. Brilliantly spiteful.

    Sinema modeled her behavior after one of the great “fuck you” moments in politics, and doesn’t even get to be the deciding vote, or surprise anyone. It was utterly gratuitous.

    She can’t be surprised when people react as if she said “fuck you.”

  51. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: Matt Yglesias is a bit of a professional troll. I like that about him.

    I recall him saying something about “you’ll know when the Democrats actually start listening to the Latinx community when they stop calling them Latinx.” A pretty good line.

    He’s not always right, he’s sometimes very wrong, but he does love a little Purity Pony punching. As do we all.

    He’s like a rude, less-intelligent, non-earnest Ezra Klein. But I mean that in a good way!

  52. Kylopod says:


    John McCain was also being a performative asshole when he did that, by the way.

    It also generated one of the biggest myths surrounding his reputation, one which lives on even after his death–the notion that he singlehandedly ended ACA repeal. Incredibly, both Democrats and Republicans seem to believe this myth; the only thing they disagree on is whether it’s to McCain’s credit or blame.

    Here’s what happened: McCain voted for the Senate’s first repeal bill, dubbed “repeal and replace.” But enough other Republicans voted against it that it didn’t pass. Then the Senate proposed another bill, dubbed “repeal without replace.” This one McCain voted against, but enough other Republicans voted against it that McCain’s vote didn’t affect the outcome on its own.

    Finally, the Senate proposed a bill that was dubbed “skinny repeal.” This one consisted of nothing more than elimination of the individual mandate penalty and a few taxes. That was it; it didn’t touch the underlying structure of the ACA. Only Collins and Murkowski came out against this bill initially, and McCain was expected to vote for it–and that’s when he did his famous “thumbs-down” at the last moment, killing the repeal effort until a few months later when it was temporarily revived with Graham-Cassidy, which ended up never reaching the floor. However, the essence of skinny repeal–elimination of the mandate penalty–ended up passing later on, as part of the tax bill.

    The spin surrounding skinny repeal was that it was simply a ploy to get to conference committee, where Republicans would then craft a new, more comprehensive repeal bill that could be accepted by both houses. It was this attempt to get around the regular procedures that was McCain’s primary objection to the bill. If McCain had supported the skinny-repeal bill and it had passed the Senate, there’s no guarantee the ploy would have succeeded at leading to a comprehensive repeal bill acceptable to both houses. It’s possible it would have, in which case McCain deserves some credit for stopping the process in its tracks, but there are a lot of reasons to believe the Republicans were just going in circles and any new version of comprehensive repeal would have suffered the same fate as the first two Senate bills (as well as Graham-Cassidy), dying on the Senate floor with or without McCain’s help.

    So in short, McCain played a much more minimal role than is commonly believed in the failure of ACA repeal. It’s very possible that even if you took him out of the picture entirely, it would have had the exact same outcome.

  53. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mikey: Whenever I read Twitter handles, I wonder who “brianty lercohen” is about half the time. My guess is that I’m the only one. I sort and group strangely.

  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnMcC: I was just about to say “wait, the guy on the Wendy’s commercial was saying the playoffs don’t start for another week,” but then I realized that I don’t have any channels that stream live sports and must be a week off.

  55. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: I would, too, but what we’re going to see is a plaque thanking the family for their “selfless contribution to the community.” It’s the *right choice* for a county in the throes of economic hardship caused by Covid-19. They just don’t have the ability to do anything else *right now*. (And, of course, later will be too late.)

  56. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: The story here goes that Gordon Ramsay came to Longview, WA to do the same type of thing for what had been a large hotel at the time that the city was platted. He came to the conclusion that there were no circumstances where the hotel could be turned into anything other than what it had become–a relatively large studio and 1 bedroom apartment complex.

  57. de stijl says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Most business travel is pointless. All can be accomplished without the face to face. A lot of business travel is strictly performative. I am here; face to face, is bullshit unless negotiator is ultimate decision maker.

    80% is sales calls.

    Covid re-oriented “service” away from schmoozing to actual service rather than glad- handing. Covid killed the schmooze travel culture that sales departments often settle into.

    Zoom and equivalents work perfectly fine, are way cheaper, and actually allow service people to interact with and pass knowledge to the tech people.

    Covid = disintermediation

  58. de stijl says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    So cool to see your name here!

  59. de stijl says:


    You have always struck me as a person more interested in payback and retribution rather than moving forward legislation that benefits all of us.

  60. Gustopher says:

    @Kylopod: Somehow, that makes the effort he took to spend some of his last days coming to Washington to give a big, personal “fuck you” even better.

    Imagine how much hatred he had in his heart to do that for so little.

    I suffer from few positive views about John McCain, but his showmanship and spite at the end was excellent. Also, he inspired this: (well, he and a variety of illegal drugs inspired that, I’m betting)

  61. Kylopod says:


    Imagine how much hatred he had in his heart to do that for so little.

    Did it have to be hatred? Even now as we’re discussing it, I always seem to be one of the few people aware of what actually happened. I followed it very closely at the time, and I’ve since been pretty astonished at how widespread the mythical version is. Isn’t that a testament to how powerful he was at his own brand-building? As you said, he was a showman, but unlike Trump’s showmanship, which everybody recognizes as showmanship, McCain’s masqueraded as authenticity, and the media fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. It’s something he did for years–it didn’t start with Trump. Country first, straight-talk express–those weren’t his attributes, they were his brands. Just like “drain the swamp” is Trump’s brand. The difference is that Trump only fooled the yokels, McCain fooled the bourgeoisie. The thumbs-down episode was a masterclass in achieving that effect.

    P.S. My favorite McCain-related parody vid is still this.