When Did the “Daily Beast” Become “The Onion”?

Adam Winkler writes what can only be described as a “what the frak?” column:  Clarence Thomas Is a Long Shot for President, But His Candidacy Makes a Lot of Sense.

Surely, the piece is a misguided attempt at humor?

The piece deserves, perhaps, a fuller treatment than this, but I don’t have the time.  At a minimum, the notion that a political novice (in terms of electoral politics) who doesn’t even like to ask questions during SCOTUS hearings, would be suited to a run at the presidency is, well, laughable.

I will, however, note this cherry-on-the-sundae concluding paragraph:

Yes, it is hard to believe that Clarence Thomas would ever be the Republican nominee. Then again, most people thought an inexperienced African-American often mistaken for a Muslim could never defeat presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton, much less be elected president.

To which I can only say:  the places that the president is “often mistaken for a Muslim” is in the delusions of far-right rallies.   As such, this strikes me as an odd observation, to be kind.

I won’t deny that a Thomas candidacy would be interesting, but this is sheer fantasy talk.


FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, The Presidency, US Politics, , , ,
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. Kylopod says:

    Then again, most people thought an inexperienced African-American often mistaken for a Muslim could never defeat presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton, much less be elected president.

    I’ve been hearing variations on this argument repeatedly over the last few years. I heard it on Daily Kos after I pointed out that Dennis Kucinich isn’t a realistic candidate for president. I heard it from Herman Cain in response to the notion that he was a long-shot for the presidency.

    It’s as if the fact that some pundits underestimated one particular candidate, one time, permanently disqualifies anyone from ever making a judgment about someone’s electoral viability. The pundits got that one wrong, so therefore maybe you’re wrong too! Maybe Big Bird can be president. Ridiculous? Well, they said it was ridiculous that a black man named “Barack Hussein Obama” would ever be president, so who knows?

    There’s probably a term for this type of fallacy. I’d call it the “crying wolf” fallacy.

  2. Ron Beasley says:

    When Did the “Daily Beast” Become “The Onion”?

    I think there has always been an element of the Onion in the Daily Beast but this is certainly a high point.

  3. pajarosucio says:

    I had the same thought when I read it this morning and I’m happy to see I’m not alone. I read about half of it and once I realized there wasn’t going to be a punchline I had to give up and move on.

  4. Console says:


    That’s tough to categorize. There’s multiple fallacies it can fall under.

    There’s the hoocoodanode fallacy which rests on the idea that conventional pundit wisdom is rarely wrong and when it is, no one could have predicted it. And on the other end of the spectrum, there’s the, “I want to write for slate/the new republic,” fallacy which relies on being contrarian to conventional wisdom.

  5. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @pajarosucio: This is why I don’t read The Daily Beast.

  6. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    In terms to classical fallacies, the closest is probably reductio ad absurdum and the comment has ad hominem elements, but hoocoodanode certainly applies, too.

  7. Yep, this is exactly what the GOP needs, a candidate that thinks prosecutors shouldn’t have to turn over exculpatory evidence in death penalty proceedings and thinks that the Executive Branch can hold an American citizen indefinitely without a trial or any other type of due process.

  8. vickijean says:

    Find it hard to believe that southern conservatives would vote for a black man married to a white woman.

  9. Kylopod says:

    I admit I had a feeling of deja vu when I read this article, but I wasn’t sure why. Now I realize what I was remembering: Roger Simon’s 2010 article suggesting Michael Steele (!!!) as a presidential contender for 2012.

    Never mind how tone-deaf Simon had to be not to realize that Steele’s days as an important GOP figure of any sort were numbered. What was especially revealing was his comment, “As a black Republican nominee, Steele could get many of the white votes a Republican usually gets while cutting into the Democratic black vote.”

    Winkler’s article doesn’t openly mention Clarence Thomas’s race, but I think the implication is there. Ever since at least the 1990s when Colin Powell mulled over a presidential bid, there’s been an assumption that a black Republican presidential nominee would be a win-win for the GOP, because it would threaten to eat into the African American vote without encouraging too many racist Republicans to go in the other direction.

    There were several problems with this theory to begin with, but now it’s outdated, because we already have a president who’s black, so the element of making history is no longer a factor. If the GOP were to nominate an African American now (and let’s put aside the fact that a far-right reactionary like Thomas and a nitwit like Steele are, shall we say, no Colin Powell), he wouldn’t be running to become the first black president; he’d be running to unseat the first black president. Even if you believe the simplistic notion that black voters automatically support black candidates, it wouldn’t be a choice between a black Republican and a white Democrat, but a choice between two black candidates, one of them immensely popular among blacks–so the old formula, which was questionable in the first place, just doesn’t apply.

  10. Scott says:

    This blog parrots so much idiotic nonsense generated by the Left, why do you suddenly think this crap is off limits?

  11. de stijl says:

    The Daily Beast disappeared from my Bookmarks long ago. The vaccination = autism crap was too much to bear. Haven’t missed it all.

  12. 21Law says:

    I looked up Winkler. His bio is depressingly undistinguished, especially given that he’s on the faculty at UCLA: http://www.law.ucla.edu/faculty/all-faculty-profiles/professors/Pages/adam-winkler.aspx …kinda like Clarence Thomas’s actually. The Winkler piece* could only have been written by a moron, or as a PR project for which one of Winkler’s patrons paid significant money. [*Clarence Thomas Is a Long Shot for President, But His Candidacy Makes a Lot of Sense]

  13. 21Law says:

    e.g., the bio says: “Adam clerked on the United States Court of Appeals.” Really. That’s in his faculty bio without further elaboration.

  14. Brainster says:

    It’s the silly season; political writers have to fill a massive hole this year, and much of what will go into that hole is junk. it succeeded in getting a few links from blogs due to the controversial nature of the subject matter, which is probably the goal.

  15. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    I whiffed. Vaccinations = autism was Huff Post, not The Daily Beast. I still don’t read it, though.

  16. @Timothy Watson:

    Well, we could run Obama, since he apparently thinks we can also target American citizens for death by Hellfire missile overseas.

  17. grumpy realist says:

    Oh, the commentators at the Daily Beast did a pretty good job of demolishing that piece of crap, pointing out (aside from the utter silliness) that it made absolutely no sense strategically for either of the two parties.

    The man is a middle-of-the-road unknown and this is the law school equivalent of putting one’s underpants on one’s head and dancing out into traffic, screaming “look at me! look at me!” I think I’ll file this one under “drunkenly blogging late last night.”

    The amusing question is whether when he wakes up this morning he’s going to double-down, or be so embarrassed he’ll never write another word again.

  18. bandit says:

    @vickijean: Go back to your Klan meeting

  19. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    I’ve never heard of the “Daily Beast,” nor this Adam Winkler fellow, but in taking a quick perusal of Winkler’s bio the pieces fall into place. This guy followed the time-honored tradition of law professors everywhere, in that he graduated, entered private practice, was hit like a ton of bricks by the harsh realities thereof, and then almost immediately turned tail and ran like the wind back to the safety of the ivory towers. With extremely rare exceptions full-time law professors are people who lack the skill and determination to be real attorneys. This Winkler character obviously does not fall into the exception category.

    As for that piece, it’s basically a self-parody of cognitive dissonance and requires no further comment.

  20. David says:

    @Tsar Nicholas II: Tsar, can you give us a list of publications you have heard of or still think are being published and the names of people you have heard of? Based on the number of your posts that start out “I’ve never heard” or “Is that still published”, it should be a fairly short list…

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:


    @vickijean: Go back to your Klan meeting

    Yeah! Or at least your county Republican Committee meeting!

  22. legion says:

    @grumpy realist:
    or be so embarrassed he’ll never write another word again.
    Has that ever actually happened in the realm of punditry? I thought such people had their shame glands removed long ago…

  23. legion says:

    I didn’t get the impression she was _endorsing_ the concept, just pointing out that such an individual carrying a lot of southern con votes seems unlikely. I don’t think she’s terribly wrong in that, given how clearly torn a lot of them are just over the idea of supporting a white Mormon…

  24. I thought very much the same thing.

  25. 21Law says:

    Winkler is NOT a political writer, but a “law professor.”

    Even if he thinks Clarence Thomas is the greatest Justice EVER, the piece is just plain lunacy.

  26. de stijl says:


    I definitely give Tsar Nick a long hearty golf clap if he were to drop something along the lines of:

    “I’ve never heard of “Outside The Beltway” not of this Steven L. Taylor fellow…”

    Please, please, please!