How far will Democrat primary candidates push it? Following Beto O'Rourke's decision to campaign for the presidency of the United States among "asylum seekers" in Ciudad Ju├írez, his rival Cory Booker went one better: he flew to Mexico and escorted a party of "asylum seekers" straight through the frontier and into El Paso. Desperate times call for desperate measures: Both Beto and Booker are margin-of-error candidates. Beto is at 2.4 per cent in the Real Clear Politics average, and Booker is floundering way behind at 2.2 per cent, although if you add in those new voters he walked across the border he may have closed the gap and be up to 2.2014 per cent.
If you're seeking an asylum, you've come to the right place: Oreo Cookies now come in a special edition emblazoned with "Ask me my pronouns". In an America where a cookie can have a non-binary pronoun, why can't a Guatemalan have a vote? Indeed, would a woke Oreo outpoll a joke Beto? Probably.
It would certainly land a few debate punches on Joe Biden, too. We're approaching the dawn of the third decade of the new millennium, and Kamala Harris has got Biden on the ropes about ...busing. Over the weekend Rip Van Woken was forced into issuing a groveling climbdown apologizing for having worked with Republicans to get things done. Whoops, sorry, I mean he apologized for working with Democrats to get things done. It was the Seventies, Ted Kennedy was face down in the beer nuts sleeping off Chappaquiddick, and the only other Dems to get things done with were old-school racist segregationist Jim Crow types anxious to help a promising youngish feller like Joe by putting in a good word with the Grand Kleagle.
Newer chaps like Beto, last glimpsed skateboarding through a quesadilla plant in Cabo San Lucas, can't grasp why this is something to boast of. In the wider world, the only rationale for Biden is that, in a field galloping ahead to propose reparations for slavery, and homophobia (forty acres and a twink?), and indeed (in the form of open borders) reparations to the entire planet for US foreign policy, Uncle Joe is a sober moderate temperate don't-frighten-the-horses safe-pair-of-hands wise old bird full of experience. But, if he's forced to forswear everything he's done in Washington in the last half-century, he's basically tossing his experience out of the hot-air balloon and running as a wrinklier Beto. What's left is a ventilated punching bag with all the sand run out.
As I've written before, the sweet spot in an age of identity politics is to be a sufficiently exotic identitarian with a moderate affect. This was Obama's insight twelve years ago: He ran as Nat King Cole, not Snoop Dogg. The If-I-had-a-son-he'd-look-like-Trayvon stuff didn't start until after he'd won. If you're a fake identitarian, like rich white brat Beto, or an insecure one, like Booker, that's a tougher act to pull off. Mayor Pete is a gay married Maltese who speaks Norwegian, which sounds like the Mad Libs round of the Democrat primary. But his mien is that of a particularly boring assistant bookkeeper. And you have to figure that, if we're going to have a first "First Gentleman" in the White House, millions of Dem voters would rather all along have just cut to the chase and had that nice Mr Buttigieg's husband rather than Bill Clinton.
One final observation: Joe Biden had a good four-and-a-half decades before he became history. For others it has been a far shorter reign: In the 2016 race Bernie was the coming man; in the 2018 midterms Beto was the coming man. The Age of Woke accelerates obsolescence.
~I note with sadness a couple of familiar names in the obituaries column. I wrote a little about one of them here:
Who's Martin Charnin? Well, he made his Broadway debut in 1957 playing Big Deal, one of the prancing Jets in West Side Story. And, in between saying "Gee, Officer Krupke, krup you!" eight times a week, he found himself intrigued by all the writing and directing and composing and producing and show-doctoring and the rest of it. In the decades since, he's become a jack of all trades, and master of more than you might expect. I think of him as a kind of a general man of the theatre ...and television, and movies, and records. Charnin's is a name that turns up in the credits of Barbra Streisand albums, and Jack Lemmon TV specials, and John Belushi stage revues.
Marty hit the jackpot with Annie, which he conceived, created, directed and co-wrote. I always thought him a better director than lyricist, but, unlike most men about Broadway this last half-century, he wrote one hit song that almost everybody knows. I've always been partial to Elaine Paige's up-tempo arrangement. Pay no attention to her frock - no idea who came up with that - but there are worse ways to start the day:
~Last week we also lost Christopher Booker, no relation to Cory but a co-founder of Private Eye and a colleague of mine at The Sunday Telegraph. Unlike most columnists, Christopher didn't just give you his opinion but tons of facts you hadn't known before. And certainly no one worked more tirelessly at assembling a mountain of forensic evidence against the post-democratic structures of the European Union. When the UK voted to exit the EU in 2016, he could have claimed, as almost the pioneer euroskeptic, a large part of the credit for changing public attitudes. Instead, with somewhat characteristic pessimism, he predicted Britain's leaders would bollocks Brexit as they bollocks everything. Plagued by poor health latterly, he retired from Private Eye at the end of last year, but hung on to his Telegraph column until just three months ago:
We are told we should try to leave the world in slightly better shape than we found it. But as I prepare to leave it, I have too long felt that I was no longer trying to change it and was only writing its epitaph.
That was March 31st 2019. And you have to think he held on that long just because that weekend was supposed to coincide with Brexit. Alas, the exit date was deferred, and then deferred again.
The UK'll come out tomorrow? Don't bet your bottom dollar on it.
~We had a busy weekend at SteynOnline, starting with the latest plot twists in our current Tale for Our Time - the Erskine Childers classic The Riddle of the Sands: You can find Part Twenty-Two here, Part Twenty-Three here, Twenty-Four here and Twenty-Five here - or, if you've yet to start my serialization of this cracking yarn, you can have a good old binge-listen here. My Sunday song selection celebrated a brace of aeronautical centenaries, and Kathy Shaidle's Saturday movie date was a Ronald Colman rarity Champagne for Caesar (as opposed to champagne for Steyn, who was popping corks in American courthouses). The new week began with Andrew Lawton's report from London on the Tommy Robinson trial. If you were busy sleeping off the Glorious Fourth all weekend long, I hope you'll want to check out one or three of the foregoing as a new week begins.
Join us for Part Twenty-Six of The Riddle of the Sands later today. Tales for Our Time is made possible through the support of The Mark Steyn Club. As our third year cranks into gear, I am very grateful to all our members around the world, from London, England to London, Ontario to London, Kiribati. We hope to welcome many more of you in the decades ahead. For more information on The Mark Steyn Club, see here - and don't forget our special Gift Membership.
Oh, and do give a thought to our Third Annual Steyn Cruise sailing the Med next year and with Conrad Black and Douglas Murray among our shipmates. We'll be attempting some seaboard versions of The Mark Steyn Show, Tales for Our Time, our Sunday Poem and other favorite features. If you're minded to give it a go, don't leave it too late, as the price is more favorable the earlier you book.