Oops! The Worst Political Predictions of 2022 – POLITICO – POLITICO

Politics
The red wave never arrived, nor did the Russian victory over Ukraine. And that’s just the start of an incredible year in bad prognostication.
Illustrations by Josie Norton for POLITICO
By Zack Stanton

Link Copied
Zack Stanton is deputy editor of Playbook.
After years of assembling the annual “worst predictions” list for POLITICO Magazine, I’ve come to understand a difference, subtle but distinct, between bad predictions and ones that are truly awful.
We start with a quick taxonomy of three different bad prediction archetypes:
Misreading: When you make a sincere, clear-eyed attempt to see things as they are, and come to a reasonable conclusion — but the great world spins and things turn out differently because you missed something that proved important. (Example: A political pundit looking at high inflation rates, general voter dissatisfaction and historic midterm trends and concluding that Democrats will get wiped out in the November elections.)
Wishcasting: When you base a prediction less on a sober reading of what is likely to happen than on what you’d personally like to happen. (For a non-political example, me predicting in August that this will be the year the Detroit Lions win the Super Bowl.)
“I Know Better, But Must Rally the Troops”: When you are aware that what you’re publicly predicting is quite unlikely, but are in a position of leadership and feel the need to project confidence, lest your supporters lose enthusiasm. (Example: Nancy Pelosi predicting in October that Democrats would not only hold the House, but expand their majority.)
You will find examples of all of these in the list below.
What elevates something above a merely bad prediction is, I think, hubris — a certain performative insincerity whereby the person who makes a prediction surely knows better than to be totally sure of what they’re saying, but is driven to say it anyway. When your words have the whiff of “I have no doubt, and will not entertain it, nor should you,” there’s a good chance you should at least ask why you’re so certain.
There is something about politics that attracts hubris, or at least brings out the hubristic side in people. This is likely bad for our politics, our discourse, maybe even our nation. But it’s good for the listicle-industrial complex.
Here, POLITICO Magazine’s annual roundup of some of the worst predictions of the year. We’ve gone as far back as Dec. 2021 to find them, as that is when people really started placing their bets for 2022.
People chanting and holding up signs during an abortion rights demonstration outside the U.S. Supreme Court. | Francis Chung/POLITICO
By the end of 2021, the fate of Roe v. Wade was more or less a foregone conclusion — following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2020 and subsequent appointment of Amy Coney Barrett, conservatives had a 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court, and a glide path to overturning the 1973 ruling enshrining abortion rights.
And yet, the notion that it would happen seemed somewhat… unreal. Doing so would, yes, upend precedent and offer a rare instance of the court taking a way an individual right it had previously recognized. More than that: For a body like the Supreme Court — at once seemingly obsessed with the notion that it is above the fray, even as it routinely enters the fray and polices its boundaries — it seemed transparently partisan, a monumental change borne purely out of a shift in the body’s ideological makeup rather than the basic facts at issue.
Given all that, it was somewhat understandable why Karl Rove was skeptical that the court would take the plunge.
“The Supreme Court will significantly weaken Roe v. Wade but not overturn it outright; states will be allowed to define more of their abortion policies,” he predicted last December. In the ensuing fallout, “abortion rights’ becomes the left’s rallying cry but is only a minor electoral advantage.”
If the first of those two predictions was understandable but incorrect, the second was both incorrect and an instance of wishcasting that betrayed an absolute misreading of the electorate.
With the benefit of hindsight, it seems clear that the court’s Dobbs ruling fundamentally upended the midterms, propelling Democrats to a surprisingly strong result. Abortion rights proved to be a pivotal issue in swing states like Pennsylvania and Michigan and helped Dems expand their narrow grasp on a Senate majority.
The New York Times, later that same day: “Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced founder of the collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, was arrested in the Bahamas on Monday after U.S. prosecutors filed criminal charges.”
Last December, when CNN’s Kaitlan Collins asked Biden about runaway inflation, the president was unambiguous about the road ahead. “I think it’s the peak of the crisis,” he said. “And I think you’ll see a change sooner and quicker and more rapidly … than most people think.”
Reader, I suspect you will know from experience that December 2021 was not, in fact, the peak of inflation. That month, the annualized rate of inflation was 7 percent. It was 7.5 percent in January, 7.9 percent in February, 8.5 percent in March, 8.3 percent in April, 8.6 percent in May, 9.1 percent in June, and has come down slightly since then — though was still above 7 percent in November, the month with the most recently available numbers.
Natali Sevriukova reacts in front of her destroyed apartment building following a rocket attack the city of Kyiv, Ukraine. | Emilio Morenatti/AP Photo
In its annual lookahead at the year to come, the Financial Times surveyed the world as it stood at the end of 2021. In response to the question “Will Russia invade Ukraine?”, FT Europe Editor Ben Hall was blunt: “No.”
“A large-scale invasion would risk heavy Russian casualties and would run counter to Vladimir Putin’s preference for subterfuge and plausible deniability,” he continued. “Putin can achieve many of his aims without it: destabilising Ukraine, deterring Kyiv’s allies from providing military aid, intimidating Nato and forcing more concessions in talks to end the fighting in the Donbas. However, Moscow may yet escalate further, stepping up the conflict in the breakaway region, stirring up trouble in other parts of Ukraine or targeted incursions. The ability to escalate is the Kremlin’s strongest asset.”
Less than two months later, Russia mounted a large-scale invasion of Ukraine, mounting heavy casualties for Russian forces (Hall got that part absolutely right) and driving the West to provide substantial military aid to Kyiv.
Voters cast their ballots at a polling location in Arlington, Va. on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022 | Nathan Howard/Getty Images
Election Day came, and no wave crested. Republicans regained control of the House, but won fewer races than almost any observer projected — a net of nine seats. Democrats not only held their Senate majority, they added one seat to it (Pennsylvania). Swing-state gubernatorial races broke in favor of Dems in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin, while Republicans won in Georgia and Nevada.
Call the result what you want — a trickle, a ripple, a splash, a dribble — but it was not a wave election, let alone a tsunami, bloodbath or any other hyperbolic maritime cliche.
Among the handful of swing-state Senate races in 2022, Nevada’s battle between Democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto and GOP challenger Adam Laxalt was notable in the way it almost perfectly matched a generic Republican and a generic Democrat in a closely divided battleground.
Nevada has a history of late-breaking ballot counts amassing in favor of Democrats — a fact which could’ve proved useful to remember if Holmes, a longtime political adviser to Mitch McConnell, wanted to avoid making statements about the race that practically dripped with hubris.
When, on Oct. 31, the New York Times and Siena College released a series of Senate polls generally favorable to Democrats, Holmes took exception: “Some red hot D samples here. Not enough data in the tabs to figure out why but I can guarantee zero of these races will end with numbers like this.”
The NYT/Siena poll showed John Fetterman besting Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania by 5 points, 49 percent to 44 percent; Fetterman won the election by 4.9 points, 51.2 percent to 46.3 percent. It showed Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock over Herschel Walker by 3 points, 49 percent to 46 percent; Warnock won the runoff election by 2.8 points, 51.4 percent to 48.6 percent. It showed Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly over Blake Masters by 6 points, 51 percent to 45 percent; Kelly won by 4.9 points, 51.4 percent to 46.5 percent. And it showed Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Adam Laxalt tied at 47 percent.
As the votes rolled in, the margin was tight, but Holmes was confident enough to make a prediction on the evening of Nov. 9: “Barring something statistically unforeseeable, it’s all over but the crying here. Laxalt is going to win this.”
What happened next was entirely foreseeable: The late ballots broke in favor of Cortez Masto, who eked out a victory by just under 1 percentage point.
Former President Donald Trump walks on stage during a rally on Nov. 6, 2022 in Miami, Fla. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images
For a certain type of pundit, there’s an idea as alluring and unchanging as the green lights at the end of Daisy Buchanan’s dock: The walls are closing in on Trump.
They said it during litigation about Trump University. They said it when the Donald J. Trump Foundation agreed to shut down while being investigated by the state of New York. They said it during the Mueller probe. They said it when Paul Manafort pleaded guilty in 2018. When Pat Cipollone testified before the Jan. 6 committee. When the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s claims of executive privilege related to official documents surrounding the events of Jan. 6. When Mueller recommended prison time for Michael Cohen. When Trump spoke to CPAC for two hours in 2019. When niece Mary L. Trump’s tell-all family memoir neared release. When Andrew McCabe’s book came out. When, in 2019, Trump started criticizing Fox News via Twitter. When he referred to himself as a “nationalist.” When the Supreme Court heard cases about whether he could shield his tax returns from Congress and the Manhattan district attorney.
When the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago in August, CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson added his own entry to this canon. “I think the issue here is that indictment — and I’ll say it — I think it’s imminent as it relates to the president,” he said.
Four months later, Trump has yet to be indicted. Is it possible that he will be eventually? Sure. But until then, the walls will be perpetually closing in on him. So we beat on, boats against the current…
Democratic Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman arrives for the first and only Pennsylvania Senate debate in Harrisburg, Pa. on Oct. 25, 2022. | Pool photo by Greg Nash
If you listened to pundits, it was a cataclysm. In the sole debate of the race for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat, Democrat John Fetterman — still obviously recovering from a stroke in June — consistently struggled to deliver coherent answers to debate questions, let alone within the 15- and 30-second soundbite-driven format. (Particularly painful: his answer when asked about fracking.)
“Sorry Democrats, but Fetterman lost the race tonight,” tweeted Andrew Feinberg, a Washington-based reporter for the UK-based outlet The Independent. “He’s in no way able to communicate clearly or effectively, and agreeing to this debate was political malpractice in the first degree. Whoever told him to do [it] should be finished in electoral politics.”
It was the view of many in the professional pundit class. But voters disagreed.
Polls clocked little to no change after the debate. Come Election Day, Fetterman defeated Republican Mehmet Oz by roughly five points.
There’s an old aphorism that when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. To put a 21st century spin on it: When you’re Edward Snowden, everything looks like a psy-op. (See also: Glenn Greenwald on Feb. 23.)
In February, U.S. intelligence warned that a Russian invasion of Ukraine was imminent. Drawing on those assessments, Biden reportedly told U.S. allies that the military campaign could begin as soon as Feb. 16.
“So… if nobody shows up for the invasion Biden scheduled for tomorrow morning at 3AM, I’m not saying your journalistic credibility was instrumentalized as part of one of those disinformation campaigns you like to write about, but you should at least consider the possibility,” Snowden tweeted on Feb 15. “If there’s an invasion tomorrow, dunk on me because I have been spectacularly wrong.”
Though the invasion came on Feb. 24, Snowden was still spectacularly wrong.
It’s understandable why he would be skeptical about U.S. intelligence, as a former government contractor who learned distrust of the security state up close and was driven to a massive 2013 leak of classified National Security Agency intel. (After all, U.S. intel hasn’t always been a slam dunk, even as it presented itself as such, with tragic consequences.)
But how then to explain Snowden’s apparent credulity in accepting Russia’s repeated denials that it was planning to attack Ukraine? One possible answer is that Snowden, who fled the U.S. shortly before the publication of the leaks that catapulted him to international notoriety, needs the protection of Putin’s government. He’s resided in the country since seeking asylum there in 2013. In September 2022, he became a Russian citizen, and earlier this month, swore an “oath of allegiance” to the nation, according to his attorney.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake greets supporters after speaking at a campaign event on Aug. 1, 2022 in Phoenix, Ariz. | Brandon Bell/Getty Images
After Kari Lake cast her ballot on Election Day, the Arizona Republican emerged from her polling place to address reporters in the Trumpian patois that colored her entire gubernatorial campaign.
“I’m going to do two terms,” she said. “I’m going to be your worst frickin’ nightmare for eight years, and we will reform the media as well. We are going to make you guys into journalists again. So, get ready. It’s going to be a fun eight years.”
When the ballots were counted, she lost. Despite her ongoing suggestions to the contrary, Arizona voters elected Democrat Katie Hobbs as governor.
Spicer, the former White House press secretary under Donald Trump, channeled his inner DeSean Jackson, prematurely celebrating expected bad news for the Biden administration.
Then came the following morning’s announcement: a surprisingly strong 467,000 new nonfarm jobs in January, while numbers for December and November were revised upward by 709,000 more jobs.
Fun numbers for the White House, but not the type of fun Spicer had in mind.
Ukrainian soldiers fire artillery at Russian positions near Bakhmut, Ukraine on Dec. 16, 2022. | Libkos/AP Photo
This was a common prediction at the outset of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Russia’s military force was unstoppable and would steamroll overmatched Ukrainian forces. More than that, there would simply be no appetite in the West to get tough on Putin — especially knowing the inevitable implications for energy prices throughout Europe.
Richard Hanania, the president of the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology and a fellow at University of Texas’ Salem Center, voiced this on Feb. 23, outlining three “fundamentals [sic.] realities that every analysis must start with: 1) Russia has overwhelming military power, 2) The west has no political will for extreme sanctions much less war, 3) Whatever Russia takes, it’ll never give back. … If you see anyone with a take that ignores any one of these realities, their analysis can be discounted.”
Let’s take those predictions one at a time.
First, Russia’s military power has not overwhelmed Ukraine. Instead, the invaders have suffered massive losses. In early November, Gen. Mark Milley estimated more than 100,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded. More than 900 of its tanks have been totally destroyed, while Ukraine has captured another 534, according to Oryx. “The war has badly damaged Russia’s military and tarnished its reputation,” Brookings’ Steven Pifer wrote in a wide-ranging assessment on Dec. 8.
Second, the West has repeatedly shown the political will for extreme sanctions and other economic steps, cutting off Russian banks from SWIFT, freezing hundreds of billions in holdings by the Russian Central Bank and massively cutting its use of Russian oil and natural gas. (Will that resolve weaken come the cold of winter? Wait and see.)
Third, in the first month of the invasion, Russia gained a massive amount of Ukrainian territory, but in the months since, it has retreated and otherwise lost control of a substantial portion of it — the equivalent of roughly 11,000 square miles as of mid-November, per the Washington Post.
Ibid.
Samesies.
Once more, same as before.
On April 5, Elon Musk took a seat on Twitter’s board of directors after buying more than 9 percent of the company, prompting Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s co-founder and former CEO, to welcome Musk to the family. Then-CEO Parag Agrawal “and Elon both lead with their hearts, and they will be an incredible team,” Dorsey tweeted.
On Oct. 28, Musk took full ownership of Twitter. That same day, he fired Agrawal.
Ah, the campaign strategy that launched a thousand thinkpieces. In 2022, Democrats routinely intervened in Republican primaries to give a boost to Trump-backed candidates over more relatively moderate (and electable) GOP hopefuls. This was done with the cloak of plausible deniability: We weren’t helping this Trumpian candidate, they could argue, we were simply pointing out how radical and conservative and MAGAish his ideas were, knowing full well that that would appeal to a large number of Republican voters.
The ethics of the approach were, and are, debatable at best. “I’m sick and tired of hearing the sanctimonious bullshit about the Democrats being the pro-democracy party,” GOP Rep. Peter Meijer told my colleagues in July.
Days later, Meijer lost his primary to the Trump-backed John Gibbs — the beneficiary of Democratic largesse — who went on to lose in November, flipping the seat to Democrat Hillary Scholten.
Which gets us to the strategy itself. New Hampshire GOP Gov. Chris Sununu spoke for many when he predicted in September that “I just think that this strategy is going to massively backfire on the Democrats.”
But it didn’t. In New Hampshire, the Chuck Schumer-aligned Senate Majority PAC spent to boost Republican Don Bolduc for Senate; he lost to Sen. Maggie Hassan. In Arizona, Kari Lake — who won the nomination after her Republican primary opponent was jabbed by the Arizona Democratic Party — lost to Katie Hobbs. Maryland’s Dan Cox, the beneficiary of an attack from the Democratic Governors Association, won his primary over a Republican backed by outgoing Gov. Larry Hogan, then lost the general to Wes Moore. Likewise, the DGA spent some $35 million, much of it from Gov. J.B. Pritzker himself, to give the Illinois Dem incumbent the Republican opponent of his choosing: Darren Bailey, whom Pritzker defeated soundly in November. And so on and so on.
Far from backfiring, it seems to have worked exactly as designed, propelling Democrats into office by saddling the GOP with candidates whose appeal is limited beyond Trump’s red hat society.
An advertisement for CNN+ is displayed in New York City on April 21, 2022. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images
After its launch in late March, CNN+, the news giant’s much-ballyhooed streaming service was quickly hampered by weak subscription numbers, the ouster of Jeff Zucker and his replacement by Chris Licht, whose regime was (and seemingly continues to be) disinterested in expanding the channel’s offerings.
On April 21, mere weeks after the streamer launched, Licht announced that he was closing it down permanently. It shuttered on April 28.
Heading into 2022, the political chattering class salivated at the thought of a massive intraparty Democratic fight pitting Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Just imagine the coverage! An unending smorgasbord of pieces about What It All Means; about some sort of “Democratic civil war;” about generational change; about the Democratic mainstream versus its insurgent left; about how this is really just Hillary vs. Bernie yet again; about how this is really Andrew Cuomo vs. Cynthia Nixon yet again; about what this tells us about the shifting demographics of the Democratic electorate; about how this can really be reduced down to Brooklyn vs. The Bronx. What’s not to love, except, possibly, everything about it?
Ocasio-Cortez did not challenge Schumer. She ran for reelection instead (and won). Schumer won reelection to the Senate. And we were spared all of the above thinkpieces.
Far from it: A majority of voters in the midterms supported the policy, and there’s reason to think it helped spur enthusiasm from young people and progressives.
Two days later, Trump endorsed Doug Mastriano instead.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to use taxpayer money for a giant media stunt — misleading Venezuelan asylum-seekers who reached the United States, promising them food and aid, flying them to a wealthy island in Massachusetts during its off-peak tourism season, and doing it ostensibly to own the libs while reasserting immigration’s place at the forefront of issues weighing on voters’ minds in the midterms — was, at best, crass and, at worst, inhumane.
There was reason, then, to think that it could backfire on him politically — especially as he sought reelection in a state with a large number of Latino voters whose own families fled communist regimes in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela (as well as a civil war in Guatemala) for the United States.
“From a Miami perspective, it’s a huge mistake,” Democratic Florida state Sen. Annette Taddeo, told POLITICO in September. “All these Republicans … historically talk about socialism and communism and that we are standing up to these horrible dictators. The migrants are fleeing exactly what Republicans say they are fighting against.”
There’s a real logic to that prediction. But when all the votes were counted, DeSantis cruised to reelection. In fact, even as roughly 60 percent of Latinos nationally backed Democrats, DeSantis won 58 percent of Florida’s Latino voters, per CNN’s exit polls. He won Miami-Dade County with 55 percent of the vote — an 11-point margin — despite having lost the county by more than 20 points in 2018.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis celebrates with his family at an election night party in Tampa after winning his race for reelection on Nov. 8, 2022. | Rebecca Blackwell/AP Photo
“I’ll start with a prediction you weren’t thinking about: Ron DeSantis will lose his race for governor of Florida in November,” Herrmann wrote in his year-opening “Four Predictions for 2022” on Above the Law. “I see two reasons why DeSantis will lose. First, an awful lot of people have died from Covid-19 in Florida, and thousands more will die in the coming months. …
“Couple the Covid-19 problem with DeSantis’s likely abortion problem. The Supreme Court will upset the Roe applecart during the first half of this year. DeSantis is pro-life, but Florida generally tilts the other way, and this will pose a problem for DeSantis. Combine a silly response to Covid-19 with a politically untenable response to abortion, and you have the surprise of the season: DeSantis will lose his governor’s race, and with it any chance to be the Republican nominee for president in 2024.”
Roe was overturned, and the resulting outrage benefited Democrats throughout the country but didn’t seem to hurt DeSantis much. Even as the Covid pandemic continues, DeSantis’ handling of the ordeal was actually a centerpiece of his campaign even though, contrary to both his boosters and detractors, the results of his approach were statistically pretty middle-of-the-pack.
He won reelection by nearly 20 points against an opponent (Charlie Crist) who was well-known to voters and had won election statewide. And far from seeing his presidential hopes evaporate, the Florida governor is routinely outpacing Donald Trump in (way too early) 2024 primary polls.
I have a prediction, or rather, a suspicion, about this one: Pelosi knew better.
Say what you will about her, but nobody can credibly challenge the woman’s ability to count votes. And even the most cheery assessment of Democrats’ hopes a month out from Election Day saw Republicans retaking the House. And they did, albeit by a much smaller margin than expected. Democrats flipped some districts, sure, but Republicans flipped more, a net gain of 9 seats.
Was this wishcasting from Pelosi? Sure. But it is also the type of thing demanded of party leaders: that they “project optimism,” even when they know better, and even when it leads them to make ridiculous predictions like this.
Hours later, Truss resigned as the UK’s prime minister.
Adams, the creator of “Dilbert” and repeat laureate of these “worst predictions” honors, earned his place on last year’s list for predicting that “if Biden is elected, there’s a good chance you will be dead within the year.” If you (understandably) thought he was joking or that this was some sort of metaphor, Adams clarified what he meant in two follow-up tweets: “Republicans will be hunted. Police will stand down.”
None of that happened. But he’s still not letting it go.
“My worst prediction of all time was ‘If Biden gets elected, there’s a good chance you will be dead in a year,’” Adams tweeted on Sept. 30. Then, a twist: “It was closer to two years. I missed it by 100%.”
Jan. 20, 2023 will mark the start of Joe Biden’s third year in office. This has not happened, and barring a major surprise in the next month — Dark Brandon suddenly undertaking some sort of Maoist Cultural Revolution and emerging from the West Wing to declare Year Zero — this will not happen.
A person in the stands wears a mask during a baseball game between the Seattle Mariners and the New York Yankees in Seattle, Wash. on Aug. 9, 2022. | Ted S. Warren/AP Photo
While not quite as apocalyptic as Scott Adams’ prediction, Krugman looked at 2022 and foresaw a world in which “soon we’ll be seeing many incidents in which those who choose to protect themselves with KN95s etc. face harassment, even violence. Because this was never about freedom.”
Save for a few sporadic instances of harassment by malicious weirdos, Americans have by and large come to something of a detente in the culture war over masking, respecting one another’s choices to wear a mask or not — and adjusting their own behavior accordingly.
Wrong and wrong. We’ll give Erickson this: Georgia Dems by and large lost in many of the state’s marquee races. Gov. Brian Kemp trounced Stacey Abrams. The incumbent Republican lieutenant governor, attorney general and secretary of state all won.
The one glaring exception to the GOP’s peachy results? Herschel Walker, who lost to incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock in November, 49.4 percent to 48.5 percent — and then lost the Dec. 6 runoff, 51.3 percent to 48.7 percent.
What is there to say here? There was not a single month this year when gas prices averaged below $3 a gallon. They soared over the course of the summer — $5, $6, higher, depending where in the country you lived and when you filled up. They typified the entire concern about inflation, eliciting emergency actions by the president to show that he was doing something — anything — to ease the pain at the pump.
Now, those sky-high gas prices were largely fueled by Russia’s war on Ukraine and the ensuing fallout. It’s fair to argue the EIA couldn’t have known how a not-yet-existing war would reshape global energy markets. But if the agency didn’t want to get egg on its face, it should have stayed out of the prediction game.
Gerson Fuentes, the man accused of raping a 10-year-old girl who then traveled to Indiana to have an abortion, departs his bond hearing in Columbus, Ohio. | Paul Vernon/AP Photo
After the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision undid nearly 50 years of precedent by eliminating the right to an abortion, existing abortion restrictions in a number of states immediately had the full force of law.
In Ohio, the effect of those laws required an anonymous 10-year-old rape victim to travel to Indiana to seek an abortion — a story first made public by Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the Indiana doctor who provided the procedure to the girl.
Enter Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. In an interview with the USA Today Network’s bureau in the state, the Republican insisted that the events Bernard described did not happen.
“Every day that goes by the more likely that this is a fabrication. I know the cops and prosecutors in this state. There’s not one of them that wouldn’t be turning over every rock, looking for this guy and they would have charged him,” he said. “I’m not saying it could not have happened. What I’m saying to you is there is not a damn scintilla of evidence. And shame on the Indianapolis paper that ran this thing on a single source who has an obvious axe to grind.”
The same day as Yost’s remarks, Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Jordan tweeted out a story calling the story into doubt: “Another lie. Anyone surprised?”

One day later, an arrest was made in the case: Columbus resident Gerson Fuentes, 27, was charged and confessed to raping the child.
Yost and Jordan were far from alone in casting doubt on the story before the confession and arrest. The Wall Street Journal editorial board called it a “fanciful tale” and “an unlikely story from a biased source that neatly fits the progressive narrative but can’t be confirmed.” After the arrest, the Journal appended a lengthy editor’s note to their piece, Jordan deleted his tweet, and Yost said that “We rejoice anytime a child rapist is taken off the streets.” Neither apologized for predicting that the doctor was lying or that the child wasn’t actually raped.
“I even think they’re going to announce before the midterms,” Yang added.
Yang’s wishcasting here hasn’t corresponded with reality: Even as a majority of Americans seem disenchanted with the prospects of another Biden vs. Trump matchup in 2024, that’s still one of the most likely outcomes at this particular moment in time.
Technically, I suppose there are still a few hours left in which the first part of this prediction could come true — Yang himself, a 2020 presidential hopeful who this year co-founded a new third party, the Forward Party, with a number of disenchanted Republicans, could yet announce his own run and prove himself prophetic. But after losing his presidential primary bid — and then badly losing his New York mayoral campaign — would he really qualify as a significant third-party candidate?
Bukele, a cryptocurrency evangelist who championed his country’s adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender, had a number of very booster-ish predictions in a New Year’s Day tweet.
Bitcoin, he wrote, “Will reach $100k” in 2022, “2 more countries will adopt it as legal tender,” and it “will become a major electoral issue in U.S. elections this year.”
It was not an issue in the midterm elections. Only the Central African Republic adopted Bitcoin as legal tender in 2022. And Bitcoin, which opened the year at $47,733, has seen its value drop by more than 65 percent so far this year. (As of this writing, one Bitcoin is worth $16,472.)
Members of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol meet to discuss the committee's final report on Capitol Hill. | Francis Chung/POLITICO
“What is the Jan. 6 committee for?” Brooks asked in his June 8 New York Times column, offering two possibilities based on recent reports: That Democrats hoped to refocus their midterm message, and that committee members aimed to discredit Trump.
“No offense, but these goals are pathetic,” Brooks wrote. “Using the events of Jan. 6 as campaign fodder is small-minded and likely to be ineffective. … [W]e need a committee that will be focused not on the specific actions of this or that individual but on the broad social conditions that threaten to bring American democracy to its knees.”
The relative small-mindedness is a question for someone else. But let’s address Brooks’ other predictions.
Whether or not the hearings finally convinced the public at large about Trump’s culpability is, in some ways, the wrong question. You don’t need to convince the entire public to meaningfully alter the outcome of elections.
Centering the committee’s conversation around the threats to democracy kept the issue in the news and helped frame the midterm debate as, in some cases, a choice between Trumpian election deniers and Democratic nominees who would support democracy. The approach paid a clear dividend. Democratic voters were more likely to turn out and vote in an election that historical patterns suggested would otherwise be punishing for Biden’s party. And independent and suburban swing voters were turned off by election denialism, largely rejecting Trumpian Republican candidates who doubted the 2020 results.
It also turned the election from a simple referendum on Biden’s performance into one where Trump was on the ballot (metaphorically, if not literally). “Nationally, almost as many voters said they cast their votes to oppose Trump — 28% — as those who said they did so to oppose President Joe Biden — 32% — according to Edison Research’s exit poll,” Bloomberg noted in late November. It was effective as a political strategy.
It’s also clear that the committee’s efforts have helped erode Trump’s standing. The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman wrote on Dec. 19, “Mr. Trump is significantly diminished, … partly a function of his own missteps and miscalculations in recent months. But it is also a product of the voluminous evidence assembled by the House committee and its ability to tell the story of his efforts to overturn the election in a compelling and accessible way.”
Beyond the crass calculus of partisan politics, there’s the idea of oversight itself. Our understanding of the events of Jan. 6 is undeniably more thorough and fully realized as a result of the televised committee hearings. We saw previously unseen footage. We heard unvarnished accounts from those around Trump demonstrating beyond any reasonable doubt that he knew he actually lost the election and tried to overturn it anyway. We heard testimony about the pardons requested by Trump’s congressional allies who sought to reverse the results of the election. We got a riveting account of Trump’s mental state, his alleged altercations with Secret Service agents and his desire to have officials stop the use of metal detectors on Trump supporters at the Ellipse — even after being presented with evidence that some of his backers were armed.
Go ahead, quibble with their findings. Argue that they’re wrongheaded. But given everything, it’s simply not credible to argue that the committee “blew it,” as Brooks predicted before its summer hearings began.
DeSantis’ war with Disney over its opposition to his “Don’t Say Gay” law prohibiting young children from being taught anything to do with sexual orientation may yet prove an impediment to his national ambitions. (If it’s true that it is unwise to pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel, it’s perhaps also unwise to pick a fight with a company that buys ink by the barrel, owns several streaming platforms, ABC, ESPN, 20th Century Fox, has beloved theme parks that are something of a rite of summer vacations for any middle-class American family, and is as generally revered as the Walt Disney Company.)
But it did not hamper his reelection bid in any way. DeSantis won by nearly 20 points.
“You have to wonder, how long before Democrats sponsor legislation to distribute free cats to young people in the cities, placebos to replace the families they can no longer have,” Carlson said in a monologue this summer. “That’s coming, along with SSRIs [selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors] in the water supply, so you don’t have to think too much about it.”
On one level, this is the sort of silly nonsense that Carlson loves to trot out — something that toes the line between joke and sincerity, preemptively creating an escape hatch if there’s backlash (“these humorless liberal scolds don’t get it”) while availing him of whatever benefits come from the statement.
On another level, it’s the sort of “purity of essence/precious bodily fluids” paranoia that has long found purchase on the far right — some sort of 21st-century culture war-inflected version of the old John Birch Society chestnut that communists are tampering with our drinking water by using fluoride. One difference, of course, is that there was and is fluoride in the drinking water (and rightly so); there are no instances of Democrats legislating the addition of antidepressants to the water supply.
Which is good from both a policy and public health perspective — though having now read thousands of words about some of the most outlandishly hubristic, foolish and just plain dumb things said during or about this year, couldn’t you use a little serotonin?
Link Copied
© 2023 POLITICO LLC

source

Leave a Comment