Discover more from Wonkette
Harlan Crow-Funded Rep. Dean Phillips Looking For Sweet Spot Between Ralph Nader, Jill Stein
Phillips officially launches vanity spoiler campaign.
Dean Phillips — the congressman from Minnesota whose very name inspires the question “Who?” — has officially torched his political career and launched a primary challenge against President Joe Biden. It’s so serious that Biden’s staff might get around to telling him about it shortly after Phillips drops out of the race.
For now, though, he’s in it to, I guess, win it. He filed the paperwork Friday to run in the New Hampshire primary, which the Democratic National Committee has pushed back to after South Carolina amid much complaint from residents who don’t have a Disneyland, just a primary.
Surrounded by a half dozen or so supporters, Phillips declared, “I am running for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States because, my friends, it is time for a change.” Oh, well, that’s novel. He went on, “And I am ready to lead our great nation to a secure and a more prosperous future.”
Glad he decided against the commonplace “Drive The Nation Into The Ditch” platform and proposed something as daring as “Make Us All Rich.”
If you’re already donating, please ignore this button. If you aren’t, here’s this button.
But why has Phillips chosen this specific moment for his meaningless platitudes? Well, he’s been reading the paper lately (or just watched “Saturday Night Live”) and is reliably informed that Biden is old, decrepit, and unpopular.
“This was not about me,” Phillips told CNN during a self-serving interview. “But my inability to attract other candidates, to inspire the president to recognize that it is time, compels me to serve my country because it appears that President Joe Biden is going to lose the next election.”
Here’s where we pause to remind ourselves that the 2024 presidential election is not a boxing match, where the spectators have no direct influence over the results. No amount of canvassing and impassioned phone banking was going to keep Manny Pacquiao from delivering a beatdown on Oscar De La Hoya. However, if an individual — especially a member of Congress — is worried that Biden will lose to Trump, they can actively work to prevent this catastrophic event. Phillips is doing the opposite of helping. He’s setting oil fields on fire to combat global warming.
And he has help! Phillips was distraught over all the polls showing Biden losing support, especially among Democrats who claimed they wanted another option. That’s when he heard from Steve Schmidt, the anti-Trump conservative strategist whose biggest claim to fame is elevating Sarah Palin to the national stage. (He immodestly and incorrectly takes partial credit for helping elect Biden in 2020 through his Lincoln Project scam.)
Schmidt convinced Phillips that he should run for president, after it became obvious that no Democrat with serious presidential ambitions was interested in this kamikaze mission. That should speak to Biden’s actual strengths or at least the recognition that it’s much too late for goodbyes. We’re a year out from the election! The 2020 Democratic candidates had been openly campaigning for months by this point in 2019.
Here’s a somewhat galling passage from that Atlantic profile:
Back on January 6, 2021, as [Phillips] crawled for cover inside the House gallery—listening to the sounds of broken glass and the gunshot that killed the Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt, overhearing his weeping colleagues make goodbye calls to loved ones—Phillips believed that he was going to die. Later that night, reflecting on his survival, the congressman vowed that he would give every last measure to the cause of opposing Trump. And now, just a couple of years later, with Trump’s recapturing of power appearing more likely by the day, he was supposed to do nothing—just to keep the Democratic Party honchos happy?
No one’s asking Phillips to “do nothing.” I just think if he wants to keep Trump from returning to the White House, he should become Biden’s biggest advocate. Like it or not, 2024 is a binary choice. It’s obvious that while many Democrats might have legitimate concerns about Biden’s age, the deeper issue is their lack of faith in Vice President Kamala Harris. They either don’t think she can do the job or they don’t think she can beat Trump. What would help is more people like Phillips arguing her case, convincing their own supporters that the Biden/Harris ticket has the goods.
Schmidt’s plan for the Phillips campaign is to “contract talent to work across six time zones, from Manhattan to Honolulu, seizing on every opening in the news cycle and putting Biden’s campaign on the defensive all day, every day.”
How does this not help Trump? Phillips remains defiantly oblivious to this point.
“If it’s not gonna be me, and this is a way to elevate the need to listen to people who are struggling and connect it to people in Washington, that to me is a blessing for the eventual nominee,” Phillips said. “If it’s Joe Biden—if he kicks my tuchus in the opening states—he looks strong, and that makes him stronger.”
First place, there’s no “if” here. Biden’s the nominee. He’ll crush Phillips in the early states, but the media will spin his 50-point margins as a “draw” or an outright loss. Phillips should study his history: President Jimmy Carter dominated the 1980 primaries against Teddy Kennedy. It wasn’t close. He swept the first dozen states except for Massachusetts (duh), but the primary challenge arguably cemented the narrative that Carter’s presidency was in free fall.
Phillips isn’t hitting Biden on good-faith policy disagreements. He’s attacking his perceived electability. He’ll spend months stoking voters’ fears and when he inevitably loses, those fears will remain without any constructive resolution. Biden can’t just agree to raising the minimum wage or spending more on border security. He’ll remain old. That’s non-negotiable.
Schmidt hopes to exploit the drama over the New Hampshire primaries for an upset Phillips victory. The primary itself is unsanctioned and won’t even count, but it can still be embarrassing.
According to the Daily Beast, Phillips was once a big Biden fan boy, who lost his chill after muscling his way onto an Air Force One flight. He reportedly behaved terribly on the flight, taking selfies in the guest cabin, which is a major security risk, and pestering the president to speak to his relatives on the phone.
Now, Phillips is taking money from Supreme Court Justice collector Harlan Crow, who’s also donated to third-party nuisance Cornel West. Either Phillips is deliberately working to tank Biden or he’s too stupid to live.
Subscribe to his YouTube channel for more fun content.
Catch SER on his podcast, The Play Typer Guy.