Time for another episode of Strange Thoughts with Elizabeth Warren. “Traffic violence kills thousands and injures even more Americans every year,” Senator Warren said on Twitter. “On World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Crash Victims, I’m sending my love to the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones. It’s time to #EndTrafficViolence.
“Traffic violence” is quite a phrase. In the end, it may be all that anyone remembers of Warren’s decreasingly persuasive but increasingly eccentric campaign. In this bold new framing, cars are not the principal way Americans get around, with fatalities being an unfortunate but blessedly rare occurrence (one per 100,000,000 vehicle miles traveled, a rate that is down more than 80 percent in my lifetime). No, to Warren, cars are instruments of violence like, I don’t know, nunchucks or fuel-injected guillotines, and so she issues her clarion tweet to #EndTrafficViolence. So, right now, November 18, 2019, “it’s time” for us to zero out deaths from cars? How? On what planet?
I ask because I think there is a reason Warren keeps proposing ideas that are so obviously misconceived, impractical, or downright bonkers on planet Earth. She is from some other. An extraterrestrial species from the Nebulon-631 star cluster sent her down to mess with us, to see how far a barely disguised alien life form could rise to power on earth, but here’s the fun detail: The Nebulonians are not a superior life form. In fact, they’re a bit thick. Nebulon’s visionaries and seers, its éminences grises and starchy mandarins, mostly attended Nebulese community colleges on volleyball scholarships but dropped out in the first semester grousing about undue homework burdens.
This is why it’s so amusing watching the Harvard-stamped youth at a place such as Vox write stories like “Elizabeth Warren’s Reasonable and Well-Thought Plan to Raise Taxes by Eleventy Bajillion Dollars but Totally Without Taxing Any Vox Readers, Explained.” You have to do some microdosing or practice rhetorical yoga to convince yourself that an obvious case of interplanetary trolling actually holds together on any level.
Warren proved herself woefully unfamiliar with Earth customs and modes when she released a video bragging that since DNA testing indicated she was between 1/64th and 1/1024th Native American, she hadn’t lied about her supposed Cherokee ancestry. Most of Earth scoffed that Warren had merely proven she was at least 98.4 percent not–Native American, in other words, hence not very Native American at all, hence a liar about her heritage and a thief of others’ heritage.
Back on Nebulon, there was confusion; due to a filing error back in 1988 at Zebulon Central Information Processing Facility and Processed-Snack Storage Depot, the folder marked “Epic Self Owns” was empty because a video of Mike Dukakis showcasing his military splendor by riding in a tank had instead been mis-filed under “Wackiest Clips from Earthling Television Favorite The Monkees.” While Nebulese communications consultants were drawing up possible strategic responses to Warren’s blunder on whiteboards, they were confused when Vox boasted (this is a real headline) “Elizabeth Warren releases her DNA test results and dares Trump to make good on his $1 million bet.” It took several months of conference calls among senior vice presidents at Nebulon’s Department of Earth Experimentation to decide that the Blue Planet had not actually been fooled; Vox was merely sending out coded signals that it wished to serve as loyal Nebulese Earth Division Managers.
All of this is why it took many months for Nebulon to approve activation of apology protocols in Warren about her Cherokee Cheating, but the outer-space weirdness continued. Warren launched her campaign with a video in which she expressed surprise that her own husband was in her house. She then ostentatiously searched for and began consuming a fermented malt beverage of the kind Nebulese research units had told her Earth males imbibe to signal comity, frankness, and informality. She exhibited telltale signs of being charged with supplemental battery power when she began signing autographs for nine hours, sprinting around campaign events, and bounding up stairs like a teenager, despite presenting as 70 Earth years old.
Then came the Patsy Cline moment. This was the most extraordinarily revealing, wrong-side-of-the-galaxy giveaway yet. Asked what music she chose for workouts, Warren flipped through the memory-nodules labeled “Popular Earth Recording Artists.” You could hear her going “Mmmm” as she trawled through the servers. Then she delivered this answer: “Anything from Patsy Cline.”
Okay. Patsy Cline is a great American artist. If you are, like me, a person of good taste, you probably worship Patsy Cline. Patsy Cline’s voice is a miracle. Her songs penetrate the soul. What Patsy Cline did not do, in her brief, cigarette-fueled life, was generate adrenaline-punching, beat-bopping, party-startin’ workout music. “Sweet Dreams”? Slow, pained, devastating. “Walkin’ After Midnight”? Despite containing a verb, this song barely has any forward motion. At most, you could stroll to it. “Crazy”? I caution you that Cline’s “Crazy” is nothing like “Crazy” by Seal or “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley. Cline’s “Crazy” is a 3 a.m. saloon dirge. The most movement you could possibly achieve to “Crazy,” apart from lifting another shot of Wild Turkey to your lonely and sorrowful lips, is a sort of gentle swaying to the rhythm of your own sobs. Patsy Cline is not workout music. Even Vox has retreated into stunned silence instead of ordering up a feature on “Patsy Cline Workout Songs, Explained.” There is no Patsy Cline Killer Cardio Mix on Spotify, just as there is no funnies page in the New York Review of Books and no cigarette vending machine in your cardiologist’s office. No one from this planet would make that mistake.
Which brings me back to Warren’s latest whim. “EndTrafficViolence” makes sense as a slogan if you think of it as being dreamed up by not-bright middle-management extraterrestrials trying to figure out what a winning political slogan might be for idealistic Earthlings while they huddle over a power lunch at the Nebulon equivalent of a Hardee’s in Sarasota. Down here in America, where almost nobody has ever doubted that the benefits of motorized transportation have more than justified the various costs, even when the chance of getting killed in a car was 20 times higher than it is today, I’d say cars have a much brighter future than Elizabeth Warren’s White House bid.