The Morning Jolt


Grab the Popcorn. CNN Releases the Second Democratic Debate Lineup.

Former Vice President Joe Biden gestures during the second night of the first Democratic presidential candidates debate in Miami, Fla., June 27, 2019. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Making the click-through worthwhile: Joe Biden receives a golden opportunity to tarnish Kamala Harris’s reputation, CNN lays out the debate lineup, our reviewers debate whether the remake of The Lion King is politically incorrect, and President Trump backpedals away from the “send her back” chant in North Carolina.

Come On, Joe Biden, You Rarely Get Gifts This Generous at Christmas

If Joe Biden can’t demolish Kamala Harris over her lenient deal with former San Diego mayor Bob Filner, then the former veep really has lost a step. From Joe Simonson at the Washington Examiner:

In 2013, about 20 women accused Filner, a two-decade Democratic congressman-turned-San Diego mayor, of sexual harassment and misconduct. Some said he put them in “Filner headlocks.”

Harris’ office drew considerable criticism in 2013 for allowing Filner to plead guilty to state charges of false imprisonment and battery against three Jane Does in exchange for a light sentence. Filner could have faced up to five years in prison, but the plea bargain instead gave him three months of house arrest, three years’ probation, and partial loss of his mayoral pension.

A spokesman for Harris’ presidential campaign, Ian Sams, said of the Filner episode: “She prosecuted a politician from her own party for sexual harassment, and he pled guilty to a felony. She was broadly praised for taking action, including by the Republican San Diego County district attorney who said it sent ‘a strong message that nobody is above the law, abuse of women won’t be tolerated and victims will be treated with respect.’

Really? Because after that anti-truancy law that Harris promoted went into effect, a California mom was sentenced to 180 days in jail after pleading guilty to letting her kids miss over 10 percent of school last year. Another Los Angeles mother finally had the charges dismissed after two years of legal battles.

We can argue whether it’s a good idea to jail parents for their children’s truancy. But does anyone want to argue that it makes sense to put a mother in jail for 180 days for her children’s truancy, while a politician gets three months house arrest for one felony count of false imprisonment and two misdemeanor battery charges?

If Alex Acosta has to step down as Labor Secretary, why should Harris get a pass over this lenient deal to a sexual predator?

Now throw in how Harris chose not to prosecute OneWest despite prosecutors under her contending they had “uncovered evidence suggestive of widespread misconduct” and “identified over a thousand legal violations.” Harris likes to paint herself as a tough prosecutor, but how often and how hard did she go after those who were politically connected?

CNN’s Democratic Debate Selection Thursday

Joe Biden will have that opportunity to go after Harris on the Filner deal, as CNN announced their debate lineup last night in a program that felt like a mash-up of the NCAA Tournament selection show, the NBA draft lottery, and the NFL draft. I thought I saw Mel Kiper Jr. describing Pete Buttgieg as “wiry” with “a great motor, tremendous upside, didn’t wow people at the combine, some lingering questions about his size.”

The night of July 30 — eleven days away! — CNN will broadcast a debate featuring Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttgieg, Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, Marianne Williamson, John Delaney, John Hickenlooper, Tim Ryan, and the televised debate debut of Montana governor Steve Bullock, who will probably spend much of the evening reminding his party that some Democrats live in red states.

The following night brings round two of the Biden-Harris showdown, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tulsi Gabbard, Michael Bennet, Bill de Blasio, Jay Inslee, Cory Booker, Andrew Yang, and Julian Castro.

That’s actually a pretty good split, because on night one you’ve got Sanders and Warren seeming to compete for the progressive lane, O’Rourke and Buttigieg competing for the younger-JFK-wannabe lane, and the sheer joy that is the unpredictable Marianne Williamson.

On night two, besides the headline fight, Julian Castro came at O’Rourke tough last time; we’ll see if he targets Biden or Harris, and de Blasio seems like a guy who just likes attacking the rest of the field as squishes and sellouts. With the bar set higher for the second debate, you will probably see a bit more desperation to have a breakout moment from the Asterisks. It’s obvious to everyone watching and participating that 20-candidate debates are just a mess. Right now, it’s really just a five-person race in polling and fundraising: Biden, Sanders, Harris, Warren, and Buttigieg. You could leave 19 of the trailing candidates off the next stage, and most Democrats would still have their first option still represented.

According to Axios, Delaney’s staffers are telling him to hang it up. As accurate and obvious as their grim assessment is, why should Delaney drop out before the second debate?

Is Political Correctness in the Eye of the Beholder?

Never say National Review doesn’t represent a variety of viewpoints! Kyle Smith caught the new Disney remake of The Lion King and concluded:

Patriarchy, monarchy, and an aristocratic view of the natural order of things make for a problem-free philosophy. That was the message of the original The Lion King, and the new live-action remake doubles down on it. There is even a restoration: James Earl Jones returns to the throne as Mufasa. This film is so conservative, it’s practically reactionary.

But this morning, Armond White laments that the remake doesn’t work at all, in part because of political correctness:

Challenges to patriarchy sever The Lion King’s connection to the teachings of myth.

What the 1994 cartoon treated as cute satire — in the song “Hakuna Matata” sung by warthog Pumbaa and meerkat Timon — rings hollow in this new version where those creatures possess ugliness rather than charm and promote special-group interest. None of this can be defended as a trendy political allegory as some reviewers contend. Besides, the underlying praise of monarchy is always a problem for fashionable, egalitarian, supposedly woke Afrocentricity. Disney’s blatant cultural agenda explains the disaster of The Lion King.

I haven’t seen it, and you should decide for yourself. But I think it’s pretty clear that political correctness makes for boring storytelling, because it turns characters into symbols, and the PC worldview rarely allows much nuance when discussing those symbols. Characters aren’t allowed to be too flawed if they’re representing a minority, and villains almost always have to represent straight white male corporate patriarchy, or women/minorities who have sold out. A good protagonist is usually dealing with some sort of internal conflict that aligns with the external threat or challenges, and that means a protagonist has to have some flaws. You can have villains who are pure evil, but they’re usually less interesting than villains who have some sort of relatable emotion motivating them, like envy or hunger for revenge after some perceived injustice. Or maybe just hunger, like the shark in Jaws.

If your storytelling is too hemmed in by a political agenda, you can’t have a character like the X-Men’s Magneto, who’s obviously destructive, dangerous, and extremist, but you feel a bit of sympathy for him because his attitudes are shaped by surviving the Holocaust.

What’s worse is that an ironclad PC mindset taking root in Hollywood means that during the creative process, no one can look at the script, the acting, etc. and say, “you know, this isn’t working, it’s just not exciting or surprising enough, we should change it” because any criticism, internal or external, can be dismissed as homophobia, sexism, racism, etc.

ADDENDA: Everyone who insisted that there was nothing wrong with the “send her back” chant. . . Look out for that bus!

THE PRESIDENT: Well, number one, I think I did. I started speaking very quickly. It really was a loud — I disagree with it, by the way. But it was quite a chant. And I felt a little bit badly about it. But I will say this: I did, and I started speaking very quickly. But it started up rather — rather fast, as you probably noticed.

Q: So you’ll tell your supporters never to say it again?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I would say that—

Q: That that is —

THE PRESIDENT: — I was not happy with it. I disagreed with it. But again, I didn’t say — I didn’t say that; they did. But I disagree with it.

Mmm, isn’t it terrible the way the crowd at that Trump rally spontaneously broke out in a chant that the president disagrees with, that he feels badly about, that he was not happy with, and that he’s emphasizing that he himself didn’t say? Even though it paraphrases something he said on Twitter a day earlier?


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