WTF's Wrong With Aaron Rodgers?
Plus: The rage against bipartisanship
Yes, Daylight Savings Time should be permanent, and I’m prepared to die on this hill. But we have more pressing issues today: (1) Can we handle optimism? (2) The rage against bipartisanship, and (3) WTAF is wrong with Aaron Rodgers?
Let’s start with the last one.
It pains me to write this because America’s Team, the Green Bay Packers, are sitting atop the NFC North with a record of 7-1, and are on track for a serious playoff run. They will be playing the Kansas City Chiefs later today without their quarterback because he’s a selfish, narcissistic crackpot.
As you undoubtedly know by now, Aaron Rodgers tested positive for COVID this week, and we learned that he was (A) unvaccinated, (B) lied about it, (C) ignored COVID protocol, and (D) has been getting his medical advice from podcast host Joe Rogan.
And, it all gets worse from there, including his account of how he did his own research. It will not surprise you to learn that much of it turns out to be complete bullshit.
On Friday, the football star, who remains in quarantine, appeared on Sirius XM’s Pat McAfee Show, falsely claiming the vaccines greenlit by federal regulators were untested and saying he preferred “homeopathic treatment” recommended by radio host Joe Rogan, who like Rodgers refused to get vaccinated and became infected.
Rodgers also shared his deep thoughts about a horse-worming medicine popular amongst the idiocracy.
Rodgers said Rogan and a team of medical experts he said he spoke to but did not name recommended ivermectin, monoclonal antibodies, zinc and other remedies. But ivermectin — an anti-parasitic medication — has not been studied as a treatment for covid-19, despite being promoted by prominent conservative media figures and politicians, as well as some physicians. Monoclonal antibodies — an effective, widely available covid-19 treatment — also does not prevent the infection and the protection it provides lasts weeks, less time than a vaccine that offers protection from severe illness.
Most of us here in Packerland are old enough to remember when Rodgers was considered a smart, talented guy. What happened? Maybe he was always nuts. Or maybe celebrity, narcissism, and head-trauma led him into a weird cul-de-sac of self-reinforcing craziness.
Whatever happened to him, however, doesn’t change the fact that by putting his fame and prestige in the service of disinformation, he’s likely to do a lot of damage — including the deaths of members of his own fan base.
My sense is that much of Packer Nation is thoroughly disgusted by this whole sorry saga, and there has already been significant blowback.
But, because ignorance and recklessness are contagious, we also got this:
Optimism in the age of anger
We interrupt our season of angst with some good news: (1) The Delta wave may have crested, and a new miracle COVID drug is on the way, (2) The Dow broke 36,000 last week, and the economy created more jobs than expected, but… (3) the vast majority of Americans think things are going in the wrong direction.
The numbers suggest this thought bubble: Can we handle optimism? Or have we become too addicted to outrage, anger, and alarm? Do the incentives of our political culture militate against any sense that “happy days” may actually be on the way?
On Friday’s podcast, Bill Kristol made what I thought was an interesting point, when he questioned whether Democrats were able to push an upbeat, optimistic message while they were also insisting that we urgently needed transformational policies. The contradiction may be worth exploring in more depth.
Rage against bipartisanship
The biggest surprise from Friday’s infrastructure vote was the fact that 13 GOP reps voted for the bipartisan package. In the end, they actually provided the margin of victory, since the Squad decided to vote against the bill.
The reaction? Pure, hair on fire anger from the right — from MTG to National Review.
Here’s Greene, who labelled the GOP reps “traitors,” and praised members of the Squad who voted against the package.
And here’s Madison Cawthorn with a threat:
But that was also pretty much the message from National Review’s Philip Klein, who went even further — demanding that supporters of the bipartisan bill be primaried and defeated… and that Kevin McCarthy should be sacked. (Presumably this would also apply to the 19 GOP senators who all voted for the identical bill.)
As our colleague, Tim Miller noted, this was quite a take.
Biggest winners in Friday’s vote: Biden, Pelosi, Bipartisanship.
Biggest Losers: Kevin McCarthy, Infrastructure obituary writers, and the Squad.
We Get Mail
As usual, we got a ton of correspondence this week, mostly about the Virginia/NJ elections. Please keep your darts, laurels, rants, and raves coming to email@example.com.
Here’s a sample from this week’s mail bag:
I spent most of my life as a Republican. I was a member of the College Republicans and the Federalist Society. I switched before Trump emerged because I was not comfortable with the way Republicans started foreign wars they could not win and because they treated gay people with disrespect.
Being a Democrat is tough because they make stupid mistakes. Deep down inside Democrats think that everyone will be rational and make decisions that are in their own self-interest. They really don’t get it that the other side has a different perspective. They really are out of touch.
First, even though critical race theory isn’t taught in school, the kids are taught about white privilege. The kids are taught that because they are white they have an advantage. There is an endless drumbeat of people getting cancelled or fired for innocuous mistakes. Lots of white people feel threatened by this. They feel vulnerable. Conservative media feeds off this stuff. It leads to distrust of academic institutions. I don’t hear Democrats say - “America is the land of opportunity where you will rise or fall based on your intelligence, character and diligence.”
Along this line, there is a story you may have missed. The Art Institute of Chicago fired all of its docents because they are white and middle class women. The Art Institute Board, which is filled with rich white people, just ruined 100 people’s lives all to appear politically correct. The Art Institute’s management is almost entirely white upper class liberals. This type of crass and cruel behavior tells people who are white that they are not welcome in America anymore. This may not be a rational fear, but it is real. No wonder the blue collar workers are leaving the Democratic Party.
Second, the Democrats are trying to push Hispanics out of the party by treating them as a monolithic group. Telling Hispanics that they have suffered systemic racism isn’t a good message. They didn’t own slaves or discriminate. That message does not work at all.
Third, there is more crime in the big cities and it scares the hell out of people. I have lived in Chicago for almost all of my 54 years and I’m starting to worry about my safety. The prosecutor releases everyone on their own recognizance and, duh, crime is way up. The feds now prosecute car jacking because The States Attorney won’t. Portland and Seattle appear to be lawless Hobbesian places run by liberals. Nobody is going to vote for that. The riots and looting last summer scared my rich friends who live in the City. They felt unsafe. The police feel the Mayor doesn’t have their back.
Fourth, parents of college kids believe that their kids are denied admission to make room for minorities. They may well be wrong but they believe it. Again, they feel that America is treating them unfairly because they are white. (It can’t be true because everyone tells me their kid got a 35 on the ACT.)
So there is white fear of the Democratic Party. Middle class people don’t identify with the Democratic Party.
Fifth, the Democrats lost their message that the Republicans only care about the rich. That was a good slogan and, for the most part, it was true. My grandmother used to say that all the time. It was a simple and effective slogan. It meant that the Democrats were fighting for the working man against the fat cats. People could identify with that. Listen to Roosevelt or Truman. Their message was clear. Who are Democrats fighting for? Who are they fighting against? They don’t know.
Without a message of their own, the Democrats are going to get killed off by a party that capitalizes on white grievance.
Keep up the fight. Your work is valuable.
All the best,
Edward X. Clinton, Jr.
The weaknesses among the Dems are well outlined in your piece, Charlie. I believe I mentioned in another of my frequent e-mails that we here in Arizona noticed the lack of Hispanic, especially Mexican-American presence in the Biden campaign.
We know many Mexican-Americans and Mexicans who are natural Trumpers. The assault on what conservatives call woke talk is well deserved but its origins are honest. Terms like communities of color and people of color is inclusive; LGBTQetc. is, too (it took me forever just to get to LGBT), but it includes varieties of sexual identity; woke I have already written you on, it is simply a term heard in Black English for aware, awake to social injustice among a people who were conditioned for 400 years to acceptance of a lower caste status; and I could go on.
The mistake Democratic politicians, operatives, public intellectuals, and so forth make is using that language with voters. The motive, I believe, is to first display their own bona fides and second to force awareness on others through the use of this jargon. Inclusion is important to us; it simply is not to most voters.
Why can't they beat these guys? I'll tell you why...
1. The Dems are their own worst enemy. Their messaging sucks and they don't know how to play hardball!
2. The electorate is stupid and will consistently vote against their own interests. The viral video of the Virginia voter basing his vote on CRT that he knows absolutely nothing about is a prime example. Youngkin has proved he changes position more than a windsock, yet idiots voted for him anyway. They always fall prey to the GOP/Trumpian scare tactics and propaganda. Our Constitutional Republic is in danger and they refuse to see it.
Pretty simple to figure out why these races went the way they did.
If the Dems spend all their time bad mouthing people who disagree with them, they aren’t going to get their message across.
CRT is a bullshit issue, but instead of explaining WHY it’s a bullshit issue, they yell racism. Someone did something bad, that may or may not have been seen that way when it happened, or did something stupid at age 20, and it’s off with their head! If someone called me a racist, I would stop listening to them. Jesus, some of the dumb things I did at age 20 make me cringe.
Look, I’m about as liberal as one can get, but I think the Democratic Party is being run by a bunch of morons. You can be absolutely right in any given position, but if you can’t explain why to people who don’t agree with you, without insulting their intelligence, you can’t win.
We got Trump because of a lack of imagination on the part of the Dems. We will get him again because of the Dems stupidity and arrogance.
I hope every Democrat winner reads your article and takes it to heart as they begin to implement the policies for their administration or their positions as they take seat in a state legislature. I would like to add this to your assessment though: the Republicans understand that their base, and to some significant degree independents, gravitate toward a single voice. Most R politicians are giving them that one voice. No matter how crazy that voice sounds, no matter how unhinged the message from that voice, the voters hear consistency. The D’s on the other hand have at least, perhaps, more than two voices. The base is split, the independents feel like their heads are spinning and the Republicans are reaping the benefits.
Dems just have to get it into their heads that this is in relative terms the ONLY thing that actually matters. If the GOP as currently configured gets back into power, here's what will happen to left-of-center concerns:
* Climate: denial
* Covid: denial (it's going to be around)
* Immigration: fuck dreamers, build the wall
* Free speech: use need for regulation to censor critics and blast propaganda* racial justice: cops can shoot at will as long as they support GOP developing police state* military: fuck the world; redefine civilian control to mean GOP loyalty should force be necessary.
* Economy: history shows that strongman leadership + crony capitalism inevitably leads to financial meltdown* income inequality: fogedaboudit* .
*Last but not least: elections one and done. In power forever.
Friends (lib dems mostly) think I am "Letting Trump live in my head rent free". They do NOT feel any urgency on these matters. I feel like I am on an island of knowledge in a sea of almost willful ignorance.
Can't they get it into their heads? It's the Republicans, stupid!
We Get More Mail
Well, I have long considered the notion of "Defund the Police" to have been one of the truly notable examples of idiotic thinking after the murder of George Floyd which would create vast amounts of failure sooner than later. I suspect it will continue to stick around to torture the shallow thinking of the political left in years to come.
It might have been better to do what was really needed, redirecting some funding during officer training towards community policing. I was involved in our little town choosing a new police chief and I listened to a lot of residents who really wanted them to be present at crosswalks after school helping keep traffic safe. They wanted them in the schools advocating against drugs in a sane way. They wanted them to teach by example. We rejected outside assistance and chose the person the town was looking for.
On things like free college, I think back to the stupid "free cell phones" and that foolishness but it might have been a lot better to say people with a grade point above a certain level should be able to continue to get an education scholarship. The word "Free" is dangerous in politics.
Afghanistan? Some unfortunate president was going to get the blame for Afghanistan. I'm personally glad we're gone.
There has just been too much of this sort of stuff in a country which is trying to rid itself of the stench of Donald Trump. We could have reminded the voters of the vaccination program and that we did not have 10,000 a week dying of COVID. Instead, the progressive movement gave the media the grist it needed to make the Democrats look bafflingly weak. This was a case of massively overplaying the hand that they were given which was a tiny majority. They acted like this was LBJ in '64.
It wasn't, not at all. It's the same disaffected voters that have been upset for years now. Sometimes it helps to listen on the campaign trail and even more so in the houses of congress. Biden was indeed elected to get rid of Trump and not much more. In reality, he has already delivered far more than expected. Congress has delivered far less. I really could go on and on.
The school curriculum craziness has not yet arrived in our very diverse Dekalb Co. GA. I voted in Clarkston city election yesterday but school board was not up for election. But I'm thinking that in future if I want to supplement my retirement income I may take to lurking outside middle & high schools offering school-forbidden books for sale or rent. Whatever insanity is in the school policies whether of woke or reactionary, I will offer the opposite. History, culture, politics etc. Maybe I'll start an after school movie & book club for the kids. There are state & local laws about pushing drugs & weapons in the vicinity of schools but nothing about books.
I was in high school 1969-1972 in Lynn Mass., a city with some considerable history of labor actions & agitation though we didn't learn about any of that in school. I vaguely remember a boy in school who was an ardent Communist & was always talking up the greatness of communism, giving out pamphlets etc. He was quite obsessed. He was eventually expelled I believe for that reason, though I don't know if his expulsion was legal or constitutional. I don't think he made many converts among the kids, though I don't remember anyone getting hysterical over him either, the kids were mostly bemused or uninterested.
I think after he was expelled he hung around outside the building still with his pamphlets. Meanwhile in English we were assigned An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser, 800+ pages in Signet paperback, I was enthralled by it. I bought a copy last year & reread it & found it just as excellent. Author backstory wasn't a thing in class then so nobody told us that Dreiser officially joined the Communist Party in the last year of his life, but it's a fact that he did. We also were assigned The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, Socialist; A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, homosexual; and other edgy works. I recall no parent complaints about any of this.
But from murder, trials & execution, attempted procurement of abortion, rape, pedophilia, disparagement of religion, guys falling into the vat of Durham's Whole Leaf Lard & being melted, we felt we were getting a taste of the possibilities of future adult life. Teens appreciate being treated like the grownups of the future instead of being infantilized by ideas, at least it was true in my day though I don't know about the current campus crop of wokesissies.
Carry on with the good fight, we appreciate you all.
One reason I like listening to you and all the folks at The Bulwark is that you appreciate just how big a deal January 6th was — it was a violent attempted coup that very nearly succeeded and could have hurt or killed the VP.
The morning after Tuesday’s elections I realized just how many voters don’t seem to care or want to think about 1/6. They are ready to move on, just like Condoleeza Rice said, which was shocking to hear.
I live in NJ where the very competent Governor Murphy was almost defeated by a guy who supported the Big Lie by going to Washington on 1/6 and making a speech. That alone should have been an immediate disqualification for running for office, in my opinion.
So, Republican voters were fired up to vote on the basis of lies, while Democratic voters weren’t fired up to vote against the forces that brought us the Big Lie, January 6th, organized school board fights on CRT, which isn’t even taught in K-12, etc. This is very upsetting and I’m not sure I see a happy end for the America that my new granddaughter will grow up in.Keep up the good work, Charlie and the Bulwark. You keep many of us sane and energized to stay involved in this endeavor to protect the American experiment.
I absolutely LOVE you, Charlie, but the Green Bay Packers are NOT America's Team. However, America's Team would like to thank selfish, bonkers Rodgers for probably costing his team a win that could jettison their hopes for Home Field Advantage throughout the playoffs. And sadly I say that as someone who up until this week admired Rodgers even though he has proven a potent adversary to the Cowboys. If his teammates, the NFL, the sports media, and/or his fans don't make him pay a price for his lies, perhaps Karma will step in and provide the lesson.
Thanks for writing about Rodgers. Could he look like any more of a schlub? I mean, I know he's allegedly sick, but.....I am seriously starting to wonder if he's in the early stages of CTE.
It's not believeable that his medical team (which I'assume have taken care of him for most of his career, but I could be wrong) is to a man/woman against the COVID vaccine, and provided him with 500 pages of the latest research that no one else, not even the NIH/FDA/CDC, has. Calling up Joe Rogan for advice seems out-of-character for someone we always assumed was an intelligent, thoughtful guy. We were obviously wrong, and maybe he's always been this way, but I think CTE could be an explanation.