Illusion #1: Biden is not too old.

People who have been around American politics for a long time know Joe Biden well. The eldest among them have known Joe Biden for nearly five decades. What they will tell you is that he didn’t seem to age during his two terms as vice president. If you look at video of Biden 2016 and Biden 2008, you’re taken by how little he appears to have aged. Biden at 74 seems every bit as alert and physically vigorous as Biden at 66.

That’s no longer the case. Somewhere along the way of the…

One of the staples of the 2021 political news diet is: “Whither the GOP?” Political journalists of all stripes weigh in on this subject in “big picture” analysis pieces and countless opinion columns. Various Republican “strategists” you’ve never heard of offer their views on the subject on cable news networks. Party officials assert to anyone who will listen that the future is Trumpian or post-Trumpian, depending on the party official. And so it goes, on and on, more or less every other day. It’s like a soccer set piece that never results in a goal and is endlessly reprised.


What follows is a short piece about the gubernatorial recall campaign in California. It’s taken from the Weekend News Items newsletter. To sign up for News Items, click here.

Is it possible that California will have a Republican governor this fall? Yes, it is. It’s not probable, but it’s possible.

This is where things stand at the moment:

Supporters of Gov. …

News Items is a collection of news stories, commentaries, analyses, essays and research reports that I think are interesting or important (or both). The items are usually 2 or 3 sentences long.

The preamble to the daily dispatch describes what News Items is about:

Three baskets: (1) World in Disarray, (2) Financialization of Everything and (3) Advances in Science and Technology. Bonus basket: Electoral politics in the US and around the world. Six days a week, not Sundays.

News Items is distributed at or around 6:45am ET, Monday through Friday, and by 9am ET on Saturdays. It will not be…

News Items “covers” three baskets: (1) World in Disarray, (2) Financialization of Everything and (3) Advances in Science and Technology. The bonus basket: Electoral politics in the US and around the world. It’s distributed mornings before 7am, six days a week, not Sundays. Contributors: Ema Schumer and Jack Ellis. That’s the News Items newsletter in a nutshell. Subscribe by clicking here.

I sent this “News Items Note” out to subscribers on 22 March of last year. …

In the Nicklaus-Palmer-Watson era, professional golfers, after playing their rounds, smoked, drank, “lay with pretty women,” never (ever) went to the gym. One of the things that Tiger Woods brought to the game was the idea that you had to be in peak physical condition to compete. Another was iron discipline. Another was discipline’s derivative — blinding focus.

At one of his five (5) Masters victories, on the first day of the tournament, his mother was waiting for him outside the locker room, there to wish him well. He looked up, saw her, but didn’t recognize her. Her feelings were…

Are we looking at Big Joe Biden? It doesn’t feel that way, when you watch the president on television. As Andrew Sullivan wrote after last year’s first presidential debate: “The age issue — however unfair — remains….In the primary debates, he managed at times to look vigorous, even sharp, to the relief of many of us. Last Tuesday, he looked … well, the word that comes to mind is simply frail. …

Ed -- I can assure you that your 4th paragraph is incorrect. Trust me on that.

There's a longer response to the rest, which I do not have time for at the moment, but it is the central question about right-wing politics and right-wing media: does the audience program the network or does the network program the audience?

I'd argue it's the former, but it's a long argument and not straightforward. So, later.

all best -je

News Items is a newsletter that “covers” four baskets: (1) World in Disarray, (2) Financialization of Everything, (3) Advances in Science and Technology. and (4) Electoral politics in the US and around the world. Six days a week, not Sundays. Commentary and analysis as well, when I think I have something to add. Below is a commentary on January 6th. You can subscribe by clicking here.

— — — — —

How close we came” has been the mainstream narrative since the storming of the Capitol on 6 January. It was the b-roll of this past week’s impeachment trial. How…

Losing a presidential election is a crushing experience. In 2004, shortly before midnight on the day of the election, it became clear that President Bush would win Ohio and thus win re-election. The networks, out of an abundance of caution, didn’t call it until later the next day. It took Senator John Kerry, the Democratic Party’s nominee, longer still to accept the outcome.

President Clinton’s former press secretary, Mike McCurry, served as the go-between for the two campaigns, “negotiating” (if you will) Mr. Kerry’s inevitable concession. Messages went back and forth. …

John Ellis

Founder and Editor, News Items. Political analyst. Founder of and contributing editor to Bird News Items. Former columnist for The Boston Globe.

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