Maybe John Fetterman, who makes Joe Biden look like Socrates, is really sharp in ways we ordinary mortals have not yet grasped. Way back in 1979, Peter Sellers starred in the movie Being There, a black comedy about a dull-witted gardener whose simple, direct statements about trivial matters are taken as clever and wise aphorisms, catapulting him to fame and power. I thought of that movie Tuesday night right in the opening moments of the debate between Fetterman and Mehmet Oz, when Fetterman started off with: “Hi. Goodnight, everybody.” That could be the epitaph for our republic as a whole, as politicians of the quality of Biden and Fetterman become increasingly common, but the entire debate underscored a question that few people, if any, are asking: why is John Fetterman still running for the Senate?
The whole country and, indeed, the whole world now knows that the man is suffering from severe cognitive damage. He has trouble following simple things that are said to him and even more trouble formulating coherent responses. Yet today, while conservatives emphasize his obvious unfitness to be a United States senator or, indeed, to hold pretty much any job at all, the loyal Leftist propagandists on The View and other water carriers for the Democrats are clutching their pearls at Oz supposedly “bullying” Fetterman by treating him as if we were a serious candidate whose positions warranted scrutiny. Piers Morgan and others are calling upon Fetterman to withdraw, but there is no indication from the Fetterman camp that a withdrawal is even being considered.
There are several possibilities as to why not. One is that Gisele Fetterman is a veritable Lady Macbeth who wants fame and power so much that she is willing to sacrifice her husband’s health to get it. Maybe she even thinks that if he becomes completely incapacitated, she will be chosen to take his place, as Old Joe Biden hinted when he told her that she was going to be a “great, great lady in the Senate.”
There is another possibility as well: maybe Fetterman’s cognitive difficulties don’t bother the Democrats at all. In fact, John Fetterman may be the Democrats’ dream candidate. The Senate, after all, long ago stopped being a place of great debates, where lawmakers were titans of oratory and actually sought to convince their colleagues of the correctness of their position. That sort of thing went out with Henry Clay and Daniel Webster. Nowadays there are a few senators who don’t always vote the party line, of course, but Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins and Mitt Romney and Joe Manchin appear to be more likely to be swayed by the appropriate combination of carrots and sticks rather than by persuasive rhetoric. What’s more, they are outliers. The party leaders don’t want people around who are liable to defect to the other camp, as similar as the two camps are today. They want good party people who will vote the way the leadership wants and not cause a lot of trouble.
In other words, John Fetterman doesn’t have to be able to speak. He doesn’t have to be able to understand arguments. He doesn’t even have to be able to form coherent thoughts. What John Fetterman has to be able to do is move, breathe, show up, and vote the way Chuck Schumer tells him to vote. That’s all. The Democrats haven’t pressured Fetterman to withdraw because they’re likely salivating at the prospect of having a man like him in the Senate: a reliable vote, a compliant party man, not someone who is even capable of stepping out of line and going off the reservation.
That’s why John Fetterman isn’t withdrawing from the race and, despite his disastrous performance Tuesday evening, could still win it. Those who vote for him aren’t voting for an eloquent spinner of aphorisms or someone who will find just the right words to turn back the Republicans’ arguments and dash all their hopes. They just want Fetterman in the Senate because he will be another vote for the Democrats’ agenda on each and every matter that ever comes before that once-august body without any exceptions whatsoever. If the Democrats could find a way to keep him voting after shuffling off this mortal coil, he would remain in the Senate even after death. For the Left, John Fetterman’s glaringly obvious impairment is not a bug, it’s a feature.