The Outline has published a truly embarrassing sub-Oliver Stone conspiracy theory about the Iowa primaries. It doesn’t even specify who rigged the caucus or how, just that if a bad system (that, it should be noted, the Sanders team short-sightedly wanted to keep contrary to the wishes of most members of the party) mostly run by amateurs with untested technology doesn’t work there’s probably a conspiracy against Bernie:
It is not unreasonable to wonder, in an event like this, if the outcome was to any extent deliberate, perhaps arranged by some secret coterie of Buttigieg operatives. This is, after all, a man who worked for a company that was fixing bread prices. His campaign spiked the release of the Des Moines Register poll in advance of the caucus — which, if it corresponds to the popular vote from the caucuses, probably showed Bernie Sanders in the lead.
First of all, how exactly did the Democratic Establishment (TM) get “some secret coterie of Buttigieg operatives” to rig a public vote that was being recorded by all the campaigns, and how did they do it? How did they take over the Des Moines Register, which make the decision to spike the poll? Then ask, why would they do it, since Buttegieg has easily the least establishment support of any of the major candidates, even if you count Bloomberg and Klobuchar? None of this makes any sense.
And it gets worse!
The incident also follows a string of reports that showed general animosity from the Democratic establishment towards Sanders — statements disparaging him from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had circulated, the Democratic National Committee mulled over various procedural changes to obstruct him, and John Kerry was overheard considering entering the race to stop him.
So, the evidence that the vote was probably rigged by the Establishment consists of:
- A statement from Hillary Clinton indicating that she doesn’t like Bernie Sanders. You don’t say.
- A “statement” from Barack Obama that was not actually a statement but an almost certainly made-up claim by a C-list Fox Business goon that he might make an anti-Sanders comment in the future. He has not, which would seem rather problematic for the theory.
- Turning six random anonymous members of the DNC proposing the idea to meet to discuss the possibility of procedural changes the six randos themselves would have no chance of working, producing an immediate repudiation by the head of the DNC, into “the Democratic National Committee.” Also, the DNC does not in fact run the Iowa Caucus.
- And, in the most formidable anti-Sanders weapon of all, there were rumors that John Kerry would enter the race with no money or infrastructure, which Kerry immediately repudiated, for the obvious reason that he’s not running and not doing anything a candidate would do if they were running.
- I’m disappointed that he didn’t mention the other nuclear weapon the Democratic Establishment launched at Bernie’s campaign, encouraging the guy who went from being a replacement-level governor to work at Mitt Romney’s chop shop to run! And if that doesn’t work, they might try something even less effectual!
In other words, literally nothing, unless you think it’s shocking that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders aren’t the best of friends. As Yglesias said recently, the Democratic Establishment would do anything to stop Bernie except, er, have Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton even endorse Joe Biden or given Biden enough money to play on even a level playing field with Sanders. The “evidence” of a conspiracy theory is an establishment war on Bernie Sanders that is in fact very much not happening.
But wait, it’s worse! As with all conspiracy theories with no evidence, it’s basically a cui bono theory (“:[t]his is the meaningful question: who gets to sit where they sit, whether it’s on CNN, in the DNC, or the Iowa Democratic Party.”) But the problem here is that the big winner of the Iowa caucus, was…Bernie Sanders, who is now the clear favorite! Why would the Dem Establishment “rig” the primary to hand a massive defeat to Bernie’s most plausible rival, while propping up a candidate who 1)has less Establishment support than Bernie and 2)has basically no chance of beating Bernie, because his appeal-to-white-voters-with-retail-campaigning approach is not remotely scalable after New Hampshire. There is no level on which this makes sense. And even in the 0.000000000000000001% chance that this caucus was rigged, they apparently rigged it for Bernie, so who cares anyway? Why so angry, chum?
As a result the article leaves Iowa and goes to places that are even nuttier:
Let’s take the most ridiculous conspiracy theory in recent memory: Pizzagate. Some people believed that the American ruling class was running a pedophile ring that included participation from the Clintons and took place in the basement of a pizzeria. The rational response was to say, there is no evidence for this. Beyond that, many people argued that such a thing was fanciful and unlikely on its face.
But the fact of the matter is that if you were a rational observer who believed in the honor and straightforwardness of the American ruling class, you were more delusional than the conspiracy theorists. Revelations about Jeffery Epstein showed that Pizzagate was effectively true; it was merely the details that were wrong. Instead of being located in a pizzeria, the pedophile ring was on a private island, which was accessed on a plane known by the comically on-the-nose name “Lolita Express.”
First of all, “Lolita Express” was “comically on the nose” because it was the plane’s media nickname, not its actual name, Christ. But on the larger point, Pizzagate wasn’t a theory about the “American ruling class” running a pedophile ring. It was a theory about senior Democratic officials running a pedophile ring in the imaginary basement of a specific pizza parlor. None of that was true at all! The idea that if some other rich people molested children in some other place this doesn’t mean that Pizzagate was “effectively proven”! It’s like saying that if a skyscraper in Chicago was demolished then this proves 9/11 was an inside job.
Again, stupid as this is on its face, what’s worse about a Bernie-stan outlet publishing this is that Bernie was the big winner out of Iowa. Act like it fer Chrissakes! The only way you can blow it now is by going out of your way to alienate normie Dems by doing stuff like, say, publishing deranged conspiracy rants about the Iowa caucuses even though they couldn’t have worked out much better for the Sanders campaign than they did.