The art of winning the presidency is appealing to as many diverse constituencies as possible. For instance, you could pander to voters who think judicious silence and circumspection during a politically charged criminal investigation are what’s expected of a would-be national leader. Or you could pander to morons who demand a rush to judgment because the alleged crime in this case just so happens to confirm all of their political priors.
Or you could pander to … both? Here’s Spartacus three weeks ago:
As you’ll see below, now that Smollett’s claims may — or may not — have begun to fall apart, Booker’s suddenly in the wait-and-see category. It was fascinating this weekend watching the different strategies used by people who leaped at the Smollett story to backtrack as doubts about it increased. (I’d say “pounced on” the Smollett story but that term, like “seized on,” is reserved exclusively for righties who annoy the media by exploiting news that harms the left.) There’s the panicky “destroy the evidence” strategy:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi deleted her original tweet sympathetic for “Empire” actor and singer Jussie Smollett amid reports that Smollett may have staged the alleged January 29 attack against himself…
Politicians and celebrities alike rallied around Smollett, including Pelosi, who tweeted on January 29, “The racist, homophobic attack on [Smollett] is an affront to our humanity. No one should be attacked for who they are or whom they love.”
There’s the “let’s deflect by making this about conservatives” strategy:
It is with absolutely no glee in my heart and the greatest respect for the journalistic profession that I ask the Associated Press to kiss my ass, you hacks. pic.twitter.com/lZkdjdgiJd
— Alex Griswold (@HashtagGriswold) February 18, 2019
Relatedly, there’s a “let’s try to make this about anyone except us” approach:
.@brianstelter this morning: "There was a rush to judgment, I think it was mostly in the celebrity press and among activists and among Twitter people. I think it was a really careful reporting by news organizations. But it all gets lumped in together at the end of the day…" pic.twitter.com/165Dn3HI7p
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) February 18, 2019
There’s even a shamefaced “okay, we screwed up” contingent, although that appears to be limited to one man for now:
If true, many of us, me included, owe apologies related to this bogus fiasco. This does serious damage to the cause of those who actually experience legitimate attacks. https://t.co/sFyXwHoigb
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) February 17, 2019
Watch below as Booker now very belatedly reserves judgment about Smollett in light of this weekend’s news — although not really. The crux of his comments are about the Larger Truth of Smollett’s story: Even if it’s not technically true that the actor was assaulted by a pair of Trump fans, it’s broadly true in the sense that right-wingers are America’s leading terrorists. This “fake but accurate” take if Smollett is revealed as a fraud will quickly become the progressive party line. There’ll be some obligatory “to be sure” harrumphing about how what Smollett did was wrong, but not an ounce of sympathy will be offered to Trump voters who were collectively blamed for the bogus attack.
However it shakes out, Smollett will end up as a bigger star than he was before. He’d be smart to double and triple down on his story no matter how much evidence the police produce against him. There’ll be a woke segment of the media that insists on believing him no matter what, if only to defend their own rush to judgment, with the police blamed for not recognizing “Jussie’s truth” or whatever. Remember the cardinal rule of America 2019: It can always get stupider. And it will.
He called the attack a "modern day lynching" when the news broke. pic.twitter.com/8Zf8y7vhrv
— Megan Pratz (@meganpratz) February 17, 2019