April 18, 2022

"Tom Nelson, a longtime union advocate, is running for the Democratic nomination for Wisconsin’s Senate seat as a genuine populist, not the phony kind with a Harvard degree who affects an accent."

Writes Jennifer Rubin in "Wisconsin’s Tom Nelson reminds Democrats how populists should sound" (WaPo). 

Who's she talking about — "the phony kind with a Harvard degree who affects an accent"? Russ Feingold??! (He went to Harvard, but he's really from Wisconsin, not faking an accent.)

I've been living in Wisconsin since 1984, and I don't know which politicians have affected the accent. But maybe Rubin isn't talking about Wisconsin. She's acting like she's talking about Wisconsin though, so — speaking of phony — I'm expecting her to talk about Wisconsin.

Who, exactly, is being impugned? Someone is terribly fake, apparently, but who? We're not told who this fake-accent Harvard person might be, but we are told the name of someone Nelson views as a role model: William Proxmire, who "popularized the Golden Fleece award to highlight wasteful government spending."

From the comments over there:

I would emphasize that there is populism that examines root causes of the things that affect the lives of average people, making real efforts to understand and improve their lives, and there is populism that capitalizes on people’s ignorance and insecurities, setting up scapegoats and treating government as the enemy, rather than a tool that can benefit people when utilized correctly.

William Proxmire was a good example of the latter. A man who was addicted to lampooning government and scientists, he would attack federal support for serious scientific research programs, mischaracterizing their goals and the benefits they could produce. He frequently used scientists as foils for his claims that government wasted tax dollars, undermining support for scientific research. This kind of populism, which is practiced most frequently now by republicans, substituted propaganda for real analysis and disinformation for facts.

As we examine those who claim the populist mantle, it is important to ask whether their policies and pronouncements are fact-based, or just demagoguery. We must do this for all politicians, of course, but populism can lend itself to counterfactualism when improperly applied.

Lastly, I suspect some will understand that populism doesn’t require a blue collar pedigree. Teddy Roosevelt is but one of many examples.

63 comments:

Yancey Ward said...

She is talking about Ted Cruz.

Yancey Ward said...

Of course, Rubin is dumber than a bag of dogshit.

Charlie said...

Speaking of phony "conservatives".........Rubin still has a column????

gilbar said...

populism doesn’t require a blue collar pedigree. Teddy Roosevelt is but one of many examples.

Yeah? But did he fake an accent?

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

The Union model is so old and tired. It's a relic the left are desperate to get back. Why? GRIFT.

No surprise the Jen Rubin is pro-Grift.

Union bosses get rich, as they remove what is tantamount to a tax from you paycheck.
What do you get in return? The privilege of paying your union bosses, and filling democrat party coffers!

Tim said...

Teddy Roosevelt was actually a "good" populist. Remember he was the trust-busting President. We could use someone like him again. And as far as Proxmire, he was a typical Democrat in my view. And any Democrat who wants to talk about science is welcome to a real debate. But since real science of any sort requires a through understanding of math, they are not qualified to have an opinion on scientific subjects. Seriously.

Dave Begley said...


My late father-in-law and mother-in-law lived in Minnesota their entire lives. No accent whatsoever. Accents are learned.

Lurker21 said...

I doubt Jen Rubin could find Wisconsin on a map with both hands and her ass. She may be taking an indirect jab at JD Vance or some vague idea of Yale Law's JD Vance.

Populism and populists are very big categories that accommodate all manner of ideologies and politicians, some good, others not so good. A populist can be a quasi-Maoist economic leveler or a garden-variety small town social conservative or just somebody with bad table manners.

Whether or not a TV star and second generation millionaire can actually be a populist, a fifty-year DC hanger-on and lackey of the credit card companies most likely can't be however cloyingly he fakes a sentimental ordinary guyism and talks about his old Irish mither, his pop staring at the ceiling, or the day he drove or road in a truck.

In any case, anybody Jen recommends probably isn't so good and may not even be much of a populist.

Jersey Fled said...

Wow. They allow some really long comments over there.

Jersey Fled said...

Wow. They allow some really long comments over there.

Gabriel said...

William Proxmire, Democrat senator, most known for Golden Fleece awards, budget hawkery--and of course dairy price supports, because Wisconsin.

rhhardin said...

Populists are generally phony in that the system they propose won't work. Trump was a different kind, proposing making deals where our side comes out ahead as well as the other side, instead of just the other side. The latter would be moralists. "You should suffer."

khematite said...

William Proxmire succeeded Joe McCarthy, who for at least a generation seemed the embodiment of how people from Wisconsin sounded (or were supposed to sound).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtVJFBSMXDk

Rollo said...

Was Teddy a populist? He feared and hated Bryan and the actual populists, but he was a politician and knew how to win votes.

It was Teddy's good luck that in his day the middle classes were angry and in the mood for a little radicalism, so the Rough Rider could straddle the horses of populist agitation and middle class respectability.

Cousin Franklin banged the drum of economic populism, but his accent (and maybe his overbearing wife and mother) made it hard for him to pull off the populist role.

What was becoming clear in FDR's day is even clearer now: more power to government means more power to elites (or at the very least not any less).

Ralph Nader talked up populism in the Seventies, but at this point nobody seriously thinks that Naderism would really have meant more power to the people.

ga6 said...

She is confusing Madison speak with the Yoopers.
https://michigansup.fandom.com/wiki/Yooper_Dialect

Original Mike said...

I was never a Proxmire fan.

Che Dolf said...

Why bother trying to figure out what Rubin means? She's been a sociopathic partisan her entire professional life, first as a neocon and now as a post-conservative.

The people calling her "dumb" miss the point. The problem with Rubin isn't that she's stupid, it's that she'll shamelessly say anything to advance her political goals.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Misinforminimalism said...

You know how I know someone's not conservative? When they conflate union activism with populism.

Two-eyed Jack said...

Populism has no policy content as such. Populism is a political organizational strategy, just as is nationalism, internationalism, appeals to elites, calls for technocratic control, working-class solidarity, party loyalty, coalition building and many, many others. Many political organizational strategies are available to advance a political agenda, and many are in use simultaneously. Some are better suited to the moment or the position but attacking the method rather than the policy is simply confused.

Carol said...

Whenever a fancy new ad is targeted at Montana the voice over affects a fake drawl, and the camera shows an old Sam Elliot type cowboy sitting on a fence tipping his hat.

There's no drawl here and a real cowboy never touches his hat. I'm not even sure anyone over 20 sits on a fence.

Leland said...

Is it possible to be populist in DC? Is it possible to not be populist outside DC? How does one become Harvard educated and be a populist? Does it simply take affecting an accent? How about someone from Wellesley and Yale saying “I don’t feel noways tired”?

rcocean said...

have people been paying attention for the last 20 years? THe D's ALWAYS run these pretend "moderates" and "Populists" for congress and Senate from Red and Purple states. And then when they get to DC, they vote in lockstep with Schumer and Pelosi 95% of the time.

Just stop fantasizing, hoping, and wishing. When you vote D for Senate, you're voting for Chuck Schumer. And when you vote D for congress you're voting for Nancy Pelosi.

Joe Manchin occasionally will break ranks on some budget issues and so will the woman from Arz because they know they will be toast, if they go along with anything TOO radical. Bernie is supposed to be some Independent, quasi-populist. Yet he's cheerleading for WW III in Ukraine and is Biden's biggest supporter. He's a fake. Just like they all are. All their "Populism" and "Moderation" only exists on the Campaign trail.

rcocean said...

I wonder if this Midwestern D wants an endorsement from a screaming harpie Neo-con like Jen Rubin?

Next great endorsements: Bill Kristol and Erick Erickson.

Humperdink said...

Every politician runs as a populist. Not every politician is a populist. This isn't a rocket surgery.

Mike Sylwester said...

Democracy Dies in Darkness!

Michael K said...

Teddy Roosevelt was actually a "good" populist. Remember he was the trust-busting President. We could use someone like him again.

But he led the way to Wilson, a genuine fascist.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

What about the Right NOT to organize?

Reject FORCED UNION GRIFT - NOW!

gspencer said...

Error #1 - reading anything by Jennifer Rubin.

Jupiter said...

How much did Bezos pay for her, anyway? I think he got took.

Sebastian said...

"the phony kind with a Harvard degree who affects an accent"

O?

jaydub said...

If there is one thing Jennifer Rubin knows inside out it's phoniness. She's been practicing it all her life.

Ralph L said...

My dad was working at Coast Guard HQ in the 70s when they tried to shut down a barely used station in Proxmire's district. A handful of emergency calls per year versus an average of over a hundred. Proxmire wouldn't let them do it. A hypocrite, like the others.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

The left realize they have an ELITE problem. So - we get phony populist garbage/propaganda from ELITE Jen Rubin(D-Bill Kristol) via Bezos' Democracy Dies in Darkness project.


Static Ping said...

Rubin's opinion on basically anything is useless.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

She doesn't mean Wisconsin. She means "you know, flyover country. Out there." (gestures vaguely westward.)

Lurker21 said...

Proxmire, a Yale and Harvard grad who went to private boarding school and interned at JP Morgan and whose first wife was a minor Rockefeller with CITI Bank connections was hated by scientists and academics for his Golden Fleece Awards for useless research. That sort of made him a sort of populist.

Everything about politics was looser and sloppier in his day. Today, politicians are expected to follow the party line much more closely, so the categories we put politicians into are bound to be a lot tighter and more inflexible. Donors and the media (and the second wife) probably would have kept Proxmire on a much tighter leash if he were still in the Senate.

n.n said...

Diversity [dogma] (e.g. racism).

MikeR said...

Proxmire - tireless attacker of the space program. If he'd had his way we would not have satellites or GPS or anything. Power and zero vision. Negative vision.

Bruce Hayden said...

“Whenever a fancy new ad is targeted at Montana the voice over affects a fake drawl, and the camera shows an old Sam Elliot type cowboy sitting on a fence tipping his hat.”

Elliot comes from Texas stock. One of his ancestors was the head surgeon with Sam Houston’s army, and was the first state (republic?) surgeon. Still has a lot of extended family in W TX. That’s where his drawl comes from - parents who grew up in W TX. And - from a native westerner, Texans aren’t westerners. They are closer to Southerners from our point of view. Indeed, the one Civil War battle engaged in by Colorado troops was against a unit of Texans who tried to come up and steal our gold. I think the battle was by Raton, on the NM border, but coming up the Rio Grande might have made more sense.

You do run into real cowboys still in MT, or the rural part where we spend half the year. But I actually saw more cowboys when I was living in Ft Collins, CO. More likely though, we actually see a lot of farmers, growing esp hay and alfalfa, or maybe wheat, etc in the flatlands (east of the Rocky Mtns). Like the execrable Jon Tester, winched up onto the family combine for photo ops every 6 years when he runs for reelection. We did have a chance to vote for a nude singing cowboy awhile back for, I believe, Congress. He lost fairly badly to, I believe, Daine, who is now our junior Senator, or maybe Gianforte, now our governor, at least until we can send Tester back to his family farm in E MT. Except, he will likely do what Dem Senators from red states usually do - keep their house in DC and lobby their former colleagues. The nude singing cowboy came across as a joke, but the Dems are finding it harder and harder to find good candidates in that state. Steve Bullock was the last popular Dem, and he gave up the governorship to run and lose against Daines.

wendybar said...

gspencer said...
Error #1 - reading anything by Jennifer Rubin.

4/18/22, 11:18 AM

THIS. She SHOULD be embarrassed to write some of what she writes..but she has no shame.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

ga6 said...

She is confusing Madison speak with the Yoopers.
https://michigansup.fandom.com/wiki/Yooper_Dialect


So, you're saying that she researched authentic upper Midwestern dialects by watching "Fargo"?

I could see it.....

cubanbob said...

Isn't Baldwin enough for Wisconsin or does the state electorate need to double down on stupid?

mccullough said...

Let the mudslinging begin.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Bruce Hayden said...

...from a native westerner, Texans aren’t westerners. They are closer to Southerners from our point of view.

That's funny. As a native Southerner, I tend to think of Texans more as Westerners.

madAsHell said...

Writes Jennifer Rubin in "Wisconsin’s Tom Nelson reminds Democrats how populists should sound"

Let me get this straight.....Democrats only sound like populists??

JaimeRoberto said...

Like Lurker above, I too think she was referring to JD Vance even though he went to Yale not Harvard. But then getting it wrong is pretty on-brand for Rubin.

Ann Althouse said...

"She doesn't mean Wisconsin. She means "you know, flyover country. Out there." (gestures vaguely westward.)"

Yeah, that's my point.

If she wants to talk to Wisconsin and tell us what we should do, she ought to show that she can talk about actual Wisconsin, not immediately slip into talking about the hinterlands in general.

Charlie Eklund said...

Some will say that Texans are southerners, while others contend that Texans are westerners. I can tell you, straight from Fort Worth that we’re neither southerners nor westerners.

We’re Texans.

Paul A. Mapes said...

Ann asks who is being impugned in Jennifer Rubin's column. No one needs to read further than the Rubin's byline to know who's being impugned. As always with Jennifer Rubin, it's a straw man who's having the life beat out of him.

Paul A. Mapes said...

Ann asks who is being impugned in Jennifer Rubin's column. No one needs to read further than the Rubin's byline to know who's being impugned. As always with Jennifer Rubin, it's a straw man who's having the life beat out of him.

Paul A. Mapes said...

Ann asks who is being impugned in Jennifer Rubin's column. No one needs to read further than the Rubin's byline to know who's being impugned. As always with Jennifer Rubin, it's a straw man who's having the life beat out of him.

DUSTER said...

Instead of debates in Wisconsin any person seeking political office or correspondents covering them should be made to, make a decent brandy old fashion, eat a brat(if they put catsup on they are disqualified) and have knowledge that your 1st OWI in Wisconsin is non-criminal.

M Jordan said...

So what I'm hearing is that the Left is starting to recognize the world has changed. Populism is still the flavor of the day and actually appears to be growing stronger rather than fading post-Trump. I recall my libertarian days when I hated populism because, hey, the masses are asses. Now I see a rusted out pickup with a Trump flag flying go mufflerlessly by and I think, "There goes one of my brethren."

It's come to that.

Seamus said...

Bernie is supposed to be some Independent, quasi-populist. Yet he's cheerleading for WW III in Ukraine and is Biden's biggest supporter.

And yet once upon a time, Bernie was such a big fan of the Russians (and an opponent of our country's bellicosity toward them) that he spend his honeymoon (one of them, anyway) there.

I guess he doesn't like them now because they aren't Communists any more.

boatbuilder said...

I think the odds are very good that what Jen Rubin is hearing is one of the voices in her head.

Temujin said...

Even if you eliminated Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana, I'm not sure Jennifer Rubin could find Wisconsin on a map. But I'm sure she has a handle on Wisconsin voter preferences. She's the real deal, that Jennifer. WaPo at its best.

Jupiter said...

According to Wikipedia; "Before moving into opinion writing, Rubin was a labor and employment lawyer in Los Angeles, working for Hollywood studios, for 20 years. She now describes herself as a "recovering lawyer".[9] Commenting on working with her from 2000 to 2005, Hollywood animator and trade union leader Steve Hulett spoke to Media Matters "We used to chew the fat all the time in her office and over at lunch at Café del Sol near Dreamworks. She supported Kerry in 2004 and worked closely with Katzenberg, who is a big time Democratic donor. I didn't know what to think when she moved east and started blogging like mad as a conservative. I don't know if it's a marketing pose, or if she really believes it, or what."[10]

So, she needs two faces so she can lie out of both of them.

Quaestor said...

Althouse writes, "Who's she talking about — 'the phony kind with a Harvard degree who affects an accent'?"

Thurston Howell III

Greg The Class Traitor said...

Yancey Ward said...
She is talking about Ted Cruz.

My mind immediately went to JD Vance.

Not because the description is correct, but because he's one of the Dems current "hate objects"

Mr. Forward said...

Joe Biden is a Corn Populist.

TANSTAAFL said...

Proxmire was an anti-science Luddite, full stop.

Ron W said...

I hardly ever vote for Democrats, the main exception being Proxmire in 1976 and 1982, when he had pro-abortion GOP opponents. The nation badly needs a new cohort of elected pro-life Dems.