The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

If Fetterman Is Brain Dead, Maybe They Should Hook Him Up to Jumper Cables?

Posted on | February 28, 2023 | 1 Comment

Before I get to the context of the headline, first the news:

The office Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., released an update on Monday regarding his health after the Democratic Senator checked himself into a hospital for clinical depression earlier this month.
Fetterman’s communications director Joe Calvello said the Democratic senator was “doing well” and working with doctors as he “remains on the path to recovery.”
“He is visiting with staff and family daily, and his staff are keeping him updated on Senate business and news,” Calvello said in a statement.

So they say, but when was the last time they allowed anyone to actually see Fetterman? He has been unable to perform his Senate duties for weeks, so that Pennsylvanians effectively have half the Senate representation to which they are entitled. Pennsylvanians are starting to notice this, and one county GOP chairman took to Facebook on Monday to demand that Fetterman make a public appearance:

Because of the now confirmed lies that were told during the 2022 general election regarding the health of Senator John Fetterman, as well as the threats made against a journalist who interviewed him, the Washington County Republican Party refuses to take assurances from the Office of the Senator or Democrat operatives that Fetterman is able to carry out his duties as Senator. As such, we call upon Senator Fetterman to appear on camera to show us he is alive and well, and if he is unable to do so, we call upon our elected Representatives in Washington, Senator Casey and Congressman Reschenthaler, to intervene immediately.
Ultimately, if Fetterman is unable or unwilling to carry out his duties as a United States Senator, then we ask for his resignation and call for a special election to be held this year; no more lies or games.

What may have provoked this controversy was a weekend tweet from conservative talk-radio host John Cardillo:

Being told that Fetterman is essentially brain dead and it’s being hidden because keeping him in office until August 18th avoids a special election which Republicans would most certainly win.
This must be investigated.

A U.S. Senator is “essentially brain dead“?

Certainly this would be newsworthy, if true, and given that the public hasn’t actually seen Fetterman in weeks, how do we know if it’s true or not? Therefore, the burden is on Democrats to disprove this claim, and a mere statement claiming that Fetterman “remains on the path to recovery” won’t suffice. If, as his spokesman claims, Fetterman “is visiting with staff and family daily,” staying “updated on Senate business,” etc., then shouldn’t he able to make a brief public appearance, say a few words in front of the cameras, just to reassure Pennsylvanians that he is healthy? What are Democrats trying to hide?

The brilliance of Cardillo’s tweet about Fetterman being “brain dead” is that its very outrageousness requires a response. The wilder the rumor, the easier it should be to disprove, right? And so if Democrats fail to disprove it, people will naturally start to suspect maybe it is true.

This reminded me of one of the late Republican operative Lee Atwater’s most legendary moves. In 1980, Democratic state Sen. Tom Turnipseed ran for a South Carolina congressional seat, challenging incumbent Republican Rep. Floyd Spence. In media interviews, Turnipseed had previously disclosed getting electroshock treatments for depression when he was teenager. Working for the Spence campaign, Atwater was accused of “planting” questions with reporters about this, and when confronted with the accusation, Atwater’s reply was that he would not respond to allegations made by someone who had been “hooked up to jumper cables.” Some people were outraged by this comment, but it was a memorable sound bite — the phrase stuck in people’s minds — and Atwater kept repeating it until, on Election Day, Spence beat Turnipseed by a double-digit margin, 56%-44%. This is how you win elections.

Calling Fetterman “brain dead” may be an exaggeration, but the phrase is memorable, and if, as Fetterman’s spokesman claims, the Senator is “on the path to recovery,” why shouldn’t they be willing to demonstrate this by having Fetterman appear at a press conference? Also, while we’re asking questions, perhaps Fetterman’s spokesman can explain why the Senator’s wife took their kids and left the country.




One Response to “If Fetterman Is Brain Dead, Maybe They Should Hook Him Up to Jumper Cables?”

  1. Nobody’s Heroes 58 | okrahead
    February 28th, 2023 @ 5:02 pm