Much has been said about Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman's interview with NBC News earlier this week, including the disclosure by the journalist that she didn't believe the candidate understood what she was saying during their pre-interview small talk. This on-air observation triggered an avalanche of wagon-circling attacks from other leftist 'reporters' and activists, eager to discredit any negative assessments of their preferred candidate. To her credit, NBC's Dasha Burns was having none of it, shoving right back:
NBC's Dasha Burns hits back at liberal reporters attacking her for pointing out Fetterman can't engage in "small talk."— Kyle Martinsen (@KyleMartinsen_) October 12, 2022
"Our team was the first to be in the room with Fetterman for an interview rather than via remote video conference."pic.twitter.com/x3nWEujqLF
There's a reason why Fetterman's campaign has insisted on closed captioning for the one and only hour-long debate they've agreed to, scheduled weeks after ballots started being cast in Pennsylvania. The candidate struggled at times in the interview, but was more smooth and lucid in a number of his answers. It's not 'ableism' to point any of this out. I also don't remember howls of outrage when the centrist Chicago Tribune editorial board declined to endorse Republican Sen. Mark Kirk for re-election after he suffered a stroke that impaired his abilities. In fact, part of the narrative of that 2016 race was Kirk's refusal to release his medical records, despite his significant health challenges. Well, about that:
NBC: "We've asked for your medical records... you've declined. Why?"— Greg Price (@greg_price11) October 11, 2022
Fetterman: "Our doctor has already given a record saying I'm ready to serve."
NBC: "That letter was six months ago. Don't voters deserve to know your status now?"
Fetterman: I do speeches and give interviews pic.twitter.com/5yDNvaeYdN
I think the after-effects of Fetterman's stroke are a source of legitimate inquiry, and his lack of transparency is even more of an issue. But I tend to agree with those who say the outside arguments about this stuff will end up being moot. If Fetterman can perform well at the debate, without major issues, his health will recede as a major flashpoint in the race. A glaringly painful or bad performance, due to these problems, could really hurt him with voters. I'm also inclined to agree that constant bickering over Fetterman's health is a distraction from what's really wrong with his candidacy: His awful record and extremist stances. Even if Fetterman were in perfect health, he should still be kept far away from the United States Senate. He's a leftist on virtually every issue, and a real radical on policies related to crime, energy and abortion. And what has this man done with his life? He was born to wealthy parents who sent him to Harvard then subsidized his life all the way until he was 49 years old.
At that point, incredibly, he became Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania, where he was often absent from his duties, and 'worked' very little, even he bothered to show up. Records "show Fetterman typically kept a light work schedule and was often absent from state business, including presiding over the state Senate, which is one of his chief duties," the Associated Press reported recently. One of the few areas of responsibility about which he seemed to be quite diligent was attending parole board meetings, where he routinely voted to release violent criminals from prison, including in this case:
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. and Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman last year cast the lone vote in a failed bid to free a man convicted of murdering a 17-year-old. Alexis Rodriguez is serving a life sentence in Dallas after he was one of five suspects convicted of first-degree murder in the 1989 killing of Sean Daily, a high school junior and the son of a Philadelphia police officer. Rodriguez, then 18, and the others were accused of beating Daily with a baseball bat before fatally shooting him in the back in a gang-related, revenge motivated attack.
Fetterman has pushed to end life sentences, even for second-degree murderers, and has repeatedly expressed his desire to see one-third of the entire prison population released. His team has tried to deny these things -- with a shameless assist from Politifact, a Democratic PAC that self-identifies as a "fact checking" organization -- but he said what he said. It's a matter of record. Before failing up to the position of Lt. Governor, Fetterman was a long-serving mayor of a depressed small city. Salena Zito covered his mayoral legacy for the New York Post this week:
“The town was the place to be,” Lundy said. “Braddock Avenue had four or five businesses on every block on both sides of the street, every kind of business you could think of — shoe stores, dress shops, men’s stores, restaurants, beauty shops, barber shops, a grocery store. Now look at it, there is nothing.” Formerly a bustling borough of 20,000 people — where a resident never had to leave the city limits to eat or be entertained or go to church or school — Braddock today is home to fewer than 1,700. Most of the businesses, houses of worship and educational institutions are gone. Even the heart of the community, the beloved Braddock Hospital, has been leveled to the ground. John Fetterman, the Democratic candidate for US Senate, began his political career here when he ran for mayor in 2005 and won with 149 votes — just one more than his rival. He stayed for two more terms until leaving office in 2019 to become lieutenant governor of the state under Gov. Tom Wolf...Fetterman has boasted that “as mayor of Braddock and its chief law enforcement officer, I worked with the chief of police, our police officers, and the community to reduce violent crime.” But data between 2005 and 2018 show that violent crime actually rose under his leadership.
He also pledged to “make sure our public schools have the funding they need” even though he went years without paying his own school district taxes to fund one of the poorest districts in the state. What’s more, the population of Braddock suffered large drops under his mayorship, plummeting 25.9% between 2000 and 2010 and an additional 20.3% between 2010 and 2020...Lundy laughs when he hears Fetterman’s stories... “Brought it back to what? Life? Come on. Look around you, there ain’t no life here, nothing is rebuilt here, nobody brought anything back, it got worse,” he said of Braddock. Lundy said he wished the Fetterman legend was true. “I really do, but you can’t put this back together, and it is insulting to those who live here to tell us that we are better off because of him.” ...Mary Carey has been deeply involved in the community her entire adult life as the culture & information facilitator at the Braddock Carnegie Library, a job she recently lost due to cutbacks. She said she bears no ill will toward the former mayor, who still lives here, but she takes issue with his narrative that he made the borough better. “Job creation, what job creation? You mean the Family Dollar Store over there?” she said, pointing to the discount variety store on the vacant street.
He's an anti-school choicer who champions tax increases -- who sends his own kids to an expensive private school (one might guess who pays those bills) and who was repeatedly derelict in paying his own taxes to fund local public schools. And he's a supposed champion of the working class who has never been especially keen on, well, working. It is astonishing to me that this man, stroke or no stroke, is a US Senate nominee in a major battleground state. It's even more astonishing that he has at least even odds of winning, according to the polls. I'll leave you with a must-read piece by Charles CW Cooke, and an indisputably correct assessment of an embarrassing AP 'news' story:
This isn’t some vague armchair diagnosis; it’s a conversation about the visible consequences of a serious medical event that has been confirmed. It was fine when it was about Mark Kirk, it’s fine now, and no amount of mawkish indignation can change that. https://t.co/gNy9Fp2id9— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) October 12, 2022
Its not about Twitter criticism. The purpose of this article is to warn other reporters that covering Fetterman's health and competency issues will be punished by the tribe. Control of the Senate is in the balance, and Fetterman cannot be allowed to lose.https://t.co/gd5mHyfLIW— Brian Riedl 🧀 🇺🇦 (@Brian_Riedl) October 12, 2022