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Opinion: Of Trump, Taylor Swift and the cat


So, it appears the Republican Senate candidate in Ohio flew to a meeting of “faith leaders” in a plane owned by a Cleveland strip club owner.

I am telling you this just to cheer you up. The world of politics has been pretty fraught lately, and today we’re going to try to be cheery and just talk about good old-fashioned weirdness and stupidity.

Such as Rep. Jim Renacci’s decision to travel to campaign events — including a “meet & greet … with local faith leaders” — in a plane owned by the proprietor of the Peek-a-Boo club in Cleveland. The congressman said the owner, whom we will call Mr. Peek, is a campaign volunteer. “I’m not going to vet volunteers,” Renacci told an Ohio news site.

Well, we would hope that all our candidates do a little bit of vetting when it comes to air safety. But the best thing about this story is that it has nothing whatsoever to do with Donald Trump. Who recently suggested that when we’re contemplating the coming elections we should “think of it as the same thing as me.”

OK, he’s probably right. But that doesn’t mean we don’t deserve a little political diversion.

For instance, you’ve probably heard about Rep. Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican, who is a heavy favorite for re-election even though he’s been the subject of an attack ad made by six of his siblings.

“It’s intervention time, and intervention time means … you go to vote Paul out,” says one brother in the ad for Gosar’s opponent, which is titled “A Family Defends Its Honor.” I can’t tell you this has really made a difference; the polls suggest Gosar is still going to win. However, it could be a useful citation during your next family argument. (“Well, at least I never made an attack ad against you!”)

And this week we had the Taylor Swift story! Even people who do not know the name of their current member of Congress know that Swift has endorsed former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen for the Senate. After a career in which she’s avoided saying anything much about politics, Swift popped up with the announcement that she’s voting for Bredesen because his Republican opponent, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, has a voting record that “appalls and terrifies me.”

Celebrities endorsing candidates is not normally all that big a deal — Trump himself has a number of entertainers on his bandwagon, from Kanye West to Tila Tequila. It is a venerable tradition that dates back to 1920, when Al Jolson announced his support for Warren Harding.

But Swift’s announcement was a little more dramatic than the usual singer-supports-candidate Instagram post, since she hadn’t said anything about her political preferences until now. This void apparently allowed white supremacists who saw her as a beautiful Aryan goddess to decide she was one of them.

Also, they thought she let them name her cat. It’s sort of a long story, but the moral is that if you are an extremely popular singer and you buy a pet, try to make sure no alt-right website runs a Name the Cat contest. Otherwise, you could both wind up picking the same name, and next thing you know they’ll be under the impression you’re going to vote for Marsha Blackburn.

Trump is a Marsha Blackburn supporter — in fact, he was just in Tennessee for a rally in which she was actually permitted to come on stage and talk for three minutes. “A vote for Marsha is really a vote for me,” he told the crowd.

See? Bring back the space aliens and the strip club owners.

Writes for The New York Times.



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