Last fall, a Democrat called Tony DeLuca got re-elected to the Pennsylvania statehouse while dead. Not just dead inside like most politicians, but actually dead, not breathing. And not only did DeLuca win after having been dead for a full month, but he won in a landslide. Tony DeLuca got more than 85% of the vote.
Now, by any measure, that is embarrassing. Pennsylvania Democrats elected a dead man. They knew they were doing it. They did it anyway. This would seem to defeat the idea of representative democracy, which is that you vote for peopleso they can represent you. But party leaders in Pennsylvania were not embarrassed. They were proud.
"While we're incredibly saddened by the loss of Representative Tony DeLuca," they said in a statement. "We are proud to see the voters continue to show their confidence in him and his commitment to Democratic values by re-electing him posthumously." In other words, electing a guy who can't possibly represent you is not an offense against democracy, it's the essence of democracy.
Now, it's not a typo, they put that in a press release. And actually, it makes kind of sense when you remember that it was also in the state of Pennsylvania, the Democratic Party leaders backed a Senate candidate called John Fetterman long after he had suffered a massive stroke and could no longer talk or communicate clearly. Here he is during one of his rare public appearances last year.
DEBATE MODERATOR #1, OCT. 25, 2022: You're running for a seat that could decide the balance of power in Washington. What qualifies you to be a U.S. senator? You have 60 seconds.
JOHN FETTERMAN: Hi. Good night, everybody... If you work full time, you should be able to live in dignity is well, true. And I believe they haven't had any business being, being, we can't have businesses being subsidized by not paying individuals that just simply can't pay to pay their own way.
DEBATE MODERATOR #2, OCT. 25, 2022: You're saying tonight that you support fracking, that you've always supported fracking, but there is that 2018 interview that you said, "I don't support fracking at all." So how do you square the two?
JOHN FETTERMAN: Oh, I do support fracking, and... I don't, I don't, I support fracking and I stand and I do support fracking.
Now, that debate, as you well remember, was considered shocking by almost everyone who saw it, but not by Democrats in Pennsylvania. They didn't seem even mildly ashamed to be caught running a candidate who couldn't speak.
Fetterman's own wife, a former illegal alien called Giselle, candidly told reporters how she deals with her brain-damaged husband, "You just like ignore him when he's speaking." Now, Democratic voters love this because they always love it when women attack and diminish their own husbands. It makes them feel like they're not alone. It's totally normal to hate your husband. And of course, they took Giselle's advice, and they elected John Fetterman to the Senate. In a party where no debate is allowed, it's not like you need a senator who can use words or for that matter, a president who can think.
Now, we naively assumed that Joe Biden would be in trouble during the 2020 primaries when he misidentified the state he was standing in, or mistook his sister for his wife, or made about 100 other weird and disjointed statements that suggested regular amphetamine injections were the only thing getting him through his rallies. Biden's senility seemed so obvious, and it was obvious.
But what we missed was how much the Democratic Party had changed. Joe Biden's campaign was never about Joe Biden, he could have been anyone – sharp, old or young, alive or dead. The candidate himself was irrelevant. What mattered was the power of the office. Democrats just wanted the seat. The details of who occupied it didn't matter to them.
And as if to prove it. Dianne Feinstein has been a senator from California for more than 30 years. She's now 89, the oldest member of Congress, and she is sadly, completely out of it. Last month, she learned that her staff had announced her retirement from the Senate. She had no idea. Watch this.
DIANNE FEINSTEIN FEB. 2023: I haven't made that decision... I haven't released anything... It will be my pleasure... You put out the statement? I didn't know they put it out. So, it is what it is.
"We put out your statement," Feinstein's staff informs her. We've decided you're leaving your job and no, we didn't tell you because we don't care what you think. You're just the senator, shut up and vote. And Dianne Feinstein just kind of nods and accepts it.
Keep in mind, this person sits on the Intelligence Committee in the United States Senate. And it's sad, really. You'd think even a corrupt machine state like California would deserve more than this. Voters voted for her, assuming she would be aware of their surroundings and maybe keep their best interests in mind. But no, nobody in the party cares because representative democracy means nothing to Democratic leaders, and they don't mind if you know, they feel that way.
So that's how Washington actually works. But even by those low standards, it has been a little bracing to watch the short political career of John Fetterman unfold. Fetterman got to Washington in January and within a month suffered a mental breakdown so severe that he wound up in the psych ward where he remains tonight. And we're not mocking John Fetterman, of course. We feel for him sincerely. But the mercenaries in his orbit, very much, including his wife, Giselle, should be ashamed of what they have done.
Apparently, Fetterman cracked under the strain of a Senate campaign in which he was forced to pretend that the brain damage he had suffered from a stroke wasn't actually a big deal. "No problem. I'm fine." But he was not fine. He was so close to the edge that within weeks of getting to Washington, he wound up in a mental hospital as an inpatient. He has not appeared in public since. And we're supposed to think that's not a big deal. We're not even supposed to think about it and just show how completely normal it is for newly elected U.S. senators to have mental breakdown and disappear from public view.
That's such not a big deal, that Fetterman somehow just co-sponsored legislation in the U.S. Senate, "U.S. Senators Bob Casey and John Fetterman of Pennsylvania," reads a straight face news report, "joined a bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday, introducing new legislation aimed at preventing future freight train derailments, like the one last month in East Palestine, Ohio."
So here you have a guy who's getting round the clock psychiatric care deciding how to prevent train derailments. There's so many questions here. But the most obvious one is a logistical question: How is John Fetterman doing this if he's in the psych ward? And we don't know because no one will say.
Fetterman's chief of staff, a man called Adam Jentleson is blocking anyone who dares to ask that question on social media. On Twitter, for example, Stephen Miller of the last White House, asked Jentleson this, "Adam, who is cosigning and introducing legislation from Senator Fetterman's office while he himself is currently hospitalized and under current medical observation?" Oh, no answer. No answer. Jentleson just blocked Stephen Miller in response.
So the problem with this is not John Fetterman himself. Once again, it's impossible not to feel sad for John Fetterman or anyone else who suffers from mental illness. A lot of us are eccentric, some of us are very eccentric. And a tolerant and compassionate society should do its best to help people suffering from problems like depression or schizophrenia or whatever. The problem is that a society that elevates people who are mentally ill is doomed.
Wouldn't a functional society elevate people to positions of leadership who are the wisest, the smartest, the sanest, who have the greatest degree of foresight and emotional self-control? Yes, it would. They would not intentionally put people in positions of authority who were incompetent. They would not allow John Fetterman to write railroad safety legislation from his bed in the psych ward. That is, pardon the description, insane.
Biden, of course, will celebrate this as a new glass ceiling shattered, as if we're all empowered by being governed by people who can't think straight. But this is a dead end, this road. This way of thinking is destructive for everyone. It's not empowering, it's grotesque and if we continue, we might wind up with people dressed in admiral's outfits pretending to be women. That could happen.
DR. RACHEL LEVINE, OCT. 2021: I'm honored to serve as the first female Four-Star Officer of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
Now, that person is obviously mentally ill, but so are the rest of us if we accept it as normal.