VICTORIAN DIET

I read a great deal of history, none of which fascinates me more than 19th Century European and American history. A rough period beginning with the Industrial Revolution and ending with World War saw the world change more than it did in any similar span of time before or since. People born in the West in 1800 were born into a world that was essentially Medieval in medicine, technology, communication, travel, diet, and social organization. If that person lived to 1900, they died in a world with prototypical versions of all the same technologies we have today. It's truly amazing.

One thing Victorians had in common with pre-20th Century Americans – you could argue that this still has not changed – was a preference for indescribably bland food. Brits and Americans really nailed the whole concept of food that doesn't taste like much; no other cultures anywhere on Earth can lay a finger on us in that arena. This was partly out of necessity, as the spicier and more flavorful foods tend not to be found in cold climates, but also from distinct cultural preference. Victorians believed like no other people ever have any foods even slightly more exciting than a boiled potato or piece of white bread with a little butter was bound to cause great harm to one's constitution. "Exciting" foods were thought to be harmful to the digestive system, inappropriately arousing to the imagination and loins, and an invitation to countless maladies for which medicine had no cure.

Yes, I have a point.

The logic behind that is dubious. I find really spicy food to be the best medicine for some things like sinus problems. But when you're weak or recovering from a bad bout of the flu, the standard Middle Class American remedy of weak tea or flat soda combined with saltine crackers or pretzels does in fact do the trick. Those are not things that you'd ever get passionate about eating, but if you've been hurling your stomach lining up for a weekend they make a lot of sense.

That brings us to Tim Kaine. A big slice of white bread with some room temperature tap water. It's tempting to say he's not the most exciting pick for a running mate, but he may in fact be the least exciting.

It makes perfect sense from two perspectives. One is that Hillary Clinton is a politician, period. She makes decisions strategically, not ideologically. Moreover, she is the most risk-averse politician in modern memory. "Safe" would be the best description of every choice she makes. To her, an ideal candidate is one who doesn't expose the campaign to criticism, not one who somehow boosts the campaign over the top. Obama did the same thing; he didn't need a VP to help him win, so he just picked whoever he wanted. That worked out alright. The second way Kaine makes sense is that he is boring. It's an asset to be seen as dull, competent, safe, and reliable when one's opponent is a red-faced bellowing lunatic. This fits perfectly with how I described Clinton's campaign strategy last week – the goal is to be Adults in the Room while the Trump campaign operates like a circus run by a lunatic. Is that going to make many Democrats and liberals excited? No. Is it likely to lead to victory? Yeah. It's a good strategy if one's goal is simply to win. And we all know that winning is what this is all about for a career politician like Clinton.

Face it: He may not be exciting, but Kaine checks the boxes like no other. He has age, experience (legislative and executive), and swing state cred. There was no other choice that anyone familiar with Hillary Clinton could find plausible. She and Warren can't stand each other. Julian Castro is 41 and has five years as a mayor on his resume, making him a major "Not ready" liability. Thomas Perez has never been elected to anything. Cory Booker was probably the runner-up, but his love of the spotlight probably hurt him. So the optimal strategy here was to play defense, to play it safe, to pick someone who would Not Hurt the campaign more than he would Help it. He might not be a very exciting or interesting choice, but strategically it makes perfect sense. No one is more cold, calculating, and cynical than a staff of campaign professionals, and Clinton's obviously concluded that Trump had done enough to chase away the black and Hispanic vote and no VP choice aimed at firming those bases up was necessary. Cynical? Certainly. Correct? Yeah, probably.

When your opponent is a human ulcer spewing bile and acid in every direction, Clinton is betting that tap water and saltines will look pretty appealing in contrast. It's not exciting. That's the point.

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42 Responses to “VICTORIAN DIET”

  1. geoff Says:

    Yeah, but Kaine speaks Spanish ; ) Frankly, I agree with you, Ed, but if there was a popular Dem Floridian available that would have been the way to go. Alas, there is not. (Maybe Alan Grayson, but he would NOT DO.) I've been gaming the electoral vote (http://www.270towin.com/) and yet again my gd home state (FL) seems to be the key to the Presidency. On the other hand, the GOP candidate's little brother's not the governor this time around.

    Given Ms. Wasserman Schultz's obvious failings (though hey, she seems to have fallen up) and her successor Donna Brazile's, I'm concerned they're gonna fucking blow it again. One of my big problems with Mrs. Clinton has always been that she's obviously a lousy "retail politician". Has Fox News demonized her since their day one? Of course they have. But she also got whipped by an unknown black guy with a funny name in 2008, and got a real scare from an elderly Jewish self-proclaimed socialist just recently. The FBI director (admittedly a Republican) has essentially called her a liar; imo "extremely careless" can be read as grossly negligent. I think she (and the Democratic Party in general) are entirely capable of snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory yet again.

  2. waldoh Says:

    You're analysis of the peripherals is great but I can't find any poll besides Nate Silver's that gives Hillary a better than two point lead. And The incandescent hatred that a large section of the US electorate feels for Madam Clinton is unabated given 25 years of GOP lies and manipulation.
    Also, too, given America's penchant for a thoroughly shitty diet, both culinary and political, what makes you think they're going to lap up bland Hillary soup and dry Kaine crackers now?
    It's going to take every effort from the political edges, from the likes of Colbert and Stewart, to blunt Herr Drumph's attacks.
    The one big save is the media's fear of He Trump, so there won't be wall to wall propaganda white washing him; just pray that America doesn't pull a Brexit vote.

  3. Talisker Says:

    I've been reading long enough to remember Ed's VP piece from 2008, analysing VP picks in terms of Joseph Campbell's Monomyth: http://www.ginandtacos.com/2008/10/30/the-heros-tale/

    TL;DR Obama/Biden was the Hero/Wise Old Man combination known from myth and story: Luke/Obi-Wan, Frodo/Gandalf, Arthur/Merlin.

    Clinton/Kaine is more of a Hero/Sidekick pairing: Frodo/Samwise, Butch/Sundance, Robin Hood/Little John, Gilgamesh/Enkidu. It's been tried with VP picks before, sometimes successfully (Clinton/Gore) and sometimes less so (Kerry/Edwards, Romney/Ryan).

    Trump/Pence can be understood similarly, although in this case it's more Villain/Henchman. Seriously, in terms of mythic archetypes, Trump is going for Tyrant. It's something we almost never see in democratic politicians, who typically try to cast themselves as the Hero. The main contemporary exception I can think of is Vladimir Putin. Vote for me, because I will kill everyone who threatens us, and make everyone else too scared to even think of threatening us.

    Incidentally, Dutch cuisine may be even more bland than the traditional British kind. The only thing with any flavour is the pickled herring; otherwise it's bread, mild cheese and potatoes all the way.

  4. HoosierPoli Says:

    Kaine is actually a really good pick, I was sure Obama would choose him in 08. Progressive record, affable, white male…people dumping on him as boring don't seem to know or care to know much about him.

    Hillary is very, very close to blowing it but Kaine isn't part of that.

  5. Katydid Says:

    Jim Wright over at Stonekettle Station has done a great write-up of Tim Kaine: http://www.stonekettle.com/2016/07/the-decider.html.

    As to bland food…it's mostly a British Isles kind of thing, I guess, brought to America and beloved in the mid-west, where they voluntarily eat at places like Crapplebees. My non-British grandparents certainly made food with flavor. I prefer food to taste of something, as well.

  6. NC_Nate Says:

    Kaine seems fine. Besides, the unsatisfiable left among my acquaintances has already moved on to the evil Debbie Wasserman-Schultz's "hiring" by the Clinton campaign, despite the fact that the "honorary chair of the 50-state program" sounds for all the world like the political equivalent of your parents sending your old dog to a farm upstate where it can "run free".

  7. Well ... Mostly Says:

    Thanks for the imagery: helps. And the throwback by Talisker. And Katydid for the Stonekettle reference.
    Most of the work of governing is boring. Any leader without a taste for saltines needs a lot of people around to rely on with that taste and to help discourage making trouble just for the fun of it. The RNC demonstrated life without that. Mr. T dropped some stinky dog shit in a Tiffany bag on America's front porch, set it a flame, hit the doorbell (25 times) and took a limo back to his penthouse. He so funny!
    I think Kaine was a brilliant choice. HC needs to draw white, older, educated, non-crazy voters. Strategic and calculated? Of course. So was Mrs. T's dress.
    Besides, a lot of people love potatoes.

  8. Mothra Says:

    NC_Nate: sure, the "honorary chair" is just a title with no teeth, but I think the point is that Hillary really didn't need to throw DWS a bone at all. She could have just let her slink off into the night. Hillary seems to be a pro at bad optics.

  9. Skipper Says:

    @Mothra. Remember The Godfather wisdom, "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." And also the age-old adage, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." If DWS felt she was being kicked to the curb after her good and faithful service in rigging the primaries, she could cause a fuckton of misery for Lady Klynton Kissinger-Sachs. It may have been bad optics, but it was a necessary move.

  10. Dave Dell Says:

    Doesn't matter what the national polls show. State by state electoral college votes are what matters. Is Sec. Clinton ahead in enough states to be a certainty at this point? Yes, she is. Could this change? Of course she could carry more states than Pres. Obama, or fewer and still be elected.

    Will a third party candidate do as well as Perot or even Nader? No. Will the Clinton campaign's extensive ground game of voter registration help? Sure. Will TPP be approved. To my dismay, almost certainly but Kaine isn't the reason.

    Is it possible that I'm wrong about all this? Sure. Will I be dismayed if DT is elected. "I'll sleep like a baby. Wake up every two hours and cry myself to back to sleep."

    A few nights ago, a brief tour of traditional networks, CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC turned up a British cooking show. I don't remember which network. Why on earth would they do this? I dunno. My few weeks in England showed me that the only good food in England was brought there by imports from the Commonwealth. The only decent English foodstuff was marmalade.

  11. John Danley Says:

    It *feels* like the sociopolitical atmosphere is nurse cropping for a bumptious alpha male who is about to blow a global-sized bucket of hot wings out of his greasy ass on North American soil.

  12. Alice Walker Says:

    @Skipper. How exactly were the primaries rigged? No, "Debbie Wasserman Schultz is Eeeeevvviiillll!" is not the correct answer. Were dead people voting? Were Hillary supporters voting multiple times at multiple locations? What about poll workers, such as myself? Were we in on it too?

    Some people at the DNC said some vile, stupid things THAT WERE NEVER ACTED ON. How on earth was that "rigging the primaries"?

  13. Dave Dell Says:

    It's just barely possible that the Marijuana Party will have a Presidential candidate on the ballot here in deep red Nebraska. "If the Marijuana Party is recognized, its presidential candidate, Dan Vacek of Minnesota, would appear on the ballot. So would Mark Elworth Jr., of Omaha, who is the party’s vice presidential candidate."

    If so, I'll be able to cast a presidential ballot after all.

  14. NC_Nate Says:

    @Mothra – I hear that, but we don't know what went on in the back room. Maybe this stupid honorary title was what was needed to assuage her ego. I know that Obama and Clinton and a number of other high level Dems like DWS (for some reason), and she is a sitting congressperson in a seat that the Democrats need to retain. So I can see why they threw her a bone.

    I don't know, maybe I'm being a Clinton apologist, but it just feels to me like they basically said, "Thanks Debbie, here's a thing you can go. Over there. Away from everybody else. Now make quick".

  15. Matt Says:

    "swing state cred"

    Never too soon for the Clinton camp to start broadcasting their sole appeal to the entire left of the party: "VOTE FOR US YOU DIRTY FUCKING HIPPIES, BECAUSE OTHERWISE TRUMP WILL BE ALL YOUR FAULT"

    Meanwhile, the campaign can get on with the Serious Bizness of pre-compromising every issue with non-existent "moderate Republicans"…

  16. mothra Says:

    Yeah, Skipper, you're most likely right about that one. I was talking to some friends last night and we all surmised that she must be one hell of a fundraiser. It's why they've kept her around.

  17. Bitter Scribe Says:

    Yeah, the dirty fucking hippies must be catered to, because nothing in the world is as important as their indignation over things have haven't happened.

  18. sluggo Says:

    Although Kaine is boring, he was a good governor here in VA. He is well respected in the state and he can help her carry VA.
    Why they announced this Friday Night is just dumb. It got no coverage. A smart campaign would have announced in during the middle of Trump's acceptance speech.

    HRC will lose.

  19. NC_Nate Says:

    I don't really understand this confidence that she will lose. She's leading or very close in pretty much every state that matters. The very popular president has not even ventured out on the stump yet. There have been zero debates. The Dem convention *just* started.

    I understand more than most the desire to be "right on the internet", but honestly, what is accomplished by vociferous assertions that she will lose? Either you really want to be right and you're "calling it now", or you really want her to lose. One is silly and the other is selfish.

  20. Mo Says:

    Tnx for the reminder to drop in to StoneKettle, katydid. Nice to start a Monday with something other than despair.

  21. Michael Furlan Says:

    I'd much rather have a beer with Tim Kaine than with W or any of is siblings or parents. FWIW

  22. Emerson Dameron Says:

    @Alice Walker:

    The debates were scheduled on weekends and against major events, based on '90s conventional wisdom about the timing of awkward news leaks. Even now, I'd love to see Hillary make a major announcement outside of Friday and Saturday nights. In 2016, it's hard not to find this sort of Strategy a bit insulting to one's intelligence.

    There was never any doubt in my mind that DWS was fully in the tank for HRC. I don't even think that's particularly damning – HRC was the candidate they thought had the best shot. Let's just call it what it was and move on. The RNC tried everything it could to derail Trump for similar reasons.

  23. Emerson Dameron Says:

    @Mo

    Jim used to drop in here occasionally, IIRC. He's good.

  24. Skepticalist Says:

    Hillary is boring and Kaine even more so. I see nothing wrong with this. I don't mind dull Democrats. They can be good for the place and get in the way of dull Republicans that pay attention only to themselves. This time, the Republicans are beside themselves for not picking a duller dullard. It should be fun but it ain't.

    As you say; not everything changes. The 21st century has brought forward a zeal for 19th century crank medicine and procedures. People like so-called doctors that can't stick them with needles or write expensive prescriptions and grocery stores make a fortune on this cult.

    Finally, my Swedish ancestors make the British diet sound exciting. What Swedes do to fish should be illegal. That goes for my grandmother's creation of gray boiled chicken every weekend along with what was likely potatoes.

  25. Bitter Scribe Says:

    @Skepticalist: Yeah, don't they soak fish in lye or something equally horrifying?

  26. Skepticalist Says:

    Oh yeah but we like to pretend it isn't true.

  27. Tim Says:

    @Talisker: When you said Villain/Henchman, I immediately pictured the Brad Dourif character in the LOTR movies as the second half of that pairing. Amusing to think of Pence that way. He's not nearly so appealing as Brad.

  28. Tim Says:

    In your rundown of the possible alternatives, you didn't mention Vilsack. Not that I care, just curious as I am somewhat familiar with him, starting with having him as a governor. He is just as boring and white and center-right as Kaine and would be an equally reliable yes man. Executive experience as both governor and cabinet secretary. Too associated with the current administration?

  29. Omri Says:

    So long as it works. We got the fucking Russian intelligence agencies working to put Trump in the White House. This better fucking work.

  30. Brian M Says:

    It's not Trump. Or Hillary. It's US to a certain extent. And it seems to be worldwide.

    I think it may be "the times". The current system is collapsing of its own contradictions-as all human systems do.

    https://granolashotgun.com/2016/07/25/the-road-ahead/

  31. Alex SL Says:

    For the record, people I know who lived in the Netherlands argue that the native Dutch cuisine is the blandest in the world. Then again, they have imported some more interesting stuff from Indonesia, just as Britain has from India.

  32. Bosh Says:

    My slavic forefathers certainly gave anyone a run for their money when it comes to bland food. Not that the stuff is bad or anything just you can barely taste a lot of it.

  33. Beleck Says:

    gosh, bland food, i'm glad i'm not an American. Living here in New Orleans, we have culture, fantastic architecture and anything but bland food. our food is the best outside of NY, or SF. it is true that Americans are clueless, or why would they have voted in St. Reagan and the Republicans to undo the New Deal, aka Social Security. lol

    and of course Americans voted in Bill Clinton who gave us NAFTA, the 2008 crash by undoing Glass Steagall, and the War on Blacks/aka War on Drugs. so say what you will, American have voted to screw themselves, over and over again.

    and now we are going to vote Ms. Goldman Sachs as a counter to the Right winger. such choices make me glad i live in New Orleans, the northern part of the Carribbean Sea. lol

    we know that Katrinas come and destroy the best laid plans of mice and men. and that's why we like our food anything but bland. we know better than to vote however. neither Ms. Sachs or Mr. Rightie will do anything but screw us over, again and again , and again.

    like the Amerindians said in the early Westerns, "White man speak with forked tongue!"

  34. Al Says:

    Tim says:

    I hope the reason Vilsack was not selected was that he is too fond of Monsanto, genetic engineering, and factory farms. True progressives hate him, and would have regarded his selection as a slap in the face.

  35. Sluggo Says:

    The genius move would have been to offer it to Joe Biden.

  36. Sluggo Says:

    Swedes eat lutefisk. It is condensed evil with a side of Ingmar Bergman.

  37. Nate Says:

    There is an Icelandic dish that is basically fermented shark. I forget what it is called.

  38. John Danley Says:

    Hákarl; and it's slightly better than casu marzu, or worse.

  39. mago Says:

    Easy bait. That's the name of a song or a band or something, isn't it?

  40. Chicagojon2016 Says:

    It's un-testable, but I'd be shocked if any pick moved the vote total by 0.5% in either direction. As such I wanted someone not white and not male, but he's fine and I really don't care who the VP is.

  41. Tom Says:

    When Hillary ran her presidential campaign back in 2008, her campaign co-chair was Debbie Waserman Schultz.

    Suppose that after losing to Obama, HRC wanted to ensure she'd win the 2016 nom. Is there an easier way to grab it than having your campaign co-chair double as the party leader?

    For this scenairo to be possible, HRC would have to not only compel the current DNC chair to step down, but also for him (or her) to recommend Debbie Wasserman Schultz as a replacement. In the spirit of quid-pro-quo politics, HRC would have to promise that DNC chair something huge in return.

    Here's the strange coincidence: the DNC chairman did actually step & recommended Wasserman Schultz; his name is Mr. White bread & 290K tap water.

  42. 飲む生酵素 効果 Says:

    酵素を使ったダイエットとは、生命を維持するために最も重要な役割をする酵素を体内に摂取する事により、空腹感を鈍らせ、またさまざまな身体機能に働きかけて痩せやすい体作りをしてダイエットする方法です。酵素を体に入れると、腸の活動が円滑になり、便秘解消にも効果的です。食事制限をするわけではないので、無理がなく、リバウンドを気にする必要もありません。酵素入りのドリンクを飲んでも痩せない方もいます。いくら痩せるために酵素ドリンクが良いといっても、これだけで急激に痩せるというものでもありません。一食を酵素ドリンクに置き換えたり、間食を止めたり飲酒を控えめにするという努力も必要なのです。また、新陳代謝が良くなった分、簡単な運動をするのも効果的でしょう。