Quick note: This week we’re going to try something new. Sarah, Tim, and I are going to do the Next Level podcast LIVE, on Zoom, on Thursday night.
We will take questions! We will interact with the audience! I will may have Fetterman ’24 props to display!
So mark it on your calendar now: The Next Level, Live. Thursday night at 8:00 p.m.
president U.S. senator John Fetterman was at the White House Easter Egg Roll and perhaps you have seen the photo?
Fetterman isn’t anti-Easter eggs. Here’s a scene from a 2016 profile:
Neatly piled onto a grey sectional in the loft-style home of Braddock mayor John Fetterman are sixteen bags of plastic Easter eggs that need stuffed with candy – 1,500 pieces into orange, pink, yellow, green, blue, and purple eggs.
Looming over them is the hulking, 6’8” frame of Fetterman himself, wearing his signature black Dickie’s shirt, 15104 tattoo visible. He picks up an egg, carefully separates the halves, and inserts a few pieces of candy with the thoughtful intention of an impressionist artist.
“This is the glamorous side,” he deadpans, reaching for another.
Why was he stuffing candy into plastic eggs? Because in 2006 he started an Easter egg hunt for the people of Braddock. The first Easter egg hunts were in his front yard. Eventually they became popular enough that they were moved to a public park. How can anyone not love this guy?
Here is why I believe Fetterman may be the most underappreciated political commodity in America: We have evolved to a place where national politics has swamped local politics. And national politics is dominated not by policy preferences or ideology, but by perceived authenticity.
And Fetterman is awfully authentic. He dresses like a normal guy—shorts and hoodies. He has tats. He drives a pickup truck. His entire pitch is that he’s going to keep talking to rural white voters—seeing them, listening to them, pitching them—until the end of days.
Here’s what he wrote on his Medium page after the January bridge collapse in Pittsburgh:
It was *truly* surreal to see a bridge I’ve driven across thousands of times — including the very day before the collapse — crumbled and detached on both ends. . . .
People across Pennsylvania — and across our entire country — have been saying it for years: Our infrastructure is failing us.
Pittsburgh is *the* city of bridges. We have 446, more than any other city in the WORLD, including Venice, Italy! . . .
Yet, incredibly, more than 10% of bridges in Allegheny County are rated in “poor” condition. Drive around Pittsburgh for an hour and you’ll see for yourself — broken, closed-off bridges around every corner.
Look, I don’t want these bridges fixed as a Democrat, independent, or Republican. I just want these bridges fixed as a dude who drives his kids over them almost every day.
Are Fetterman’s politics too left for Pennsylvania voters? Hard to say. He’ll be labeled a “socialist,” but so was Joe Biden. And he has weaknesses. The guy isn’t a perfect candidate. Then again, there are no perfect candidates.
But back to that picture up top. Standing with his arms crossed like a bored bouncer. The scowl. It points to what Fetterman isn’t: He isn’t a needy, blow-dried, grip-and-grinner. He isn’t on the make. He isn’t the kind of phony who turns on his TV smile in public or is playing a role as part of his quest for power.
He’s just a dude who happens to be running for office.
Am I crazy? I want your Fetterman Smart Takes in the comments.
2. The War Crimes Are the Point
Yesterday Vladimir Putin gave a special award to the Russian unit which controlled Bucha, and so, probably committed the war crimes in that town: