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J.D. Vance Is So Thirsty

The sad, needy tweets of a loser.
September 6, 2021
J.D. Vance Is So Thirsty
J.D. Vance, author of the book "Hillbilly Elegy," poses for a portrait (Photo by Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

On Sunday, J.D. Vance pushed out a nova-hot tweet professing his respect for Alex Jones:

This is what the kids call a thirst trap. It’s very sad. Let me explain.

You can tell that Vance’s tweet was engineered not to say anything, but to generate pushback from mainstream media types and blue-check libs by the use of two words: “reputable” and “far.”

Why would Vance say that Jones was more “reputable” than Maddow? It would be one thing for Vance to argue that Jones was a more “accurate” or “reliable” source of information than Maddow. I mean, neither of those characterizations would be true and both would be checkable as factual matters. But the weirdness of choosing to proclaim how “reputable” Jones is runs directly counter to Vance’s complaint that “the regime”—by which he presumably means the entirety of mainstream America—has deplatformed Jones.

In short, Alex Jones has a terrible reputation, which is why “the regime” has deplatformed him.

It’s weird for Vance to plant his flag on the reputation score of Jones rather than on trustworthiness or accuracy. Saying that Jones is more “reputable” than Maddow only makes sense if you’re trying to pick a subjective characterization that can’t be tallied by any objective measures.

The second tell is Vance’s use of “far.”

Let’s pretend for a moment that Alex Jones was more reputable than Rachel Maddow—which is to say that a greater percentage of the country found Jones trustworthy than found Maddow trustworthy. In this numerical accounting with our polarized society, is it possible that Jones would be far more reputable than Maddow?


So what’s the point of using “far” as a modifier? It’s a flourish designed to evoke Trumpian rhetoric. And why did Donald Trump always use grandiose modifiers to describe the world around him? Because using a superlative to describe an assertion that is at best debatable and at worst patently untrue is the equivalent of issuing a dare.

If you say that you’re doing a good job, people can argue the merits. If you say you’re doing by far the best job of anyone ever, you’re daring people to come and contradict you.

Which brings us to why J.D. Vance is so very, very thirsty.

J.D. Vance is getting pantsed by Josh Mandel in the Republican Senate primary in Ohio right now.

Despite Fox News going all-in on his candidacy, despite the endorsement of the Republican establishment blob, despite huge donations from his tech-world patrons, Vance just broke double digits while Mandel has been leading the race from the start.

That’s because conservative Ohio voters can tell the difference between an authentic MAGA man and Marco Rubio with a beard.

Conservatism Inc. has been mystified as to why Ohio Republicans aren’t buying Vance. But it’s not rocket science. Here’s the 30,000-foot view on what Vance is as a political commodity:

Meanwhile, Josh Mandel is a true outsider. The RNC kicked him out of its retreat. He’s never wavered on his deeply-held conviction that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. (Vance will only say that the election was “unfair.”) Mandel even burned his damn mask!

Josh Mandel is the real deal and Ohio Republicans know it.

Which is why Vance is so desperate to generate pushback from liberals and the mainstream media on Twitter. Trying to get momentum from negative polarity is the only thing his candidacy has going for it (aside from gobs of cash and in-kind contributions from Fox).

J.D. Vance is desperate for you to tell him he’s wrong on Twitter. He’s so, sooooo thirsty.

Poor guy.

But don’t worry. After Josh Mandel wins Ohio’s Senate seat, Vance can always set up another VC fund. Or make another movie. Or go back to writing for the New York Times.

Jonathan V. Last

Jonathan V. Last is editor of The Bulwark.