People tune in to her media appearances just waiting for her to say something stupid. It’s like NASCAR—part fandom, part hoping for a crash. It’s self-perpetuating: Because she’s shameless and gaffe-prone, she becomes fascinating at a Real Housewives level. Her profile grows, and soon the conventional wisdom is that she’s very popular. Pundits deem her a kingmaker. “People find her very compelling,” liberal talking heads concede. Conservatives say Randi is Everywoman, the voice for mothers and career women alike. “And look, we’re talking about her again!” they all agree.
But Randi has a problem with the facts. They seem to elude her. She repeatedly says we have a trillion-dollar deficit when, according to the CBO, it’s only $642 billion and falling sharply. Plus she mixes up deficit and debt. The Beltway press diligently points this out, smirking. She’s “ambitious”—a word her detractors say with a snarl. “But easy on the eyes,” her supporters counter. The debate becomes Pretty vs. Pretty Dumb.
Randi tries to position herself as above this fray. "The fact-checking is not fact-checking. These are people with a bias. It's purely an opinion. The stuff is so ludicrous I don't even read it,” she says of her critics.
The headline is: “Randi Admits She Doesn’t Read!” The Internet breaks out in a rash of mansplaining. She’s dubbed Bluegrass Barbie.
Randi tries to show off her policy chops to prove she’s serious. Not just about a potential presidential run, but generally “serious.” She’s a lawmaker—a senator! All the giggling at her flubs makes her seem “unserious.” The media chides, “She wants to be taken seriously.”
So she uses the filibuster. She spends 13 hours railing against the use of unmanned drones. Yes, unmanned drones. An issue that would bring the country together! Civil liberties and constitutional rights all rolled into a perfect issue. "Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?" she demands.
When the administration says no, it’s hailed as a major triumph for her. But the next month on Fox News, chatting a little too comfortably with Neil Cavuto, she blunders: “If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and 50 dollars in cash, I don’t care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him.” Oops.
“Bluegrass Barbie Does a 180 on Drones!” Now she’s called a Drone Bimbo. Men who otherwise think of themselves as progressive take to Twitter and spend their free time calling her a dingbat (or worse).
Then an interview with Businessweek comes out. Asked specifically to name a “nondead” ideal Federal Reserve chairman, Randi answers, “Friedman would probably be pretty good, too, and he’s not an Austrian, but he would be better than what we have.” Milton Friedman died in 2006. The next two news cycles are guffawing about Madam President’s zombie cabinet: Paul of the Dead.