There seems to be a major undertaking by John Fetterman’s Senate campaign to make the candidate appear softer than what’s currently put out by his Elephant Man aura. The attempt climaxed this week with an exhausting profile in New York Magazine that would leave readers wondering — is Fetterman coming out as transgender?
Seriously. That’s how hard the 5,000-word feature and its author, Rebecca Traister, worked to turn this hulking meat sack of a Pennsylvania Democrat into something resembling a soft touch.
A recurring theme throughout the piece is that Fetterman’s opponent, Republican candidate Mehmet Oz, has aggressively and unfairly attacked him as “weak or radical or dishonest or unhinged or stupid” (Traister’s words). But it’s the article itself that inadvertently does the job.
Traister portrays Fetterman as the ultimate victim, a man of “indestructible guy-ness” who nonetheless suffered a near-fatal stroke and who was then forced to endure his physical recovery answering for it. “[T]he New York Times and the Washington Post have echoed the Oz campaign’s suggestions that Fetterman is hiding something about his fitness to serve,” she wrote, “running editorials pressing him to do more than the single debate scheduled for October 25 and for the release of further medical records.”
You see, it’s not a legitimate concern that a 53-year-old running for U.S. Senate was incapacitated for months. That, to Fetterman fangirl Traister, is foul play “coming from Oz’s camp.”
Traister also writes how similar Fetterman is to her brother, who just so happens to also be a fan of—Fetterman!
“My brother is a big white man with a bald head and a beard, like John Fetterman,” wrote an admiring Traister. “He maybe doesn’t always eat carefully or go to the doctor enough, like John Fetterman. The child of middle-class cultural privilege, like John Fetterman, he has an associate’s degree from Community College of Philadelphia, is a walker of big dogs, and coaches boxing to kids in his Philadelphia neighborhood to help keep them busy and safe after school — a profile that is different, but not so different, from John Fetterman’s.”
And like her brother, Fetterman is a “committed feminist.” On feminism, Fetterman, a longtime charity case for his family, is darn near perfect in the eyes of Traister: “Fetterman has been good on abortion since before the Supreme Court struck down Roe.”
But the most comically desperate moment of the piece is when Traister attends a campaign rally with her sibling. “[M]y brother told me how scared and uncomfortable he felt bracing for a possible tangle of words or any pause that stretched an extra beat, worried that it would wind up as right-wing fodder,” she said. As for herself, she said the event “went well,” that Fetterman was “fine” and “noticeably more hale” than in the viral clips that reveal him to be a sputtering, incoherent mess.
This is from the same woman who made this assessment in 2017: “We truly set ourselves up to be wowed by a president who manages, one time, to string sentences together correctly. Good work, America.”
Traister concluded her article noting that day by day, Fetterman “makes fewer mistakes, stumbles a bit less, and gets clearer and more relaxed.” (When she says it, it’s supposed to be assuring. When Oz or anyone else does, it’s an outrageous attack!)
The article was packaged with a bow in the form of a cover photo of the Democrat’s enlarged head under the title, “The Vulnerability of John Fetterman.” I’m not sure any of it sent the message Traister was hoping for.