Party People

President Joe Biden, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Sen. Debbie Stabenow arrive at the 2022 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, on September 14, 2022. (Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

A recurring hazard of The Platform Formerly Known as Twitter is detecting sarcasm when it isn’t intended and not detecting it when it is. Outlandish ideas are the coin of the realm: When someone tweets “kill the Jews,” it’s not always instantly clear whether they’re mocking the attitude of “Hamas liberals” on campus or, er … (In the Musk era, “or, er” is usually the right answer.)

On Thursday, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat imagined a scenario that landed squarely on the fault line between sarcastic humor and “yeah, that’s absolutely plausible in the timeline we’ve entered.”

He was joking—I think. But none of us would be terribly surprised next fall to find Trump campaigning in an orange jumpsuit behind the glass in a federal pen and Biden campaigning in a hospital gown behind the glass in an ICU. In modern American politics, expect the unexpected.

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