Among the many questions we have about American politics these days is this: What, exactly, is the deal with State Sen. Anthony Williams?
The question may not be our most urgent, or our most consequential, but it's certainly puzzling. Earlier this month, Williams, who tried to be the mayor of Philadelphia in the last go-round, posted a video on his campaign website. In the video he is dressed as Frederick Douglass, the 19th-century abolitionist and writer. He faces the camera, and in the foreground, facing away from the camera, is a toupeed man who bears some resemblance to U.S. President Donald J. Trump. A few weeks before the video was made, Trump had made some comments suggesting that he wasn’t totally sure whether Frederick Douglass was alive or dead. Douglass is of course dead, but the conceit of Sen. Williams’ video is that Douglass is still alive.
The video, which is intended as a dig at Trump and a celebration of Black History Month, got a small amount of attention from NBC10 and PhillyVoice. Certainly the Williams-qua-Douglass routine is self-consciously absurd. But it's also only marginally coherent, bordering on outright hallucinogenic. We wonder if it hasn't gotten more attention simply because folks are still trying to process it. As we remarked elsewhere, is it possible that Williams is actually just two or three young troublemakers in a State Senator's costume?
Speaking of hallucination, here's Sen. Williams doing the Harlem Shake.
Lagniappe: Williams does the Harlem Shake again.