Tag: Donald Trump

Mike Pence’s Day of Reckoning

Donald Trump’s magical thinking last night, as the black Baptist preacher and the 33-year-old Jew improbably pulled ahead of the self-dealing Republican billionaire and ex-Dollar General CEO: “If Vice President @Mike_Pence comes through for us, we will win the Presidency. Many States want to decertify the mistake they made in certifying incorrect & even fraudulent numbers in a process NOT approved by their State Legislatures (which it must be). Mike can send it back!”

Donald Trump’s magical thinking this morning, as Republicans face the loss of the Senate, thanks in no small part to his campaign against Georgia’s Republicans: “States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!”

We. As if he’s ever thought about anyone but himself.

In Trump’s mind, it all falls on Mike Pence’s broad, bland shoulders–the awesome discretionary power of choosing the country’s next president. True, no vice president before has ever exercised this supremely important constitutional duty, because they hadn’t known that it exists. But someone told Trump that it does, and he believes it because it’s his last chance to hold onto the presidency.

As a person who dined off the absurdity and ubiquity of right-wing conspiracy thinking for a time, I’ve constantly found myself at a loss for words these last four years. I’m like the doctor who wrote a book predicting the spread of a SARS-like disease two publishing seasons too early. How many times can I say the words “as I wrote”? How many times can I say, “it’s so much worse than I thought it would be?” It is, it is, it is. I’ve hated every minute of it, and I don’t for a second believe it’s over. We’ve been here before as a country. The fever breaks for a while, and then it comes back again. The irrationality, the bigotry, the hypocrisy, the self-delusion is never far beneath the surface.

In the event that Mike Pence chokes this afternoon, allow me to quote Dahlia Lithwick’s summation of Trump’s legacy:

Building a culture in which everything is probably illegal and every effort to stop it is probably futile is Trump’s legacy to the country.

The consequence of four years without consequences isn’t going to be a reversion to all the norms and values that came before. It will be a spreading of anti-democratic, illiberal, and purposively small, petty, performative shabbiness that will always seem, in the moment, too silly to matter, and that will continue to be, going forward, too important to ignore. Trump was always the symptom, not the disease, and our distaste for curing it will mean that we spend the coming years coughing, choking, and gasping for air, from something at once too trivial to hurt us and too contagious to be stopped.

It Never Ends

So here we are in the New Year, two months and more since Trump lost by seven-plus million votes, and he is still campaigning–last night in Georgia, last Saturday on the telephone, pleading with Georgia’s secretary of state to just “give him a break” and find him the 11,780 votes he needs to win the state, and 24/7 via his motley crew of surrogates since November 3rd. After his 60-plus failed legal challenges, all that he’d need to be “reelected” if he had Georgia in his grasp is to overturn the election in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, and/or Wisconsin–or to simply browbeat his Vice President into refusing to confirm the election results before Congress tomorrow. As grotesquely authoritarian as his efforts are, as blatantly contemptuous of the “will of the people” and all that, they would be pathetic if there wasn’t a considerable likelihood that they will work. As the still-compliant Republicans keep saying, the evidence for massive Democratic cheating is blatant, obvious, and undeniable, except for the fact that it’s invisible and impossible to prove. Cruz, Hawley et al are betting their careers on Trump rather than democracy.

Trump won’t be able to hold onto power if he does pull off his coup, but how do we ever come back from this as a country? The children have been watching and listening. They’ve seen it all.

Closing the Deal


So, first his ex-campaign manager was arrested by a SWAT team. Then, last Saturday he officiated over a super-spreading event to celebrate the shotgun installation of a far-right Dominionist on the Supreme Court, Sunday he was exposed as a serial bankrupt and tax cheat, Friday he went to the hospital with Covid after infecting half his team and a bunch of supporters, Sunday he forced Secret Service Agents to breathe his droplets during a drive-by campaign stunt, and Monday he returned to the White House, maskless and triumphant, having conquered the virus without the benefit of even hydroxochloroquine. And this morning, down in the polls by double digits, he gave us his closing argument: write off the last four years and give me four more because Obama investigated his campaign’s collusion with the Russians and kept it secret until after he was elected.

How can he lose? But he can still steal the election and he just might if Barr stays healthy.

Amy Coney Barrett

I’m being deluged with “we must stop Trump from filling RBG’s seat” e-mails and messages, and they are not moving my dial at all. That shoe dropped back in 2016. It’s been obvious since Garland that McConnell would seat anyone a Republican nominated, even if they were nominated on January 15, 2021. I don’t care about Barrett, or what people who know her attest. She’s accepted the nomination from Trump some 40 days before the election; that tells me all I need to know. If I were a senator, I wouldn’t meet with her, I wouldn’t attend the hearings, and I wouldn’t cast a vote pro or con. She can’t be stopped, but she shouldn’t have a shred of bipartisan legitimacy. Let her win by 51-0.

All Trump’s brand needs to do next is the impossible

Since Trump failed in real estate, casinos, sports, and airlines, he’s built a successful second career as a brander. The brand he flogs is his persona–brash, brilliant, scrappy, over-sexed, and authentic in a cheesy, inauthentic way–and it has worked well enough when it’s slapped on gold-plated hotels and condos, golf resorts, clothes, steaks, vodka, even real estate seminars. It worked for a fantastical TV show about business success, and it opened up some really profitable money-laundering opportunities. It worked for a political campaign in which his supposed street smarts prevailed over the cluelessness and malice of the elites. It even seems to be working for a deranged death cult, in which he heroically but secretly battles the latter-day Elders of Zion–a vast secret society of child-molesting Jeffrey Epsteins who control everything except Trump and the Q believers.

If Trump’s brand was faced with a global pandemic, you know what it would do? It would prove itself smarter than the doctors, more efficient than the politicians, more caring than the blood-sucking fat cats who seek to profit off it. It would do the impossible, curing it at a stroke, just like it built the ice skating rink, just like it crushed the Clintons and sent Obama back to Africa in shame.

This is Trump’s challenge over the next 70 days: to hew to his brand proposition with absolute discipline. But this time, he actually has to DO something, because he already occupies the most powerful office in the world. Announcing that he can cure the virus, restore the economy, and put black people back in their places isn’t enough: he actually has to do so.

From the producers of The Apprentice

The New York Times reports that Trump’s convention is coming into shape, shepherded into production by a team from The Apprentice.

Conventions bore me, whether they are live or virtual, Democratic or Republican. I didn’t watch much of the Democratic production in real time, though I did catch Brayden Harrington and Jacqueline Brittany, who I thought were awesome. Biden was pretty good too.

The Republican event will also feature real people, including the kid who sneered at the Native American and that attractive couple who defended their St. Louis mansion from protestors with automatic weapons. Trump will give a major speech every night, supported by his kids and spouse, along with Larry Kudlow, Rudolph Giuliani, Kelly Ann Conway, and other rarely-seen figures. There will be a Democrats-for-Trump feature too, though the participants have yet to be announced. I predict that Trump will campaign against Kamala Harris and the media rather than Biden, and that his theme will likely be the booming economy, a Covid response that is the envy of the world, Mid East peace, America’s rising stature in the world, how he has done more for black people than any president since Lincoln, and how those same black people are plotting to murder us in our sleep.

It all sounds like a train wreck to me, but what do I know? I’m sure Republicans will say they loved every second of it, whether they tune in or not. And whatever polling bounce he gets will be trumpeted loudly.

Light or Darkness?

Biden made the conflict and the stakes perfectly clear: light versus darkness, love versus hate, hope versus fear. And he put himself and America on the side of light: “there has never been anything we have been unable to accomplish when we do it together.”

Trump’s reaction is similarly clarifying: Biden attacked and lied about America and Americans, delivering a message of despair. We are enjoying “the most successful period of time in the history of our country from every standard.” Anyone who believes that America or Americans could do better should not just be shamed, but crushed.

If there is any suspense leading up to Trump’s moment next week, it’s not what new face he will present to the world, or what new tactics he will unleash. We know him well enough by now to know that there will be no surprises. He will cast Biden as a senile crook, Harris as a ravening witch, an avatar of the African/Asiatic hordes who eat white babies. “They are coming for you.”

The question that keeps me up at night is which vision reflects this country the best. Do more than half of us even want to work together to improve things? Or do more than half of us believe that things are as good as we should ever hope–that the only injustices that need to be corrected are those visited against Trump?

Who Are they Messaging?

Who is Trump targeting with this ad? I can’t imagine him picking off many black votes from Biden, especially while he’s got his “suburban housewife” campaign underway–but I could see how some of those suburban housewives might feel reassured that Biden is just as racist as they are and vote for him instead of Trump.

I’m seeing a lot of “Harris isn’t really black” messages from Republicans too, in part because she’s partly South Asian, in part because one of her Jamaican ancestors is said to have been a slave owner. Again, wouldn’t that reassure rather than frighten wavering Trump voters, at least that substantial majority of them who have issues with authentically black black people (whatever in the world that is supposed to mean)? And don’t most African Americans have slave owning ancestors?

My guess is that these ads are designed solely to depress Democratic turnout. Between that, bankrupting the post office, closing polling stations in cities, preemptively disqualifying the few mail-in ballots that make it through the gauntlet, and energizing his Second Amendment/born-again/biker/boat-parading core, he hopes to squeak through with a popular minority again.

But then what? So he can continue to preside over a prostrate economy, an uncontained plague, and massive civic breakdown? So he can become even more of a spectacle than he already is, as his dementia progresses, state-level investigations and prosecutions multiply, and the climate and Covid crises intensify?

Honestly, I don’t know why either of these men would want to be president. But I must say, I feel a lot better about Biden than I did a day ago.

GOP Wonders: Are We All Jeff Sessions?

I’m old enough to remember Jeff Sessions’ last time in the barrel, back in 1986, when Reagan nominated him for a federal judgeship and witnesses before the Senate’s Judiciary Committee recalled him calling the NAACP and the ACLU Communist-inspired and counseling a black Assistant US Attorney, whom he fondly called “boy,” to “be careful what you say to white folks” after he’d admonished a white secretary for making an offensive remark. But of course you don’t have to go back that far to find bad things to say about the ex-Attorney General, who was an early political mentor to Donald Trump and the first sitting US senator to endorse him.

What Sessions loved about Trump were all the things that the self-styled moderate Republicans and centrist Democrats who reluctantly voted for him in 2016 claimed to find regrettable but presumed would be held in check by the “adults in the room” as he grew into his office: his xenophobia, his racism, and his protectionism. Despite Trump’s vindictive crusade to destroy him for his one moment of integrity, Sessions claims to have no regrets. His recusal “followed the law” and saved “the president’s bacon in the process,” he says. Sessions fairly reveled in locking up kids in cages when he was still Attorney General. And he fulsomely supports Trump’s agenda and all “the great work he has to do” in a second term.

The true horror of Trump, as Dahlia Lithwick wrote in her review of Mary Trump’s book in Slate yesterday, are his enablers, “the media that failed to scrutinize him, the banks that pretended he was the financial genius he was not, the Republican Party, and the ‘claque of loyalists’ in the White House who continue to lie for him and to him in order to feed his insatiable ego and self-delusion.” Jeff Sessions was and remains his greatest sycophant and, politically speaking anyway, his biggest victim. Sessions doesn’t mind being Trump’s doormat, in fact he says it is an honor.

For those of us who never loved or even liked Trump or Sessions, his humiliation is a grotesque and sickening spectacle. For those who support Trump’s “policies but not his tweets,” it is, one hopes, a bit frightening, if not sobering. For what it’s worth, voter turnout was much lower than expected yesterday, despite Trump’s active participation in the campaign.

And now this…..

People are beginning to smell the weakness. Roberts, Milley, and Berman aren’t lefty congressmen from racially gerrymandered districts in blue cities or even MSNBC anti-Trump Republicans–they are as establishment as you can get. When people like that start saying “no,” others will be emboldened to say no too (or too scared for their own survival to defend Trump when others do). Even if Trump steals or challenges the election, even if the court reluctantly supports him, he will not be able to govern. Something tells me the Tulsa rally won’t be the biggest news story this weekend.