Obscene foolishness on the lawn of the People’s House

White House desecrated

I guess the McCloskeys were right when they warned that mobs of crazed people were coming for all of us. There they were Thursday night on our own lawn, the lawn of the White House. A great mass of people crowded together, mostly without masks, in the midst of the pandemic, standing repeatedly to cheer lie after trite lie coming from the strange orange man who is their master.

A truly disturbing display.

I had wisely taken Jennifer Rubin’s advice and stayed away for most of two nights. When I clicked it on sometime well after 10 and saw one of the orange man’s children — the only supporters he fully trusts — standing on that monstrous platform in that location, I figured he’d be out soon, so I kept the tube on with the sound off until he made his big entrance with OUR house as his backdrop.

I saw all the comments out there about the listlessness of his delivery, which I chalked up to the fact that he was reading a speech put together by people with a passing familiarity with the English language. Which is not his thing. Later, I started hearing the kinds of things he says on his own, as he built toward the end, and the suicidal crowd tried their best to evince enthusiasm, apparently hoping to please him.

I heard the usual lie after lie as he faithfully followed the Bernie strategy. He and his campaign had failed to come up with another approach after the Democrats rejected Bernie and went with Bernie’s opposite, the very personification of what their party traditionally stands for. But what were they going to do? There’s nothing frightening or outrageous about Joe, so they have to fulminate about the socialists.

Beyond that, nothing is memorable.

But I’ll share some things I read this morning, so you can have the benefit of other views.

Fact Checker: First the boring business of reviewing some of the lies themselves and dissecting them. As the Fact Checker says, “President Trump ended the Republican National Convention on Thursday with a tidal wave of tall tales, false claims and revisionist history. Here are 25 claims by the president that caught our attention, along with seven claims by speakers earlier in the evening.” Unfortunately, they don’t do Pinocchios in these roundups, which removes some of the fun.

The rage that fuels Trumpism still burns — David Ignatius provides a warning for everyone to heed, that “smoldering at the center of the populist Republican Party, there’s still the bright orange ball of fury that is Donald Trump — wounded and angry and promising White men in his trademark, code-worded slogan that he’s going to ‘Make America Great Again.'” He warns Joe Biden as well as the rest of us that we have to do more than beat Trump; we have to address the loss of hope among uneducated white men that brought us to this pass. (Of course, now we have a bigger problem than that. Those guys might have brought Trump to prominence, but then the entire Republican Party decided to prostrate itself at his feet. I doubt you’d find many in the audience at the White House who fit in the demographic Ignatius is describing.)

Trump presented the mother of all fabrications on the White House lawn — Dana Milbank addresses the weirdest falsehood on display this week: “Four years ago, when the United States was in the eighth year of an economic expansion and enjoying a time of relative peace and prosperity, Donald Trump saw only carnage. ‘Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation,’ he told the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, describing a nation full of ‘death, destruction . . .’ and ‘weakness.’ Now, America actually is in crisis… And Trump, accepting the Republican Party’s nomination for a second term on Thursday night, offered a most counterintuitive assessment: Everything is awesome!”

Biden needs a Sister Souljah moment — George Will’s column basically says that Joe needs to find a way to distinguish himself from the more extreme elements in his constituency. Of course, he’s done that over and over, contrary to all the lies this week about him wanting to “defund the police” and such. But I think Will is trying to tell us he needs to do it in a way that will be understandable to the kind of people who are actually susceptible to Trump’s lies, such as those Ignatius wrote about. Not sure he’s right, but I can see how that would occur to someone this week.

The perfectly logical case for Donald Trump — Alexandra Petri makes similar points to Dana Milbank, but as is her wont, has more fun with it: “Under Donald Trump, America has never been safer. It has also never been more dangerous. We must elect Donald Trump to make us safe again, which he has already made us, never more than we are now, although we also aren’t, and won’t be, unless we elect him! If you see.” Yeah, that’s pretty much what I heard.

And now I look forward to YOUR thoughts…

orange 3

85 thoughts on “Obscene foolishness on the lawn of the People’s House

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    By the way, about my characterization of Trump as the “orange man…” I don’t think I’ve done that before. But it’s never knocked me in the eyes as hard as it did last night.

    Remember when I mentioned a couple of days ago that the lighting was poor on so many folks during this streamed convention? Well, it was better last night — only the best when one is desecrating the White House, you know. It was quite flattering to Ivanka, for instance, and the flags and the House itself looked great.

    But then the star of the show came out, and I was like WHOA! What a bizarre, unnatural color!

    I’d never seen it so starkly on display before. (And it doesn’t show up in the images above as clearly as it popped out on my TV.)

    What do you suppose the theory behind it is? Does he really think this makes him look tanned and fit or something? I ask because this is so OBVIOUSLY deliberate. It’s like his super-strange hair — he, or someone, goes to a lot of trouble to make him look like this.

    My wife thinks it’s a spray-on thing — kind of like some alien variant of the bronzer people use on stage. What would such a product be called? “Agent Orange?”

    While he may be trying to create the effect JFK did by spending time out on his boat, there is no way this is the natural result of lying in one of those bizarre tanning beds.

    Or if it is, if his body is actually producing this color in reaction to UV rays, there is something SERIOUSLY wrong with him…

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Maybe Biden should agree to Trump’s demand for drug tests before the debates. Maybe then we’d find out what’s turning him that color.

      Not as good as seeing his tax returns, but it would be something…

      Reply
      1. bud

        ANY demand by Trump for ANYTHING from Biden should be quickly and stridently answered with a simple trade off – I’lll do x if you release 20 years of federal and state tax returns. Biden needs to start playing hardball. He doesn’t have to go low, just point out Trumps broken promises. No Mexican paid for wall. No balanced budget. No 4+% growth. And most importantly no tax returns.

        Reply
    2. Barry

      Making fun of trump and conservatives is only the right thing to do at this point.

      I’m glad to do it as much as possible. Hypocrites.

      Reply
  2. bud

    Watched all 70 nauseating minutes. I really like to form my own opinion about these things without influence from commentators. I was looking for 2 main themes. First, I wanted to see if he seemed dementia laden. Frankly he seemed ok. Sure his delivery was pretty uninspiring. But until the last 10 minutes he was robust enough. But he did seem a bit tired toward the end. Second, I wanted to see how many lies I could identify on my own without reliance on fact checkers. I easily picked out 10 or so. I also was curious to see whether he would mention Russia. China was mentioned many times. Russia zero.

    This was a genuine national travesty of epic proportions. He came across as a tin horned dictator rather than the leader of a free nation. Sad.

    Reply
  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    It’s the simple, obvious point that Milbank makes in his column — and which Ms. Petri lampoons in hers — that makes it so hard to imagine that ANYONE would consider for a moment voting to give Trump four more years.

    It beggars belief.

    Trump took a prosperous country that was ticking along fairly normally — and which he claimed was a mess at the time — and then presided over four years in which everything actually BECAME a mess. Especially THIS year.

    Ignatius’ observations about a particular demographic aside, I just cannot see how any rational person would look at America in 2016 and America in 2020 and conclude we need more of the guy who’s been in charge over that period of time…

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      And even if you focus like a laser on Ignatius’ group, the uneducated white males, by what standard would they or anyone else think they are doing better than they were four years ago?

      Or are we saying the white working class takes comfort from the rest of America suffering too, and wants more of that?…

      Reply
      1. James Edward Cross

        Yes.

        The mistake you are making is assuming rationality. The people who support Trump believe in the lies because they want to. They reject all or most of the changes that have taken place in the last 60 years or so — in civil rights, in sexuality, in economics, in everything. Fear motivates them. They are indulging in the worst form of nostalgia.

        Reply
        1. clark surratt

          Brad, James Edward Cross nails it. Trump was able to win on broader issues of race, religion, guns, anti-Washington and anti-press. He has not disappointed his fans and “deplorable” followers. He’s done as they asked. They will not abandon Trump on his crass and ignorant comments and even actions. They are not going to examine the complexities and nuances of government.

          Reply
  4. Ken

    The man delivers the supposedly uplifting parts of an address in a manner akin to how you might expect Beelzebub to recite The Gospels: with disdain and scarcely muzzled ego oozing from every word. In short, he is more tone deaf than any speaker I’ve ever heard. His cheerless lack of character is evident in practically every syllable.

    Reply
  5. Barry

    How do you watch that crap?

    Another MeTv evening for me last night.

    Now I’m watching Now, Voyager with one of my favorites, Paul Henreid.

    Reply
  6. Randle

    Do you ever read Rachel Bitecofer? She predicted the blue wave in 2018 and got every seat but one right. She uses a model based on her theory of negative partisanship. She says most of the electorate now votes against the opposing party rather than for their guy. They don’t care what type of a person Trump is; they are voting against Democrats. So the key to winning is getting more of your partisans to turn out because so few people are persuadable. She says suburban women are mostly anti-Trump, which helped swing districts to the Democrats in 2018. Let’s hope his attempt to scare them by blaming the current racial strife on a future Biden presidency fails and they stick with Democrats.

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Rachel Bitecofer’s theory is a depressing one, especially if it continues to work.

      If that works entirely as a way of predicting voter behavior, then our system of representative democracy is hopeless. We need to be trying to figure out another one…

      Reply
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          We’ve really got to come up with something more accurately descriptive to call these people. I know they like to call themselves “conservatives,” but there is nothing conservative about them…

          Since it’s a personality cult, I like to call them “Trumpistas.” But I’m sure there are other fine word choices as well…

          Reply
            1. Barry

              Yep- And conservatives.

              Just heard one on right wing radio proclaim “trump loves God” and “liberals hate God.” The host accepted the caller’s statement.

              That’s where we are with conservatives now.

              “ This kind of Christianity, if that’s what it is, is utterly foreign to what I would consider the gospel. In fact, I think the American church is becoming apostate; it worships political power and right-wing ideology. The church in the US is declining at the fastest rate ever, and I can see why: The church does not follow Christ. It follows the GOP.”- Dr Raymond Blacketer

              Reply
          1. Barry

            They are conservatives. Ignoring reality doesn’t make it go away.

            Quit letting them off the hook. They adopted their cult leader and messiah. It’s them.

            Reply
          2. Ken

            How about “anti-liberals” ?
            The other day I was listening to a discussion with two college Republicans. One of them said the thing she liked most about Trump was that he is “more strongly anti-liberal” than any past Republican president. “Owning the libs” is quite popular among this crowd.

            Actually, though, I see no problem calling them “conservatives.” After all, he’s delivered on a lot of conservative causes: massive tax cuts; elimination of regulations; appointment of a large number of conservatives to the judiciary; opposition to abortion rights, etc. In short, from their point-of-view, he’s delivered. And many of them are quite willing to turn a blind eye to all the boorish behavior and all the rest so long as he does so.

            Reply
            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Nah, “anti-liberals” doesn’t work.

              Too many “progressives” fit that description. It’s why we had to go through all those months of rejection of Joe before Democrats actually got to VOTE and anointed him.

              The “progressives” have spent a lot of energy on rejecting mere liberals.

              Which is another funky thing about the way we use political words. In the 80s, with the right doing all they could to dirty up the word “liberal,” you saw a lot of liberals describe themselves as mere “progressives,” suggesting it was something milder than being a liberal. You know, like even the Chamber is for “progress.” So was Teddy Roosevelt!

              Now, it refers to the folks who sneer at liberals as being a bunch of centrist milquetoasts.

              We do funny things with language…

              Reply
                1. Ken

                  If it’s “populism,” then it’s the kind that’s all circus and no bread.

                  At least Huey Long actually DID something for the working classes.

              1. Ken

                You seem to be adopting the British definition of “Liberal,” that is: liberal = moderate, middle of the political spectrum. That doesn’t apply in the US. Try and keep your contexts straight. I’ve never ever heard a self-described “progressive” use the term “liberal” in a derogatory way to refer to someone they consider insufficiently left.

                Reply
                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Well, it would be interesting to compare British uses of the word — say, as the name of the Liberal Party (reflecting the “centre,” which lets you know they’re from across the pond), or the way The Economist uses it in describing itself as “a liberal newspaper” (not to mention the interesting use of “newspaper” to describe a magazine).

                  Or even more interestingly, we could compare meanings over time rather than geographic location. For instance, I’ve always taken The Economist’s use of the word as somewhat rooted in the 19th century.

                  But it’s not necessary. Just look around at the many people here in the United States (but not only here) who have been writing about the distinctions between “liberal” and “progressive” in this new century.

                  Here are some links to check out:

                  When Liberals Become Progressives, Much Is Lost

                  Fighting Words

                  What’s the Difference Between a Liberal and a Progressive?

                  Is part of the distinction that a liberal is, as you suggest, more “moderate?” Of course. This is a source of the tension between supporters of Bernie and supporters of Biden. And this is one reason why it’s easy to find articles that raise such questions as “What’s the Difference Between a Liberal and a Progressive?”

                  I see that all the time. It gets discussed a good bit — and was particularly brought up a lot before Joe emerged as the clear nominee. And that is why I wrote what I wrote.

                  But thank you for your kind efforts to help me keep my “contexts straight.”

                2. Ken

                  Sure, there are “progressives” who criticize “liberalISM” in a rather insider-baseball sort of way. But none of them I’ve heard or read would use a term like “anti-liberal.” (Save for MAYBE someone writing for a comparatively obscure rag like “The Jacobin.”) Only conservatives and right-wing would, as in the example I provided. So there’s no grounds for your concern about the term being ambiguous.
                  That’s the only point at issue here.

  7. randle

    She is planning to release some predictions after Labor Day. Early forecasts predicted Biden.
    Her Twitter posts and her columns continue to emphasize voter turnout, especially younger voters and minorities, as the determining factor, and she considers this an all-hands-on-deck election, as both sides are hyped up.
    This is a sample of how she thinks about elections:
    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-is-losing-big-to-biden-in-voter-polls-heres-how-this-will-likely-play-out-on-election-day-2020-07-27
    To me, a big factor is whether enough independent voters think Biden is responsible or will aggravate the continuing unrest. I am not a forecaster, however.

    Reply
    1. Barry

      There are plenty of liberal ideas I don’t agree with but this year Biden is the only choice for me.

      My wife (she’s a teacher. sorry Bryan, I know you don’t think they work hard but she was on the phone with a parent of a student Saturday night for almost a hour trying to reassure them) asked me last night when we will be receiving our absentee ballots. I asked her why she was bringing it up. She said she’s ready to vote for Biden. She’s not what I would call a political person but she can’t stomach seeing trump’s face on television.

      She detests him more than I do, and that’s almost impossible.

      Reply
      1. Bryan Caskey

        “My wife (she’s a teacher. sorry Bryan, I know you don’t think they work hard but she was on the phone with a parent of a student Saturday night for almost a hour trying to reassure them)”

        Nonsense. I’ve never said (or thought) anything of the kind.

        On a related note, my first-grader and third-grader stared their e-learning today. It was a debacle with the tech and practical problems associated with trying to get a dozen or so six-year-olds to master the intricacies of a Microsoft Teams meeting online. The teachers are frustrated, the children are frustrated, and the parents are frustrated. My wife and I are going to have to give up going into work at our law practices to stay home and muddle through it. There’s not much actual instruction going on.

        But hey, feel free to hurl insults around and make up whatever you think I think about things to make yourself feel better, superior, etc.

        Reply
        1. Barry

          “ But don’t tell me “teachers continue to teach”.- Bryan

          Oh, I don’t think it’s possible to be superior to Bryan. I don’t even try.

          Reply
            1. Barry

              I can promise you that won’t ever happen.

              But don’t tell me “teachers continue to teach”.- Bryan

              I told you and I’d tell you again.

              Reply
  8. bud

    Add another nickname for Trump. He’s been called small hands man, a toddler, dotard, Mr narcissist, MFer, agent orange, and Brad’s favorite – ignoramous. Joe Biden just called him a toxin.

    Reply
  9. Barry

    BTW- good interview today with Wolf Blitzer grilling Bill Barr. Barr raised his voice like the unprofessional goon he is but Blitzer just kept on pressing.

    Wolf frequently quoted from Barr’s messiah- Trump – and 2 things were obvious

    1). Barr hates when someone directly quotes Trump to him because it makes Barr’s job of kissing Trump’s large backside a lot tougher

    2) Barr has to be the least informed person in Washington because apparently he never recalls what Trump says about anything. It must be tough to be in such a job but have such an awful memory.

    It’s clear Barr has dementia. But conservatives don’t care that one of their own cult members is inflicted with it.

    It was great fun to see that suck up squirm.

    Reply
    1. Barry

      “ Meanwhile, Trump needs to be concerned that one in five self-described conservatives are supporting Biden and that his 12 point lead among white voters is not enough to offset his deficit among Hispanics”

      Reply
    2. Barry

      New Fox News Poll- Post Republican propaganda convention

      “ Biden’s advantage comes from strong support among women and suburban voters. Moreover, suburban women in all three states trust Biden over Trump to handle coronavirus and policing/criminal justice.”

      “ Arizona

      Biden is preferred over Trump by 49-40 percent among likely voters in Arizona. That 9-point lead is outside the margin of error.”

      North Carolina

      In North Carolina, Biden holds a narrow 4-point margin among likely voters (within error margin). He receives 50 percent to Trump’s 46 percent, while 1 percent go for Jorgensen and 2 percent are undecided.

      Here’s why the race is tight. Whites back Trump by 23 points, while Blacks support Biden by 83 points. Men go for Trump by a 2-point margin, while women prefer Biden by 10.

      Wisconsin

      Biden tops Trump by 8 points among Wisconsin likely voters, 50-42 percent.

      Conducted August 29-September 1, 2020 under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company (R)

      Reply
    3. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, Bryan, but they ain’t black. I have it on good authority.

      Apparently, we’re seeing the result of having every single black person in America willing to speak in support of Trump appear as part of the RNC.

      Now to be serious…

      Let’s assume for a moment that the Zogby and Emerson polls indicate real trouble for the Biden campaign.

      If that’s the case, which of course remains to be seen, then it’s not “troubling news for Biden.” It’s troubling news for the country. Oh, Biden wouldn’t like it a bit. But one man’s disappointment is a very small thing in comparison to the disaster that befalls the United States if the Trump is re-elected. If that happens, then America — the very idea of America — is toast…

      It occurs to me that my tenses may be a bit confused there. I refer to the disaster that “befalls the United States if the Trump is re-elected.” Actually, it will have already happened. This will no longer be the country I’ve known my whole life if that many people will go out and vote for such a creature — at any point, really, but especially after seeing him in office for four years. In fact, I’m worried it may be too late for my country if the election is even close

      Reply
      1. Bryan Caskey

        “But one man’s disappointment is a very small thing in comparison to the disaster that befalls the United States if the Trump is re-elected. If that happens, then America — the very idea of America — is toast…”

        Our system of government is set up so that one man cannot have that much of an impact. Our country has gone through a lot. We’ve gone through the expansion of the West, adding more states and territory than originally existed. We’ve gone through a Civil War, and come out of it stronger than we were before it. We’ve gone through the Great Depression, through incompetent leaders, and we’ve gone through tragedy.

        I’ll admit, Congress (so I guess that means us) has really let us (ourselves?) down over the last several decades by ceding more and more authority to the Executive Branch through agencies. We’re at a point now where Congress really doesn’t do anything of substance. It’s all Presidents with executive orders and the Supreme Court making rulings, which makes the Supreme Court more important that it should be, which feeds back into the election of President getting out-sized focus. By putting so much focus on the Presidency, we minimize the state and local elections, which is where the real business gets done. Perhaps one response to Trump is to re-focus on our local leadership, and to turn our thoughts to local issues and local leaders who can get so much more accomplished that matters in day-to-day life for everyone. Perhaps a renewed focus on our own community, and not what is going on in one building in Washington, DC could be a positive we take from these times.

        But I guess my point is that as much as Trump has bad characteristics, those characteristics aren’t an existential threat to the core idea of the United States. The country will go on, government will go on, and the wheel keeps turning.

        Keep your chin up, keep a sharp weather-eye on the horizon, and never slouch on the quarter-deck. We’ll be fine regardless of who the President is the next four years. Just once, I’d like a politician to tell me this isn’t the most important election of our lifetime. I’ve heard that every single election of my life, and I’m starting to not be quite such a squeaker.

        Reply
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Politicians say that because to them it usually IS, certainly if it’s a closely fought one.

          But this is different. This time I’m saying it. And I don’t think you’ve heard that from me before. If you have, then I was wrong before. The difference between this and every other presidential election year in my lifetime, with the possible exception of 2016, is as great as between ones and zeroes. The difference between this and every preceding president, including Andrew Jackson and Warren G. Harding, is just as stark.

          And while I certainly appreciate your thoughtful effort to make me feel better about it, I fear you’re missing the point I’m making.

          It’s not about one man whom you describe with such understatement as possessing “bad characteristics.” Not about any one person at all.

          It’s about all the people who voted for him.

          More critically, it is about the people who will vote for him this year, even though:

          • He’s not opposed this time by the second least-popular major-party nominee in history (Trump himself being the first), but by a good and decent and fully prepared person who even detractors have to strain to dislike. There’s no “I just felt compelled to vote against Hillary” excuse available.
          • We don’t have to base our horror on having observed him during his appallingly tawdry decades of pre-election public life. We don’t have to predict or assume anything. The man has shouted to the world his gross unsuitability many times every single day. If we’d wanted to ignore him, we couldn’t have. We have been witnesses to every bit of it.
          • We have seen that the chief instrument for stopping a grossly unfit president failed utterly when the Senate controlled by his party not only voted to acquit, but refused even to try the issue with witnesses. Oh, and please don’t anyone fall into the Republican madness of saying this was an unfounded, politically trumped-up impeachment. It was never in the Democrats’ political interest to pursue impeachment, especially since the end was so foreseeable. But they had no choice. No one with any sense of constitutional duty could have seen what Trump did in his “perfect” phone call and fail to impeach. And we won’t even go into listing the brave, decent public servants who dared to speak up and against whom Trump took his revenge after getting away with what he did.
          • Congress is useless as check or balance with the Senate in the hands of such craven toadies. And McConnell has transformed that chamber into a plug-and-play device for letting Trump transform the federal judiciary — starting a year before Trump took office, by refusing its duty with regard to the previous president’s nominee.
          • It’s been quite some time since any intelligent, qualified, principled person has been willing to be a part of this administration, under the belief that he or she can contain the evil. He is now surrounded by people who are committed to helping him succeed. That they, too, are stupid and incompetent is little comfort.

          I could go on, but I think you get my point. If enough people could vote for him in spite of all that and so much more, really, our system is dead. The entire notion of the wisdom of the people at the ballot box is bankrupt. Whoever leads our world out of this Dark Age will have to come up with something else as a system of governance.

          And if this comes to pass, it won’t be because of one man whom previous generations would have disdainfully driven from the election far before the end of 2015. It will be because of this generation’s utter lack of worthiness of this system…

          Reply
          1. Barry

            Bryan obviously downplays it because it’s Trump and the GOP. Expected and typical.

            Brad, you are correct in that the scary part is not so much Trump (sure he is an immoral dirtbag) but how he is now the Conservative party in the United States. Of course he isn’t really conservative, but conservatives aren’t either.

            Conservatives have ceded everything to trump. It’s the “whatever trump wants to do is great” party now. The same exact ones that made fun of Obama and decried his popularity with democrats have now anointed Trump Messiah, savior and Lord.

            Just this morning, one Fox News Trump jock carrying host on the highest rated show on all of cable tv stated that “Christianity itself” was on the ballot in November.

            Hypocrites.

            Reply
            1. Bryan Caskey

              “Bryan obviously downplays it because it’s Trump and the GOP. Expected and typical.”

              I’m downplaying the idea that the “very idea of America” will be “toast”. As in, we’ll be irrevocably done for, and I guess we should all just, I don’t know….give up?

              Actually, that prompts a question for Brad: In the event that Trump is re-elected and the “very idea of America is toast” what should we do?

              Should I keep sending my kids to school? Should we keep going to church? Do I keep my daughter in piano lessons? What about little league baseball? I was really looking forward to my son moving up to kid-pitch this year, and he’s got a good shot at pitching?

              Do I keep my law practice going, trying to help all the clients I can?

              Just trying to figure out what happens when the country is toast…

              Reply
              1. bud

                They play baseball and take piano lessons in Cuba, China and Russia. But people generally don’t see those countries as enlightened. That’s where we’re heading; a nation that is scorned and vilified as reckless and backwards. A nation of pollution. A nation that fails horribly in dealing with health issues. Doug used to push this meme that people generally ignore politics and simply go on living their lives largely unfazed by current events. Yet millions are fazed. I haven’t been able to visit my mother since March. Schools are in a mess. Suicides, drug overdoses and murders are up. Yes we will go on with our lives under a second Trump term. But that is not the same as living the American experience. That counselor is a much higher threshold to meet.

                Reply
              2. Brad Warthen Post author

                “Actually, that prompts a question for Brad: In the event that Trump is re-elected and the “very idea of America is toast” what should we do?”

                I don’t have the slightest idea. I don’t see a course forward.

                I don’t think, of course, in terms of “what would I do as an individual?” Individuals will do what they do, trying to get through each day of the time in which they have been condemned to live.

                When I say something like “the very idea of America would be toast,” I’m talking about something much larger — something that depends not on you, but on the collective character of the society that surrounds you. That society will have been weighed, measured, and found profoundly wanting. And mind you, the election will only be a measurement — a reading on conditions that already exist. If we’re the kind of country that could re-elect Trump, we’re already there. That’s already who we are.

                And what is the path forward for such a once-great society? I don’t know. Hence my reference to a “Dark Age.” After Caesar crossed the Rubicon and the Roman Republic fell, Europe went through a thousand years without another such setup. (As to your individualized question, I suppose during that period your average person got up every morning and tried to make do with what lay before him and his family.)

                What profound changes in the ocean of humanity will have to occur for future people — not us, not our children, but someone — to have the opportunity to live in something so promising as that which we were born into? And will they have the wisdom to take advantage of it?

                Again, if this happens it will not “happen” on Election Day. It will be the product of conditions that already exist. I’m just hoping and praying that we’re not as far gone as an electoral disaster on that day would indicate…

                Reply
                1. Barry

                  Michael Smerconish (talk show host and attorney) said this morning on Sirius that trump pretty much thrives on creating distrust in American institutions. His supporters enjoy that he does it.

                  He thinks the end result of this does hurt the country.

                  Not that those institutions are perfect by any means but creating and sowing further doubt in them undermines us all.

                2. Bryan Caskey

                  Well, I hope we aren’t going into the Dark Ages. They didn’t have any Wi-Fi, baseball, or movies.

                  I’m heading up to Northern Georgia for a little hiking, fishing, and relaxing with the family. I’m going to teach my six year old daughter how to fish.

                  Y’all have a good Labor Day Weekend, and stay safe.

                3. Brad Warthen Post author

                  You, too.

                  Meanwhile… David Brooks SORT OF answers your question, by framing things in terms of personal action, in his latest. It ends with, “It’s time to start thinking about what you would do.”

                  Here it is: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/03/opinion/trump-election-2020.html?referringSource=articleShare

                  Of course, if you’re looking for a set of instructions, you’ll be disappointed. Brooks is just sort of starting, vaguely, to talk about what people who love America should do in the face of madness…

                4. Barry

                  Personally Brad, I’m not doing anything. I am voting and that’s it.

                  If Trumpers want to hit the streets with their guns, they can do it. Heck, many of them areaslynhave done that. If people want to oppose them, I’ll sit back and watch.

                  I have PLENTY of defensive measures at home to take care of my family if things get violent.

                  I think the country is head for a type of civil war soon anyway. Soon as in within the next decade or so. Whites are quickly becoming a minority. Many folks (Not me of course) just can’t stomach that change.

                  This sounds like “crazy talk” yet I read it all the time on social media.

                5. Bob Amundson

                  POTUS continues to denigrate our military. It appears the “rank and file” support POTUS, but it seems quite obvious to me that our military leaders, present and past, are concerned about POTUS (please note how I continue to speak in careful terms due to some belief in the chain of command). I strongly believe that if our current POTUS, in anyway, unlawful tries to “hijack” the upcoming election, he will be escorted from the White House by our military.

                  To quote Vice President Biden, “I promise you, I’m absolutely convinced they will escort him from the White House with great dispatch.”

                6. bud

                  You can always count on David Brooks to string together an esoteric word salad that says absolutely nothing. He never disappoints on that score. This latest example checks all the nonsense boxes making certain to be as false equivalency as humanly possible.

                7. Ken

                  In his column, Brooks writes:

                  “If Trump claims a victory that is not rightly his, a few marches in the streets will not be an adequate response. There may have to be a sustained campaign of civic action, as in Hong Kong and Belarus, to rally the majority that wants to preserve democracy, that isolates those who would undo it.”

                  So, in such circumstance, would even Brad Warthen overcome his disdain for “mobs” and join the marches?

                8. James Edward Cross

                  With all due respect to Biden, if Trump were to refuse to leave office after an electoral defeat we would NOT want the military to be involved in removing him. It would set a precedent that we have thankfully avoided: that of the military intervening in the political process. There are many countries, including some of our neighbors to the south, who have first-hand experience on how bad an idea that is.

                9. Bob Amundson

                  What I fear is an unlawful order to have the military intervene in peaceful protests, in which I will participate as necessary, because the elections are declared to be fraudulent. Both POTUS and AG Barr have signaled a willingness to legitimize an effort to try to invalidate untold numbers of mail ballots, which may make up to a third of the total vote. I hope for a peaceful transition, believe a peaceful transition will occur, but as usual, I hope for the best outcome while preparing for something worse.

                  “Option A is not available. so let’s just kick the shit out of Option B. Life is never perfect. We all live some form of Option B.” ― Sheryl Sandberg, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

              3. Barry

                “ Should I keep sending my kids to school? Should we keep going to church? Do I keep my daughter in piano lessons? What about little league baseball? I was really looking forward to my son moving up to kid-pitch this year, and he’s got a good shot at pitching?

                Do I keep my law practice going, trying to help all the clients I can?”

                Is America the only country where kids go to school, play baseball, and has lawyers “helping clients?”

                This is a terrible logic on your part. Try again please.

                Reply
          2. bud

            Brad I agree with most of what you’re saying but you go way too far when suggesting it’s nearly impossible to dislike Biden. I don’t care much for him and I’m far from alone. He has this make-your-skin-crawl creepiness that’s palpable. Which explains why his own voters are just not very enthusiastic about him. That gives Trump an opening.

            Reply
        2. Ken

          Sounds like B.C. is giving the coming election the old ho-hum, saying, in effect, don’t fret, folks, it doesn’t matter too much who’s elected, because in the end the country will survive.

          First, it’s setting the bar pretty doggone low to make national survival the benchmark of success.

          Second, the choice we make for president tells us and the world what sort of country we want to be. If we want to be a nasty, ignorant, incurious, ill-tempered, lying, unfit country, then fine, vote for the guy currently playing president on TV. Otherwise …

          And also I’ll add this little item: A recent study by Oxford University concluded that if the US had applied the same approach to dealing with the novel coronavirus that, say, Germany did, 70 percent of the infections we’ve seen in this country would have been avoided, together with tens of thousands of deaths.

          Now tell me it doesn’t really make much difference who’s president.

          Reply
          1. Bryan Caskey

            “Sounds like B.C. is giving the coming election the old ho-hum, saying, in effect, don’t fret, folks, it doesn’t matter too much who’s elected, because in the end the country will survive.

            First, it’s setting the bar pretty doggone low to make national survival the benchmark of success.”

            Ken, I was responding to Brad’s statement of:

            “[If Trump is re-elected] the very idea of America — is toast…”

            I disagree with his conclusion.

            Reply
            1. Ken

              You: “We’ll be fine regardless of who the President is the next four years.”

              With that in mind, I stand by what I wrote.

              Reply
              1. Barry

                Conservatives usually say that to liberals ” we’ll be fine regardless.”

                Then Fox News Thursday morning runs a segment with an on air host saying “Christianity is on the ballot in November” – and of course that means if Trump wins, Christianity is safe.

                Thank God we have Donald Trump to save God. What would God do without Trump to help.

                Of course when you look at Trump as the Messiah, I guess I see their point.

                Reply
        3. bud

          Strongly disagree. Trump is stoking more and more division. Right now Trumpers are mostly just shooting paint balls at protestors. But this is clearly escalating. Sure past presidents have overstepped their Article 2 authority but Trump is taken this to extremes and if re-elected this will get much worse. Our institutions may be strong but not infinitely so. Trump is dangerous. It’s Pollyannaish to minimize that danger.

          Reply
  10. Barry

    The things you learn

    Trump Stopped Going to Dover AFB To Receive Bodies After Getting Berated On First Visit

    “In the world of President Donald Trump, he has paid his respects to “many, many” returning soldiers killed in the line of duty, with daughter and top presidential aide Ivanka Trump adding that “each time” she has stood by his side at one of these ceremonies, it has hardened his resolve to bring troops home.

    In the real world, Trump has traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware exactly four times

    Vice President Pence attended “dignified transfer” ceremonies for two years by himself after the father of a slain SEAL “rattled” Trump In February 2017.

    Bill Owens, the father of William “Ryan” Owens, refused to shake Trump’s hand at that Feb. 1, 2017, encounter, the aide said, and then told Trump that he was responsible for his son’s death for approving the disastrous raid in Yemen without bothering to understand the risks.“

    https://www.newsbreak.com/news/2052404128662/trump-stopped-going-to-dover-afb-to-receive-bodies-after-getting-berated-on-first-visit

    Reply
  11. Mark Huguley

    After the RNC carnival convention, I recalled a favorite quote: “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun; the moon; and the truth.” The truth is Donald Trump is a scoundrel. Many are troubled understanding the reasons why those who support him do so when seeing clear evidence of his wrongdoing.
    Recently, a Republican candidate for local office said to me, “Trump is a scoundrel, but it is a binary choice.” The implication being it’s okay to accept lack of character as long as you choose your party’s candidate. It’s a bad justification and doesn’t fit well because the Republican Party is so changed. Whose party does Trump really represent except in name?
    In the pre-Trump world, obtaining wealth through shady business transactions, routinely telling lies, and paying to conceal sex with a pornography actress would have been considered adverse to someone’s reputation. Such facts normally would block appointment, if not election, to any sensitive position. But in Trump world, disregarding serious character flaws representing a departure from values traditionally prized has become the norm.
    For most of our history, our culture supported uplifting beliefs: Honest work for fair pay; treating others with the respect due all men and women; and bullies are not admired. These mostly are the traditional self-images of Americans. Current images seemingly accept shallow values or none. Wealth is more important than honest work. All relations are transactional. Showing respect is a sign of weakness and disrespect shows strength.
    From the standpoint of everything we previously thought important, these “values” reflect “alternate facts”. For many, the abandonment of old values is a discouraging breach of faith in religious, secular, or both traditions.
    But what of our national image? Doesn’t the president embody the idea of being a defender of the rights of all and all that is right? Government by a showboating celebrity president is not really governing. It is smoke and mirrors that present false hope for some who lack understanding of what makes America work and the role of government. The capacity to fulfil the Constitutional purpose of “a more perfect union” is missing under Trump. Domestic tranquility is unattainable unless it is shared by everyone.
    Electoral deception is a con intended to exploit the belief the way someone appears is better for judging someone’s fitness for office than are candidate qualifications. But while emotional response, even in political races, is a legitimate part of making decisions, it is only a part. In a con, it is the main part.
    Perception without discernment is a poor way to assess how a candidate might address challenges in public life. Voters are easily misled without the entire truth. The biggest deceit in the election of 2020 is not found in false pronouncements from Trump, but in the attraction of the carnival.
    This entertainment culture, complete with irrational anger, leads to unsubstantiated political and social opinions: Immigrants take American jobs; black men are dangerous; welfare recipients are lazy; and a popular favorite, when government helps people, it is socialism. The latter often espoused by recipients of Social Security and Medicare.
    Facing a choice after eight years of decency, civility, and respect by the nation’s first black president toward all fellow Americans, a large minority of voters chose an incompetent, crude carnival-barker, one completely lacking in character, as successor. After the election, a Republican Congress had another choice: Legislate in the interest of the nation or face a vindictive president and lose elections. They chose to remain in power by supporting a corrupt president willing to cozy up to anyone –including Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un.
    The truth was known. Deceit is an integral part of Trump and entertainment. It cannot be separated. But deceit is an infection that will burn out. What drives deceit will evolve. If it was fear of losing elections, candidates will find courage. If it was fear of a changing world, change cannot be stopped.
    In the end, history decides whether Trump deceived us, or we deceived ourselves. Will we be a nation of carnival goers? Some believe anything they are told, drawn by curiosity to a carnival. Let’s hope more use critical thinking and find carnivals are no way to run a country.

    Reply
  12. bud

    I think I may be onto to something trying to understand why people support Trump. His supporters are, at the core, single issue voters. Everything else is subordinate to the abortion issue. Or in their view the infanticide issue. Not that Trump seems all that interested in the issue. And so far nothing much has changed after 3+ years. Still, it drives his base to overlook all else.

    Reply
    1. clark surratt

      Bud, I believe you about have it. As I said above, Trump support from start to now falls in about five general categories, and he hasn’t deserted them on these issues. (They overlook awful things to stick with these).
      They are:
      — Race. That includes immigration, law and order (for some), traditional family values, etc.
      — Religion. Abortion, prayer in schools, support for church schools (overlaps race), etc..
      — Guns.
      — anti-Washington
      — anti-press.
      The last three are self explanatory.

      Reply

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