Return to Normalcy

One can’t help reminiscing these days, and lately we keep wandering back to the long ago year of 2016. In retrospect is was a pretty good year. Unemployment was relatively low by historical standards, the economy was growing at a slow but steady pace, and people walked through public spaces to attend sporting events and public festivals and churches and bars without wearing uncomfortable face masks. Yet for some reason it was a very angry year.
Meanwhile, everyone to the left of that certain point was feeling betrayed and disillusioned. Just eight years earlier liberals saw Obama as a messianic figure, a “light giver” whose charisma and brilliance would at long last deliver the socialist utopia that generations o progressive thinkers had so
longed for.
Both sides, of course, overestimated the man. During the first two years he had the support o sizable majorities in Congress, and was able to pass a health care reform law that angered everyone on the right but was far short of the fully socialized health care system that the left wanted. After that he was constrain by the Constitution and a gridlocked government from passing any significant legislation, which of course furthered the anger on both sides.
Which in turn made for a weird presidential election that will surely befuddle historians for centuries.
Despite its many successes in retraining Obama much of the Republican party had come to blame “the establishment” for not destroying an opposition it no, routinely referred to as “satanic.” By “establishment” the party firebrands meant the professionals, and anyone with any claims to expertise in a given area, apparently on the logic that such people had wrought such devastation on America that only complete amateurs with no credentials whatsoever could repair the damage. A reality television show star named Donald Trump, an oft-bankrupt and thrice-married businessman who shared the populist disdain for pointy-headed types seemed the man for the moment.
Somehow all of Trump’s myriad flaws came to be seen as selling points. Yeah, he was a liar and a cheat and bully, but that was what it would take to defeat the damned Democrats, and he’d be lying and cheating and bullying for America. He was crude and vulgar and preferred to answer criticisms with a schoolyard taunt rather than a counterargument, but Senators John McCain and Mitt Romney had been perfect gentleman, and what good did that do? Trump was clearly a racist and sexist, but it turned out that more Republicans than we had suspected had no problem with that, and his supporters argued that any Republican nominee would face the same accusations.
The Democrats had their own sizable “anti-establishment” faction, which wanted to go full-blown socialist with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, but the party was more concerned about four years of Republican and placed its bet on the very establishment former First Lady and Secretary of State and Senator Hillary Clinton. Clinton had the credentials, but those were of little use in 2016, and she also had decades of scandals big and small to explain, and was a uniquely awful campaigner. Between the two, they offered America it’s worst choices in the history of American politics.
Clinton wound up winning the popular vote by some three millions, but razor-thin victories in four states handed the electoral college and the presidency to Trump, Which has done little to diminish the polarization and hatreds of the American people. The upcoming election will surely make it worse.
We’ve largely forgotten all of the dystopian details that the Republicans were sure would come about if Trump weren’t elected –something to do with Christians being rounded up behind barbed wire, we seem to recall — but at this point it’s hard to imagine how four years of Clinton could have wrecked the country more thoroughly.
The right will nonetheless throw around words like “satanic” and paint a Heronymous Boschian portrait of the hellish American landscape if the Democrats aren’t thoroughly vanished. The Democratic ticket of former Vice President and California Sen. Kamala Harris will respond accurate accounts of daily COVID-19 deaths and the number of unemployed and the unprecedented contraction of the economy, and hope that America has gotten over its msg aversion to experience and expertise.

At this point only the most idealistic fool holds out hope for a brave new world in the next four years, and we suspect most Americans will settle for what Warren Harding called a “return to normalcy”..</

— Bud Norman

Good Policy, Bad Politics

At almost anytime in history we’d be in favor of a capital gains tax cut. A capital gains tax is a tax on investment, after all, and that’s something governments should always encourage rather than discourage.

Still, there’s a certain tone deafness to President Donald Trump seeking a capital gains tax cut at this particular moment, and the few remaining Republican who care about constitutional checks and balances are obliged to resist how he’s planning to go abut it./div

The political problem with capital gains tax cuts has always been that too many Americans don’t care to wade through all the economic theory, making it easy to demonize them as “tax cuts for the rich.” In fact most of the benefits do accrue to the already wealthy, as they tend to invest more often an in larger sums. The added economic activity and subsequent revenue growth benefits all Americans, but in a time of polarized politics of resentment, that’s just more economic mumbo-jumbo too many Americans don’t want to hear.
According to all the polls Trump is currently losing in his bid for reelection, which is not surprising given that 30 million are out of work and the Gross Domestic Product has shrunk by more than a fourth in the past year due to a coronavirus that has killed more than 60 million Americans. Trump has described the death tool as “It is what it is” and continues to hold out hope that “It will just go away the way things just go away,” which strikes many voters as callous and no substitute for a plan. Trump also points to recent stock market gains as proof a a rapid economic recovery.but few of those 30.1 million Americans who are out of work. At the moment, pressing for capital gains tax cut only plays to a widespread perception that Trump cares more about his billionaire buddies and donors than the average guy. It’s good policy, but for now bad politics,
Any change in the tax laws must be done through the legislature, and with the Democrats holding a strong majority in the House of Representatives, so Trump is hoping to get around that with an executive. This would quickly lose in the courts, with even the two Trump appointees voting with a majority. Trump can order the Treasure Department to index capital gains to inflation, which would have the same effect. Some Republicans who rightly urailed against similar efforts at executive overreach during the Obama administration, and don’t care to be hypocrites about it now. Most Republicans don’t care about the hypocrisy, confident their supporters won’t notice of won’t mind, but Trump can’t afford any erosion of party support,
Otherwise, it’s another brilliant move by Trump.

— Bud Norman<

The Lower Half of the Ticket

Harris possesses a formidable intellect, is very well spoken and, using complex but comprehensible and complete sentences on rarely hears in politics today, and is not prone to gaffes, and have proved herself an indefatigable campaigner. She was regarded well enough as the California State Attorney general to win one of the state’s Senaate seats, and has earned a national profile in that position.
On the other hand, she doesn’t seem to bring any political advantages to the ticket. She’s from California, but Biden or any other Democratic nominee needn’t worry about that state’s 55 electoral votes. She’s a woman, but Biden already has the support of a majority of women voters an Harris isn’t likely to attract any distaff supporters of President Donald Trump. By current Democratic standards she’s considered a moderate, but she’s sill far left of the average Republican and won’t be seen as a moderating influence on the ticket. She might even wind up dispiriting some far-left Democratic voters who consider Biden insufficiently Democrat.
Given the current state of Democratic politics, Harris’ reputation as a tough-on-crime attorney general will probably alienate much of the party, and it won’t win over any Trump supporters. He will find it hard to attack her as part of a nefarious plot to stop enforcing the law entirely, but he’ll try anyway.
Harris is black, too — actually part Indian and part Jamaican, which qualifies as black by current rules — but in this race that won’t make much difference. Like any other Democrat Biden can count on at least 90 percent of the black vote, and while there are still a lot of racists in America they were all going to vote for Trump anyway.
Perhaps the 77-year-old Biden thought her the most qualified President of the United States should he be unable to serve a full first team. We don’t share that assessment, but we can’t think of anyone on the current political scene who is up to the job.

— Bud Norman

Worse Than Judas

To hear President Donald Trump and his media allies tell, presumptive Democratic nominee is an extraordinarily evil. More evil than any man ever, probably.
According to Trump and his on-air friends Biden wants to “abolish” the suburbs, ban windows, plagiarizing his trademarked slogan of “buy American,” allowing vicious mobs to rampage freely in the streets, and capitulate to the Chinese government on anything it asks for. Oh, and he also wants to “hurt God.”
We don’t worry much about Biden “hurting God.” Our God is very powerful, indeed all-powerful, and we trust he continue unimpaired through eternity.
As for the rest of it, it seems typical Trump hyperbole. Biden does support the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which if fully followed would have the effect of introducing some black and brown faces into previously lily-white neighborhoods, but they’ll have to be as affluent as their neighbors and probably won’t lead to gang warfare on the streets. Banning windows seems an ambitious plan for even the most energetic leftist, especially one Trump has nicknamed “Sleepy Joe.” Trump has also accused Biden of having authoritarian tendencies, and we’ve noticed th atuthoritarians of both the right and left have little patience for mass protests.
The latest salvo will more likely backfire on Trump. Many Americans have already grown weary of Trump’s hyperbolic style of politics, and anyone who is still undecided will likely conclude that Trump is overselling both Bien’s flaws an his own virtues.

— Bud Norman

How Bad Could It Get?

All of the published opinion polls show President Donald Trump trailing in his race for reelection, and although he claims that his own polling show him with a comfortable lead we believe that’s another o the boastful lies he routinely tells. Down-ballot polling and anecdotal evidence and the way things are going lately suggest that every major news organization including Fox News and every pollster including Rasmussen are not conspiring to mislead the public.
Trump and his die-hard supporters will note that last time around the polls failed to predict his Electoral College victory, but they tend to forget that the polls almost precisely predicted Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s 2 percent win of popular vote and the polls in the four states states where Trump eked out victories were all within their margins of error. This time around the national polls have Trump losing by 9 to 14 points, and faring as badly in those battleground states he won in 2016. Worse yet, the state polls also show that some states Republicans have long taken for granted are now battleground states.
According to a poll by commissioned by the Dallas Morning News, Biden even has a five point lead in Texas, which is very bad news for Trump. Texas is by the most populous state the Republican party counts on, and losing it would make Trump’s reelection impossible. The good news is that Biden has only 46 percent of the vote, compared to Trump’s 41 percent, with 14 percent of the electorate in the undecided column, bu that’s not great news. Trump needs to win well over have half of the undecideds just to catch up, and that will require time and money that can’t be spent in other states will need to prevent an electoral landslide.
If current trends continue Trump might be forced to write off the four Rust Belt states that got him elected in 2016, and try to hold on to such once reliably Republican states as Arizona and North Carolina and even Georgia and Kansas, as well as populous and always-competitive Florida and Ohio, where the polls show him in a fight for his life.
Current trends might not continue, of course, but at this point it’s hard to imagine what might reverse them. Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations and deaths are climbing steadily nationwide and spiking to new records in Texas and Arizona and Florida, while d public health experts are saying the worst of it might come fwhen lu season arrives in the fall. Economic experts are predicting that unemployment will remain in double digits through the end of the year. Perhaps Trump’s steadfast stand for the Confederacy and crackdowns on peaceful protests against racism might turn things around, and his pardons of convicted felons won’t undermine his “law and order” positions, but so far they’ve only been driving his approval ratings down.
Trump is a master at marketing, if nothing else, and maybe he’l pull something out of his Make America Great Again ball cap. It will need to be something pretty damned good, though.

— Bud Norman

In Search of Good News

Everyday we spend an inordinate amount of time reading and watching news from a wide variety of sources, always hoping for some glimmer of good news, but for most of this year it’s been a desultory task. We can only imagine how depressing it must be for President Donald Trump.
Coronavirus cases continue to mount in many states, including Oklahoma and Arizona, where Trump recently had large crowds gathering together indoors and mostly without face marks, and in such crucial states as Texas and Florida. All the stock markets suffered significant losses on Wednesday because of the scary coronavirus numbers, and the estimated 50 million workers who are now out of work can’t to expect things to change soon. There are still peaceful protests and lawless vandalism going on around the country about racism and police brutality, and although Trump has promised racism can be “quickly and very solved,” we don’t expect he solve that problem by Election Day.
Trump got big applause at his appearances in Oklahoma by calling coronavirus “the Kung Flu,” even though many Asian-Americans have voiced their objections, and he still likes to call Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas” despite the objections of many Native Americans, and his latest cause is a defense of the statues and other honorifics to the slave-holding traitors of the Confederate Sates of America. This is good news for Trump’s most die-hard defenders, but it’s bad news to the rest of the country, and doesn’t seem likely to end racism by Election Day. There are fears from the experts that the coronavirus will be worse by then, and that the economic numbers will be just as dire. Unless you’re Trump or one of his die-hard fans the only good news is that all polls show presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden leading by wide margins nationwide and in crucial swing states.
The only other news is about Trump politicizing the Justice Department and letting his cronies off easy and going after prosecutors nosing into Trump’s business, but he’ll surely have some explanation for that will satisfy the die-hard fans.
Election Day is still four months away, though, and almost anything could happen in that time. We’re not hopeful, though, and neither should Trump be.

— Bud Norman

Trump and the Changing Times

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that President Donald Trump’s attempts to dismantle President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects an estimated 650,000 “dreamers” who were illegally brought in the country as children from deportation, is itself illegal. If it had happened a few months earlier, we suspect, it would have been a bigger story.
Trump’s promise to rid the country of illegal immigrants by any means necessary helped him win his upset victory in the 2016 election, and had hoped it would help him win reelection, but the issue has lately faded from the news cycle. What with the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic catastrophe and all the protests and occasional riots about racism and police brutality, some 650,000 people who can’t be blamed for being here and have proved that they’re going to school or working at jobs and in many cases helping hospitals cope with the coronavirus don’t seem so scary.
Public opinion polling shows that most Americans — and even most Republicans — are sympathetic to the “dreamers” and not eager to deport them to countries they can’t remember and where they don’t speak the language, so Trump should be glad that the Supreme Court spared him all the heartbreaking stories that would have run in the media about mass deportations of well-scrubbed college kids and military veterans and emergency room workers. The big, beautiful border wall that Trump promised Mexico will pay for has a few hundred miles than American taxpayers have payed for, and drug gangs are sawing holes in it, and when was the last time you saw a story about that?
Instead, after losing a decision a day earlier that ruled it is illegal for employers to fire homosexual and transexual workers because of their homosexuality or transgenderism, Trump “tweeted” out “Do you get the impression the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?” and warned that if he doesn’t get another four years to appoint more justices the Second Amendment would also be threatened by a court of liberals and squishy moderates. That should rile up some of the faithful, but he’d be well advised not to press the “dreamers” issue, as it won’t win him any of the votes he lost time around.
In the wake of the biggest public health crisis since 1918 and the worst economy since the Great Depression and the most unrest in the streets since 1968, several of Trump’s favorite issues seem to have lost their salience. A couple of years ago Trump did well cussing about National Football League players who kneeled during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality, but after a couple of months of endlessly replayed videos showing blatantly racist police brutality the NFL has apologized for banning the protest and the protesters are polling better than Trump. For now, he’s losing the culture wars.
The president continues to defend honorifics to the Confederacy, even as the Marines and the Navy and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and even the good ol’ boys at the NASCAR stock racing circuit are banning displays of the Confederate battle flag. His tough-guy “law and order” rhetoric seems to be backfiring as well, with even some skittish Republican politicians criticizing him for using flash grenades and pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse a mostly peaceful protest in Lafayette Square to post for a photo with a Bible in his hand at a nearby church. Most people have become accustomed to having gay and lesbian co-workers, and only a very few know anybody transgendered, too, and most people currently have more pressing problems to worry about, so advocating for mass firings won’t win Trump many new votes.
Although he lost the popular vote by some three million ballots Trump was able to eke out an electoral college victory with an undeniably ingenious ability to discern the cultural climate, but it seems to be failing him this time around. He can order some rather half-hearted police reforms while praising most police officers, and decry racism while promising he can “quickly and easily” end it, but after so many years he’s ill-suited to the role of racial healer. It’s also a bit late for the boastfully pussy-grabbing politician to win back many of the suburban white women who have been abandoning the Republican party in droves, or convince any homosexuals that he’s a “friend of the family,” or win any non-white voters.
At this point Trump needs to make the coronavirus “magically disappear” as long promised, followed quickly by a V-shaped economy recovery like no one’s ever seen before, and hope that everyone’s so happy about it on Election Day they forget his past enthusiasm for Confederate-style racism and police “not being too nice” when arresting suspects. That’s going to be difficult to achieve in the next five months, though, and at the moment Trump is not even trying to pull it off. Instead he’s defying the wishes of local politicians and health officials by holding a crowded indoor rally in Oklahoma despite the past week’s doubling of coronavirus cases in the state, boasting that by moving the date one later he made the “Juneteenth” celebration of black slaves being belatedly emancipated more famous, and doing little about the economy other than signing off on unprecedented deficit spending.
There are a couple of well-regarded polls that correctly predicted the popular vote in the last which now show Trump losing to presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden by 14 points, and the Fox News poll is similarly bleak, and even the Trump-friendly Rasmussen poll has him losing by 11 points. Trump’s instinct is to play to his diminishing base, but in these strange times he’ll likely need a lot more than that.

— Bud Norman

Looking for Some Alternative to the Lesser of Two Evils

America’s last presidential election was perhaps the most desultory moment in our nation’s political history, with two of the worst Americans ever as the major party nominees. They advocated very different but equally appealing policies, and in the end it all came down to which candidate’s character you thought was more awful. This year isn’t looking any better.
Last time around both finalists for the highest office in the land were scandal-ridden scoundrels, and in eerily similar ways. Republican nominee Donald Trump was credibly accused by a dozen women of decades of sexual assault, and was caught on audiotape bragging about it in the most vulgar terms, but Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was a longtime enabler of her ex-president husband’s just as egregious sexual piggery. The Clintons had a phony-baloney family foundation supported mostly by big-bucks donors courting Hillary’s Clinton’s influence as Secretary of State, but Trump had his own phony-baloney family foundation that did made all sorts of questionable spending including a big campaign contribution to a Florida Secretary of State who immediately withdrew from a multi-state lawsuit against the fraudulent Trump University that had bilked hundreds of suckers out of million dollars and Trump eventually settled that for $25 million and the family foundation was put out of business by the New York state courts, who also decreed that anyone named Trump would have to take an ethics course before they were ever again allowed to be involved a New York charity.
Both the Clintons and the Trumps had decades of financial shenanigans, ranging from the former’s Whitewater dealings to pretty much the entirety of the latter’s career as an oft-bankrupt billionaire mogul, but for the most part they got away with it. Clinton had to hide records of the millions she and her husband had made from giving speeches to special interest groups, but ran as an heiress to the mostly scandal-free administration of President Barack Obama. Trump had openly bragged about buying off Democratic and Republican politicians to get favorable treatment in his very fishy business dealings, and went to extraordinary lengths to hide his educational and military and health and tax records, but argued that made him the ideal guy to lock up “Crooked Hillary” and “drain the swamp.”
This time around looks to be every bit as tawdry. The apparent Democratic nominee after a truncated-by-coronavirus race is former Vice President Joe Biden, an underwhelming career politician with all the baggage you’d expect after four decades of riding trains to Washington, D.C., and Trump is once again the Republican party’s nominee. Biden’s son seems to have made a lot of money while in Ukraine while Dad was in charge of America’s foreign policy in that country, but the Trump kids have also been doing well in China and other countries while their father is president, and although the details of both stories are complicated it looks bad no matter how closely you look.
Both men now stand credibly accused of rape, too. A former Biden employee has come forward by her name, Tara Reade, to allege that 27 years ago then-Sen. Biden pushed against a wall in an empty hallway and penetrated her with his fingers. This is on top of another dozen women Biden’s behavior made them feel “uncomfortable,” and ample photographic and videographer evidence of Biden being somewhat creepily touchy with women. Some two dozen women have accused Trump of even worse behavior, of the sort he’s bragged about on a surreptitious audiotape and on Howard Stern’s nationally broadcast shock jock radio shows, and a woman named E. Jean Carroll has publicly come forward to allege that Trump raped her in a department store dressing room in the ’90s.
Which will certainly take a lot of the fun out of the next election for a lot of people, who might well conclude that we’re choosing between two rapists to lead our country.
Our sixty-some years of observing human nature have convinced us that women sometimes do make false allegations of sexual harassment and rape, but that it’s by far more common for men to sexually harass and rape women, so we’re usually inclined to believe women who have nothing to gain and much to lose with accusations against powerful men. We try apply that same standard regardless of the accused’s party affiliation, and we’ve long noticed Democrats and Republicans are about equally as likely to land in the docket. In this case, we can’t look at either man’s life history and say he’s too much a gentleman for us to even imagine him ever doing such a thing.
We’re instinctively disinclined to look at anything from the Democrats’ perspective, but if you want to get deep into the weeds of all this theDemocrats have the slightly better argument.
Reade is only now making her 27-year-old allegation, after staying silent through Senatorial campaigns and Biden’s vice presidential nomination, and he’s asked the Senate to release any complaints she might have made at the time, and she’s admitted to the press that she only filed a vaguely worded complaint about being “uncomfortable,” and Obama’s thorough vetting team didn’t turn up anything to keep him off the ticket. Carroll didn’t file any charges against Trump at the time, but she did report it to friends who are willing to come forward by name to talk about it, and she has a reputation as a journalist and comedy writer that she’s put at stake, and Trump denies it by saying she’s not his type, which leaves one to wonder on what type of woman he might rape.
As for all the financial shenanigans, whatever Biden’s ethical lapses he’s not become nearly so rich from them as Trump claims to be, and there’s no reason to believe his son got rich in Ukraine by the same sort of quid pro quo deal with the Ukrainian government that got impeached and should have had him removed from office, and Trump’s kids have done pretty well in Dad’s negotiations over the past three years. With apologies to Irving Berlin, we can hear them at the debates singing a rendition of “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Awfuler.”
There’s really no need to wade so deep into the weeds, however, as it really won’t matter much in the election. The public will wind up reconciling itself to a a presidential choice between two scoundrels who are obviously corrupt and quite possibly rapists. So far Trump hasn’t hypocritically seized on Biden’s rape problem, instead noting that powerful men are targets for such allegations, but that’s obviously self-interested and is likely to change between now and election day. A large segment of the Democratic party sticking to principle and trying to somehow find some other nominee, but we expect they’ll mostly fail line and turn out in November to vote against Trump.
A small but decisive minority of independent and independent-minded voters will wind up deciding the election, and what they do depends on what happens between now November, which we admit we have no way of knowing. There’s a chance that a couple hundred thousand Americans will be dead and millions more unemployed and bankrupt, with many more voting by mail if the postal service still exists because they’ve been cooped up at home and grocery shopping in face masks for months, and they’ll care more about that than the candidates’ grotesque character flaws.
Neither Trump nor Biden seem to have any answers for the crisis of the moment, though, nor any inspiring ideas about what to do when we eventually get past it no matter how badly it’s been bungled. Our Republican and Democratic friends alike are once again telling us it’s a binary choice and we have to pick a side, and that the fate of our nation once again hangs on it. Ignoring such shrill and panicked cries, for the second time in our lives we’ll probably pick some obscure protest candidate as a “none of the above” vote.
We’re trying to muddle through the current crisis and see beyond the weeds and past the swamp toward a country that can choose between two candidates of stellar character who strive to unite a great nation of 330 million free men and women behind a plausible program for a better future. We invite dispirited Republicans and Democrats and independents of all races and sexes and classes to join us on this quixotic quest.

— Bud Norman

The State of the Race, For Now

President Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters tend to dismiss any polls results they don’t want to hear as “fake news,” but Trump is taking his recent bad numbers very seriously. Polling commissioned by the Republican National Committee and the Trump reelection campaign reportedly corroborate the publicly released surveys showing a decline in Trump’s approval ratings in the wake of the coronavirus, and Trump is reportedly furious about it.
We’re inclined to believe the reporting, because Trump has started heeding the advice of Republican party officials to stop doing the daily press briefings that he clearly enjoyed and taking a less visible and voluble role in in the administration’s response to the epidemic. Some pretty convincing data is needed to pry Trump away from his highly rated television shows, and the opportunity to lash out at the reporters in attendance, so the party and campaign polling must be very worrisome.
All of the recent publicly released polls show a majority of the public is dissatisfied with Trump’s efforts regarding coronavirus and only a minority believe anything Trump says about it. The polls show Trump trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden not only nationally but also in the swing state’s that gave Trump his surprising victory in the Electoral College. There’s an ample amount of anecdotal evidence for Trump’s unpopularity, too, and with death toll rising daily an the employment rate falling it would be surprising if Trump were becoming more popular.
The election is more than six months away, though, and a lot could change between now and then. A quick end to the coronavirus and a rapidly rebounding economy are possible if not probable, and the chances of Biden making some catastrophic campaign error are very good. Trump has long predicted that the media will eventually start giving him favorable for fear that Americans will stop consuming news if someone more boring replaces him in the White House, but we probably shouldn’t bet on that happening.
According to both The Washington Post and The New York Times, Trump reacted to the internal polling by shouting angrily at his campaign. Trump will probably find other scapegoats, too, but that won’t solve his political problems. He’ll need to take responsibility, and change his behave to win over voters who aren’t satisfied to see reporters being insulted and critics ridiculed and want actual results instead. Nothing that’s happened in the past three years give us any confidence that might happen.
Trump faces difficult choices, and must weigh the often competing interests of public health and the economy, and we hope he chooses wisely. The best choices for the long term might not be the most popular in the short term, and we’ll even hold out faint hope that Trump does the right thing.

— Bud Norman

A Pandemic In An Election Year

The coronavirus arrived in the United States during an election year, which is quite inconvenient for American democracy.
Nine states have primary elections scheduled in April, but they’ll likely be postponed indefinitely, and there’s a chance both parties will have to postpone their nominating conventions. We’re hopeful there will be a general election as scheduled, even if it’s by mail or internet or some other sure-to-be-controversial method, but it will be an election like no other.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has a clear lead in the Democratic primary race and seems a sure bet to soon clinch the nomination, but last remaining rival Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders hasn’t dropped out and nothing’s certain. Neither candidate is currently able to hold rallies or do other traditional campaigning, and both are finding it hard to get any coverage from media that have little time or space for anything other than coronavirus news. Whatever arguments they might make for themselves are largely unheard, and important issues that will likely survive the coronavirus are not being debated.
President Donald Trump has already clinched the Republican nomination, and although he can’t hold the campaign rallies he so dearly loves he has no trouble getting media coverage, but that’s not necessarily to his benefit. Even by November he probably won’t be able to run as planned on boasts about record stock market highs and unemployment lows, there are valid criticisms of his response to the coronavirus crisis, and he’ll find it hard to plausibly pin any of the blame on either Biden or Sanders.
Much depends on how the coronavirus and the economy play out between now and November, which is still far off, but we don’t expect the country will be tired of winning, and that it will be an acrimonious election.

— Bud Norman