Three Cheers for the GOP’s “Human Scum”

Lately we’ve been binge-watching videos from both the Lincoln Project and Republican Voters Against Trump, as they make us feel lonely and give us hope that the Republican Party might eventually recover from President Donald Trump.
If you’re not familiar with either organization, you probably will be by Election Day. The Lincoln Project is a political action committee formed by some prominent Never Trump Republicans, including conservative lawyer George Conway, now best known as the husband of senior Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, former managers of Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaigns Steve Schmidt and John Weaver, former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party Jennifer Horn, and former California Republican Party political director Mike Madrid. Republicans Voting Against Trump is a more grass roots organization posting videos of dozens of disillusioned rank-and-file Republicans explaining the conservative and Republican reasons they’ll be voting against Trump.
Both groups make a more persuasive case against Trump than anything the damn Democrats have come up with so far, and both are a problem for the president.
The well-funded Lincoln Project’s videos are very professionally produced by political professionals who know a thing or two about how to make an effective attack ad and can speak to Republicans in Republican language. Last time around Trump had the advantage of running against spineless Republicans who didn’t want to alienate his supporters during the primary, and then against an inept Democratic nominee whose long history prevented her from exploiting Trump’s moral weakness. This time around he’ll presumably be running against presumptive Democrat nominee “Sleepy” Joe Biden, whose blandness will contrast favorably with Trump’s overly energetic persona, and he’s also got to contend with some bare-knuckle political pugilists who won’t be intimidated by a “tweet.”
All the YouTube views being racked up the Republican Voters Against Trump should be more worrisome. They’re not at all slick, just ordinary-looking Republicans looking into a video camera and stating their reasons for voting against Trump. Most of them have stories about how they’ve been Republicans since Trump was a Democrat, several talk about their military service and careers in law enforcement and their time in public office as Republicans, others talk about their Christian faith and belief that character counts, and none of them come across as “human scum,” as Trump has called any Republicans who don’t support everything says and does. They talk about how Trump has abandoned traditional Republican positions on free trade and maintaining the alliances that have largely kept the world peaceful and prosperous since World War II and lowering federal deficits and telling the truth, and as they rack up thousands of “views” on the internet they’re bound to win over more Republicans.
With coronavirus cases spiking and unemployment at levels not seen since the Great Depression and peaceful protests and the occasional riot popping up around the country because of racial injustice, Trump is betting that his defense of the the lost cause of the Confederacy is the best thing he’s got going for him. That will appeal to a certain segment of supporters, but we can’t see how it will win him any new voters nor appease any of the disillusioned Republican voters who continue to believe in the Grand Old Party’s traditional-since-its-founding pro-Union stance.
Most Republicans still like Trump, which we attribute to the fact he’s the Republican nominee, like it or not, but all the polls show that party support slowly eroding. The Lincoln Project and Republican Voters Against Trump likely accelerate that trend, and Trump will be hard-pressed to recruit replacements.

— Bud Norman

Aging Politics in a Young Republic

Even by President Donald Trump’s debased standards, the speech he delivered on the Third of July at the base of Mount Rushmore was what President George W. Bush might call “some weird shit.”
Weird that he would use the occasion of a holiday intended to promote national unity by assailing not only the rioters and looters but also the vastly more numerous protestors objecting to the racism and police brutality that undeniably exists in our country. Weird that in a time when millions of Americans are sickened and tens of thousands of of them have died from a rampaging epidemic, and tens of millions of Americans are out of work as a result, and foreign adversaries from Russia to China to North Korea are exploiting America’s moment of distraction and weakness, he would identify the mostly peaceful domestic protestors against statues glorifying the Confederacy’s attempts to secede from the union as the the great threat to America’s existence as a Republic. Weird that Trump said those who disagreed with him want to “defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children,” and accuse of them of wanting to crush dissent and impose what he called “toe-tally-terry-tism.”
That mangled pronunciation of totalitarianism, along with the rest of the generally sloppy and slurry and low-energy reading of the speech, should be of greater to concern to Trump and his hard-pressed apologists. At one point in the speech, where he recounted America’s great military feats, he was caught on video saying that “in the jungles of Vietnam they delivered a swift and swiffying, you know that’s sweeping, it was swift and sweeping like nobody’s ever seen anything happen, a victory in Operation Desert Storm. A lot of you were involved in that, a lot of you were involved. That was a quick one.”
>We’re hopeful that Trump knows Operation Desert Storm wasn’t a swift and swiffying and sweeping victory in the Vietnam, War, and even some in “lame stream” “fake news” media who are always out to get Trump noted that if you read the speech there was a period and a pause between the part about Vietnam and the first Gulf War, but if you were listening to the speech as it was delivered rather than reading it as written it sure sounded like Trump thought that Operation Desert Storm was how America won a quick and sweeping victory in the jungles of Vietnam.
For all the late-night comics who revel in ridiculing the Trump it’s his greatest gift since said he talked about how the Continental Army, which was named after General George Washington, stormed the ramparts and seized the airports during the Revolutionary War, and other the rockets’ red glare over Fort McHenry, which happened in the war of 1812, “had nothing but victory.” We’re sure that Trump knows the Continental Army didn’t seize any airports during the Revolutionary War, although we’re not so sure he knows the difference between that war and the unpleasantness of 1812, and can believe that it was just another of those embarrassing misreadings of a teleprompter that might happen to anyone.
Still, that’s a problem for Trump. By nature he cannot admit making the sort of mistakes that might happen to anyone, and he clearly hopes to run for reelection on the argument that the gaffe-prone presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe is far less physically fit far and more senile than himself. Biden has lately been rising in the polls by mostly biding his time in his basement, occasionally reading carefully-written and mostly well-delivered speeches about national unity and such boilerplate blather, and following the public health guidelines and not making any conspicuous mistakes. Trump spent 15 minutes at his sparsely-attended and widely-panned rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, explaining why he walked so gingerly down a ramp because of his leather-soled shows and used to two hands to take a sip of water to avoid staining his silk tie at his West Point commencement speech, and letting Trump hog all the media seems a winning strategy for Biden.
Both septuagenarian options are older than any previous presidential nominees, both show it, and that is a matter of concern. So is the fact that the Congressional leadership of both parties is, to put it charitably, seasoned. As much as we value the wisdom of old age, and decry ageism, the years eventually take the same toll on the brain as the rest of the body. We’re a mere 60 years old, but have already noticed we don’t play speed chess at the far-above average level we used to, and when the country oldies station played “Oh, Lonesome Me” as we were driving around today it took as a frustrating minute or so to remember that it was the great Don Gibson singing it. Our parents are octogenarians who continue to acquire to wisdom every day, and we don’t hope to ever catch up with them, but both will wisely say they’re not up the rigors of the presidency.
Not a one of those many millions of young American whippersnappers out there have won their party’s heart, however, and on both sides they’re an uninspiring lot. We can’t identify any potentially earthshaking 40-somethings such as Republican Teddy Roosevelt or Democratic John Kennedy among them, and this time around no one dared challenge Trump for the Republican nomination the last Democrat standing and the darling of the youthful left was self-proclaimed socialist and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is even older and crankier. Our generation has made quite a mess of things, but for now we’re the only options, and soon we’ll leave it to all those many millions of young whippersnappers out there to set things right. We wish them the best, and will be glad if we don’t live long enough to see how things turn out.

— Bud Norman

Holding Steady in Changing Winds

The state of Mississippi has removed a confederate symbol from its flag, the state of Oklahoma has voted to expand Medicaid coverage, Kansans are mostly willing to go along with mandatory face masks, and the latest polling also shows that such reliably Republican states as Georgia and North Carolina and Texas are up for grabs in the next presidential election. This should be frightening to President Donald Trump, but he’s still stubbornly defending the confederacy, trying to undo “Obamacare” and leave millions uninsured during a pandemic, and refusing to be seen in a face mask.
Trump has an undying faith in his gut instincts about public opinion, which made him a reality television star and somehow got him elected to the presidency despite losing the popular vote by some three million ballots, but his reelection strategy strikes us as counter-intuitive.
If the great state of Mississippi — or “Mississippi Goddamn,” as the great jazz singer Nina Simone called it — is abandoning the confederal cause, and so is the NASCAR stock car racing circuit and the Navy and Marines, we think that at long last the confederacy truly is a lost cause. There seems to be an emerging social consensus that black lives matter, and despite the sporadic violence that’s come of it Trump’s 1968-era “law and order” message isn’t playing well in 2020..
We had our clearly stated ideological objections to “Obamacare” when it barely won congressional approval and was signed into law, and to such big government programs in general, but at the moment even Oklahomans are wanting to expand health insurance to their fellow citizens. Trump promised to not only repeal “Obamacare” but replace it with something that would cover everybody at a greatly reduced cost, but he hasn’t announced it after three and a half years in office, and once again he seems out of step with these crazy times.
We hate wearing face masks as much as the next guy, and will miss the erotic frisson of full facial nudity, but the know-it-all experts say it will help us from getting infected and infecting others, so we’re willing to put up with it for a while. Even here in Kansas most of our fellow live-free-or-die citizens seem to agree, and we think there’s a chance the Democrats might pick up their firste Senate seat since the Great Depression. Trump moved the Republican convention from North Carolina to Florida because of face mask and social distancing rules, but Florida’s seen a very scary spike in coronavirus cases and now has similar rules, and Trump once again seems behind the news cycle.
Trump is still promising that the coronavirus will magically disappear, the economy will once again roar, and that America’s race problems can be “very quickly and easily solved,” but he only has four months to pull that off. Trump’s gut instincts not withstanding, it seems a risky strategy for reelection

— Bud Norman

On How Things are Going

Despite everything we still run into friends occasionally, and from a social distance we’ll ask how things are going for them. In most cases they shrug and tell us that they’re hanging in there, but we haven’t had anyone recently tell us that things are going great.
This admittedly anecdotal evidence is corroborated by a fresh poll from the Columbia Broadcasting System showing that only 5 percent of Americans say that things are going vey well for them. At this rate it will take us a while to ask 100 people how things are going, and if we find five among them who saying things are going very well we’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Pretty much everything is undeniably awful at the moment, after all, and only the luckiest 5 precent or so are having a good time. Coronavirus infections and COVID-19 deaths continue to mount at the fastest rate in the world, tens of millions of Americans are out of work as a result, people are once again bickering both peacefully and violently about race, there are no sports or campaign rallies to divert our attention, and around here it’s hotter than hell and theres’s even Saharan dust in the air.
Not all of this is President Donald Trump’s fault, of course, but everything seems to have gone to hell on his watch, which is how Trump judged all the previous presidents of his lifetime, and nobody seems to be “sick and tired of winning,” as Trump promised they would beat this point in his presidency. His boasts about “Only I can solve” and making America great again and building a big and beautiful wall across the southern border that Mexico would pay pay for haven’t been backed up. The budget deficit is up by trillions and trade deficits are up by billions, and Trump is boasting about how great things were last January and how great they will be when the coronavirus magically disappears before inauguration day next January,
We’ll see how it turns out, but Trump seems to be one of the 95 percent who don’t think things are going very well.

— Bud Norman<.

Full Facial Nudity is Banned in Kansas

Starting Friday, full facial nudity will no longer be allowed in Kansas, at least for the duration of the coronavirus problem. Gov. Laura Kelly has ordered that as of Friday all Kansans must wear face masks when in public, and it will be interesting to see how that turns out.
The measure is in response to a worrisome increase in the state’s coronavirus infections, especially here in mostly urban Sedgwick County and the suburban Kansas City counties to the northeast, but it’s also happening in the rural counties, which are sparsely populated and as always socially-distanced but have an average age over 65 and scant medical care, so any outbreak would be disastrous. Despite such compelling public health arguments, however, we expect that Kelly will face some harsh criticism.
Kansans tend to have an instinctive sense of civic duty, and come together in a crisis and fill sandbags in times of flooding and refrain from tossing cigarettes out of a car window during times of drought and tak\e up arms in time of war, but otherwise they tend to follow Walt Whitman’s advice to “resist much, obey little,” and don’t care for being told what to do. Which Kansas instinct prevails remains to be seen, but it surely won’t be a unanimous decision around here.
Here, as everywhere else in America, people tend to disregard the arguments and choose sides based on their previous political affiliations. Our liberal Democratic friends all agree that wearing a face mask is the least you can do for your fellow citizens, and far less onerous than what previous generations of civic-minded Kansans have one, but when our President Donald Trump-loving conservative Republican friends complain that wearing a mask in public very much sucks they also make an undeniably damned good point.
To fully confess to any revolutionary cadres out there, we’ve rarely worn a mask when buying beer and other essential groceries over the past many interminable months. We wore one to a small town Church of Christ funeral, where about a third of the mourners wore masks, but only on a couple of other occasions. In our beer and grocery shopping and other occasional appearances in public at an outdoor coffee shop and a beer joint with a small client tell and spacious patio seating, we’ve noticed that only about a third of our fellow citizens have been wearing face masks. We expect that percentage will go up when it becomes mandatory, but don’t anticipate full compliance. It might turn out to be the most widely broken law around here since Prohibition or the 55 mile per hour speed limit.
There’s also a chance it will redound to those liberals’ benefit. This coronavirus problem is undeniably serious, even so serious that the Trump-loving Republican governors of Florida and Texas are bringing back economic restrictions in response to recent worrisome spikes, and the Vice President and Republican Senate majority are urging Americans to wear face masks in public. Even in this traditionally Republican state our Democratic governor won handily against and a very-very-Trump-loving Republican just two years ago and won’t have to run again for another two years, by which time she might look both courageous and smart, and Trump might be long gone. Trump moved the Republican convention from Asheville, N.C, because to Jacksonville, Fla., because of Asheville’s coronavirus regulations, Jacksonville is adopting stricter coronavirus restrictions, and that’s embarrassing.
At this point there’s really no telling how Kelly’s executive order will be enforced, and what legal authority counties have the rights to countermand it, and what the cops can do about it, although she promises explanations about that by Thursday. If the inevitable court battles result in the counties getting their way, the Sedgwick County Commission, mostly comprised of the Wichita metropolitan area, which is currently seeing a worrisome rise in coronavirus cases, would probably vote to damn the face masks and full go speed ahead. The lone hold-out against and pro-business consensus for ignoring the coronavirus is a tattooed folk-singing single mom who represents our inordinately homosexual and lesbian and atypically liberal district of the county.
Once again we’re sitting on the political sidelines with no rooting interest in any of the players. We recognize the dangers of the coronavirus, but damn how we hate wearing those damn masks, and instinctively hate bossy government, and miss enjoying full facial nudity. We don’t regret that we voted for that Democratic governor or that hippy-dippy County Commissioner, and starting Friday we’ll comply with the face mask rule, and hating every moment of it and wondering whom to blame, and keep hoping that curve i flattened and eventually the center will hold and something like normalcy will eventually be restored.

— 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

The Results Remain to be Seen

Several states held elections on Tuesday, with a very interesting Democratic primary to pick who will run against Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky among them, but we can’t say how it turned out. In the age of coronavirus elections are even more complicated than usual, with fewer polling places and a lot more mail-in voting, and as a consequence the all the results won’t been known for another week.
Which is very frustrating for amateur psephologists such as ourselves, and no doubt even more so for the candidates involved, but the coronavirus has wrought all sorts of frustrations. At this point we’re heartened that elections are being held at all, and remain hopeful there will be a national election in November. On the other hand, we don’t hold out much hope that it will be controversial.
Democrats in Kentucky claimed that the number of polling places had been cut in a way calculated to suppress the black vote, but it appears that there was a record turn-out due to the expanded mail-in voting, which the Republicans claim leads to massive voter fraud. No matter who winds up winning, the losers will claim they were cheated, and America’s faith in its democratic processes will be diminished.
As much as we hope that elections and everything else can get back to normal by fall, we’re not counting on it and figure that voting by mail is better than not voting at all. The arguments against voting by mail are not convincing, and also hypocritical given than President Donald Trump and his family and staff and all the overseas military voters Republicans have long counted on have been doing it for years, and we have to admit that lately the Democrats’ allegations of voter suppression are usually very convincing. Trump has criticized Democratic Secretaries o State for sending applications for mail votes to registered voters, and threatened to withhold federal funding from them, but even in such a Republican state and such a Republican county as ours we’ve received applications for mail votes from the local election commissioner for an August primary. Even though we’re willing to don our face masks and go to some remote polling place to cast our vote on election day, and even though there’s no one we’re at all enthused about voting for as a Republican Senator nominee in the primary, we’re grateful for the option.
The long waits for the results will be the worst part, as we’re political junkies accustomed to the instant gratification of knowing who won and lost. What happened yesterday won’t be revealed until next week, and we’re impatient to find out, as it will be very interesting. The Democrats’ senatorial primary in Kentucky is especially intriguing. Amy McGrath, a decorated Marine combat pilot and very centrist and bona fide accent-and-all Kentuckian who barely lost a bid for a House seat two years ago was long considered the presumptive nominee, but in the last couple of weeks she’s been challenged by Charles Booker, a black member of the Kentucky House of Representatives who has staked out more liberal positions regarding Trump and race relations and that sort of thing.
Making it all the more interesting, all the polls showed McGrath running a very competitive race with Republican senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, resulting in millions of dollars of donations pouring in from Democrats around the country. More interesting yet, the most resulting polling in the state suggests Booker also has a shot against McConnell. Kentucky elected a Democratic governor last year despite Trump’s rally appearances on behalf of the Republican candidate, Trump’s promises to revive Kentucky’s dying coal industry have not been kept, and the Grand Old Party now has to worry about yet another long-reliable state.
One of the few elections that were called on election day was a Republican House primary in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District, and that was mostly notable because the Trump-endorsed candidate lost. North Carolina is another one of those long-reliable states that the Republicans now have to worry about, and we’ll be watching the eventual election results for more problem spots.
As of now McGrath has a lead over Booker in the Kentucky Senate primary, but that might be because of people who voted by mail before Booker emerged as a credible challenger, which is indeed a peril of voting by mail well ahead of an election. Despite all these difficulties, we hope that everyone will accept whatever the results turn out to be, and that the center will hold and America’s democratic processes will be respected by the masses.

— Bud Norman

When the Coronavirus is Personal

By happenstance we ran into an old friend Monday who told us from behind a face mask six feet away that he had recently recovered from COVID-19, and been given clearance by his doctor to start running into people again. He further informed us his wife, also a friend of ours, who already had plenty of serious health problems, was still recovering in a nearby hospital but had at least been taken off the ventilator.
We have other friends who stubbornly insist that the seriousness if not the existence of coronavirus is a hoax promulgated by an alarmist fake news media as another witch hunt against President Donald Trump, and they like to ask if we even know anyone who’s gotten sick. The aforementioned friends are the second and third people we know who have been among the nearly two and a half million COVID-19 cases, and although we don’t yet know anyone among the more than 120,000 Americans who have died from the disease we’re inclined to regard the coronavirus as a truly serious problem.
Politics and other weaknesses of human nature have proved ineradicable throughout history, though, and those instincts overwhelm a dispassionate assessment of the data. The coronavirus is indeed a pressing political problem for President Donald Trump, and his most ardent admirers feel obliged to somehow explain why it’s all fake news. Some still cling to the theory that all the federal health authorities and and the state and local health authorities and all the doctors and nurses on duty in America’s hospitals are in on a “deep state” plot to make Trump look bad, but most attempt more reasonable arguments. The coronavirus does indeed exist and has infected a couple of million or so and killed more 120,000 or so, they acknowledge, but they argue that in the grand scheme of things that’s not so bad, and no reason to continue any anti-coronavirus measures.
After all, this is in a country of more than 330 million people, with some 47 or 50 million of them unemployed and eager to get back to work, and pretty much everyone is itching to get back to going to concerts and sporting events and campaign rallies and social justice protests and running into people within six feet and without face masks. Federal and state and local restrictions on personal behavior for public health reasons are predictably widely unpopular, and it’s understandable why Trump has seemingly staked his reelection on flouting those rules and encouraging others to do so as well.
For now, though, it seems a losing argument. All the polls show most Americans are taking the coronavirus quite seriously, Trump’s handling of the problem has majority disapproval, and a mere 6,200 of his most ardent admirers signed a form waiving the Trump campaign’s liability for any sickness or death to attend an indoor rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Trump is hugely popular but coronavirus cases have lately been doubling every day, The fans in attendance loved it when Trump drank from a glass of water with one and not spilling a drop on his silk tie, but his rally speech in a time of coronavirus didn’t do him much good with any potential new voters.
Trump had plenty of people to blame for the current sorry state of affairs, but at his first coronavirus rally he didn’t outline any specific plan to resume economic activity while keeping the coronavirus in check. To be fair, none of the damned Democrats have done so. Which leaves us worried, and wondering what might come on Election Day, if that happens. In the meantime, we’ll be praying for all of our friends, and everyone else.

— Bud Norman

Trump’s Trip to Tulsa

We’ve never failed to have a good time on our many visits to Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is one of America’s most musical cities and one of those places that has its own weird vibe, but President Donald Trump wound up having a very bad day there on Saturday.
Trump had hoped restart his reelection campaign with one of of his famously jam-packed and raucous at the 19,000-seat Bank of Oklahoma Center in downtown Tulsa, but starting with the announcement it proved a public relations disaster. The campaign was widely criticized for packing unmasked people into a crowded building during an ongoing pandemic, including by the mayor and public health officials hospital workers in Tulsa, which has lately seen its coronavirus cases spiking. Others noticed the rally was scheduled for June 19th, which millions of black Americans celebrate as “Juneteenth” to commemorate when the last Americans slaves in Texas learned they were free, and given that it was shortly after the anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 when white Tulsans murdered at last 300 black Tulsans and largely burned down the city’s prosperous black district, and given that most black Americans consider Trump a racist, it was another controversy.
In a rare concession to public opinion Trump rescheduled the rally to the next day, and boasted that he “made Juneteenth famous,” then announced that all the rally-goers would be provided one of those face masks that he refuses to wear and has discouraged others from wearing. He also required that rally-goers sign a form waiving liability against the campaign if anyone was infected during the rally, and the rally wasn’t getting the coverage Trump hoped for. Shortly before the rally the press was reporting that six campaign workers who’d been doing advance work the event had tested positive for coronavirus, and Trump was reportedly furious that it was being reported.
Still, Trump flew into Tulsa with high hopes. His campaign manager had boasted that one million people had applied for tickets, and Trump promised he would not only pack the arena but have thousands more supporters in a makeshift stadium outside the arena waiting for another speech. When the Tulsa fire marshal estimated that 6,200 people were inside and only a few dozen were milling about outside, it was embarrassing. Unwilling to call the Tulsa fire marshal a Trump-hating liar and unable to refute all the “fake news” footage from every outlet including Fox News and One America News Network the campaign blamed the media for stoking coronavirus fears and left-wing protesters scaring away families and blocking the doors, but the protests were also smaller than expected and far more peaceful than Trump might have preferred, and it was another rough news cycle for Trump.
The campaign boasted that 5 million or so people watched it on the internet, which might well be true, but we doubt it won Trump many new voters. The speech was a typically meandering harangue, with some weirder than usual moments. He attacked presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden with a number of nicknames and some seemingly contradictory accusations, criticizing Biden for supporting the tough-on-crime 1994 Crime Bill and also predicting that a President Biden will defund the police and allow criminals to run amok. He also bragged at length about how strong the economy had been before the coronavirus came along, and how great it will be when the coronavirus magically fades away, and he blamed the Chinese for the current unpleasantness, and said he’d told “his people” to stop testing so often to slow the rate of reported cases. Before the speech was even over the White House press office released a statement explaining that Trump was only joking, but couldn’t explain why it was appropriate for a President of the United States to joke about a disease that has already killed more than 120,000 Americans. He didn’t mention the national debate about racism and police brutality, except to criticize the commissioner of the National Football league for allowing players to kneel during the national anthem in protest.
He also did an extended monologue about the widely seen videotape of him very gingerly and uncertainly descending a ramp after a graduation ceremony at West Point, which made for an embarrassing news cycle a week or so ago and is the kind of thing most politicians would happily left fade from memory, and although we found the explanation further embarrassing the crowd seemed to think it the funniest comedy routine since the heyday of Bob Hope. He’d also been videotaped using two hands to drink from a cup of water, which he blamed on having saluted 600 cadets individually, and when he demonstrated that he could indeed drink from a glass of water with just one hand the crowd went wild at the feat of strength. Again, the fans love it, but it’s not likely to win any new voters.
When Trump returned to the White House aboard the Marine One helicopter he was videotaped walking across the lawn with his tie undone and a Make America Great Again ball cap in one hand, looking very exhausted and unhappy. That quickly made the rounds, delighting Trump’s many critics, and will probably fuel a few nights of late night comedy show monologues and lots of “memes” on social media. Meanwhile, we haven’t heard any spin from the White House press office that is at all convincing, and are eager to hear what they might come up with.
Tulsa’s a fun town full of good people and great architecture and real-deal American music, that horrific episode back in ’21 notwithstanding, and if you get the chance we urge you to visit. We don’t expect that Trump will be eager to return, though.

— 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