Trump's Luck Has Run Out

Plus: A Message from James Carville

“I get nominated for three Nobel Peace Prizes on three different subjects. And I told the story the other night when I was in Florida, I told our First Lady ‘Darling, we’re going to have the greatest publicity I’ve ever had tonight. I got nominated for the Nobel Prize!… I turn on the television, they talked about your floods in Iowa. They talked about how Iowa is doing the crops…. 3-4 stories one after another… Where is my Nobel Peace Prize that they don’t talk about?” —President Donald J. Trump, last night in Iowa.

Welcome to the Countdown Journal. There are 19 days to go until Election Day, and then 78 days until the Inauguration.

How about some good news? Amidst all the craziness and depravity, this is turning into one of the most compelling stories of 2020: millions of voters apparently have not gotten the memo that democracy is dead.

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — They came by the thousands to vote early, descendants of slaves, children of the civil rights era and other Georgians standing in line for hours when all could have been somewhere else.

Yet in a year when issues including prejudice, racial justice and voter suppression are at the forefront, the Black voters saw giving up time to cast a ballot for the next U.S. president as worth the trade - even early in the voting process and during a pandemic that made merely going to a polling place a risky act.

There are other signs that the Trumpian GOP’s efforts to discourage early voting have backfired. Via the Wapo:

With less than three weeks to go before Nov. 3, roughly 15 million Americans have already voted in the fall election, reflecting an extraordinary level of participation despite barriers erected by the coronavirus pandemic — and setting a trajectory that could result in the majority of voters casting ballots before Election Day for the first time in U.S. history.

In Georgia this week, voters waited as long as 11 hours to cast their ballots on the first day of early voting. In North Carolina, nearly 1 in 5 of roughly 500,000 who have returned mail ballots so far did not vote in the last presidential election. In Michigan, more than 1 million people — roughly one-fourth of total turnout in 2016 — have already voted.

And in Florida:

MIAMI — Republicans typically hold a slight edge in absentee ballot returns in Florida elections. But this year, there’s been a stunning development.

For the first time ever at this stage of a general election, Democrats here are outvoting Republicans — and by a mammoth 384,000-vote margin through Tuesday.

The unprecedented early voting numbers have electrified Democrats in President Donald Trump’s must-win swing state, but Florida campaign veterans warn that it’s too early for the party to celebrate.

Here is a useful aggregation of early voting patterns, state by state. “Voters have cast a total of 16,074,343 ballots in the reporting states.”

Speaking of early voting, I got this in my mailbox today:


Does Donald Trump know he’s losing? Impossible to know. But he increasingly looks like a candidate whose luck has run out.

Today’s jobs numbers show how fragile the economy is; and the stock market is realizing that there may not be any relief in sight. There’s more bad news. Even as Trump proclaims a “cure,” there were 59,750 new coronavirus cases yesterday, and another 1,000 American deaths, as the country heads for a third peak.

Less than three weeks until the election, Trump is reduced to pleading for suburban women to like him, mocking senior citizens, insulting Navy Seals, relying on efforts to suppress the vote in key states, and hoping for an October bump from Russian disinformation laundered through outlets like the New York Post.

How has it been going?

Just this month, Trump has called the Democratic vice-presidential nominee a “monster,” retweeted images of a man being shot, suggested that Gold Star families may have infected him with the virus, amplified a conspiracy theory questioning Osama bin Laden’s death, openly denigrated his own attorney general, attacked the nation’s leading infectious-disease expert, pulled out of a presidential debate, announced a complete withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, called off talks for a stimulus package and restarted the talks calling for more spending than his party had embraced.


He’s also ducking debates, leading to tonight’s dueling townhall fiasco. In today’s Bulwark, Tim Miller reminds us of all the times the Trump-friendly media had predicted that it would be Biden who chickened out.

The politics of this choice are interesting. Trump throwing a tantrum and refusing an opportunity to shake up the race when he is trailing by 10 points in the Real Clear Politics average is a bold strategic move indeed. …

So the people who get news from these outlets had to have been floored when the news came that it was the other way around: Donald Trump is cowering at the prospect of meeting Joe Biden on the debate stage after getting so thoroughly schlonged in the first contest.

Isn’t it ironic. Like rain on your wedding day.

Let’s take a quick tour through a few of the writers and TV hosts who incorrectly guaranteed that it would be Biden who ducked debates rather than their enfeebled president.

Tucker Carlson was obsessed with the topic, having convinced himself that the faulty right-wing verity claiming liberals “don’t want to debate” is a real thing. Here he is on July 8:

Imagine Biden spending six hours on stage with Donald Trump trading jabs on live television. . . . Oh, he can’t do that. So he’s not going to do that. Instead, they’re going to keep Joe Biden hidden behind a curtain. . . . It’s all pretty shocking if you think about it. . . . The most cynical election strategy ever devised.

It would indeed be shocking and cynical if it were not a figment of Carlson’s imagination.


Meanwhile: Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation is on track, but Trump keeps stepping on his own story. He seems far more interested in Hillary’s emails, Obamagate, and this sort of thing:

We used to get October Surprises. Now we get damp squibs like yesterday’s NY Post story of the mysterious laptop. Credulous conservative media leapt on the story despite red flags and worked themselves into a lather of righteousness over Twitter’s ill-advised ban on the story. But it now seems likely to end up as a case study in the dissemination of disinformation.

Make sure you read this: “Rudy Found Hunter Biden Emails That Totally Weren’t Stolen by Russia.” And this from the Daily Beast: “Trump Knew for Days That Rudy’s Hit on Hunter Biden Was Coming”.

Via Politico:

The Post’s story drew immediate comparisons to 2016, when Russian hackers dumped troves of emails from Democrats onto the internet — producing few damaging revelations but fueling accusations of corruption by Trump.

There was no immediate indication of Russian involvement in the release of emails that the Post obtained, but its general thrust mirrors a narrative that U.S. intelligence agencies have described as part of an active Russian disinformation effort aimed at the 2020 election.

Now go take a shower.


Swampy.


Today’s Wall Street Journal/NBC poll finds Biden leading Trump by 11 points — 53% to 42%..

The survey finds Mr. Trump rebounding from a 14-point deficit earlier this month in a poll taken immediately after the debate with Mr. Biden, but still in a weaker position than in September, when he trailed the former vice president by 8 points.

Here’s a look at the day’s other polls… all pretty strong for Biden.

There are 19 days to go.


QUICK HITS

1. How Trump Sealed the GOP’s Suicide

Richard North Patterson in today’s Bulwark:

Before Trump, the GOP’s better angels were already enfeebled. In 2016 he killed them off.

It is barely possible now to imagine the GOP had Trump been different. He came without ideology, propelled by a gift for embodying a potent but undefined populism. He might have become an agent of constructive reinvention, eschewing racism and xenophobia in favor of offering embattled middle-class and blue-collar workers genuine economic uplift. He could have reinstated fiscal responsibility by disdaining tax cuts for the wealthy. He might even have taken steps—if not to drain the swamp—at least to reform it.

But that would have required real talent, sustained attention, and a genuine interest in governance. Instead this irredeemably vicious, vacant, and narcissistic demagogue unleashed white identity politics and the endless overreach of Republican donors. This leads inexorably to the deadest of ends—a demographic death knell for his party and, for our democracy, the most grievous of wounds.


2. Mike Lee and the Illiberal Chic

Nathaniel A. G. Zelinsky in this morning’s Bulwark:

It might be tempting to dismiss these poorly spelled, middle-of-the-night tweets as nothing more than a restless COVID patient’s failed attempt at profundity within Twitter’s strict character limit.

But at another level, Senator Lee sent a well-crafted message, one that came through loud and clear: The American experiment is worth it only when my view prevails.

This message fits a growing and disturbing trend. Among the conservative intelligentsia, especially in certain legal circles, it has become stylish to view self-governance as nothing more than a means to a very particular set of ends. And should “conservative” policies lose out in the democratic process, then liberal democracy itself should go.


CHEAP SHOTS

Justin Baragona @justinbaragona
The Washington Examiner just hired the editor who published Fox News' retracted Seth Rich story to be their new managing editor. Even after Fox retracted the story, Wilson insisted that it would eventually be "vindicated."
thedailybeast.com/fox-news-edito…

Washington Examiner @dcexaminer

The Washington Examiner is delighted to welcome Greg Wilson as its new managing editor. Greg will oversee all of the Washington Examiner's newsroom, helping to ensure our reporting continues to be required reading inside the Beltway and far beyond. https://t.co/kGq4C362J0

The German ambassador to the United States:


DEEP THOUGHTS

A Crusade for Something Noble

By James Carville (for the Bulwark)

In 1948, General Dwight D. Eisenhower released an expansive memoir that transcribed his personal account as Supreme Allied commander in Europe during World War II, the single most important American military official in the war. He chronicled the travail of the war in its bitter totality: men sunk beneath waves of bullets and unbroken battle, the immeasurable sorrow levied as hundreds-of-thousands perished for their country; the fateful decisions he took in which he accepted complete responsibility, most importantly the decision for the D-Day invasion. At the same time, Eisenhower also wrote of what was indomitable about Americans, how the country overcame and rang freedom’s bell for a world enveloped by forces of darkness.

Eisenhower titled the memoir “Crusade in Europe.” Now I acknowledge, the word crusade may hold conflicting definitions and interpretations, some of which may refresh stories of the medieval. But used as a verb, according to the most basic dictionary definition, to crusade is to “lead or take part in an energetic and organized campaign concerning a social, political, or religious issue.” There is a reason Eisenhower did not title his book “War in Europe.” Beyond the bayonets, bloodshed and carnage, Eisenhower declared to America that what they had just done—the stand they took together against evil, despite any internal divisions—was something so much more elegant and profound than could be carried by the word “war.” Because it was something noble. 

I know it's difficult for so many of us to feel hope in this moment, which seems so incomprehensibly dark. We are a nation deeply wounded from a liberated virus, we’re toiling from systemic racism, and we’ve endured lashing mental abuse time and again from the President of the United States. But it is not a darker moment than what Ike saw when he looked across the English Channel on June 6, 1944, the continent of Europe dominated by the Nazis. So, I see a light ahead on the 3rd of November. Just days away, a unified and electrified coalition of Americans, coming together like our country did in World War II, standing united to send a message that will be heard around the world to all those who look with expectant hope to the America that won that crusade: That America has not succumbed to a demagogue and would-be autocrat, that we have overcome -- and Donald J. Trump is not who we are. And with it, may he be kicked into the dustbin of history. 

And in just a very short time, America will go from its darkest hour to its finest hour.

Very seldom in American history have there been periods where people can nobly wage a crusade to create real and lasting change. But when these crusades do occur, when the moment arrives, what we do to vanquish the threat to freedom builds something everlasting into the framework of our society. The American Revolution, the Civil War, World War II, Seneca Falls, Stonewall, and Selma, were all historical flashpoints where Americans displayed their patriotism against oppressive forces in a resounding way. These movements overthrew an empire, ended slavery, staved off totalitarianism, and paved the way for the establishment of fundamental civil rights and liberties for women, LGBTQ+ and Black Americans. 

In this election, we find ourselves again in such a turning point. Donald Trump’s authoritarian presence behind the Resolute Desk is amongst the gravest threats America has ever faced from within. For proof of how seismic the resistance to this threat has been, we need only to look at the rallying cries for racial justice, the Americans of all color who have joined in arms to speak out. We need only to look at the willingness of voters to wait for hours in lines in Georgia to exercise their democratic right to the franchise; and we need only to look at the coalition that has been formed, from Republicans to Democrats to activists, who are determined to vote out the worst president in American history.

We are constantly told as Americans that we are a divided nation too hopelessly stricken by tribalism to be bound together by much of anything. Well, I’m here to proclaim that is just plain wrong. If you were to run a cable wire through the heart of America right now, you would see an image of an exceedingly diverse coalition of people that challenges that assumption at its core. An image would be conjured of a suburban woman from a once Republican-stronghold, Maricopa County, Arizona, standing on a platform alongside a retired grandfather in Florida, a college student in Brooklyn, a Latino mom in Raleigh, a Black computer programmer from Houston, and yes, standing alongside even a former Trump voter in Wisconsin who has now changed his mind. This coalition is exactly why Donald Trump, as an incumbent president, is on the precipice of facing a double-digit and catastrophic electoral defeat. Because this is more than a campaign. This is a crusade for America.

Long after Trump has gone, this unity forged in his opposition should always be remembered. 

My participation on this site, which is operated by many of my former Republican rivals, is evidence of this unity in and of itself. This article, posted right here, is evidence that this is an election that carries a consequence that is so much more profound than just winning any old election.

Like the majority of people that read this news site, I am white and affluent—and—you know what else?--I love my country. Collectively, what I know to be true among so many like us, is that we understand we have existed on an advantaged and privileged perch in our slice of America. But if you’re like me, you have been haunted by the fact that because of this privilege, many of us have never, in the late John Lewis’s words, made enough “good trouble” or fought hard enough in the good fight. Now, maybe that’s because, quite frankly, many of our own backs have never really been against the wall. What this moment has done for all of us -- for all those who have sat on the sidelines of history or never were presented with something that held as much gravitas as this election -- is that it has given us, for one fleeting moment—the moment we’re living right now--a sense of common purpose. Common purpose of which we will be able to recall forever, that when our country and our Republic were on the brink of collapse, when our fellow Americans needed us, we took a blow torch to our past differences, our former conflicts and our old rivalries, and we fought together for the first time in our lives.

In less than two weeks, I will be 76 years old. I was a boy raised near the some of the poorest banks of the Mississippi River, and I’ve now had the overwhelming honor to help elect senators, governors, and my dear friend Bill Clinton as President of the United States; I’ve seen my face flash across the silver screen too many times and have flown around the world twice over practicing the profession I love -- and all of this was wildly unimaginable to that little me skipping rocks in Louisiana over half a century ago. But as I sit here wonderstruck in retrograde, I can say with certainty that in all my years, joining in this crusade to take back America from the brink of destruction is the greatest thing I have ever been a part of in my life. 

This crusade is something noble.