Tag Archives: Debate

Biden: “The Guy Who Will End The Nightmare”

In the interests of full disclosure, I did not watch Tuesday’s debate between Biden and Trump–a decision grounded in my effort to protect what remains of my mental health. I simply cannot bear the sound of Trump’s voice.

I did, of course, read the reviews and descriptions of what sounded more like a food fight than anything else. If there was unanimity on anything, it was that the event was embarrassing and unedifying–at best–and a shit-show at worst.

Among the most thoughtful coverage I read was a “morning after” rumination by Josh Marshall, editor of Talking Points Memo. Marshall had previously described Biden’s campaign “theme” as one of relief and reassurance–he dubbed Biden “The guy who will end the nightmare,” and for those of us who have definitely experienced this presidency as a nightmare, and worried that we might not wake up, that’s a winner. But it was an observation–a comparison, really– in his “morning after” column that really resonated with me.

Beyond all the individual offenses, one of the underrated sub-themes of anti-Trumpism is exhaustion. One of the deepest traumas of living in the home of an abuser stems not from the outbursts of physical violence, verbal abuse or manipulation but the accumulated stress of ambient tension, uncertainty, the reflexive, unshakeable hyper-vigilance. It is exhausting in a profound way. Trump is exhausting – I suspect even for some who share his dark values. This was 90 minutes jam-packed with everything that makes Trump exhausting. Living with an abuser means being trapped in close quarters with the abuse, being unable to run. In a month voters get the chance to walk away.

This analogy hits home, because it is so perceptive, so “on the mark.”

Americans who follow government and politics have been exhausted by the daily offenses, the violence routinely being done to the Constitution, the rule of law, rational policymaking and elementary decency. We have lived with anxiety, fear and mounting anger for four long years. The assaults have been unremitting, and yes, we are tired. Spent. Exhausted. 

But we aren’t too exhausted to vote, and that’s why I’m cautiously optimistic that we are nearing the end of the nightmare.

Election Day may be messy, or in the best case scenario, repudiation of our abuser may be sufficiently overwhelming to nullify his efforts to disqualify the will of the voters. I can’t believe there are enough racists and know-nothings in America to keep him and his GOP enablers in office.

As Marshall noted about Trump’s display of ignorance and vitriol at the debate,

This is who Trump is. It is especially who he is under threat. His campaign is about nudging undecided voters into fears about general social disorder and frighteningly assertive black and brown people. He ended up embracing white nationalist militias and saying they were necessary to crush the left in the streets. He yelled what is supposed to be implicit.

The most important thing remains that Trump had to shift things in his favor and he failed. Since he’s already losing that’s a big loss. I suspect it was even worse for him. Maybe a turning point.

Joe Biden doesn’t excite voters the way Barack Obama did. He’s no orator, and he doesn’t pander to a rabid base, a la Trump. He is–as the leftist purists sneer–an old white guy. Part of “the system.”

He is also a thoroughly decent, competent and honorable public servant. He won’t abuse the office and he won’t abuse us.

He is a sane adult. That alone makes him immensely superior to Trump.

Once we’ve rested, once the nightmare is over, we can start the process of repairing the systems that enabled– facilitated !– the election of the most unfit person ever to hold the office. More on those systems and what it will take to fix them in coming days….

Well Mike, We Always Suspected You Skipped Con Law in Law School…

Courtesy of Talking Points Memo, we learn that Mike Pence not only remains firmly wedded to “The Donald,” that he not only applauds Trump’s creepy performance in the second debate, but that he chose as one of Trump’s “finest moments” the declaration that has received shocked criticism from people on both sides of the aisle.

Mike Pence on Monday morning applauded Donald Trump’s comment during the Sunday night debate that if he is elected president, he will have a special prosecutor investigate Hillary Clinton and that she will “be in jail.”…

“I thought that was one of the better moments of the debate last night,” the Republican vice presidential nominee continued.

As Politico–among others– noted

Donald Trump’s debate-night vow to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton’s email setup and put her “in jail” provoked a sharp blowback from former U.S. prosecutors, who said Trump’s view of the Justice Department serving the whims of the president is antithetical to the American system.

While presidents appoint the attorney general, they do not make decisions on whom to prosecute for crimes — and were Trump to do so, prosecutors warned, he would spark a constitutional crisis similar to that of the “Saturday Night Massacre” in the Nixon administration. In that case, Nixon attempted to fire the prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal, and the top two Justice Department officials resigned on the spot….former Republican appointees to senior Justice Department posts used words like “abhorrent,” “absurd” and “terrifying” to describe Trump’s threat to use the legal system to imprison Clinton.

And from the New York Times (which I’m pretty sure Pence never reads):

When Donald J. Trump told Hillary Clinton at Sunday’s presidential debate that if he were president, “you’d be in jail,” he was threatening more than just his opponent. He was suggesting that he would strip power from the institutions that normally enforce the law, investing it instead in himself.

Political scientists who study troubled democracies abroad say this is a tactic typical of elected leaders who pull down their systems from within: former President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, the fascist leaders of 1930s Europe.

Those of us who live in Indiana have learned that, despite ostensibly having attended and graduated from law school, Governor Pence remains…let’s just say “unaquainted” with the U.S. Constitution. His efforts to substitute (his version of) biblical authority for legal and constitutional principles have repeatedly been struck down; the most recent lesson on constitutional governance was delivered by conservative jurist Richard Posner, delivering the Seventh Circuit’s unanimous opinion that the Governor could not exclude Syrian refugees from the state:

[The state’s] brief provides no evidence that Syrian terrorists are posing as refugees or that Syrian refugees have ever committed acts of terrorism in the United States. Indeed, as far as can be determined from public sources, no Syrian refugees have been arrested or prosecuted for terrorist acts or attempts in the United States.”

The policy “is discrimination on the basis of nationality,” Posner concluded in a section that compared Pence’s argument to the argument of a person claiming that it would not be racial discrimination to say that one ‘wants to forbid black people to settle in Indiana not because they’re black but because [the person]’s afraid of them.’”

As Politico noted,

Judge Posner’s opinion was joined by two conservative legal stalwarts, Judge Frank Easterbrook and Judge Diane Sykes — yes, the same Judge Sykes who’s on Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist.

It would be nice to think that Pence might learn something from his repeated losses, but as we all know, he doesn’t believe in evolution, either. It shows.

Summarizing the Debate

I was going to review last night’s debate, which was so important that Boehner, et al, stamped their feet and demanded that the President move his speech to tonight, lest anyone miss it. And indeed, it was an excellent opportunity to display what the Grand Old Party has become. But “Cheers and Jeers” did a much better job of reporting on this event than I could have, so go read their summary. Right now!