Friday, January 18, 2019

Two years in: Is American great again yet?

National Museum of American History—Smithsonian Institution

     You know what Sunday is, right?
     No, not the Super Bowl — geez, you’re worse than I am.
     That’s … the first Sunday in February.
     This coming Sunday, Jan. 20, is … wait for it … the second anniversary of the Trump presidency.
     And you without a gift.
     Don’t feel bad, these things sneak up.
     Two years down.
     Only … six to go.
     Ha ha! You thought I was going to say “two to go,” didn’t you? You believe he’s out in 2020, if not before? Pretty to think so. But if this historical epoch has taught anybody anything—and I’m not convinced it has—it’s the infinite human capacity for self-delusion, and a bottomless genius for misunderstanding what is going on right before our eyes.
     From where I’m sitting, Trump wins in 2020.
     Handily.
     Why? Lots of reasons.
     First, he’s the incumbent. History favors the incumbent: 19 presidents have run for re-election since 1900 (including Gerald Ford, who was technically running for his first election, since he was never voted in). Fourteen won, five lost—Taft to Wilson; Hoover to FDR; Ford to Carter; Carter to Reagan, and George H. W. Bush to Clinton.
     So statistics give Trump almost 3-to-1 odds of winning.
     Second, the Democrats display every indication of the disarray we’re so good at. All sorts of long-shot Dems are already throwing their hats in the ring. Bernie Sanders won’t go away. Add a strong third party candidate or two and the Left is a bunch of cats in a barrel scratching at each other as they go over the falls.

     Third, Trump was elected in the first place, having never held office, with his jaw-dropping personal flaws and hydra-headed inadequacy in high definition to those on the still-able-to-perceive-reality end of the political spectrum. Now he's president, with Air Force One and "Hail to the Chief" and all the trappings that so impress some folks. If his bluster on "The Apprentice" won over millions of votes, imagine what "The State of the Union" does.
     Fourth, his numbers are rock solid. Forty percent of America supported Trump in April 2017. Forty percent support him now. A bit of a dip with the entire U.S. government shut down, but that'll change, assuming they ever open it again and maybe even if they don't. Robert Mueller could produce a videotape of Trump selling the United States to Vladimir Putin for 30 pieces of silver and his popularity would maybe dip to 37 percent, then recover. Once you substitute Fox-fed fantasy for what's actually going on around you, then the gruesome details of the reality you are ignoring no longer matter.
     There's more, but we're running out of room to assess the Trump presidency up to this point. Though I'm not sure that's necessary. You already know: two years of norm-shattering chaos, his administration a twirling bank of revolving doors as mediocrities and misfits race in, screw up and are spat out, all to the steady, continuous applause of his base. For intellectual honesty purposes, I have to find something positive, and that's easy: the bipartisan reform of the criminal justice system, giving judges more leeway and reducing Draconian sentences. Trump signed it in late December, as the government was shutting down, and it was almost overlooked in the commotion. But it was an important development, and if there were three other achievements like it, I might be spreading my palms and rationalizing, "He might be a clown, but he's actually doing something."
     Demonstrators participate in a "lie-in" during a protest in favor of gun control reform in front of the White House, Monday, Feb. 19, 2018, in Washington. | AP Photo
     But he isn't. That bill is about it—otherwise scuttling environmental standards, terrifying our allies internationally, emboldening our foes, particularly Trump's Russian overlords, undercutting the press and the justice system, and now this nonsense about the wall, which began as a slogan to fire up campaign-trail crowds then morphed into The Most Important Thing in the World. Let me ask Republicans this: If it's so important, why didn't Trump get it done when the GOP controlled both houses of Congress?
     While you ponder that, Democrats can celebrate Sunday by looking in the mirror and remembering this:
     Donald Trump did not take power in 2016 and wreck the country.
     Just the opposite.
     We wrecked ourselves first, for years and years, tearing down government, mocking authority and expertise, polarizing ourselves, spewing toxic, exaggerated rhetoric. Our body politic flatlined and nobody even noticed the warning buzzers.
     Then Donald Trump showed up to ravage the corpse.
     Happy anniversary.

17 comments:

  1. Yes, Trump signing the First Step Act was a positive accomplishment for his Administration. But there must be more, at least I think there must be. Now is the time for all good men to come the aid of their President. In your face all you atheist who don't believe in the Intercession of Saints. At the sincere plea of Kim Kardashian West, President Trump commuted the life sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a negress grandmother who was serving a life sentence for a first time drug offense. Then there is the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, a civil libertarian if ever there was one. He's someone sorely needed in these fascist times.

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    1. gorsuch also said it was fair to fire a truck driver who seeked shelter instead of freezing to death in his truck when it broke down.

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    2. Hi sanford, thanks for providing me the opportunity to clarify my butter into ghee. Well you may be left with that impression, if you formulate you're opinion based on faulty punditry and political hackery. Bitter Scribe has caught me in enough critical thinking errors, that I read original sources like the court ruling in the matter of ALPHONSE MADDIN, before formulating an opinion. The big take away for me is when Gorsuch says:
      "TransAm expressly — and by everyone’s admission — permitted him to sit and remain where he was and wait for help. The trucker was fired only after he declined the statutorily protected option (refuse to operate) and chose instead to operate his vehicle in a manner he thought wise but his employer did not. And there’s simply no law anyone has pointed us to giving employees the right to operate their vehicles in ways their employers forbid. Maybe the Department [of Labor] would like such a law, maybe someday Congress will adorn our federal statute books with such a law. But it isn’t there yet. And it isn’t our job to write one — or to allow the Department to write one in Congress’s place."
      Now you may read the ruling and not change your opinion, and be in good company, Judges Murphy and McHugh prevailed concluding TransAm’s petition for review is denied. But I like the way Gorsuch in his rulings often challenges the legislative branch to write better laws.

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  2. Do you really believe this country is a wreck?

    Separately that Trump hasn't damaged it significantly?

    This country is huge and there's a lot going on some things truely wonderful some really horrible.

    I don't honestly believe the president wants to damage our nation or it's people . He's just so self absorbed he doesn't see that his actions while they benefit him, his family and people like him don't benefit the average citizen .

    God forbid he gets elected to a second term . It seems increasingly more possible. Though the Dems are starting to understand what it takes to combat his actions effectively

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  3. A foot of snow tomorrow and Trump forever. How depressing.

    john

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    1. There's nothing we can do to stop the snow. The political climate is another matter.

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  4. Trump's election was a fluke. Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I believe that a lot of people who sat on their butts, or voted for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, will be roused enough in 2020 to overcome the passel of deluded coal miners and factory workers who made Trump the Electoral College President.

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    1. I don't believe that Stein or Johnson cost Clinton the election

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    2. Michigan:
      Trump's margin over Clinton: 10,704
      Votes for Jill Stein: 51,463

      Wisconsin:
      Trump's margin over Clinton: 22,177
      Votes for Jill Stein: 31,006

      Pennsylvania:
      Trump's margin over Clinton: 67,416
      Votes for Jill Stein and Gary Johnson combined: 196,200

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    3. Sorry, but the people who voted for Stein or Johnson were & will always be deluded fools, that for some reason, believe there's never any difference between the Republican & Democratic presidential candidates.
      These are the same numbnuts that voted for Nader in 2000 & 2004, claiming Gore was no different than Junior Bush & the same in 2004 with Kerry vs. Bush..
      They remember nothing, they learn nothing!

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    4. The American voter is too often ignorant, uninformed or both. A few protest voters, swimming upstream against the unbeatable current of the Two party system, gave us George W. and Donald Drumpf. He wouldn't have gone into Iraq, but we will never know what kind of president Gore would have been. There is no question about the incompetence of our present disaster and Stein voters in the swing states are as much to blame as the racist rednecks and Madhatters in Trumps base.

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  5. An excellent warning, Neil, I find only one misleading fact. Since 1976 incumbents are 4 out of 7. 5 out of 8 if you include 1972, which still indicates that the preference for incumbents has changed in our lifetimes. The blindness and bigotry of the base is his greatest strength. Hillary's negatives contributed to the perfect storm that elected Trump, in my opinion. A candidate with less perceived baggage will defeat Trump. I don't care about its' race, gender, religion or progressive bonafides. Electability is all that matters. If I were in a dark alley threatened by a killer, I would not care whether my pistol was Pattons chrome plated, pearl handled model or a cheap Saturday night special, as long as it shoots.

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  6. 1912: GOP is divided, so Taft finishes third behind Wilson and Teddy's strong Bull Moose Party.

    1932: Hoover, as the incumbent, is blamed for the Depression, and is clocked by to FDR.

    1976: Ford loses a squeaker to Carter after doing the right thing and pardoning Nixon, and being portrayed by the media as a doofus (he wasn't).

    1980: Carter loses to Reagan over the Iran hostage crisis and a faltering economy.

    1992: George H. W. Bush, who had a record 90% approval rating after the Gulf War, loses to Clinton when the economy tanks once again.

    My point is: We still have all of this year and most of 2020 before Resident Rump faces his Democratic opponent...whomever he or she may be...and a lot of unforeseen events can happen, as they have for the last four years. If there's a big-enough disaster, man-made or otherwise, that blindsides America and kills enough Americans and that nobody sees coming--and Dolt 45 fumbles the ball--he'll be out on his ass. If enough laid-off government employees and disillusioned Kool-Aid drinkers get off their couches and cast a ballot--he'll be out on his ass. Forty percent is still not a majority...and if the Bernie Bros and the crazies don't screw things up and enough of the sixty percent bother to vote, and vote Democratic--he'll be out on his ass.

    I'm still a Biden guy, but that, in all likelihood, is wishful thinking. If the 2020 Democratic nominee is just a Hillary Lite, she will have her butt handed to her on a plate, and then the Trump Train gets even more time to cause the inevitable train wreck--one that I'm not sure the country can survive.

    I agree that Trump is but a symptom, and not the cause, of the mess we currently find ourselves in...which began long before 2016. Like the Cowardly Lion, we pulled our own tail. We did this to ourselves.

    Right now he is Teflon Don and everything seems to be bouncing off. But a lot can happen in the next 22 months, and there are cracks appearing in the armor. I pray that enough people are beginning to wake up and wise up and smell the litter box and see the overwhelming need to clean it out. I say that prayer every single day.

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    1. Grizz, Ford pardoned a murderer. Watergate was a misdemeanor compared to Nixon conspiring to prolong the war for political gain. For that Richard Nixon should have rotted in a cold dark stone cold cell, his ashes discarded into a Southeast Asian latrine. Good and unfortunate American men died for Nixons' hubris. I wish there was a hell providing eternal suffering for deserving scum like RMN.

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  7. Maybe this latest news about Trump suborning perjery will help Republican senators to grow a spine and get rid of him. I have a feeling that more concrete evidence will surface on Trump's misdeeds/crimes that will eventually overwhelm him.

    I don't buy the idea that the people spoke when they elected Trump. The people did speak and voted for Clinton by a margin of 3,000,000 votes. JFK won by 50,000 (I think most of them provided by Daley), but whatever.

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    1. Point of order, Shari, JFK wins without Illinois. LBJ and Texas saved the day.

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  8. Good article Neil and some interesting points from the posters.

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