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That’s the truth, even though last desperate gasps of the Trump era increasingly bear one striking similarity to its origin: it all seems like a hopeless joke.
Trump White House
When the reality star descended his golden escalator at Trump Tower way back in 2015, his shock brand of race-baiting populism seemed like a futile attempt to make himself relevant and kickstart a flagging media career. The idea that he had a shot at becoming President of the United States seemed laughable.
But, dismissed by the media and ridiculed by fellow Republicans, Trump found a way to hopscotch from conspiracy theory to conspiracy theory all the way to the White House. And then nobody was laughing any more.
Now, it’s Trump remaining in office that seems impossible. Trump was clearly rejected by voters at the polls — nearly 6 million more people chose Biden — and his legal challenges in multiple states have all faltered.
But those lawsuits have had a very real effect, sowing or solidifying doubts in the minds of his supporters about the election results. Now, Republican officials in Michigan are buying into Trump’s alternate reality and want to rescind their certification of election results in Detroit. He’s apparently invited lawmakers from the state to the White House Friday.
And Rudy Giuliani is still ginning things up. On Thursday afternoon, Giuliani, hair dye dripping down his face, gave a wild press conference where he alleged a massive multi-state conspiracy to steal the election from the President. As evidence, he pointed to votes in Philadelphia, a barely concealed mimic of the Detroit complaint and a clear effort to disenfranchise voters in cities with large Black populations.
“That press conference was the most dangerous 1hr 45 minutes of television in American history. And possibly the craziest. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re lucky,” said Chris Krebs, the DHS election security official recently fired by Trump, in a tweet.
The multi-pronged conspiracy is not millions more voters choosing Biden. It’s the expanding effort to overturn results in at least three states and undo a solid electoral defeat. It would be sad and funny if it weren’t quite literally about ignoring the voters to keep Trump in power.
And so it’s extremely distressing that Trump is on the phone with Republican officials who now say they want to rescind their certification of votes in Wayne County, which covers Detroit — a step that is normally just a technicality.
It’s also aggravating that a mid-level political appointee, GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, won’t take the next step — another technicality, “ascertainment” — needed to let Biden’s transition begin.
Anxiety is starting to rise in unexpected places. JP Morgan, for instance, is laying out the nightmare scenario for investors. As CNN’s Matt Egan wrote:
Much of Wall Street views the Trump campaign’s efforts to overturn the election results as a desperate sideshow destined to fail. But JPMorgan is telling clients there’s still a chance that this process descends into chaos. It is 2020, after all.
Michael Cembalest, chairman of market and investment strategy at JPMorgan Asset Management, warned in a report Wednesday of the “remote risk of an American horror story” and “constitutional mayhem.”
: Trust the votes
It was not that long ago that Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney was leading the GOP. Now he’s “shunned” by some, as he told David Axelrod in an Axe Files podcast released Thursday.
Most people seized on Romney’s comments about the consequences of Trump’s potential actions as a lame duck President.
Mistrust of democracy. But I heard Romney say something else that completely hits the mark:
“Both here and around the world we are seeing a reduction in the confidence people have in voting,” Romney said.
“And if people don’t believe in voting, and don’t have confidence in voting, how can you have democracy, because democracy is fundamentally based on people voting.”
“And if the United State of America doesn’t believe that we have voting that’s reliable, why, how can you expect a country that’s just becoming a democracy to adopt this practice and use it as a basis for determining its future.”
The counterargument to this is that the 2020 election, despite Trump’s silly allegations of rigging, drew a record number of voters. For now, at least, voters are voting. And that’s a good thing. Georgia’s hand recount of its election reaffirmed Biden’s victory over Trump and found no widespread voter fraud — just like we thought it would.
Paralyzed Senate. He also described how the Senate, which is necessary to pass any major legislation, votes on very little major legislation.
“Over the years the Senate has moved and moved to a point where I think there’s a reluctance to vote on things that might be bad votes for members of the majority’s party,” Romney said.
“As a result we don’t vote on much. Not either up or down, things we agree with, but if it’s bad for Senator X, Y or Z, why then we don’t want to take that vote. We vote very rarely on matters of substance. Just as a particular, I think in the two years I’ve been in the Senate, we haven’t had a single vote on a matter related to health care, immigration, tax policy, climate change, the list goes on.”
: Where schools are closed but restaurants are open
As more people around the country deal with new restrictions on schooling and movement, Greg Krieg writes about the special situation in New York City, where schools were shut after school ended Wednesday — so suddenly that kids left their textbooks in class. Some excerpts from Krieg:
Poor delivery. It is a demoralizing setback for a city that slowly re-opened after seeing more than 30,000 pandemic deaths and now faces a deadly winter surge of new Covid-19 infections. The news was delivered to principals by the city’s schools chancellor at around 2 p.m. on Wednesday, after hours of uncertainty, and set off a scramble among parents juggling child care needs and work responsibilities.
Conflicting standards. Part of the public confusion — and private differences — centered on how the city and state measure coronavirus test positivity rates. Some nine months into the pandemic, they are still employing different metrics to settle some of the most pressing issues facing New Yorkers.
Bars and gyms stay open! Frustration over the process and timing of the shutdown bubbled over almost immediately after the mayor, following hours of uncertainty, tweeted out his decision. That anger was compounded by the fact that city restaurants, bars and gyms — the places most experts say the virus is most apt to spread — remain open at limited capacities in accordance with guidelines set by the state.
: Now, reconsider Thanksgiving plans
The CDC has updated its guidance and now says you should really consider not traveling for Thanksgiving.
“The reason that we made the update is that the fact that over the week we’ve seen over a million new cases in the country,” Dr. Erin Sauber-Schatz, the CDC’s lead for Community Intervention and Critical Population Task Force, said during the briefing.
I changed my plans this week and it didn’t make me sad so much as angry. When will this end?
I will admit to complaining about Thanksgiving in recent years. There are hassles. How to cook the turkey. Where to celebrate. Who’s coming. Who isn’t. Traffic. Those frustrations seem silly today, like the complaints you hear from people who don’t like to to celebrate their birthday.
So skip the big meal this year, but definitely celebrate your birthday. You don’t know how many more you’ll get.