Commentary: The Line That Can No Longer Be Skirted

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by David M. Greenwald

In a presidency that in general has made a mockery of American democracy, this represented a low water mark.  It was  night where most of the more honest of the president’s supporters couldn’t offer a full-throated defense.  Some said he came in too hot and got worse from there.

For his part, former Vice President Biden seemed rattled in the first round of questions, with the president jamming, interrupting, and outright bullying him.  He seemed to find his footing after that—albeit he took the bait a few too many times, but overall he seemed engaged and spirited, if at times nonplussed by the spectacle.

Tenor aside, if you were concerned with comments from last week that the president might not accept defeat, I think that concern grows.  But here I will focus on the refusal of the president to simply denounce white supremacy, once and for all.

On Monday, one of the president’s supporters on Facebook pushed back against the idea that the president was racist.  One of the lines of defense that some have offered is that you can’t point to an actual statement that is racist by the president.

My argument here has always been that, first, I really know that the president himself is racist.  But I do feel that, first of all, he uses dog whistle language to push the buttons of his key supporters.

In the podcast I did two weeks ago with USC Law Professor Jody Armour, we had a discussion of the 2017 ANES (National Election Study) which found that THE most strong predictor of who voted for the Trump were people who fit onto a racial aggrievement scale.

I believe that for the most part he has been able to get away with pushing racial tensions because he can draw up against the bright line while not crossing it.  After all, it’s not as though, in 2020, anyone but an outright white supremacist can say there are no “n-words” allowed at the lunch counter—and short of that, some will not acknowledge racial prejudice or dog whistles.

On Monday the president’s supporter was adamant that we could not prove racial prejudice.

And then the moment happened where Chris Wallace asked Trump if he was willing to disavow white supremacists and militia groups.  He indicated that he would before pivoting back to “Antifa” as his line of attack.

That wasn’t good enough for either Wallace or Biden.

“Proud Boys, stand back and standby,” Trump said.

“But I’ll tell you what,” he added. “Somebody has to do something about Antifa and the left. Because this is not a right-wing problem. This is a left-wing problem.”

Writes the National Poverty Law Center, “Their disavowals of bigotry are belied by their actions: rank-and-file Proud Boys and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists. They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric.”

They continue: “Proud Boys have appeared alongside other hate groups at extremist gatherings like the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville. Indeed, former Proud Boys member Jason Kessler helped to organize the event, which brought together Klansmen, antisemites, Southern racists, and militias.”

We can perhaps debate the precise meaning of “stand back” and “standby.”

Perhaps he was sloppily attempting to tell them to back off.  But even that—best possible light for sure—stopped well short of what most people would consider a full-throated denunciation.

As I said earlier this week, the best you can say about Trump on issues of race and especially on issues of cozying up to white supremacy is that he skirts the line between political conservativism and white supremacy—which ought to be a bright line of denunciation.  He sees a political benefit of living in that gray area.

My friend, to his credit, wrote: “I can NOW agree with you on that point.”

He argued, “Trump failed the American people in many ways tonight.”  He said, “I also think someone NEEDS to condemn ANTIFIA and the organization of BLM as well though.”

He added, “We will see what happens between now and election time if some clearer clarification can happen.”

It is times like these that Trump has been his own worst enemy.  All he had to do is make the argument, “Hey I believe that while a lot of the problems are groups on the left like ANTIFA and BLM, that right wing militia groups are part of the problem and that everyone needs to keep their cool.”  Something like that.  Anything.

Heck, he could have been much more vague—white supremacy is bad and anyone who spouts racist ideology needs to stop.

He needed a clear statement.  And he couldn’t even do that.

“This is a president who has used everything as a dog whistle to try to generate racist hatred, racist division,” the former vice president said.

In the end, Trump couldn’t refute this point.

Even by the low standards that he has set forth in his years as president, this was a disgrace.  In another time and another place, Army chief counsel Joseph Welch, under fire from Joseph McCarthy at the congressional hearings, finally pushed back and effectively ended McCarthyism and his career by stating, “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

In modern times, it seems that ship has sailed and therefore there is no one left to come forward and put an end to this madness.

Last night marked a new low, but perhaps we finally crossed the Rubicon to the point where people can no longer have plausible deniability of the loss of decency in this nation.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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108 Comments

  1. Keith Olsen

    For his part, former Vice President Biden seemed rattled in the first round of questions, with the president jamming, interrupting, and outright bullying him.

    No surprise that you would parse it that way.  They both were interrupting each other.  Unlike Biden, the President never told Biden to ‘shut up’ or twice called him a ‘clown’ in addition to other pejoratives.  I can just imagine the uproar if Trump had said those things to Biden.

    1. Alan Miller

      KO, I agree, though Trump set the tone – this would not have happened without Trump.  However, Biden sunk himself by using “shut up”, “clown”.  I’m amazed his handlers didn’t coach him not to take the bait and rise up as the class act against Trump – it would have been easy.  But he took the bait and both looked liked clowns.

      I’m not voting for either one of them.

      1. David Greenwald

        I cringed a few times when he responded, but I think when you’re getting jammed and interrupted for an hour, it’s hard to hold it together 100 percent of the time. Most of the time, he stayed on point, but sometimes, he was thrown off – but so too Wallace and I suspect most people would have been.

        1. Alan Miller

          It was an S-show, and Trump set the tone.  I understand Trump was trying to be his Trump character that got him elected, but he took it too far.  I understand Biden could be thrown with such an assault, but it was all so expected – again, amazed he wasn’t coached to keep his cool with a Trump imitator badgering him, until he was able not to react.

      2. Ron Glick

        I don’t know who you voted for last time Alan but you are the second person I have heard say they aren’t voting for either candidate. My other friend voted for Trump in 16. Could it be that this is an intimation of Trump supporters giving up on him?

        1. Alan Miller

          I don’t know who you voted for last time Alan

          Honestly I don’t either.  I just know I couldn’t stand Trump or Hillary, and I voted for someone else, probably a Green or Libertarian.

          Everyone keeps fighting each other, when they need to wake up and see that it’s us vs. the system.  The solution is choice voting.  It’s not a cure all, but it’s a cure much, and until then it’s a binary choice and a binary fight, and we aren’t a binary society.

      3. Matt Williams

        Ron G, when my better half and I debriefed after the 90 minutes of spectacle and the half hour of post spectacle assessment by NBC and PBS, our feelings were that neither candidate improved his position in the polls, or in the hearts of his countrymen, and that the ranks of the people who came away saying “I’m not voting for either of them” swelled substantially.  Both NBC and PBS used the expression “food fight” in their commentary … “disgrace” figured in prominently as well.

        Biden probably would have come out of the debacle relatively intact if he hadn’t chosen to use “clown” in his description of Trump.  Decorum says that, even if the description fits the human being, the word “clown” should not be used in connection with the Office.

        Biden could have tried to rise above Trump’s invitation to brawl and throw food, but if he had done so, many would have called him weak … too weak to lead and represent our country.   If he had tried to rise above, there would have been a wealth of “dementia” labels applied to him, and many would have been looking for signs that he was “drooling.”  So, he stood his ground, and nowhere in the debacle was Trump able to trot out the pejoratives “Sleepy Joe” or “Slow Joe.”  Instead the criticism of Biden is that he was “too quick” and (if you will) “too awake.”

        But the bottom-line on the night appears to be that “not voting for either of them” was the winner

        1. Eric Gelber

          I can’t fathom not voting for either of them in this election. What it means is I don’t care what happens to the ACA and access to healthcare, I don’t care what happens to women’s choice. I don’t care if we address climate change. I don’t care what happens to the federal court system. I don’t care what happens to address systemic racism, police violence, the pandemic, etc.

          Biden wasn’t my preference as the nominee, but the consequences of who gets elected have never been greater.

        2. Alan Miller

          It doesn’t mean any of that for me.  Watching this binary debacle for decades, it becomes obvious we cannot win with a binary system.  I refuse to vote for people I don’t like or don’t want in office, which is usually the only choice offered in a binary system.  The ‘issues’, ‘too important’ argument have flattened to a nothing for me.

        3. Matt Williams

          Eric, I don’t disagree with the principle you are stating, but for an individual voter in California, the election outcome for all those points has already been decided.

          Therefore, the door is open regarding a different principle … which Alan Miller has succinctly described in his response above.

          Now if the voter lives in Nevada, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Georgia, Iowa or Texas, Alan’s principle doesn’t get the benefit of the “no harm, no foul” rule. In those states, not voting has the potential to do real damage to all the principles you have listed.

        4. Eric Gelber

          Matt ~ You’re right. The numbers of people not voting for president in California won’t likely affect the state’s presidential election result. But, a couple of points. First, turnout is far greater for presidential elections and, thus, many not voting for president will also not turn out to vote for other offices and state and local issues. Second, we don’t operate in a vacuum. I believe the idea of not voting for either of them can spread to other states, including swing states. It’s a pernicious position that does say something about how much that non-voter cares—or doesn’t care—about the issues.

        5. Alan Miller

          I didn’t say I was a non-voter.  I am voting, and I am voting against the binary system.  I would do the same in a swing-state.  If I actually like/want a candidate I’ll vote for them.  If Trump had chosen Bottoms, I’d have voted for her.  The long-term issue of our system having all of us, including those in power in the two parties, trapped in a binary hell is far more important than which terrible candidate, for different reasons each, wins or what particular battle will be lost.  We must wake up and emerge from the binary matrix, lest we continue to live in héll.

        6. Ron Oertel

          I would do the same in a swing-state.  If I actually like/want a candidate I’ll vote for them.  If Trump had chosen Bottoms, I’d have voted for her.  

          I’m starting to think that we’re talking about something other than politics, here.  😉

        7. Ron Oertel

          Damn, the comment didn’t make complete sense without this part, which got messed up when copying during the editing period:

           I am voting, and I am voting against the binary system. 

          Nothing worse than messing up a joke, half-way through.

          At this point, I’m hoping the moderator steps in.

        8. Alan Miller

          yeah, she was the leading contender for a time.  I sure hope Biden didn’t fail to choose her because of her name.  “Biden Bottoms” would make an odd bumper sticker

        9. Matt Williams

          You’re right. The numbers of people not voting for president in California won’t likely affect the state’s presidential election result. But, a couple of points. First, turnout is far greater for presidential elections and, thus, many not voting for president will also not turn out to vote for other offices and state and local issues. Second, we don’t operate in a vacuum. I believe the idea of not voting for either of them can spread to other states, including swing states. It’s a pernicious position that does say something about how much that non-voter cares—or doesn’t care—about the issues.

          Eric ~ my experience with local elections has been that Davis is very disconnected when it comes to voting.  In the ten City Council elections from 2000 to 2018 the average number of registered voters has been just over 34,500.  The 2010 Census for Davis had between 51,500 and 52,500 residents aged 18 and older.  A large portion of the 17,000 to 18,000 unregistered residents are not citizens, but the rest, whatever the number is, simply don’t care enough to register.

          Of the 34,500 actually registered, the average number who voted in those 10 elections is just over 17,400.  That means pretty close to half of the people who have taken the time to register, don’t bother to vote.

          Further, if you average the 7 elections where there wasn’t a Measure J/R decision on the ballot, the average drops another 2,000 to just over 15,600.

          Now comes the fun part.  Of the 17,400 or 15,600 who actually took the time to vote, what proportion of them took the time to actually inform themselves about the issues like you and I do?  20%?  More?  Less?

          You are absolutely right that it is a pernicious position.

        10. Alan Miller

          That means pretty close to half of the people who have taken the time to register, don’t bother to vote.

          Picture your fellow wait-in-liners when last you visited to the DMV.  Now, open you eyes.  In light of what you just saw, is the above sentence really a surprise?

  2. David Greenwald

    Full exchange here:

    WALLACE: [Are] you willing, tonight, to condemn white supremacists and militia groups, and to say they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities, as we saw in Kenosha and as we’ve seen in Portland?

    TRUMP: Sure, I’m willing to do that. But I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing. I’m willing to do anything, I want to see peace.

    WALLACE: Then do it, say it.

    TRUMP: You wanna call them — what do you wanna call them, give me a name. Who would you like me to condemn?

    WALLACE: White supremacists.

    BIDEN: Proud Boys.

    TRUMP: Proud Boys? Stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what. Somebody’s gotta do something about antifa and the left, because this is not a right-wing problem. This is a left-wing problem.

    1. Keith Olsen

      this is not a right-wing problem. This is a left-wing problem

      Trump is correct here, the left wing is causing most of the riots, violence, fires and destruction now occurring across the country.

      1. David Greenwald

        The problem was he had a clear opportunity to put down the prevailing notion that he at least plays footsy with white supremacy and he couldn’t even do that. That was an unmitigated failure on his part that will haunt him.

        1. Keith Olsen

          FACT CHECK: Biden is correct that Trump has not condemned white supremacists recently, but Trump has done so in the past.
          Two days after violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 — after first equating violence from white supremacists with those protesting — Trump said, “Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups.”
          A month later, the president signed a congressional resolution condemning white supremacy.
          In 2019, following shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Trump said, “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy. ”
          “These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart, and devours the soul,” he added.

          https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/joe-biden-town-hall-fact-checking-democratic-nominees/story?id=73062846

          1. David Greenwald

            The fact check avoids the issue at hand – his statement last night. Nothing else matters. He fumbled it.

        2. Keith Olsen

          Well Trump is on record denouncing racism, bigotry and white supremacy.

          Yes Trump should’ve been more direct last night, saying he denounces all hate.  He dropped the ball on that, but I don’t think that will cost him.  As the pundits have already said, people’s minds are already made up.  It’s going to be a very close election.

          Have you seen the new Veritas sting video showing the ballot fraud being perpetuated in Omar Ilhan’s district.  Money for mail in ballots.  That’s going to have a lot of play going into the election.

          1. Don Shor

            On Sunday night, a right-wing activist group, Project Veritas, released a video alleging illegal ballot harvesting in Minnesota. The video made several falsifiable claims that have either been debunked by subsequent reporting or are without any factual support. As the video calls into question the integrity of the election using misleading or inaccurate information, we determined this video to be a form of election disinformation. While we have reported our findings to the relevant online platforms, this video stands as an interesting example of what a domestic, coordinated elite disinformation campaign looks like in the United States.

            https://www.eipartnership.net/rapid-response/project-veritas-ballotharvesting

            Stop posting falsehoods, Keith.

      1. David Greenwald

        I think the bigger damage is twofold.  It’s first, a lost opportunity to move the needle and he has dwindling time.  Second, it’s a tendency conforming incident rather than an exception.  And so that bakes in perception.

  3. Keith Olsen

    Last night marked a new low, but perhaps we finally crossed the Rubicon to the point where people can no longer have plausible deniability of the loss of decency in this nation.

    I can agree with this statement as long as it is applied to both sides of the political spectrum.  Biden didn’t represent well last night either by any stretch of the imagination.

    1. Ron Glick

      Before getting in too deep maybe we should wait to hear from the polls, the debate commission and the Republicans. I don’t know about the debate Commission or the Republicans but I would be willing to predict that Trumps poll numbers will not improve in the days to come as people react to what transpired last night. Time will tell.

  4. Eric Gelber

    I agree with CNN’s Dana Bash, who described the debate as a “shit show.” But what will live on is Trump’s refusal to denounce white supremacy. The Proud Boys understood Trump’s meaning and quickly incorporated Stand Back and Stand By into their logo, which was posted on social media within minutes. And let’s not forget Trump’s further reinforcing his position by claiming racial sensitivity training of federal employees taught people to “hate our country.” Anyone who still denies Trump’s racism needs to examine their own values.

    1. Tia Will

      Anyone who still denies Trump’s racism needs to examine their own values”

      We have known where Trump stood on racial issues since his youth when he and his father used discrimination against blacks in housing, when he interviewed claiming “good genes” and indirectly espousing eugenics when he paid for adds calling for the death penalty in the specific case of the Central Park Five, even maintaining their guilt after DNA evidence to the contrary. Although Trump’s “stand back and stand by” comment made clear his current position, he has a rich history of racism for decades.

       

  5. John Hobbs

    No surprises here, I’ve been telling the truth about Trump for years, though the Vanguard has generally been censoring me. The Alan Miller’s of the country are always seeking their ideal candidate instead of dealing with the cards on the table, much like they seek the perfect housing project. Olsen and his ilk hide behind phony bravado and patriotism to disguise their racist agenda. As Don said, “no decent American can support Donald Trump.” Or ever could have.

    1. Alan Miller

      As usual, attacking individual people rather than the issues.

      To clarify, you are all blind sheeple fools believing that ‘us vs. them’ for yet another 4-year period is going to do any of us any good.  We just get locked into the broken system, ready for another round in 4 years – another ‘most important election in history’.  After witnessing this for decades, it’s clear the only solution is fix the system, and stop fighting in a binary matrix.

      That solution is choice voting and strong new parties and coalition government.  Too scary for simple-minded-blinded Americans.

      As for perfect candidate?  WTF are you talking about?  I have voted for people who were imperfect.  I voted for BO the first time.  He didn’t walk on water.  But I voted FOR him.

      As for perfect housing project?  WTF are you talking about at all?  I don’t have a clue what you are talking about, and so will not respond.

  6. Scott Ragsdale

    Wallace was walked over by a President who cannot compete in a democratic debate.

    Biden did well by shouldering in when necessary and dealing with the cards he was given.  To qualify the debate as a surprise s___ show is to try to disown media complicity in the enablement of an ugly and unfit leader, Trump.

    I believe the people see this for what it is and will faithfully vote to depose Trump and his enablers – for the sake of democracy.  And then we have a hell of a lot of work to do.

    1. Keith Olsen

      an ugly and unfit leader, Trump.

      Judging from some of Biden’s comments last night with his name calling of clown, fool, telling Trump to “shut up” and the several lies he told I think a lot of people also feel Biden would be “an ugly and unfit leader” if he were to win.

      1. Matt Williams

        Judging from some of Biden’s comments last night with his name calling of clown, fool, telling Trump to “shut up” and the several lies he told I think a lot of people also feel Biden would be “an ugly and unfit leader” if he were to win.

        Keith, what lies do you believe Biden told last night?  I’ve looked through some of the fact check websites and I haven’t run into  any ones listed for him.

  7. Ron Glick

    Full disclosure. I didn’t watch it instead going for a walk. I think I therefore came away the winner for the night. No PTSD and got some exercise. My guess is that my position will gain support over the next two debates. I already know who I’m voting for so why bother. If you are not undecided I recommend as the late great Covid victim John Prine sang:

    “Turn off the T.V.

    Throw away the papers.”

    1. Alan Miller

      Thank you Mr. Prine.  Saw him at Mondavi on his last tour.

      Had he written that more recently, he may have added:

      “Shut off your social media

      Throw away your local blog comment section”

  8. Keith Olsen

     
    Transcript from the white supremist exchange last night where as it turns out Trump actually did reply to Wallace’s comment to condemn white supremacists and militia groups when he said “sure”:

     Wallace: You have repeatedly criticized the vice president for not specifically calling out Antifa —
    Trump: That’s right.
    Wallace:— and other left-wing extremist groups. But are you willing, tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups —
    Trump: Sure.
    Wallace: — and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities as we saw in Kenosha, and as we’ve seen in Portland.
    Trump: Sure, I’m willing to do that.
    Wallace: Are you prepared specifically to do it.
    Trump: I would say —
    Wallace: Go ahead, sir.
    Trump: I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing not, not from the right wing.
    Wallace: So what are you — what are you saying?
    Trump: I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace.
    Wallace: Well, then, do it, sir.
    Trump: I am —
    Biden: Say it. Do it. Say it.
    Trump: Do you call them — What do you want to call them? Give me a name. Give me a name.
    Wallace: White supremacist — and right-wing militia.
    Trump:Go ahead. Who would you like me to condemn?
    Biden: White supremacists. The Proud Boys.
    Trump: Who.
    Wallace: White supremacists and right-wing militia.
    Trump: Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what. Somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left. Because this is not a right-wing problem —
    Biden:His own — his own FBI director said —
    Trump:–this is a left-wing problem. This is a left-wing problem.
    Biden: — the threat comes from white supremacists. Antifa is an idea, not an organization.
    Trump: Oh, you gotta be kidding.
    Biden: Not militia. That’s what his FBI —
    Trump: Oh, really, FBI, OK.
    Biden: His FBI director said.
    Wallace: Gentlemen, we’re gonna —
    Trump: Well, then he’s wrong.
    Wallace: No, no. We’re done, sir.

    https://clarion.causeaction.com/2020/09/30/fact-check-transcript-shows-trump-agreed-to-condemn-white-supremacists-stand-by-followed-wallaces-prompt/

    1. Eric Gelber

      Virtually no one other than ardent supporters interpreted Trump’s “sure” response as actually condemning white supremacy. When asked to specifically do so (“go ahead, sir”) as in the past, he declined the opportunity and, instead, said only “stand down and stand by.” What do you think that means? White supremacists themselves were gleeful and took that to be support for their cause.

      1. Keith Olsen

        Read the actual transcript, Trump said it twice, not just once.

        Wallace:— and other left-wing extremist groups. But are you willing, tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups
        —Trump: Sure.

        and,

        Wallace: — and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities as we saw in Kenosha, and as we’ve seen in Portland.
        Trump: Sure, I’m willing to do that.

        The actual transcript doesn’t lie.

        1. Eric Gelber

          I listened to him say it live and read the transcript. Saying sure, I’m willing to do so is not actually doing so. “Well, then do it sir,” Wallace responded, followed by Trump changing the subject to left-wing extremists and then the stand down and stand by comment. The man will not risk antagonizing a major constituency by explicitly condemning their cause.

        2. Keith Olsen

          You guys are parsing words to fit your agenda.

          When Trump was asked “But are you willing, tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups” Trump responded with “Sure” which is a confirmation of what Wallace asked him.

           

    2. Alan Miller

      Biden: — the threat comes from white supremacists. Antifa is an idea, not an organization.

      Trump: Oh, you gotta be kidding.

      That’s the exchange that blew my mind.  Biden does have to be kidding.  Srsly, JB?

        1. Eric Gelber

          All those rioters dressed in black garb with masks, shields and various types of weapons …

          That’s your criterion? So, all those folks wearing khaki pants and carrying tiki torches or various types of weapons chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans are also members of a single organization rather than representing a movement or an ideology?

           

        2. Alan Miller

          “[Antifa is] not a group or an organization. It’s a movement or an ideology.”

          Yeah, well, that’s a load of carp.  I’ve been reading up on Antifa for years, long before the name of the group hit the national stage.  Berkeleyside, which is a blog in Berkeley that is well-written and politically even-handed (for Berkeley) — think of it as the Davis Vanguard if it were well-written and politically even-handed — did several articles on Antifa years ago, including an interview with a very young man who was in Antifa and left, and described the workings of the organization in detail — and from what he described it had all the signatures of a cult.  The young man was directly indoctrinated by Yvette Felarca, and threatened and ostracized when he left the group.

        3. Eric Gelber

          Well, I’ll defer to the FBI Director on this. There may be groups or enclaves that identify themselves as antifa, just as there are groups organized around white supremacy. But that doesn’t mean there’s an umbrella organization or group for antifa, any more than there is for white supremacists. Both are more accurately described as ideologies or movements comprised, in part, of local sympathetic groups.

        4. Eric Gelber

          Alan – So, I assume you’ll be sending Biden an apology for your 11:08 comment. (If you reply “Sure. I’m willing to do so,” that won’t be the same as actually doing so.)

  9. Keith Echols

    I don’t get what the big deal about Trump’s comments are.  They don’t change anything.  At this point getting outraged over it is like complaining about the dog that starts barking at 1:00 AM every single morning/night for four years.  After a while you know that’s just who/what the dog is and does.

    Trump’s base doesn’t care.  They either are racist or excuse it for other objectives.  In the case of evangelicals, it’s getting more political and legal support for their socially conservative values (new conservative social laws, repealed liberal ones…conservative judges).  Others don’t care about Trump’s behavior and racisms simply because they want to stick it to the weak “elite” liberal  socialist democrats.   As for voters on the fence?  They’ve had four years of Trump as president to make up their minds.  By now they’ve already made up their minds.

  10. Robb Davis

    And yet there was some substance (and important):

    1. Mr. Trump correctly stated that he was within his rights to nominate and the Senate was in their rights to approve his nominee to the Supreme Court.  Mr. Biden did not suggest otherwise but questioned the propriety of doing so given that people are voting right now.

    2. Mr. Biden was clear that he opposed Mr. Trump’s nominee for two reasons: a) his concern that she would vote to end the ACA; and b) that she would vote to overturn Roe v Wade.  Mr. Trump did not dispute the first but somehow indicated that Mr. Biden did not know if she would do the second.  I think it is clear from most polls that Americans know they are benefitting from the ACA (however “bad” it is), would like some expansion of Medicare, and generally support a woman’s right to decide about her pregnancy.

    3. Mr. Trump claimed to have been very successful in dealing with COVID-19 and said that if Mr. Biden had been president 2 million would be dead.  Raising that kind of hypothetical is not useful and, the simple fact is (and I say this as a public health professional), “stopping flights from China” is NOT a strategy (which is all Mr. Trump claimed despite some incoherent talking about ventilators and PPE, which he did very little to produce and distribute).  Further, and more important right now, Mr. Trump is now on the record as saying that if the CDC and HHS directors say that a vaccine will not be widely available “soon” that they are wrong.  That is a really substantive statement and he said they were wrong last night.  Do we really elect presidents to be experts on vaccine development?  No, we do not.  His failure to listen to his own staff should worry us in something as important as a vaccine.

    4. Finally, Mr. Trump has called into question the entire voting system.  I almost wonder if he does not understand how it works.  To claim that there is massive fraud in a system as widely dispersed as ours is difficult to defend.  The level of coordination for fraud to occur occur across so many small (county) jurisdictions would be remarkable (ask Occam).  It simply does not happen and mail in ballots, which he himself used, are not prone to massive fraud.  They simply are not.  There is no evidence of the kind of fraud he is suggesting and, again, Mr. Trump’s own staffers tell him that.

    The point in all of this is despite the yelling, and shouting, and bad behavior, some important things that affect us and the vote were said last night.  Cutting through all of it, this election will matter for real policy issues like the ACA (and the ability to replace it with something workable for real Americans if it is struck down), like COVID-19 and the successful rollout of a vaccine, and like our fundamental trust in our institutions. These things matter to me. They are substantive. I want people to vote not because they like or don’t like someone but to consider the implications for things like these that do matter.

     

    1. Ron Oertel

      I think you left out the part where Biden (essentially) blamed Trump for the 200,000+ dead from Covid in the U.S. 

      Regarding the “empty seat” at the dinner table where grandpa used to sit – something to that effect.

      I doubt there’s any way to come up with an accurate number upon which to blame Trump.

    2. Ron Oertel

      And maybe the other substantive point that (wasn’t) addressed was Biden’s non-answer regarding expanding the Supreme Court, and reinstating the filibuster.

      For what it’s worth, I’m not a Trump supporter. But none of this matters much in states that are already “decided”, which is why I have trouble getting excited about it.

      1. Robb Davis

        Biden blaming Trump for 200,000 is the same as the hypothetical that Trump threw out.  You are correct to add it.  That is just talk.

        However, I believe this administration does bear responsibility for the clearly inadequate response to the crisis.  Their pressuring of the much-respected (worldwide) health institutions of this nation is simply awful.   Mr. Trump did withhold information from the American people.  That too is not acceptable in a health crisis. I watched his first televised address on the pandemic and hoped beyond hope that he would lay out the truth (which we and he knew at that point), but he did not.  He bears responsibility for that I believe.  That does not translate into 200,000 deaths but it does translate into many avoidable deaths and the aftermath of infections in many millions of people that will not be fully understood for some time. I don’t know of anyone who is seriously arguing the contrary to these points at this time

        The ending of the filibuster and expansion of the court is the same kind of hardball politics represented by what the Republican Senators are doing now.  It would be legal.  My point in raising that issue is that both men made fair points on that issue but it is bare-knuckle politics and we all have to live with it—despite what might be best for the country.

        1. Ron Oertel

          Yeap, though I thought it was a little too personal regarding that empty seat.  Of course, Trump blamed China.

          I somehow doubt that Biden would actually expand the Supreme Court.  Truth be told, I kind of doubt that Trump would do it, under similar circumstances.  I think it’s just too over-the-top to fly – even in this toxic political environment. I’m not sure why Biden didn’t just disavow it. (The filibuster previously existed, so maybe that one is more “palatable” on that basis alone.)

          Anyway, I’m pretty sure they don’t care what I think. 😉

        2. Ron Oertel

          Cool – an ever-increasing Supreme Court!  Stack it with more of “our” side, whenever we don’t like the makeup.  🙂

          You’d think that this tactic would already have been attempted, by now.

          Reminds me of the saying that “everybody is a mayor in Davis”.  (Heard that, somewhere.)

          It’ll be as large as Congress, soon enough.

        3. Ron Oertel

          I (kind of) wonder what the “rule” is, regarding timeframes in which to vote on Supreme Court nominees.

          Maybe the ruling party can just refuse to consider a nominee (regardless of the year in which a vacancy occurs), if they are of a different party than the president.  Rather than going through the hassle/process, and finding reasons to not approve someone.

          Just a flat-out “nope” – we’re not bringing it up for a vote.  We’ll wait another 3 years, and “hope for the best” at that time. Maybe we’ll even have to wait 7 years. 😉

           

        4. David Greenwald

          What is changed is that up until a few years ago, you needed effectively 60 votes or a consensus to approve a justice.  But with filibuster gone, it is now a strict majority rule.

          That’s fine as far as it goes.  But the old norms were based on the fact that both sides generally needed to agree that it was appropriate.

          Trump’s argument and probably Keith’s is that the Democrats didn’t have the votes in 2016 and don’t have the votes now.  Again that is accurate as far as it goes.

          But it is also true, that if the Democrats win the Senate and the Presidency, they will have the votes to change things too.

          That’s why I say, if the rule is might makes right, then you can’t complain when the other side uses their might.  That’s why I call it selective outrage.

        5. Ron Oertel

          I think there’s plenty of examples of “selective outrage” on both sides.

          I also think that most people (if they’re honest with themselves) can see right through it, on both sides.

          It’s what people hate about politics, along with the corruptive influences (which infiltrate both sides, as well). Though I personally think it’s a little more that way on one of those sides.

          But, blogs (and comments under most media articles) somehow lend themselves particularly well to “selective outrage”.

    3. Matt Williams

      4. Finally, Mr. Trump has called into question the entire voting system.  I almost wonder if he does not understand how it works.  To claim that there is massive fraud in a system as widely dispersed as ours is difficult to defend.  The level of coordination for fraud to occur occur across so many small (county) jurisdictions would be remarkable (ask Occam).  It simply does not happen and mail in ballots, which he himself used, are not prone to massive fraud.  They simply are not.  There is no evidence of the kind of fraud he is suggesting and, again, Mr. Trump’s own staffers tell him that.

      .
      I have a slightly different perspective on how Trump views the election.  I believe that he definitely knows how the system works, but that is irrelevant to both his strategy and tactics. While he clearly did call into question the entire voting system, that was much less intense than his attacks on mail ballots being sent out to voters who “didn’t solicit them.”  Further, he called for the broad deployment of the tried and true voter suppression/intimidation tactic of poll watching.

      I believe his true objection to mail-in ballots is that intimidation through poll watching simply doesn’t work for mail-in ballots.  Poll watchers clearly know when and where to go in order to intimidate voters when those voters are going to polling places.  Poll watchers can’t watch every location where a mail-in ballot is mailed from, and they can’t watch every day for a whole month (or longer).

      JMO

        1. Matt Williams

          You may be right.  However, in 2016 lots and lots of people felt that there was no reason to give him credit for strategic thinking and having an objective … and how did that turn out.

          1. David Greenwald

            You can win without being strategic objectives. What we read from people who have been on the inside is how much he really acts on instinct and flies by the seat of his pants and negates the more strategic thinkers who have been brought in.

        2. Tia Will

          I think you are giving him too much credit for strategic thinking and having an objective.”

          If it were Trump alone determining the strategy, I believe you are right. I do not believe this is beyond the capabilities of a Parscale ( although he is gone now) or a Miller.

          1. David Greenwald

            That was part of the point I was making to Matt – his strategists lay out stuff and he often either disregards from the start or moves away from the strategy.

      1. Eric Gelber

        Don’t overthink this. Trump’s “strategy” on any issue is simple: Create chaos. The most spot-on discussion of this I’ve seen in the Vanguard is today’s Student Opinion article by Jacob Derin. He cites Brandolini’s Law: “The amount of energy it takes to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.”

        This is the foundation of Trump’s entire career in politics. It requires no thought or understanding of issues, only the ability to make outrageous statements. Derin concludes, “Trump is very much an active nihilist … But, one consequence of that nihilism is that it purposefully eats up all the oxygen in the room and leaves no opportunity for the criticism of his opponents to sink in.

        Trump is very much an ignoramus, but he’s no fool.

  11. Ron Oertel

    One other thought has occurred to me, regarding Biden pointing out that Trump was less-than-forthcoming regarding Covid:

    I agree.  It’s not like people would suddenly start hoarding toilet paper and masks (needed for front-line workers), for example. 

    We’re much too cooperative and concerned with our fellow humankind to do something like that. 🙂

    In a nutshell, it seems that liberals/progressives are more “optimistic” and have more faith in cooperation and society, than conservatives are. Conservatives were the ones building bomb shelters, about 60 years ago. 😉

  12. Tia Will

    Ron

    Stack it with more of “our” side” – Just another version of what the GOP did in failing to advance Garland’s nomination?

    I thought it was a little too personal regarding that empty seat.” – You found it too personal. Did you also find it true? One thing I wonder about those who take the pandemic and its effects lightly is, would they feel the same if they knew it was their mother who was going to die?

    1. Ron Oertel

      In response to your first question, I’d say that the answer is “yes”.

      Regarding the second question, I suspect that there’s some truth in it.  Then again, is there any truth regarding the early ban on travel that Trump initiated, in terms of controlling the disease?  I don’t know.

      Regarding those who “take the disease lightly”, I think that question might be most appropriate to those throwing parties, etc. – knowing that they (personally) won’t likely die from the disease. Maybe they are planning to stay away from their own, elderly relatives? (Maybe they already do so, given the way that our society ignores the elderly even before Covid.)

      If you’re asking me if I find Trump rather irresponsible in general (e.g., in regard to Covid), the answer is “yes”.

  13. Keith Olsen

    Can we once and for all kill off the distortion that Donald Trump called white supremacists “very fine people?” In the very same comments people are always quoting, Trump said “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the White nationalists.”
    The discredited issue rose like a zombie when presidential debate moderator Chris Wallace askedDemocratic candidate Joe Biden to address “President Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville three years ago, when he talked about ‘very fine people’ on both sides.” The former Vice President then gave an emotional account of the events, and repeated the “very fine people” comment, adding that “no president has ever said anything like that.”

    Yes, Trump did, and has repeatedly, denounced white supremacists
    Wallace’s question and Biden’s answer were based on a false premise. Yet it was amplified when Wallaceasked President Trump if he was willing to denounce “white supremacists and militia groups,” and Trump answered “sure, I’m willing to do that,” before moving the discussion to left-wing violence. Somehow “sure” was not translated into a yes answer by some observers, and the president was left on the defensive again. Some prominent Republicans are urging the president to unequivocally denounce white supremacy, as he previously has time and time again.

    https://news.yahoo.com/trump-did-condemn-white-supremacists-083012536.html

    1. David Greenwald

      I have read that interview so many times, and he doesn’t have the escape hatch that this guy says…

      That’s where this gets into what I have been saying – Trump straddles up to that line.

      First, he gives the quote, “there’s blame on both sides…” and later, “you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”

      Then later, he says, “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists — because they should be condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists.”

      But who else was at Charlottesville? Who is he referring to?

      Because the groups there were:

      White supremacists
      Alt-right
      KKK
      Neo-Nazis
      Neo-confederates
      Tradtional Workers Party

      So which group was very fine people? That’s the problem.

        1. Keith Olsen

          It doesn’t matter what the Proud Boys or any other group adopted, all that matters is getting right what Trump actually stated instead of the twisting of the meaning of his words.

          1. David Greenwald

            You don’t get it. He’s empowering them. He’s playing footsie. And he does it in a way so he can claim plausible deniability after it’s over. You can’t do this stuff overtly. He goes right up against that line though. And that’s why they take it as marching orders and what makes this stuff very dangerous.

      1. Keith Olsen

        So which group was very fine people? That’s the problem.

        There were also people there who didn’t want the statues taken down that weren’t part of any group.

          1. David Greenwald

            Also since this was in fact a WS rally, why even make that comment in the first place?

        1. Keith Olsen

          Just citizens, does everyone have to be part of some group?  When there are BLM protests is everyone part or affiliated with some group or are many they just there to show their support?

        2. Keith Olsen

          You show a cherrypicked photo.  What you’re doing would be the same as saying all the people on the other side were ANTIFA.  Maybe when I have time I’ll post a few cherrypicked photos too.

          1. David Greenwald

            The point is: the organizers were white supremacists, the only people there were comfortable with those organizers.

            You’re making the same mistake as Trump – the correct answer to the question: “I don’t support white supremacy” and then stop talking. He can’t do that. The op-ed writer does Trump no favors because it just keeps the conversation on this. And you’re doing Trump no favors – not that matters here – by doing the same.

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