Monday, August 31, 2020


I don't think the master narrative of American politics is capable of accommodating this, so the media will probably just ignore it:
The latest Military Times poll shows a continued decline in active-duty service members’ views of President Donald Trump and a slight but significant preference for former Vice President Joe Biden in the upcoming November election among troops surveyed.

The results, collected before the political conventions earlier this month, appear to undercut claims from the president that his support among military members is strong thanks to big defense budget increases in recent years and promised moves to draw down troops from overseas conflict zones...

In the latest results — based on 1,018 active-duty troops surveyed in late July and early August — nearly half of respondents (49.9 percent) had an unfavorable view of the president, compared to about 38 percent who had a favorable view....

Among all survey participants, 42 percent said they “strongly” disapprove of Trump’s time in office.

And here's how the troops' opinion of Trump has changed over time:

If you're wondering how the horserace numbers looked in 2016, here you go. Not only was Trump leading Hillary Clinton by 20 points in October of that year, but even Gary Johnson was beating her.

This doesn't just rebut Trump's claim that the troops love him because he got them raises and increased the military budget. It contradicts everything we've been told about Democrats and the military since 1968. This year, the troops aren't automatically concluding that the Republican candidate is the only true patriot and the Democrat is the anti-American traitor.

In a better media environment, this would be a big story. But I assume mainstream journalists will find it so counterintuitive that they'll just pretend it's not happening.

(Hat tip: Kyle Griffin, Tom Hilton, Joshua Holland.)


The mainstream media is now implying that violent protesters are the central issue in the presidential election, or at least one of the central issues.

That's what Donald Trump's campaign wants the #1 issue to be. Is it? No, it isn't.

Here are the top six responses in August to the question "What do you think is the most important problem facing the country today?" according to Gallup.
Coronavirus/Diseases: 35%
The government/Poor leadership: 22%
Race relations/racism: 10%
Economy in general: 7%
Unifying the country: 4%
Crime/violence: 4%
But Trumpworld has been bellowing about blood in the streets for months, and the media wants a horserace, so that's what we're talking about.

Will Stancil says the press is turning the issue into "this year's 'e-mails.'"

Will it work? We'll see.


How else are Trump and his allies creating their own reality? Well, you might believe that the Trumpers' attempt to promote coronavirus misinformation over the weekend failed...
Twitter on Sunday took down a tweet containing a false claim about coronavirus death statistics that was made by a supporter of the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory -- a post that President Donald Trump had retweeted earlier in the day.

The tweet -- which has been replaced with a message saying, "This Tweet is no longer available because it violated the Twitter Rules -- from "Mel Q," copied from someone else's Facebook post, claimed that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had "quietly" updated its numbers "to admit that only 6%" of people listed as coronavirus deaths "actually died from Covid," since "the other 94% had 2-3 other serious illnesses."

That's not what the CDC said....

The CDC's latest regular update to a public statistics page on the pandemic -- there was nothing especially "quiet" about it -- said that for 6% of the deaths included in its statistics, "Covid-19 was the only cause mentioned" on the deceased person's death certificate.

That is not at all the same thing as saying only 6% of reported Covid-19 deaths "actually died" from Covid-19. It simply means that the other 94% were listed as having at least one additional factor contributing to their death.
Highlighted in the "Mel Q" tweet -- you can see a screenshot here -- was the sentence "For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned." This is treated as a new revelation.


Yes -- if you go the link directly above, you see the same CDC page from May 28, with the sentence "For 7% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned."

It won't surprise you that this fake "revelation" is still circulating on right-wing sites:

But it's also still out there in the mainstream press. Here's a story from WFLA in Tampa: "New CDC Report Shows 94% of COVID-19 Deaths in US Had Contributing Conditions." Here's Fox 5 in San Diego: same headline. The story is up at this local TV channel's news site, and this one. It's presented as new information, and the context is ignored:

Republicans know how to lead the media around by the nose. They knew how to do this long before Trump came along. They can do it with a frontal assault or a subtle release of disinformation about an innocuous government report.

The press doesn't have to rise to the bait. But it usually does.


UPDATE: And there you have it.

It's now established fact on the right. They don't even have to explain what they're referring to.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

2016, VERSION 2.0?

This is very good:

But The New York Times covers it by burying it in the 13th paragraph of a story about President Trump's overnight Twitter barrage. The Washington Post has a front-page story that leads with the Biden statement -- the headline is "Biden Accuses Trump of ‘Recklessly Encouraging Violence’ in Response to Portland Shooting" -- but only the first two paragraphs of the story are devoted to Biden's words, while the other 19 paragraphs are about Trump's tweetstorm, other reactions to Trump's statements, and assertions from Trump surrogates. And this story ostensibly about Biden is illustrated by a photo of Trump with his wife and Don Junior at the White House on Thursday. Trump is raising a proud clenched fist.

Why did Hillary Clinton lose in 2016? She lost for many reasons, but one was the media's willingness to let her opponent Bigfoot his way to a disproportionate share of press coverage. Trump was seen as great copy and great television, so the media yielded the floor to him every time he beat his chest and demanded attention, dismissing most efforts by Clinton to Change the subject to serious issues. And here we are.

CNN, to be fair, has a story that really is about the Biden statement. But the Times and the Post are falling into the old traps. Is that how it's going to be until November?


I'm sure you know by now that Michael Moore is predicted a Trump victory Friday on Facebook:
Sorry to have to provide the reality check again, but when CNN polled registered voters in August in just the swing states, Biden and Trump were in a virtual tie. In Minnesota, it’s 47-47. In Michigan, where Biden had a big lead, Trump has closed the gap to 4 points. Are you ready for a Trump victory? Are you mentally prepared to be outsmarted by Trump again? Do you find comfort in your certainty that there is no way Trump can win? Are you content with the trust you’ve placed in the DNC to pull this off? ... I’m warning you almost 10 weeks in advance. The enthusiasm level for the 60 million in Trump’s base is OFF THE CHARTS! For Joe, not so much.
And you probably know that Moore called the Trump win in 2016:
At a recent promotional event for his new film “Michael Moore in TrumpLand,” Moore told audience members that he thinks the loudmouthed GOP nominee is going to win, largely because American elites are so cut off from regular people that they don’t realize just how much the middle class has been harmed in recent years.

“I know a lot of people in Michigan that are planning to vote for Trump, and they don't necessarily agree with him,” the left-leaning documentarian said.

Many middle- to lower-income people are going to support the former reality TV star because at least he uses language directly pertinent to issues that have affected their lives, Moore argued....

“Trump’s election is going to be the biggest ‘fuck you’ ever recorded in human history — and it will feel good,” Moore argued.
Moore has been predicting a 2020 Trump win since last year:
Filmmaker Michael Moore said that President Donald Trump had a strong chance at winning the 2020 election, claiming that his support in Midwestern battleground states hasn't dropped 'one inch.'

He added that if the presidential election were today, Trump would most likely win enough electoral college votes to clinch victory.

'If the vote were today, I believe, he would win the electoral states that he would need, because, living out there, I will tell you, his level of support has not gone down one inch,' he said in an interview with Democracy Now!
But, of course, he also told us in 2017 that Democrats would lose the 2018 midterms.

And he predicted a Mitt Romney win in 2012:
Filmmaker Michael Moore joined HuffPost Live Thursday and predicted that the influence of money in politics would lift Mitt Romney to victory over President Barack Obama in November.

“Mitt Romney is going to raise more money than Barack Obama. That should guarantee his victory,” Moore told host Josh Zepps. “I think people should start to practice the words ‘President Romney.’ To assume that the other side are just a bunch of ignoramuses who are supported by people who believe that Adam and Eve rode on dinosaurs 6,000 years ago is to completely misjudge the opposition.”

... “This election’s going to be decided on who gets out the most people that day. Who’s up at four in the morning, making sure that dozens, hundreds, thousands of people in their communities are getting out to vote. And the Republican machine that is set up and the money behind it to guarantee [what] is really the only important thing — turnout on that day — that’s what looks pretty scary here.”
And in 2008, while he didn't predict a loss by Barack Obama, he did write a piece for Rolling Stone titled "How the Democrats Can Blow It in Six Easy Steps: A Blueprint for Losing the Most Winnable Presidential Election in American History." The six steps were:
1. Keep saying nice things about McCain.

2. Pick a running mate who is a conservative white guy or a general or a Republican.

3. Keep writing speeches for Obama that make him sound like a hawk.

4. Forget that this was a historic year for women.

5. Show up to a gunfight with a peashooter.

6. Denounce me!
I'm sure Moore believed that Democrats were guilty on counts 1, 3, and 5, and possibly 2 and 4. (In that race, I don't think either candidate was ever asked about Moore.) How'd that turn out?

Moore was right to foresee doom in 2016. But the sky isn't falling every time he says it is.

Saturday, August 29, 2020


In a column about the Republican convention, Maureen Dowd writes this about the first daughter:
Ivanka must realize now that she and Jared can never go back to their life as New York society darlings. So why not double down on Washington and lay the groundwork for a presidential run of her own?
Many people agree with the first sentence -- that the Kushners can't possibly expect to be welcomed back into New York society, because they've spent four years as loyal aides to Ivanka's loathsome father.

I disagree. Please note this tidbit about Ivanka's young half-brother from Stephanie Winston Wolkoff's book Melania and Me, as reported by Politico:
Michael Cohen ... helped get Barron Trump, the son of Donald and Melania, into a top Manhattan private school, Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, where two of Winston Wolkoff’s kids went as well.

Winston Wolkoff said that Melania “enlisted” Cohen to help Barron get into schools, including Columbia Grammar, where he served on the board. Winston Wolkoff also writes about how even though most parents at the school were Democrats, Melania was “inundated” with requests for playdates with Barron after Trump won the presidency.
They all wanted their kids to have playdates with Barron.

I don't care if these people are Democrats. They're wealthy elites, which means that in many ways they're terrible human beings. Money and power are what they respect. Right and wrong are secondary.

So of course they'll take Ivanka and Jared back.

Yup. Absolutely.


There's been a mild freakout over this:
A new online study finds that Republicans and independents are twice as likely as Democrats to say they would not give their true opinion in a telephone poll question about their preference for president in the 2020 election. That raises the possibility that polls understate support for President Donald Trump.

Some 11.7% of Republicans and 10.5% independents said they would not give their true opinion, vs. 5.4% of Democrats, according to the study by CloudResearch LLC....

CloudResearch conducted the survey online but inquired about surveys that are conducted by phone. It first asked participants for their political preference, then asked how they felt about divulging their preference for president in a phone poll. Later, it asked whom they actually did support for president.
So some people are reluctant to tell pollsters that they support their candidate, and we know that more Trump voters than Biden voters feel this way because they were asked by a pollster and they said they ... supported Trump? How do we know the respondents were telling the truth in this survey? Maybe a percentage of the people who said they supported Biden were the real Trump voters.

The argument is that Trump voters will be honest in an online survey but not in a phone survey, because they're "shy" about acknowledging support for their candidate when talking to a human being, or for some other reason. Here are some responses CloudResearch got after asking reluctant Trump supporters to explain their reticence:
I don’t believe the information would be confidential and I think it’s dangerous to express an opinion outside of the current liberal viewpoint.”

“Well I probably wouldn’t give my opinion period, but if pushed, I would not give my real opinion for fear of reprisal if someone found out.” ...

“My answers could be recorded so I don’t really trust such phone conversations.”

“I do not discuss politics — let alone with a total stranger on the telephone.”

“I don’t always trust phone call surveys. I wouldn’t want to be bombarded with phone calls and political mail.”

“I don’t want my opinion associated with my phone number.”
What's bizarre about this is that none of these people seem to realize that activity on computers is also tracked -- if anything, more efficiently than what's said to a pollster -- and they're probably less safe from follow-up activity answering an online survey. Maybe the sector of the population that doesn't grasp that point, which should be obvious to all of us, skews Trump. It's possible.

But as CNN's poll analyst, Harry Enten, noted earlier this month, there's not much evidence of a discrepancy right now between phone polls and online polls, and Biden is leading comfortably in both:
Biden's national lead is still 8 points in polls that don't use live interviews at this point. That is a little lower than in polls that do use live interviewers and call cell phones, though that gap has only recently appeared and may just be a statistical artifact.
In July, when The New York Times and Siena College released a poll (conducted by telephone) that showed Biden with a significant lead over Trump, Nate Cohn of the Times reported that more Republicans than Democrats completed the Times/Siena survey:
Over all, telephone calls to registered Republicans or those who participated in a recent Republican primary were about 12 percent likelier to yield a completed interview than calls to Democrats were. This seemingly noteworthy difference can be explained by well-known demographic biases in polling: Older, rural and white voters are likelier than young, urban and nonwhite voters to respond to surveys. After these factors were controlled for, Republicans were no likelier than Democrats to respond to the survey.
But what about 2016? On a national level, the polls were pretty good -- the final Real Clear Politics average showed Hillary Clinton leading by 3.2; she won the popular vote by 2.1. Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report says that problems with state polls were about demographics, not failure to account for shy voters.
And where were the polls off in 2016? In those very states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Postelection studies revealed that, nationally, there was a slight over-sampling of whites with college degrees and a slight under-sampling of whites with less than four-year degrees. Since then, most pollsters have begun to correct for that, weighting white voters by level of educational attainment.
Shortly after the 2016 election, when he was still at FiveThirtyEight, Harry Enten concluded that the "shy Trump voter" factor was, oddly, most prominent in Trump states.
... if the ["shy voter"] theory is right, we would have expected to see Trump outperform his polls the most in places where he is least popular — and where the stigma against admitting support for Trump would presumably be greatest.... But actual election results indicate that the opposite happened: Trump outperformed his polls by the greatest margin in red states, where he was quite popular. The two states that had the largest polling error for Trump were Tennessee and South Dakota, where Trump won more than 60 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, Trump underperformed his polls in states where the stigma against him would seem to be strongest: deep-blue states like California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York and Washington.
There might be a "shy Trump" phenomenon. But the data nerds are watching for it and conducting and analyzing polls in ways that attempt to identify it and compensate for it.

Besides, these folks don't seem particularly shy.

Friday, August 28, 2020


In 2016, Hillary Clinton led Donald Trump in nearly every poll throughout the campaign. In one poll, however, Trump regularly led: The USC Dornsife Election Daybreak Poll, which was done in conjunction with the Los Angeles Times. In that survey, Trump routinely led by 1 to 4 points; the final USC Dornsife survey gave Trump a 3-point lead. (Since the poll was intended to estimate the national popular vote, this was actually off the mark -- Clinton won the popular vote by 2 points.)

The USC Dornsife poll is back this year, and so far the results are a bit different: Joe Biden is currently at 52.73%, while Trump is at 40.32%. That's more than a 12-point Biden lead.

And USC Dornsife is reporting daily numbers. The numbers above were posted yesterday. The numbers from Sunday, August 23 -- before the Republican convention started -- were Biden 52.23%, Trump 40.45%. So Biden has gained a tiny amount of support during the convention, while Trump has slipped by a similar amount.

I don't know whether to believe these numbers. This poll wasn't accurate four years ago. But the pollsters certainly can't be accused of having dismissed the possibility of a Trump win and building that bias into their approach.

Four years ago, an explanation of USC Dornsife's polling method was posted on its website:
The poll’s probability approach sought to measure participants’ level of certainty in their plans to vote for the candidates, rated on a scale of 0 to 100, and the intensity of their commitment to a candidate, rather than simply their preference for one candidate or asking them outright whom they would vote for in an election. It is based on a methodology used by the RAND Continuous Presidential Election Poll that was successful in 2012....

The numbers showed Trump ahead for most of the poll’s run.
If the methodology hasn't changed, and Biden is well ahead, that suggests that pro-Biden (or at least anti-Trump) voters are more intense in their feelings than Trump supporters -- which is contrary to what many observers believe.

I think that's a good sign.


In a New York Times Magazine profile of Rudy Giuliani published in January, Jonathan Mahler wrote:
Watching his invariably viral TV performances, it often felt as if the closest thing to a unifying explanation for his behavior was his pronounced inability to experience shame. Shamelessness is not an art or even a skill. It’s simply a way of operating in the world that informs all of your actions and interactions, for good or ill....

Giuliani seemed to exist at the intersection of shame and shamelessness, inflicting shame on his perceived enemies and yet invulnerable to it himself. Today, this divide — between the shamed and the shameless — is at the center of our politics. Some political actors are constantly reacting to shame, or the fear of it; others seem incapable of experiencing it. This creates a kind of asymmetrical warfare in which one side can do whatever it wants to achieve victory and the other can’t. In such a dynamic, the outcome of every battle seems almost predetermined.
I agree with Mahler that our politics is asymmetrical warfare, with Democrats and liberals choosing to be constrained by forces that Republicans simply ignore. But I'm not sure that the difference is shamelessness.

I've believed for years that most Republican officials and officeholders were cynics -- they repeated Fox News nonense to their voter base and swing voters without actually believing it themselves. Then a new breed of Republican politicians began to emerge who didn't just sell the Fox snake oil to their voters -- they actually believed it. Sarah Palin was the first one on a presidential ticket. Others emerged in the Tea Party years. And then there was Donald Trump.

For years, most prominent Republicans were still cynics. They said that voter fraud was rampant, or that Obamacare was a complete government takeover of the healthcare system, or that Democrats wanted to take everyone's guns, but they knew better. They said these things because saying them kept their voters voting for them.

But as the lies in the Trump years have become more outrageous, I've begun to believe that increasing numbers of prominent Republicans actually believe at least some of them. They genuinely came to believe that Hillary Clinton is history's greatest monster. They believe a Joe Biden presidency will usher in an age of Venezuela-style socialism and crack-era levels of crime, as he hands the keys of the White House over to Xi Jinping. Some of them don't believe the president is a Hatch Act violator or a serial lawbreaker, and they're persuaded that he really did save us singlehandedly from the worst of the pandemic.

Maybe only a few of them believe the most outrageous falsehoods uttered repeatedly about the president over the past four days. I've started to think, though, that Giuliani is a believer -- he's not shameless.

If Giuliani and the others don't believe their delusional boasts about Trump, they also don't believe that the truth about him matters. They sincerely believe Democrats are evil -- all of them seem to be completely genuine in their assertion of this premise. So if Democrats are the planet's greatest menace, the equivalent of the communist threat during the Cold War, then Donald Trump really is a giant among men, because -- except in "failed Democrat cities" -- he's holding them at bay.

This is why they can lie the way they do: The propaganda has eaten their brains. They're not being cynical when they say Democratic rule would lead to the apocalypse. They've been telling that lie for so long, they don't know it;s a lie anymore.

Thursday, August 27, 2020


Just saw this:

Maybe I'm having a Poe's Law moment and interpreting mockery as these tweeters' sincere beliefs, but I think they both mean what they're saying. And they're wrong.

The first part of what Dreyfuss predicts is what right-wingers believe will happen -- that we liberals are in a massive conspiracy to fake fear about the coronavirus, and we'll drop the act as soon as the votes are counted. Either that or the right believes we're just sheeple blindly following the advice of the real hoaxers, Fauci, Gates, the WHO, Democratic politicians, the mainstream media, and the rest of the Deep State. (I guess all the people who died in Italy, Spain, and New York City in the spring were crisis actors.)

I can see Biden voters doing some non-socially-distanced celebrating if he wins, but folks on our side have never been perfect in our observance of public health guidelines. We've demonstrated for racial justice in ways that haven't always been 100% safe. Many of us, especially the young, went to a bar or two when they reopened.

But the rest of us don't believe Biden's election will make the pandemic go away. Assuming there's no vaccine before January 20, we don't think his presidency will cause the virus to magically vanish. Maybe Biden's plan will crush the curve while we wait for a vaccine -- maybe he'll be Andrew Cuomo, in other words. But we don't know that yet. (And if Democrats don't take the Senate, we can assume that Mitch McConnell will thwart as many of Biden's public health initiatives as he can.)

And the red states are never, ever going to lock down. That will be a big problem for Biden if he's president. The first culture-war battle of his presidency could easily be Republican governors like Ron DeSantis and Kristi Noem engaging in massive resistance to every public health measure Biden proposes, as Fox News cheers them on.

It's facile to say that the parties will reverse positions on the pandemic if the White House changes hands. In all likelihood, everyone will just remain dug in.


A wheelchair-bound young man named Madison Cawthorn recently won a Republican primary runoff in a red district in North Carolina. He's likely to be in Congress soon. He spoke at the Republican convention last night, and he ended his speech by being helped out of his wheelchair and onto his feet, while making a culture-war point.

But for some reason, Fox News doesn't want you to believe he was making a culture-war point. Here, Fox News attacks a black female journalist -- you know how much right-wingers love to do that -- for saying that the culture-war point was a culture-war point:
"PBS NewsHour" correspondent Yamiche Alcindor was heavily criticized late Wednesday over a tweet describing GOP House candidate Madison Cawthorn standing at the conclusion of his Republican National Convention remarks as a "direct rebuke" to those protesting social injustice.

Cawthorn, who was partially paralyzed in a 2014 car accident and uses a wheelchair, closed his speech by urging Americans not to "cower to a mob," and to "kneel before God but stand for our flag.

"Be a radical for liberty and be a radical for our republic for which I stand, one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all," Cawthorn said as he rose from his wheelchair and stood behind a walker.
Here was Alcindor's tweet:

The Fox story continues:
"How on earth could you possibly turn the rather moving act of a FREAKIN' PARAPLEGIC rising for the national anthem into some weird BLM trip?" Attorney and National Review contributor Jeff Blehar tweeted. "When someone holds the door open for you, is that a rebuke of BLM too? My patience for takes like this has reached its limit."

"The activist below found a way to turn a paraplegic standing up in his wheelchair an act of white supremacy," Daily Caller reporter Chuck Ross tweeted.

"Nowhere did Cawthorn state his standing was a “direct rebuke of actions by ppl -- including black athletes who are currently sitting out games -- protesting police brutality. And Yamiche Alcindor is not a journalist," conservative commentator Stephen Miller said.
Wait -- what? They're trying to tell us that "kneel before God but stand for our flag" isn't intended as a rebuke to athletes who have knelt for the anthem to protest police brutality?

So (to take just one example) Kellyanne Conway was wrong when she said this in 2017?

Kellyanne Conway on Anthem Protests

"We have a saying in our house... take a knee for the Lord and stand for the flag."

On Fox & Friends, Kellyanne Conway slammed NFL players for taking a knee during the national anthem.

Posted by Fox News on Monday, November 20, 2017

Everyone in America knows this is the meaning of that talking point. We've known for years.

But what Masha Gessen says about Donald Trump is true of the entire conservative information sphere:
... Gessen explains the difference between an ordinary lie that may "collapse in the face of facts" and "the Trumpian lie."

The latter is "the power lie, or the bully lie ... the lie of the bigger kid who took your hat and is wearing it — while denying that he took it. There is no defense against this lie because the point of the lie is to assert power, to show 'I can say what I want when I want to.'"
Within their own information bubble, right-wingers have this power. They can attack Black Lives Matter with this talking point and then attack a journalist who states the obvious meaning of the talking point. The facts never enter into the discussion.

But they lie like this all the time.

And at least 40% of Americans agree, every time, that they never stole our hat.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020


You probably know that there was a schedule adjustment in last night's Republican convention programming.
One of the speakers for the second night of the Republican National Convention was pulled from the program after The Daily Beast surfaced a tweet from her, earlier in the day, urging her followers to investigate a supposed Jewish plot to enslave the world....

Mary Ann Mendoza ... an “angel mom,” was scheduled to speak Tuesday about her son’s 2014 death at the hands of a drunk driver who was in the country illegally....

Hours earlier, Mendoza had linked to a lengthy thread from a QAnon conspiracy theorist that laid out a fevered, anti-Semitic view of the world. In its telling, the Rothschilds—a famous Jewish banking family from Germany—created a plot to terrorize non-Jewish “goyim,” with purported details of their scheme that included plans to “make the goyim destroy each other” and “rob the goyim of their landed properties.” ...

The thread also promoted “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” an anti-Semitic hoax popular in Nazi Germany, and claimed that its allegations about a Jewish plot to control the world are real.

“The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is not a fabrication,” the thread that Mendoza shared reads. “And, it certainly is not anti-semetic (sic) to point out this fact.”
This morning, MSNBC's Hallie Jackson followed up with Trump spokesman Tim Murtaugh, who said anti-Semitism is bad but, y'know, there are limits.
After Murtaugh confirmed that Mendoza’s peddling of anti-Semitic tropes was something the campaign denounces “fully,” Jackson pivoted to Republican congressional candidate and proud QAnon conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene.

... “Marjorie Taylor Greene was invited to tomorrow night to be on the South Lawn with the president. She’s a candidate who’s embraced conspiracy theories—these QAnon, and in many cases, anti-Semitic conspiracies as well. Will she be disinvited?”

“We hear from the media all the time about this QAnon business, and frankly we don’t have time to—or the inclination to—we have a lot of things that we work on here in the campaign,” Murtaugh deflected. “And chasing down conspiracy theories isn’t one of them.”

Jackson, meanwhile, pointed out that they just pulled an RNC speaker for sharing “deranged conspiracy theories” while asking the Trump flack how the situation with Greene and QAnon was different.

“Because anti-Semitism is something that is clear and everyone understands how foul and repulsive it is,” Murtaugh answered, prompting the MSNBC host to retort that QAnon is explicitly anti-Semitic.

“The latest conspiracy theory the media seems to be focused on—the only ones we ever hear about this from are the media,” an undeterred Murtaugh continued. “It is not something we deal with here in the campaign, not something we ever think about, I never heard the president even offer an opinion about it.”
It's not just that QAnon is explicitly anti-Semitic -- it's that Marjorie Taylor Greene has been publicly anti-Semitic herself.

As Politico reported in June:
In a video and on social media, Greene has also touted an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Soros, a Holocaust survivor, collaborated with the Nazis.

“George Soros says dark forces have been awakened by Trump’s win. I don’t think so,” she said in one video. “George Soros is the piece of crap that turned in — he’s a Jew — he turned in his own people over to the Nazis.”

In February 2019, Greene replied to a tweet that included several memes accusing Soros of being part of a secret totalitarian world government. One picture showed Soros as a vampire who controls “every single Democrat politician.” In her reply, Greene called Soros “the Nazi himself trying to continue what was not finished.”
I bet at least a few folks on Trump's team have researched Greene and know that she said and wrote these things -- but I imagine they don't consider them really anti-Semitic, because Soros is history's greatest monster in their eyes. (I'm sure many people in Trump's White House and campaign believe Greene's video and tweet about Soros are completely accurate.)

In addition, Jewish Insider reported:
In a post on the now-defunct website American Truth Seekers archived on the Wayback Machine, an author named Marjorie Greene made claims about George Soros, the Rothschild banking family and factions of the Saudi Arabian monarchy as part of QAnon....
In that post, Greene wrote:
This is a ‘Global Evil’ that attempted to takeover America. Many in our government actively worship Satan, Moloch/Molech and participate Pedophilia, Spirit Cooking, etc. Most Americans are afraid to look this Truth in the eye but True Evil does exist regardless of your religious views. This is not a joke and most definitely not a game. Thousands of Pedophiles and Child Traffickers have been arrested since Trump was sworn in. They are all under heavy investigation, including their funds and their affiliations.

Saudi Arabia, Rothschild and Soros are the puppet masters that fund this Global Evil. For the first time in history, this triangle of funding has lost one of it’s sides and is beginning to collapse. The old Saudi Arabia was funding child trafficking, Hillary Clinton, false flags and various other evil activities. The New Saudi Arabia is just taking form as Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, the same King who honored President Trump during his visit, made an abrupt change in the line of succession. He appointed his younger son Mohammed bin Salman (people call him MBS) as Crown Prince and is reportedly going to step down this week due to dementia, which will make MBS King. As soon as MBS was named Crowned Prince is when ‘The Purge’ in Saudi Arabia began. Hundreds of Officials and other Princes were arrested for corruption charges, many with ties to Clinton, Podesta, Huma, Obama, etc. All of their corrupt dealings and bank records are being investigated. As this unfolds, the paper trail will likely lead to charges here in the United States and could possibly be some of the sealed indictments. MBS has a good relationship with Trump and has vowed to ‘Make Saudi Arabia Great Again’, less strict and more moderate. Saudi Arabia is now working with Israel (highly unusual) and Trump against Iran, Radical Islam and efforts to defund terrorism.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity take out this Global Cabal of Satan worshiping pedophiles.
(Emphasis in original.)

In this post, Greene says that with the drying up of Saudi Arabian funding, the Global Cabal of Satan is now run by Soros and some Rothschild or other (I'm not sure which one she means -- I'm pretty sure there are several Rothschilds alive today). But she doesn't dwell on Soros and Rothschild, you see -- she's much more interested in the mini-QAnon "storm" she claims MbS has brought to Saudi Arabia.

So this post only alludes to the notion that Jews are allied with Satan! You can't break off ties with someone for an allusion, can you?

So I guess Marjorie Taylor Greene will remain in the GOP's good graces. (Besides, she now says she's no longer QAnon-curious -- she still has never apologized for posting hate speech, but she says she abandoned the world of Q when she "started finding misinformation" there, which, by coincidence, seems to have been right around the time the national media started writing stories about her.)

Oh, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Mary Ann Mendoza back in the GOP's good graces once the convention is over, because screw you, liberals.


Wow, the Republican convention is a rip-roaring success, and that Melania Trump speech really took America by storm. Let's look at the front pages of some right-wing sites and see how well Night 2 went over on right-wing media:

I know, I know -- "If it bleeds, it leads." But this was a key night for their party, and they don't care. They clearly see Melania's attempt to soften her husband's image as a sop to throw out to swing voters, whom they perceive as idiots or dupes for needing to be persuaded of Donald Trump's greatness. The question shouldn't even be up for discussion: Black people are angry! How can you even consider not voting for Trump?

Over at The New York Times, there's a roundup of pundit reactions to the convention. Asked what the best moment of Night 2 was, Jamelle Bouie responds:
I am not the target audience for this event, so I’m trying to approach it as a neutral observer. From that perspective, the testimonials from ordinary people — emceed by Vice President Mike Pence — were the best produced and most effective moments of the night. The people in question felt genuine, and Pence is a talented performer of political empathy. That segment was also something of a paean to Abraham Lincoln, and I can’t help but appreciate that.
But Daniel McCarthy -- editor of Modern Age: A Conservative Quarterly, which on quick glance seems to be proomoting "respectable" conservatism -- is having none of that. When he's asked about Night 2's worst moments, he replies:
Too many schmaltzy videos, like the one starring Mike Pence. The night as a whole seemed like a flashback to the Democratic convention or a pre-Trump Republican convention — feel-good emoting in consultant-crafted packaging.
What did McCarthy like? Not Melania either. Here was his choice for best moment:
Abby Johnson testified powerfully to the horrific realities of abortion and the ugly eugenicist history of Planned Parenthood, including the toll it takes on Black lives to this day.
That would be the same Abby Johnson who said it would be "smart" for police to racial profile her black son; who has advocated giving the vote only to the (presumably male) head of every household; and who appears to have lied about the circumstances that reportedly converted her from pro-choice Planned Parenthood worker to anti-abortion celebrity and subject of a right-wing agitprop biopic. She was McCarthy's star.

Melania dutifully and soullessly labored through the reading of her speech, which was dull but able to suggest an acceptable level of humanity and empathy. But the speech was out of place. The Republican electorate has learned to live, at least in the political sphere, entirely without empathy. Maybe these folks are nice to their neighbors, or love their children. But they don't want the greater good. They want to win. They want to crush us. Republicans didn't want to hear what Melania's speechwriters gave her to say, and they didn't want to hear the people in the Pence video. Those segments were there just to pull a few squishy, soft-centered centrists into the Trump camp so the GOP base can have the triumph it believes the world owes it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020


In The New York Times, Will Wilkinson of the right-centrist Niskanen Center summed up the first night of the Republican convention this way:
The cultlike air of the proceedings, the constant lies about the catastrophic Covid-19 pandemic, the night’s motif of incendiary anti-urban fear-mongering showed us that the president and his party are in such profound disarray that they fear they’re losing their own voters, feel they need to double down on their most distasteful themes to nail them down, and can’t afford to waste a moment reaching out and appealing to wavering independents and Democrats.
No, that's not it.

It's been clear since 2016 that Trump believes his unfiltered impulses, grievances, and prejudices are precisely what got him into the White House, and people who think he needs to moderate his views or his rhetoric are just being "politically correct." And, of course, he's one-for-one in election campaigns. How many of the haters and losers who question his strategic brilliance have a batting average of 1.000?

It's easy to believe that this level of extremism is what America wants when you watch hours and hours of Fox News every day. That's what Fox delivers continually, all while proclaiming to its audience (including its most famous fan) that anyone who doesn't agree with the Fox worldview isn't really an American.

I'm sure the rest of the party would prefer the meat at the convention to be a bit less red and bloody. But these folks have been all in on Trump for years, so his instincts are now their strategy.

Wilkinson isn't the only observer who misreads Trump and his fan base. In The Washington Post, Paul Waldman writes:
... watching the first night’s proceedings, something ... came into focus: an entirely different President Trump from the one we all know, one whose actions and character are completely at odds with what we’ve watched over the past four years.

To put it simply: This is Trump fan fiction.

For the unfamiliar, fan fiction allows fans to take well-known entertainment properties and write their own scenarios into them, creating everything from brief stories to entire novels. What if Kirk and Spock were lovers? What if you threw Harry and Hermione into the “Star Wars” universe? What if the a cappella singers from “Pitch Perfect” had to fight zombies?

Or what if Trump were a caring, compassionate, totally non-racist person who saved America from the coronavirus pandemic? Wouldn’t that be an interesting twist?

So Republicans decided that the way to handle the crisis affecting all our lives was to present an alternate timeline, a bizarro-universe story in which rather than spending months denying the coronavirus would affect the United States and claiming it was about to disappear, Trump was in fact the only one who realized how serious it was.
But the thing about fan fiction is that the people who write it and read it know that it's fiction. In fact, they know it's fiction twice over: It's stuff that didn't really happen, even in the fictional worlds (or at least the "official" ones) to which the authors are referring.

But Trump fans aren't indulging a fantasy -- they really believe all this about the president. (So does the president himself.) They've persuaded themselves that Trump, and only Trump, kept the pandemic from killing millions (even as they simultaneously tell themselves that the whole thing is a hoax, the virus is no worse than the flu, and Democrats will abandon all interest in it as soon as the election is over). They certainly don't believe any of the facts in this fact check from The New York Times:
Mr. Trump’s partial travel ban on travelers coming from China had only a limited effect in stopping or lessening the spread of the novel coronavirus in the United States. The ban was porous — a New York Times analysis of data determined that nearly 40,000 travelers arrived in the United States on direct flights from China in the two months after Mr. Trump imposed his ban. Scientists have also found that the strain of the virus that began circulating in New York around mid-February was one that spread earlier in Europe, indicating it was carried by travelers from there.

In any case, even with Mr. Trump’s partial travel ban on China, the United States has had one of the worst pandemic outcomes in the world, with deaths estimated to be as high as 200,000, about a quarter of the total worldwide.
No Trump fan believes that death total. Trump fans think the real numbers are the fan fiction.

And Trump fans don't believe he's a racist in the same way they don't believe any Republican is a racist. All racism, they believe, is Democratic (you know, because Democrats were the party of the Klan and segregation many, many decades ago). We're the ones who want to tear down Confederate monuments while they defend them, but we're the racists -- somehow. It's not fantasy to them, it's truth.

You can't properly assess Trump and his followers by thinking like a normal person. You have to think the way they think. Then, in a horrifying way, it will all make sense.


Until about a half hour ago, the Republican convention wasn't even the lead story at -- that honor went to a story about unrest and property damage in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after video emerged of a white police officer shooting a black man repeatedly in the back. Fox's take:

But this seems appropriate. The convention tried to sell President Trump as a great leader who has heroically fought Chinese hegemonists and NATO deadbeats while personally leading the fight to end the coronavirus pandemic, but that wasn't the most prominent message of the convention's first day. This was the most pominent message:

The case for Trump's reelection is that the alternative will be the end of civilization as we know it. It's the old right-wing message about the communist menace, except we're the communists.

Which means it's the time-honored message of Republicans, only cranked up to a pain-threshold decibel level. I don't understand why it works in some election cycles and not others. We look back on, say, Pat Buchanan's 1992 speech and say, "Wow, that was really damaging to the Republicans -- obviously they never want to do that again." But virtually every speech last night was an attempt to replicate Buchanan's speech -- and it's not at all clear that it will fail.

Republicans have a permanent messaging advantage over Democrats: They've consistently argued since the Nixon era that Democrats are a force for chaos, anarchy, economic devastation, crumbling cities, and thugs roaming the streets out for blood. So when there's chaos in America under Republican president Donald Trump, they can argue that it's all the Democrats' fault and at least 40% of Americans -- and probably a majority of white Americans -- will believe it, because they've been hearing precisely that message since long before Trump entered politics. The solution is always a white Republican guy in a suit who's disgusted by all the decadence.

Democrats don't have an overarching message about Republicans. They never have. Down here among the rank-and-file, many of us have developed our own sense of what's wrong with Republicans: They're Bible-thumping gun fetishizers who'd like to purge America of blacks, gays, immigrants, liberals, feminists, and cities, and who shrug as plutocrats take more of the money and more of the power.

But that's not the Democratic Party's message about Republicans. It's now the party's message about Trump, but Democrats insist that Republicans are swell people, at least potentially. This year, Democrats have been proudly showing off their Republican supporters (as they did four years ago).

But suggesting that Democrats need the imprimatur of Republicans reinforces the GOP message that Democrats can't be trusted -- if even Democrats won't say, "We're the good guys, and the other guys are the bad guys," if they say the proof of their trustworthiness is that some Republicans trust them, that's effectively an endorsement of the Republican message that Republicans are good and Democrats should be viewed with suspicion.

So I worry that the Trump campaign's messaging will work. Trump, of course, may be so widely despised that nothing can save him this year. But the talking points he and his party have settled on have worked in the past, and are never fully rebutted by the Democrats.

Monday, August 24, 2020


A couple of weeks ago, I warned you that President Trump might try to use a Russian COVID-19 vaccine as an October surprise in order to get reelected. Now the Financial Times reports this:
The Trump administration is considering bypassing normal US regulatory standards to fast-track an experimental coronavirus vaccine from the UK for use in America ahead of the presidential election, according to three people briefed on the plan.

One option being explored to speed up the availability of a vaccine would involve the US Food and Drug Administration awarding “emergency use authorisation” (EUA) in October to a vaccine being developed in a partnership between AstraZeneca and Oxford university, based on the results from a relatively small UK study if it is successful, the people said.

The AstraZeneca study has enrolled 10,000 volunteers, whereas the US government’s scientific agencies have said that a vaccine would need to be studied in 30,000 people to pass the threshold for authorisation. AstraZeneca is also conducting a larger study with 30,000 volunteers, although the results from that will come after the smaller trial.
I'm sure Trump had never heard of "emergency use authorizations" until this month, but I'm betting they're his favorite presidential power now, the medical equivalent of executive orders. He just forced the FDA to issue an EUA authorizing the use of convalescent plasma in the treatment of COVID -- which was already being done on an experimental basis, and which is not considered by most scientists to be a "breakthrough," as Trump claimed the day before his convention started.

If, a month before Election Day, Trump really does approve a vaccine that hasn't been fully tested, that sets up the possibility that the Trump cult -- which thinks the coronavirus is no more harmful than the flu and believes vaccines are an excuse for Bill Gates to inject microchips in heretofore free citizens -- will volunteer to be vaccinated, while the rest of us -- who generally believe in vaccines -- pass it up. (I'm eager for a vaccine, but I want one that's fully tested and accepted for use in the EU, Canada, New Zealand, and other civilized countries.)

We could get to the point where the rest of us are getting a vaccine that's widely accepted throughout the world, but the Trumpers will demand the one he promoted. (And if it's determined to be ineffective or dangerous, they'll say that conclusion was a Deep State plot to force everyone to take the one with the microchips.)

I believe that there's a pro-science silent majority in America, and if Trump tries this October surprise, he won't have very many takers. More likely, he'll get pushback from the professionals in the federal government, and he'll abandon the effort -- and why not? He doesn't actually need a vaccine to get the intended effect. He'll be fine if he can just say he wants one distributed, but "they" won't let him. That will make his cult love him even more.

Either way, it's unlikely that any vaccine will be in wide distribution until after the election. So Trump can promise whatever he wants.


UPDATE: Joshua Holland has more. He thinks this won't work -- polls say the public mistrusts Trump on the pandemic, and the press has become more skeptical. We'll see.


On the eve of the Republican convention, this news broke:
Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to President Trump and one of his longest-serving aides, is leaving the White House at the end of the month....

Her husband, George T. Conway III, a conservative lawyer and outspoken critic of the president, is also stepping back from his role on the Lincoln Project, an outside group of Republicans devoted to defeating Trump in November. He will also take a hiatus from Twitter, the venue he has often used to attack the president.

In a statement, Conway ... said she and George were making the decision based on what they think is best for their four children.

“We disagree about plenty,” she wrote of herself and her husband, “but we are united on what matters most: the kids. Our four children are teens and ‘tweens starting a new academic year in the middle school and high school that will be conducted remotely from home for at least a few months. As millions of parents nationwide know, kids ‘doing school from home’ requires a level of attention and vigilance that is as unusual as these times.”

Conway continued: “This is completely my choice and my voice. In time, I will announce future plans. For now, and for my beloved children, it will be less drama, more mama.”
And then we learned this:
Claudia Conway, the 15-year-old daughter of Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway and Republican Trump critic George Conway, said on social media she is “officially pushing for emancipation.”

The teen, who frequently criticizes both of her parents, made the announcement on Twitter Saturday night shortly after the Republican National Convention announced its list of speakers at this week’s event....

“That’s it. i’m out. running away phase 1 starts tomorrow at 7 am,” she wrote on TikTok in reference to the news.

“My mother’s job ruined my life to begin with,” Conway wrote in a follow up tweet. “Heartbreaking that she continues to go down that path after years of watching her children suffer. Selfish. It’s all about money and fame, ladies and gentlemen.” ...

“As for my dad, politically, we agree on absolutely nothing. We just both happen to have common sense when it comes to our current president. Stop “stanning” him,” she wrote.
I'm not convinced that we should call Claudia Conway a hero and leave it at that. She could be a very troubled teenager. We don't know the whole story.

But whatever the truth is, give Claudia this: She understands Donald Trump and the media. She dropped this bombshell just as his big four-day miniseries is about to begin. He wants the Republican convention spotlight all to himself. He's going to be the focus of all four nights. And now he's waking up to the fact that she's the biggest news story in politics.

Remember when Trump was about to reboot his Endless Adulation for Me tour, in Tulsa? TikTok users, many of them members of Claudia Conway's generation, requested seats with no intention of showing up. The campaign said a huge turnout was expected, and there'd need to be a separate speech to the overflow crowd, but the rally was a poorly attended flop.

Donald Trump is 74 years old, but Generation Z really seems to understand his insatiable need to be a star on every screen in America at every moment -- and how to sabotage his pursuit of that stardom. The young appear to grasp this more than most top Democratic politicians and operatives.

I think the 2020 election will go well. But if it doesn't, maybe we need to purge the elders and hand the reins of the Democratic Party to teenagers. They might be immature and inexperienced, but they clearly understand this media environment better than Chuck Schumer or Tom Perez.

Sunday, August 23, 2020


I don't know if the Republicans are trying to gaslight us or themselves as they plan their convention:
Convention organizers say the president and his surrogate speakers will showcase optimism and inspire hope in a time of worldwide despair, with programming planned around themes of “promise,” “opportunity” and “greatness” for the United States in a second Trump term.

“The big contrast you’ll see between the Democrats’ doom-and-gloom, Donald Trump-obsessed convention will be a convention focused on real people, their stories, how the policies of the Trump administration have lifted their lives, and then an aspirational vision toward the next four years,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in an interview Saturday.
A couple of days ago, they sent Trump out to deliver this message:
“Over the last week, the Democrats held the darkest and angriest and gloomiest convention in American history,” President Trump said in remarks to members of a conservative group in Arlington, Va. He accused Democrats of “attacking America as racist and a horrible country that must be redeemed.”
Trump went on to say:
"They want to punish America and its citizens instead of holding them high," the president said. "Where Joe Biden sees American darkness, I see American greatness."

"No party can lead American that spends so much time tearing down America," Trump said.
Is that the impression America got from the Democratic convention? Is it even the impression Republicans got? It will be now -- Trump's pronouncements are gospel to GOP voters. But I think they've settled on this line because new campaign head Bill Stepien is trying to run the campaign in a traditional way, and you're supposed to settle on some coordinated line of attack after the other guys' convention. So this is it.

Part of the problem is that Trump can't sustain a positive, optimistic tone and doesn't want to. In that Friday speech, he went on to say:
But, the biggest part of last night's speech was what Joe Biden didn't talk about. He didn't talk about law enforcement. He didn't talk about bringing safety to Democrat run cities that are totally out of control and they have no clue.

China was never mentioned in any way, shape, or form. China will own our country if he gets elected. They will own our country and we're not going to let that happen.
That sounds to me like gloom and doom.

But prior to that, Trump said:
Look at what we've accomplished, and now we're doing it again.

It was the most successful period of time in the history of our country from every standard. Look what we've accomplished and now this plague comes in and look at the way they talk. But, look at what's happening and look at how we're shooting up. We call it a super V. It's no longer a V. It's a super V and they didn't think that could happen and they're probably not happy about it.

... We've seen heroic doctors and nurses racing into action to save lives. We've seen first responders helping strangers in need. We've seen the passage of historic legislation to save 50 million American jobs.

We've mobilized American industry like never before. We've built military hospitals from scratch to produce lifesaving therapies and we're on track to develop the most incredible from a standpoint of time, record time, vaccines. We have vaccines. You'll be reading about them very soon, way, way ahead of schedule, years ahead of schedule. This would have been where we are now phase three trials, clinical trials. You wouldn't have been there in two or three years if you went back to another administration.
There are traditional Republican voters who are turning away from Trump -- not a lot of them, but enough to give Joe Biden a bigger lead than Hillary Clinton had four years ago at this time. Will they respond to this message from the party they normally vote for?

Some might. Or this might ring very false at a time when 70% of Americans think the country is on the wrong track.

On the other hand, CNN says we should expect mostly gloom.
Early drafts of his nomination acceptance speech closely resemble two previous addresses that delved heavily in the divisive culture wars that Trump has aggressively stoked: his first convention speech in 2016, where he declared "I alone can fix" the country's ailments, and his July 4 address at Mount Rushmore, which seized upon recent racial strife to hammer a "law and order" message.
If you like Trump, well, you're going to get a lot of him during this convention: "Mr. Trump is expected to speak every night in the 10 p.m. hour," The New York Times reports. I think that's great for Democrats because most of America doesn't like Trump. The more we see of him, the worse he looks.

And the parts of the convention that won't involve Trump will be what Trump wants to watch, even though his insistence on micromanaging the convention (which had to be rebuilt from scratch at the last minute after plans for a normal convention fell through) are making the logistics more difficult.
There are many reasons for seeming chaos, officials said, including Trump's insistence on approving most decisions....

Trump freely offers advice on what he wants to see in the convention, officials said. Previous presidents have taken an interest in convention planning, but Trump's role is unique given his background in television. The star of a TV reality show before entering politics, Trump often envisions events in terms of how they will look on television.

"When it comes to what a television shot looks like, the president is very engaged,” said Ron Bonjean, a GOP political strategist. “He cares about what the lighting looks like. What are the backgrounds? Who are the other people who are going to be in the shot? He is very detail oriented on what viewers are going to be seeing and how it is going to be portrayed on a daily basis.”
You want to know what Trump does all day while America suffers through health, economic, and racial justice crises? This is what he does all day:
Calling aides at all hours from Air Force One or the White House residence, Trump has conveyed last-minute ideas on venues or gimmicks and demanded progress reports on the speakers he wants during his nominating extravaganza....
Can the convention lead to a Trump comeback? Adam Nagourney of The New York Times thinks it's possible. He recalls how George H.W. Bush started his 1988 comeback at the Republican convention, using a speech that combined light and darkness:
“He was behind for a couple of reasons,” said Janet Mullins Grissom, who was Mr. Bush’s deputy national political director. “He spent eight years as vice president and the solid Reaganites were always suspicious of Bush 41 for not being conservative enough. And he endured a lot of lousy press coverage that was a caricature of him.”

“The turning point was the convention,” Ms. Grissom said. “That was our reintroduction of Bush and our first real opportunity to define him without filters. People saw him through the convention, the convention speech. ‘No new taxes.’ ‘Kinder, gentler.’”

The glowing reintroduction of Mr. Bush set the table for the attack. The campaign’s plan to bring down Mr. Dukakis was unambiguously telegraphed in Mr. Bush’s acceptance speech, mixed in with all the talk about a “kinder, gentler nation.” Mr. Bush listed all those positions Mr. Dukakis had taken that his aides had reviewed at the hotel room in Washington.

“Should public-school teachers be required to lead our children in the Pledge of Allegiance?” Mr. Bush said, in just one example, as he informed his audience that the governor had vetoed a bill that contained exactly that requirement. “My opponent says no — but I say yes.”
But people didn't remember the attacks in that speech. They remembered "I want a kinder, gentler nation." They remembered the patriotic sentimentality Peggy Noonan infused into the speech.
I am guided by certain traditions. One is that there is a God and He is good, and his love, while free, has a self imposed cost: We must be good to one another.

I believe in another tradition that is, by now, embedded in the national soul. It is that learning is good in and of itself. The mothers of the Jewish ghettos of the east would pour honey on a book so the children would learn that learning is sweet. And the parents who settled hungry Kansas would take their children in from the fields when a teacher came. That is our history.

And there is another tradition. And that is the idea of community....

For we are a nation of communities, of thousands and tens of thousands of ethnic, religious, social, business, labor union, neighborhood, regional and other organizations, all of them varied, voluntary and unique.

This is America: the Knights of Columbus, the Grange, Hadassah, the Disabled American Veterans, the Order of Ahepa, the Business and Professional Women of America, the union hall, the Bible study group, LULAC, "Holy Name" - a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.

Does government have a place? Yes. Government is part of the nation of communities - not the whole, just a part.

I do not hate government. A government that remembers that the people are its master is a good and needed thing.
They remembered the way Noonan's words depicted Bush as a man of humility.
My parents were prosperous; their children were lucky. But there were lessons we had to learn about life. John Kennedy discovered poverty when he campaigned in West Virginia; there were children there who had no milk. Young Teddy Roosevelt met the new America when he roamed the immigrant streets of New York. And I learned a few things about life in a place called Texas.

We moved to west Texas 40 years ago. The war was over, and we wanted to get out and make it on our own. Those were exciting days. Lived in a little shotgun house, one room for the three of us. Worked in the oil business, started my own.

In time we had six children. Moved from the shotgun to a duplex apartment to a house. Lived the dream - high school football on Friday night, Little League, neighborhood barbecue.

People don't see their experience as symbolic of an era - but of course we were. So was everyone else who was taking a chance and pushing into unknown territory with kids and a dog and a car. But the big thing I learned is the satisfaction of creating jobs, which meant creating opportunity, which meant happy families, who in turn could do more to help others and enhance their own lives. I learned that the good done by a single good job can be felt in ways you can't imagine.

I may not be the most eloquent, but I learned early that eloquence won't draw oil from the ground. I may sometimes be a little awkward, but there's nothing self-conscious in my love of country. I am a quiet man - but I hear the quiet people others don't. The ones who raise the family, pay the taxes, meet the mortgage. I hear them and I am moved, and their concerns are mine.
There are those who cling to the hope that someday we'll hear words like this from Trump. We heard them from Joe Biden on Thursday. But Trump couldn't do it. He'd reject a speech of this kind, even if it also had its share of red meat. He'd say it would make him look weak. But it would make him look presidential.