There are three kinds of people in Alabama
Josephine Tey: The Franchise Affair (audio)

Election Comment (2)

Andrew McCarthy is an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer, and also a Trump supporter. He was the "yes" in that "yes-no-maybe" note about voting for Trump that I posted a few weeks ago. Like a lot of reasonable people, he thinks there are good grounds for believing that there was some cheating by the Democrats in this election. He thinks, for instance, that there could be as many as 10,000 questionable votes in Pennsylvania. But yet:

See, the president trails by 55,000 in Pennsylvania. It is anything but clear that all 10,000 late-arriving ballots are Biden votes — a goodly chunk of them could be Trump votes that the president would be knocking out. But even if we suspend disbelief and assume that they’re all Biden votes, the president would still be 45,000 short of flipping the state into his win column.

This is the president’s fatal problem. No matter which battleground state we analyze, there is always a mismatch between the impropriety alleged and the remedy that it could yield. Where Trump is strongest, as in the Supreme Court case, the yield in votes is a relative pittance. Where Trump’s claims are weaker and hotly disputed, the president is asking for mass disfranchisement, which no court is ever going to order.

He goes on to analyze the situation in great detail; read the whole thing here. If he is correct it is just about impossible for lawsuits, recounts, etc., to give Trump enough votes to put him over the top in the electoral college. 

I have not made much effort to follow the controversy, partly out of a feeling that something like McCarthy's view is probably the case, partly out of fatigue. As I've said quite a few times, I was appalled by Trump when he first became a serious candidate and did not vote for him in 2016, even though the Democrats have been completely out of the question for me for some time, for reasons which I don't think I need to bother mentioning. Because I live in a heavily Republican state, my vote wasn't going to affect the outcome, so I could afford the luxury of a third-party vote without feeling that I might have helped elect Hillary. (This year the plan put in place by some Democrats for evading the electoral college changed that calculation, making my vote potentially significant in a national count, so I voted for Trump.)

The reaction to Trump's win was so vicious and crazy ("literally a Nazi!"), especially as it was aimed not just at Trump himself but at those who supported him, that it made me not a Trump supporter, but, you might say, a Trump supporter supporter, defending his supporters from the hysterical attacks on them. I have a pretty good sense of what most Trump voters are like, and they are at least as likely to be good, decent people who want what's best for the country as Democrats. And it angers me to see them slandered and despised. (And even though I didn't vote for him I was implicitly being slandered and despised, too, because that's the way so many left-of-center deal with conservatives.)

Trump is not exactly a reflective man, but he had one big and accurate insight that was (and is) a major reason for his popularity: that the people running the country in the Obama years did not care about it as a specific concrete place, people, and culture. What interested them was the implementation of their grand vision--the promised "fundamental transformation" which thrilled some people and set off alarm bells for others. Many Trump enthusiasts recognized this, though, like him, they weren't necessarily good at articulating it, much less laying out the case against it in detail. They just knew they didn't like where things were going. That recognition sometimes, or maybe often, led them into some irrational and/or fanatical territory. But I think they were right in their basic perception, and so I defended them. 

In time, too, I began to be angered by the dishonesty of many of the attacks on Trump himself, even though I don't think much of him myself. No good was done by making him out to be worse than he actually is; it only served to increase the general level of division and hatred in the country. Most of the press, our Pravda, participated, to their everlasting disgrace, in the effort to turn falsehoods about him into generally accepted truth (e.g. what has become known in conservative circles as "the Charlottesville hoax," which falsely asserted that he had called neo-Nazis "very fine people").

I hoped, like a lot of people, that when Trump took office he would settle down, rise to the office, and quit...well, quit doing all those things that make you think he has a screw loose. (One of the first things I wrote about him here was called "Donald Trump Is Not Right In the Head.") He didn't, of course. And of course he didn't do all the things he said he was going to do, some of which were obviously impossible or improbable, but he did do some good things, and I think Christians especially may have good reason to thank him for the Supreme Court justices he nominated.

He could have won this election. In spite of the fact that the Democrats and Pravda (which are pretty much the same thing) started trying to depose him the moment he was elected, and succeeded in making him seem even worse than he actually was, he remained pretty bad in many ways. As recently as this past summer--just to take one instance--he spent a couple of days suggesting that TV news host Joe Scarborough had murdered someone. The list goes on and on.

He could have won over a certain number of people who weren't necessarily for him but weren't unrelentingly hostile, either. He could have stopped going out of his way to alienate people. He could have refrained from vilifying people like Jeff Sessions who were on his side but disagreed with him. (He didn't only vilify him, but in doing so pretty well destroyed his political career. I take that personally, because Sessions was a capable senator from my state, and his place is now occupied by a Trump-supporting ignoramus.) He could have retained a lot of the swing voters who apparently went for him in 2016 but abandoned him this time. But he couldn't or wouldn't stop acting like the person who sounded more like a crank calling a radio talk show than the president of the United States.

It seems way too grandiose to call Trump a tragic figure, but it may be fair to say that his presidency was a tragedy for the country. He shook a corrupt establishment to its roots, and I think it remains shaken. But then by his faults, which he seemed utterly unwilling to see, much less try to change, he accomplished much less than he might have, almost certainly failed to win a second term, and by feeding the white-hot rage of the opposition divided the nation further and endangered what he did accomplish.

It's all too typical of him that he will probably leave the White House raging on Twitter and blaming somebody else for his defeat. 


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I agree with what you say, but I think that what really beat him in the end was Covid. If that hadn't come along, I think he would have won by a landslide.


Yeah, that may very well be true. I kind of subsume that under the general media campaign against him, of which blaming him for covid was a part.

I wouldn't say the election wasn't fair, exactly, but something is amiss when the vast majority of those who are supposed to be impartial messengers were in the tank for one of the contenders. Trump no doubt shot himself in the foot on many occasions, but the fact that the media elites were undermining him from the beginning is not a good look. As much I dislike Trump, I have equal disdain, if not more, for the media, and find them fundamentally untrustworthy.

Oh, my disdain for the media is *far* greater. I'm pretty sure he would have been re-elected if they had not been effectively an arm of the Democrats. What I mean in this post, and I guess I should make it clearer, is that even with all of those attacking forces in place, Trump could probably have won if he had not been such an unpleasant presence. A lot of people liked him for that, but I think probably more did not.

There's an excellent piece on the disgrace of our Pravda by Charles Cooke at NR.

It is often said that a free press is necessary to the maintenance of a free republic. It is less frequently said that, in order for this to be true, that press must be both virtuous and useful. The American press is certainly free — freer than any press has ever been in the history of the human race, in fact — but it is not virtuous and it is not useful. Until it changes, it will continue to invite the mistrust and opprobrium to which it has of late become accustomed. As for the free republic . . . well, we’ll see.

It is no great overstatement to say that, in the 2020 presidential election, the media did not so much cover the Biden campaign as they were the Biden campaign. What, had they been officially charged with that task, would they have done differently? During the last year, major outlets such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, and NPR got into the habit of prominently featuring any news that could plausibly hurt President Trump while assiduously refusing to run stories that might have hurt Joe Biden. Thus it was that the story about Hunter Biden’s exploits in China was smothered without any good explanation other than that it might serve as a “distraction” (well, yes) and that it could possibly be a plot, while a relatively inexplosive New York Times story about President Trump’s taxes was blasted out with abandon....

When it couldn’t ignore a given story, the press took on the role of communications director. As soon as it began to look as if Biden’s refusal to disavow Court-packing might hurt him with independents, reporters and pundits alike began to use DSCC-approved euphemisms such as “fix,” “expand,” and “depoliticize,” and to suggest that the real villains were actually the Republicans, who, by having followed the existing Constitution and existing Judiciary Act to a tee, were supposedly guilty of “packing the Court” themselves.

And so on. I've quoted so extensively because I think it may not be available to non-subscribers, but here's the link:

"even with all of those attacking forces in place, Trump could probably have won if he had not been such an unpleasant presence."


"the media did not so much cover the Biden campaign as they were the Biden campaign"

Ha! Precisely!

Blame the media all you want, if Trump himself had been any sort of unifying presence as president for four years, and if he had simply taken the coronavirus seriously, he would have won. It is all on him and his narcissistic personality disorder.

It isn't an either/or. Trump repeatedly shot himself in the foot. The media shot him in the gut at every opportunity.

Yes, if he had not been such a jerk he would have easily won, even with COVID. If the media had not had it in for him he would have won, even with COVID.

Perfect summary, Robert.

On the other hand, and to Stu's point, Trump had control over the jerk factor, but not the media factor. He lost the election by making it really easy for the media to shoot him in the gut.

Not to worry, your leader has spoken:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump


5:55 PM · Nov 16, 2020

I think he's said that 40 or 50 times since the 3rd. It doesn't seem to be working.

"He lost the election by making it really easy for the media to shoot him in the gut."

Yes. Thing is, if Stalin shoots Hitler, or Hitler shoots Stalin, it doesn't make either of them a good guy.

Some interesting commentary on the state of journalism from Rod Dreher:

"I read The New York Times and The Washington Post for the same reason a Kremlinologist would have read Pravda and Izvestia: for insights into how the ruling class thinks. I don’t read them for accurate and insightful information about the way the world is. I know that American journalism has selected for journalists who see the world a certain way, and only that way. The moralizing of difference — for example, demonizing the mere expression of opinions that run contrary to the leftist line — has made journalistic institutions less valuable as guides to reality, and more important as guides to how left-wing elites think. It’s a closed feedback loop."

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