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2024 U.S. Election of President and Vice President

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  • tbm3fan
    He was a different person in North Carolina today...

    Leave a comment:

  • TopHatter
    Liz Cheney and Mitt Romney will never go for that and Democrats will never go for them.

    The only "comfort" is that it's not November yet and won't be for awhile. It's a relative eternity until the election.

    It's too early to start practicing die Trumpgru▀...but last night was horrific for America.

    Leave a comment:

  • InExile
    Joe Biden is done, there is absolutely no way he is going to come back after last night, barring a major catastrophic blunder by Trump. While I still think the allegation of dementia are a lie, Biden has definitely declined considerably the last 4 years, he is frail and had difficulty making coherent arguments in parts of the debate; I think its possible that his mental agility has declined somewhat. I still believe that he is capable of doing the job of President today and until January, but I doubt that he will able to for the next 4 years. There are some leaders who stayed in power in their 80s, Konrad Adenauer who ran for Chancellor at 85 comes to mind, there are people capable well into their 80s, but Joe Biden is not one of them.

    I agree that changing candidates will probably still fail at such a late stage, for various reasons others have outlined in this thread, but I think it will improve the chances of Democrats slightly.

    Also, if as the Democrats claim, Trump is an existential threat to Democracy, they should act like it. It seems more like they have used the bogey of Trump to enact unpopular left wing policies on the border, or on woke issues, believing that the disgust with Trump would still enable them to win. Last night should confirm this is not going to happen.

    If the Democrats seriously want to stop Trump, they should consider a unity ticket, get a moderate like Whitmer or Manchin, with maybe even a Republican; like Liz Cheney or Romney as the VP. It will still probably fail at such a late stage, but atleast it will show that the Democrats actually do see this election as existential regarding the stakes.

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  • DOR
    Originally posted by JRT View Post
    I suspect that Biden will not get the nomination at the convention. And likewise Harris.

    If so, which Democrats will get the nomination for the ticket?
    As I recall, the last time a major party switched candidates during an election year it didn’t turn out well.
    In fact, every single time … loss. So, changing horses in the middle of the stream is a really, really poor idea.

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  • tbm3fan
    I didn't watch the debate since I know where I sit. Plus I don't have cable anymore, LOL. However, it seems that what happens many times with the incumbent happened here. The incumbent talks too much about what they accomplished and spout too many facts. The challenger, who usually doesn't have a national record doesn't and so they can go on the attack. Trump rarely spouts facts as in he made the economy better by 16.8%. He says I made the economy bigger. Hate to say it but people understand bigger versus 16.8%. Dumbing down is useful. Doesn't work on me but does for most all others.

    I learned this fact long ago in my office. Granted I know all the science behind vision and eye disease. If I see something in a patient I could go on and on about the biology/facts behind the condition. I will also then see the patient's eyes glaze over. One learns quickly to spare all the facts and boil their condition down to one of two things. One, is to say you could lose your vision, or two, say you're not going to go blind. Those two simple terms people understand. AR is right in that they should let Joe be Joe rather than an encyclopedia...

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  • TopHatter
    Another blogger had this rebuttal to Biden's poor performance. She makes some really good points.

    Tonight was the first debate between President Joe Biden and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, and by far the most striking thing about the debate was the overwhelming focus among pundits immediately afterward about Biden’s appearance and soft, hoarse voice as he rattled off statistics and events. Virtually unmentioned was the fact that Trump lied and rambled incoherently, ignored questions to say whatever he wanted; refused to acknowledge the events of January 6, 2021; and refused to commit to accepting the result of the 2024 presidential election, finally saying he would accept it only if it met his standards for fairness.

    Immediately after the debate, there were calls for Biden to drop out of the race, but aside from the fact that the only time a presidential candidate has ever done that—in 1968—it threw the race into utter confusion and the president’s party lost, Biden needed to demonstrate that his mental capacity is strong in order to push back on the Republicans’ insistence that he is incapable of being president. That, he did, thoroughly. Biden began with a weak start but hit his stride as the evening wore on. Indeed, he covered his bases too thoroughly, listing the many accomplishments of his administration in such a hurry that he was sometimes hard to understand.

    In contrast, Trump came out strong but faded and became less coherent over time. His entire performance was either lies or rambling non-sequiturs. He lied so incessantly throughout the evening that it took CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale almost three minutes, speaking quickly, to get through the list.

    Trump said that some Democratic states allow people to execute babies after they’re born and that every legal scholar wanted Roe v. Wade overturned—both fantastical lies. He said that the deficit is at its highest level ever and that the U.S. trade deficit is at its highest ever: both of those things happened during his administration. He lied that there were no terrorist attacks during his presidency; there were many. He said that Biden wants to quadruple people’s taxes—this is “pure fiction,” according to Dale—and lied that his tax cuts paid for themselves; they have, in fact, added trillions of dollars to the national debt.

    Dale went on: Trump lied that the U.S. has provided more aid to Ukraine than Europe has when it’s the other way around, and he was off by close to $100 billion when he named the amount the U.S. has provided to Ukraine. He was off by millions when he talked about how many migrants have crossed the border under Biden, and falsely claimed that some of Biden’s policies—like funding historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and reducing the price of insulin to $35 a month—were his own accomplishments.

    There is no point in going on, because virtually everything he said was a lie. As Jake Lahut of the Daily Beast recorded, he also was all over the map. “On January 6,” Trump said, “we had a great border.” To explain how he would combat opioid addiction, he veered off into talking points about immigration and said his administration “bought the best dog.” He boasted about acing a cognitive test and that he had just recently won two golf club tournaments without mentioning that they were at his own golf courses. “To do that, you have to be quite smart and you have to be able to hit the ball a long way,” he said. “I can do it.”

    As Lahut recorded, Trump said this: “Clean water and air. We had it. We had the H2O best numbers ever, and we were using all forms of energy during my 4 years. Best environmental numbers ever, they gave me the statistic [sic.] before I walked on stage actually.”

    Trump also directly accused Biden of his own failings and claimed Biden’s own strengths, saying, for example, that Biden, who has enacted the most sweeping legislation of any president since at least Lyndon Johnson, couldn’t get anything done while he, who accomplished only tax cuts, was more effective. He responded to the calling out of his own criminal convictions by saying that Biden “could be a convicted felon,” and falsely stating: “This man is a criminal.” And, repeatedly, Trump called America a “failing nation” and described it as a hellscape.

    It went on and on, and that was the point. This was not a debate. It was Trump using a technique that actually has a formal name, the Gish gallop, although I suspect he comes by it naturally. It’s a rhetorical technique in which someone throws out a fast string of lies, non-sequiturs, and specious arguments, so many that it is impossible to fact-check or rebut them in the amount of time it took to say them. Trying to figure out how to respond makes the opponent look confused, because they don’t know where to start grappling with the flood that has just hit them.

    It is a form of gaslighting, and it is especially effective on someone with a stutter, as Biden has. It is similar to what Trump did to Biden during a debate in 2020. In that case, though, the lack of muting on the mics left Biden simply saying: “Will you shut up, man?” a comment that resonated with the audience. Giving Biden the enforced space to answer by killing the mic of the person not speaking tonight actually made the technique more effective.

    There are ways to combat the Gish gallop—by calling it out for what it is, among other ways—but Biden retreated to trying to give the three pieces of evidence that established his own credentials on the point at hand. His command of those points was notable, but the difference between how he sounded at the debate and how he sounded on stage at a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, just an hour afterward suggested that the technique worked on him.

    That’s not ideal, but as Monique Pressley put it, “The proof of Biden’s ability to run the country is the fact that he is running it. Successfully. Not a debate performance against a pathological lying sociopath.”

    A much bigger deal is what it says that the television media and pundits so completely bought into Trump’s performance. They appear to have accepted Trump’s framing of the event—that he is dominant—so fully that the fact Trump unleashed a flood of lies and non-sequiturs simply didn’t register. And, since the format established that the CNN journalists running the debate did not challenge anything either candidate said, and Dale’s fact-checking spot came long after the debate ended, the takeaway of the event was a focus on Biden’s age rather than on Trump’s inability to tell the truth or form a coherent thought.

    At the end of the evening, pundits were calling not for Trump—a man liable for sexual assault and business fraud, convicted of 34 felonies, under three other indictments, who lied pathologically—to step down, but for Biden to step down…because he looked and sounded old. At 81, Biden is indeed old, but that does not distinguish him much from Trump, who is 78 and whose inability to answer a question should raise concerns about his mental acuity.

    About the effect of tonight’s events, former Republican operative Stuart Stevens warned: “Don’t day trade politics. It’s a sucker’s game. A guy from Queens out on bail bragged about overturning Roe v. Wade, said in public he didn’t have sex with a porn star, defended tax cuts for billionaires, defended Jan. 6th. and called America the worst country in the world. That guy isn’t going to win this race.”

    Trump will clearly have pleased his base tonight, but Stevens is right to urge people to take a longer view. It’s not clear whether Trump or Biden picked up or lost votes; different polls gave the win to each, and it’s far too early to know how that will shake out over time.

    Of far more lasting importance than this one night is the clear evidence that stage performance has trumped substance in political coverage in our era. Nine years after Trump launched his first campaign, the media continues to let him call the shots.

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  • TopHatter
    Sloppy Joe

    As we have noted previously, when we write debate recaps, we get our thoughts down on paper (well, down in pixels) before reading/listening to what anyone else has to say. That way, we make sure that what we write is solely our opinion, and is not influenced by the opinions of others. While we maintained that approach for last night's debate, it really wasn't necessary on this occasion. We know, with a great deal of certitude, what everyone is going to say. If you didn't watch, and want to before you read our assessment, here is the complete debate. Anyhow, let's get to it:
    • Joe Biden: Shortly before the debate started, a couple of CNN's talking heads got into a dispute over what really matters in a debate. Scott Jennings said that the important thing is how the candidates present themselves (i.e., style). David Axelrod said that presentation is important, but even more important is what the candidates say (i.e., substance). We strongly agreed with Axelrod, and not just because Jennings is a simpering twit.

      Well, substance may have been important in the last presidential debate. And it may be important in the next presidential debate. But in THIS presidential debate, style was the story. And it was the story because, in terms of his presentation, Joe Biden was a train wreck. Whoever oversaw his debate prep should have been fired last night, on the tarmac at the airport, before the presidential party returned to Washington.

      We are not sure what happened, exactly. It was obvious that the President was over-prepared, and had too many factoids and lists and pre-scripted bits rattling around in his head. And at the same time, he was somehow under-prepared, in that he had no plan for responding to Trump's Gish Gallop of lies. Maybe Biden was also ill (he kept coughing and clearing his throat). Or anxious. Or something else. In any event, his answers were often halting and/or meandering. He lost his train of thought. He misspoke on a regular basis. In particular, nearly every time he mentioned a specific number/statistic, he'd correct himself with a different number/statistic. (Z) had this thought: "Wow, either one of us (V or Z) could have done better than this, with no prep at all." Shortly thereafter, (V) e-mailed with the exact same thought. Great minds?

      If you didn't watch, and you'd like an example, here is an answer to a question about the national debt:

      If you didn't watch last night, you really, really should watch this clip (or others like it, which will be easy to find), just so you appreciate how bad Biden was (sometimes). But, just in case, here's a transcription:

    • TAPPER: President Trump, we will get to immigration later in this block. President Biden, I want to give you an opportunity to respond to this question about the national debt.

      BIDEN: He had the largest national debt of any president in a four-your period, number one. Number two, he—that $2 trillion tax cut benefited the very wealthy. I—what I'm going to do is fix the tax system.

      For example, we have a thousand trillionaires in America—I mean, billionaires in America. And what's happening? They're in a situation where they, in fact, pay 8.2 percent in taxes. If they just paid 24 percent or 25 percent, either one of those numbers, they'd raised $500 million... er, billion dollars, I should say, in a 10-year period.

      We'd be able to right wipe out his debt. We'd be able to help make sure that all those things we need to do—childcare, elder care, making sure that we continue to strengthen our healthcare system, making sure that we're able to make every single solitary person eligible for what I've been able to do with the—with—with—with the COVID. Excuse me, with dealing with everything we have to do with—look, if—we finally beat Medicare.
      We would not be terribly surprised if, by sometime today, the Trump campaign is selling "We Finally Beat Medicare" t-shirts.

      And note, we didn't choose this because it was the worst answer Biden gave. We chose it because it has all the missteps in a fairly short timeframe. He did improve some as the night went on, but even if Biden had turned into Abraham Lincoln (and he most certainly did not improve THAT much), there is no way he could have erased the negative impressions formed during the first half of the debate, which is when the largest number of people are watching, and when people are paying the closest attention.

      Biden even managed to hurt himself when he wasn't speaking. Seemingly forgetting that the camera was on him at nearly all times, and that you have to be mindful of your facial expressions, he regularly stood frozen, with his mouth agape, like this:

      Maybe he was trying to communicate disbelief at what Trump was saying, but it was not a good look.

      Moving onto the substance of Biden's debate answers... it was certainly there, but hard to discern because he was so often unfocused. We could generally grasp his points, simply because we know the material already. But a low-information voter who wants to know, for example, what Biden is going to do for Black families if he gets a second term? We doubt they got their answer. On top of that, the President was unwilling or unable to maneuver things, such that Trump's criminal conviction and anti-democracy plans got very little attention.

      Biden's closing statement was emblematic here. We cannot imagine how any candidate would walk into that arena without having that part down pat. And we also cannot imagine why the format of the closing statement would deviate from "Here are the three reasons you should vote for me." And yet, the only clear-cut reason to vote for Biden that we can discern from his closing is that he wants to expand the tax credit for childcare costs. Again, the person or persons who prepped him should be fired immediately.
    • Donald Trump: On the other hand, the people who prepped Trump for the debate should get a raise. They did a heckuva job of putting lipstick on a pig. This is not to say that the former president gave a great performance, because he did not. However, he did do three very savvy things. First, he largely kept himself under control. Second, he used the old trick of answering whatever question he wanted to answer, rather than the question that was actually asked. That held true even if his answer was not in the same ZIP Code as the question. Third, he came armed with pat answers to some of the tough questions that were surely going to come up. For example, Trump was asked if he would really seek retribution against his enemies if reelected. and said: "My retribution is going to be success." That's not the kind of retribution he's actually looking for, but it sounds good as a soundbite.

      On top of all of this, Trump spoke smoothly, with a confident and assertive tone. If you did not speak English, and you were judging the two candidates solely by their posture and the flow of their verbiage, you would have guessed that Trump was 10-20 years younger than Biden, rather than 3 years younger.

      Mind you, Biden generally got stronger in the second half of the debate (except for his closing statement), Trump generally got weaker. And the former president certainly issued forth with a few of his trademark word salads. For example, this was ostensibly a response to a question about January 6:

    • What they've done to some people that are so innocent, you ought to be ashamed of yourself, what you have done, how you've destroyed the lives of so many people. When they ripped down Portland, when they ripped down many other cities, you go to Minnesota, Minneapolis, what they've done there with the fires all over the city, if I didn't bring in the National Guard, that city would have been destroyed.

      When you look at all of the—they took over big chunks of Seattle. I was all set to bring in the National Guard. They heard that. They saw them coming and they left immediately. What he said about this whole subject is so off. Peacefully patriotic.

      One other thing, the "unselect committee," which is basically two horrible Republicans that are all gone now, out of office, and Democrats, all Democrats, they destroyed and deleted all of the information they found because they found out we were right. We were right. And they deleted and destroyed all of the information. They should go to jail for that. If a Republican did that, they'd go to jail.

      That's not an excerpt. That's the full answer. To take another example, here's the final portion of Trump's closing statement, which was theoretically pre-scripted, and was certainly pre-planned:

    • All of the things that we've done, nobody's ever—never seen anything like—even from a medical standpoint. Right to Try, where we can try Space Age materials instead of going to Asia or going to Europe and trying to get when you're terminally ill.

      Now, you can go and you can get something. You signed a document. They've been trying to get it for 42 years.

      But you know what we did for the military was incredible. Choice for our soldiers, where our soldiers, instead of waiting for three months to see a doctor, can go out and get themselves fixed up and readied up, and take care of themselves and they're living. And that's why I had the highest approval rating of the history of the V.A.

      So, all of these things—we're in a failing nation, but it's not going to be failing anymore. We're going to make it great again.

      Um, what?

      While Trump was better on style than Biden, by a lot, the former president was seriously wanting when it comes to substance. There were several problems here. The first is that Trump is fundamentally an a**hole. While he largely laid off Hunter Biden, he did deliver some cheap shots that served as a reminder of the type of person he is. Just to take one example, Trump said: "First of all, our veterans and our soldiers can't stand this guy. They can't stand him. They think he's the worst commander in chief, if that's what you call him, that we've ever had. They can't stand him. So let's get that straight. And they like me more than just about any of them. And that's based on every single bit of information."

      Second, we can go through the debate, and find a few reasons viewers should consider voting for a second Biden term. They tended to get lost because of the President's poor presentation, but he did put them out there. On the other hand, Trump did not give a single reason to vote to return him to the White House, other than "I was the greatest president ever" and "Biden is the worst president ever."

      Third, to the extent that Trump's answers to questions had substance, it was almost always faux substance because nearly everything he said was a lie. He reined in the falsehoods for the first quarter hour or so, but as time went on, he leaned into the fantastical talking points that have been the basis of his career, and of his 2024 campaign. A non-exhaustive list:
      • He returned, over and over, to his claim that foreign countries are sending their criminals and their mentally ill people to the United States.
      • He repeated, several times, the absolute falsehoods that Democrats support abortion up to three days after birth.
      • He claimed that all academics and legal scholars wanted Roe to be overturned.
      • He claimed that Nancy Pelosi took full responsibility for the January 6 insurrection.

      We choose these particular examples because they don't pass the smell test. When Trump falsely claimed, for example, that 18 million undocumented immigrants have crossed the border during the Biden presidency (it's actually half that), the average low-information voter presumably does not know if that is true or not. But the blatant, can't-possibly-be-true, that-doesn't-make-any-sense falsehoods? Maybe low-information viewers at least pick up on those.
    • The Moderators: Jake Tapper and Dana Bash are probably going to get good reviews, They asked some good questions. They tried to keep the candidates on topic. The debate didn't turn into a zoo (although that's probably due to the new format, as opposed to their skilled management).

      That said, Tapper and Bash were problematic in a couple of ways. Yes, they followed up when a candidate veered off topic, and tried to get them to answer the actual question that was asked. However, if a second attempt at keeping the candidate on point failed, they pretty much gave up. This allowed, among other things, an extended exchange about which candidate was the worst president in American history, as well as an exchange on who is the better golfer. These things had nothing to do with the questions asked. The failure to follow up as many times as necessary also allowed Trump to weasel out of answering some of the really tricky questions, like what he would do in Israel.

      In addition, Tapper and Bash did nothing to push back against blatant falsehoods uttered by the candidates (almost invariably Trump). Their lack of fact-checking was apparently part of the format that was agreed to by the two candidates. However, there were occasions where at least a brief comment was called for, format or no. For example, Trump declared that every news anchor in America agrees that he never said kind things about the white supremacists in Charlottesville. Inasmuch as Tapper and Bash are anchors, their failure to respond to that falsehood gave the strong impression that what Trump said is true.

      We'll mention one other thing here, just because it doesn't really fit anywhere else. One implication of the audience-free format, it would seem, is... no jokes. Usually, a fair number of the most meme-able debate moments are jokey lines from one candidate or another. Neither Trump nor Biden are particularly great at comedy, and without an audience, they weren't willing to stick their necks out. One wonders if future presidential candidates, when considering "audience or no?" will think about this particular problem.
    • Takeaways: The debate is big enough news, and finished early enough, that there are already takeaways pieces. Here is a small selection of them:
      NBC News:
      • Biden struggles out of the gate
      • Trump descends into grievances
      • Clashes over abortion, taxes and more define the policy stakes
      • Biden's prepared zingers

      The Guardian (UK):
      • Biden performs poorly
      • Trump lies endlessly
      • Different visions were starkly on display
      • The adult film actor moment

      The New York Times:
      • The debate exposed Biden's biggest weakness
      • Trump made his case largely unimpeded
      • The debate was more personal than policy-focused
      • The moderators were hands (and mics) off
      • Trump still won't accept the election results
      • The split screen damaged Biden

      USA Today:
      • Biden, with hoarse voice, fails to ease anxieties on age
      • Two presidents, two economies
      • Clashes over abortion and Roe v. Wade
      • 'Rat's nest:' Immigration, border
      • Things get personal on Hunter Biden, Trump's conviction
      Yup, people noticed that Biden had a bad night.

    From my favorite and only political blog

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  • TopHatter
    Originally posted by JRT View Post
    I suspect that Biden will not get the nomination at the convention. And likewise Harris.

    If so, which Democrats will get the nomination for the ticket?
    Too soon to tell if Joe gets the boot. But I'm sure it's on the table. He needed to simply do "well". He didn't do well.

    Leave a comment:

  • Albany Rifles
    Originally posted by JRT View Post
    I suspect that Biden will not get the nomination at the convention. And likewise Harris.

    If so, which Democrats will get the nomination for the ticket?
    Biden already has more than enough pledged delegates to win the nomination. That won't happen.

    The issue I see is the Election Committee's strategy sucked and it backfired. Let Joe be Joe and quit trying to make him President Biden all of the time. When he is giving speeches at election events he is Joe and does great...super off the cuff and in the moment. They keep wanting hi to be only President Biden and it doesn't work. People don't connect with Wonky Joe, they connect with Barstool Joe. Get back to that.

    As for another debate? I don't see one...there is nothing in the Trump campaign's interest to go ahead with one.

    But there is no doubt damage was done last night.

    Leave a comment:

  • JRT
    I suspect that Biden will not get the nomination at the convention. And likewise Harris.

    If so, which Democrats will get the nomination for the ticket?

    Leave a comment:

  • Monash
    Well he has to do much better next time. Trump will make hay with this. Biden has to shut him down next time or any chance of coming out looking like a potential winner is gone.

    Leave a comment:

  • statquo
    I made it until Joe stuttered he killed medicare and had to turn it off. Painful.

    Leave a comment:

  • TopHatter
    First impressions across the interwebs: The night did NOT go well for Biden.

    More to follow tomorrow

    Leave a comment:

  • TopHatter
    Tonight’s debate could be Trump’s last act

    History is set to be made in Atlanta on a CNN soundstage. The president of the United States, Joe Biden, will debate a convicted felon; Donald Trump.

    The first question that should be asked of Trump is why he thinks he has any ability to lead a nation after 34 felony convictions. We know what his answer will be. We know what his fans will scream. But the interesting thing to see is what Biden, who until recently has refrained from mentioning this fact, will say.

    As recently as this week, many speculated the debate would not occur. “There ain't going to be no debate,” James Carville told me recently as he shook his head in distaste at the prospect.

    Some have said this debate means nothing. Wednesday, ABC posted an article saying, “The country’s increased polarization, changing media landscape and campaign strategies have weakened the impact of a presidential debate.”

    Trump certainly believes this debate matters. He has tried to give himself an out by saying he and Biden should have a drug test before they go on stage. This comes after Trump spent the last few months endorsing doctored videos showing Biden rambling incoherently. Trump has also spent months talking about “Sleepy Joe Biden,” lowering the bar so much that all the President has to do is appear cogent on stage and he can claim victory. Thus, Trump was not only giving himself an out saying he wouldn’t debate Biden unless they undergo a drug test, but he also gave himself a convenient excuse should he go on stage and bomb; his claims that Biden got jabbed “in the ass” with some kind of magical pharmacological substance that enabled him to win the debate.

    None of that means anything once on stage. Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, two of CNN’s more cogent anchors, will have to moderate a debate between the two presumptive candidates without a studio audience and with the ability to mute the microphones of the candidates if they choose.

    It should be interesting. For weeks we’ve heard what the issues will be, the predictions of who will win and how the two will perform. I think we should look beyond that. This debate takes place before either the Democratic or Republican National Convention. That is as unprecedented as the President of the United States debating a convicted felon.

    It gives each party an unprecedented off-ramp for both of their candidates. In other words, depending on who wins this debate and how bad their opponent does in this debate, both parties could meet at their conventions and choose another candidate for President. We’d see one or both national conventions as chaotic as any in my lifetime. Gone will be the Democrats doing the macarena with Al and Tipper Gore dancing with the faithful on stage. Gone will be the balloons, cheers and fireworks of Rasta Ronnie Reagan and his wife Nancy on stage in Dallas.

    The first convention will be the MAGA party, or what’s left of the Republican party in Milwaukee just a few short weeks from now. Trump, should he go off the rails in Atlanta, then faces a sentencing three days before the convention in his felony case. Both could be fatal to his political dreams.

    Polls have already shown there is a growing negative impact among independent voters in key battleground states. Bombing in this debate, combined with Trump’s sentencing, could be a catalyst for change at the RNC. At least, the opportunity will be there. And, whatever else you may say about Republicans, as James Carville once told me, “You have to admire their work ethic. They love to win.”

    Yes, they do. The GOP is a party addicted to winning. If, in fact, winning were heroin, there’d be a lot of trainspotting going on in Milwaukee in mid-July. And that’s where it gets dicey for Trump. He does have an inside edge, with Lara Trump, his daughter-in-law as a co-chair. As the AP reported in May, “The RNC has fired dozens of longtime staffers and sought alliances with election deniers, conspiracy theorists and alt-right advocates the party had previously kept at arm’s length. Lara Trump, who is married to Trump’s third child, Eric, has been an outspoken defender of the former president and has not hesitated to blast his foes, promising four years of “scorched earth” political retribution if he wins the election.”

    But there are members of the Republican Party already upset with Trump’s stewardship of the party, saying she has concentrated so much on her father-in-law winning the presidential race that down-ballot races have been ignored. The fear the party could lose control of the Senate and House in the fall elections is palpable, though it is often subtly ignored by the party hierarchy in its bid to re-seat a convicted felon as president.

    If Trump suddenly appears vulnerable in November, the RNC could resemble a roadhouse bar in Mid-Missouri on a hot Saturday night after the beer taps run dry. The Trump faithful will be battling the non-believers for control of a party headed toward doom.

    On the other hand, should Trump come away with a draw, or a win, then it could matter little what sentence is handed down to the convicted felon – the faithful will hold because the majority of what’s left of the GOP will see Trump as a “winner” for the fall.

    It is curious, indeed, to explore the reasons why the party formerly calling itself the “Law and Order” party has embraced a convicted felon, grifter and adjudicated rapist in civil court. Far more serious minds, and not-so-serious minds than mine have prolifically pontificated on that question. Perhaps it is as Time Magazine described Ronald Reagan’s popularity in its July 7, 1986 edition when it asked “Why is this man so popular?” The article noted that Reagan may be “the dumbest and the smartest President that the U.S. has ever had.” who made a career out of being underestimated. It also noted that his career as an actor wasn’t taken seriously and that had “profound implications, some of them potentially sinister.”

    Trump has embraced the “sinister” portion of that resume. Like Reagan, Trump is able to distance himself from his failures. He preaches the sanctity of family but is divorced. His relationship with his own children has been distant and troublesome. He himself said all he ever did was write the checks for their upbringing. His former fixer Michael Cohen told me that all of his children said they “never wanted to end up like their father.”

    Trump, like Reagan, also aligns himself with evangelicals for political advantage but rarely goes to church. And, as with Reagan, Trump’s tactics show a window into the uglier side of the American dream where religious hatreds, fanaticism and intolerance thrive. Trump, taking a cue from Reagan, has honed that to an edge. Reagan was once looked at as “the illusion of a long summer celebration of the past,” and Trump by extension is another foray into that fiction.

    As for Biden, the stakes are just as high going into this debate, he doesn’t have the fanatical followers Trump enjoys – and he could prosper or falter from both a Trump victory or defeat in the debate.

    Some pundits say the best case scenario for both candidates, but especially Biden, is for the debate to be a wash - no winner or loser. Should Trump fail, and the Republicans choose another candidate at a convention that turns into a political wildfire, then that could spread to the DNC.

    If Trump is out, then the Democrats have another month to consider Biden’s fate – even if he does well in the debates. Biden has certainly buried himself in preparation as if it were the seventh game of the World Series, the Super Bowl and the World Cup combined.

    He’s spent that time at Camp David, we’re told, with several thick binders of information, a debate prep team and in this heat, an appropriate amount of chilled lemonade, iced tea and whatever libations the president desires.

    While Trump can go off on wild tangents, and probably will, during the debate as he tries to bait Biden into a gaffe, Biden is concentrating on making succinct and substantive points to counter wild accusations, while also making pointed observations about his convicted felon nemesis. Above all, he will have to avoid the inappropriate gaffe that he is widely known for, beginning in 1987 during the Democratic debates. He also wants to avoid the “crypt keeper” stare that Jon Stewart made fun of recently in a moment in the East Room when Biden couldn’t resist turning around and smiling at the mention of Trump’s felony conviction.

    One young Democratic stalwart compared the debate to Dr. Xavier preparing for a debate with Magneto. I abhor comic book references, and can’t see either man in either role. But if it helps you to understand, well, okay.

    Biden has several advantages over Trump. First, he’s not a convicted felon. He’s actually accomplished something as president. He’s less apt to ramble on about shark bites and electrocutions at sea. He has stood fast for women’s rights and he values the Constitution.

    But Trump will rant about oil prices, the war in the Middle East and Ukraine, inflation and “roving bands of criminal immigrants.” Though, factually Trump is debating in quicksand Biden must effectively refute the nonsense, appear cogent and in control of the facts as he does so.

    The advantage there, of course, is with Trump who appeals to issues emotionally – not factually. That’s part of his continuing grift. His ability to do so is his most sinister and effective strategy.

    Finally, If both candidates turn in disastrous performances, we could also be looking at a chaotic situation in both conventions where one or both parties choose a different candidate after the consumption of copious amounts of pizza, alcohol and cigarettes and the rending of hair, gnashing of teeth and blood-curdling screams of despair and doom.

    In the late 19th century Henry Adams offered a cutting analysis of American leadership. “The progress of evolution from President Washington to President Grant,” he wrote, “was alone evidence to disprove Darwin.”

    Look at the debate through those eyes and tell me where you think today’s probable candidates sit in the pantheon of American leadership. And remember the old adage misattributed to several politicians as you consider whether or not you should pay attention to this debate and vote this fall; if you aren’t sitting at the table, then chances are you’re on the menu.

    Sit at the table.

    I don't plan on watching it, certainly not in it's entirety, but I'll be reading with keen interest the after-action review.

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  • Albany Rifles
    Originally posted by TopHatter View Post

    That is VERY true. That's one of the reasons why I'm keeping my money in my pocket lol
    Yeah...I forgot to lead with that. It makes the case more clearly.

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