01 October 2020

Recess Is Over

I am therefore calling out the third-grade bully who darkened our collective consciences on Tuesday night. That performance reminded me of a super-rich kid who knew that his daddy would get him out of any consequences that the (unionized commie scum) mere teachers would impose on him for trying to pick on the kid with a lisp. Or, in this instance, stutter. (Especially since he hadn't done his homework first.)

Off to the Principal with you, you young scalawag!

I don't think I need to do more than mention in passing the refusal to reject white supremacist extremists; even when he tried to draw in purported "bad guys" purportedly on "the left," he didn't reject either of them (nor did he reject violence as an appropriate response to "disagreeable" political results). Others have done the same in the past; at the risk of invoking Godwin's Law, the echoes of both 1919 in Moscow and 1932 in Berlin are frighteningly loud… and nearly pitch-perfect.

But that leaves a few other things to point out. First is the utter failure of leadership by the "debate"'s sponsors. One of the first principles of effective leadership is to not give a directive that you know will not be obeyed. The last three-plus years of press conferences; the entire 2016 campaign, especially but not only the sponsored debates themselves; and forty years in public life, all pointed to Drumpf's inability to refrain from interrupting, from talking over those who express any opinion that doesn't make Drumpf the Greatest (sorry Mr Ali, that might be an inapt comparison… with dark and devious intent, but you deserve better than that from that racist swine anyway), from outright bullying. This was compounded by the choice of "moderator" — Chris Wallace would have been about fifteenth on my list, and even would have been below another Fox contributor. How could you not provide a cutoff switch for the moderator? This was a predictable failure that resulted in not only insulting another candidate, but insulting the voting public. I assign you extra homework consisting of a book report on the third segment of Leviathan. No, not this one (although that's not a bad idea for another time), this one. Your book report must include specifics for how you're going to learn from this mistake not just in particular (by providing a cutoff in the future), but in general regarding "predictable misconduct"… because there will (hopefully) be another election in 2024, and this sort of thing is the epitome of "evading review yet capable of repetition."

Then there's the why. Leaving aside a total lack of impulse control — which is no doubt at least part of the explanation, albeit probably not the entire explanation — what might Drumpf have intended to accomplish with the constant interruptions and talking-over and refusals to answer questions put to him directly? If he were an honest-if-still-devious debater, one might suspect him of trying "merely" trying to change the subject of discussion to what he wants to talk about. It's not like this never happens in electoral politics! But I discount this for a simple reason: It requires that he have a message other than "I Am the Greatest" to discuss… and he doesn't. There's certainly the mean-bully interpretation: Attempting to force stutters from Vice President Biden, to embarass, to humiliate. To, well, bully. Again, this is probably a partial explanation, but it's not complete for a simple reason: Drumpf didn't take the very first — or second — or even fifth — opportunity to attack Vice President Biden's family. He waited, with uncharacteristic patience. This tells me that as Drumpf began to perceive that things weren't going as he wanted them to, his even-more-gutter instincts led him to lash out.

Instead, the real problem with this shitshow was its very existence. It presumed two parties who had at least some respect for the audience's desire to learn more about them and their policy positions. Vice President Biden showed up ready to play by the rules, ready to (as much as any candidate ever does) actually provide information for the audience — demeanor, substance, rhetoric. Drumpf… not so much. And it takes very, very little to connect this to Drumpf's identity politics of (impure) tribalism and (extensive) bigotry.

The obvious question here is the ultimate result. Drumpf has just lost the popular vote, unless there's a credible October surprise. His hope is for one of three things to happen:

  1. Preferably, an Electoral College victory. After all, that's why he's there now: He lost the popular vote in 2016.
  2. Second choice would be throwing the election into the House, under the Twelfth Amendment. Leaving aside substantial reason to think it couldn't happen in the first place, that also assumes that the other election results on 03 November 2020 don't change the balance of state delegations (one state changing would produce deadlock)… and that party solidarity would prove definitive.
  3. But if all else fails, Drumpf is counting on those white supremacists to support him. Not just the threat; he needs actual violence, in which case we get a new, disruptive hashtag: #blackhelicoptersmatter.

<SARCASM> But perhaps the biggest mistake the "debate"'s organizers made was not hiring the ghost of Leni Riefenstahl to record it for posterity. At least then there would have been profitable commercial breaks and a coherent narrative! </SARCASM>