Thursday, November 12, 2020


I agree with the point of Bolton's argument, except on one matter: explaining matters as they stand to voters in Georgia before the January run-off election. But if Bolton's argument is right, the GOP is making a deal with the devil; and sooner or later, the devil always collects.

Bolton recognizes the context of the Georgia run-off elections. That's where he starts his critique of the staus quo:

Consider the competing interests. Donald Trump’s is simple and straightforward: Donald Trump. The near-term Republican interest is winning the Georgia runoffs. The long-term Republican interest emphatically involves winning those Senate seats, but it also involves rejecting Trump’s personalized, erratic, uncivil, unpresidential and ultimately less-than-effective politics and governance.

Trump lost; but the GOP is still being led by him.  How long can they do that, and when do they break away?

One approach holds that coddling Trump while he trashes the U.S. electoral system will help him get over the loss, thereby making it easier to reconcile him to leaving the Oval Office. But this coddling strategy is exactly backward. The more Republican leaders kowtow, the more Trump believes he is still in control and the less likely he will do what normal presidents do: make a gracious concession speech; fully cooperate with the president-elect in a smooth transition process; and validate the election process itself by joining his successor at the Jan. 20 inauguration.

Coddling proponents plead that an enraged Trump will jeopardize the chances of victory in the Georgia runoffs. But that is true only if party leaders do not speak up, explaining to voters what the real facts are. Do we in the GOP not trust our own base enough to absorb the truth? They will find out in due course anyway if Trump’s election litigation indeed crashes into reality. Once in court, state or federal, before judges appointed by Republicans and Democrats, actual witnesses will have to raise their right hands and tell the truth, and then face gale-force cross-examination from lawyers for President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign. It’s one thing to tweet; it’s another thing to testify.

Who is going to explain that to Georgia’s voters? Republican leaders should lay that groundwork now and not cede the field to a president whose interests directly contradict the party’s. Otherwise, they will rue the day they stood silent.

Bolton is right about reality; but his argument crashes into it, too.  Trump has, by some counts, lost 12 court challenges so far.  No one has raised their hand and told the truth because none of the cases have gotten that far.  Instead, lawyers have admitted there is no fraud in the electoral process, and affidavits from other "witnesses" have been retracted because they were full of lies (that one never got to court, but no doubt the affiant feared it would).  It is one thing to tweet (and who's really reading those?), another to testify; but there's been no testimony, and likely won't be.  This is real life, not a TeeVee courtroom drama.

As for explaining things to Georgia's voters, Donald Trump is doing that right now.  FoxNews is doing that; OAN and Breitbart are doing that.  How does the GOP begin to counter it, even if they wanted to? They created this monster as far back as Newt Gingrich, probably further back to the failure of Goldwater.  This is the culmination of years of effort.  Small wonder Mitch McConnell won't turn his back on it now.  He couldn't if he wanted to; and why would he want to?

Republican passivity risks additional negative consequences for the country. Trump is engaging in what could well be a systematic purge of his own administration, starting with the utterly unjustified firing of Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper this week and continuing through high- and mid-level civilian offices in the department. Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, head of the National Nuclear Safety Administration, was forced to resign. Washington is filled with rumors that the CIA and FBI directors are next.

This is being done with just 10 weeks left in the administration. All transitions bring uncertainty, but to decapitate substantial parts of the national-security apparatus during such a period for no reason other than personal pique is irresponsible and dangerous. Republicans know this. 

Yes, it is irresponsible and dangerous.  Yes, the Republicans know this. They don't care.  Face it: all they care about is power.  They gave up on the idea of governance when Newt Gingrich became Speaker of the House.  McConnell is just following in Gingrich's footsteps, and the GOP is happy to applaud.

Simultaneously, Trump is frustrating Biden’s transition, based on the 2000 precedent, when George W. Bush’s transition was delayed for 37 days by Al Gore’s contesting the Florida results. Two wrongs don’t make a right. It implies no acknowledgment of Biden’s legitimacy as president-elect for Trump to facilitate prudent transition planning, certainly in the national-security field, nor in finalizing distribution plans for a coronavirus vaccine, which will largely occur next year. At least, that’s how a confident, mature, responsible president would see it.

For the good of America, the 2020 election needs to be brought expeditiously to the conclusion that all logic tells us is coming. National security requires that the transition get underway effectively. These are Republican values. We will acknowledge reality sooner or later. For the good of the party as well as the country, let’s make it sooner.

Yes, he is right; except those were Republican values.  There are no such constraints now.  Power matters, and power matters only in the short-term.  It was Republicans who where the strongest voice of isolationism prior to Pearl Harbor.  That they are returning to form, even as they determinedly usher in a new Gilded Age, should not be surprising to anyone.

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