Consider just this week: FBI Director Christopher A. Wray publicly confirmed, as The Post reported, that “Russia is still working to influence the U.S. presidential election, and hoping to ‘denigrate’ former vice president Joe Biden because it sees the Democratic nominee as part of an American policy establishment antagonistic toward Moscow’s interests.” In other words, Trump is a patsy, and it seems the reason that highly partisan national intelligence director John Ratcliffe stopped election-related briefings (which may in part resume) is because they would show plainly that not only is Russia trying to help Trump, but also that the Trump administration knows it and is trying to, shall we say, “downplay” it.
Even worse, a former aide to Vice President Pence, Olivia Troye, spilled the beans. The Post reported:
President Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic showed a “flat out disregard for human life” because his “main concern was the economy and his reelection,” according to a senior adviser on the White House coronavirus task force who left the White House in August.Olivia Troye, who worked as homeland security, counterterrorism and coronavirus adviser to Vice President Pence for two years, said that the administration’s response cost lives and that she will vote for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden this fall because of her experience in the Trump White House.“The president’s rhetoric and his own attacks against people in his administration trying to do the work, as well as the promulgation of false narratives and incorrect information of the virus have made this ongoing response a failure,” she said in an interview.
On one level, this is nothing new. However, it suggests that reticence about ratting out Trump and his antics is fading. We can expect many more such truth-telling episodes in the weeks ahead. (Speaking of covid-19, Trump’s own director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that masks may be better than vaccines at halting the disease and that we are unlikely to have a vaccine before next year.)
In other disappointing news for Trump and his anti-election weasels, two key states (Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) knocked the Green Party off their ballots, and absentee voter applications will be flying out the doors in record numbers. Things have gotten so dire for Trump’s war on democracy that even Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) blanched at his assertion that we will “never know” who wins. When you have lost Senate Republicans, well, you know it’s not good. Then came even more promising news about the U.S. Postal Service:
A federal judge in Washington state on Thursday granted a request from 14 states to temporarily block operational changes within the U.S. Postal Service that have been blamed for a slowdown in mail delivery, saying that President Trump and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy are “involved in a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service” that could disrupt the 2020 election.
That’s as powerful a rebuke as you are likely to hear from a federal court. The decision will undoubtedly be appealed.
Meanwhile, Attorney General William P. Barr seems to have gone overboard with his audition for a Bond villain, arguing that covid-19 lockdowns are the worst civil liberties violations since slavery (not dragging people off the streets of Portland without probable cause? not the serial murders of Black men and women by police?). He’s also insulted his department as a bunch of nursery school children, accused the Black Lives Matter movement of not caring about Black people (as opposed to the president, who cheers White militia members?) and says any politicizing of the Justice Department needs to come from him, not lowly attorneys. Then there was his effort to prod prosecutors into charging demonstrators with sedition. Any patina of professionalism, hint of decency and respect for nonpartisan law enforcement are gone. Clarity is good, and discrediting himself was unintentionally helpful to Democrats and anyone else who supports free and fair elections.
And finally, when was the last time Trump had a lead in a nonpartisan, reputable public poll in Arizona, Wisconsin or Michigan? You know things are not going well for Republicans when one of the most reputable election pollsters and analysts, Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report, declares Arizona to be in the “Lean Democrat” column. According to Cook, Democrats have 290 electoral college votes in the solid, likely Democratic or leaning Democratic columns. It is only September.
You will notice in none of this do I mention Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. It is not that he has been doing poorly. On the contrary, he has raised a boatload of money and shows himself to be informed and empathetic on the issues. But nothing he does is distracting from the Trump meltdown, serial gaffes, scandals and poll troubles. We are getting to the point that if Biden does not froth at the mouth at the first debate, he probably will have this pretty much wrapped up. (Between early voting, declining viewership in later debates and the real possibility that Trump won’t show up for more embarrassment, that’s the debate that really matters.)
I guess Biden could make some horrible error, although it is hard to think of something as bad as admitting you lied about a pandemic. Election mechanics, counting and tabulation (including mail-in ballots being rejected) are his biggest problems, not Trump. Trump’s biggest problem, frankly, is that not much seems to be going his way — and the poll numbers could get worse by Election Day.
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