Heather Cox Richardson

Not to mention 45 breaking all of the rules of the debate, itself, that he - or his team - had agreed to ahead of time.

I just don’t understand their utter contempt for the folks they want voting for them!


quoting someone else from the bbs - they’re not running against biden, they’re running against the election itself.

the election and its normal operation is what they have to beat, and they know it.

it would be wild if trump did know he had the virus before the debate, hadn’t felt that sick yet, didn’t think it would affect him, and shouted his whole way through just to see what would happen to biden.


October 3, 2020 (Saturday)

I try to give us all a break on the weekend, but today seems like a day for which we need a record.

The president remains at Walter Reed Hospital. His condition is unclear. His doctors gave a cheery if vague picture of his health this morning, but minutes later, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows gave an off-the-record report to the press pool that told a different story. “The president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning, and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care,” Meadows said. “We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.” Meadows had been caught on tape asking to go off the record, so his identity was revealed.

Furious, Trump went to Twitter to say he was “feeling well!” In the evening, he released a four-minute video showing him sitting up at a conference table, saying in a rambling monologue that he would be back to campaigning soon. The video had been edited.

In his briefing to reporters, Dr. Sean Conley dated Trump’s diagnosis to Wednesday, a day earlier than Trump had admitted publicly. That new information meant that Trump was contagious at Tuesday’s debate, and that he knew he was contagious when he attended a fundraiser at his Bedminster golf club on Thursday, maskless. It would also mean that Trump knew he was sick before his adviser Hope Hicks’s diagnosis. After the press conference, the White House released a document saying that Conley had misspoken.

Over the course of the day, more members of Trump’s inner circle announced they have tested positive for coronavirus: former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Nick Luna, Trump’s personal assistant, are all infected; Christie is in the hospital. It also became clear that the White House had made little or no effort to trace who had contact with the infected officials.

Meanwhile, White House sources told reporters that Trump had fought against going to Walter Reed Hospital so close to the election, fearing he would look weak. His doctors gave him no choice. He finally gave in, but waited until after the stock market closed on Friday to make the trip. He is not being treated with hydroxychloroquine, which he repeatedly touted as an effective cure for Covid-19, but rather with the anti-viral drug remdesivir.

Trump has built his case for reelection on the idea that the coronavirus either is not that serious or has run its course. He has ridiculed the idea of wearing masks, and refused to follow the safety protocols health experts recommended. Now he and his wife are sick, and coronavirus is spreading through his inner circle, apparently through a super spreader event last weekend at the White House, when Trump announced he was nominating Amy Coney Barrett to take the Supreme Court seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Trump’s strategy of downplaying the virus to convince Americans it was over has backfired spectacularly, with the nation watching aghast as the disease spreads through the White House and officials there seem unable to come up with a straight story about what’s happening. Interviewed by Isaac Chotiner for the New Yorker, Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, who has long-time sources in the White House, said that people there are “incredibly anxious…. For their own safety. For the safety of the country. I think they are scared for the president…. And I think they are just shell-shocked.”

According to Haberman, Trump “is very, very reluctant to have information about his health out there…. Any perception of weakness for him is some kind of psychic wound.” She explained how the upcoming election makes this sentiment particularly powerful right now. “This is his worst nightmare. Not just getting sick with this, but any scenario where he is out of sight and being tended to and Joe Biden is out campaigning.”

Indeed, Biden has taken to the campaign trail. With just a month left before the election, he is on the road while Trump’s campaign is paralyzed. Biden adviser Anita Dunn explained to Politico that he is practicing what he has been preaching. “There is no reason not to show the country that, yes, you can go about your business—if you do it safely, if you wear masks, if you socially distance…. The vice president has talked about this since March.”

The timing of the Trumps’ illness coincided with the final push from the Biden campaign. It has pulled its negative ads out of respect for the Trumps, it says, but had likely planned to anyway in order to focus on an uplifting message of change in the last month of the campaign. In any case, at this point the Biden campaign hardly has to draw attention to how poorly the administration had handled the coronavirus pandemic. With Trump in the hospital with Covid-19, it’s pretty obvious.

“They all know it’s over,” a Republican close to the Trump campaign told Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman. Another said, “This is spiraling out of control.”

It was a bad week politically for the president anyway. It was only a week ago—on Sunday—that the New York Times released information about his taxes, revealing that he is hundreds of millions of dollars in debt and has avoided almost all U.S. taxes for years. Just two days later—Tuesday—the first presidential debate saw Trump blustering and bullying in what he thought was a demonstration that his supporters would love. Maybe members of his base did, but a New York Times/Siena College poll released today indicates that most voters were repelled by Trump’s behavior. Biden is up seven points among likely voters in Pennsylvania, and five points in Florida. By Thursday, we knew that Hope Hicks had tested positive for coronavirus, and shortly after midnight, in the early hours of Friday, we knew that the president and the First Lady had also tested positive.

If there was any good news in all this for the Trump campaign, it was that the tape released Thursday of the First Lady saying “who gives a f*** about the Christmas stuff and decorations?” and “Give me a f****** break” about children separated from their parents has largely been forgotten. So has the statement of former national security adviser H.R. McMaster that the president is “aiding and abetting” Putin because he refuses to acknowledge that Russians are attacking the 2020 election.

Despite the growing crisis in the administration, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is still trying to get Barrett confirmed before the election, even if nothing else gets done. He has announced the Senate will not conduct business again until October 19, meaning it cannot take up the coronavirus bill the House just passed. Nonetheless, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has announced that the Senate Judiciary Committee will meet to consider Barrett’s nomination, despite the fact that two members of the committee are infected with coronavirus. Those two say they will quarantine for just ten days so they can emerge in time for Barrett’s confirmation hearings beginning on October 12.

And while we are watching coronavirus infect the president and those around him, it also continues to spread around the rest of the country. The United States as a whole on Friday saw the highest count of new cases since August: 54,411. Deaths are down, but still 906 Americans died on Friday from Covid-19.


October 4, 2020 (Sunday)

It has been an insane week. It was only last Sunday-- seven days ago-- that the New York Times released information about Trump’s taxes. Since then, we’ve lived through Tuesday’s debate and the wildfire spread of coronavirus through the inner circle of the White House, along with other stories that would have crippled any other administration but that now pass by with hardly a ripple.

Weirdly, for me, personally, it has been a really cool week. After eight months utterly isolated here with Buddy and my daughter, I have ventured out just a tiny bit and have met new, wonderful people, in quite unexpected ways. And my long-missing boys, kept away from caution over coronavirus, have stopped by for socially-distanced chats, or have, after negative Covid tests, moved home.

On the way from Los Angeles, one of them stopped by my office to pick up some stuff I needed and brought it to me, along with eight months of mail from work, full of simply lovely packages and letters from many of you. I will be responding in person to each of you, but since some of you have gone months and months with no acknowledgement of your gifts, I wanted to let you know they have, at long last, arrived. And the timing was perfect: they brightened up the weekend of a Very Tired Writer.

So here’s to family and friends-- old and new-- and to helping each other make it through these very trying days.

Going to bed early tonight. I’ll see you tomorrow.


October 5, 2020 (Monday)

It appears that the closing argument from the Trump campaign for his reelection was supposed to be that the Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, was overreacting to coronavirus, making fun, for example, of his insistence on wearing a mask and staying distant from others.

Trump was supposed to project strength in the face of the pandemic, suggesting that it has been way overblown by Democrats who oppose his administration and who are thus responsible for the faltering economy.

Then, of course, coronavirus began to spread like wildfire through Trump’s own inner circle after last Saturday’s Rose Garden celebration of Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court seat formerly held by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As Trump and increasing numbers of people in his inner circle began to test positive for the infection, the campaign first floundered, and now appears to be trying to brazen out the idea that the disease is not a big deal, and that Trump has conquered it.

This is insane. Covid-19 has currently infected more than 7 million Americans, and killed more than 210,000 of us, close to the number of Union soldiers—224,097-- who died in our bloody four-year Civil War.

Apparently, it is frustrating Trump that he cannot campaign. Last night, he traveled in a motorcade around Walter Reed hospital, waving to supporters. The trip horrified medical personnel, who noted that the presidential vehicle is sealed against chemical attack, meaning that the secret service professionals traveling with the president were exposed to a deadly disease for no apparent reason. One of the agents assigned to the First Family told CNN “That never should have happened… The frustration with how we’re treated when it comes to decisions on this illness goes back before this though. We’re not disposable.”

Dr. James P. Phillips, from the Walter Reed Hospital, took to Twitter: “Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential “drive-by” just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity.”

Even staffers were complaining about the disorganization in the West Wing after Trump’s drive. But things did not get more anchored this morning.

Early on, the president began to tweet at a great pace, in all caps, campaign slogans followed by the word “VOTE!” His promises were random and unanchored in reality, with words like “BIGGEST TAX CUT EVER, AND ANOTHER ONE COMING. VOTE!” According to Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair, the Trump family is divided over Trump’s performance. According to two Republicans close to the family, Don Jr. was worried by the drive around the hospital. “Don Jr. thinks Trump is acting crazy,” said one of the sources. But Ivanka, Eric, and Jared Kushner “keep telling Trump how great he’s doing.” All of them, though, worried about the morning’s tweet storm.

The infection continues to spread through the White House. This morning, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced that she, too, has tested positive for coronavirus, a day after she briefed reporters without a mask. Two sources told CNN that two of McEnany’s deputies, Chad Gilmartin and Karoline Leavitt, have also tested positive, along with two members of the White House staff. McEnany said at first the White House was planning to put out the number of staffers infected, but then said it could not, out of “privacy concerns.” But of course there’s no privacy at stake in the raw numbers.

Today we learned that another person who attended the Rose Garden event, Pastor Greg Laurie of the Harvest Christian Fellowship megachurches in California and Hawaii, has tested positive for coronavirus. In addition, thirteen workers who helped to cater a private Trump fundraiser last Thursday in Minnesota are all quarantining.

Although doctors expressed surprise and concern at the idea Trump might leave Walter Reed Hospital today, the president tweeted: “I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”

Doctors noted that he is in a dangerous period for the progression of Covid-19, and that anyone who had required the sorts of treatments Trump has had is too sick to leave the hospital. “I will bet dollars to doughnuts it’s the president and his political aides who are talking about discharge, not his doctors,” William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University’s medical school, told the Washington Post.

A briefing by Trump’s doctors obscured more than it revealed. The White House physician, Sean Conley, has refused to tell reporters when Trump last tested negative for coronavirus, a piece of information that would tell us when he knew he was infected. He also refused to explain why the president is being treated with a steroid usually reserved for seriously ill patients, or to discuss the state of Trump’s lungs. He did say that the president is “not out of the woods yet.”

Nonetheless, Trump left Walter Reed Hospital tonight, after lights had been installed to enable him to make a triumphant exit. Still infectious, he went back to the White House and climbed a flight of stairs to a balcony, where he dramatically removed his face mask and saluted well-wishers from a balcony. Although the moment was clearly designed to make Trump look strong, it was obvious he was struggling to breathe.

Vox’s Aaron Rupar noted that “Trump has no choice but to continue to downplay coronavirus (despite 210,000 dead and record new case numbers) because if he changed course, it would be an admission that he was wrong about the defining issue of his presidency – at the cost of tens of thousands of lives.”

This evening, Trump released a video telling people not to let the coronavirus “dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to beat it…. Don’t let it take over your lives.” CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta dubbed him “Coronavirus in Chief.”

Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden held a town hall tonight in Miami, Florida, where he gave detailed answers to questions about police reform (more money, ban chokeholds and no knock warrants); socialism (“I’ve taken on the Castros of the world. I didn’t cozy up to them”); a mask mandate (the president can only mandate masks on federal property, but he would call on governors and mayors to do the same); and reopening schools (PPE, small classes, ventilation). Watchers noted that it was a treat both to see a normal conversation and to hear detailed, informed answers.

To stay in touch with voters, Biden today began “Notes from Joe,” a daily newsletter.

Bloomberg is reporting that the contrast between the recent craziness of the White House and Biden’s calm detail has led the stock market to stabilize. Strategists are coming to think there will not be a contested election after all. Biden’s lead over Trump increased again after Trump’s debate performance, which apparently was designed to try to bully Biden by hitting triggers until he began to stutter, thus enabling the Trump campaign to portray him as mentally incapacitated. That strategy failed as Biden parried the triggers, and Americans were repelled by Trump’s behavior. Peter Rosenstreich, head of market strategy at Swissquote Bank SA, told Bloomberg, “Polls are shifting from a close election and prolonged uncertainty to more a dominant Biden and clean succession…. That is reducing uncertainty and increasing risk appetite.”


Her lips to God’s ears. :pray: If it’s a dominating enough win, not only will Trump slink off to Moscow quietly, but the Repubs will be in wholesale restructuring mode. (I hope that is true, anyway. No way to actually know.)


It’s already started…

They always use that same line about spending more time with their families.
So many children of prominent members of the GOP have gone public with expressions of disgust and/or disdain for their parents in recent years. It’s hard to believe that would lead to a quiet and peaceful household. I’m wondering which elected official will be brave enough to announce plans to retire and become a lobbyist.


I wouldn’t put it past him to think this preserves his ability to run in 2024. Try to disassociate himself from Trump a bit.


October 6, 2020 (Tuesday)

In the past three years, it has so often felt like things were reaching the breaking point. But the image of Trump on the balcony of the White House last night, defiantly taking off his mask as he gasped for breath, truly looked to me like the beginning of the final chapter.

Today coronavirus infections continued to mount in the vicinity of the White House. At least 34 people near Trump have contracted the virus in the past few days. The press corps near the White House is down to a skeleton crew as the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, and four press aides have tested positive. So have top aide Stephen Miller and Admiral Charles Ray, the vice commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral.

Along with other military leaders, Ray attended an event celebrating Gold Star families last Sunday at the White House. That event included some of the same people who had been at the event the previous day in honor of Amy Coney Barrett, whom Trump nominated to take the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. Those who attended both events included Trump and the First Lady.

Senior military leaders attended meetings with Ray last week in a secure room at the Pentagon, and now are self-quarantining. They include the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley; the Vice Chairman; the Army chief of staff; the Naval Operations Chief, the Air Force chief of staff, the CyberCom Commander; the SpaceForce operations chief; the director of the U.S. National Security Agency, Gen. Paul Nakasone; the Chief of the National Guard, General Daniel Hokanson; and the deputy commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Gary Thomas.

The White House has apparently not done any contact tracing, and it declined the help of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to do it.

The administration appears to be committed to a strategy of community spread, rejecting the use of masks and of distancing. Deputy press secretary Brian Morganstern told NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly that the White House still does not require masks because “everyone needs to take personal responsibility.”

That the White House appears to be the center of a coronavirus hotspot has hurt Trump’s reelection campaign. The infections in the face of the fact that the administration refused to take the virus seriously, the ride around the hospital to wave at supporters while endangering Secret Service agents, the struggle to the balcony in a strongman scene, all appear to have demonstrated not Trump’s strength, but his weakness.

His behavior today has reinforced that sense. Trump left the hospital last night and returned to a locked-down White House. The few aides who met with him were dressed in PPE, while the West Wing is virtually abandoned as people have decamped to work from home. Trump has been on a Twitter spree today, tweeting and retweeting his old material, “the Russia Hoax” and Hillary Clinton’s emails, which now feel like ancient history, disconnected from today’s pressing crisis. Tonight, he tweeted: “I have fully authorized the total Declassification of any & all documents pertaining to the single greatest political CRIME in American History, the Russia Hoax. Likewise, the Hillary Clinton Email Scandal. No redactions!” He hit the same points again in another tweet: “All Russia Hoax Scandal information was Declassified by me long ago. Unfortunately for our Country, people have acted very slowly, especially since it is perhaps the biggest political crime in the history of our Country. Act!!!”

He sounds desperate. And on the heels of his tweets, Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) tweeted to the Justice Department “Per the President’s orders, can you please provide the [House Judiciary] Committee the full unredacted Mueller Report immediately? Thank you.”

Other dropping stories make it look like the tide is running against Trump.

Patricia and Mark McCloskey, the St. Louis, Missouri, couple who held guns on protesters in June, were indicted today by a grand jury on charges of exhibiting guns and tampering with evidence. Trump invited the McCloskeys to speak at the Republican National Convention. “What you are witnessing here is just an opportunity for the government, the leftist, democrat government of the City of St. Louis to persecute us for doing no more than exercising our Second Amendment rights,” McCloskey said.

Two weeks ago, the administration blocked strict guidelines for a coronavirus vaccine, but today the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released those guidelines over White House objections. This will make a vaccine before the election unlikely. Trump tweeted “New F.D.A. Rules make it more difficult for them to speed up vaccines for approval before Election Day. Just another political hit job!”

Today, the New York Times revealed the findings of an internal investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general Michael Horowitz into the policy of separating children from their parents at our southern border. The policy was engineered by Stephen Miller, but the Justice Department has tended to blame then-Department of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen for the policy. Horowitz’s investigation has established that then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein were far keener on the policy than she was. In a sign of changing times, a 32-page response to the Horowitz’s investigation, written by Miller’s ally Gene Hamilton, said that Justice Department officials had simply followed orders from the president.

Facebook, too, sees the writing on the wall, and has announced that it will ban all QAnon conspiracy theory accounts. These accounts spread disinformation, including the idea that a heroic Trump is secretly leading an effort to round up a ring of pedophiles and cannibals based in the nation’s entertainment and political elites. The ban is one of the broadest Facebook has ever enacted.

Today, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said that a new coronavirus relief bill is imperative, but just hours later, Trump announced on Twitter that he was cancelling further talks between the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Stocks dropped 600 points, and vulnerable Republican senators panicked. Biden released a statement including a pithy condemnation: “Make no mistake: if you are out of work, if your business is closed, if your child’s school is shut down, if you are seeing layoffs in your community, Donald Trump decided today that none of that — none of it — matters to him. There will be no help from Washington for the foreseeable future. Instead, he wants the Senate to use its time to confirm his Supreme Court Justice nominee before the election, in a mad dash to make sure that the Court takes away your health care coverage as quickly as possible.” A few hours later, Trump changed his tune.

Today both the New York Times and the Boston Globe endorsed Biden, and General Michael Hayden, the retired four-star general who served as the Director of the CIA under President George W. Bush, released a video not just endorsing Biden, but also warning that “If there is another term for Trump, I don’t know what happens to America.” “Biden is a good man,” Hayden says. “Trump is not.”

Financial services company Goldman Sachs today forecast that the Democrats will take both the White House and the Senate, and said a Democratic sweep would mean a faster recovery and thus would be good for the economy. Moody’s Analytics, a subsidiary of another financial services company, recently found that Biden’s plans would add 7.4 million more jobs to the economy than Trump’s would.

Today in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, a town hallowed by history, Biden gave a blockbuster speech calling for the nation to put aside division and come together. He talked about race: “Think about what it takes for a Black person to love America. That is a deep love for this country that for far too long we have never fully recognized.” He talked about disparities of wealth: “Working people and their kids deserve an opportunity.”

And he talked about Lincoln, and how, at Gettysburg, he called for Americans to dedicate themselves to a “new birth of freedom” so that the men who had died for that cause “shall not have died in vain.”

“Today we are engaged once again in a battle for the soul of the nation,” Biden said. “After all that America has accomplished, after all the years we have stood as a beacon of light to the world, it cannot be that here and now, in 2020, we will allow government of the people, by the people, and for the people to perish from this earth.

“You and I are part of a great covenant, a common story of divisions overcome and of hope renewed," he said. "If we do our part, if we stand together, if we keep faith with the past and with each other, then the divisions of our time can give way to the dreams of a brighter, better, future.”


A post that makes me feel hopeful that a tsunami is building to sweep all these terrible leaders away and give us a chance at a future.


October 7, 2020 (Wednesday)

Recent polls suggest that Trump’s debate performance last week (was it only last week?!) and his attempt to look strong after coronavirus spread through the White House have not helped him politically. Most polls have him behind Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden by double digits. An article in Politico today was subtitled: “The new surveys fall into two buckets: those that are bad for the president, and those that are horrible.”

Trump’s plan for the election was to present himself as a strong leader who had overcome the pandemic—which he maintains was inflicted on us by China—and who would rebuild the economy that the Democrats had sabotaged with their insistence on shutting down the country when coronavirus hit. To that end, Trump and his people have acted as if the danger is over, refusing to wear masks or social distance, gathering in crowds, and insisting on reopening schools.

This plan has exploded as the president himself, along with his wife and many of his top advisers, have come down with the coronavirus. They appear to have spread it not only through the White House, but also to people who attended an event for Gold Star families the day after the Rose Garden event celebrating Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, and then to people who attended fundraisers for Trump during the week. The circle of those infected by the White House widens every day.

So Trump is trying hard to prove that he is back from the illness better than ever, that he is “cured” of coronavirus in record time. He released a video today claiming he is fine, and has been tweeting at a breakneck pace, trying to resurrect the old stories that, in the past, provided distractions from bad news. He is desperate to move attention from the pandemic, which has now killed more than 210,000 Americans. Even Hillary Clinton’s emails reappeared last night, despite the definitive conclusion of the State Department last October that Clinton had not deliberately mishandled classified information.

Republicans, though, see the writing on the wall, and those up for reelection are distancing themselves from the president to try to hold onto their seats. Today, the New England Journal of Medicine called for voters to turn out of office “our current political leaders [who] have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent…. We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.” And this morning, on the Fox News Channel, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard Carly Fiorina, who ran for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, explained that she was voting for Biden, since Trump has “damaged” the Republican Party.

Senate Republicans now seem concerned enough about Trump’s reelection that they are laser-focused on getting Barrett onto the Supreme Court. Indeed, they are so focused that they are refusing to quarantine even though many have been exposed to coronavirus. They are determined to have all the votes they need to get her through the Senate before the election. It seems a number of senators are going so far as to refuse to be tested so they will not have to miss the vote.

Trump does have the Department of Justice on his side, although right now Attorney General William Barr is one of those quarantining after exposure to coronavirus. On Friday, an official in the Public Integrity Section of the DOJ in Washington, D.C., changed the long-standing policy of the department against interfering in elections. Since at least 1980, the DOJ has barred prosecutors from announcing any investigations or making arrests or raids before an election out of fear of affecting the outcome. Now, though, if a U.S. Attorney’s office suspects election fraud, especially cases involving United States Postal service workers or military employees, it can make an investigation public before the polls close. Because voter fraud through mail-in ballots involving the USPS and military voting have been key elements of Trump’s charge that the election will be tainted, observers are concerned that this new rule is designed to make it easier for Trump to contest the results of the election.

Tonight was the vice presidential debate, and it transpired about as anyone would have expected. With the poll numbers as they are, the burden was on Vice President Mike Pence to try to move undecided voters into Trump’s camp, while Democratic vice-presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris simply had to make sure to avoid any major gaffes. But she is a good enough debater that she had a loftier goal, too: to make people who didn’t know her well connect with her as a person. Surprisingly, the moderator, Susan Page, the Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today, seemed unprepared for Pence to bully as Trump had. Pence talked far past his time, interrupted, and refused to answer questions, so the debate went off the rails quickly while Page tried to stop him only by saying “Thank you, Mr. Vice President,” an admonition he simply blew through.

Pence did not make up the ground he needed to if his goal was to help move voters into the Trump camp. He looked tired and weak and wooden, and one of his eyes was bloodshot. His answers were smooth, but they were Trump talking points and debunked conspiracy theories that we have all heard a thousand times. He turned away from questions of substance, quite explicitly refusing to answer them and turning back to a previous question. So, for example, he said the Trump administration had a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, but when asked what it was, talked instead about the Supreme Court.

The only truly notable moment in his answers was notable indeed: he refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he and Trump lose the election.

Pence needed to turn Trump’s numbers, and he did not. His repetition of debunked claims—I mean, he was really just lying—while talking over his opponent and the moderator, played terribly with women. Trump needs to make up ground there and, if anything, Pence lost it. What he did do, of course, was to play to Trump’s base, just as Trump did last week.

Harris (CA) did what she set out to do. She provided detailed, clear accounts of Biden-Harris policies—her explanation of the principles of foreign affairs was terrific: simple, clear, and a dig at Trump—and she connected with viewers who did not know her well by speaking personally about her mother, her talks with Biden, and about what people’s lives are actually like under this administration. Her masterful handling of Pence’s badgering also personalized her for the vast numbers of us who have dealt with That Guy in meetings, especially since, as a Black woman, she had to counter his gaslighting without coming across as “angry.”

Harris’s extraordinary historical significance as a Black woman on a debate stage vying to become America’s next vice president was not lost on anyone. America’s Black and Brown observers noted her significance to their own representation in government, and also noted how perfectly she was using facial expressions they had grown up with from older women to demonstrate that someone was out of line.

Women rated Harris’s performance higher than men did, but still about 60% of observers in a CNN poll gave Harris the win. Positive impressions of Harris also rose from about 56% to 63%. Pence’s favorability of 41% stayed the same. So, Harris nailed what she needed to: she solidified her ticket’s lead.

Still, the biggest winner of the debate was a large fly that landed on Pence’s head and roosted in his hair for two minutes without any reaction from the candidate. The hilarity that ensued on social media—you can just imagine the commentary—quickly overrode the few memorable words of the debate, leaving us with memorable impressions alone. Before the event was over, the fly had several Twitter accounts and the Biden campaign had snapped up the “flywillvote.com” domain name.

They redirected it to a website designed to help people register to vote.


Did she do that on purpose? His constant interruptions and mansplaining seems to have really irritated a lot of women. It also provided a contrast for Harris, helping her come across as so very reasonable by comparison. Which is important for her as a Black woman, unfortunately. I just can’t imagine a reporter and chief of one of the most high pressure bureaus in the country is actually that passive.


Interesting thought. Hadn’t considered that.


that’s a subtle thing harris did that really impressed me. she obviously had mapped out the debate structure and her questions almost always ended leading the moderator into the next section.

it left me with a feeling the moderator was responding to her at times rather than the other way around.

pence was always going back to previous questions, harris was always looking forward to the next questions. a good metaphor if there ever was one.


October 8, 2020 (Thursday)

I’m going to be brief tonight, folks, but here are the main stories I’m watching:

On October 8, 2020, the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, appears to be melting down. Over the course of the day, he has called for the imprisonment of his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, as well as his own predecessor, President Barack Obama, and called Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris a “monster” and a “communist.”

This morning, he announced that he would not take part in the planned October 15 town hall debate if it were turned into an on-line event. But then, after Biden said he was willing to postpone the debate so Trump could take part, said he would participate in another debate on October 22.

He released a video addressed to seniors, who are leaving him in droves, calling them “my favorite people in the world,” and speculated that he could continue to hold rallies as early as this weekend, before his quarantine period is over. He called into the Fox News Channel twice, ranting. Of his bout with coronavirus, he said: “I’m back because I’m a perfect physical specimen and I’m extremely young.”

He is erratic enough that tomorrow, the House will begin to consider a bill seeking to enforce the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, designed to provide an exit ramp for a president who is experiencing physical or mental impairments that make him unable to lead the nation. The bill, advanced by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, will not pass, but it will keep focus on what seems to be the president’s precarious mental state.

Vice President Mike Pence, who was supposed to go to Indiana to vote tomorrow, after campaigning in Arizona, has cancelled his scheduled events and is headed back to Washington, D. C.

Everything emerging from the White House today is murky and confused, but there is one event that is crystal clear: the FBI announced today it has stopped a terrorist plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and put her “on trial” for treason. Six men have been charged in the plot, and are now facing life in prison if convicted. Another seven have been charged with planning to storm the state capitol building and start a civil war. They face up to 20 years in prison.

This afternoon, Whitmer called out Trump for refusing to denounce such domestic terrorists. At last week’s debate with Biden, Trump told the white supremacist neo-fascist Proud Boys to “Stand back and stand by.” In April, after Whitmer shut down the state to combat coronavirus, Trump tweeted: “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” and at least three of the thirteen men now charged were among those who entered the state’s senate chamber with guns on April 30 to protest Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders.

Tonight, rather than express sympathy with Whitmer or denounce the terrorists, Trump attacked Whitmer on Twitter. Attorney General William Barr, who has been out of the public eye since last the coronavirus super spreader event at the White House Rose Garden in honor of Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s nominee to take the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, has not commented.


I’ve heard he doesnt handle ramps well either


October 9, 2020 (Friday)

The major, obvious, in-your-face story of the day is that the president is melting down. He has spent much of the last two days calling in to the Fox News Channel and Rush Limbaugh’s radio show and ranting in a manic way that suggests he is having trouble with the steroids he is taking for his illness.

In an interview with Rush Limbaugh today, Trump boasted that “our nuclear is all tippy top now,” and said about Iran, “If you f*** around with us, if you do something bad to us, we’re gonna do things to you that have never been done before.” He tweeted that “Obama, Biden, Crooked Hillary and many others got caught in a Treasonous Act of Spying and Government Overthrow, a Criminal Act. How is Biden now allowed to run for President?” This is pure fiction, of course, but his campaign later put it in a fundraising email.

The repercussions from the September 26 event in the Rose Garden celebrating Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court continue to pile up. Today, news broke that a teacher and two students from the school some of Barrett’s children attend have tested positive for coronavirus. This may or may not be related to the White House event, of course, but it increases attention to the irresponsibility of the organizers and attendees of that event.

It doesn’t help that, when interviewed on MSNBC, White House spokesman Brian Morgenstern refused six times to say when Trump had last tested negative for coronavirus, indicating that either he was not regularly being tested—contrary to what the White House said—or he tested positive earlier than the public knows. Today, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, acknowledged that September 26 White House celebration was a superspreader event.

Trump has backed out of the scheduled October 15 presidential debate because the Commission on Presidential Debates decided to hold it virtually out of concerns about coronavirus. Biden, who was fine with doing the debate virtually, will appear alone in a town hall event on the same night.

Although Trump has not yet been cleared for interactions with people again, today the White House announced that Trump has invited 2000 people for a rally on the South Lawn of the White House Saturday—another violation of the Hatch Act, which still matters for all that it seems to be taking a back seat to the issue of the administration’s disregard for public safety. The president will speak to the crowd from a balcony. This “peaceful protest for law & order” is supposed to be the precursor to him returning next week to full-time campaigning.

The president insists he is fine, and that the danger of the coronavirus has been overblown. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention drafted an order for masks on all public transportation, but Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the White House Coronavirus Task Force, refused even to discuss it. Trump’s reelection pitch is that the coronavirus is not a big deal, and we should just live with it. He told Limbaugh: “People are going to get immediately better like I did. I mean, I feel better now than I did two weeks ago. It’s crazy…. And I recovered immediately, almost immediately.” Today more than 850 Americans died of Covid-19, bringing our official total to more than 213,000.

As their chief is imploding, lots of key Republican players are silent. A number of people who were at the September 26 event have gone off the radar screen, including Attorney General William Barr.

Barr has, though, told top Republicans that the review of the origins of the Russia probe by his own, hand-picked investigator after the Inspector General for the Department of Justice determined the investigation had been begun legitimately and conducted without political bias, will not be out before the election. Barr had been promising the release of the report by U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut John Durham in time to sway voters, although such a release ran contrary to DOJ policies.

Last month, top aide to Durham Nora Dannehy resigned from the investigation, allegedly out of concerns about political pressure. The comments of a Republican congressional aide to Axios confirm that this “investigation” was about politics: “This is the nightmare scenario. Essentially, the year and a half of arguably the number one issue for the Republican base is virtually meaningless if this doesn’t happen before the election.”

Congressional Republicans are also wildly silent about the president’s behavior, except for inklings they are distancing themselves from him and focusing on the confirmation of Barrett to the Supreme Court. Even this, though, does not suggest great support for Trump. To the contrary, Republicans appear to be determined to jam her through because they expect Trump to lose the election. Although 59% of Americans think the next president should fill the seat, and although the Senate is ignoring a desperately needed coronavirus relief bill, they are planning to shepherd her through to a seat on the court before November 3.

Today, the second debate between Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was cancelled when Graham refused to take a coronavirus test despite the fact he was exposed to the virus on October 1 at a meeting that included Mike Lee (R-UT) who has since tested positive. Graham is the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and a positive test would delay the start of the Barrett hearings, slated for Monday.

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have asked Graham to postpone the hearing in light of the positive tests of two Republican committee members, Mike Lee (R-UT) and Thom Tillis (R-NC). Concerns about the spread of the disease have made Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recess the Senate until October 19, and the Democrats have noted that “no plausible public health or scientific rationale justifies proceeding with Senate Judiciary Committee hearings next week.”

Americans were already upset over the administration’s handling of the coronavirus and the resulting recession, but the superspreader event and Trump’s manic behavior since have made his polls crumble further. Republican strategist Ken Spain told Sahil Kapur of NBCNews, “The president has had possibly the worst two-week stretch that a candidate could have going in to the final month of an election.”

He appears to be planning to combat his low numbers by spurring his supporters to violence and by rigging the system. Yesterday, he told Fox News Channel personality Sean Hannity that Pence’s “best answer” at the vice presidential debate was when he refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power in January. He is now saying that Biden committed “treason” and “shouldn’t be allowed to run.” His rhetoric is stoking radical fires, as extremists hear his advice to “Stand back and stand by” as a rallying cry.

The president is pushing the idea that, unless he is reelected, the election will be fraudulent, and that he will not accept the results. His campaign says it has recruited 50,000 volunteer poll watchers—polls already have certified watchers from both parties—who seem likely to try to disrupt the election in swing states. Republican leaders have tried to limit voting, with varied success: Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered all Texas counties to have a single ballot drop box (Democratic-leaning Harris County is bigger than the state of Rhode Island), but today, a federal judge ruled against him.

The Trump campaign is also looking the other way as Russia again interferes on his behalf.

In all of this—except the Russia part—Trump looks oddly like President Andrew Johnson, who took over the White House after Abraham Lincoln’s death at the hands of an assassin. Johnson was a former Democrat, and could not stand the idea of the Republican government ending systemic Black enslavement and leveling the playing field among races. He wanted to reclaim the nation for white men. Convinced he was defending America from a mob and that his supporters must retake control of the government in the midterm election of 1866 or the nation was finished, Johnson became increasingly unhinged until he began to compare himself to both the martyred Lincoln and Jesus Christ. He called his congressional opponents traitors who should be executed.

Egged on by the president, white supremacist gangs attacked Black Americans and their white allies, convincing Johnson that his party would sweep the midterms and he would gain control of the government to end Black rights.

Voters heard Johnson, all right. They were horrified by his attacks on the government and the violence he urged. It was an era in which only white men could vote, but even so, they elected to office not Johnson’s white supremacists, but Johnson’s opponents. And they didn’t just elect enough of those reasonable men to control Congress… voters gave them a supermajority.


October 10, 2020 (Saturday)

This week felt different.

I’m going to leave it there tonight, too superstitious to say more.

Here’s hoping.

See you tomorrow.



Ok, I’ll just start freaking out now.


maybe her account has been hacked again :confused:

is there a good way to support her for all the work she’s been doing? can anyone recommend one or two of her books maybe?