that debate

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by Neil Godfrey

I think today was the first time I’ve watched a presidential debate; at least I can say I don’t remember watching any others. What did everyone else think? I was fairly dismayed at the way Trump behaved and Wallace failed to control him, especially in the early part. But in hindsight, putting it all together with what I’ve learned about Trump, I have to concede it went exactly as Trump wanted. His supporters, no doubt, will think he did a wonderful job of taking on not just Biden but the “grossly unfair media” in the person of Chris Wallace, too.

Trump tweeted this image, presumably to depict what he sees as his victory against both the Democrats and the media.

For the rest of us, Trump put to rest any possible debate over whether he winks at the activities of white supremacists and even over whether he was referring to some new technologies when he spoke of injecting bleach to fight coronavirus. On that latter point he said he was “joking”, so he was not speaking of some new technology after all (and the video of him saying it clearly shows he was not joking). But on the racism point, the Proud Boys listened to Trump’s words of support and added them to their logo:

I would love to learn I am wrong on this one, but I can see the Proud Boys and other white militia groups coming out fully armed into the streets again when Trump, crying foul and a rigged election, calls a halt to the counting of the ballots. Are my fears reasonable?


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Neil Godfrey

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18 thoughts on “that debate”

  1. It was hard to get a clear picture of anything but loud mouth, lying Trump. When he wasn’t interrupting, he was sneering. I will vote for Biden but feel he is too old for the job. More of the same lies in store, and no telling what else, if Trump is reelected. It’s hard to believe anyone supports this grifter.

  2. Nothing would surprise me, but I don’t expect any attempt to interfere with the counting. After the counting is done, though, Trump will say it was rigged if it goes against him, and his followers will believe him and act accordingly.

    And if Trump wins, all the people who hate him will say it is proof that America is so under the control of wealthy capitalist white racist oppressors that there can be no hope of changing it through nonviolent methods.

    No matter who wins, it’s going to get ugly.

  3. Haaretz.com has reposted an August article warning of the very scenario I said in this post I was fearing: America’s armed, antisemitic far right is prepping to defend Trump in November by Alexander Reid Ross, originally published 16 August 2020. [The linked webpage is not publicly available BUT click on the Print Button and you will be able to read it in full. But keep that just between you and me lest Haaretz shuts down that loophole.)

    If Trump refuses to acknowledge the results, his militias are certainly prepped to come out into the streets to prevent a peaceful transfer of power – or, as the far right prefer to call it, a “Democratic coup.”

  4. It might be helpful to review elections of the past decades to see the REAL make-up of the US of A.

    1960 — Kennedy lost. But the mayor Chicago masterfully screwed with the results from Illinois, giving the election to him. Nixon refused to point out this fact, for some reason. Also remember: One key Kennedy argument in the election is that there was a “missile gap” with Russia (there was not!!!). He out-right-winged Nixon!!!

    1964 — Goldwater’s emergence, the first sign of the somewhat nutzoid right-wing, startled many people. He lost big. Johnson had not yet advocated the Voting Right stuff (at least, not out loud) or “The Great Society.” These things happened in ’65.

    1968 — Nixon won, using what is called “the southern strategy.” His VP candidate, Agnew, was a subtle racist. George Wallace, an easy-to-spot racist, got a lot of votes, too.

    1972 — the Democrats took aim at all 10 of their toes, and shot them each 45 times. Nixon cruised. Little did he know, he didn’t really need Watergate!

    1976 — after Nixon’s impeachment, a little-known southern governor, Carter, won. However, he did not win by the huge margin you might have predicted.

    1980 – Reagan ousted Carter. Lots of reasons, but Carter’s administration was beyond incompetent. His “Rose Garden” strategy (in the face of Iran’s move to capture 50-odd people in the US embassy there) was absolutely and totally absurd.

    1984 — the Democrats took aim at their kneecaps, shot each one 150 times. Mondale, their candidate, showed that he really LIKED Reagan in their debates. Insane. Mondale (Carter’s veep) also spent the years since 1980 as a corporate lawyer.

    1988 — GHW Bush was vulnerable, but the Dems nominated Dukakis, and some idiot posed him riding around in a tank (he looked like Snoopy, I kid you not). If one image could, alone, sum up the Dems’ incompetence . . .

    1992 — Bush’s approval rating in 8/91 was actually 90% in polls. All of the Dems with a brain dropped out of the primaries — except the one whose brain was between his legs, Bill Clinton. Surprise! He won. 3rd party candidate Ross Perot helped Bill. Bush was not a good compaigner, and broke his HUGE 1988 promise (no new taxes) — which really hurt him.

    1996 — this time, the Repubs shot themselves in the feet, arms, legs, and stomach. Hurray!

    2000 — Gore refused to contest an election decided by the Supreme Court — which Gore clearly won. If you want to figure out why Trump is stomping around saying he won’t respect this year’s results, look at what happened here. And in 1960. There is precedent for elections being decided wrongly, and during Trump’s lifetime.

    2004 — Dems shot themselves in the chest. A war hero, their candidate, was mau-maued to the nth degree. They “swiftboated” him (you might look this up). So: More Bush. Worse, the Dems didn’t oppose the Iraq invasion (Biden led the PRO charge!!!!).

    2008 — the Repubs seemed determined to throw the election to Obama. How else could you explain their choice of a VP candidate who — while prettier than Biden by a long shot — was right out of her mind?

    2012 — Romney, the Republican candidate, was a Mormon. Not so good for rallying the evangelicals on the right. Also, he made a “deplorables”-type comment, anticipating Hillary. The right seemed to have purposely lost this one, again.

    2016 — Hillary did better than you might have expected, considering a good % of the US hated her. And for maybe good reasons. Her “deplorables” comment was widely reported (and incredibly stupid, if you think about the populace). Trump didn’t think he’d survive the primaries (this has been reported) — and yet here he is.

    What this history tells me is that the US of A is a right-wing country, and has been for a while. The Republicans lose when they shoot at themselves in a way superior to that Democrats’ ability to do that. The Repubs have gotten much better at pandering to these inner leanings, and ignoring all that might be reasonable.

    Look also at the Democrats elected lately — Carter, Clinton, Obama. They governed exactly like moderate Republicans. Their advocacy for the common person was almost non-existent. These people are NOT liberals . . . which might tell you that the supposedly liberal party (look what the Dems did to Bernie, twice) is not very liberal at all; or that the Dems think liberals cannot win.

    I apologize if this was long.

    1. “1960 — Kennedy lost.”

      Well there goes credibility. Kennedy won a 303 to 219 Electoral College victory – that took a lot more than just Chicago.

      1. I stand corrected. Illinois had only 27 electoral votes. So Kennedy would have won without the Mayor.

        I apologize.

        Now: Tell me that Kennedy was not President when the US of A backed an invasion of Cuba, leading to the “missile crisis” over USSR missiles in Cuba. And tell me that the denouement of all of that idiocy by Kennedy was NOT removal of USA missiles from Turkey.

    2. The US is not a “right wing” country. Its governing bodies are center-right. The majority of its citizens are center-left. Trump’s hardcore supporters are right wing and constitute maybe 20-25% of the population.

    3. Don’t mind long comments as long as they are interesting — as yours is.

      A common factor behind both parties throughout the period you cover is, of course, Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex. I’m also thinking of Nancy Fraser’s perspective when I look at your list. And all of that takes me back to the days around World War 1 when Big Business propagandized the nation with Freudian psychological principles to identify “Americanism” with “Capitalism”. The “left” and “right” sides of the one Capitalist society are never really very far apart.

  5. As a ”foreign” onlooker I think Trump is definitely worth betting a few shekels on for another term.
    In fact, although not a shoe-in I reckon he will win again, simply because the ”other side” doesn’t seem to have a candidate with a distinct enough personality to knock Donald ( buffoon that he is) off his perch!
    The whole scenario is beginning to look like an outtake from Grumpy Old Men, and Lemmon and Mattheau would probably have done a better job!

  6. From myself being a generally left of centre guy (with a couple of exceptions) I actually want Trump to win for two main reasons:
    1) The Democrats have to be called out on continuously wheeling out safe corporate Wall Street candidates.
    2) Trump has to be allowed to self implode, his loyal followers will believe he was not allowed to finish the job, voting him out now opens the door for another populist.

  7. A good thing for us our military leaders have already pledged they will not aid Trump in his attempted political coup. They will not get involved in the election. This means they would not help remove Trump from office if he is defeated (that will be the job of the Secret Service once Biden is sworn in), nor will they obey any illegal orders from Trump such as his threats to invoke the Insurrection Act. That aspect was instantly rejected by Trump’s own Secretary of Defense. This isn’t the 19th century anymore, the U.S. military is only half white now the rest is made up of minorities. By themselves there aren’t enough militia like the Proud Boys to take over the United States, and if the military leaders up and down the line support the Constitution instead of Trump it becomes an empty threat except for the possibility of isolated incidents. Just hours after the debate a number of Proud Boys were arrested in Portland, Oregon for armed disturbances during the ongoing protests there. If he loses, the only way Trump could keep the Presidency is either by the Supreme Court aiding him by declaring the election fraudulent, or Trump ordering the military to stop the Electoral College from meeting (which obviously would be an outright dictator move). Since the military has already pledged not to support Trump, and the Supreme Court regardless of the new appointee has already ruled 7-2 against Trump immunity on taxes, I think the Constitution will indeed beat Trump in the end.

  8. I’m not a Trump supporter. Biden clearly won the debate, and Trump ranted like a madman. However:

    The Proud Boys are not a white nationalist group. The group has many non-white members, and the leader, Enrique Tarrio, is a person of color. They call themselves “Western civilization chauvanists.”
    Trump has condemned white supremacists many times. Examples:
    “very fine people on both sides… I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally”.
    “Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

    1. Oh G. Don (Harper), ever the casuist that you are!….

      And Trump speaks of the Bible being his favourite book and his evangelical followers, ignoring all the contrary evidence on the record for all to see, fall for it. Trump says lots of things we knfow are lies because we have video evidence proving him false: e.g. in the “debate” he said he was only joking about injecting bleach as a possible cure for covid-19 despite video evidence to the contrary; and in a rally he said he was only joking and 25,000 people all laughed when he asked Russia to hack Hilary Clinton’s emails, again despite video evidence to the contrary. Some people think he tends to lie a lot. I don’t know if you are aware of those criticisms of him.

      “very fine people on both sides… I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally”.

      That little gap there between the two sentences is significant. We know Trump talks like that, says one thing then backtracks to claim “plausible deniability”. He is talking about the images he saw, that we all saw, and there were no people on “one side” who were not at the very least sympathetic and joining with white supremacists and nazi types.

      “Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

      And Trump knows overt racism is not acceptable and that is why he talks of “blacks” (using other terms for them) among his colleagues and family and not to the press. We know Trump’s public record of racism going back to the 1970s and then right up to his disgust that a “black” won the White House before him. The evidence of his racism is in the public record going back decades.

      If you take selected quotes of Trump at their face value then I have a very nice bridge you might be interested in buying from me.

    2. The Proud Boys are not a white nationalist group. The group has many non-white members, and the leader, Enrique Tarrio, is a person of color. They call themselves “Western civilization chauvanists.”

      Yes, and no doubt they also condemn “racism” — just like Brenton Tarrant left it on the written record that he is not a racist, since he only wants black people living in black countries and white people living in white countries. Who could argue with that? Not at all racist — just like he said. (read some sarcasm there)

      And I am sure Trump would never endorse any racist group — he has, after all, said that “racism is evil”, so what is there left to discuss? He has also said he has never heard of the Proud Boys — just like he so often says he has never heard of some person or organization after it gets a bad press despite the fact that he is on record as having spoken of and associated with the person or organization frequently in the past.

      But I do thank you for updating me on the finer points of the Proud Boys group. Yes, not “white supremacist”, no more so than Brenton Tarrant who only wanted to fight for “white Christian civilization”.

      Proud Boys are also said to be “misogynistic, Islamophobic, transphobic and anti-immigration” (ADL)

      To join the Proud Boys, members must make an oath: “I am a proud western chauvinist, I refuse to apologise for creating the modern world”, as well as endure a violent “hazing” process. While the group maintains it is not racist, and simply wants to hark back to traditional ““western” values, its worldview incorporates elements of the “white genocide” conspiracy theory. Members are pro-gun rights, against feminism and gender equality, and take a libertarian stance on issues such as welfare. . . .

      The Proud Boys have a history of street violence against leftwing activists and protest movements. In recent months they have repeatedly turned up to oppose Black Lives Matter marches or any demonstrations where they sense an opportunity to counter, often with violence, far-left activists loosely characterized by their adherence to anti-fascist ideology and known collectively by the short-form term antifa. Last year, two members were jailed for four years for beating up anti-fascist activists in New York. . . .

      Former Proud Boys member Jason Kessler was instrumental in bringing together the the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 that included among its attendees members of the Ku Klux Klan and a number of neo-Nazi groups, many wearing body armor, far-right symbols and with guns and other weapons.

      The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/30/proud-boys-who-are-far-right-group-that-backs-donald-trump

      I will endeavour in future to be more careful to use the more encompassing term “unapologetic chauvinistic western civilizationists who have a history of organizing far-right white supremacists neo-nazi rallies” when speaking of the Proud Boys.

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