Fair and Unbalanced

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Mike Littwin

"The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles."

Littwin: Does Trump have a plan to defeat democracy?

Littwin: Does Trump have a plan to defeat democracy?

I know that it’s way, way, way too late to try to do any serious deconstruction of a Donald Trump performance, but, like Trump on a debate stage, I can’t help myself. Somehow, even though I know better, I hold to the notion that a presidential election, even this one, must be a serious affair.

So, what was Trump thinking?

What deal was the great deal-maker trying to sell to the millions of Americans watching?

Because at some point, he must have said to himself, OK, I’ll toss my campaign manager, my running mate, my daughter, 240 years of history and the very foundation of the American project under the bus in order to — and we’re left assuming that this had to be it — keep my options open.

I mean, he knew, he had to know, that by refusing to commit to the time-honored notion in liberal democracies of accepting the results of the election/will of the people on Nov. 8, he may as well have been conceding defeat. All that’s left is the drama — “I’ll keep you in suspense,” Trump said — of whether Trump will concede, send in his lawyers or unleash his so-called “Second Amendment people.”

In a night full of story lines, this was the only story line. From up on the debate stage, in Las Vegas yet, Trump ran straight through the fourth wall to reveal to the audience that he’s still desperately trying to come up with an acceptable ending to his long-running campaign show that somehow will work despite the specter of his inevitable defeat.

The night didn’t begin that way. Moderator Chris Wallace was determined to discuss issues, and Trump was at his serious best. Even if he threw in some red meat for the fact-checking community, he was doing OK, which is to say he hadn’t seriously embarrassed himself.

But then came Hillary Clinton’s Putin-puppet line, and Trump came back sputtering with his, “No puppet, no puppet. You’re the puppet,” and that was it for the debate. Alec Baldwin’s Trump has a better chance of winning now than Donald Trump’s Trump. Once again, Trump was caught defending Putin because he couldn’t admit he made a mistake, and then he added some nice words for Assad because, in Trump’s political world, every homicidal dictator must still be superior to Obama and Clinton. You can imagine that whoever handles the nuclear codes was immediately resetting the password.

Ezra Klein writes a very convincing piece in Vox about how Clinton destroyed Trump in the three debates and exposed him for the thin-skinned, unprepared, unfit candidate that he is by cleverly baiting him, taking her time in each debate to push Trump’s buttons and then watch the implosions begin. She even baited him into criticizing Ronald Reagan. I know Trump has said that he could walk down Fifth Avenue shooting people and still not lose any voters — which may be true — but when he brought his small hands to a knife fight, he was lost.

It was rope-a-dope with a twist, the twist being that Trump barely laid a glove on Clinton. She still struggled on the email questions, on the Clinton Foundation questions, but Trump couldn’t prosecute effectively because he was too busy defending himself. It wasn’t as if everyone in America hadn’t seen this at the first debate, with its Miss Piggy ending and the 3 a.m. tweets that followed. It wasn’t as if everyone in the Trump camp didn’t understand that Trump, the narcissist, was being played. And yet. And yet.

Debates aren’t supposed to matter, but as Nate Silver points out, Clinton was 1.5 points ahead on the eve of Debate I, and now she’s seven points ahead and probably still climbing. I don’t know why it took this long for people to see the real Trump, but after four and a half hours on display, the worst has now become clear.

Twitter, I’m told, was all about the “bad hombres” line and Trump’s final interruption — “such a nasty woman” — in which he managed, in his last chance to change the course of the election, to cement Clinton’s hold on both the Latino vote and the female vote. Once again, he lost control, lost the practiced points of attack, lost everything but the all-consuming notion that Clinton had made it personal and all personal attacks must be answered.

Still, we must give Trump his due. Clinton didn’t bait him into saying he wouldn’t commit to accepting the outcome of the election. She didn’t bait him into conflating media bias with vote rigging. She didn’t bait him into saying, in effect, that his way of making America great was to undo everything that is great about America. The pro-Putin, anti-democracy look is Trump’s and Trump’s alone.

It still doesn’t explain Trump’s refusal to say he would accept the election results. He could have said that he would accept the results barring any extraordinary event, like the Bush-Gore triple-overtime ending. He could have said he expected to win, and that he probably wouldn’t really put Clinton in jail. He could have said anything other than what he said.

But this is what we saw: Chris Wallace asked him the question, Trump answered it by saying we’ll have to wait and see, and Wallace, effectively standing in for about 300 million people, tried to give Trump a lifeline by citing our history of peaceful transition and begging Trump to grab onto it.

Instead, Trump took peaceful transition and tossed it back in Wallace’s face.

“I will look at it at the time,” Trump said. “I will keep you in suspense.”

We know he says he has a secret plan to defeat ISIS. Now we wait to see if he also has one to defeat democracy.

Photo credit: Mike Mozart, Creative Commons, Flickr 

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About the Author

Mike Littwin

He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
mlittwin@coloradoindependent.com | Twitter @mike_littwin

8 Comments

  1. Kristi on said:

    The wikileaks and Project Veritas releases (with subsequent resignation/release of offending parties) prove beyond all doubt that the Clintons are racketeers and that the Democrat party plans to commit massive voter fraud. Beyond all doubt.

    There is no defense for what the Clintons have done and are doing, and for what they plan to do. If she wins we’ll all be caught up in it, even irresponsible journalists who carry water for them. Do you think you will be rewarded for helping this monster be elected? They will give you the same “reward” they give everyone, whether a supporter or not: Hardship, poverty, war, terror, and division.

  2. Will Morrison on said:

    Ms Kristi,
    You’ve been listening to the republicans for a long time, apparently. Too bad. What you are ACTUALLY looking at is the potential destruction of this country if Trump wins OR if he loses. You have NO facts to really present, all you have is right wing nonsense which they have been spewing for 40 years, now.

    The republicans have played fast and loose with elections for decades. Maybe you would do well to look up the various restraining orders that the republican party is under at this time to know a LITTLE more of what you’re talking about.

    To suggest that a PROVEN sociopath who is not only a crooked businessman who is NOT a success by ANY stretch of the imagination, who is an accused child rapist who is involved in a court case right now, who has been hauled into court over 4,000 times, who has NO idea how the government works and WHY what he is doing is so freaking dangerous is a good idea is a FOOL’S game.

    And Ma’am, you’re a fool. Honestly, if you think that a child in a man’s body is a good choice for president, then maybe you need to go back to school and find out what the job actually entails. Being a childish, immature, foul tempered, sexually abusing nit wit is NOT part of the job description. It embarrasses me to think that ANYONE in this country is foolish enough to think that this CHILD is worthy of even a dog catcher’s job, let alone the job of president.

    You’ve been taught to hate the Clintons because she was involved in prosecuting Nixon for Watergate. Yes, this goes back THAT far. She blew the whistle on the right wing and what they were doing to not only them, but to the whole country as well. And she’s been working for the benefit of people in this country, something else they rich can’t stand. They consider her a class traitor, and they will take her down if it’s the last thing they ever do.

    And so now they have you worshiping a sociopath who hasn’t made a good deal in his life, who is SO brilliant that he lost a BILLION DOLLARS in a SINGLE year, who admits to attacking women whenever he feels like it, who is on marriage #3, and who really exemplifies everything the republicans say they are against. He’s a proven liar, he can’t be trusted to take advice and consent from anyone, and he’s more than willing to start a fight he can’t finish. Putting this man in the office would be the ultimate in civil IRRESPONSIBILITY. Shame on you for even suggesting it.

  3. JohninDenver on said:

    Kristi:
    If you are serious with your comment and not just trolling along, please enlighten me.
    * What is so remarkable about Mr. Trump as a candidate that would inspire about a quarter of the Senators from his own party to disavow him? Here in Colorado, his campaign was only able to get 19 of 59 state Senators and House members to sign a routine letter of endorsement.
    * Why is it that newspaper and magazines which have NEVER endorsed before have taken it upon themselves to warn against Trump?
    * Why have other newspapers who routinely endorse Republicans chosen this year to NOT do so? And no newspapers who often support Democrats have abandoned Clinton, who you think so flawed?
    * Why have only a dozen or so of his 22,000 employees donated $200 or more to the Trump campaign?
    * Why does the master negotiator have 50 or so active civil suits?

    I could go on … but answers to those questions will, at the very least, convince you the situation is not nearly as one sided as you write.

  4. Mark on said:

    Most Republicans and Democrats are controlled by the same Elites. Those Elites usually don’t care who gets elected because they hold them all in their pockets. Trump does not seem to be controlled by them and those people are afraid of that. They control almost all major media and use it to keep us divided and believing we are all right until they can get us maggots to depopulate enough to just keep them living fat and happy. The Clinton s, Bush s, and so many politicians are in the same club with the Elites. They need to take away our 1st and 2nd Amendment Rights and then the rest will fall. Then they can dispose of us as needed. Hillary is funded mostly by the club and will do whatever they wish. God help us.

  5. Don Lopez on said:

    Kristi,

    I enjoyed your comment and I hope you’ll continue to contribute.

    Don’t let the kids get you down. They tend to get a little cranky when their diapers are full.

    It is enlightening to see how those who claim to have cornered the market on compassion and tolerance behave when cloaked with anonymity. They expose themselves as little more than knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing misogynists. But it does make it easier to understand why they identify so strongly with Mr. Littwin.

    You are NOT a fool and those who make that assertion need only to glance in a mirror to see what one really looks like.

  6. Will Morrison on said:

    Shredder:
    If you’re going to be spreading crap, you really should be aware of where it came from. James O’Keefe is NOT an honorable person, and that’s been proven time and time again. I’d be a bit more careful about my sources if I were you.

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