Why Trump Might Still Get Re-elected

A brief headline and photo essay.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Almost every day, Donald Trump shows that he lacks the temperament and judgment to be president. Why might swing voters vote for him? Because they think that putting his opponents in power might be even worse. Trump's re-election likely depends on whether Trump's actions or "the resistance's" are foremost in persuadable voters' minds.

 

 

 

 

 

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  1. A photo essay of three stories that were lies. Not mistakes, not misinterpretation. Lies .

    But you go right ahead and believe the dnc scribes at NYT “report” on what President Trump is doing.

    1. Americans need to stand united against the Christian fascism of the Trump presidency and the GOP. Together, by voting for Joe Biden this November, we can promote a more democratic and socially just American Dream!

      1. HA! I saw a Reddit entry that said the same people who thought Obama was a Muslim think that Trump is a Christian.

        1. Reddit is cancer but the fact that it is an echo chamber means that everyone is going to be super salty when Trump gets re-elected.

        2. I won’t pretend to look into his heart, but my opinion is that he’s a “cultural Christian” if you know what that mean.

          The realpolitik truth of the matter, is that, no matter what’s in his heart, he’s done more to defend religious liberty than any GOP president in recent memory, and Hillary, well, she wouldn’t have. That has earned him a lot of support from religious types, no matter his lack of adherence to doctrine.

          Biden, as a supposed Catholic, who counseled Obama against the birth control mandate, wouldn’t be so bad to religion on a personal level, but the rest of the party would be.

          1. If you’re a Christian, Republican, and oppose the welfare state, Democrats call you a hypocrite. If you’re a Christian, Democrat, and support “gay marriage”, abortion, and insurance covered contraception, Democrats call you a progressive who supports religious pluralism in America.

          2. Let me guess: a “cultural Christian” is someone who doesn’t go to church but who does vote to lower taxes?

            1. As a Reformed Jew, my values come from the New York Times.

              1. LOL. Reform “Judaism” is about liberal politics and eating bagels.

                1. Mmmmmm. Bagels.

            2. Cultural Christian (a paraphrase): Poorly catechized. Their beliefs about Jesus Christ are fuzzy and out of focus. They hold their beliefs in a sentimental haze in which they vaguely feel that what they believe is “Christian” but would not want to pin it down. They think we have matured and moved on from such nit picky sort of questions.

              1. Despite you telling us you won’t look into the President’s heart, you’ve determined that he has “fuzzy and out of focus” beliefs about Jesus Christ (based on what?), held “in a sentimental haze” and you know how he “vaguely feel[s]” as to what is “Christian but” that he doesn’t “want to pin it down”.

                It’s not nit picky in so far as you say on the one hand that you won’t assume to know what another person believes, while on the other saying you know exactly what he believes.

                1. There was a question upthread by Martined wonder what a “cultural Christian” was. I was trying to be helpful in providing a definition. As he is quite hostile towards religion, I presume he didn’t know.

                  So, it’s not nit picky to define what I think Trump is while also admitting that I don’t know for sure. It’s like saying I think your being pedantic, then defining pedantry when someone asks what a pedant was, but admitting that I don’t know for sure, meaning you could also be obtuse.

                  1. Well you don’t want to look into the guy’s heart, so there’s really no reason to speculate.

                    1. The biographers, historians, and writers of the world, who can’t even presume to know what goes on in a person’s mind, but still presume to explain anyway based on evidence, would like a word with you about why they are wasting their time.

                    2. NToJ owned, but wants to sputter like he wasn’t. It’s really less embarrassing for you if you admit mad_kalak more than adequately explained his two statements.

                      But never admit error!

              2. Cultural Christian (a paraphrase): Poorly catechized. Their beliefs about Jesus Christ are fuzzy and out of focus. They hold their beliefs in a sentimental haze in which they vaguely feel that what they believe is “Christian” but would not want to pin it down. They think we have matured and moved on from such nit picky sort of questions.

                That was basically my assumption of what you meant by that term. And I don’t think it describes Trump at all. He is an atheist; he has to be, because he worships only himself, and can’t admit the existence of someone better than him. He might know enough about society to use the label “Christian” to describe himself, but he holds no Christian beliefs of any sort. His favorite saying of Jesus’s is “An eye for an eye.”

          3. “I won’t pretend to look into his heart…”

            First, you don’t need to “look into” the President’s heart to know what he’s about. He is one of the most outspoken humans in history, due to the bully pulpit and twitter. Second, you look into people’s hearts all the time, ascribing motives to people you disagree with politically that are not apparent. Why are the President’s motives the only safe ones, to you?

            I don’t know what “cultural Christian” means if, in your opinion, the President is a cultural Christian. Does that mean you think he attends churches? Prays? Says “Merry Christmas”? All of the above? Something else?

            1. NToJ,

              I absolutely agree that there really is little reason to suspect Trump has a religious bone in his body. Everything he says, almost particularly when it comes to Christianity, screams amoral, irreligious. But cultural Christians are a thing and he probably fits in there. I think the whole point of “cultural” Christian is that they don’t really have any religious or metaphysical commitments consistent with Christianity, they just want to ingratiate themselves with people who do, in fact, hold those religious or metaphysical beliefs.

              I think saying Merry Christmas and eschewing Happy Holidays gets you in the door.

              1. President Trump is close to divinity, as compared to Pelosi.
                So defining Pelosi Religiosity, gives a value to measure against, to define President Trumps faith.

                1. Please. Pelosi has asked for forgiveness in her life. Trump brags he hasn’t. Pelosi has, to my knowledge, not violated her marriage vows to three different women. Pelosi has not been credibly accused of sexually assaulting over 10 people. Pelosi has not bragged about sexually assaulting women. Pelosi actually attends religious services, actually reads the bible, and can undoubtedly name, not just one favorite verse, but multiple verses. Yes, you can use Pelosi as a measuring stick for Trump’s religiosity. He still doesn’t measure up. Consider that.

          4. Trump also has done more to defend Israel as well.

            What I don’t understand about American Jews is exactly what part of “Kill the Jews” they can’t understand.

            1. Which part of “most American shouting ‘kill the Jews’ support Trump” don’t you understand?

            2. “What I don’t understand about American Jews is exactly what part of “Kill the Jews” they can’t understand.”

              Wow. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were upset that the Jewish people do not recognize you and Trump’s gracious magnanimousness for protecting them. But that can’t possibly right?

  2. Presumably Trump will get elected. After all, he already has George Floyd’s endorsement:

    “”Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying, ‘this is a great thing that’s happening for our country.’ This is a great day for him.””

    https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1268920167968444416

    1. Real hot take here by David – Sitting President of the United States might get reelected.

      1. I should note the even hotter part of the take – whether President gets reelected will depend on, in the next five months before election, who voters prefer more: President or his opponent. How are Bernstein’s opinions free?

        1. lol

      2. That’s the nice thing about secret ballots — the mob can’t attack you for voting as you please. And I’m thinking a Trump landslide…

        1. Really? Come on dude.

        2. If Trump instead loses in a landslide, will you admit that you don’t really understand much of anything about this country? Or will you start making stuff up about voter fraud?

    2. Actual transcript, not misleading left wing journalist:

      “Equal justice under the law must mean that every American receives equal treatment in every encounter with law enforcement, regardless of race, color, gender or creed, they have to receive fair treatment from law enforcement. They have to receive it. We all saw what happened last week. We can’t let that happen. Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying, “This is a great thing that’s happening for our country.” This is a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality. It’s really what our constitution requires and it’s what our country is all about.”

      What exactly is wrong with that?

      1. Yup. Much like MLK, if George Floyd were alive today, he’d be a Republican …

      2. For the record, I linked to the video, so I certainly didn’t mislead anyone.

        As for your final question, if that’s your response to that video, I really don’t know how to help you.

      3. What’s wrong with that? Let me give you an analogy: a Philosopher or Scientist professing a brilliant idea. Except that he is Jewish. In Weimar Germany.

        1. I don’t know what you’re trying to say, but I really hope you’re not comparing Trump to Jews in Weimar Germany.

          1. “The white man is the jew of liberal fascism” – actual quote from Jonah Goldberg in his best-selling book, lauded by the conservative intelligentsia (seriously), “Liberal Fascism.”

            Notably, Goldberg has now been alienated from the movement because he is no longer crazy enough …

            1. Yeah…conservative denial that they’re primary targets for fascist appeals is going to get them and us into trouble someday. Or maybe it already has.

  3. But seriously. America’s gotten to a place where even John Kelley thinks that electing an amoral ethical void of a man might not have been such a good idea:

    “I think we need to look harder at who we elect. I think we should look at people that are running for office and put them through the filter: What is their character like? What are their ethics?”

    https://twitter.com/kaitlancollins/status/1268927064905789440

    And yet he might still get re-elected because white people like David Bernstein can’t imagine why African-American’s might want to set the world on fire.

    1. Ever since Biden defeated Corn Pop at the local community pool, Joe has been considered the Emperor of Black People.

    2. I agree. We need to replace this old, white, loud, rude, incoherent, self-righteous man with Joe Biden!

      1. At least Biden has empathy. Or the ability to feign it. You won’t see him smiling after mass shootings or saying how recent murder victims would really be happy due to the fall in the unemployment rate.

        1. You misspelled “entropy”. Dementia is a terrible thing to witness in a loved one.

        2. I agree. Joe empathizes with the people, which is why he wants to disarm them and leave guns only for the valiant agents of the state!

          1. Who themselves are racist thugs and must be defunded.

      2. You forgot “handsy”

    3. “What is their character like? What are their ethics?”

      Joe Biden got punished in college for cheating and he crushed his 1988 campaign by plagerising a speech from a foreign politician. He routinely kisses, hugs and smells the hair of women in public settings. He was a star athlete in high school who suddenly developed “asthma” to dodge the draft. He let his son shamelessly trade on his being VP to get lucrative foreign contracts. He was the “Senator from MBNA” [a major credit card company] who led the effort to deny borrowers the ability to discharge such debts yet. He voted to make Robert E Lee a citizen again and openly brags about his friendship with racist senators.

      He is just a stupider version of Trump.

      1. One key difference is that Trump is a sadist, whereas Biden does not appear to be one. Trump openly revels in causing pain. Biden does not. I would rather have a stupid person with questionable morals who at least understands the need for morals and empathy than an outright immoral and sadistic man who is also extremely stupid.

        1. A sadist and a masochist are sitting at a bar.
          The masochist says “Hit me!” and the sadist calmly replies “No.”

        2. So you prefer a hypocrite.

          Trump is a lot smarter than Biden. Its ursine cunning, not book smart, but its real. Joey is just dumb.

          1. Frankly, yes. At least the hypocrite doesn’t encourage other people to behave immorally. And Republicans have supported them for years, and continue to do so. For instance they don’t seem to care that pro-life representative Scott DesJarlais pressured the patients he slept with into abortions. Biden’s hypocrisy is pretty mild compared to that.

            A hypocrite is less bad than someone who is an open and proud sadist. He enjoys inflicting pain. The fact that someone is proud of being an asshole actually does not make them less of an asshole and does not give them license to continue being an asshole. So yeah, I’d much rather have the hypocrite who shows the ability to be contrite than the proud asshole any day of the week.

        3. Do you evidence of this, or is this possibly projection.

          1. Biden finished 76th in a [third rate] law school class of 85.

            He used to claim he was in the top half though.

            https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1987-09-21-mn-6104-story.html

            1. No. He’s asking me if I have evidence Trump is a sadist.

              1. So he’s never seen Trump speak?

            2. Bob,

              You aren’t claiming Trump has been more honest about his academic record?

              https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2019/07/09/trump-overstated-academic-record-report-says

          2. It is not projection. I am incredibly anti-violence. I do not like seeing people in pain. Having experienced pain first hand, I do not enjoy anyone hurting. Trump on the other hand:

            Dec. 3, 2015 “The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families.” Trump has on numerous occasions stated his belief in torture.

            Trump has on numerous occasions praised police brutality.

            He has pardoned war criminals.

            He praised a Congressman for committing an assault.

            He praised the Chinese response to Tienanmen Square

            He revels in threats of force. He uses words like rough, tough, dominate, etc. He enjoys instilling fear and pain.

            He revels in the failures of others. He loves mocking the deceased.

            He routinely disregards others feelings by lobbing personal insult after insult. He goes after people’s looks and families. He called Ted Cruz’s wife ugly. He said Ted Cruz’s dad killed JFK.

            He deliberately used an unfortunate death to attack media figures against the wishes of the family. Indeed, he routinely disregards the feelings of others who have had loved ones who have died, whether it is a a respected politician, a gold star family, a solider in Nigeria, a mass shooting victim, a person murdered by an immigrant, or most recently a police brutality victim.

            Then there are the people he admires: Kim Jong Un, a brutal dictator, the Saudi Royal Family, al Sisi, Bolsonaro, etc.

            At home he appoints openly cruel people like Stephen Miller.

            He gave the Medal of Freedom to a man who once compared a 12 year old girl to a dog on national TV. He retweets and supports racists like Katie Hopkins.

            Then there are all the accusations of sexual assault he has.

            Only someone who enjoys hurting people would say the things he says, advocate the positions he does, and do the things that he does. He is obsessed and fascinated with force, violence, insults, and demeaning people. When a person tells you who they are, believe them.

      2. So a second election with two miserable choices. The most solid argument for the article’s thesis.

        1. Why on earth do you link Biden would be so miserable? I think he’ll surround himself with perfectly adequate people.
          (If Trump had surrounded himself with reasonable and honorable people, he’d be seen as having a much more successful presidency. He chose to pick super-corrupt people–generally speaking–after running an entire campaign on draining the swamp.) I think Biden’s White House will be far cleaner than what Trump has proven to us that he was willing to do. And we know that his son will be a million miles away from any position of power…for God’s sake; Trump has his totally-unqualified daughter and totally-unqualified son-in-law entrenched as some of the most powerful voices in his administration! It reads as a bad joke…but it’s our reality.

          1. Trump’s other sons are major surrogates that people take seriously for some unknown reason. But unfortunately, Beau Biden passed away as did his eldest daughter Naomi back in 1972. You’re right that Hunter will definitely be a no show around the office given recent events. And despite being a social worker and activist, Ashley Biden keeps a relatively low profile. So we at least won’t have immediate family corruption.

          2. “Why on earth do you link (sic) Biden would be so miserable?”

            Like any politician of long tenure, Biden has more than enough in his history to criticize, even condemn. But no serious person believes that all the acts of dishonesty, malfeasance, incompetence, and immorality committed by Biden in his >40 years in the public eye, aggregated into one neat pile aren’t swamped into insignificance by a typical week in the life of Donald Trump. The notion that there’s any kind of equivalence is beyond risible.

            So why do they think Biden would be so miserable? They don’t. Their opinion has nothing to do with Biden, who on balance, is a decent man, the worst thing about whom can be said is that he’s a gaffe machine, and even in that regard he’s Churchillian next to Trump. So, again, why? Simply because he’s a Democrat, and these people are tribal absolutists. If Ronald Reagan came back and ran as a Democrat, they’d say he’s a worse person than Trump. They’ve abandoned all principle and shame for the sake of owning the libs.

    4. “why African-American’s might want to set the world on fire”

      Fake news. It’s white supremacist agents provocateurs doing the arson and looting in an attempt to discredit the movement and precipitate a race war.

      You fell for the right-wing talking points. Sad!

    5. All candidates or just the Republicans?

      I’m old enough to remmeber when Mitt Romney ran for President. The media labled him devil incarnate. GW Bush was literally Hitler.
      There is not a single republican the left will not smear, nor is there a single Democrat that is not on the short list, for Saint Hood.

      1. World record for number of lies per word in a single post.

        Impressive.

    6. “And yet he might still get re-elected because white people like David Bernstein can’t imagine why African-American’s might want to set the world on fire.”

      I missed where David said that. Or where he mentioned any particular race, creed or color. African-Americans aren’t generally thought of as “swing voters.”

    1. Ya think?

      1. I gotta find a better place to hang out.

        1. If you do, please let us know.

          1. It may not be a political message board.

            You get invested in a community like it’s something you have control over, but you don’t.

            It’s not even the unmoderated comentariat, it’s the thought leaders.
            Intellectual discourse on both sides keeps getting fringier and fringier at the moment, which kinda makes me feel like I’m failing to convince, despite how ridiculous that idea is.

            Though I don’t know how else I’d take breaks at work. This used to be a great place to let my brain idle between tasks. It still does that, but now it’s not as fun.

            1. The disintegration of the middle is a thing, but I don’t want to believe it’s as severe or irretrievable as the state of this comment section suggests. Not that I expect to find another early days VC. Too many of the factors that nurtured that chemistry are gone forever. And to be fair, there was always a fringe element. But it used to be so overwhelmed by rational voices on both sides that in context it was entertaining. But what it’s turned into here isn’t cute any more.

              The cultural forces driving people apart notwithstanding, there must be someplace on the internet where people discuss topical subjects without the weapons grade batshittery and bloodlust that’s come to define this place. Like you (though maybe for different reasons?) I prefer a right-leaning board. But I’d suppress my irritation at people I agree with being dopes if the closest thing to a balanced, genial discussion happened to be left leaning.

              1. Haha I do not equate Internet message boards with people generally.

                But either through a change in myself or in the baseline, I cannot find a place like the VC was in the late 2000’s and first half of the 2010s.

                I’ve found liberal message boards, but I’m a partisan contrarian and when they get dumb it’s just alienating and uncomfortable.

                Part of it must be the death of heavy moderation. But as I noted, a lot of it is driven by the bloggers themselves, not their commenters. I don’t see much of that anymore. When I see stuff on the VC I coulda seen on Free Republic in 2012, I don’t quite know what to think. Or do.

                Not that I despair; this is not my only outlet, and is still a good time with smaller doses of posting (similar to your deal, I’d say).

                1. We see that pretty much eye to eye.

                  If you do pull back it may be the final nail in this forum’s coffin for me. Not only do you nearly single-handedly hold the tin foil crowd accountable, but — and of course this is entirely lost on them — you’re remarkably non-tribal and good-natured about it. In short, I disapprove in advance of any reduction in your participation.

                  I suppose an argument might be made that you’re entitled to do what you want with your time, but having come out of a career in BigLaw, I’ve never understood that argument.

  4. A more honest opening statement would have been, “…he lacks the temperament and judgment to be president, according to my personal inclinations and picture of what a president should be.”

    On the other hand, to use a quote attributed to Lincoln anent General Grant, “…this man fights.”

    1. The journalism industry is morally bankrupt. It has never been about what Trump is doing as President but the criticism from the media is how Trump is acting as President. Style over substance but at least Obama was a cool hip black man.

    2. Being catty on Twitter does not make a man a fighter.

      1. No, but not caving when the left went apeshit with Kavenaugh is, nor, say, how he stayed true on that Russia impeachment farce by outing the previous administration for the political sin of spying on an opponent’s campaign…etc. etc. etc.

        Twitter is just one of the places where, due to the media’s reluctance to play it straight with him, he can sound off his opinions.

      2. Not a fighter?

        Identify a single human that would have survived, let along thrived, under the assualt waged against President Trump. Understand that no matter which Republican would have been elected, the exact same attack would have been launched by the FBI/IC/DoJ/State dept.. And not a single Republican would have fought back. Not the way the President has.

        1. Not a fighter?

          Correct. You confuse being a bully with being a fighter. He’s a coward, a/k/a the thing he brags about grabbing. He bluffs, he talks big. He doesn’t fight.

          Identify a single human that would have survived, let along thrived, under the assualt waged against President Trump

          No “assualt” (let alone assault) was waged on him in the first place.

    3. It’s a rhetorical device. Even if you accept the opening statement, he shows the clear and explicit lies that have been thrown against Trump from pretty much the day he got into office.

      I think this is the wrong format for this sort of post. It seems better suited to Facebook, or a meme. A news site is better for long-form entries.

  5. Trump may get reelected because he was elected the first time; because of voter suppression and intimidation tactics; and because he is the incumbent who has not only the traditional benefits of incumbency but also an AG who appears ready and willing to use the DOJ to Trump’s maximum value.

    1. OtisAH, you could well be speaking about Obama. I presume I did not I wake up on some sort of Star Trek parallel universe where you are your ideological opposite (and if so, where is Spock with the goatee?)

      1. No, I couldn’t. And I wasn’t.

        1. Of course you weren’t, but despite your protests, you actually could have been.

    2. Voter suppression and intimidation tactics. That old canard again. It’s a lie that you tell as you suck your thumb at bedtime.

      1. When will children and undocumented Americans be allowed to vote via Twitter or Facebook Live?

    3. “voter suppression and intimidation tactics”

      Yawn. Maybe get some new writers.

    4. “The Russians, General. Don’t forget the Russians.”

      1. So many memorable lines and scenes in that movie.

  6. His opponent voted for all those anti-crime bills, all those wars, the civil asset forfeiture system, 3 strikes, etc.

    Versus Trump who achieved the lowest black unemployment ever and led the way on historic justice system reform in the First Step Act.

    Trump also defeated ISIS and we just signed a peace agreement with the Taliban after 18 years of fighting.

    But keep talking about “temperament”. Because negative emotions and status anxiety matter and achievements apparently don’t.

    1. That low black unemployment and overall economy was a continuation of a trend going back to Obama. So the best you can say is that Trump did not screw it up. But that has all been wiped out anyhow. The First Step Act was quite modest, and the Trump Justice Department continues to oppose releasing people under that act. ISIS defeat was long in the making, and he signed an agreement with the Taliban mostly by giving them what they want.

      1. – No president ever achieved those employment numbers before. If Trump can do it once, why not twice? (No one knows the future, of course.)

        – If presidents don’t get any credit for economic conditions after 3 years, then you’re saying it’s irrelevant who we elect because the economy is random and policies make no difference. Plus then Obama gets zero credit for the economic recovery in 2009-2011 — just another random thing that happened.

        – If the First Step Act is so “modest”, where was it on Obama’s list of achievements? Or any of the Presidents before Obama? Is America so strongly united on everything that we routinely achieve beyond-modest reforms?

        – ISIS conflict was long when Obama was in charge, short when Trump was in charge. ISIS got going under Obama and Trump cleaned up the mess.

        – You want to keep fighting the Taliban for 18 more years? Why?

        1. “No president ever achieved those employment numbers before. If Trump can do it once, why not twice? (No one knows the future, of course.)”

          It does raise some important issues. How did the President achieve these numbers? Did he do it with tax cuts accompanied by no spending cuts? Is artificially juicing the economy with money borrowed from future people a good idea? Maybe one reason no other President has achieved those numbers before is because it’s a fucking bad idea? We could have 0% unemployment, I bet, with enough tax relief and stimulus. (I’m not being fair to the President, anyway, since so much of tax cuts and stimulus require a lot of other people involved, too.)

          1. Borrowing money from the future seems to alternately be called no big deal and then disastrous depending who gets to spend the money and take the credit. Every president and congress does it though. I think it will ultimately be at least near-disastrous. But every president and congress still does it and will still do it until then.

            Only one president achieved record low black unemployment though.

            1. “Every president and congress does it though.”

              No they don’t. In my lifetime the budget was balanced.

              1. Newt Gingrich. You should drop him a note to thank him.

                1. I was very thankful to the Republican Congress for holding the line on spending, and was also thankful to them (and President Clinton) on not using a boom period as a pointless excuse to cut taxes. It was a great moment in American political compromise. In hindsight, balancing the budget may be the greatest compromise political event of my lifetime. Raising taxes and cutting spending during a boom isn’t popular but it’s fucking responsible. And it is exactly what economists recommend, and what you would expect adults to do.

                  Your reaction says a lot. You go into the comment assuming that I’m incapable of giving credit to (what you think) are my political opponents. You’re wrong in a lot of ways. Fiscally conservative Republicans have never been my political enemies. I’ve voted for Republicans, including for President. Several times. I voted for Republican Senators and Representatives after the 1996 tax and welfare reform. More importantly, I’m perfectly happy to thank and congratulate my political opponents when they do things I agree with. I don’t engage with the world in your brand of absolute tribalism to such a degree that it would make it impossible–or even surprising for that matter–to make such concessions.

                  1. NToJ,

                    Exactly right. I agree with everything you said. And, like you, I have voted for Republicans at all levels (including Senate and President), even if I more frequently vote Democratic.

                    Extreme tribalism is a major problem of our time.

                    On the deficit, the data is unequivocal. Democratic Presidents are better, just as they are on free trade. Republicans give lip service to it, but have no stomach to actually do something about it when in power. They will, however, put pressure on a Democratic President, which is one reason the Democrats all have better numbers than Republicans on the deficit.

              2. Not unless you’re older than me, and I’m approaching retirement. Using the accounting practices required of the private sector, the federal government hasn’t run a surplus since shortly after WWII.

                It’s commonly claimed that the government ran a surplus several years during the Clinton administration, but that was what is known as a “primary surplus”, which doesn’t count money spent to pay interest on debt, among other things. In normal accounting terms, there was a deficit every one of those years.

                1. “…but that was what is known as a “primary surplus”, which doesn’t count money spent to pay interest on debt…”

                  What’s your source for this? The CBO has all the historical outlays here. The Total Outlays (Table H-3) has Net Interest which is “government’s interest payments on federal debt offset by its interest income.” The Outlays figure on Table H-1 for surplus years correspondences to the Outlays figures on Table H-3, which includes Net Interest on debt. And yet we still see surpluses.

                  Since 1974 we’ve had a “primary surplus” over a dozen times. But we did have actual surpluses in FY 1999 and 2000, even after factoring in interest on the debt.

                  But it really doesn’t matter whether we’re $1 over or $1 under the budget. For long-term planning, anything that keeps deficits low is great, since it reduces the future burden of interest payments. The more you borrow today, the more you will have to pay (in interest) tomorrow. If deficits are low enough, expected GDP growth can outpace interest. So you can have perpetual deficit spending while simultaneously interest as a percent of GDP goes down. But that can only happen if GDP growth over some period of time outpaces deficit spending. The beauty of the 1997-2000 fiscal responsibility was that it makes future budget balancing easier, since the interest we don’t pay later on money borrowed in the past is basically found money in the future.

                  1. It is so pleasant to see facts and reasonable argument rather than partisan carping and refusal to acknowledge even basic facts if those facts don’t align with one’s political commitments.

                    Thanks, NToJ, for consistently being one of the most reasonable posters on this site.

              3. for 1 year. Not overall for any congress or any presidency. Unless you’re 100 years old.

                1. As Brett pointed out, it depends how you measure it. If it’s primary surplus, it’s happened over a dozen times. One reason to use primary surplus–besides misleading the public–is because the Republican Congress that balanced the budget didn’t necessarily cause the previous debt that they had to pay interest on. So did those Republican Congresses in the mid-to-late 90s secure sufficient revenues to pay for the expenses they approved (as opposed to what some prior Congress had spent)? Yes. They did. We shouldn’t ignore the interest, but in terms of keeping their house in order, the 1997-2000 balanced budgets (“primary surplus”) reflected a fiscally responsible decision to authorize spending below receipts. We shouldn’t punish the merely “primary surplus” years (1997, 1998, as examples) that were really true deficits due to the profligate spending of decades of Democrats and Republicans that came before. I don’t have any idea what budgets Newt Gingrich voted on from 1979-1995, but assuming he tried but failed to keep spending down before taking up as speaker, I’m disinclined to blame him (or others) for merely barely breaking even. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.

            2. And, please, compare every administration. The Democrats are always better on the debt.

              Nixon was far worse than Johnson, Ford was even worse than Nixon. In percentage terms, Carter was better than Ford. He was slightly worse (25-33% higher) in terms of nominal spending.

              Reagan was far, far worse than Carter by any standard. George H.W. Bush was marginally better than Reagan in percentage terms, but in nominal terms, he did nearly as much damage in four years as Reagan did in eight.

              Clinton balanced the budget and, in both percentage and nominal dollars, contributed less to the debt in eight years than H.W. did in four (or than Reagan did in eight).

              George W. Bush, obviously wanting to make the GOP proud, more than doubled the national debt and contributed more in nominal dollars, obviously, than everyone before him added together.

              Obama inherited a trillion dollar per year deficit and the Great Recession but had far, far lower deficit spending in percentage terms than George W. Bush, but in nominal terms he contributed more. Bush handed him trillion dollar deficits and his last budget proposed a $600 billion deficit (prior year was about that).

              Trump came in and, instead of the proposed $600 billion deficit, signed the “biggest tax cuts ever” juicing the by roughly $100 billion more for that year. Despite the “greatest economy ever” Trump continued increasing the deficit every year such that we were running trillion dollar deficits in “the greatest economy ever.” And, obviously, by the end of his term, he will have added nearly as much to the debt in four years as Obama did in eight. And is leaving his successor a damaged budget that projects trillion dollar per year deficits as far as the eye can see. (Next year’s is already projected at $2 trillion.)

              Trump, as he managed to do with casinos (!), has bankrupted us. And he did it in the “greatest economy ever”, as if the longest expansion in history, which he inherited from Obama, wouldn’t end at some point. Utter incompetence. But, actually, it’s worse than that. He doesn’t actually care about the good of the country, his only goal was to artificially juice the economic numbers to dupe people like Ben into believing he is an economic genius who can “do it again.”

              Trump put us in as weak an economic as it was possible to do leading into the coronavirus catastrophe (even if we naively assume he didn’t make that catastrophe worse than it had to be). Rather than using the good times to reign in the deficit, he understood that he could take credit for a “great” economy and, for his gullible base, blame the budget disaster on others and forces beyond his control. If you are honest, Trump owns the fact that we are crossing a debt-GDP ratio that threatens utter economic chaos and political upheaval.j

              Again, went from $600 billion to $1 trillion deficits during the “best economy ever” and now he’s pushing a $4 trillion deficit…in a single year.

              If you care about economics or the Constitution, you should put in office someone who actually cares about the country and its continued economic health. Trump is obviously not that person.

              1. Yep, partisans can spin stuff however they want alright.

                1. Don’t be so hard on yourself!

                  1. What do you mean? It’s simply a fact that US Presidents and Congresses haven’t balanced budgets in general for 50+ years. There’s one minor, temporary exception during an economic bubble that doesn’t change anything.

                    Why are you dishonestly pretending otherwise? No one is fooled. Don’t you get tired of playing dishonest games? WTF is the point?

                    1. The historical data on Presidents and Congress and spending deficits is public record. The CBO has been publishing it since 1962. We can track years where it’s very low (<1% of GDP), low (1-3%), medium (3-5%) and high (5%+). Because of the large variance, it just not the case that every president and every congress has spent to the same degree. You know this but continue to insist otherwise. The worst offenders have historically been Republican presidents. Not because they are evil, but because Republican presidential candidates love to promise tax cuts that neuter revenues, and aren't averse to spending.

                      The eye-opening stat is that revenues generally go up. Not because times are always good, but because the country is increasing in size, and so as GDP grows, revenues grow. And GDP generally grows. Since 1962, federal revenues have decreased only a few times. Some of it is attributable to economic downturns. Others are tied directly to tax cuts by Nixon, Reagan, and W Bush. (While simultaneously doing nothing to curb spending.)

                      The flip side of that equation are outlays. When have they gone down? From 1964 to present:

                      1964-65
                      2009-10
                      2011-12
                      2012-13

                      Balanced budgets are a solvable problem. It takes a lot of effort to take on huge deficits, even in bad economic times. We've seen presidents/congresses increase taxes, we've seen them cut spending, but rarely have we seen them do both. But it's not some fucking mystery to solve. If we want balanced budgets, we have to increase taxes and cut spending.

                    2. Ben,

                      “There’s one minor, temporary exception during an economic bubble….”

                      NToJ has already responded as effectively as possible. But it is important to see that when a President and Congress are both under pressure to make a difference, they can. When voters completely ignore their party’s profligate ways, you end up with Trump and absolutely runaway deficit spending during “the best economy ever.” If the only explanation for that “one minor, temporary exception” was a great economy, then why did deficits explode under Trump and a Republican Congress during “the best economy ever”? You seem to think deficits are random. They aren’t. They just require partisans like you to stop being so partisan and hold your party to account instead of relying on the myth (as shown by the stats) that Democrats will necessary have bigger deficits.

                    3. OK. Good plan. It might work 1-2 years out of 50 or 60. You can keep making excuses for your team and condemning the other team for the same deficit spending.

                      Partisans are unbelievably tedious

                    4. Ben,

                      Obviously, the deficit spending is not the same with every administration. You telling yourself that is the problem. There is a definite difference between Republican Presidents and Democratic Presidents, with deficit spending always being less when a Democratic President is in office.

              2. You should tell black folks to remain unemployed to help the debt-to-GDP ratio.

                1. So, in addition to being racist, you are economically illiterate? Unemployment makes GDP worse which makes debt to GDP worse. Hello?

                  1. Sure. Not much reason to talk to completely tedious partisans. Go plague someone else.

                    1. You ARE a completely tedious partisan. I should spend my time talking to people who can acknowledge facts rather than run from them.

                    2. D deficits don’t matter, R deficits cause disaster. Oh no!!!! Because [bullshit rationalizations]. That’s why it’s not worth listening.

                    3. Ben,

                      You are mistaken. It was Dick Cheney who said deficits don’t matter.

                      Serious politicians understand that they do matter. Republicans have the vote of people like you who (a) care about deficits and (b) believe Democrats don’t, so Republicans follow the playbook you propose. Democrats don’t say a lot about the deficit, certainly not as much, but they have a freer political hand to do something about it because they are trusted not to be cutting deficits on the backs of the poor and middle class.

                      The irony is, as so often, Republicans are the profligate spenders they accuse the Democrats of being. (Though, yes, they all have incentive to borrow and spend. But the incentive is greater for Republicans because they have been so good at tarring the Democrats as the “tax and spend” party.)

                      Like on free trade, Republicans talk the talk, but are generally much more protectionist when it comes to walking the walk. Democrats don’t demagogue on free trade, partly because they have a lot of protectionist (Bernie type) voters. However, in practice, they are generally pro-free trade. Again, Clinton and Obama were both more free trade than W. and Trump. The reasons are the same: free trade is good for the country, so Democratic presidents will enter such deals. Republicans try to peel off Democratic/Independent voters with protectionist policies or give handouts to their reliable voters. (George W. tariffs for NC votes, Trump tariffs for farmers, etc.).

                    4. If you don’t believe that BS and are repeating it anyway, you’re an ***hole. If you do believe it you’re pathetic.

                      D deficits add up the same as R deficits.

                      And, of course, you’re there’s the role of congress. But you’re pushing a ridiculous double standard, and it’s already a Swiss cheese of phony rationalizations even without considering Congress. What a complete tool.

                    5. Ben,

                      “D deficits add up the same as R deficits”

                      No. They don’t.

                      It’s just counterfactual.

                      Congress does play a role. D-President plus R-Congress (definitely the lowest deficits); D-President plus D-Congress (tends to be second lowest); R-President plus D-Congress or R-President plus R-Congress (I am not sure the data really supports calling one worse than the other.)

                      The dynamic at work: A Democratic President is a single person who, historically, has actually cared about the good of the country and can make compromises with a Republican Congress that, with a D President, can help force some politically difficult choices. So the R’s push for lower deficits because they know most of the blame for any pain will be on the D President and they want lower deficits for the good of the country. The D President does because of the leverage the R Congress has and being able to place some of the blame on the R Congress (“my hands were tied”) and the President wants lower deficit for the good of the country. Both sides know the recent (since the 1980s) debt trajectory is not sustainable (although more modest deficits are fine).

                      But when there is an R President, D Congresses have been more likely to prioritize directing spending to things they like in exchange for letting an R President spend on things he likes and the R-Presidents have all chosen to make the bargain to spend more on D-things to also be able to spend more on R-things. D-President and D-Congress aren’t really any better because voters don’t like being told no to spending or tax cuts (though at least Ds show some spine on the latter because they know increasing spending and cutting taxes is disaster. When there is an R-President and R-Congress…well, spending and borrowing goes completely off the rails because the R’s aren’t willing to tell voters they can’t have everything they want including both increasingly bloated budgets and further tax cuts to “pay” for it. In fact, R’s trip over themselves taking credit for all the spending (Trump name on checks, farmer welfare checks, etc., etc.) while pretending their tax cuts will pay for it.

                      So, it’s not because R’s are bad people or D’s are good people (generally, some of each are bad, some of each are good). It’s the incentives at play. D-Presidents and R-Congresses each have an incentive to rein in deficits when there is a D-President and an R-Congress. Other combinations have less anti-deficit incentives all the way around.

                    6. Double standards need long rationalizations. Keep writing, longer and longer.

                      It’s all in the service of saying the good economy and low black unemployment … well nevermind any of that. Quick partisan pivot to the deficit. The deficit, which was never a problem between Jan 2009 and Dec 2016, now matters more than jobs.

                    7. There is no double standard. You are just making things up. I cared about the deficit in all years prior to 2016, so stop making things up.

                      NToJ made a salient point about how Trump kept the Obama recovery going: with deficit spending. You argued with him about the deficit. I chimed in on the deficit. There is no pivot, except now you want to pivot back to “the good economy and low black unemployment.” Which just raises NToJ’s point about how Trump managed to continue the trends that started under Obama: deficit spending and lowering taxes to increase the deficit even more.

                      You want to talk in jingos rather than actually engage.

                      You ARE a completely tedious partisan, uninterested in actually discussing the issues. Goodbye.

    2. Versus Trump who achieved the lowest black unemployment ever

      Conservatives used to understand that government doesn’t create jobs.

      and led the way on historic justice system reform in the First Step Act.

      In what way did he “lead the way” on this? You know that words have meaning, right?

  7. There is little question Trump will try to tear down Biden by painting him as an extremist. Given Trump’s miserable approval ratings, it’s likely his only chance.

    1. I agree. It’s kinda like how Romney, the moderate’s moderate, was given the 3rd degree this way by Obama?

      I would love a sorta 1992ish election, about economic policies and who checks their watch during a debate and who lies more about smoking dope and boinking mistresses.

      1. Obama’s net approval rating (approval minus disapproval) was about zero. Trump’s is about -10.

        1. “Obama’s net approval rating (approval minus disapproval) was about zero. Trump’s is about -10.”

          This is probably the most salient point. People are flinging their biases back and forth here, but at the end of the day, it’s the votes that matter.

          1. It’s not the vote that matters. The vote that matters happens in November. And in November 2020, like in 2016, I am likely to vote, thinking ‘Holy SH!t, how are these my choices?’ Many think it Trump is a terrible person. Mayhap he is. Many think Biden is a terrible person. Mayhap he is. One of them is almost certainly going to be president (health and Torricelli option being the most likely reasons someone else is sworn in in Jan 2021).

      2. Tbf, it was a little odd that Romney ran on a platform where his No. 1 priority was to repeal Romneycare.

      3. Martinned, Romney was not an ideal candidate from the GOP, but he won the process because the voters were told by the party elite that only a moderate had a chance of winning against Obama (and he was lucky not to have any serious competition).

        Josh…while approval ratings matter in the abstract, actual votes do (at least for elections, which is what the OP was making this thread about).

        1. I thought the point of the OP was that Trump is unpopular and his only chance of winning is to make his opponent more unpopular. And, I agree with that analysis.

        2. “Romney was not an ideal candidate from the GOP, but he won the process because the voters were told by the party elite that only a moderate had a chance of winning against Obama (and he was lucky not to have any serious competition).”

          s/Romney/Biden/g
          s/GOP/DEM/g
          s/Obama/Trump/g

          And there ya go, the reason Trump will win: because we always fight the last war, and learn the wrong lessons from our enemies.

    2. approval ratings? The ones where President Trump is equal to, or higher than Obama at the same point of the Presidency?

  8. Why Trump might get re-elected.

    1. Trump been hard on China. Biden is soft on China. People think China’s to blame for the corona virus.

    2. People don’t like lockdowns. Democrats and liberal governors have been very pro-lockdown. Trump’s been working on letting businesses open up.

    3. As the lockdown lifts, the economy may boom back, helping everyone.

    4. Those more religiously inclined have viewed how Joe and the Liberals treat religion (as opposed to the protests). Those who want to defend religion and their religious rights understand the need for Trump.

    1. Would number 4 include the Archbishop of DC and the Episcopal Bishop of DC?

      1. When the Democrats in government somehow think that it’s just fine to have restaurants serve meals in restaurants to people in person, but also simultaneously think banning communion in Christian Masses is appropriate because of COVID-19 risks.

        Something’s gone very wrong with the liberal-group think.

        Meanwhile the Governor of Michigan violates her own social distancing order again….

        1. I could say the same about conservative group-think, thinking it is just swell to use government force for Richard III style photo-ops co-opting religious spaces over the objections of religious leaders themselves.

          Also, they literally forced a rector from their church.

          1. I must admit, that the mental imagery of a “Richard III style photo-op” is a good one. Shakespeare did not do him justice though, he was not that bad, but his version would do photo-ops.

            That said, do you feel the same way about the silly Obama and Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen photo-op on the beach during Deepwater Horizon? It was about as stupid as the Trump photo-op. But at least for me, Trump’s signaled he would go to bad for religion. The extreme left has a particular antipathy towards Christianity and Judaism (but not Buddishm or Mohammedanism or Hinduism) and I’m not a Hindu.

            1. Trump largely has gone to bat for religion.

              Liberals are going and taking down license plates and issuing fines and jail sentences for those who would open a small religious service… Meanwhile, large protests are A-OK (but only the right sort of protest).

            2. The Obama photo-op that nobody remembers? And nobody remembers it, being silly or otherwise, because he didn’t violently push previously peaceful protestors out of the way so he could have the photo-op, including firing pepper pellets and smoke canisters at them or put in an order that resulted in an Australian news crew being assaulted by federal agents.

              Even if surveying the scene of a disaster is a “silly” photo-op. Every President does that, including Trump throwing paper towels at disaster survivors in Puerto Rico. But somehow using force to clear a public park of peaceful protestors in order to stand in front of a church (not inspect it, not even say something about Jesus and loving your neighbor) and awkwardly hold a bible is viewed differently by such staunch liberals as Generally Kelly and General Mattis. What wusses, huh?

              So, yeah, Trump’s phot-op was pretty much exactly the same as Obama walking on an already largely empty beach to be seen looking at the results of an oil spill.

              1. Hey, I’m not a nobody. heh. Though in 10 years, only some hard core news junkies will remember the Trump bible photo op. Be fair, there was lots of commentary on Obama’s silly oil spill photo op.

                1. I think it’s the salient moment of the protests so far.

                  1. “the” salient moment? Huh, I figured it was all the idiots taking a knee or the bleeding body of Mr. Dorn.

                2. Did former senior members of Obama’s administration or of his cabinet speak out against Obama for (wait, what constitutional rights or even sense of decency did he violate by walking on an empty, oil-stained beach getting his picture taken?) that photo-op? Heck, forget whether any prominent Democrats spoke out. Did any Republican Senators chastise Obama for violating America’s fundamental values, constitutional principles, or even decency for the Deep Horizon photo-op?

                  Be fair. The only resemblance between the two is that both involved Presidents in photos.

              2. “including firing pepper pellets and smoke canisters at them ”

                You need to keep up, there was no gas used.

                For the record, I care not for Trump. But let’d be accurate – attack him for the things he’s done and not for products of the imagination. It’s not like there’s a dearth of pertinent real outrageous things he’s done…

                1. Jmaie,

                  Three days after the U.S. Park Police claimed that tear gas was never used on protesters outside the White House, the organization’s spokesman acknowledged that the chemical agents shot into the largely peaceful crowd have similar painful effects.
                  A spokesman for the Park Police said in an interview with Vox that his agency regretted using the term “tear gas,” noting that officers threw pepper balls containing an irritant powder and chemical agents that are designed to produce tears. Their use causes people to experience difficulty breathing and burning sensations on the skin.

                  I said pepper pellets (pellet, ball, meh). How about read what I wrote? So you are the one who needs to keep up, the Park Police admitted that’s what they used.

                  1. I stand corrected.

                    1. You are a gentleman.

          2. ahem, that should read “go to BAT”. Funny error actually.

    2. The religious angle has yet to fully play out. I think the Democrats are really going to regret how they trashed Christians during the lockdowns. They overplayed their hand for what seemed to be no appreciable reason (except to use authority). That might translate to a lot of votes for Trump come November.

      1. Christians, Jews, even Muslims….

      2. Until they’re reminded that they forced a priest from their church for a photo-op….

        1. “Their church”

          Are you sure about that?

          1. Well the rector is presumably a member of the Church, and goes there more than Trump. So it is almost certainly their church, in the same way the one you go to is your church.

            1. Yeah…that’s what I thought….

              They’re a rector…but not the rector of that particular church. But of a completely different church, with the same name… So, when they forced the rector away from the church (where she was assisting the protestors), she had to…go back to the church was she was ACTUALLY a rector…

              You ever get tired of the wordplay?

        2. An Episcopalian. Trump friendly religious don’t care about such creatures.

          1. Ah of course. I forget that Trump friendly religious people are mostly Real Christians™ with a smattering of Christian-certified Real Jews.™

            1. “Real Jews.™”

              Yes, Trump does get significant [though probably still minority] support from Orthodox and Haradim.

              1. Reformed Jews, like myself, are real Jews too and we support Joe Biden!

                1. Yeah, real Reformed (sic) Jews like yourself support bullshit.

                  There’s no such thing as a Reformed Jew. Troll better.

              2. Oh boy. The gentile Jew police are here again. You and Brett ever go down to the Conservative or Reform synagogues and tell them they aren’t actually Jewish?

                1. I belong to a Conservative synagogue myself. My wife’s family helped found one of the shuls which merged into it.

                  You?

                  1. I sincerely apologize. I should not have assumed. I shouldn’t have made a flippant remark.

                    I am not Jewish. I was raised Catholic but left the church for a wide variety of reasons, and am an atheist more or less.

                    But I do not like the idea of anyone, particularly non-Jews, telling my Jewish friends or any other Jews that they aren’t really Jewish because of their politics. I find it a particularly odious sentiment. So I called it out. But I will be more circumspect in the future with my generalizations.

              3. The Modern Orthodox will support Biden.

                1. “Modern Orthodox will support Biden”

                  Yes, that is consistent with my “[though probably still minority]”.

    3. Trump’s approval ratings on handling coronavirus started out OK, and have steadily gone downhill, now matching his overall approval ratings (not good at all).

      1. “overall approval ratings (not good at all).”

        His favorability [very to similar to approval] rating on November 1, 2016 was 37%. Still won. Its higher now.

        He has to roll a 7-10 split again but you never know.

        1. He won because 1) Clinton was almost as unpopular, and 2) the electoral college (Trump lost the popular vote by about what you would expect based on the candidates’ favorability ratings.

          Right now, Biden’s favorability ratings are much better than Clinton’s.

          1. Are Joe’s favorability ratings really much better than Clinton’s?

            Right now, Joe is in the mid 40s for favorability. He’s got maybe 3 points on Trump. I mean, maybe Joe has 5 points on Clinton (compared to where she was in may/june 2016).

            But it’s not alot.

            1. Biden is just below net zero (favorable minus unfavorable) and Clinton was between -10 and -15.

          2. Right now Biden is so invisible he’s effectively a generic Democrat. And those always poll better than real Democrats.

            At some point he has to actually resume campaigning, and even, yes, share a debate stage with Trump. I expect that to be pretty brutal, even if they give him the questions in advance, would he remember them?

            1. Brett. You cannot seriously be this willfully ignorant about Trump’s ability on a stage. Don’t you ever listen to him talk? It’s all over the place. All the slurred words and rambling digressions peppered with insults and ridiculous musings? He’s not going to look more mentally fit than Biden.

              1. Have you seen Biden lately?

                1. Yes. I’ve also seen Trump the last three years.

        2. “Its higher now.”

          It’s slightly higher than the presidents who have lost their reelection campaigns recently (HW Bush and Carter) and slightly (Obama) to significantly lower (Clinton, Reagan) to the presidents who won reelection.

          I think he’s still going to win. His margin for error is the largest object in the universe.

          1. I wouldn’t characterize Trump’s approval ratings as being “slightly” lower than Obama’s if that label is meant to imply Trump has anything more than a long shot chance to win (absent Biden’s favorability coming down). But perhaps, it is only “slightly” lower in the sense that Trump has a chance to improve on his numbers. The problem for Trump is there is no evidence that he can improve on those numbers.

            1. Slightly lower at 6% (as of today). Maybe that’s charitable, but I was trying to draw a distinction between 2-3%, 6%, and double digits.

              There’s another variable here, namely his disapproval, leading to his net approval. President Obama’s net approval was about 1% this time into his first term, the President’s is about -11% today. President W Bush was -5.8%. Presidents Clinton and Reagan were around 15-16%. The President’s current net approval looks much more like HW Bush and Carter than it does like the people who won.

              History isn’t a promise. And he may not need to improve his numbers, only murder Biden’s. Maybe someone will find his private email server at just the right moment. There’s also a lot of very simple shit the President could do to juice his numbers a few percentage points. Believable contrition, accountability, etc. aren’t going to convince anybody on the hard left, but he could peel off a few independents. And the economy could rebound better than expected.

        3. Why care about Joes poll numbers?

          You can’t seriously believe he will be the candidate.

          It has nothing to do with politics, Joe is in steady cognitive decline. To anyone that has watched a parent slide into dementia, the signs or indisputable.

          1. Anyone who focuses on Biden’s cognitive abilities while ignoring Trump’s cognitive abilities makes me wonder about that poster’s, well, cognitive abilities.

            1. Trump is stupid.

              Biden…well…best pick the Biden’s VP candidate very carefully.

              1. Agreed. But the names floated around so far (eg, Stacey Abrams, Kamala Harris) are extremely bright and cognitively unimpaired people…even in areas where I disagree with their policy choices or their philosophies. I thought Mike Pence had integrity (Okay, I was wrong there.) But he was a great pick for Trump. Younger, definitely cognitively unimpaired, etc.. I simply cannot believe that a candidate in his mid or late 70s would pick a VP who also was in his or her 70s . . . even for someone as tack-sharp as Warren.

                1. Stacey Abrams would be a disaster. She’s got zero executive experience, zero government experience at the national level, her primary qualification is a failed governor’s campaign in Georgia. Her only government experience is her time as a state representative.

      2. His approval/disapproval ratings on every topic always eventually converge on the same numbers: A little worse than the fraction of the population aligned with the Democratic Party. Because he’s a pretty good President from a Republican point of view, (Not a moral icon, but Republicans don’t expect politicians to be admirable.) and from a Democratic point of view he’s a Republican, and so an object of loathing .

        1. Trump’s problem is those approval ratings strongly suggest he will lose. If he is to win based on his own merits, rather than pulling down Biden, he has to move those approval numbers. Armchairs’ argument that he can do so based on his coronavirus performance is not supported by the data.

          1. June 17th, 2016…

            Gallup’s latest figures show Trump at 31 percent favorable/63 percent unfavorable – significantly worse than Clinton’s 41 percent favorable/54 percent unfavorable.

            We know how that turned out.

          2. Did you know that, on election day, Trump was 21% underwater? Today he’s only 13.3% underwater.

            Biden is running about 1.5% underwater, mind you, and Clinton was 12.6% underwater on election day.

            So, he won in 2016 despite being 8.4% more unpopular than Clinton. Right now he’s 11.8% more unpopular than Biden.

            So you might think he only needs to bring Biden down about 3.4% relative to himself. Strikes me as feasible, at least.

            1. Brett,
              I think you’re pretty close to accurate. And, of course, you and we are talking about nationwide numbers. It matters not at all if Trump is underwater by, say, 20 point in California. It matters what Trump is, in Florida, and Michigan, and Penn., and Minn., etc etc..

              Nationwide polls tell us that, overall, Trump is seen as a horrific person and a dreadful president. But if those key Midwest states again thread the needle and go for Trump by small margins, then Trump will win a second term–regardless of what ‘the people’ in America think.

              Unlike in 2016, I don’t think people will be shocked/surprised by a Trump win. And, although I tend to generally disbelieve the power of the Bradley Effect, I do think it does apply to Trump.

              I think there were, and still are, a significant number of voters who are too humiliated to admit that they will vote for a pathological liar, sexual abuser, and lifelong racist. But, come November, they will indeed pull the lever for Trump. I have grave reservations about what the polls therefore say, and I’m automatically adding 3-4% to Trump’s side in any Midwest statewide poll between now and election time. Add to that, voter suppression in any state where Republican’s can effect this, and I can easily see Trump winning a bunch of states by the same slim margins we saw 4 years ago.

              1. “I think there were, and still are, a significant number of voters who are too humiliated to admit that they will vote for a pathological liar, sexual abuser, and lifelong racist. But, come November, they will indeed pull the lever for…”

                I suspect that more Trump supporters will feel shame but there will be a substantial number of Biden supporters as well. At least I hope most will feel ashamed…

              2. ” to admit that they will vote for athis pathological liar, sexual abuser, and lifelong racist,” instead of THAT pathological liar, sexual abuser, and lifelong racist.

                The real horror of modern politics is that there are seldom good choices available, just a choice between bad candidates. (At least at the federal level, where the parties can be effective gatekeepers.) I think this is the primary motivation for the charge of “whataboutism”; Democrats seek to win by pointing out the demerits of their foes, while “whataboutism” seeks to pretend that returning the favor is somehow a fallacy.

            2. I didn’t say bringing down Biden wasn’t doable. I only said that has to be his strategy since moving his numbers up seems like a lost cause.

              1. Just get Biden on stage and talking about black people or women or Indians….

                1. Or get Trump talking about literally any woman he dislikes, or black people, or Russia, or China, or Iran, or illegal immigrants, or police violence, or subjects starting with either a vowel or a consonant.

                  If your argument is that, on a given subject, Biden will be fumbling and/or incoherent, while Trump will be articulate . . . . (color me skeptical)

                  1. “If your argument is that, on a given subject, Biden will be fumbling and/or incoherent, while Trump will be articulate . . . . (color me skeptical)”

                    I never said Trump would be articulate. I was responding to Josh’s quote about “bringing down Biden”

  9. You could just say “People who want a bourgie liberal think Donald Trump lacks….”

  10. Another fact that still has to play out is how Biden will campaign (if he does at all). A big part of that will be his selection of a running mate. If he picks a left leaning VP and he runs left leaning then I think the road to the White House is going to be a lot harder for him. There are more people who are voting AGAINST the Democrat then are voting FOR Trump. Driving voters to NOT want to vote against him.

    1. if he does at all

      So far he has wisely kept his mouth shut. Never interfere with an enemy while he’s in the process of destroying himself, etc.

      1. Channeling Sun Tsu

    2. I see little evidence of moderation among Dems. They need a Jim Webb. Klobuchar strikes right chords, but seems to have little chance in this moment.

      1. I’m frankly surprised that the Democrats ended up with a moderate like Biden. They could run a brick against Trump and it would still win. I’m surprised they didn’t go for Sanders. Pleased, but surprised.

        1. So Hillary Clinton didn’t even qualify as a brick?

          1. She didn’t have the benefit of having 4 years of actual Trump to run against.

            Also, note I said Sanders, not Warren. The person I figured the Democrats might go for is the sloganeering lefty, not the smart lady with the 10-point policy plans. They tried that with Clinton and both parts of that bit them in the ass.

            1. Well, she didn’t have the benefit of 4 years of trying everything under the sun to tear Trump down. But she did have the benefit of being able to accuse him of just about anything because he lacked a track record.

              In another comment, I provided a link to RCP’s Trump approval graph, which has run uninterrupted from the time Trump announced until today. Trump was a lot less popular when he was elected than today, governing has improved his standing with the public.

        2. Sanders didn’t win for the same reason he didn’t win 2016: only a small percentage of black voters were persuaded.

  11. Of course Trump might win. Three months ago Biden was on the verge of dropping out. Things change.

  12. Voted 3rd Party in 2016. Dislike Trump, but think his character defects are unlikely to be successfully emulated by others. Words are ugly, but policies do not merit the level of condemnation they’ve received. My children can understand that people are complex, that well behaved people can be be wrong, and boors can be right in decisions of consequence. The Resistance is a bigger long term threat to US, and I have not seen Dems acknowledge faults. Rewarding Resistance is likely to perpetuate their more insidious and apparently socially acceptable tactics. From that perspective Biden may not be most moderate choice.

    1. Which policies, specifically, did you have in mind? Because the only policies of Trump that he’s actually responsible for* seem like they deserve exactly the kind of condemnation that they got.

      * Occasionally Trump gets a little confused. Today he was bragging about legislation that passed in 2014: https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1268924148694343680

      1. That’s a kind of moronic tweet. Never assume that someone on twitter knows what the hell they are talking about.

        Trump was undoubtedly referring to this: “Veterans to get expanded access to private doctors at VA expense starting Thursday [June 4th]”

        “Veterans will have expanded access to medical care outside Department of Veterans Affairs facilities beginning Thursday under a law signed by President Donald Trump last year and touted as a major achievement by Trump on the campaign trail.”

        https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/06/05/veterans-can-see-private-doctors-under-new-va-rules-thursday/1345046001/

        1. See that’s your problem “Trump was undoubtedly referring to…”. I appreciate your sojourn into the mind of the Donald, but history suggests your presumption is a crap shoot. While your abilities with respect to “normal” human beings probably do better than chance anyone be hard pressed to say what he is thinking or what he will say next.

    2. What are the Resistance faults that constitute a bigger long term threat to the U. S.?

      1. The Founding Fathers, presumably. Wouldn’t want to encourage such tactics…

        1. You know, you really ought to look at the example of John Adams. He was the lawyer for the Redcoats attacked by the mob in the Boston Massacre, and successfully defended them for their defense of their lives against the mob. I recommend at the very least watching that mini-series with Paul Giamatti as Adams. Brilliant stuff that.

  13. Biden is a saltine cracker. Trump is the incumbent. The only person who can defeat Trump is Trump. Pass the popcorn.

  14. Reading this blog (with its comments) has persuaded me that the Conspirators’ efforts have been counterproductive. They wanted to promote more hiring of movement conservatives at strong law schools. They likely have pulled up that ladder and burned it.

    UCLA likely is tiring of wincing at and apologizing for Prof. Volokh’s contributions to public debate on issues such as race, guns, and Pres. Trump. Harvard surely wishes for a do-over on Prof. Vermeule after observing his exhibition of adult-onset theocratic, medieval positions. Conservative law professors have, in general, devoted more effort to defending Pres. Trump and deriding his critics than they have advocating for their ostensible principles with respect to government, bigotry, reason, science, and decency as the Trump administration has trampled them.

    Which strong law school would (or should) want to hire movement conservatives these days?

    1. GMU?

      …I’ll see myself out.

    2. Bob Jones Bible College and Liberty University

    3. Hey faker…yea you Rev (I know you looked at ‘faker’ even before I said your name), could you provide some evidence of a UCLA wince or apology for Prof. Volokh?

      1. Does this suffice?

        If not, check the Volokh Conspiracy post entitled “UCLA Law Dean Apologizes for My Having Accurately Quoted the Word “Nigger” in Discussing a Case,” authored (one word in the headline gives it away) by Eugene Volokh (April 14, 2020, 5:14 p.m.)

        (Other than that, nice comment.)

        1. Touche! I stand corrected that there was an (undeserved) apology for saying nigger in a law school class in appropriate context.

          You must still be hurting from the good prof removing your comments to bring it up on an unrelated thread about Trump’s reelection prospects.

          I’m glad that calling you the faker you are got your attention though.

          1. It’s bad enough for you to celebrate illusory victories, but doing so for Prof. Volokh — who is smart enough to know he falls on the losing side of the culture war — is particularly shabby.

          2. Pointing out clinger hypocrisy is always a worthwhile endeavor.

            When Prof. Volokh climbs off his hobby horse, playing free speech champion and bane of censors, I’ll stop mentioning that he engages in viewpoint-controlled censorship.

            If he apologizes, I might consider mentioning it less frequently.

            1. If he apologizes, I might consider mentioning it less frequently.

              Well, carry on… clinger. LOL

    4. That ladder has been in ashes for at least a decade. Faculty hiring of conservatives dropped off a cliff about 20 years ago, and hit the rocks a few years later. Nothing the Conspirators could do would change that.

      1. Right-wing professors will always be able to find jobs at the unranked, nonsense-teaching schools controlled by conservatives — the schools that don’t want anyone who is not a clinger.

  15. Don’t be afraid, David…. just show us on the dolly where the Bad Orange Man hurt you.

    1. That’s that gets me about the OP. He wrote a whole book about why Obama should have been impeached, but he can’t stop the handwringing about Trump.

      Where are these angels that we can have govern us?

      1. Yeah, Bernstein writes weird posts lately. Every single one of them starts by condemning Trump, and then follows on with a long story about why Trump is really right/it isn’t so bad/will win re-election/etc.

        With anyone else I’d think the author wanted to hide their Trump sympathies for fear of public condemnation in their peer group, or something like that, but David Bernstein doesn’t strike me as someone who cares about his reputation. So why doesn’t he simply come out and admit that, after 4 years of Trump, he’d like 4 more please?

        1. I can’t disagree with anything in that assessment.

        2. Probably because he actually doesn’t want four more years of Trump. He just wants four more years of some Trump-like things that are led by someone who isn’t Trump. He’s obviously not going to get that, but a man can dream. A man can dream.

          1. Well, to be fair, if somebody who was Trump-like in their policies but otherwise not Trump were available, I’d want them, too. I find Trump embarrassing.

            But not embarrassing enough to want a Democrat or a RINO in the office.

            1. That Trump has actually managed to implement a conservative agenda instead of just whining about things, throwing a few bones our way, and appointing squish Supreme Court justices…I’m willing to put up with his tactics and style for some actual success for a change.

              I’m just embarrassed about the spending binge when it comes down to it, because the left and the media has done the “stupid” and “Hitler” routine on every GOP president since Ike. They would have done it to him too, if it wouldn’t have been laughed at so hard. They still tried too.

              1. Trump’s first year in office he actually did submit a budget with spending cuts. He really did.

                Congress responded by enacting bipartisan spending increases with a veto-proof majority in both chambers.

                So Trump, not irrationally, decided that controlling spending wasn’t possible, and moved on to other priorities.

                I don’t think Trump is at all conservative, ideologically. He’s just a pragmatist who understands economics. To the extent he’s ideological at all, it’s a form of generalized nationalism: He thinks each country’s government should devote itself to the interests of their own citizens, not the world. Including the US. And that the world will prosper if they do that.

                The thing is, your average Republican President has been neither a pragmatist NOR a conservative. They’ve been squishy liberals who knew they had to lie about it. But they had an ideology, and it precluded them doing the conservative thing. Trump doesn’t have an ideology that drives him to avoid doing the conservative thing, and he understands the necessity of “dancing with the one what brung ya”, of delivering to his own base.

              2. A second point on spending:

                People frequently get into debt beyond any possibility of every paying it off. I did myself after being screwed over in a divorce.

                Initially there’s a certain degree of denial that you’re actually in this position, you want to think that paying your debts is a real possibility. But eventually life proves to you that it isn’t possible, that you’re going to end up cheating your creditors no matter what you do.

                At that point, some people go into extreme austerity, or immediately default, to minimize the extent of the default.

                Other people go on a spending spree, figuring that they’ll rip off their creditors for everything they can before their creditors figure it out, too.

                I think Trump might have come into office knowing that we, as a nation, were probably beyond the ability to avoid default. And he made a brief stab at trying to minimize the extent of the default, (Or at least stop spending the borrowed money on stupid stuff!) and the rest of the government told him it was going to be option #2, and the vacation in the Bahamas was happening regardless.

                So he’s been trying to set us up to come out the other side of that default in as good of shape as possible, by improving our economic fundamentals, and rendering us as self-sufficient as possible for the coming days when buying things outside the country will be difficult because our money won’t be worth much, and nobody will want to loan us anything.

                But he’s not wasting any political capital on preventing a default that’s now inevitable.

                This was actually my argument for Trump, back in 2016: That he had experience in taking large institutions through bankruptcy, and that was an important thing for a US President to have!

                1. Spending so long spinning theories about Trump’s actual agenda, that’s actually good and conservative.

                  Just like you spend a long time figuring out liberals’ actual agenda, which is actually bad.

                  Come on, man, just take the simple explanations; this is just silly.

  16. Hmmmm….should I be more afraid of one nutty grandpa who has been thoroughly called out for every move he makes and counterbalanced to the point of impotence or a cult spanning all spheres of society running amok unopposed? Basically the only thing about Trump is he Tweets and sometimes says nutty stuff, usually as a bargaining chip. Other than that he pretty much runs like a moderate Republican. For some reason nobody realizes that even after he does it over and over again.

    1. If you think that this is what a moderate Republican looks like, I shudder to think what you imagine an extremist Republican might say and do.

      1. Fewer transgender bathrooms and less government interference with cake shops. *shudder*

        1. Because Trump supported transgender bathrooms and government interference with cake shops? What are you talking about?

  17. I don’t know if he has dementia, or it’s just who he always has been, but Joe Biden comes across as dumber than a lobotomized basset hound with the charisma of a carp, and that is the only reason why Trump might be re-elected. Any other democrat would steamroll him.

    1. Biden might pull it off if he can keep it together through the debates, but if he Zones out during the middle of a debate he’s toast.

    2. Any other democrat would steamroll him.

      I know history can be boring. It was sooo long ago, doesn’t translate to modern times, etc, etc. But history of 4 years ago ?about a man running for president against a slate of savvy politicians, might be germane.
      President Steamrolled more than a dozen qualified candidates. Yet somehow you are claiming that the 20 democrats that failed on a grand scale to show they had superior political chops to the lump that is Joe Biden, would get close to laying a glove on President Trump.

      1. For some reason, people who don’t like Trump are absolutely committed to the view that he’s some weird aberration, a total incompetent, just a shambling collection of bad characteristics, who through some cosmic accident, (Curse Comey talking about the email server!) stumbled into being President.

        The idea that he won against experienced politicians despite being out-spent 2-1 and being less popular, out of skill and wit, is just inadmissible to these people.

  18. “Why might swing voters vote for him?”

    First thing to mind is Joe Biden.
    Second thing is the Democratic party platform.
    Third thing is the ages of the Supreme Court Judges.

    1. Those three reasons are pretty much why he won against Hillary.

      Any competent not corrupt Democrat who would have a “Sista Soulja moment” should win.

      1. Agreed, unlike what Ilya Somin was trying to argue during the 2016 election…. it was at least as much about voting against Hillary as for Trump. If Bernie Sanders had been the Democrat nominee, I would have voted for him over Trump. Instead, I voted for Garry Johnson. No way was I voting for Hillary Clinton.

        1. Can’t have a lady president? Or did you have a different pretext you’d like to share with the class?

          1. “Can’t have a lady president?”

            Hillary has never been a lady.

          2. There have been tons of women politicians who could have won that election. It was there for the taking. But Hillary was in the unique position of having a lot of baggage that animated the other side and having more hubris than any candidate in history. Her lack of “likability” combined with historically bad campaigning led to defeat against a candidate that even the republicans didn’t want.

            Side question… why don’t very many competent women run for high office? I mean, sure.. male politicians are complete ass-hats… but the top female pols on both sides are not what I’d call formidable. I suppose Kamala Harris comes close… but you can almost see the devil horns when she speaks… so nobody trusts her. Tulsi has high likability… She might have given Trump trouble. But Wilson, Gillibrand and Warren are terrible. Not because of their gender. Not because of issues. They just are not good candidates. Low charisma, not impressive in presence…. just not good as a candidate.

            But Condi Rice is way more imposing than any of them… or Fiorina et. al. I don’t know if she’s loose and funny enough on stage to compete with Trump when he’s really on, but she’s way better than anyone on the D side, and most of the R side as well. (that’s ignoring any stances on issues, just the charisma, looks, etc. that make a candidate appealing)

            So yeah… there are plenty of potential lady presidents out there. Apparently most of them are too smart to run for the office.

            1. why don’t very many competent women run for high office

              Euh, because if they do they get character assassinated like Hillary was?

              1. So, do you mean to imply that women are too weak to face the rough and tumble of politics?

                Or are you claiming that somehow only women politicians are victims of “character assassination”?

                ‘Cause I am pretty sure that the first one is gonna get you in trouble. And I’m definitely sure that the second one is just flat-out untrue. (although it is true that HRC had a wider variety of bizarre negative attacks thrown her way than most politicians face)

              2. Hilary’s character committed suicide. Shot itself twice in the back.

              3. Statistics say that, if women bother running, they’ve got as much chance of winning as men. They’re under represented among office holders only because they’re underrepresented among candidates.

                But ideology says women couldn’t, as a group, just have different inclinations from men, and just usually want to do something other than run for office. So the results of them freely choosing to do something else has to be attributed to discrimination.

            2. “But Hillary was in the unique position of having a lot of baggage that animated the other side and having more hubris than any candidate in history.”

              But she had SOMETHING going for her that those other women lacked, or one of them, lacking the baggage, would have taken her place.

              Hillary may have the morals of a snake, (That’s actually an insult to venomous reptiles.) but she’s probably the most skilled manipulator and plotter of her generation, or those morals would have just put her in prison, instead of twice wife of a President, handed a Senate seat on a silver platter, and coming within a few thousand votes of the White House herself.

        2. If Jim Webb had won the Dem primary, I’d have voted for the first Dem since I cast a ballot for Bill Clinton in 1992. It would have been a landslide for the Dems. But Hillary had a stranglehold on the party apparatus, and the Dems had moved to far left for poor Jim Webb.

          1. She didn’t have that stranglehold by accident, you know. She worked and plotted hard to get it, over many years.

            It’s the flip side of Trump haters not wanting to admit he’s competent: Hillary Clinton is probably the best in the country at what she does. What she does isn’t very admirable, but, damn, she’s good at it.

  19. There are a large number of votes who only vote for 4 issues: anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, and pro-gun. Trump gives them everything on those issues and the voters are happy to ignore everything else, no matter how bad, and they will enthusiastically support Trump all the way. He also gives big business what they want (less environmental, financial, and labor regulations), which helps. That is why Trump could win.

    And on the other side they are still sniping at Biden, not caring that the primary is over. The Ds have no unification.

    1. Anti-abortion: majority of Americans support right to an abortion at least through the first trimester, but not partial birth abortions (which the dems enthusiastically do)

      Anti-gay: nobody cares about this anymore, even in the reddest of red states

      Pro-gun: A year ago, this would have been a losing issue for the GOP. But with the latest unrest could work in their favor, especially if there is a spike in crime.
      Anti-immigrant: another moot point. Immigration has been declining for years, even before Trump.

      1. Pro-gun: More on this, from the video below, I’m seeing AR-15s and a 100rd magazine being carried openly in public*. All things the Democrats have banned in various states and things the NAACP is now promoting. Should be interesting to see the DNC platform when it comes to guns over the next month.

        https://reason.com/2020/05/29/black-civilians-arm-themselves-to-protest-racial-violence-and-protect-black-owned-businesses/#comments

        *Misdemeanor in MN without a carry permit. Everything else legal for purchase in MN.

    2. Sooner or later, Biden and Trump are going to be on the same stage. And Biden is likely to forget which office he’s running for.

      The only reason Biden is still viable is that he’s in hiding.

      1. You really don’t want to play up the Biden has dementia angle. Do you not listen to Trump speak?

        1. So, out of the goodness of your heart, you’re giving advice to Trump about how to win the election? Anytime a liberal says “you don’t want to XYZ our your side will lose” that advice should be taken with a grain of salt.

          Trump often leaves a spoken paragraph a different place than he enters, but dementia? Nah. Biden has clearly not the mind he had during the Obama admin. Dementia? Likely not, but certainly age related decline. It happens to everyone.

          1. Yeah. I’m doing a bit of “concern trolling” here, I’ll admit it. But I really do truly think going all in on Biden having dementia when compared to Trump is a tactical mistake. Brett is being willfully ignorant about Trump’s mental capacity here. It’s not going to be genius lucid Trump on the stage versus a completely lost Biden.

            1. Trump isn’t particularly smart or articulate, but neither is he as dumb as the left portrays him to be. I would say that he, and a only 60 year old Biden, were about average intelligence. America’s system of choosing leaders selects on certain traits, like charisma, more than IQ.

              1. He has the low cunning of a manipulative middle school bully.

              2. I frequently cringe when listening to him speak, but speaking textbook English with a neutral accent isn’t the only measure of being articulate. Whether people (Who aren’t determined not to…) understand you is the best measure, and Trump does very well on that score.

                It’s a mistake to think that a billionaire who got elected President isn’t smart. He’s probably not Mensa material, but he’s unquestionably smarter than the average American.

                Nobody who reaches that level of politics or wealth isn’t very smart.

            2. The initial premise was “the only reason to vote for Trump is if the other side is worse”.

              Biden manages to be worse on “mentally stable”. That is an extremely low bar when Trump is the opponent. And he loses that one.

              Biden has always been a hothead, easy to provoke and prone to both temper tantrums and flights of fancy.

              But he’s incoherent this year. Not Trump “what the heck are you on about?” incoherent. Not even logically incoherent. I mean, completely incoherent. The poor guy cannot hold a thought in his head sometimes.

              Even if he wins, it is clear that he cannot serve as President. Not in a Trump “don’t let that guy near the levers of power” way. He cannot serve in a “he needs in-home care” and “take away the keys” kind of way. It isn’t a value judgement. It is a health issue.

              Which could actually win the election.

              If you have a Giant Douche and a Turd Sandwich… but you let everyone know that the Turd Sandwich is going to resign immediately…. you could win. Because the best quarterback on every nonwinning football team is always the backup quarterback.

              Nobody will take a hard look at the veep – particularly if they announce late. But everyone will assume that they are going to be the actual president.

              1. You know, you guys tried this ridiculous Hillary is near death’s door thing before and it didn’t work at all. I feel like there is an effort to gaslight people (or yourself) into thinking Biden is completely convalescent to justify voting for Trump.

                1. If you can watch Biden speak and not reach that conclusion…

                  Well… I suppose we all have opinions.

                  As far as “one side is worse than the other”, it really doesn’t come down to Biden. He’s kind of off to one side for the last 11 years, so that doesn’t attach to him on a personal level as much, even though he was in the White House when all of the shenanigans started.

                  No, even a perfectly healthy Biden would be burdened by the conduct of the left over the last few years. The overreach has been staggering. If you can watch the level of coordinated attack from the left against all political enemies, real and imagined and not come away worried… well, I suppose that’s a good way to know which team you are on.

                  If everything wasn’t such a dumpster fire, this would be the year… Libertarians vs Greens, hundreds of seats changing hands, a real libertarian (or progressive) moment.

                  Instead, we have Trump and a bunch of crazy people who want to usher in a socialist paradise.

                  1. I expect Trump to lose solely because there aren’t enough uneducated bigots and disaffected culture war casualties — not even in the desolate backwaters — to position him for another Electoral College trick shot.

                    America has become less white, less bigoted, less rural, less religious, and less backward in four years. Just not enough ignorant bigots left.

                    1. “America has become less white, less bigoted, less rural, less religious, and less backward in four years.”

                      I think you just stepped on your narrative there….

  20. How similar is America to 1933 Germany? Not very much. There are probably too many dissimilarities to count. Plus, we’re still a few years away from the two candidates most likely to lead us into an American-style fascism from being on the verge of power. The audience can guess who those are. But on the other hand Christopher Browning, a preeminent and well-respected Holocaust historian, did compare Mitch McConnell to Paul von Hindernberg….which isn’t great to say the least. Although there is a lesson in that: conservatives, only you can stop fascism. You’re a main target for fascist appeals, and because you occupy so many power positions in government will be the kingmaker in this regard. Your track record of stopping bad people from getting into government is not great recently, but I believe in you (sort of). You’re the real Antifa, but you need to show it.

    1. “conservatives, only you can stop fascism”

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6xMd0wSbZc

    2. What does Christopher Browning, the eminent Holocaust historian, have to say about this –

      “A number of kosher stores and synagogues were vandalized and looted in the uptown Los Angeles neighborhood of Fairfax, between Saturday night and Sunday morning, by people protesting police brutality…

      “It was also reported that Congregation Beth Israel, one of the oldest synagogues in Los Angeles and also on Beverly Boulevard, was defaced with antisemitic graffiti that read “F**k Israel” and “Free Palestine” scrawled along its walls.

      “In addition to destruction and graffiti inflicted upon the synagogues, a number of kosher restaurants, bakeries and stores were ransacked by protesters, looting much of the merchandise and causing extensive property damage.”

      https://www.jpost.com/diaspora/kosher-stores-synagogues-vandalized-and-looted-in-ongoing-la-protests-629895

      Maybe you’re right, only conservatives can stop this sort of thing…

      1. I don’t know. I suggest you ask him? But, Antisemitism and fascism aren’t the same thing. Left-wing movements are easily susceptible to antisemitism too. Antisemitism is not a necessary component of fascism. Although I assume it will eventually creep in to any American fascist movement, I assume a successful American fascist party won’t need to use overt appeals to antisemitism or even dog whistles. There are plenty of other out-groups here to demonize.

        1. I look forward to the day when people will be judged, not by the brown color of their skins, but by the brown color of their *shirts.*

          1. For fascism, black shirts; think Italy, not Germany.

            1. To be fair, I was addressing a commenter who invoked Paul von Hindernberg – the guy who made Hitler Chancellor. So a German comparison is just riffing on a theme.

  21. This is why “voting” in national elections will never, ever fix what ails this country. Washington D.C. is never going to fix itself.

    At best, it will always be a lesser of two evils situation, and more likely it just doesn’t make a damn bit of material difference either way.

    Aside from the need to reverse the trend away from decentralized government and toward a larger and more centralized government, which has been a constant basically since the founding, the problem is a more fundamental human one.

    People need to stop looking to the government and politicians, especially those in D.C., as the vehicle for manifesting morality. Abject ignorance of history has reached astounding levels.

    1. This is correct.

      And also how they identify the nutty people that they can safely ignore.

  22. As with everything I’ve ever read that is of the ‘this is how you get Trump’ genre reads like someone rationalizing why they in particular are voting for Trump.
    Dunno if that’s where Prof. Bernstein is, but certainly this is reflected in these comments. Which are quite low substance, because no one is really voting for or against Trump based on policies it seems.

    1. Obvious troll RabbiHarveyWeinstein hardly needs to do any work, as he takes both sides of an issue to screw with people.

    2. I’ve been around for almost 50 years and one thing that is clear is that nobody ever votes for a candidate based on policy-it’s based on a mental ratio of how much they like one candidate vs how much they dislike the other

      1. Even more than that – people seem to simply have a “gut reaction” for most of their decision. Which guy looks like a better leader? Who is “impressive”? Who has that intangible “charisma”?

        We have tribalism – “my tribe” vs “not my tribe” and we have a gut reaction. That’s about all there is to it.

        I agree with you… people can talk all they want about specific issues – very few people make their final decisions that way. They seem to have a gut reaction and then rationalize their way to the conclusion that they were right about their gut instinct.

  23. Trump *will* get re-elected. Mainly because Biden has become a Bernie bro. Biden is now so far to the left to placate the Dem party that Che Guevera looks like a Republican.

    Anyway, I met the last persuadable voter back in Feb, she was 70 and died of COVID in March. R.I.P.

  24. Your open nails it.

    The only reason to vote for Trump is that the other side is worse.

    We are living in a Giant Douche vs Turd Sandwich world.

    Neither is worthy of the office…

    And yes. The DNC are so very, very much worse. They’ve gone from “big government evil” way over into crazy town. Trump is terrible. And they manage to make him look like a sane choice. That’s a very impressive feat.

  25. someone rationalizing why they in particular are voting for Trump.

    Exactly. If Trump gets re-elected it will be because people like Bernstein grab on to any excuse to vote for someone who not only, “lacks the temperament and judgment to be president,” but is also an incompetent, cruel, and utterly dishonest individual, and has an Administration full of knaves and fools who are taking a wrecking ball to the country.

    But hey, Bernstein is pissed about a couple of headlines, so maybe that’s good enough.

  26. Electing Biden, or whoever the Democrat nominee turns out to be, is the greater evil. You must be pretty fucked-up to think otherwise.

    If Trump is elected then there is the possibility of another Gorsuch or Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, maybe even two. If Biden (or any Democrat) is elected then any SCOTUS replacement is going to be shit because even if the Republicans hold the Senate they will do what they always do when a Democrat president nominates a judge, they will bend over and grab their ankles.

    You may think President Trump is a bowl of shit but the Democrat is a truckload of shit you will have to eat if the Democrat becomes President.

    1. You might make a variant of that argument…

      Trump is incompetent… too incompetent to do any major damage, and he accidentally does the right thing from time to time.

      Meanwhile, a Biden presidency will be run with ruthless knowledge of the system and the cooperation of the bureaucracy – whether it is Biden who does the directing or someone else. They are already close to closing the noose as it is, absent control of the executive.

  27. Other than the fact that the Democrat nominee is senile, racist, pedophile, and rapist?

  28. Um, so is this article anything more than a retreat to Godwin’s Law? This kind of crap has no place on an otherwise quality publication like the Volokh Conspiracy. Embarrassing.

    Btw, if Trump wins, it’ll be because of the economy.

  29. Bernstein is right. If people think they’re voting for headline writers, Trump’s chances will improve.

  30. Herbert Hoover faced a similar fix in 1932. The GOP chose five consecutive defeats rather than stop shooting kids and raiding bank accounts over beer. The Don could copy LP planks on drugs, victimless things and asset forfeiture, get Congress to cancel/take back T-Bills held by Red China as reparations for their bioweapons leak, disentangle the US from Chinese FATF meddling in banking regs + bring back troops from overseas. Voters do not take kindly to economic depressions.

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