Good morning, readers! We’re one day away from the election, and when it’s over, I am going to feel like the emcee at the end of the Rocky/Thunderlips charity bout. “See you in four years. Thank God.”
Before I get started, I wanted to say something on a personal note. I really do laugh when people call me part of the “media elite.” I was born in Queens and lived the life of a middle-class kid in New Jersey. My father was a truck driver, and my mother, a homemaker.
I attended public schools and went to a small college before getting an opportunity to work in Manhattan for Cargill, which had started a finance arm if you can believe it. I traded commodities, and for the next 20 years, I worked in the business world doing everything from IT to logistics and supply chain.
Changing careers in my mid-40s was not anything I envisioned. But I worked hard, soaked up as much as I could from others, took advice, wrote as much as I could, read a whole lot. Eventually, it paid off. In two years I went from analyzing distribution and finance data for Home Depot in their corporate office in Atlanta to writing editorials for the Dallas Morning News. Now I work at the Washington Examiner and spend much of my time editing the work of good, hard-working reporters.
There’s a whole lot of irony in that at both organizations, I’d get accused by people of “marching in lockstep” with whatever political viewpoint they believed the outlet took. So at the DMN, I bought into the whole “liberal media” canard and hated conservatives. At the Examiner, I am a Trump enabler and a hack. Stuff like that used to bother me. Now I laugh because I know most people don’t have a clue as to what goes on behind the scenes. They think they know everyone's motives but they don’t.
Anyway, that’s all. Thanks for reading!
Today’s newsletter is a hodgepodge of stuff, including something I had to get off my chest about the position I and others staked out starting in January 2017 vs. where other people chose to go. Let’s dig in.
For too many, national politics is a religion. Note that I said “national” because judging by the turnout in local elections, the religion doesn’t get into the “boring” stuff. Why is it a religion? Because too many convince themselves every aspect of their life depends on who is in the White House, in Congress, and who sits on the Supreme Court.
The thing is — especially for younger people — you’ll wake up 20 years from now and realize politicians do not define your life and had little control over whatever circumstances you find yourself living in. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying the government is irrelevant. Leadership, legislation, and court decisions all matter. But when people allow politics to consume their lives to the point it intersects with everything they do in life, it’s time to take a step back and reassess one’s priorities.
More on the election in a bit. But first…
Yes, a lot of it is opportunism.
I saw a tweet early Sunday morning that had me shaking my head. Michael Knowles of The Daily Wire tweeted, “Just a friendly reminder that it is not permissible for faithful Christians to vote for Joe Biden.”
I must have missed that verse in the New Testament. It’s such a trite, unserious, and intellectually bankrupt attempt at argumentation. It rests on the absurd notion that voting for Trump — a thrice-divorced philanderer who often profited from not paying his debts, ripped off contractors, and lies as easily as he breathes — pleases God because he advocates for the proper policies.
I know some people may not agree with me. But Knowles is no worse than the chest-thumpers in the Never Trump movement who are spending the last several days of the campaign congratulating themselves for the “courage” they’ve shown in opposing Trump. Give me a break. Tom Nichols (who I like and get along with despite strong disagreements at times) wrote for The Atlantic and said, “The Trump faithful also accused us of trying to get rich on our Never Trump status.”
My favorite thing is watching the rabid pro-Trump people, and rabid anti-Trump people argue about who did what for money. Forget about money for a moment. We’ll come back to that. Tom goes on to say, “For most of us, media appearances came only with a ride to the studio and free coffee. (At 30 Rock in New York, at least it was Starbucks.) The short pieces we all wrote—much like this one—generated a small fee that could pay for a nice dinner and maybe a bottle of wine. I am a successful author, but none of my books are about Trump, and to this day, I don’t even have an agent. If we’d been in it for our own enrichment, we’d have made the smart play and signed on with Trump, because that’s where the money was right from the start.”
I feel like Mister Senor Love Daddy in Do The Right Thing. “Yo! Hold up! Time out! TIME OUT! Y'all take a chill! Ya need to cool that shit out!”
Both sides of the extreme were a safe place to go.
I appeared on a cable news show for the first time in late 2015. Why? Because when I was writing for RedState, then-managing editor, Leon Wolf, asked people for some content over the weekend. I quickly wrote a post called, “The Five Reasons I Will Not Vote For Trump if he is The GOP Nominee.” Something like that. A day later, I got an email from a CNN producer asking if I’d go on Brooke Baldwin’s show to discuss it.
After Trump’s improbable win, two sides emerged — those who decided it was time to go all-in for Trump and those who decided they’d ignore anything he did that they’d typically agree with if it were another Republican president, to take on the banner of the loyal opposition. Both sides went with opportunity, and for many on both sides, it did pay off in various ways, which is not always monetarily. Hundreds of thousands (to millions) of Twitter followers, regular television hits, and easily placed pieces in prominent publications are advantageous for people as it does improve one’s chances of landing a gid somewhere, getting a book deal, or a cable news contributorship.
Tom isn’t fooling anyone about the lack of an agent. If he wrote an anti-Trump book proposal tomorrow, he wouldn’t have trouble finding an agent to rep him and land a deal with a publisher (and I hope he does! I am not down on any of this). That he has nearly 450,000 Twitter followers, access to cable news shows for promotion, and has prominent followers willing to share their thoughts; he has a built-in marketing mechanism to move copies. The fee he earns writing for The Atlantic allows dinner at a Michelin-rated restaurant, not Chili’s. I know this because I’ve written for The Atlantic, and I know their range compensation.
The people who took a genuine risk decided to tell the truth and not caring one whit what partisans had to say. Forget the “balls and strikes” drivel. Once sworn in, it was fair to give Trump a chance. He had successes. Still, he’s on the verge of losing, and he should lose. Any successes aside, Trump exhibits manifest incompetence, total disinterest in learning anything (and inability to grasp the low-hanging fruit about civics), and thinks the presidency makes him “the boss” with no accountability. Sure, he gets points for the judicial appointments, and regulatory reform is getting done via cabinet secretaries. He struck gold with some wins in the Middle East but nearly took us to the brink of an all-out war with North Korea. His trade policies are horrendous, and his immigration policies have largely backfired.
If there is anyone who doesn't deserve a second term, it is Donald Trump.
Kevin Williamson nailed it in National Review:
Trump’s problem is not etiquette: It is dishonesty, stupidity, and incompetence, magnified by the self-dealing and cowardice of the cabal of enablers and sycophants who have a stake in pretending that this unsalted s*** sandwich is filet mignon.
Telling the truth matters more than choosing a team
That said, I won’t make a fool of myself comparing Trump to Ronald Reagan or declaring him one of the best presidents of all time. I also won’t hold my tongue on important, qualified appointments and nominations because it will upset a portion of my social media following and dry up TV hits for a few weeks. Want to see opportunism in action? Search Steve Schmidt’s Twitter feed for any mentions of Amy Coney Barrett. Outside of one tweet where he implores Democrats to delay the process (which he thought would hurt Trump), he says nothing. Nothing negative about her qualifications, experience, or judicial philosophy. Only following her confirmation and swearing-in did he tweet about her appearing in a Trump campaign ad.
In 2019. Schmidt went for the bucks, signing on with former Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz, who flirted with a presidential run as an independent. Schultz, a liberal, would no doubt have taken votes away from Biden. At one point, when questioned about it, Schmidt stormed off his own podcast in a huff, whining, “This is bullshit.” He went back to his MSNBC gig when Schultz decided against running. Before that, he took a meeting at Trump Tower about the campaign manager role three years earlier. Schmidt thinks people are stupid, thinking anyone with half-a-brain bought his excuse that he did it out of curiosity.
There’s nothing “courageous” about Steve Schmidt. He’s interested in nothing more than promoting himself and making a lot of money in the process while hurling insults at anyone who disagrees with him.
Does that sound like anyone else we know?
The truth sometimes hurts.
People like Kevin Williamson, Jonah Goldberg, my colleague Seth Mandel (who recently wrote a column stating how he wouldn’t vote for Trump), David French, Noah Rothman, Matt Lewis, Jay Nordlinger, and Charles Cooke (and many others I know I am leaving out) are people who really took a risk.
They all decided the proper path meant telling the truth instead of choosing sides.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not tossing out accusations of lying. But there are too many examples when the two factions remained committed to maintaining their street cred above all else.
On the anti-Trump conservative side, there was the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh, rated well-qualified by the ABA and issued rulings in well over 300 cases on the D.C. Circuit, was a perfectly qualified nominee for the Supreme Court. He was smeared and had his name dragged through the mud, and the anti-Trump conservatives went along with it and had the audacity to attack Susan Collins when she said she’d vote to confirm Kavanaugh.
They knew the charges were bogus. Knew the Democrats kept it under wraps for maximum political damage and couldn’t care less that Democrats were using Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook against him.
On the other side, there was no more an egregious violation of executive power than Trump’s power move to take money appropriated for various defense projects and redirect it toward his border wall. With the pro-Trumpers, you can always play the “What if Obama did it?” game. And we all know the result. They’d have called for Obama’s head on an impeachment platter. There was also Trump’s coddling of Kim Jong-Un (what throne-sniffer Kurt Schlichter hilariously said was an attempt by Trump to “charm” the North Korean maniac) that Trumpies defended by touting the lack of war as a “success.”
Those who chose not to commit to a team called out the bullshit when deserved and offered up the appropriate recognition as well. They catered to no one and did so to the detriment of personal gain — television appearances, book deals, Twitter followers, columns, and possibly an agent! Instead, they were bashed by the Trumpers as “traitors” and told they were “enablers” or “anti-anti-Trump” by the rabid Never Trumpers.
Back to the election.
Should we make predictions? I don’t know. Like many other people, I am suffering from 2016 PTSD and hesitate to predict anything about the presidential election. I am certain Trump doesn’t win in a 1984/1988/2008 landslide. If you think that’s the case, Vegas probably has great odds (though betting markets are still favorable towards Trump (Oddsshark, for example, has Trump at -105 and Biden at +145, which is rather crazy)!
But I will do it anyway.
One piece of bad news for Trump is the increase in voter registration. Yes, Republicans have done well in registering new voters, but Trump’s margin of error is meager. Remember, he won an electoral victory by capturing Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin by a total of 78,000 votes. It isn’t easy to see how Trump improves upon his 2016 numbers by enough. Trump received more votes in PA in 2016 than Romney did in 2012, but still not as much as Obama in 2012. It was the lack of turnout for Hillary and some of the 08 and 12 Obama voters going for Trump that turned the tide. I can’t see the same thing happening against Biden.
Can Biden win Texas and Georgia? Texas is unlikely, though it will be a lot closer than in 2016 when Trump won by nine points. Trump won Georgia by 5 in 2016, and it will likely be closer in 2020, but I still think Trump pulls it off.
Dave Wasserman of Cook Political Report says it is a thin line between Biden winning with 290 electoral votes and winning with 400. He said the states that are closer in polling wouldn’t split but go one way or another.
I’ll go with the 295 number for Biden. He will win back MI, WI, and PA. He will also add North Carolina. To get over 400, Biden has to win Arizona, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and Ohio. And I just can’t see him getting all those states. However, I agree with Wasserman that if Biden wins Georgia, then he also wins the others. It won’t split down the middle.
If I am wrong…it wouldn’t be the first time. And it will not be the last.
Anyway, sit back and relax. Grab booze. Get food.
Let’s hope it ends tonight.
Until next week, folks!