Sunday 17th of January 2021

the covid did not stand a chance..


   Gail Collins: Bret, three weeks until the election. I know there are people who claim to be undecided when pollsters call, but I think they’re just being contrarian. Do you believe there are people who are still making up their minds?

Bret Stephens: Yes, I do. And possibly still enough to decide the election. I think of the undecideds as being divided into two camps. Camp 1: Voters who were leaning toward Joe Biden but were dismayed by last summer’s rioting and aren’t entirely confident that a Democratic administration would stand for law and order. Camp 2: Voters who were leaning toward Donald Trump but are lately being reminded that the president is best analogized as an unstable radioactive isotope that just happens to be in their water supply.

Gail: I like that analogy. Maybe Biden could do an ad campaign: “Say Nope To The Isotope.”

Bret: In the last week, Trump has given Camp 2 plenty to think about, particularly with his post-hospital tirade against William Barr for not indicting his political opponents, and against Mike Pompeo about releasing Hillary Clinton’s emails. I hope the attorney general and secretary of state are savoring the wages of their toadyism.

Gail: “Don’t Be A Sycophant; Reject the Elephant!”

Bret: “Just Say No To the Schmo?” “His Veep Is Also a Creep?”

Gail: OK, I’ll stop. Any chance something will happen that switches a lot of minds?

Bret: I think Kamala Harris mostly helped things with her performance in the vice-presidential debate. Trump actually called her a “monster” and a “Communist,” which is enough to make the ghost of Joe McCarthy blush. (Well, almost.) To most voters, I think she came across as composed, confident and decidedly unscary. The only real weakness I noticed was her refusal to answer Mike Pence’s challenge on whether a Biden administration would pack the Supreme Court. Bad idea in 1937. Bad idea for 2021, too.

Gail: You know I agree in theory, but letting the status quo go on would reward Republicans for Mitch McConnell’s totally undemocratic refusal to bring Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland up for a vote, not to mention the Republicans’ outrageous decision to push Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination through the Senate just days before the election.

Bret: We probably agree that a 6-3 split in the court is bad for its own public legitimacy, no matter whether it’s the conservative or liberal side that has the majority. But if a President Biden and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pack the court by adding, say, four justices, then a future Republican president will inevitably add seven more justices, and on it will go. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was right when she said that nine justices was a good number.

Maybe the real goal should be to make the Supreme Court less decisive in American life. Stop legislating from the bench and let the legislature do its job.

Gail: About the Senate, to choose one legislature: Do you think the Democrats will get control? Do you want to see Democrats get control?

Bret: A Democratic Senate, along with a Democratic House and a Democratic White House, will cause me gastrointestinal distress. If they try to change core institutions of American life, like packing the court and abolishing the filibuster, they might do lasting damage. On the other hand, the goal of walloping Trump and his Senate toadies is so important for the overall health of the country that I’ll just stock up on the Pepto-Bismol for a couple of years and deal with it. Maybe then the Democrats will overreach, the way they did in Obama’s first two years, and Republicans will regain their senses and exorcise their Trumpist demons.

Wait, I’m delusional, right?

Gail: Of course you’re not delusional — we all know that whenever the Democrats behave badly, the Republicans take that as an opportunity to reject their large, crazy right-wing sector and come up with a more reasonable plan.


Bret: Touché.



Read more:

honoured and humbled...

US Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett has said she is "honoured and humbled" to be President Trump's pick for a place in the top court during a tense Senate confirmation hearing.

The 48-year-old conservative jurist vowed to judge legal cases impartially.

But her selection so close to the 3 November presidential election has sparked a fierce political battle.

The panel's Republican chairman has predicted a "contentious week" of questioning ahead.

Judge Barrett's approval would cement a 6-3 conservative majority on the nine-member court, altering the ideological balance of the court for potentially decades to come.

Mr Trump picked Judge Barrett to replace liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last month aged 87.

"I have been nominated to fill Justice Ginsburg's seat, but no one will ever take her place," Mrs Barrett told senators in her opening statement on Monday. "I will be forever grateful for the path she marked and the life she led."

However, conservative views and decisions from the bench she has delivered as a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals - of which much can be seen as opposing to the views of the late Justice Ginsburg - will be heavily scrutinised by Democrats who oppose her confirmation.


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In the conversation at top, Bret says "In the last week, Trump has given Camp 2 plenty to think about, particularly with his post-hospital tirade against William Barr for not indicting his political opponents, and against Mike Pompeo about releasing Hillary Clinton’s emails. I hope the attorney general and secretary of state are savoring the wages of their toadyism."


What the commentator has missed is that Trump is all about theatre of the absurd, invectives and off-the-cuff reverse psychology. Barr and Pompeo would be laughing... Shakespeare would have a ball at writing a play "The Wind of My Joyous Discontent", using all the Trumpisms verbatim. It's a tragedy for all of us, because in the long run there is bugger all we can do but let a Sartrian Machiavellian character take over the system from which we, the chooks, will get a few crumbs instead of being pelted by stones. 


listening to himself positively many times over....

In the last week, the president refused to attend a virtual debate with Joe Biden – a pre-condition that news organizations set due to the president’s recent diagnosis of Covid-19.

In the absence of that debate, Trump appears to have fled back to his base, partaking in a string of lengthy, unfiltered interviews with favorable news outlets. He has appeared on Fox four times in the last week, whilst blocking Dr Fauci from speaking on This Week on CBS. Here’s what his week in interviews looked like.

‘A perfect physical specimen’

Donald Trump prepared for the weekend with a Thursday morning interview with Maria Baritoromo, in which he bragged (perhaps joked?) about beating his Covid-19 diagnosis, claiming: “I’m back because I’m a perfect physical specimen and I’m extremely young.”

‘A great display of love’

Hours after cancelling the second debate because he objected to doing it virtually, Trump appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Friday night show virtually. The format was a mock tele-health visit, with Carlson pointing out that Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis was too recent for Fox to send a news crew to him.

Trump was interviewed by Dr Marc Siegel, a Fox News contributor who has repeatedly compared the coronavirus to the flu, and disputed the evidence on masks. Trump addressed criticism over going outside to greet supporters from his car just hours after being hospitalized with the highly contagious virus – claiming he could hear his fans from the hospital.

“I was way up high. And, you know, [I’m in] this very fortified military hospital that’s, you know, built to the highest standard. And yet through these very powerful windows, I could hear people screaming and shouting and with love, with real love.”

It sounds like he had no regrets about his decision, adding: “I don’t think there was one negative person, and there was many, many, many people.”


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