Is not being Trump enough to beat Trump?

Who’s got time for a health care pitch when President Donald Trump is embracing QAnon?

If you were looking for what, specifically, Democrats will do if they seize power in Washington next year, you’ll have to dig deeper than the speeches offered during the most-watched portions of their national convention so far this week.
Does it even matter? Joe Biden is not Donald Trump. That might be enough for a whole lot of Americans.
Flashback to February. The bruising primary that Biden won pitted moderates and progressives against each other on the entire role of government in making people’s lives better, raising deep questions like:
  • Should health care be a birthright for everyone?
  • Should the government pay for child care?
  • Should the government give everyone a salary?
  • Should billionaires exist?
Those differences still exist. Look at the spat that erupted Thursday when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed Rep. Joe Kennedy in the Senate primary in Massachusetts over Ed Markey, an author of the Green New Deal. Progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York clapped back.
close dialog
One core argument. But all that’s being swept aside at the national level, for these next few months, as President Trump is presented as an existential threat to the nation.
Conventions are always about coming together and pumping up the base. But this one, in particular, feels singularly directed not at something to vote FOR, but about a demon that must be purged.
Never mind HOW Joe Biden will bring the country out of the Covid depression. Just know that he worked alongside President Barack Obama during the Great Recession.
Never mind HOW Joe Biden will stand up to Vladimir Putin. Just know that he’s got the backing of Colin Powell and John McCain’s ghost. Or how he’ll get a new health care bill passed, or immigration revisions, or a housing bill. Any single one of these could a years-long fight.
They agree on exactly one thing. This will be the great test for Democrats this year, when they are so fractured as a party on what to do, but so united on who to fear.
It’s not a strategy that worked for them in 2004, after a similarly divisive primary, but when John Kerry was effectively defined by George W. Bush and Republicans as a flip-flopper. Watch now as Trump and his allies seek to define Biden as a bumbler not up to the task, despite Trump’s record of bona fide crises. Or their efforts to taint Biden in Ukraine.
But while Trump has not led the country into a shooting war like Bush did, the warnings about his effect on the republic are even more intense.
Biden will have a chance Thursday night to make a case for what he is about, but in this strange year, he may be betting that just being not Trump is enough.

Meanwhile, Trump’s friends

Criminal probe of postmaster general requested — A government watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed a criminal complaint asking for an investigation of Louis DeJoy, the embattled postmaster general, who Democrats have accused of trying to sabotage the postal system ahead of the election.
DeJoy will testify before a Senate committee Friday and a House panel next week.
Speaking of the Postal Service and criminal activity! It was Postal Service inspectors who arrested Steve Bannon (remember him?) on an exiled Chinese billionaire’s yacht on charges of violating federal law.
That’s a Bond villain-level plot twist right there.
Bannon charged with pocketing private donations for Trump’s wall. Bannon is Trump’s former chief strategist, who was run out of the White House when he got a little too big for his britches, but not before he gave Trump an entire whiteboard full of ways to undo America’s status as a world leader.
Turns out the money Bannon raised from online donors to build a wall with Mexico may have been going to Bannon and his cronies, not the fictional wall. At least, that’s what’s alleged by federal prosecutors in New York.
Conspiracy theory group gets a presidential nod. If you haven’t read about Trump’s sort-of endorsement of QAnon — the online hive of fantasists obsessed with a conspiracy of deep state pedophiles (seriously) — you should. Start here.
Trump didn’t start spouting about the specifics but he did refuse to reject the faithful, because “they like me.” There were shades of his tolerance of White supremacist protesters in that statement. If you like Trump, he likes you, no matter who you are.

401 years ago on this day

It’s the 400th anniversary plus a year of the date in 1619 when the first “20 and odd Negroes,” landed in English-speaking North America, according to a letter written by the colonist John Rolfe, Pocahontas’ husband.
Just as slavery was taking hold, so was a form of democracy. That July, the experiment of self-governance began in North America with the creation of the Virginia Assembly.
Justice comes in ebbs and flows. It feels like so much has happened in terms of Americans coming to terms with racial inequality between the 400th anniversary last summer and the 401st today.
Black Lives Matter has emerged as a national movement and been embraced by mainstream corporate America. Kamala Harris, a Black woman, was nominated by a major party to be vice president.
On the other hand, Trump has embraced nostalgia for the Confederacy and the rebels who fought to maintain slavery as part of his bid for reelection.
US Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, has tried to outlaw the teaching of a 1619 curriculum in US schools.
Barack Obama, urging Democrats to vote, said at the Democratic National Convention that no one vote will fix the country, but that there is an arc of justice.
“Earlier generations had to be persuaded that everyone has equal worth,” he said. “For you, it’s a given — a conviction. And what I want you to know is that for all its messiness and frustrations, your system of self-government can be harnessed to help you realize those convictions.”

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