Andrew Sullivan: There are bad people on both sides

Now that Trump has lost, but fails to admit it, Andrew Sullivan is surveying the wreckage of America, worried that Trump may try to throw the election into the House of Representatives. That dire scenario was described by Bart Gellman in the November Atlantic, and could—just conceivably—result in a legal victory for Trump.

I’m not as worried about that as is Sullivan. The press describes Trump’s aides as quietly nudging him towards the door, and although Republican politicians are loath to affirm Biden’s victory, I also believe they will start speaking up as the weeks pass and Trump still hasn’t conceded. But even if this doesn’t take place, Sullivan still presents a post-mortem in his Weekly Dish column below (click on screenshot).

First, Sullivan cites two sets of facts that seem accurate but also disturbing:

And yet a poll found that 70 percent of Republicans — with no credible evidence at all — believe that the election was rigged. House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy, not exactly a fringe character, baldly told Fox News: “President Trump won this election. So everyone who is listening, do not be silent about this. We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes.” Ten Republican state attorneys general have joined in the attempt to prevent Pennsylvania from certifying its election results. Senator Roy Blunt declared: “The president wasn’t defeated by huge numbers, in fact he may not have been defeated at all.”

Well, 70% of Republicans still means less than half the country (unless some deluded Democrats think the election was rigged), but even 35% is a figure way, way too high. Still, as Sullivan says, “we are left for two months with an urgent crisis of legitimacy — and for years ahead, an incoming president Biden who will be deemed the beneficiary of massive fraud by a significant chunk of the country. ”

And there’s this, also casting a bad light on Republicans:

. . . . the damage this past week has already inflicted on basic democratic norms is incalculable. More foreign leaders have accepted Biden’s victory than Republican officials. Think about that for a bit.

So be it. Along with Sullivan, I see Trump’s actions as self-centered and carrying the threat of doing incalculable damage to American democracy.

Although nobody can compare Trump’s current behavior with that of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama after Trump’s 2016 victory (Clinton swiftly conceded and Obama facilitated a smooth transition), Sullivan, who sees himself as a conciliatory middle-of-the-roader, doesn’t find the Democrats innocent of the current mess:

Didn’t the Democrats do this first to Trump four years ago? Isn’t payback ok? Sure, many Dems did say that Trump won in 2016 because of Russia, with no solid proof of anything. Yes, Rachel Maddow is a disgrace. And, yes, some accused him of being an illegitimate president because of it, and because of his popular vote deficit. None of this was defensible rhetoric. And it’s a sign that our political culture has not just decayed on the right.

And he continues, arguing, perhaps justifiably, that the increasing wokeness associated with the Left, has also helped erode the strength of American democracy:

I’ve referred to this process of accelerating illegitimacy before as a Weimar dynamic. By Weimar, I don’t mean a direct parallel to the 1920s and early 30s in Germany. I don’t think we’re anywhere near that nightmare. I mean rather a democracy where the center is always much weaker than the extremes on both sides, where democratic procedures lose legitimacy with the public at large with each election cycle, where street violence supplements debate with the connivance of elites, where propaganda replaces information, and where all the energy is destructive.

I mean a conservatism that keeps surrendering to right-radicalism, because it no longer believes in the liberal project writ large. I mean a liberalism so lacking in conviction that it is  incapable of standing up to the woke left. I mean a media where outlets are incapable of housing a variety of opinions — because radicalized readers and activist journalists believe an open debate is a form of harm and oppression. I mean a left bent on packing courts, abolishing the filibuster, targeting religious freedom, and embracing direct race discrimination as payback for the injuries of the past. I mean a right indifferent to democratic norms, convinced that no Democratic president can be legitimate, consumed with conspiracy theories, and paranoid in a way only Americans can muster.

Much as I bridle at criticism of the more moderate Left as cowardly and censorious, there’s some truth in what Sullivan says. What, for example, is responsible for a Trump loss on the one hand, but a general Republican set of victories for Congressional seats and in state governments? Could it be an America thoroughly sick of Trump’s derangement but suspicious of a more extreme Left? If Democrats don’t win both contested seats in Georgia, the Senate will remain Republican and we’re in for at least two years of a stalemate, with Biden governing by executive order.  And I still worry about the possibility that both Biden and Harris will cave in to the Woke, which would damage the future of the Democratic Party.

Perhaps both Sullivan and I should be celebrating rather than neurosing. But the Republicans are behaving even worse about the election than I expected, and come January they will still be with us, enraged by Trump’s loss. The Woke are still with us, too, and, despite several readers’ predictions, I don’t think they’re going away when Biden enters the White House. Wokeness is by now a self-sustaining phenomenon, driven by the Left’s fear of being called racist, pushed by the media, and barreling to hell for lack of a clear brake on wokeness.

And, I suppose, I’m worried about Trump hanging around as a bellwether of Republican ideology. Could he run again in four years? I don’t think so, but he could, god forbid, become a Senior Republican Statesman with considerable influence. And so Sullivan ends not with a bang, but (god forbid again), a prayer. After all, both he and Biden are Catholics:

And [Trump] is not going away. Far from it. If he leaves office voluntarily, it will be to launch a movement founded around that very Weimar of constructs: a corrupt elite that stabbed the American people in the back in 2020, and robbed them of their votes. He will demand total Republican obstruction to anything Biden or the Democrats propose — because they are usurpers and crooks — and ensure his base remains permanently inflamed with anger and resentment. He will sabotage as much of our system as he can. And by pledging immediately to run in 2024, he will control the GOP as totally in the future as he has in the past.

The 2020 election did not resolve this crisis of legitimacy. It found two Americas, very evenly divided, and at war with one another. And in the days since it ended, it has become clearer and clearer not only that this house is divided, but that Trump would be more than happy to see it fall.

An older, frailer man — perhaps the last man standing in our political culture with deep affection for a less polarized past — has been tasked to hold our democracy together, even as the culture keeps tearing it apart. Pray for him.

“Pray for him”? Is this a metaphor for “send good thoughts and wishes” to Biden? Well, those won’t help, either. What we can do is support Biden politically, and go into the streets, which I swear I’ll do, if Trump tries to hold onto the Presidency.

71 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted November 14, 2020 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    I have trouble lending much credence to his views on “the left” from someone whose solution is an appeal to deities.

    • kesheck
      Posted November 14, 2020 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Very good point, IMO.

  2. nay
    Posted November 14, 2020 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    “Rachel Maddow is a disgrace” – what does this mean? I watch her on MSNBC, what is she saying that he considers disgraceful?

    • Posted November 14, 2020 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      I’m sure Sullivan is referring to Maddow’s incessant reporting that Trump and the Russians were in collusion to influence the 2016 election: a claim that didn’t pan out. Well, she might have been misguided then, but to write her off as “a disgrace” is way over the top.

      • William Boecklen
        Posted November 14, 2020 at 9:58 am | Permalink

        The Mueller Report was full of evidence of interactions between the Trump campaign and Russians designed to assist a Trump victory. Mueller decided, however, that the evidence did not rise to a level that would support a prosecution of Trump.

        Many independent prosecutors disagreed with Mueller’s decision.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted November 14, 2020 at 11:14 am | Permalink

          The Mueller report found that Trump welcomed and took advantage of Russia’s “sweeping and systematic” interference in the 2016 presidential election. It also set out some evidence of coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, but found that that evidence fell short of what would be needed to pursue a conspiracy prosecution.

          The Mueller report set out an abundance of evidence, plainly sufficient to support a prosecution, regarding Donald Trump’s obstruction of the investigation into Russian interference — but Trump’s Roy-Cohen-manqué attorney general, William Barr, crapped all over the scales of justice in his release and characterization of the Mueller report to disguise this otherwise-undeniable fact.

          • Posted November 14, 2020 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

            I think yours is the more accurate account. If the climate had been similar to, say, the Nixon era when both parties had a moral compass, I’m sure DT would have been tried and convicted in the Senate.

      • kesheck
        Posted November 14, 2020 at 9:59 am | Permalink

        With all due respect, it seems to me the charge of collusion did not pan out in only a strictly legally enforceable sense. The Mueller Report is a mind-numbing reporting of seemingly endless meetings between Trump associates and Russians of varying official and unofficial status.

        It’s documented fact that Trump’s campaign shared internal polling figures with Russian agents, and some intel experts have postulated that Russian social media disinformation campaigns could have targeted swing states in the 2016 election, states that were decided by fairly narrow vote margins.

        Then there is, to pick just one, Fiona Hill’s admonition to Congress about Republicans advocating for Ukrainian involvement in U.S. politics was playing into Russian disinformation efforts. I read a number of articles by U.S. intel operatives that argued that Russia has been waging war on the U.S. via social media – such campaigns were Putin’s specialty when he was with the KGB.

        To sum up, as I was reading the Mueller report, and putting it together with the other reading I had done, I found myself thinking over and over again: How is this not collusion? The law must have a very narrow definition of that word.

        • GBJames
          Posted November 14, 2020 at 10:13 am | Permalink

          Actually, the word isn’t a legal one. The crime would have been “conspiracy”. I think the Mueller perspective was that the tRump campaign was too incompetent to have engaged in a conspiracy even though they were the willing recipients of illegal Russian election interference. Remember…. Russians were actually charged with crimes resulting from this investigation.

          • kesheck
            Posted November 14, 2020 at 10:27 am | Permalink

            Ah, right, excellent point about those Russians being charged with crimes!

        • Posted November 14, 2020 at 10:23 am | Permalink

          I think it was mostly a matter of Trump successfully blocking the investigation, rather than any kind of exoneration.

          • kesheck
            Posted November 14, 2020 at 10:28 am | Permalink

            Yes, another good point, Paul.

        • Historian
          Posted November 14, 2020 at 11:20 am | Permalink

          This is a well-crafted rejoinder. The Mueller report was a searing indictment of the relationship of Trump and his cronies with the Russians. I am surprised that Sullivan fell for Trump propaganda.

      • Mark
        Posted November 14, 2020 at 10:10 am | Permalink

        It did “pan out” – unless by that you mean he wasn’t found guilty of it.

        Guide to the Mueller Report’s Findings on “Collusion”

        https://www.justsecurity.org/63838/guide-to-the-mueller-reports-findings-on-collusion/

      • Mickey Mortimer
        Posted November 14, 2020 at 10:28 am | Permalink

        But the Russia collusion was real, albeit very incompetently acted upon by Trump’s people.

      • phoffman56
        Posted November 14, 2020 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

        “Rachel Maddow is a disgrace” – what does this mean?”

        I’d thought I’d ask the same here, till I saw that.

        I don’t think the reply by Jerry is particularly strong against Maddow, which it isn’t really.

        The one fairly unusual thing, by USian network ‘news’ typical stuff, about Maddow’s ‘show’ is her staff digging up factual material and her presenting it. The worst aspect is her repetitiveness, as though she’s teaching 10-year olds. I’d assume that Sullivan thinks he has evidence that a lot of these are not factual. But why the short snarky remark, followed by…fuck all, nothing.

        I do find much of the rest of that channel full of smarmy self-righteous prigs, especially the guy that follows her and the pair in the morning, so haven’t spent time watching it much. The main general objectionable aspect of MSNBC is essentially never interviewing opposing people–too much like a left-leaning mimic of Fox.

        Perhaps Maddow ‘put Sullivan down’ at some point, I’ve no idea. He’s also very bright, but seems almost to be turning into a psychological basket case to me at some points in the last year or so.

        • Posted November 14, 2020 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

          Yes, it’s like Maddow killed Sullivan’s dog or something. Must be some history there.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted November 14, 2020 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      The disgrace is Sullivan’s for calling Maddow a disgrace.

      During the course of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the public and the media were largely left to supposition logically drawn from scant evidence — since the Mueller investigative team was absolutely leak-proof and since everything put out by Trump’s defense team was a bald-faced lie.

      Maddow did her best to ferret out what was going on in the investigation from the sketchy evidence at hand. That some of her inferences and suppositions (which she clearly labelled as such) didn’t pan out is no disgrace; it’s simply a byproduct of the secret nature of the investigation.

  3. Posted November 14, 2020 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    ”I mean a left bent on packing courts, abolishing the filibuster, targeting religious freedom”

    What is wrong with abolishing the filibuster? And what religious liberties are being targeted?

    • ritaprangle
      Posted November 14, 2020 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      I was thinking exactly the same thing!

    • Posted November 14, 2020 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      To some religious people (inc Sullivan?) “religious liberty” means the right to ignore laws one doesn’t like.

      To sensible people “religious liberty” is merely a part of wider freedom of expression, but you still have to obey rules that are there for good secular reasons.

      • Posted November 14, 2020 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        Yes, those questions were more rhetorical, intended to point out that some of Sullivan’s concerns about the left are not legitimate concerns.

    • Mark R.
      Posted November 14, 2020 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      And the Republicans have been packing the courts since Trump took office; not to mention that once Obama lost the Senate, McConnell blocked countless lower court openings as well as Obama’s rightful SCOTUS pick Merrick Garland. And let’s not forget that at least 10 of the justices the Senate confirmed were labeled unqualified by the ABA. Sullivan has his blinders firmly in place.

  4. Posted November 14, 2020 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    While Sullivan is mostly right here, I cringed at his naked both-sides argument with respect to calling the opposing just-elected president illegitimate. The Russian interference in 2016 was real and Trump’s involvement being investigated. The number of meetings his team had with Russians during the campaign is still suspect. In 2020, we have Trump throwing out lawsuits with no evidence at all. I may be biased but I don’t see these as being equal at all.

    Another big difference is that Trump holds the reins of power and is the candidate involved, so it is totally different when he claims that an election is illegitimate. So what if Rachel Maddow says it? She’s a paid rabble rouser. She should be compared with her competition on Fox News, not elected officials, where she would probably come out on top in terms of reason and honesty.

    • Max Blancke
      Posted November 14, 2020 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      It depends on the aggrieved party.

      “Our election was hijacked. There is no question” Pelosi, 5/16/17

      In the current era, when a democrat fails to win an election, it is due to fraud or foreign interference, and the republican is “illegitimate” for their term of office.

      When a republican comes up short in an election and calls shenanigans, the Brennan center is invoked, and we are reminded that election fraud is a fictional concept.

      And 95% of the media actively promote these ideas. Not because they have actually investigated and found it to be the case, but as a matter of dogma.

      In actual authoritarian countries where the media is state controlled, people quickly learn to intuit some part of the actual truth by paying attention to what the media refuses to mention, or how strongly they insist that the leak poses no danger, was quickly repaired, and posed no radiation hazard anyway.

      • Posted November 14, 2020 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        Max, this is crap. Back in 2016, Pelosi is almost certainly referring to the Russian interference which has been substantiated by many parties, including the intelligence services in Trump’s own administration.

        “And 95% of the media actively promote these ideas. Not because they have actually investigated and found it to be the case, but as a matter of dogma.”

        This is totally not true. The media has waited for the people actually claiming fraud to produce evidence of it. We know that the GOP has none as (1) the judges that have ruled so far have said so and (2) various GOP groups have offered large cash rewards for people to send them evidence. Clearly if they had any evidence, they wouldn’t be looking so hard for it now. And, of course, Trump has been signalling his willingness to cheat to win for months. It’s no surprise that he is actually cheating now.

        • Max Blancke
          Posted November 14, 2020 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

          I cannot imagine that any informed person could claim that media fact-checking standards are consistent on both anti and pro Trump reports.

          • GBJames
            Posted November 14, 2020 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

            ”…consistent on both anti and pro Trump reports.”

            I don’t understand what you’re trying to say. This phrase doesn’t parse.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted November 14, 2020 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

            By the same token, I can’t believe that any informed person could possibly believe that the counterfactual claims (viz., lies) put forward by the anti- and pro-Trump sides are anywhere near equivalent.

            They ain’t in the same ballpark. Ain’t in the same league. Hell, they ain’t even playin’ the same sport.

          • Posted November 14, 2020 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

            What’s that? A sort of reverse both-sides argument? No human enterprise is 100% consistent over time. Your statement adds nothing.

  5. Posted November 14, 2020 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    For more in the outrage vein, check out Lou Dobbs’ meltdown:

    https://twitter.com/JasonSCampbell/status/1327383182661054465

    • BobTerrace
      Posted November 14, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      Lou Dobbs is mentally unbalanced. He should go back to reporting the stock market. He at least did a mediocre job of that.

      • kesheck
        Posted November 14, 2020 at 10:16 am | Permalink

        Is this really close to yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater, or am I just such a Fox hater that I can’t judge this sort of thing objectively? I mean, attempting to undermine the result of this election with zero evidence is striking at the very foundation of our democracy.

        I guess it’s not an imminent call to violence, huh?

  6. jezgrove
    Posted November 14, 2020 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    “and Obama facilitated a smooth transition” – well, he tried to but Trump’s transition teams didn’t show up, according to Michael Lewis’ The Fifth Risk.

    • Mark R.
      Posted November 14, 2020 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      Yup. I need to reread that book, but it’s a scary read.

  7. BobTerrace
    Posted November 14, 2020 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    The sky is falling according to Sullivan. That he incorrectly points to the Democrats disrupting for the last four years (not even close to true, they tried compromising). Sullivan doesn’t point to the eight years of Republicans refusing to compromise and trying to do everything to disrupt the Obama administration, particularly the turtle, McConnell, shows that Sullivan is way off base and not worth anyone paying him any attention.

    I will listen to Rachel Maddow over Sullivan in a New York minute. Collusion was proven. Mueller stated that Trump was guilty but he played by the game of not implicating a sitting president which was only an old (incorrect) DOJ policy.

  8. Posted November 14, 2020 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Last week on Saturday Night Live, Dave Chapelle, in his opening monologue, said, “I thought Trump was an optimist. There’s bad people on both sides.” (The quote is from memory, so probably not exact.) The joke fell flat, the audience perhaps not recognizing quickly enough the allusion to the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally.

    GCM

  9. Randall Schenck
    Posted November 14, 2020 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Sullivan spends a lot of time ignoring the most urgent problem of the moment in his political opinions. The health and economy of the entire country is in serious difficulty and he does not even concern himself with that. Too busy with hypothetical moves by Trump or the woke I guess. By the time we get to January the death toll will be over 300,000 and finding a bed in a hospital may be out of the question. I don’t much care what republicans or democratic pundits want to speculate on. This country is in very bad shape and headed for worse. Everything that Trump has done and will continue to do until he is out is making it much worse. Biden wants to do a lot of things but cannot until 20 January and by then it will be much worse. We are in a race to disaster and any leadership is still way off.

    • phoffman56
      Posted November 14, 2020 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

      “…January the death toll will be over 300,000…”

      That will certainly be correct.

      But may I add:
      It will be over 400,000 when one looks back and sees the excess: actual death numbers less the statistically expected death numbers.

      That takes the death toll of this virus to mean: the actual number of deaths which would not have occurred had the virus not struck. Not some medical definition. There have been several mutually consistent partial studies of that which indicate that one should add about 33% to the reported virus death tolls to get that excess.

      That’s for US; it’s lower for some countries, higher for others.

  10. Chris
    Posted November 14, 2020 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Od dwóch lat jestem coraz bardziej i bardziej przekonany że niedostatki lewicy to drobiazg wobec tego co dzieje się na prawicy amerykańskiej .To trochę zaczyna według mnie przypominać problem kurzu w pokoju(lewica) który zaczyna płonąć (prawica ) .Wiadomo że kurz i nieporządek są ważne ale bez przesady ,tu robi się gorąco . Inna sprawa że tę prawicę nadzorują ludzie ,którzy są kapłanami władzy ,nie posiadającymi żadnych poglądów poza władzą ,żadnej moralności ,żadnych zasad ,NIC .

    Przepraszam ale mój translator zyskał (chyba) świadomość albo kontroluje go jakiś złośliwy malutki krasnal .

    • Chris
      Posted November 14, 2020 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      Od dwóch lat jestem coraz bardziej i bardziej przekonany że niedostatki lewicy to drobiazg wobec tego co dzieje się na prawicy amerykańskiej .To trochę zaczyna według mnie przypominać problem kurzu w pokoju “lewica “który zaczyna płonąć -“prawica”.Wiadomo że kurz i nieporządek są ważne ale bez przesady ,tu robi się gorąco . Inna sprawa że tę prawicę nadzorują ludzie ,którzy są kapłanami władzy ,nie posiadającymi żadnych poglądów poza władzą ,żadnej moralności ,żadnych zasad ,NIC .

      Przepraszam ale mój translator zyskał (chyba) świadomość albo kontroluje go jakiś złośliwy malutki krasnal .

      Wysyłam drugi raz gdyż wcina część słów

      • jezgrove
        Posted November 14, 2020 at 10:39 am | Permalink

        You’ll have sort out that “malicious little gnome”!

  11. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 14, 2020 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Sure, many Dems did say that Trump won in 2016 because of Russia, with no solid proof of anything.

    Bullshit, Andrew.

    It is beyond peradventure that the Russian intelligence agencies interfered in the 2016 US presidential election for the benefit of Donald Trump — both by hacking emails (and selectively releasing them) from the DNC and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta and by mounting a malign-influence effort on social media. This was the unanimous conclusion of the US intelligence agencies, of the Republican-led senate intelligence committee, and of the Mueller special counsel investigation (which indicted the GRU and its operatives for these crimes).

    It is also beyond peradventure that Donald Trump and his minions knew of these efforts (hell, Trump’s son, son-in-law, and campaign manager met with Kremlin representatives in June 2016 in an effort to obtain dirt on Hillary Clinton), encouraged them (Paul Manafort supplied internal Trump campaign information to Russian agent Konstantin Kliminik), welcomed them (“Russia if you’re listening …”), and took advantage of them (Trump directed potential voters to “Wikileaks” over 100 time in the last month of the 2016 campaign). Trump also lied through his teeth about it (claiming that the hacking could have been done by a 400 pound guy lying in his bed in New Jersey even after he received intelligence briefings), publicly sided with Vladimir Putin (most egregiously in Helsinki), and undermined the Obama administration’s imposition of sanctions against Russians for this interference.

    Despite all this, Democrats never asserted that Trump didn’t win sufficient votes in the electoral college to be the duly elected president, and the Obama administration did everything in its power to foster the peaceful transition of power to the Trump administration.

    Enough with the golden-mean-fallacy, bothsidesism BS.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted November 14, 2020 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Very good. I find this Sullivan to be closer to a Trump operative than anything else. He just throws it around, the BS that is.

      • Jon Gallant
        Posted November 14, 2020 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

        But wait! Aren’t we assured that the June, 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with Kremlin associates was for the sole purpose of discussing “Russian adoptions”? We just weren’t told whether Ната́лья Влади́мировна Весельни́цкая was proposing to adopt Donald Trump, or he was planning to adopt her, or maybe they would adopt each other.

    • Mark R.
      Posted November 14, 2020 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      Hear, hear!

  12. Dick Veldkamp
    Posted November 14, 2020 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    I find Sullivan’s piece (the paragraphs that are cited) a weird example of bothsideism. How in the world can one maintain that the left is just as bad as the right? There is no symmetry here.

    The problem is that the GOP is fine with using any unfair means in achieving its goals.

    If one side consistently refuses to play by the rules, what do you do? You can throw out the rule book too (and maybe things are so bad now that you should), but the problem is that goes against what the left stands for.

    It seems to me that abolishing the filibuster or packing the SC aren’t bad solutions (if possible, that is). At least there is nothing unconstitutional about it.

  13. Historian
    Posted November 14, 2020 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Sullivan says:

    “I mean a left bent on packing courts, abolishing the filibuster, targeting religious freedom, and embracing direct race discrimination as payback for the injuries of the past.”

    Democrats and the Left in general can be legitimately criticized for becoming too cozy with the Woke during the election season. I believe that their failure to condemn forthrightly the riots and violence cost them enough votes to lose many down ballot races that they shouldn’t have. However, Sullivan is wrong in criticizing the Left for packing the courts, abolishing the filibuster, and targeting religious freedom. I’m not sure what Sullivan means by “embracing direct race discrimination” unless he is referring to what has happened on college campuses. I don’t see how the left has targeted religious freedom. Is he a speechwriter for Samuel Alito? Packing the court and abolishing the filibuster (both very unlikely to happen now) is called playing hardball politics, which Sullivan has apparently failed to notice is a trademark of the Republicans. Both actions, by the way, are totally constitutional.

    Sullivan is anything but a profound pundit. He makes some good points, but seemingly always counterbalanced by bad ones. I don’t miss not reading him.

    • drosophilist
      Posted November 14, 2020 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      I believe Sullivan’s comment on “embracing race discrimination” refers to the ballot measure in California that would have abolished that state’s prohibition on using race in hiring, college admissions, etc. I.e., had it passed, a college would have been justified in hiring a person explicitly because they’re Black, and the college wants more Black students. That proposition was strongly supported by the left, but it failed.

  14. Posted November 14, 2020 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Stephen King makes a fair point in a tw**t Nov 08:

    Dear Megyn Kelly: We “snowflakes” and “libtards” were demonized as well. Sometimes by men and women toting high iron. It’s time for both sides to cut the shit.

    Plenty of my neighbors put banners up: Not My President. The difference now is the side that lost likes their guns and know that god is on their side.

    • Brujo Feo
      Posted November 14, 2020 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

      “[T]he side that lost likes their guns…”

      True enough. And the left has ceded not only ownership of weapons to the right, but also control of the vast majority of land where food is grown and where water comes from.

      Remember Michelle Obama saying that “when they go low, we go high”? Well…how’s that working out for you now, Michelle?

      While the left was crowing about its moral superiority, the right (and especially now the Trumputos) were learning to master gerrymandering. Learning the art of propaganda in ways that would make Joseph Goebbels blush. Learning to work with Russian troll farms.

      The left has been falling all over itself to play the Eloi to the right’s Morlocks. As I recall, that tends not to work out well for the Eloi.

  15. Matt
    Posted November 14, 2020 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    I have developed a visceral hatred of Trump and his supporters.

    a la Rodney Dangerfield:

    “We refuse to wear masks. We refuse to stop gathering. We refuse to cooperate with tracers. We’re doing everything we can to stop the virus and reopen the economy.”

  16. JohnE
    Posted November 14, 2020 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    “Didn’t the Democrats do this first to Trump four years ago? Isn’t payback ok? Sure, many Dems did say that Trump won in 2016 because of Russia, with no solid proof of anything.”

    Once again, this is a case of patently false equivalencies:

    1. In 2016 Trump announced to the world that he would only accept the results of the election if he won. Hillary did no such thing.

    2. Trump has filed numerous lawsuits to try to invalidate the 2020 election results. Hillary filed exactly -0- lawsuits after the 2016 election.

    3. Trump has requested recounts in several states in the 2020 election. Hillary requested exactly -0- recounts in the 2016 election.

    4. The complaints by some on the left about the unfairness of the 2016 were based on documented evidence. The Trump campaign had over 100 documented contacts with Russia during the 2016 campaign, all of which they failed to disclose and many of which they lied about, including a meeting with Trump’s senior campaign staff for the express purpose of discussing the Russian government’s offer to provide “dirt” on Hillary. Additionally, American intelligence agencies repeatedly confirmed that the Russians had interfered in the election for the purpose of supporting Trump. Contrast that with the unsubstantiated complaints of Trump and his enablers that have so far resulted in them being laughed out of court in many of their lawsuits.

    I recognize that there are whackos on both the left and the right. However, the critical difference is that the whackos represent the mainstream of the right and actually occupy the most senior positions of power on that side of the political spectrum — including, the presidency itself. The whackos on the left do not represent the mainstream of the left and do not occupy key positions of power (e.g., Ocasio-Cortez is a high profile but largely powerless player on the left).

    I keep waiting for conservatives to make the claim that Trump was fully justified in gassing peaceful protestors to facilitate his photo-op because Obama once farted in the Oval Office.

  17. grasshopper
    Posted November 14, 2020 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Come back, James Randi.

    We need someone to put up a million dollars as an incentive to anyone who can prove systematic conspiratorial election-rigging.

  18. revelator60
    Posted November 14, 2020 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    In a just world, Republicans like Kevin McCarthy would lose their credibility and be forced by their own party to apologize for undermining our democracy.

    If there are bad people on both sides, there are more bad ones on the Republicans’. They are actively engaged in denying the results of a fair election. The Democrats did not engage in nearly anything so extreme in the week after Trump won. Pointing to the Russia investigation—which was fully justified—is hardly evidence for the contrary.

    As for the Democrats, they did not do as well in this election as anticipated. Bill Maher has just put up a clip explaining why and offering his advice: cut down on woke posturing and focus on issues that affect the middle and working class voters they party has lost.

    • Posted November 14, 2020 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      Bill Maher’s closing monologue last night was a great analysis of what went wrong with the election for Democrats.

      https://youtu.be/SgrZAPUvKyA

      • Mark R.
        Posted November 14, 2020 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        That was a good New Rules dialogue.
        What I didn’t understand was his interview with the first guest Jenna Ellis. As Trump’s senior legal advisor she was spinning like Kellyanne Conway, and Maher couldn’t get a word in and didn’t seem to try. There was no push back; she completely steam-rolled him, and he lost control of the interview. Very unlike him. The rest of the show made up for it though.

        • Posted November 14, 2020 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

          I consider it different than the New Rules segment as it’s the serious part that ends the show.

          Yes, I don’t know why he bothers with someone like her. What people like her do is a sort of Trumpian performance art where the interviewer plays the straight man. What must it be like to be someone like her?

          • GBJames
            Posted November 14, 2020 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

            Imagine being her poor daughter.

            • Posted November 14, 2020 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

              Yes, what does she say at parties? “My mom polishes b*lls for the Trump administration.”

    • Posted November 15, 2020 at 6:52 am | Permalink

      That was very good and, in my opinion, nails it.

      Unfortunately, Maher is one f those people beyond the pale according to the woke and therefore you mustn’t listen to anything he says.

  19. KD33
    Posted November 14, 2020 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    I gave Sullivan a chance. But I am finding him less and less compelling. In this case, a grand example of false equivalence that I am amazed he can’t parse. And on other topics, he’s just not offering enough nutrition. Sorry, I’m out.

  20. Posted November 14, 2020 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    Sullivan’s writing is not completely ridiculous. I won’t go much into that “extremes” fiction he sees on both sides. In my book, the right went extreme decades ago, poisoned by talk radio and Fox. Televangelists, satanic panic, gays causing hurricanes, “spiritual adviser” Paula White – America’s right went bonkers long ago. They right was a Cancel Culture long ago, just came late to the internet.

    Bernie Sanders led an anti-establishment movement concerned with social democratic ideas that are commonplace from Canada to France. We know that those ideas are popular also in the States. Even in the red ones. He found surprise approval with a Fox town hall audience; was popular on Joe Rogan’s. Two thirds of Americans agree to some kind of government-organised health care. Florida voters decided to raise the minimum wage to $15, whilst also voting red. Put a pin into that one.

    Then there is the “defund the police” wing. The Democrats put Joe Biden the “architect of mass incarceration” (Cory Booker) in charge, who co-wrote the ‘94 crime bill. Kamala Harris is a similar law enforcement character. Sullivan can rest well that the world’s largest prison population will be replenished as usual.

    Then there’s wokeness proper. We discussed this a million times, but it should be uncontroversial that this ideology is concerned with race and gender representations far above everything else. It was far more important to the woke to tick off the “first female president” box with Hillary Clinton in 2016 than to get Sanders social democratic politics on the road. We know this from the DNC slogans; where their media placed the emphasis. We know this from the very online woke brigades who launched stories about “toxic” Sanders fans; headlines about how Sanders allegedly said sexist things to Warren and so on.

    The donors are in process to switch to blue, which will accellerate as the Republicans won’t be able to win a popular vote in fair elections for the forseeable future. Mainstream Democrats don’t want to scare away that money and power. The ex-Republicans like this new neocon-neoliberal merger. Sullivan, Brooks, Frum, the Democrat mainstream, the woke are really on the same team. They say whatever to stave off of this pesky social democratic corner, no matter how popular it is. A red state voting for an increase of the minimum wage doesn’t make a dent in their views.

    Wokeness will come, but it is not labour improvements, some form of health care for everybody and other stuff American nightmares are made out of. Sullivan should not worry. The homeless will stay in their rain-soaked cardboard box, and the USA will not become a communist nightmare like Denmark. Millions of Americans will remain uninsured and Sullivan can sleep well knowing they’ll be begging for their lives on gofundme also in the coming years, if a deadly condition besets them.

    The only thing Sullivan has to concede is that the CEO of his favourite arms manufacturer might be a woman. Maybe even one “of color”.

    • ruth
      Posted November 15, 2020 at 5:02 am | Permalink

      Thanks for your comment, I wholly agree with you.

  21. Roo
    Posted November 14, 2020 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    My prediction, fwiw:

    – I think Trump will leave office, and he’ll be kinda down the Memory Hole shortly after he does. I don’t know why I think that, just my intuition. Maybe because he just feels like the political version of an altered state, and once those states are over, you kind of can’t connect them to your current reality so you just say “Huh. Huh.” and move on. There’s always that group who just doesn’t want to turn the lights on at the end of a rave (or whatever it is kids do these days,) and hang in there for longer – but that doesn’t change the fact that once it’s done, it’s done.

    – I think history repeating itself with the children of the Boomers is unfolding in a way that is Twilight Zone esque in its uncanniness. Obama-Kennedy; Trump-Nixon; and now Biden-Carter (I do like Biden a lot, but that’s just how I see this term going.)

    – I think Wokeness is just entering seasonal lag effect. It will appear, in some ways, to grow even stronger in the next four years or so, with more outrageous examples of Woke-ity-Woke-ness, but there is substantial sentiment against it at this point that was absent before, indicating the solstice has been reached (how’s that for a long and tortured metaphor?)

    – I think the backlash to Wokeness and the likely Rightward shift we will see over this decade is something to be wary of in its own right, although I’m worrying about something that hasn’t even happened yet and may never happen (perhaps I’m totally wrong in this prediction and Wokeness will indeed become ‘the successor ideology’ for the US.) My armchair-psychology analysis is still that Trump, for all his problems, affected most people in a way that was theoretical and removed from their daily lives. If you talk about the biggest issues with Trump, they involve phrases like ‘standing on the world stage’ and ‘structure of our democracy’. When talking about the threat of Wokeness one would use phrases like ‘losing your job’, ‘having your life ruined by a mob’, or ‘riots and fires in your town’. Those are deeply personal threats and I feel that the way human minds are wired, we only have to come within sniffing distance of something like that once before we turn snarling on the thing that produced it. (Abstract threats we can tsk about for quite some time without a lot of visceral, amygdala-charged response.) So while both Trump and Wokeism have produced their backlashes, I think the backlash against the latter will be much more substantial, again, over the next decade or so, and that you could get some more extreme Rightward movements riding in on that emotional wave.

  22. Wayne Y Hoskisson
    Posted November 14, 2020 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    What is in Trump’s future seems uncertain to me. The Mueller report did not exonerate him. Mueller agreed with the DoJ position that they did not find a crime that could be charged against a sitting president by the DoJ. It was up to Congress to prosecute a president. Their are tax related investigations into Trump’s finances in a N.Y. District Court. I have not seen that those investigations have been resolved. This may have been part of the reason Trump moved his residence to Florida. Trump may remain in the news for some time. There could be problems from the flow of money into his hotels and resorts. He is already grifting for a defense fund.

  23. Posted November 15, 2020 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Didn’t the Democrats do this first to Trump four years ago?

    No no no no no! They did not. They accepted the result even though it was a bitter pill.

    This is gaslighting.

    Isn’t payback ok? Sure, many Dems did say that Trump won in 2016 because of Russia, with no solid proof of anything

    There is solid proof that Russia interfered with the 2016 election. The Mueller Report says so. Despite this, I’ve seen very few people claiming it changed the result.

    I’m sorry, but if this is the level of Sullivan’s writing, I’m pretty glad I did not subscribe.

  24. Don
    Posted November 15, 2020 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    We shouldn’t let them have “Woke” since they most certainly aren’t.


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