Let's by all means make this a time for healing
Reader feedback and updates at end
In his “victory speech” on Nov. 7, President-elect Joe Biden asserted that one of his highest priorities as president would be to represent all Americans, whether they voted for or against him, and thereby promote national healing. Or stated differently, the voters had given him and his party a mandate “to marshal the forces of decency and the forces of fairness . . . the forces of science and the forces of hope in the great battles of our time” – starting with “the battle to control the virus.” Transcript, 11/7/20.
These words differed markedly from Mr. Biden’s tone during the pre-election political conversation. Consider, for example, how he attacked his opponent in the first presidential debate. Presidential candidates square off, 10/5/20.
Examples from the transcript. Biden referred to the president as “totally irresponsible,” a “fool,” and “the worst president America’s ever had.” He also claimed that the president talks about the military being “losers” and “suckers.”
As for substance, the election results hardly indicate that the American people have given Mr. Biden and his party a mandate for a progressive agenda. Biden reportedly won the presidency by an electoral college vote margin of 306 to 232, which margin could be narrowed or even eliminated by pending challenges in PA, GA, MI, etc. Congressional Democrats failed to gain control of the Senate (although they might potentially do so by winning both of the Georgia runoff races on January 5th), and they appear to be on track to lose about 10 seats in the House (albeit retaining a majority).
Our “no mandate” perception was shared by a liberal column in the News Journal. Looks like McConnell will stay on as Senate majority leader, the writer lamented, and be able “to reprise his Obama-era role as human roadblock, stifling whatever he wants.” Biden tax plan – universal healthcare - gun controls - renewable energy – etc. Tragedy: GOP not fleeing Trumpism, Paul Brandus, 11/11/20.
Never say die, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been theorizing that the president-elect could do lots of things on his own authority. She once taught at Harvard Law School, so presumably her ideas should be taken seriously. Elizabeth Warren has drastic plan to bypass the Constitution, absolutenews.com, 11/13/20.
On November 11, the Washington Post published an op-ed written by Senator Warren. In the piece, she claimed Biden won (it’s not official yet) because he ran on the “most progressive economic and racial justice platform” in history. She went on to say Biden should bypass Congress on important issues such as forgiving student loan debts, reforming law enforcement, raising the minimum wage, and other far-Left policies.
If Biden is sincere about fostering national healing, how might he pursue this goal? It’s been suggested that he should offer some concessions as a token of good faith, which might persuade some Trump voters that his call for unity amounts to more than Beltway virtue-signaling. A “time to heal” agenda, Wall Street Journal, 11/10/20.
Declare a truce with the Little Sisters of the Poor, no purpose has been served by harassing them for a decade – stop opposing Opportunity Scholarships for students in the District of Columbia, which provide a lifeline for thousands of low-income children trapped in bad public schools - drop the idea of a purge campaign against former employees of the Trump administration.
Nice thoughts, and the WSJ editors added that they could offer some more suggestions “if Mr. Biden wants to hear them.” In a similar vein, we’d like to put a couple of our own ideas on the table.
1. Electoral integrity - As discussed in last week’s entry, the handling of the 2020 elections seemed “exceedingly sloppy.” Many conservatives agree. Poll: 70 % of Republicans don’t think election was free and fair, Catherine Kim (Politico), yahoo.com, 11/9/20.
An overwhelming majority (92%) of Democrats responded to the poll, however, that the elections were handled just fine. Takeaway: genuine impartiality is a rarity in this world and people tend to take a view of the facts that supports their hoped-for conclusions.
Consider the vicious put-down of the president’s press conference on Nov. 5, which preceded Biden’s address to the nation on Nov. 6 and victory speech on Nov. 7. Trump’s historic, dishonest press conference, Tom Nichols (USA Today), News Journal, 11/8/20.
“After years of bullying, pouting and lying from the podium, this was Donald Trump most historic press conference,” and it was “pure poison.” Knowing his defeat was imminent, “he no longer felt the need to stay even remotely tethered to reality.” Count only the legal votes and “we easily win,” throw in illegal votes and “they can try to steal the election.”
Similarly, a subsequent “news” story cited the observations of selected officials to show that the elections were well handled while dismissing President Trump’s complaints as nonsense. States: Voting smooth despite Trump claims, Christina Cassidy et al., News Journal, 11/12/20.
•The first sentence refers to “the baseless claims of fraud being leveled by President Donald Trump following his defeat,” expressing the basic premise of the report without offering any proof of it.
•There is a statement about “all the challenges,” but no discussion of who was raising challenges or what they were about. No critics of the elections are mentioned other than President Trump.
•Republican lawmakers have said the president should be allowed to launch legal challenges, but apparently only to humor him as many of the challenges “have already been turned away by judges, and those that remain do not include evidence of problems that would change the outcome of the race.”
•State officials are quoted that things went fine in WI, MI and GA. Thus, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said there were no “instances of irregularities in the process of counting the votes, only evidence-free allegations, wild speculation and conspiracy theories.” What about the 200+ affidavits of voter fraud in Wayne County, MI [Detroit] alone, executed under penalty of perjury, which have been filed in court?
The claims of voting irregularities are not simply that a given batch of votes didn’t get properly counted or whatever. Here are some of the claims (not a complete list): Universal mail-in ballots were sent to everyone on the voting rolls in several states (e.g., Nevada) including dead people, people who had moved from the state, etc. - vote counting was stopped for several hours during the early morning hours after Election Day in several battleground states, which is highly unusual - Dominion Voting Systems (used in over 20 states) can change voting totals without leaving a trail, and apparently did so in at least two cases (both times benefitting Democratic candidates) with a potential for many undetected errors – access to partisan observers was denied for mail-in ballot processing and counting in Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee, etc. –- numerous Biden only ballots mysteriously got into the mix (there were very few Trump only ballots) - ballots were altered by poll workers to cure deficiencies, e.g., by filling in bogus birth dates, supplying missing witness signatures, etc. – Trump ballots may have been discarded or misdirected by the Postal Service, while Biden ballots may have been backdated so they could be counted.
A current summary of the Trump campaign challenges was provided by Rudy Giuliani (who has reportedly been put in charge of all the ongoing election litigation for the Trump campaign) and Sidney Powell (who has gotten the Mueller probe charges against Michael Flynn turned around since she got involved in that case) in interviews on the Maria Bartiromo Show (Fox News) on Nov. 15. The charges sound credible, are said to be backed by a solid and rapidly growing body of evidence, and could – if upheld – easily change the results of the presidential race in GA, MI, PA, etc. We have no basis to predict how things will turn out, but this does not appear to be a baseless exercise being conducted to salve President Trump’s feelings.
One could hardly expect Biden to join in challenging his own election, but he could issue a public statement to the effect that his opponent is entitled to pursue his legal challenges and should not be mocked and criticized for doing so because, at the end of the day, we should all want the election results to be right. Don’t “count every vote,” but rather “count every vote that was legally cast.”
2. COVID vaccines – Perhaps the most important issue in the 2020 elections was the coronavirus pandemic and what could/should be done about it. Fairly or not, President Trump got most of the blame, as though he had single-handedly brought about the rising number of Americans who had died from the disease (plus other health problems in most cases). Election issues: Summing up, section 6 (coronavirus pandemic), 10/26/20.
He had a plan for addressing the pandemic, claimed the challenger, while the president had given up. “He’s quit on you”: Biden blasts Trump’s COVID response as he unveils new plan, Naomi Lin, Washington Examiner, 10/23/20.
[Biden] would (a) lead by example (and has been scrupulously observant of mask-wearing), (b) push for a national mask mandate versus leaving this decision to state authorities, (c) develop vaccines, but they won’t be available until mid-2021 (and he wouldn’t trust any vaccines approved by Trump), and (d) ensure that states, schools, businesses, etc. get all the coronavirus aid they need for an ultimately successful reopening.
Trump had struck a far more positive note about the timing of developing COVID vaccines and making them available for the American public. He evidently hoped to be able to make a dramatic announcement on the subject before Election Day, which might have suggested to some voters that he had not taken his eye off the coronavirus ball after all.
As it happened, the breakthrough took place shortly after the election and Pfizer chose to make a public announcement on November 9 (E+6) without alerting Trump administration officials. Many Americans were thrilled, apparently, and stock market prices soared. But some Democrat leaders pooh-poohed the development, expressing doubts that the vaccine would be available to the public any time soon. A vaccine triumph, Betsy McCaughey, townhall.com, 11/11/20.
•If only science could cure the cynicism of our politicians. The big lie that drove the presidential election was that Trump was to blame for 230,000 COVID deaths. Joe Biden assailed Trump for opening the economy and vowed to shut it down again if scientists recommended it. Biden promised to get control of the virus, but he was clueless. It was Trump who had the vision to focus on vaccine development.
•Amazingly, one group isn't celebrating: Democratic politicians. They'd rather criticize the breakthrough than allow the triumph to occur on President Donald Trump's watch. Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York and Gov. Gavin Newsom in California are saying FDA approval of the vaccine isn't enough, and they'll insist on approval by experts in their own states as well. *** Cuomo took it a preposterous step further on Monday, arguing that it would be better if the vaccine plan were delayed until Joe Biden became president.
When the Trump administration took a victory lap about the vaccine at a White House press conference on Nov. 13, the mainstream media seemed determined to downplay the announcement. See, e.g., Trump praises progress on vaccine, Zeke Miller et al. (AP), News Journal, 11/14/20.
This story was written as though the president had appeared at the podium by himself, rather than along with the co-leaders of Operation Warp Speed (a scientist and a general), HHS Secretary Alex Azar, and Vice President Mike Pence, all of whom seemed elated about how things were going and genuinely appreciative for Trump’s hands-on support. Despite assurances of all concerned that the vaccine would be rolled out very soon, the reporters chose to focus primarily on the potential for delays.
Two juicy points were omitted: (1) Pfizer’s CEO had initially stated that his company had not been involved in Operation Warp Speed, apparently forgetting that Pfizer had been provided with $2 billion in taxpayer funds under the program for vaccine development; and (2) No vaccine would be provided to New York until Governor Andrew Cuomo, specifically said he wanted it.
The punch line was that the president had not taken any questions at the event, such as would have permitted the press to question him about having “leveled baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud, even though his own administration has said there is no evidence to support the claims.”
How petty! The apparent results of Project Warp Speed are truly impressive, and all concerned should be delighted. So what would it hurt for President-elect Biden to say exactly that, giving credit where credit is due, and perhaps privately suggest to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that he get in step.
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For its part, there are probably a few things the Trump administration could do to calm things down - such as being a bit more cooperative with the Biden transition team. See, e.g., Let the transition proceed, Charles Lipson, Wall Street Journal, 11/15/20. But Mr. Lipson (a retired political science professor from the University of Chicago) acknowledges the legitimacy of the Trump campaign challenges and the disgraceful way (investigation still not completed) in which the incoming Trump administration was treated four years ago.
# # # # READER FEEDBACK AND UPDATES # # # #
#See this column re Sydney Powell's interview on Nov. 15 for additional details. Was election software rigged? Sidney Powell lays out the Trump team's findings, Beth Bauman, townhall.com, 11/15/20.
#The notion that we can "heal" or there will be a honeymoon during the transition is naive given the Obama attack on Trump before his inauguration. In any case, the left is demanding victory at all costs, and Biden has no leverage to persuade them to settle for anything less. – SAFE director
# Good post, but I see little chance of much healing. If Biden ultimately wins the election (and I don’t think he should be referred to as president-elect until that happens), he would deserve the same respect, cooperation, and compromise from Republicans that Trump got from Democrats – which is not saying much. Democrat leaders may talk about unity, but what they really want is capitulation, so the GOP had better win the GA runoff races to retain a Senate majority.
Sydney Powell's remarks on Maria Bartiromo's show were encouraging, I hope she is right. Also interesting is the fact that Joe Biden (2020) underperformed Hillary Clinton (2016) in every major metro area around the country except for the biggest cities (Philadelphia, Atlanta, Detroit and Milwaukee) in four battleground states. Hard to believe that this was sheer coincidence. Pollster: It’s curious how Biden underperformed Hillary Clinton in every city . . . except these four, Matt Vespa, townhall.com, 11/14/20. - SAFE director
#Even in Delaware there were many problems with the voting, goodness knows what happened in PA, etc. The key change from prior years was a huge surge in absentee votes, primarily on the Democratic side (something like a 1,000% increase), including a total of 3,285 mail-in ballots for Delawareans born between 1901 and 1929 (91 – 119 years old)!
I cannot bring myself to use the term "president-elect" before the name of Biden. It's not over until it's over, which may take months. – SAFE director
#E-mail to Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal, 11/16/20:
SAFE cited the recent WSJ editorial on this subject in our latest blog entry and offered a couple of additional ideas re concessions Mr. Biden could make without any real sacrifice on his part. Perhaps someone on the editorial board would find our essay of interest. Here’s the link: http://www.s-a-f-e.org/safeblog/files/lets-by-all-means-make-this-a-time-for-healing.php, or alternatively you can use this browser path: s-a-f-e.org - blog - 11/16/20.
Bill Whipple, Secure America’s Future Economy