A Mostly Peaceful Transition of Power

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast.

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100 Responses

  1. Oscar Gordon says:

    I honestly think one of the big reasons Mitch tolerated, even encouraged, Trump is because Trump is the Misdirection to end all Misdirection’s. Trump is such a show that Mitch doesn’t have to be a magician with dope slight of hand skills, he can flat out do whatever the hell he wants and Trump was certain the make sure the media would forget all about whatever Mitch had done before the next Monday rolled around.Report

    • Philip H in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      Agreed. HIs holding open federal judgeships under Obama to complete the remake of the courts, his 2017 deficit busting tax cut, his sitting on something like 500 bills dealing with the nation’s business – including two COVID relief packages – all subsumed by the toddler’s antic at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

      Well played Moscow Mitch.Report

  2. Dark Matter says:

    We’ve had four years of this.

    Let me repeat myself; Ignore everything he says (especially on Twitter). Look at what he’s doing before you decide that there’s a problem.

    There were no troops being mobilized, a “coup” was never in the cards, the number of judges ignored and/or political enemies arrested holds steady at zero.

    Trump running his mouth on twitter isn’t a threat to democracy, and it never was.Report

    • greginak in reply to Dark Matter says:

      He has lawyers trying to get ballots thrown out and for R leg’s to elect Trump. This is exactly what they have said and are saying still. They want the courts to decide the election. Has any of this been likely to succeed: no. But it isnt’ just him tweeting. It’s his lawyers, incompetent buffoons just like their boss they may be. They didn’t lose something like 35 court challenges just on his shit tweeting. They tried to overturn an election he decisively lost. Good thing it’s failed.Report

      • JS in reply to greginak says:

        The oddest, most interesting assumption to most of their lawsuits seems to be a firm, dedicated legal belief that the ballots are fatally flawed just for the Presidential race, but no other.

        They insist the Presidential ballots be thrown out, discarded, electors chosen by the Legislature — but seemingly think every other race on the ballot is just fine.

        The PA dismissal they’re appealing mentioned it as yet another fatal flaw, and I’ve seen the defendants mention it in their briefs, but it doesn’t really get the public coverage it should.

        How can you, with a straight face, claim only one race on a ballot containing dozens is fatally flawed and must be discarded? Not the entire ballot, just that one race.

        As the Judge in PA noted, the Courts can’t simply hold the election to have been Constitutional and unconstitutional at the same time.

        You even see it on random people screaming on Twitter. Revote the Presidential election. But not the House races, or the Senate races, or the state and local races. Just that ONE.

        Just an article of faith that the fatal, unconstitutional flaw exists for a sole line on the ballot, and no other part. It’s not like they’re alleging the ballots didn’t have Trump’s name.

        That assumption alone should kill any lawsuit as unserious.Report

      • Dark Matter in reply to greginak says:

        Gore did something very similar, just with less crassness and more high sounding arguments that had nothing to do with what he was actually trying to do.Report

    • Brent F in reply to Dark Matter says:

      Under the Neustadt conception of Presidential power, a sizeable portion of what POTUS does is what he says. On that basis, I have difficulty with the popular “ignore what he says, look at what he does” rationale. In particular, what he says impacts what a lot of people, principally with the Republican party, do.

      Two things can be true simultaneously, what Trump is doing is an attempt to subvert normal American democracy and an actual coup isn’t likely to be attempted, let alone succeed.

      But this mostly lends itself to Trump is essentially America’s Berlusconi thesis.Report

      • Dark Matter in reply to Brent F says:

        what Trump is doing is an attempt to subvert normal American democracy

        That’s why I like to focus on what he does and not what he says he’ll do.

        He’s a Troll. He says stuff to get people spun up. His big political skill is he attracts Nazi accusations which make his opponents look insane to anyone who checks to see what is happening.Report

        • Brent F in reply to Dark Matter says:

          The 8chan precedent suggests trolling like a Nazi encourages plenty of people to act like Nazis. The Trump phenomena appears to have followed the same process.

          I’m not disagree with all of your point, but the people who get concerned about his rhetoric aren’t wrong either. its a problem, if not an apocalyptic one.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Brent F says:

            As one of those people, the way I would put it is that a liberal democracy only exists when a large enough majority of people believe it should exist. And this can only exist in an environment of mutual trust.

            Rhetoric which attacks elections is itself a danger to democracy.Report

  3. Burt Likko says:

    Three cheers for the strength of American norms and institutions! And thank the Gods for Trump’s personality flaws!

    The alarmists have been right about one thing. I agree with them that Trump does not value democracy, he does not value the Constitution or the law. He would dispense with those things if he could so long as he could keep power.

    He’s made gestures at the three ways one might conceivably get the Constitution set aside, suspended, overruled, or just plain ignored: military takeover, external emergency, or judicial finesse.

    Re: the military.

    It would be quite a thing to cultivate a single friendship with a high-ranking member of the military so deep that the military person would value their relationship with the politician more than they value their loyalty to their service branch and the Constitution to which they’ve repeatedly sworn allegiance. To get enough such relationships in place as to make an attempt to gain the military’s allegiance when the mask comes off and the Constitution is proclaimed suspended would be noticed.

    The way Trump’s relationship with Michael Flynn was noticed. And questioned. And examined. And subjected to legal investigation and scrutiny. And resulting in Flynn’s disgrace. Michael Flynn might have served as Trump’s military second, I suppose, but there weren’t enough of him in the active military to actually move the institution.

    Trump doesn’t understand what it is to build relationship-based loyalty anyway. He does deals, not relationships. He purchases loyalty in transactions. Michael Cohen’s story shows us why that’s not a sustainable model of obtaining the massive amount of loyalty needed to just proclaim himself king or President for life or whatever he would have come up with in his inchoate extraconstitutional fantasies.

    Re: external threats

    History shows that leaders trying to set aside Constitutional governments typically not only cultivated strong relationships within the military and other critical institutions, but also rallied marginal support to higher levels right before the coup by generating fear of some powerful-seeming enemy.

    I suppose Trump could have sought an enemy bigger-seeming than himself and tried to polarize things for a transaction big enough that he might have pulled it off. But the Chinese/Iranians/North Koreans/Russians wouldn’t go to war with us and make a scary war. They had their own issues to deal with, each of them, and had no good enough reason to take on that kind of risk.

    I also suppose Trump tried to find internal enemies sufficiently powerful-looking and scary that people would have gone along with him subverting the Constitution to bid for their safety. But Trump chose to disregard the once-in-a-century opportunity to use the pandemic as such an enemy, because he saw the pandemic as a threat to his legitimate bid to hang on to power. COVID threatened the economy and he thought the way to keep the economy on his side was to convince people to ignore COVID. Having done that, COVID was no longer available as an enemy of sufficient power to set the Constitution aside.

    So his last real attempt to rally the merely politically-loyal to transcend and support something extraconstitutional was the BLM protests of this spring and summer. But I think most Americans understood that, while perhaps scary and perhaps believing that the protesters were more violent than they were, these were not enemies worth lighting the Constitution on fire for.

    Re: judicial finesse

    So, finally, rather than trying to subvert the Constitution outright, he might render democracy itself meaningless, either by cheating at the ballot box or getting judges to undo the results of adverse democracy, hang on to power that way. Fortunately, it looks like we learned a few lessons from 2000; our voting laws and techniques are different now, and COVID forced some other last-minute changes on him that he never really understood and in some cases (like urging his own supporters to not vote by mail) he actively subverted. And then he chose the wrong people to try and seek judicial finesse of the election.

    Could it have worked? We’ll never know, because the people who went into courts on his behalf presented such awful factual and legal theories, and presented them so ineptly, that they’ll become a “how not to practice” manual for the next generation of lawyers. Some of his own appointees threw out his legal challenges. Was that because they needed to demonstrate their own political independence, as the judiciary has an institutional incentive to do? Or was it because they just weren’t given enough cover to have actually undertaken an attempt at judicially reversing the election? Or was it because the results of the election were too much for a single judge or group of judges to actually make a difference? All of the above, maybe, and more.

    I write all this like Trump’s failure was inevitable. It wasn’t. A smarter man, one better at cultivating deeper loyalties in relationships and able to do so quickly, one better able to engineer external threats and pull mass-media political levers, maybe could have done it. It’s happened in democracies before. It will happen again, though hopefully not here.

    It may be that the byproducts of Trump’s narcissistic personality created the very roadblocks that prevented him from doing this awful and dangerous thing that I’m fully convinced he would have done if he could. Karma is grandly ironic that way, as the Greek dramatists knew.

    Make no mistake, our norms and institutions have taken a beating at his hands. But they aren’t dead yet and can be rehabilitated. We’ve gotten a good look at just how many of us were quite willing to buy into a cult of personality around so awful a person as Donald Trump. We should be chilled at the number of Americans who have an appetite for having a king (perhaps under a different name). And we should be chilled to be shown the degree to which our institutions were always fragile and dependent upon the normative decisions of a surprisingly small group of people.

    And no, this particular drama won’t be all the way done until January 20, 2021, although at this point, Birnam Wood is advancing upon Dunsinane Hill.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Sounds like Trump had one relationship with a former general, studiously avoided opportunities to amass power based on internal threats, and brought court cases through the appropriate legal channels.Report

    • Good thing he’s lazy, stupid, and ignorant. The next one might not be.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Quick! Better replay Obama Part II: BUT LOUDER!Report

        • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

          No clue what you’re trying to say.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            That Obama, among other things, led to Trump.

            And now we swung back to Biden. Oooh, look at his cabinet!

            Maybe it’ll be 2009-2016 all over again.Report

            • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

              Post hos, ergo propter hoc.Report

            • North in reply to Jaybird says:

              What would you finger as the Obama decisions that led to Trump? Or was it more a factor of simply who Obama was?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to North says:

                If I had to finger one thing? The “Too Big To Fail” mistake that didn’t result in people going to jail following the economic crisis.

                That was pretty much when it was cemented that the Democrats were no threat to the banks nor big business.Report

              • North in reply to Jaybird says:

                Mmmhmm.. that is an interesting point. So he should have thrown a bunch of bankers or something in jail. Or gone even harder on the financial industry. It’s funny considering how horribly hard done by they felt that Dodd-Frank was on em. I’d be inclined to agree with you, though, that Obama was really high minded and really didn’t connect, or even try to connect, with populists.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to North says:

                I asked myself “what’s the most populist place that talked about this?” and I came to the conclusion that it was NPR’s Market Place.

                Here’s what they had to say about it.Report

              • North in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’ve always liked this youtube video that summarizes what happened in ’08 pretty evenly.
                The difficulty, of course, is no one really pulled an Enron. There wasn’t exactly fraud. Just everyone, from the investors to the bankers down to the borrowers taking on a bunch of risk and thinking they’d be fine because housing prices always rose.
                But that causes one a lot of trouble because taking on a lot of risk isn’t criminal and the courts are oddly particular about only throwing bankers, or anyone, into jail when they do something illegal.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to North says:

                Going to jail wasn’t needed or desirable since they didn’t commit crimes.

                However if we’re going to be bailing these guys out for burning down their own businesses, then we should be firing the top two levels of management, clawing back bonuses, and getting rid of golden parachutes.

                Bailing out the banks was needed, bailing out the bankers not so much.Report

              • North in reply to Dark Matter says:

                I’m on board with that entirely! Of course I also was alive in ’09, ’10, ’11 and remember how what Obama did was reviled as monstrous government statism and overweening cruelty to Americas productive elite. The Tea Party, for instance, was launched by a rant by a banker absolutely beside himself over Dodd Frank and the HARP program that the Obama admin launched to try and help distressed homeowners refinance.

                But, of course, we know now that 99% of the libertarians of the time weren’t actually libertarians; they were just embarrassed Republicans who didn’t want to wear that label in the shadow of Bush W.Report

              • And by clawing back bonuses, you mean the government changing the terms of a private contract?

                I remember every conservative and libertarian in America telling me how evil and illegal that would be.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                And by clawing back bonuses, you mean the government changing the terms of a private contract?

                If we’re going to leave the private contracts be then we should stand back and let the banks burn. THAT is the libertarian argument, and there’s something to that.

                Bailing them out required us to pass laws. Since we’re already doing that, it would be trivial to say any bank which takes advantage of the government’s wallet and lets themselves be bailed out has the bonuses they’ve given out be null and void.Report

              • I agree. More than that. I was screaming for it at the time. But Very Serious People said Very Serious Things about the sanctity of contracts and the need to keep high performers.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                (Whose need to keep high performers?)Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird says:

                Well, you have to understand, if those executives can’t keep their bonuses, and golden parachutes, and jobs, then they can’t contribute to certain politicians re-election campaigns…Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Sounds like Priests talking about why we need god.

                We seriously need rules for what to do when this happens in the future. The banks will blow themselves up again, it’s their nature. We’ll need to bail them out again because if we don’t there will be vast economic damage.

                We won’t jail them because it won’t be illegal. If we’re going to bail them out then the idiots in charge need to lose their shirts so they have skin in the game.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Just to be clear, these people you are talking about, the ones in charge who you want to force to lose their shirts…Are these the same guys who picked up the phone and ordered the United States Senate to give them a massive tax cut, and the Senators meekly obeyed?

                These guys? Are going to…be forced to lose their shirts?

                By whom, exactly?Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                If you pass laws saying this now, they’ll each KNOW that it will never apply to them (because they’ll never need bailing out), and will only cripple their competitors and/or keep them in line.Report

      • James K in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        He has the desire to be a tyrant, but not the work ethic.Report

    • My fear about the military was never that Trump would use it to take over. Well, I shouldn’t say “never,” because I sometimes feared that.

      But my main fear, and in my opinion a less implausible fear was that by refusing to concede, he would try to stay in power and some sort of crisis would develop, maybe involving MAGA militia types (for example) in various parts of the country. At that point, the military would somehow be forced to intervene to install Biden. The military would do so as part of its oath to the constitution and the law, but the precedent for the military as a power broker would have been established.

      I realize that there are several steps from here to there, but that was, I think, a not wholly unreasonable fear. A mostly unreasonable fear, but not wholly one.

      Thankfully, it appears that I was wrong.Report

  4. Chip Daniels says:

    I am as happy as anyone that Trump has been defeated, and repeatedly failed to destroy American democracy due to his staggering stupidity and epic laziness.

    However…the force that brought him to power is still there, just a few narrow percentage points away from victory. And it still controls the majority of our states. And is within striking distance of controlling both houses of Congress.

    And even the bumbling and comic ineptness isn’t much comfort. History shows us that most authoritarian governments are in fact comprised of bumbling idiots and most democracy-ending power grabs are very much like what we’ve seen, a series of shambolic misadventures.

    This is just a chapter in a very long series.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      And Democrats such as yourself will spend your time and efforts trying to marginalize “Those People” and keep them from being politically active through shame they don’t have, instead of identifying the levers of power they want and removing them.Report

        • JS in reply to CJColucci says:

          If Republicans do bad things, it’s the fault of Democrats for not stopping them.

          Republicans have no agency.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to JS says:

            If Democrats do bad things, it’s the fault of Republicans because they probably did it first and wrecked the norm.

            Democrats have no agency.

            See, it works both ways.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to CJColucci says:

          What is it about the chief executive office that is so attractive to the rightward authoritarians?

          It has a lot of power. If Trump was not lazy and incompetent, he very well could have done serious damage to our form of government.

          What is the smarter play, to work to trim back the power of the executive such that a competent fascist can’t do much but make speeches and fume; or hope and pray that you can manage the electorate such that they do not vote in a competent fascist to the office?

          Both parties need to work to trim back the executive, but right now, the GOP has shown itself to be untrustworthy in that regard. So has the DNC, but perhaps they could pivot, if the threat of a competent fascist is so concerning.Report

          • CJColucci in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            OK, I understand that. The connection, if any, between the stuff before the comma and the stuff after it confused me.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            Except that even the bare minimum power that a liberal democracy needs to function is far too dangerous to be left in the hands of people who are sociopathic.

            The essential prerequisite for a liberal democracy, however structured, is the willingness to abide by the norms and rules, and to be both a loyal opposition when out of power and tolerant partner when in power.

            Republicans are neither.

            Republicans in the executive branch are dangerous authoritarians as evidenced by Trump.
            Republicans in the legislative branch are dangerous authoritarians as evidenced by their refusal to remove a President who committed crimes.
            Republicans in the judicial branch are dangerous authoritarians as evidenced by SCOTUS.

            Republicans at the federal level are dangerous authoritarians as evidenced by Bill Barr.
            Republicans at the state level are dangerous authoritarians as evidenced by the Georgia abortion bill.
            Republicans at the municipal level are dangerous authoritarians as evidenced by the sheriffs vowing to ignore mask mandates.

            There is no level of power small enough to be entrusted to Republicans.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              By that logic, there is no level of power small enough to be entrusted to Democrats, who can be just as corrupt and venal as Republicans, just in different ways.

              Don’t pretend your chosen party is all goodness and light.

              However, that said, your argument fails further upstream, in the assumption that the current level of power vested in the executive, or even in the legislature is the absolute necessary minimum.

              I contend that you are very, very wrong, and we could very much scale back the amount of power those branches of government have, at every level, and still have a well functioning society. But the first step is deciding that it needs to happen, and doing the hard work of figuring what needs to stay versus what can safely go.

              Or, you can cling to the futile hope that somehow you can prevent the other half of the country from voting in a fresh round of hell next time. And next time, the candidate might not be obviously horrible, s/he might just get into office and have top advisors who are, and who have significant influence over them.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                We certainly could and probably should transfer more power towards Congress away from the Executive.

                But the Democrats are more trustworthy with power than the Republicans. They still believe that all citizens are equally entitled to vote and they have repeatedly shown a willingness to abide by that vote even when it goes against them.

                Whatever criticisms of the Democrats you have, the two are not symmetrical.Report

              • Chip, I think the discussion between you and Oscar is largely about price and not principle, if we leave aside the whole, Republicans are worse than Democrats discussion.*

                As you say, we probably could/should transfer more power to Congress. I guess the question is what and how. Maybe at least on the margins, Congress can by law do this. I wouldn’t know where, explicitly, to start. Another thing we could do, also on the margins, is trim the power of the state itself. Not cut it off altogether or drastically, but take away some of its power.

                I do agree with your comment above that a functional liberal democracy in the modern era needs to give the president or government quite a lot of power. But I also agree with Oscar (and you, from your follow up comment) that we can at least trim some of that power.

                *Even there, I think you’re arguing about price. I don’t think Oscar believes the two parties are exactly and always equivalent in every way possible. I read him as saying only that they’re fully capable of doing some pretty horrible things if given enough power to do so.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to gabriel conroy says:

                Another thing we could do, also on the margins, is trim the power of the state itself.

                OK, lets defund the police.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                But not police unions.

                And don’t touch QI.Report

              • OK, lets defund the police.

                That doesn’t strike me as “on the margins,” but good luck with that.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I wouldn’t call that “trustworthy with power”. At best, it’s being willing to trust in the system.

                And TBH, it makes sense, if you think of Progressive and Conservative from a security standpoint. It’s the old “Security has to be lucky all the time, insurgents only have to be lucky once”. It’s pretty obvious that most of the time, when society changes, it tends to stick. Mostly because such changes take a while, and everyone adapts to the reality, if given enough time. So anytime the left gains the upper hand, they are going to try to move some balls forward, and the right is going to have a hell of a time moving them back.

                So the right has philosophical need to hold the line, which means holding power. The left only has to wait two years to try and get lucky again.

                That said, neither should be trusted with actual governmental power, not because of anything I said above, but because the kind of people who pursue power are the kind of people who should not be trusted with it. Hard left Progressives have ideas that sound an awful lot like ideas the hard right Moral Majority liked to parade about in the 80’s.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I made the quip about “defund the police” because it is the same as “reduce government power”.

                They both can’t be taken at face value and are almost always substituting for unspoken specific action the speaker is choosing not to discuss.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Didn’t I have a post all about options for defunding the police that were real and tangible?

                I may not be a hardcore libertarian, but I’m not some squishy libertarian hiding out from my old friends in the GOP. I have some ideas as to what could go, and I would be happy to entertain many, many more.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                But “reduce government power” isn’t limited to redefining the police mission is it?

                Otherwise it would be stated as “”redefining the police mission”.

                “Reduce government power” also has implications for the welfare state, and the regulatory state doesn’t it?

                But by the same token, there are some powers of government, vast powers, which are not meant to be included in the phrase “reduce government power”. Powers such as protection of property and personal rights.

                The accurate understanding of “reduce government power” is “reduce [some certain types of] government power”.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Wait a minute, I said that.

                Didn’t I say exactly that?

                Let me look back… Oh, yes, here it is!

                But the first step is deciding that it needs to happen, and doing the hard work of figuring what needs to stay versus what can safely go.

                I have never suggested it’s a blanket gutting of powers back to bare constitutional limits, because some are necessary. I have always said that it would be a process that would require careful analysis.

                But it won’t be done because those powers didn’t just materialize, there was always some justification for them, and there will always be someone making the case to retain those powers, and it’s always easier to just go along to get along.*

                But if you are truly worried about the decline of liberal democracy and the rise of fascist elements in our government, you would be smart to start looking very hard at those powers and not blindly accepting arguments for them as just powers simply because an ally is in favor of retaining them.

                *You see exactly this in efforts to reform police and drug laws.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Which is why using the phrase “reduce government power” is meaningless since it means completely different things to different people.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Oh, that’s the quibble! It’s a “Defund the Police” counter.

                Fine, instead of “reduce government power”, substitute “Critically evaluate the current state of federal government powers and their distribution amongst the branches so as to significantly reduce the harm a potential populist demagogue could inflict should they rise to sufficient position without adequate political opposition.”Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Yeah, someone should really have to write an essay on Altering the Police Paradigm before we take them seriously when they start talking about “reducing government power”.

                What do they mean when they say things? They never really define it, do they?Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird says:

                Is it worth noting that up and down the Front Range, where the population (hence LEO size) is exploding, a whole bunch of the communities/counties are taking the opportunity to add mental health co-responders?

                Digging through recent history in my “new” county, I find that the voters approved a dedicated tax to fund a mental health facility that will provide more appropriate handling than jail can. Groundbreaking is scheduled for next month.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Michael Cain says:

                That is a good thing.

                I’m hoping that it has measurable benefits that can be sold to other communities. (Fingers crossed)Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Speak of the devil and she will appear:

                Looks like Pelosi is failing to keep her reined in.Report

              • North in reply to Jaybird says:

                Um.. by reined in you mean not saying idiot things on twitter? There’s no political leader anywhere ever who’s kept their caucus from saying idiot things on twitter. It is twitter.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to North says:

                For what it’s worth, I don’t think that she’s saying an idiot thing.

                This is the part of AOC that I kinda like. I hope she keeps this pressure on.

                There’s some stuff that she says that is too dumb to quote because, hey, you’re nutpicking.

                But shit like this? Good for her.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                I agree.
                When we talk about making actual progress instead of merely symbolic motions, this is what it looks like.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Exactly, this is moving the ball forward.Report

              • InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

                I don’t know. AOC’s willingness to hold her own side’s feet to fire on something specific like that is actually good thing IMO. Her problem is inability to distinguish a principled stance from one that is stupid or unnecessarily alienating. This appointment strikes me as a gift to the right. Though maybe Biden is more savvy than I think. He played the primary through the general election almost perfectly. Held it together all the way through.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to InMD says:

                (Dude. I agree. It’s the other 80% of the stuff that is a gift to the right.)Report

              • Slade the Leveller in reply to Jaybird says:

                She’s right. If there’s a hell, Emanuel’s going to roast in it for the McDonald thing. It’s not really something we should be looking past when considering people for government appointments.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Slade the Leveller says:

                There are enough layers of management between Emanuel and the beat cops that it’s not clear to me the degree to which he was involved.

                This sort of thing is standard long-time practice for Chicago. I would think that every level of management would view it in their best interest to not send it further up and do their best to suppress it from everyone.

                This could easily be less “him personally” and more “this is part of being the Mayor of Chicago and has always gone on”.Report

              • Slade the Leveller in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Nope. He and McCarthy, police superintendent at the time, sat on the video for a year, until after the mayoral race was over.

                Emanuel’s hands were all over this one.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter says:

                This is Chicago man, the police send it up the chain specifically to make sure the higher ups get their hands on it, then the cops dare the politicians to do something.

                The politicians stay true to form and do nothing for as long as they can.Report

              • Slade the Leveller in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I was actually pretty shocked that Van Dyke was convicted. I was going to head through the west side but diverted because I wasn’t sure which way the verdict was going to come down.Report

              • That was exactly my thinking the day/week the decision was supposed to come down. I had some choice in the matter. There was a roundabout way I could avoid the area to get home. But it was a constrained choice, and I was nervous for my safety.Report

              • Slade the Leveller in reply to gabriel conroy says:

                I sure didn’t want to re-enact the Reginald Denny video.Report

  5. North says:

    I’m pretty happy to see that my predictions about Trump being incapable of actually, seriously, endangering the transition is coming true. That said I feel all this handwaving at Trumps tweets does let the GOP off the hook. If the Dems politicians and officials in 2016 had done and said half as much as what Trump and the GOP did this year moderate right winger would be through the roof.Report

    • Jesse in reply to North says:

      I look forward (note I actually don’t) to all the anti-anti-Trump people who rationalized every Trump move acting like Biden is a dictator when he attempts to put forward a slightly anodyne EO that relates to corporate oversight.Report

      • gabriel conroy in reply to Jesse says:

        From what I understand, the idea of an anti-anti-Trumper came about as referring to someone who doesn’t rationalize what Trump does, but objects to the way some people oppose him. A person who rationalizes what Trump does is, in my view, a Trump supporter, not an anti-anti-Trumper. But that’s just my understanding. I haven’t really studied the history of anti-anti-Trumpism.

        I am, I confess, a sometime anti-anti-Trumper. Maybe I’m more than “sometime” and am too much of one. Still, I don’t envision calling Biden a dictator unless he does something dictatorial, and the E.O. you mention doesn’t count in my book.Report

  6. I still want him to get the United Express Flight 3411 treatment, but I expect to be disappointed.Report

  7. The great thing about the Trump tweet Andrew quoted is that Emily Murphy had just said, like a minute earlier, that her decision to start the transition was made all on her own, not because of what anyone else said. She was trying to hold on to just a shred of her dignity, but Trump had to make it about him.Report

  8. Michael Cain says:

    Part of me still believes that after the long weekend, Trump will begin firing the appointees in the upper ranks willy-nilly and not replace them. So Biden’s folks end up talking to a senior, but typically with a narrow focus, civil servant for the next two months (there are serious limits on who can be “acting”). If those are there. That same part thinks that Trump’s EO making it much easier to fire senior civil servants was a prelude.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Michael Cain says:

      You’re thinking from a framework that values the information a staffer could pass along. Why would you project that framework onto Trump? I could picture him firing people because he doesn’t like them, but to want to sabotage Biden through the loss of institutional knowledge? Doesn’t sound believable. Besides, there isn’t much time to fire senior staff and replace them anyway, so there isn’t any distinction between firing someone and promoting his assistant and firing someone and not promoting his assistant. The Biden team would be dealing with the assistant either way.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to Pinky says:

        The mainstream media is already saying that he “decapitated” the civilian oversight of DoD. I don’t credit Trump with coming up with the idea, I credit certain staff/advisors. The “burn it all down” fanatics. And there’s a pronounced difference between talking to the Sec of Energy or their top deputy, say, and having to talk to a slew of GS-14s to see what’s in process and how it’s scheduled.Report

    • Philip H in reply to Michael Cain says:

      Gee, thanks for your faith in the civil service. We so appreciate the support.

      Not that anyone here would likely notice (which is the point) but senior civil servants run federal agencies all the time during transitions. Its how you get folks with job X “performing the non-exclusive duties” of job Y for 9 months after a new president takes over. Those folks HAVE TO HAVE a broad focus to run the agency until political leadership takes the reins. We do it every 4 years, and we even have manuals on how to do it.

      Come this Monday in fact we will all be getting directions on how to prepare our little slice of the electronic binders of information on our agencies that are being generated for the Transition Team – many of whom were senior civil servants or political appointees at our agencies in prior administrations. Absent the lethargy and disinterest we saw in this administration it usually works quite well.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to Philip H says:

        I have a great deal of faith in the civil service. What I fear is what I would fear in any large hierarchical organization, public or private, if the top two or three layers of management were abruptly chopped off. If you tell me that it’s okay, everything will be fine with that much management missing, I’ll take your word for it.Report

  9. Jaybird says:

    IT BEGINS!!!!!

    To be sure, you must understand that 2002 was a different time in the country’s history and the discussions over the 2nd Intifada still had a lot of pre-9/11 assumptions baked in them and many people had a living memory of apartheid in South Africa and, let’s face it, college students have a lot of crazy opinions and we really shouldn’t care what college students think 18 years ago, what we need to know is whether she still has crazy opinions now and, if she does, explain that Trump is worse.Report

    • North in reply to Jaybird says:

      Heh, just so we can try and keep the scoreboard clear, Carson King wrote his twitter comments 8 years prior to the controversy that erupted around him. I wonder what the brave move is on this? Fire the lady for her comments almost 20 years ago or ignore it?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to North says:

        I have no idea.

        I just know that we now live in a place where we can dig this stuff up and wave it around until someone blinks and offers an apology.

        At which point… POW!Report

        • North in reply to Jaybird says:

          I’m gonna mark you down as team “the braver move is to ignore it for a week or so until twitter/the media finds the next shiny thing to obsess over”.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to North says:

            Oh, absolutely.

            But we’re going to see a problem with Trump not being President anymore.

            Trump was *INCREDIBLY* distracting.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

              Oooh! One thing that we enjoyed for the last 4 years was a stark choice between The Wokies and Trump.

              If you oppose the Wokies, YOU MIGHT AS WELL PUT ON THE RED HAT, BIGOT!

              Now? Well. Biden versus the Wokies? Oh, please give me that sweet, sweet, Biden action.

              Oh, you don’t want to pick Biden? May I point you to the nearest haberdashery?Report

            • North in reply to Jaybird says:

              We’re definitly going to see a problem. All media and political watchers everywhere are basically like diabetics now from all the constant drama sugar Trump has pumped out for four years. Biden is the age of insulin. The media is going to be utterly starved which means trivialities are going to be exploded all over the big screen.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to North says:

                We’ve been living in an era where if they dug up 12 bodies in a cabinet secretary’s yard (OK, an acting cabinet secretary’s yard), a different scandal would replace it the next day. If a week later a reporter asked “What was with the 12 bodies?”, it would be dismissed as fake news, and anyway why is nobody talking about the 30 bodies in Eric Holder’s basement?Report

  10. I was at least a little on the alarmist side, and events seem to be (thankfully) proving me wrong. That said, I still won’t breathe easy until Biden is sworn in.Report