Ending in Whining

Donald Trump is not a manly man standing up for truth and justice and the American Way. Donald Trump is not a good man standing up for the little guy. He lost the election and he’s throwing a tantrum, when he’s not whining, when he’s not lashing out at this and that and the other thing. He’s not being a man about this. He’s not John Wayne. And this particular news story needed to be written by three women – the Washington Post’s Amy Gardner and Emma Brown and Rosalind Helderman – because three men, or even just one man, might screw this up with some hint of heroic but misguided effort, by Donald Trump, to save a noble but lost cause. Donald Trump is not Don Quixote dreaming the impossible dream. He’s just Donald Trump, whining. He’s whining because this is over:

Wisconsin and Arizona on Monday became the last two of six states where President Trump has contested his defeat to finalize their vote counts, dealing a fresh blow to his quest to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory as a chorus of Republicans and Democrats offered support for the election’s integrity.

Trump and his allies vowed to continue pressing legal claims challenging the election results in several states, but such efforts have met with resounding failures in the courts across the country. Monday’s certifications brought to a close a key period in which Trump and his advisers had said they would be able to derail Biden’s win.

In short, he officially lost the six states that mattered, the states that might have saved his ass. The vote has been certified and that’s that – but he will fight on. Nothing has worked for him so far. He has no new evidence of anything at all. But he has his anger. He will fight on. No one knows why. Everyone else has moved on:

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) certified her state’s election results alongside the Republican governor and attorney general. Several hours later, the Democratic chairwoman of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, Ann Jacobs, completed her state’s canvass and declared Biden the winner of the state’s 10 electoral votes, a declaration that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers promptly certified.

Republicans and Democrats are moving on:

“We do elections well here in Arizona,” Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) said shortly before he signed the certificate of ascertainment for Biden’s electors. “The system is strong, and that’s why I have bragged on it so much.”

Ducey’s full-throated defense of his state’s results came as Trump’s legal advisers made sweeping allegations that the election was stolen during an event Monday with GOP state lawmakers in Phoenix.

Late Monday, Trump called in and spoke to the crowd via cellphone, calling the 2020 election the “greatest scam ever perpetrated against our country.” The president ripped into Ducey, criticizing him for “rushing to sign” papers certifying Democratic victories.

“We’re going to win this,” said Trump, who also tweeted attacks against the Republican governor. “Arizona won’t forget what Ducey just did.”

Arizona won’t forget. Ducey will be a hero to both Republicans and Democrats, the sensible man who did his job, who did the right thing. while a strange old man with orange hair screamed in his face. And he was not alone:

Ducey joined other state Republicans who have defended the vote, including Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who on Monday described those trying to overturn the election results in the state as “dishonest actors” spreading “massive amounts of disinformation.”

But there were those who chose silence:

The comments by state GOP officials contrasted sharply with the posture of many national Republican officials, who have largely been silent, even as Trump’s falsehoods about the security of the vote have grown more extreme.

One GOP leader who declined yet again to acknowledge Biden’s victory Monday was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who gave a nine-minute floor speech in the Senate chamber without once mentioning the transition or any of Biden’s designated Cabinet nominees…

Three other states where the Trump campaign and its allies have tried to overturn the results – Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania – have also certified their results.

McConnell wasn’t going to touch this. He couldn’t side with Trump. He couldn’t side with dangerous nonsense. But he couldn’t oppose Trump. Trump’s base, now the core of the Republican Party, would destroy him. He’d wait to see how this shakes out. But even that wasn’t safe:

Election security experts expressed growing outrage at the president’s relentless efforts to sow doubt about the integrity of the vote.

In a “60 Minutes” interview aired Sunday night, Chris Krebs, Trump’s recently fired director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, described the president’s claims as “an apparent attempt to undermine confidence in the election, to confuse people, to scare people.”

And on Monday, the chief executive of Dominion Voting Systems published a scorching editorial in the Wall Street Journal denying baseless and in some cases fantastical accusations from Trump and his allies that the company’s voting machines were controlled by communists, sent votes outside the country for counting and had been programmed to flip Trump votes for Biden.

“The allegations against Dominion are bizarre, but I’ll set the record straight,” Dominion CEO John Poulos said. “Dominion is an American company, now headquartered in Denver. Dominion is not and has never been a front for communists. It has no ties to Hugo Chávez, the late dictator of Venezuela. It has never been involved in Venezuelan elections. None of Dominion’s systems use the Smartmatic software that has come under attack, as any state certification lab could verify. There is no secret ‘vote flipping’ algorithm.”

No, all elections are not frauds and stupid and no one can trust a thing about them. They work just fine. And those voting machines work just fine. And democracy works just fine. That’s what just happened:

In Arizona, the certification paves the way not only for Biden to receive the state’s 11 electoral votes but also for Democrat Mark Kelly to join the U.S. Senate. Kelly, the husband of former U.S. congresswoman and mass shooting victim Gabrielle Giffords, defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Martha McSally in a special election Nov. 3 and is expected to be sworn in Wednesday.

Hobbs, a Democrat, certified the statewide vote in the company of two key Republicans, Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Brnovich has vocally defended the integrity of Arizona’s election against his own party’s claims of widespread fraud, saying his office investigated and found no evidence.

“This election was conducted with transparency, accuracy and fairness in accordance with Arizona’s laws and election procedures – despite numerous unfounded claims to the contrary,” Hobbs said Monday.

Ah, but nothing is that easy:

The legal contests in Arizona are not over, however. It is one of several states that permits election results to be challenged after certification.

Lawyers for Kelli Ward, chairwoman of the state Republican Party, filed such a contest immediately following Monday’s certification. Last week, they had asked a Maricopa County judge to allow the inspection of mail ballot envelopes, arguing – without evidence – that poor signature verification allowed fraudulent votes to be counted.

During a hearing on that request Monday morning, Ward’s lawyer said he had assembled a team of handwriting experts to inspect whether the signatures on envelopes matched those on file.

That might take years. It might be best, while waiting, for the Republican legislature there to send a slate of their own electors to DC to vote for Trump this time. The final actual vote may not show Trump won, but the nation had to move on. Why not just move on?

Here’s one reason:

Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani and campaign legal adviser Jenna Ellis appeared at a press event Monday with state lawmakers in Phoenix that was meant to look like a formal legislative hearing.

The former New York mayor, who appeared at a similar gathering in Gettysburg, Pa., last week, spent hours speculating about how election results might have been tampered with, even as several witnesses said more data and analysis were needed to draw firm conclusions about Arizona.

The audience broke into applause when Giuliani claimed the election had been stolen from the president and called on the legislature to choose its own electors to support Trump.

Giuliani compared the move to the self-sacrifice of “losing your life on a battlefield.”

“Your political career is worth losing if you save the right to vote in America,” he said. “That’s really what’s required right now.”

He called on the legislature to choose its own electors, to bypass assigning the state’s electors by popular vote, which somehow saves the popular vote and the right to vote itself – by taking both away. The audience broke into applause at that suggestion. This had become surreal:

In Georgia, the Trump campaign issued a news release calling on Raffensperger to audit absentee ballot signatures, claiming that tens of thousands of votes should have been discarded because of nonmatching signatures. The campaign has offered no evidence to support that allegation.

Even Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R), who has found himself at the receiving end of vicious attacks by Trump for not repeating his allegations of fraud, pushed back against the president Monday after Trump urged him to use his executive powers to force an examination of the signatures.

“Georgia law prohibits the Governor from interfering in elections,” Kemp spokesman Cody Hall said in a statement.

Trump pretty much called Kemp a coward for saying that, for hiding behind the law, but Eugene Robinson sees something else going on here:

Perhaps, on some level, Trump simply cannot accept that in an election that saw Republicans do well overall – gaining seats in the House, retaining control of statehouses, winning Senate seats that polls indicated they would almost surely lose – the man at the top of the ticket got creamed by more than 6 million votes.

“So, I led this great charge, and I’m the only one that lost?” Trump tweeted Sunday. “No, it doesn’t work that way. This was a massive fraud, a RIGGED ELECTION!”

But yes, it does work that way. And no, of course the election wasn’t rigged. What happened was that voters turned out in record numbers for the specific purpose of kicking Trump out of the White House. It was a massive act of rejection, a clear message sent by more than 80 million of Trump’s fellow citizens: Go away.

And that, in turn, explains the tantrums:

Trump’s conception of politics is clientelist, almost feudal: He sees himself as the boss and sees all those for whom he has done favors as his vassals. He seems unable to comprehend why they would do anything except his bidding – or why anyone might feel like the things he’s done are no favors at all.

Hence his bitter attacks against Georgia’s governor and secretary of state, Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger. Both are Republicans who have been avid Trump supporters.

Both have participated in the grand GOP strategy of disenfranchising as many Democratic voters as possible, Kemp by purging voter-roles when he had Raffensperger’s job and Raffensperger by declining to provide voting stations in Black neighborhoods.

But in the end – pending an ongoing second recount, which will not change the result – Biden won the state by 12,670 votes. Kemp and Raffensperger were duty bound to recognize that outcome, and Kemp has certified the 16 Biden electors who will cast the state’s votes when the electoral college meets Dec. 14.

Those two are not children. They do the right thing. They did the right thing. And it was time to slap down this whiner:

On Thanksgiving night, speaking to reporters, Trump bizarrely called Raffensperger “an enemy of the people” and accused him – falsely – of being part of some conspiracy to “harvest” votes for Democrats. Raffensperger, who has received death threats from Trump supporters for doing his job, responded in remarks published Sunday that “when you lose an election, you should leave quietly.”

Yeah, well, forget that:

It would be reasonable to expect even the most disgruntled loser to accept reality after the electoral college makes it official, but why should anyone expect Trump to suddenly listen to reason? He will of course vacate the White House; he could never abide the indignity of being forcibly escorted from the grounds. But if he truly sees the world as divided between “killers” and “losers,” he will likely continue to loudly maintain that he “won” an election he clearly lost.

The GOP officials who enabled and abetted Trump will ultimately have to ask what they’re willing to put up with if they can’t bring themselves to marginalize him. Do they want him controlling the party for another four years? Do they want him keeping potential 2024 presidential contenders from gaining any traction? Most urgently, do they want him discouraging Georgia Republicans from voting in the Jan. 5 runoff elections that will determine control of the Senate?

That’s the problem with indulging an ego monster. You might get eaten.

And there are monsters:

An attorney for President Donald Trump’s reelection efforts said on Monday that Chris Krebs, the former head of U.S. cybersecurity, should be “shot” for going against the president’s conspiracy theories and declaring the 2020 elections as secure.

“Anybody who thinks the election went well, like that idiot Krebs who used to be the head of cybersecurity,” said Trump campaign lawyer Joe DiGenova, “that guy is a class A moron. He should be drawn and quartered. Taken out at dawn and shot.”

DiGenova made the remarks on a Monday episode of the “The Howie Carr Show,” which has a history of showcasing Trump’s claims and allies.

Perhaps this was just a figure of speech, or not:

Trump fired Krebs nearly two weeks ago after the former director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency attested that the 2020 elections were among the safest in history. The president, whose personnel decisions have a record of being weighted by his perception of loyalty, fired Krebs by tweet, insisting that the election had been stolen from him.

“There were massive improprieties and fraud – including dead people voting, Poll Watchers not allowed into polling locations, ‘glitches’ in the voting machines which changed… votes from Trump to Biden, late voting, and many more,” Trump tweeted at the time, leveling false assertions. “Therefore, effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated.”

That was fine. Krebs had said he knew this was coming:

The president also lashed out against Krebs after he participated in a “60 Minutes” interview, broadcast on Sunday, in which Krebs warned against the dangers of the president’s election conspiracy theories. In the days since the election, Trump has angrily tweeted at members of his own party who have refused to buy into his unfounded claims of mass improprieties. Krebs is a Republican, but members of both parties largely viewed him as an apolitical professional civil servant.

Trump must know better. CNN’s Jim Acosta and Caroline Kelly report that he does know better:

Despite what President Donald Trump is tweeting and saying publicly in the wake of Arizona and Wisconsin certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory Monday, Trump sees the scoreboard and understands he has no chance of hanging on to the presidency, two White House advisers told CNN.

Asked whether the President realizes that he’s been defeated, a close adviser who has been in contact with Trump about his legal strategy said Monday: “Yes, he does.”

So, this is just for show:

The same adviser told CNN that Trump will continue to pursue his legal challenges until they are exhausted, but that adviser pointed to the certification in Wisconsin and said, “The writing is on the wall.” Without the ability to override the results in a combination of states, not to mention even one state, the adviser said Trump’s election challenges are obviously doomed.

Trump is still sounding as if he could still win because he wants to believe it, the adviser continued. But the adviser added Trump is fully aware that he has lost…

A separate adviser said the President has understood for some time that it is unlikely he will be able to overturn the election results but that Trump simply does not want to say that out loud.

That would hurt too much. And that will ruin us all. Paul Krugman explains that:

When Joe Biden is inaugurated, he will immediately be confronted with an unprecedented challenge – and I don’t mean the pandemic, although Covid-19 will almost surely be killing thousands of Americans every day. I mean, instead, that he’ll be the first modern U.S. president trying to govern in the face of an opposition that refuses to accept his legitimacy. And no, Democrats never said Donald Trump was illegitimate, just that he was incompetent and dangerous.

It goes without saying that Donald Trump, whose conspiracy theories are getting wilder and wilder, will never concede, and that millions of his followers will always believe – or at least say they believe – that the election was stolen.

Most Republicans in Congress certainly know this is a lie, although even on Capitol Hill there are a lot more crazy than we’d like to imagine. But it doesn’t matter; they still won’t accept that Biden has any legitimacy, even though he won the popular vote by a large margin.

That makes the country ungovernable:

The results of this year’s election, with a solid Biden win but Republicans doing well down-ballot, tells us that American voters don’t fully understand what the modern GOP is really about. Biden needs to get that point across, and make Republicans pay for the sabotage we all know is coming.

It will be more than sabotage. It will be the end of the American experiment in cooperative self-governance. The angry little boy won’t allow that, now that he’s lost this round. And he has seventy million followers. Biden has a bit more than eighty million. That’s a stalemate. The end.

About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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