Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

In the end, it wasn’t even close.

After a GOP gathering in Cleveland that had all the incandescent joy of a biblical plague, the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia was as bracing as snow down your back on the most scalding day in August. In terms of star power (Meryl Streep versus Chachi from “Happy Days”), production values and substance, there was no contest. One was a sixth-grade talent show, the other a matinee of “Hamilton.”

If you doubt the difference could have been that stark, perhaps you’ll take the word of disaffected Republicans like former Jeb Bush strategist Tim Miller, who asked on Twitter “why an 18 year old watching the conventions would want to be a Republican?” Or conservative blogger Erick Erickson, who tweeted: “I’m so angry at my own party right now.”

Their pessimism was understandable in the wake of powerful, conscience-calling speeches by the president, the vice president, the first lady and the Rev. William Barber II, an organizer of the Moral Mondays movement in North Carolina. Even Hillary Clinton, whose oratorical skills are not formidable, rose to the occasion. The history-making first woman to win a major party presidential nomination issued a stinging rebuke of her thin-skinned opponent, Donald Trump.

“A man you can bait with a tweet,” she observed acidly, “is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”

For all that, though, the emotional center of the convention might have been someone who wasn’t much of an orator at all, whose first language isn’t even English. With his wife at his side, Khizr Khan, a Pakistan-born immigrant, addressed the crowd. “Tonight,” he said, “we are honored to stand here as parents of Captain Humayun Khan and as patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country.”

Humayun, a soldier, was killed in Iraq in 2004, running toward a suicide bomber to save his men. Yet, as his father noted, if it were up to Trump, he of the hateful rhetoric, the Mexican wall and the Muslim ban, Humayun would never even have been in this country.

“Donald Trump,” said Khan, engaging the bully directly, “you are asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you: have you even read the United States Constitution?” In the thunderous ovation that followed, he produced a booklet from his pocket and held it up, saying, “I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words liberty and equal protection of law.

“Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery?” demanded the grieving father. “Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing, and no one!” he cried, voice rising with barely suppressed outrage. “We cannot solve our problems by building walls, sowing division.”

And one is reminded that no one believes in America’s promises — liberty and justice for all — quite as fiercely as the immigrant does. Trump’s thesis is that we can no longer afford to strive for those promises in a world he says is more threatening and scary than ever before.

The Democrats’ response was to remind us of us. “America is great,” quoted Clinton , “because America is good.”

November, then, is not just an election, but a moment of truth. We are called to decide whether to affirm our nation’s promises, and thus validate the faith and sacrifice of families like the Khans, or whether to burn it all to ash in the fire of our own anger and fear.

And that’s something else that shouldn’t even be close.

 

Photo: Khizr Khan, whose son, Humayun S. M. Khan was one of 14 American Muslims who died serving in the U.S. Army  in the 10 years after the 9/11 attacks, offers to loan his copy of the Constitution to Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump, as he speaks during the last night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

In recent weeks, President Donald Trump has been claiming that COVID-19 has been mostly defeated in the U.S. — which is laughable in light of how much infection rates have been surging, especially in Sun Belt states. But according to Washington Post reporters Yasmeen Abutaleb and Josh Dawsey, Team Trump has found a new coronavirus talking point: claiming that Americans can learn to live with the pandemic and the ever-climbing death count.

According to Abutaleb and Dawsey, the "goal" of Trump's White House and campaign allies "is to convince Americans that they can live with the virus — that schools should reopen, professional sports should return, a vaccine is likely to arrive by the end of the year, and the economy will continue to improve. White House officials also hope Americans will grow numb to the escalating death toll and learn to accept tens of thousands of new cases a day, according to three people familiar with the White House's thinking, who requested anonymity to reveal internal deliberations."

A Trump Administration senior official, quoted anonymously, told the Post that Americans will "live with the virus being a threat." And a former Trump official, according to the Post, said of Trump's allies, "They're of the belief that people will get over it, or if we stop highlighting it, the base will move on — and the public will learn to accept 50,000 to 100,000 new cases a day."



Figures from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore show that the coronavirus pandemic continues to be quite deadly — especially in the United States. As of Monday morning, July 6, Hopkins was reporting a worldwide COVID-19 death count of more than 534,800 — and almost 130,000 of those deaths were in the U.S.

Biden's campaign has been asserting that the former vice president has a much better track record than Trump when it comes to pandemics. Democratic strategist and Biden campaign adviser Ariana Berengaut told the Post, "From really January on, Vice President Biden has been laser focused on the rising risk to the American people presented by this pandemic. You can almost imagine them side by side — Trump's leadership and Biden's leadership…. Trump has no plan for tomorrow, no plan for a week from now; so, there is absolutely no plan for the fall, and that's what encapsulates the whole arc of that contrast."

Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster, told the Post that Trump's coronavirus response has been and continues to be an abysmal failure.

Garin asserted, "Trump is increasingly defined in voters' minds by his failing response to the coronavirus crisis, and virtually every action and position he's taken have been wildly out of sync with where the public is at on what should be done. Biden now has a remarkable opportunity to contrast himself with this failure of leadership that a large majority of voters see so clearly."