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

A picture, the saying goes, is worth a thousand words. Unfortunately, we have only about 550 with which to appraise a picture that has raised eyebrows across the country: In it, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is seen wagging her finger in President Obama’s face during his visit to her state last week.

The two were apparently engaged in a discussion of Arizona’s controversial immigration laws and of a 2010 White House meeting that Brewer described at the time as “very cordial.” She has since written a book in which she now claims the president’s demeanor was “condescending.”

As to her demeanor in that picture, Brewer says she, ahem, has a habit of talking with her hands. She also says she felt “threatened.” Apparently, she thought the scary black man might hurt her even though he’s president of the United States and they were standing in broad daylight surrounded by security. Good thing he didn’t follow her into an elevator. She might have Maced him.

Perhaps you are old enough to remember when it was morning in America. That was the title of a 1984 campaign ad for Ronald Reagan, but it also came to symbolize an era. Say what you will about Reagan, but credit him with this much: he restored to his party and the nation a sense of vibrant optimism that came as a welcome jolt after Carter’s malaise and Nixon’s crookedness. Nearly 30 years later, as his putative political offspring attempt to claim his mantle, it is obvious by many measures that none of them is Reagan. But the most glaring deficit is embodied in that picture.

It reminds us that Republicans are no longer about sunshine and can-do. These days, they simply seem cranky and dyspeptic. As in Herman Cain vowing to build a fence to electrocute Mexicans, Newt Gingrich verbally punching out the media, and debate audiences cheering for record executions and the death of the uninsured. As in Jan Brewer poking her finger in the president’s face.

Under Reagan, optimism about the future was the Republican brand. But that brand has curdled in the ensuing 30 years and the party that once sold hope has become instead the party of grouchy codgers yelling at the future to get off their lawn. More to the point, it has become a party of those unable to process the sense of dislocation, the loss of primacy and privilege our present demographic path portends. Thus, it has become the party of resentment and resistance, the last stand against ongoing racial, religious, cultural and sexual upheaval, the Alamo in the fight to forestall change.

This is why a Jan Brewer feels herself empowered to wag her finger in the face of the president. And why the charisma-challenged Mitt Romney spends long weeks out in the cold looking for love like a character in a country song while bomb-throwing zealots who would have been laughed out of previous elections take turns playing frontrunner.

They will likely settle for him, but what Romney offers is not what many in the Republican electorate evidently seek. At bottom, they seem less concerned with competence or a new economic plan than with finding a gunslinger for a showdown against the future.

Ronald Reagan would not recognize his party today. Morning in America is almost 30 years gone. It’s high noon now.

(Leonard Pitts is a columnist for the Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via e-mail at lpitts@miamiherald.com.)

(c) 2012 The Miami Herald Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]