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

Trump’s Insane Electoral College Scheme Won’t Fly

The Republican Party has lost in the popular vote for president in seven of the last eight elections, and that dismal record has some Republicans doing some serious rethinking. Not about how to broaden the GOP's appeal to voters, but about how to take voters out of the equation.

Republicans have an advantage in the Electoral College, which delivered George W. Bush in 2000 and Donald Trump in 2016 to the White House after they got fewer votes than their opponents. But that advantage proved insufficient this year. Joe Biden won enough states to carry the day.

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Joe Biden Curbs The Cult Of Presidential Personality

When he first ran for president, Barack Obama evoked fervent loyalty and extravagant dreams in many people. As the first black president, with a rare gift for oratory, he was supposed to inspire us to new heights, end our racial divisions and make America beloved around the world. Campaigning for him, his wife, Michelle, said, "We need a leader who's going to touch our souls."

In 2007, Timothy Noah, of the liberal online magazine Slate, created a sardonic regular feature, "The Obama Messiah Watch." Its stated purpose was to determine whether Obama was "the second coming of our Savior and our Redeemer, Prince of Peace and King of Kings, Jesus Christ."

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Biden Faces Formidable Challenges — Including Republican Obstruction

When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, The Onion, a satirical newspaper, had this headline: "Black man given nation's worst job."

Joe Biden, who appears likely to be declared the winner of this year's election, knew what he was getting into when he decided to try to unseat Donald Trump. But Obama is probably telling his vice president, "Dude, I had it easy compared with you."

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Our Long National Nightmare Is Not Over

This looks to be the election that meant everything and resolved nothing. Donald Trump defied the polls to come close to winning — and could yet win. Joe Biden may win, but by such a narrow margin that he can't claim a convincing mandate — and it appears he will confront a Republican-controlled Senate that can block almost anything he wants to do. Our long national nightmare is not over.

If the winner isn't yet certain, some things are. One is that the two parties are more opposed and entrenched in their views than ever. Neither dominates nationally, even as one or the other enjoys impregnable dominance in many states.

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By Demonizing Immigrants And Refugees, Trump Only Harms The Innocent

A fanatic has been defined as someone who can't change his mind and won't change the subject. It's a good description of Donald Trump, who began his quest for the presidency stoking fear of foreigners and used this year's final debate to keep doing it, as he has throughout his presidency.

Foreigners who come to America — with or without authorization — are viewed with hostility by this administration. It has diverted military funding to build Trump's border wall. It has separated thousands of foreign children from parents who came without permission — and then failed to reunite hundreds of these families. It has cut refugee admissions by some 90% and legal immigration by half. It has declared war on "sanctuary cities."

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Will Biden End Wars That Trump Prolonged?

If you listened long enough to Donald Trump during his first presidential campaign, you could find grounds to hope that he would make some badly needed changes in American foreign policy. After the catastrophe of the Iraq War and the dismal slog of Afghanistan, Trump promised a different approach.

"We're getting out of the nation-building business and instead focusing on creating stability in the world," he said. "We will stop racing to topple foreign regimes that we know nothing about," he vowed, promising "a disciplined, deliberate and consistent foreign policy."

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Why Democrats Should Reject Court Packing

Joe Biden and the Democratic Party believe they are on their way to a decisive victory on Nov. 3, and they may be right. He could find himself in the presidency with his party in control of Congress. But they should beware the pitfall of hubris. The fatal temptation in a moment of triumph is to overreach, and Democrats are already at risk of trying to grab too much.

One of the worst parts of the debate for Kamala Harris came when Mike Pence demanded to know whether, if elected, Joe Biden would "pack the court if Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed." Harris did an extended dance of evasion, allowing her rival to respond, in one of his rare moments of truthfulness, "You, once again, gave a nonanswer."

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The Price Of Trump’s Reckless Pandemic Policy

Donald Trump is likely to survive his infection with the coronavirus. But it's hard to imagine how his reelection campaign can. The president has trailed Joe Biden in national polls for a year, and his performance in the first debate did nothing to close the gap. The news that he has a virus that can be debilitating and even deadly can only give any undecided voters a push toward Biden.

Many people are already voting, or will be before the full effect of the disease on Trump is known. He's possible his symptoms will remain mild and he will make a quick recovery. But the alarming uncertainty around his health is an argument for the calm and stability that Biden represents.

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The Presidential Debate Is A Major (But Irrelevant) Spectacle

The first debate is typically the most dramatic occasion of every general election presidential campaign. Two (or three) rivals who have been contending with each other from a distance finally have to confront each other face to face, with the nation watching raptly and the election hanging in the balance.

It's great theater, particularly this year when Donald Trump and Joe Biden square off in what could be an epic brawl. The 90-minute forum, to be held Tuesday evening in Cleveland, will undoubtedly produce a large audience. The initial confrontation between Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016 drew 84 million viewers, more than any previous debate. This one will dominate media coverage for days.

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How To Beat A Supreme Court That Tilts Far Right

Among Americans who are not politically conservative, the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her pending replacement evoke anger and despair. A court with an impregnable 6-3 conservative majority is likely to roll back all sorts of rights and protections, leaving many people at risk.

The most obvious likely casualty is the court's 1973 decision granting constitutional protection to a woman's right to abortion. Four justices voted this year to allow a highly restrictive Louisiana law, and Donald Trump's next appointee is almost certain to provide the fifth and decisive vote for that option. Roe v. Wade has as much chance of surviving as a sandcastle in a tsunami. States, we can assume, will soon be free to ban most if not all abortions.

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Can The United States Survive The 2020 Election?

At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, a little-known state senator from Illinois electrified the crowd with a speech proclaiming our fundamental unity. "There's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America," Barack Obama declared.

Four years later, he campaigned for president promising that we could overcome our differences. His election offered evidence that he was right. His presidency, however, proved that he was wrong.

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Mike Pence Has Debased The Vice Presidency

Loyalty to Donald Trump demands more than many people can muster. One Cabinet officer and high-level aide after another has repeatedly endured ill treatment only to finally leave rather than accept further indignities. But no subservience is too much for Mike Pence.

His Wednesday night speech to the Republican National Convention confirmed that the vice president is prepared to say anything to celebrate his boss — and the more absurd the statement, the more resolutely he utters it.

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Trump Doesn’t Know How To Bring Back Prosperity

Whenever the oil business hits one of its periodic slumps, the joke heard in petroleum-rich areas is: "Please, God, grant me one more boom, and this time I promise not to screw it up." It makes a good bumper sticker, but Donald Trump is using it as a campaign theme.

The middle of a horrendous recession is an odd time to boast about your stewardship of the economy. But it fits with Trump's habit of taking credit for anything that goes right while taking no responsibility for any bad news.

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The Improbable Rise Of Joe Biden

Donald Trump may have won the most unlikely presidential election victory in U.S. history. But no one has ever taken a longer, more treacherous road to the White House than Joe Biden. If he should win, he will confirm that in American politics, nothing is ever final.

He arrived in the U.S. Senate barely old enough to meet the constitutional age requirement of 30. He had eked out a long-shot victory over an incumbent Republican in 1972, even as the GOP presidential nominee, Richard Nixon, carried 49 states.

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Can Kamala Persuade Biden To Push For Legal Weed?

A vice president has to defer to the president's decisions on policy, but vice presidents can also help shape it. Dick Cheney pushed George W. Bush to invade Iraq, and Joe Biden gave Barack Obama a nudge to endorse same-sex marriage. Maybe Kamala Harris will convince Biden to push for legalizing marijuana.

There are reasons to think so. One was her laughing reply last year when an interviewer asked if she had ever smoked cannabis: "Half my family's from Jamaica. Are you kidding me?" Another is that as attorney general of California, she endorsed legalization of recreational weed, which the state's voters approved in 2016.

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Why America Still Needs Political Conventions

Joe Biden won't be showing up in Milwaukee for the Democratic Convention. Donald Trump may give his acceptance speech from the White House instead of before cheering delegates in Charlotte, North Carolina. Without the customary galas, this presidential campaign will be the equivalent of a birthday celebration without a cake.

Not that it really matters, because the conventions, forced to downsize by the pandemic, will barely be recognizable. Instead of crowded, boisterous affairs that lift the participants' spirits, they will be sparsely attended, dull and generally ignored.

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The Deadly Consequences Of A Clueless President

In 2016, the libertarian magazine Reason polled a few dozen staff, contributors and allies on who would get their votes for president. Almost all planned to cast a ballot for Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson. I was alone in stating a firm intention to vote for Hillary Clinton, for three simple reasons: "She's sane, informed and competent."

There is nothing like a deadly pandemic to remind us that these qualities are not dispensable in a president. They are literally a matter of life and death.

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