Links and Comments: Tell Them What They Want to Hear

One more set, just a few, then we’ll try to think of other things and hope that Trump and his minions will just magically disappear, as Trumps said, months ago, the virus would do over the summer. (It didn’t; he won’t.)

New York Times, Frank Bruni: Is There Nothing Trump Won’t Say?. Subtitle: Shamelessness meets illogic in a memorable (and endless) speech.

How to reconcile that with the vicious tone and vitriolic content of much of his remarks, which were as grounded in reality as a Tolkien novel and about as long? I’m stumped.

But I’m impressed: that he claimed such big-heartedness while showing such small-mindedness; that he twisted facts with such abandon and in such abundance; that he again trotted out that nonsense about having done more for Black Americans than any president since Abraham Lincoln; that he disparaged Joe Biden for not “following the science” about Covid-19 when he, Trump, mused about injections of bleach and vouched recklessly for hydroxychloroquine; that he characterized Biden’s positions as a “death sentence for the U.S. auto industry” when the Obama administration helped to save American carmakers.

He later taunted Democrats by gesturing at [The White House] and saying, “We’re here and they’re not.”

This wasn’t patriotism. It was puerility. He was rubbing his rebellion against tradition and presidential etiquette in his critics’ faces.


The New Yorker: The Malign Fantasy of Donald Trump’s Convention. Subtitle: Using the White House as his prop, the President makes war on Joe Biden, and pretends the pandemic is all but defeated.

For four years, Donald Trump has been asking us to believe the unbelievable, to accept the unthinkable, to replace harsh realities with simple fantasies. On Thursday night, using the White House as a gaudy backdrop, the President made his case to the American people for four more years. His speech capping the Republican National Convention was long, acerbic, untruthful, and surprisingly muted in comparison to the grandeur of the setting, which no chief executive before him has dared to appropriate in such a partisan way. “We will make America greater than ever before,” he promised.

The problem, of course, is that America as we know it is currently in the midst of a mess not of Biden’s making but of Trump’s. Suffice it to say that, by the time Trump’s speech was over and the red, white, and blue fireworks spelling out “2020” had been set off over the National Mall, late Thursday night, more than three thousand seven hundred Americans had died of the coronavirus since the start of the Convention—more than perished on 9/11—and a hundred and eighty thousand Americans total had succumbed to the disease, a disease that Trump repeatedly denied was even a threat. His botched handling of the pandemic was the very reason that his Convention was taking place on the White House lawn in the first place.

But the real message of the evening was that nothing, not even a deadly plague or a cratering economy, can stop Trump from being Trump. He bragged. He lied. He even ad-libbed a taunt at his critics, using the White House as his prop. “We’re here,” he said, pointing to the flood-lit mansion behind him, “and they’re not.”


UK perspective: Guardian: Trump unleashes diatribe of falsehoods and baseless attacks in RNC finale. Subtitle: Trump portrayed Biden as a creature of the Washington swamp, beat the drum of law and order and said little about racial injustice.

Yet while Biden rose to the occasion last week, Trump proceeded to deliver a somewhat flat 70-minute diatribe full of lies and falsehoods, red meat for the base and little to persuade the wavering voter. He even fluffed his big line by saying “profoundly” instead of “proudly”: “My fellow Americans, tonight with a heart full of gratitude and boundless optimism, I profoundly accept this nomination for president of the United States.”


Vox, Ezra Klein: The 3 charts that disprove Donald Trump’s convention speech. Subtitle: Trump wants to take credit for something he didn’t do, and dodge blame for something he did do.

Gist: 1) the economic recovery began under Obama, long before Trump came into office; 2) the US has –still– by far the highest rate of new Covid-19 cases per million people, compared to “peer developed nations”; 3) and far more deaths per capita.

It is not Trump’s fault that the coronavirus reached our shores. It is Trump’s fault that we’ve responded so fecklessly. There is no reason that, say Germany, should’ve been so much more capable in its response. The difference was political leadership — a difference that was viscerally, visually on display during Trump’s speech, which packed 1,500 people onto the white House lawn, with barely a face mask in sight.

The grim truth is that, even today, we still don’t have a plan to control the coronavirus, save to hope for a vaccine. Vice President Mike Pence admitted as much on Wednesday. “Last week, Joe Biden said ‘no miracle is coming,’ What Joe doesn’t seem to understand is that America is a nation of miracles and we’re on track to have the world’s first safe, effective coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year.” So that’s the plan, then. A miracle. And how many Americans will die between now and then? How many will die if we don’t have an effective vaccine, produced and delivered at scale, by the end of the year?

So this is the core of Trump’s reelection message: You should give him credit for the economic recovery he inherited from Obama. And you should blame someone else for the disastrous response to the coronavirus. Inspiring stuff.

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