Painful as it may be, let’s revisit election night 2016.
What made a shocking night all the more perplexing was that even Trump and his campaign were so utterly surprised by the results — in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan — and then the Electoral College. 77,000 votes across three states.
Let’s stick a pin in some facts for the moment. Paul Manafort notoriously handed Oleg Deripaska proprietary polling data for 4 states: Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. That act, in and of itself, was illegal — in part because it was part of a larger illegal action: the receiving of something of value from a foreign interest in an American election. The fact that that foreign interest was Russia — and Russia was actively engaged in a cyber war against us — and success to them meant 1) corrupting our election and 2) corrupting our election enough to actually make Trump president.
Russia was open to either versions of success. Clever them — they got both.
The truth is we don’t know yet how profoundly Manafort’s gift impacted the outcomes in PA/WI/MI. We don’t know for a fact how many African American voters were dissuaded by the personalized Facebook ads that turned up on their Facebook pages every day — ads based on that proprietary polling data that was now weaponized into propaganda, misinformation and disinformation.
If the Rule Of Law was back in force, we’d have to draw the line at Zero Tolerance. In other words, if just ONE African American voter stayed home because of what Paul Manafort did? That’s election fraud — right there. As we know, one vote can change an election’s outcome. If we don’t know how many other African American voters were similarly dissuaded from carrying out their right to vote, then we cannot say how much voter fraud occurred other than “it happened”.
The Rule Of Law says it can’t happen. Therefore any and all voter fraud has the same meaning. It’s illegal. Now let’s be real. It wasn’t just one African American voter. It was lots. And those Facebook ads weren’t the only game being played. Let’s be really real: the Trump campaign wasn’t just in bed with Russia, the Trump campaign was Russia’s sex slave — chained to a wall in the Kremlin basement — and loving it.
Lots of people bitched about Michael Wolff and his book “Fire and Fury: Inside Trump’s White House”, but no one’s contradicted what Wolff wrote. Per Newsweek: “A week before the election, Trump was sure he would lose the presidency. But still, according to Wolff’s book, he told Ailes that it was “bigger than I ever dreamed of. I don’t think about losing, because it isn’t losing. We’ve totally won.”
This is from New York Magazine’s excerpt of Wolff’s book (in their Intelligencer section):
“Not only would Trump not be president, almost everyone in the campaign agreed, he should probably not be. Conveniently, the former conviction meant nobody had to deal with the latter issue.”
It was as simple as THIS —
“Not only did Trump disregard the potential conflicts of his own business deals and real-estate holdings, he audaciously refused to release his tax returns. Why should he? Once he lost, Trump would be both insanely famous and a martyr to Crooked Hillary. His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared would be international celebrities. Steve Bannon would become the de facto head of the tea-party movement. Kellyanne Conway would be a cable-news star. Melania Trump, who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn’t become president, could return to inconspicuously lunching. Losing would work out for everybody. Losing was winning.”
Which is why THIS —
Shortly after 8 p.m. on Election Night, when the unexpected trend — Trump might actually win — seemed confirmed, Don Jr. told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears — and not of joy.
And then THIS —
There was, in the space of little more than an hour, in Steve Bannon’s not unamused observation, a befuddled Trump morphing into a disbelieving Trump and then into a horrified Trump.
Becoming POTUS was not the point of the exercise. Creating Trump TV & more, bigger, better branding opportunities were.
But, once Trump won — once he realized what Vladimir Putin had done for him — he assumed the mantle of tin pot dictator. That’s tin pot dictator on a very short leash — about the length of that tin pot dictator’s ugly, badly-made, badly-tied tie.
Repeat — no one’s ever contradicted anything Michael Wolff said in his book. Liars denying a thing happened carries zero weight.
Every second that we refuse to put this on the table — own it all right goddamned now because pathogens like coronavirus don’t care about politics. We need full transparency right now. And once transparency begins for coronavirus? There’ll be no stopping it.
Suddenly all the other secrets Trump World has managed to hold onto will begin exploding into the light.
I blogged here about the similarities between HG Wells’ “War Of The Worlds” and our current situation — where a lowly pathogen could be the thing to take out a monster we mere Earthlings couldn’t lay a glove on. Even pundits who always get things wrong got this one right: at some point, a crisis will happen that Trump is ill-prepared to deal with.
All Trump’s other chaos has started with Trump and his innate corruption. He’s always been able to moderate the amount of insanity. He’s always been able to switch us to another outrage just as our outrage from the previous nonsense was waning. But, like a natural disaster, Trump can’t control coronavirus.
He got away with botching our response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. After all, Puerto Rico’s off shore. And it’s mostly brown people.
Coronavirus could come for any one of us. We’ll have as much skin in the game as we do coronavirus in our lungs and nasal passages. And if Donald Trump’s ineptitude, incompetence & corruption had anything to do with that (spoiler alert — it DID!), he may yet hold onto his most hard core devotees, but their numbers will be smaller than ever — and shrinking probably because they’re too damned stupid to protect themselves.
Trump may indeed have been able to shoot people on Fifth Avenue and not lose a single voter. He may NOT be able to infect people with coronavirus on Fifth Avenue and get away with that.