Good Friday Morning, especially to the state of Rhode Island and their delicious plate of calamari that I would absolutely demolish — by myself. Welcome one and all to the second quarter of the 2020 election. If you take the last 100 days and divide them up in quarters, we just wrapped the first quarter. Joe Biden gave his acceptance speech last night, with 75 days remaining until the election. The first quarter gave us the end of the primary season, Kamala Harris’s nomination as Vice President, and the end of the Democratic National Convention. The second quarter starts with the Republican convention, starting next week. What more awaits us? A lot, I think.
For starters, I’ve been looking at the RealClearPolitics average. If you max it out and look at Trump vs Biden, going back to last fall, Biden’s highs against Trump have slowly been coming down. In the Fall/Winter, Biden could regularly hit 52% against Trump. Then through the late spring/early summer, that high dropped to 51%, and now the high points are struggling to hit 50%. How much more steam can Biden lose on this front? Biden obviously has the lead right now, but the big question for him: can he improve on Hilary Clinton’s vote share? She hit 48.1% nationally. Is Biden slipping to that level? We shall see.
Biden’s speech accepting the nomination was a great one. The two best speeches of the convention were Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Michelle Obama’s speech is important for the culture/celebrity crowd. Everyone else was mostly forgettable. I’m writing this right after Biden’s speech, so I don’t have a link or transcript to it yet, but it’s worth a listen. I will say this though, Trump had the perfect rejoinder: “In 47 years, Joe did none of the things of which he now speaks. He will never change, just words!”
If you want to hit Biden, that’s where you do it. You argue he’s an old hand that’s never accomplished anything of note, he’s incapable of changing anything because he either created the problem or doesn’t understand the modern world. On foreign policy, this is easy. The Iran Deal was such a disaster, it’s allowing Trump to literally create peace in the Middle East. And you argue that because Biden has held a variety of positions on issues, he’s nothing more than an empty vessel for the left in this election.
- Two hurricanes could make landfall in the Gulf of Mexico on the same day next week. The National Hurricane Center is tracking two tropical depressions, 13 and 14, both with paths taking them towards the United States. 14 is poised to go straight in the Gulf, and 13 still has room to wiggle. It’s highly likely both become hurricanes and in the case of TD 13, to become a strong hurricane. The important part: both could make landfall near the same time next week (Tuesday-Wednesday). Here’s a new term you’ll learn next week: Fujiwhara effect. This is where two hurricanes start interacting and circling each other as a binary system, potentially even merging. It’s extremely rare and we’ve never witnessed it in the Gulf of Mexico. The current tracks have one storm hitting Texas and the other Florida. That could change very suddenly though if those storms interact with each other, or merge. I expect this story to blow up in the news as we move into the weekend. 2020 continues to be one of the most unique years ever.
- On the college football front: Nebraska parents are suing over the school/Big Ten canceling sports.
Where you can find me this week
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The left’s post office conspiracy theories are fake news – The Conservative Institute.
Donald Trump still represents the outsider candidate – The Conservative Institute.
The 2020 DNC Convention: Or the one where Obama tries to unite his coalition again.
Before going one word further, I’d like to use this space to lodge a formal complaint with the DNC for starting convention coverage at 9 pm eastern time — with the critical keynote speeches at the end. I’m 100% convinced these conventions won’t matter. No one stayed up that late because doing so would unnaturally social distance me from my bed.
Alright, with that out of the way. The (virtual) Democratic convention is over and in the books. It and the Republican convention will make history because of the virtual nature of both. But, at least for the DNC, this might be the most inconsequential convention in modern history.
The reason is straightforward: you had to tune in and pay attention to the convention. No one is going to the convention to hob-nob and get excited. And an all-TV event with no live audiences or reactions is far less likely to have a lasting impact. Plus, I’m stealing this point from Jim Geraghty, it looks like Biden may have already hit his ceiling of support, so there’s nowhere to go but down from here. Asking for a polling bump when you’re at your high shouldn’t produce much of a bump.
But the most striking aspect of the convention was the impact and speech of Barack Obama. He spoke the third night and so thoroughly outshined Kamala Harris that she looked terrible in comparison (though, to be fair, she had a forgettable speech). There are two main aspects to Obama’s speech: First, there’s the case he made against the left flank of the Democratic Party, and second his attack of Donald Trump. The argument he makes for Joe Biden gets sandwiched by the anti-Trump parts of the piece, which says something about what Obama believes regarding the positive case for Biden (perhaps reflecting the reality of the Politico piece where Obama didn’t overly support a Biden run).
Barack Obama defends the… constitution?
My Friday Conservative Institute column covers the case Obama makes against Trump. Here, we’re going to go through Obama’s arguments against the left flank of his party. Let’s start with the first part of Obama’s speech. After listening and going back to the transcript, I saw this as a shot across the bow of the Democratic Party’s left flank, which is actively protesting and creating chaos in cities across America.
I’m in Philadelphia, where our Constitution was drafted and signed. It wasn’t a perfect document. It allowed for the inhumanity of slavery and failed to guarantee women — and even men who didn’t own property — the right to participate in the political process. But embedded in this document was a North Star that would guide future generations; a system of representative government — a democracy — through which we could better realize our highest ideals. Through civil war and bitter struggles, we improved this Constitution to include the voices of those who’d once been left out. And gradually, we made this country more just, more equal, and more free.
Obama starts with a full-throated defense of the Constitution and the American founding. This point is, if you take it earnestly, a complete and total repudiation of the NYTimes 1619 project. The progressive left rejects the American founding. When you dig into some of these protests — they reject the values of the American founding too. When I attack the 1619 project on philosophical grounds, I sound similar to Obama’s rhetoric.
Obama has a purpose with this rhetoric, though. When you parse the speech, he’s trying to get people to buy back into the American electoral system. He’s trying to get people to go and vote. If Democrats buy into these conspiracy theories on the Post Office or see Democrats as not representing them anymore, they won’t vote. This point becomes apparent when you get back to the end of the speech where Obama brings up John Lewis:
Last month, we lost a giant of American democracy in John Lewis. Some years ago, I sat down with John and the few remaining leaders of the early Civil Rights Movement. One of them told me he never imagined he’d walk into the White House and see a president who looked like his grandson. Then he told me that he’d looked it up, and it turned out that on the very day that I was born, he was marching into a jail cell, trying to end Jim Crow segregation in the South.
What we do echoes through the generations.
If anyone had a right to believe that this democracy did not work, and could not work, it was those Americans. Our ancestors. They were on the receiving end of a democracy that had fallen short all their lives. They knew how far the daily reality of America strayed from the myth. And yet, instead of giving up, they joined together and said somehow, some way, we are going to make this work. We are going to bring those words, in our founding documents, to life.
The argument here that Obama is making, indirectly, is that these protestors can’t claim things are so bad that they won’t vote. They didn’t face the obstacles of prior generations. They don’t deal with the hardships of people like John Lewis. It’s basically a “grow up” and get on with life thought-process.
Interestingly, this point is a shot across the bow of this victimhood mindset so prevalent on the left. Obama often used and perpetuated this mindset too. But here, he’s saying, “You guys don’t have it so bad, so stop complaining and go vote for us.” That’s not much of a paraphrase. These are the ending lines of his address:
To the young people who led us this summer, telling us we need to be better — in so many ways, you are this country’s dreams fulfilled. Earlier generations had to be persuaded that everyone has equal worth. For you, it’s a given — a conviction. And what I want you to know is that for all its messiness and frustrations, your system of self-government can be harnessed to help you realize those convictions.
You can give our democracy new meaning. You can take it to a better place. You’re the missing ingredient — the ones who will decide whether or not America becomes the country that fully lives up to its creed.
That work will continue long after this election. But any chance of success depends entirely on the outcome of this election…
I found this interesting from Obama. From his vantage point, the left and the people in these protests are losing a grip with reality and risk disengaging entirely. You can tell from his speech, he doesn’t know why, even though he acknowledges the wrongs that do exist. Obama sounds notes that are almost conservative or libertarian. He talks about how prior generations had it worse, so what’s the excuse of people today of saying things are too bad to vote?
Obama-Biden versus the New Left
In a way, Obama reveals the split between himself and the Bernie/AOC/extremist wing of the party. Obama is trying to protect the power of the Democratic party to retake control, but he needs these people to rejoin the political process to accomplish that. For the past few months, the riots have attacked the legitimacy of the electoral process. Combine that with the baseless conspiracy theories around the post office and more, and it’s enough to turn off anyone.
An unending irony is that many people, left and right, blame Obama for this moment in history. Trump said it himself, responding to advance leaks of Obama’s DNC speech. USA Today reports:
Trump wasted no time firing back. Responding to excerpts of Obama’s remarks earlier in the day, Trump described Obama as “so ineffective, so terrible” as he offered an extended criticism of the Iran agreement intended to slow Tehran’s path to a nuclear weapons program.
“The reason I’m here is because of President Obama and Joe Biden,” he said.
That answer is 100% correct. Add in Hilary Clinton and all her absurdities and the trail of corruption a mile long, and you get Donald Trump.
One last point before wrapping this newsletter up. What this speech reveals is Obama pleading with the crazy segment of the party to come back home, vote, and stop tearing down society. He paints a picture as to why they should do that. Implicit in this is the opposite scenario, too, however. If they don’t come back home to Obama, the Democratic Party’s power structures will collapse.
Donald Trump: Wrecker of Democratic Power.
Here’s what a Trump victory means. In 2016, Trump wrecked the Clinton coalition of the Democratic Party. Between 2008 and 2016, there was a power struggle in the Democratic Party between the Clintons and Obamas for the DNC rule. Since 2016, we have witnessed the fissures start developing in the Democratic Party, starting with Bernie Sanders, the Squad, and now the rioters destroying cities. Obama is the only remaining figure capable of uniting all these factions.
A Trump win in 2020 obliterates the Obama power structures of the Democratic Party. All of a sudden, there is no unifying political force remaining; Democrats emerge rudderless, leaderless, and directionless. The Clinton-Obama axis of power that papered over the differences and various factions of Democrats and united them would be gone, upending 25 years of control over one party. That’s not to say the Obama’s and Clinton’s would go away — they’d still exist and exert influence. But they’d have far less power, and a power vacuum would emerge.
A Trump win would also break the sanity of the most malicious rioters who are destroying cities. They’d see the system as beyond repair and reject the Obama defense of America. They’d feel set free to destroy a country they deem as irrevocably immoral and evil.
Politically, Obama and I do not agree on very much. He and I are philosophically miles apart. But we do recognize the Democratic Party is on a precipice. Joe Biden saved them from fighting it out and dealing with Bernie. But that’s a temporary band-aid. If Obama and Biden can’t get these people to vote, and Trump wins, the bandaid gets ripped off.
Links of the week
Marianne Williamson: Democratic convention ‘like binge-watching a Marriott commercial’ – Justine Coleman, The Hill
‘The President Was Not Encouraging’: What Obama Really Thought About Biden: Behind the friendship was a more complicated relationship, which now drives the former vice president to prove his partner wrong. – Alex Thompson, Politico
Citing threats, Mayor Lori Lightfoot defends ban on protesters on her block: ‘I have a right to make sure that my home is secure’ – Gregory Pratt, Jeremy Gorner and Megan Crepeau, Chicago Tribune
Anti-racist Arguments Are Tearing People Apart: What a viral story reveals about contemporary leftist discourse – Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic
At least four dead, nearly 700,000 acres burned as massive fires threaten Northern California – Rong-Gong Lin II, Luke Money, Leila Miller, Joseph Serna, Anita Chabria, The LATimes
Hillary Clinton does her best Trump impersonation at the Democratic National Convention – Beckett Adams, The Washington Examiner
Member of Conservative, Anti-Gay Group Places Homophobic Cake Order at LGBTQ-Owned Detroit Bakery: Good Cakes and Bakes’ owners faced a dilemma after receiving a offensive online order – Brenna Houck, EaterDetroit
Biden’s convention message sounds a lot like Hillary Clinton’s: The Democratic Party is again appealing to anti-Trump Republicans but isn’t doing much to woo the working-class Obama-Trump voters who defected in 2016. – Josh Kraushaar, National Journal
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire of the week
#NotTheOnion Highway built around house of woman who refused to move – The NYPost
Thanks for reading!