NOW President Trump Should Concede [Corrected]

live_map_president

When I noted in last night’s ethics update that North Carolina’s Electoral College votes had been added to the Trump column, I was not aware that that Georgia had been called with Biden in a small but likely uncatchable lead (nonetheless, a recount is underway that will be complete on Wednesday: thanks to James Flood for the correction). Without Georgia, there is no sliver of a path for the President to be re-elected now. The Biden-Harris ticket has 307 EC votes, well above the 270 threshold required for election. RealClearPolitics, one of the very few news sources that did not display open bias and worse, a desire to push the election to a conclusion they favored, has the race marked as decided.

President Trump should make his concession speech today. He has a duty to concede as soon as possible, for the good of the country, in fairness to President-Elect Biden, and, though I doubt anyone could convince him of this (though I would love to have the opportunity to try), himself.

The President should do everything in his power to establish a clear contrast with the irresponsible conduct of Hillary Clinton after her defeat in 2016. She set out to undermined Trump from the beginning by refusing to accept that her loss was genuine and legitimate, thus setting the stage for a four-year effort by Democrats, the “resistance,” and the news media (the “Axis of Unethical Conduct”) to withhold national support of his leadership and wreck his term in office by unscrupulous and despicable means.

One reason this conduct by Clinton and her supporters was so destructive is that it created a precedent that risked being followed going forward to future elections, permanently weakening what had been a strength of American democracy. The President can go a long way toward undoing that damage. I think it is crucial to our national health that he do so, and the sooner the better.

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Ethics Alarms Verdict: The AUC Stole the Election, Or Attempted To Steal The Election. It’s One Or The Other.

trump-election-2020

Frankly, this is an easy conclusion. It is overwhelming likely that the first is correct: President Trump has lost the election, and the #1 reason was the four year strategy by the Axis of Unethical Conduct—the Democratic Party, the “resistance,” the mainstream news media, and more recently, the tech giants and social media platforms—to employ unconscionable, unethical means to accomplish that end.

If, by some miracle, the attempted theft fails, it will only be as a result of moral luck. The destructive and democracy-wrecking actions of the AUC are already completed. Their culpability is the same whatever the final election result is.  This is why in criminal law an attempted crime often carries the same penalty as a completed crime. What the criminal did was just as wrong whether he or she was ultimately successful or not.

Before President Trump even took office, a full-on campaign to remove him by any means possible was underway, along with a similarly relentless effort to make it impossible for him to function as the nation’s leader. This continued with no respite from the 2016 election right through to the 2020 election. No President of the United States has ever been sabotaged and savaged in such a manner; indeed I am going to add the denial of this fact to the Ethics Alarms list of the Big Lies of the Resistance. It will be #10, right behind the lie that President Trump caused pandemic deaths in the U.S. (Andrew Cuomo definitely killed people, but not President Trump.) The lie: “Progressives treated President Trump no worse than conservatives treated President Obama.”

Big Lie #10 is different from the rest because it usually is used by ordinary citizens rather than Democratic Party officials, flacks and pundits; the reason is that the statement is so false that even Trump’s worst critics won’t go that far. Their alternative position is that he is so evil that he deserved to be abused. But I hear Big Lie #10 regularly from the social media Borg and my Trump Deranged friends and relatives when they are cornered and feel they have to deny what is literally undeniable. Big Lie #10 is a Jumbo: “Bias? What bias?”

The record of the effort to steal/rig/fix—choose your favorite word, but the objective was to make sure this President never had a chance to succeed, and if he somehow did succeed, that he would never get credit for it—the 2020 election is right here, tracked by the Ethics Alarms tag, 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck, which I hereby retire after a wild four-year run. It took me twenty minutes to just scroll down through all of the posts that carry that tag; if I attempted to read them all, it would take weeks.

The first entry was here, when I announced and christened the Train Wreck, almost exactly four years ago, on November 13, 2016. In that post and three succeeding ones I highlighted four ugly examples of how the President-elect was being denigrated and undermined immediately, following the first post with this one, this one, and this one. I could not suspect that the efforts to demonize the newly-elected President of the United States would metastasize to the extent they did, with every late night TV show devoting large chunks of time every installment to insulting and denigrating him, with the vast majority of major newspaper columnists attacking him personally to the point of obsession, and all previous rules of decorum and official respect being not only suspended by the Democratic Party, but trashed, even to the point of elected officials calling the President a “motherfucker” in public without any penalty or reprimand, and the Speaker of the House making live theater out of tearing up his State of the Union message on TV.

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Ethics Observations On President Trump’s Press Conference

P conference

The transcript is here.

1. This was pretty close to Donald Trump at his worst, if we don’t count episodes like his performing mocking imitations of journalists or insulting women’s appearances. It was also predictable. Even as bad as it was, I would rate the press conference as superior to Richard Nixon’s infamous concession speech when he lost his attempt to become Governor of California in 1962 (“You won’t have Richard Nixon to kick around anymore…”). There was no self-pity in Trump’s rant, just anger and indignation. Anger and indignation are appropriate and justified in this case.

2. He should not have given the press conference at all. Some Presidents could under these circumstances; this one can’t, and he should know that. All he could do is stir up division, or worse. Trump has no ethical bearings, so he feels (I’m sure) that since Hillary Clinton and the Democrats worked to undermine the legitimacy of his election in 2016, he is justified in doing the same to Biden. That’s not ethical, but that is how he thinks. So do a majority of Americans.

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Decided: The Ten Reasons I’ll Be Voting To Re-Elect President Trump [6-10]

Hiding Biden meme

[Reasons 1-5 are here; the Preface to this exercise is here.]

6. I hate to quote Newt Gingrich, whom I detest, but in an appearance on Fox News yesterday predicting a Trump victory, he put his finger on a factor that the media (and pundits like Nate Silver) seem to ignore or not understand. (Newt is despicable, but he’s not dumb.) He said,

“In the end, as you watched these two candidates campaigning, I think it’s coming down to sort of a bunny rabbit hiding in a basement protected by the news media and a bear who is wandering around on the stage courageously without fear. If you think the world is dangerous, whether the dangers are riots in Philadelphia or the dangers are the Chinese communists, you probably want a bear that is strong enough to defend you and not a bunny rabbit that has to be protected by the news media. I think every day that Biden hides and Trump goes out and campaigns, the psychological message being driven to the American people is really deeper than just ideology or partisanship. It says one guy has the guts, the willingness, the toughness to actually be out here, taking on things including Covid. The other guy is hiding, frightened, hoping the news media will save him because he can’t possibly save himself. And I think that sinks in,” he continued. “And I think that’s why you are seeing in virtually every poll I trust we’re seeing a steady drift towards Trump and away from the undecided and away from sort of leaning towards Biden but not sold. My personal bet is it will lead to a surprising majority for Trump.”

I don’t quote Newt to suggest the likely outcome, but rather to explain how this factor influenced my decision. Reluctant leaders are lousy leaders, and for the most part, they don’t reach the Presidency, and shouldn’t. I admire Trump for campaigning so vigorously despite the chorus from the media that he will lose, despite the constant hate directed his way, despite being in his mid-seventies and having just had a bout with the Wuhan virus. The man is working. He wants it. I see no evidence that Joe Biden really wants the job, or, if he does, that he’s capable of fighting for it. If he’s not capable of fighting to be President, he is not capable of being President once he’s elected.

7. The decision by the Democrats to allow the Biden ticket to represent the party and its supporters in the 2020 election will stand as the most cynical, irresponsible and unethical act by any political party in American history, only rivaled by the same party’s decision to let a dying President Roosevelt run for a 4th term in 1944. At least that version of the party had some excuses: there was a world war to wrap up, and many in the party leadership didn’t know just how sick FDR was, since he actively hidden the fact. These Democrats have no such excuses.

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Decided: The Ten Reasons I’ll Be Voting To Re-Elect President Trump [1-5]

John-Adams-Young

I’ll list these in no significant order, with the final section of the list following soon.

1. A commenter on this Althouse post (itself a motivation to vote for the President) wrote, “Althouse: ‘I could never lower myself to vote for someone like that. He’s icky. Eew!’” It made me realize that my long-held argument that voting for the President while maintaining my professional standards and integrity was impossible could be fairly accused of having the same motivation.

The election is for the benefit of the nation, not about how my vote makes me feel.

2. Four years ago, on the November 9, the day after Donald Trump’s shocking upset victory over Hillary Clinton, I wrote,

Give Trump a chance, and take note of those who will not. He is now in the most difficult job in the nation at the age of 70, with less relevant experience and preparation than any previous occupant of the office. For once, it’s a good thing that he’s an egomaniac and a narcissist, because otherwise he might be perseverating in terror right now. One cannot say that he begins with the most daunting set of problems any POTUS has ever faced, but it’s close. Give him a chance. Nobody becomes President wanting to fail, and not wanting to do a good job for his country and his fellow citizens.  Begin with that, and let’s see what happens.

I took note. Neither the resistance, nor the Democratic Party, nor the news media, nor most of the members of the public that were inclined to believe, trust and believe these voices, gave President Trump any chance at all. No previous elected President had been treated like that, and for good reason: our system does not and cannot work if the nation does not begin each new Presidential administration with the acceptance of its elected leader. The Democrats knew this, indeed they lectured Donald Trump on the subject when they were certain that Hillary Clinton would win.

The Axis of Unethical Conduct, knowing we had elected a President who would need more than the usual amount of support, burdened him further by according him less, hoping for a war, a depression, or a Presidential breakdown.

If this party strategy succeeds in achieving gaining power, it will become the norm. I have no illusions that the Republican Party is motivated by any stronger ethical ideals than Democrats, so if it becomes the norm, the nation is doomed to perpetual division, hate and conflict.

It is not enough to abstain in an election that will decide whether that will the fate of the United States of America. Responsible citizens must vote to reject it.

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Decided: The Ten Reasons I’ll Be Voting To Re-Elect President Trump; A Preface

Trump 2020

The Eleventh Reason is that I started feeling like I was drawing things out and avoiding being honest with myself, while also acting like my decision should matter enough to keep anyone in suspense. Nobody should vote for a candidate because of what anyone else does or thinks. One is obligated to use ethical principles and sound, unemotional reasoning to make decisions that become part of the course of our republic, but it must be a personal decision. It must also be made according to what a citizen really believes is in the best interests of the nation, society and culture in which he or she lives, not personal best interests, or according to what vote will permit you to deny responsibility for a choice that has to be made.

To hell with it. The vote in 2020 is important, and needs to be made for real reasons, not symbolic reasons, not reasons rooted in ego or professional ethics or what your Facebook friends will say or other irrelevant factors and considerations. All of us can keep our votes secret, but that choice isn’t open to me, really. I’ve written too much about the Trump Presidency and the election. Telling inquirers, “That’s for me to know and you to find out!” at this point would be cowardly; so would telling people what I think they want to hear.

There is only one question to answer: which candidate is the most responsible and ethical choice?

On that basis, the decision is easy and obvious—not pleasant, but easy and obvious.

I will be casting my vote, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, for President Donald J. Trump.

I’ll have the details in the post to come.

The Ethics Arguments For Voting For President Trump And Joe Biden, Part 2

2020 election

Part I is here.

At the end of this post, I will repost, from the archives, my Ethics Alarms essay from November 7, 2016 titled, “Donald Trump: A Pre-Election Ethics Alarms Character and Trustworthiness Review: 2005-2016.” I’m going to comment on how and why my assessment now is different (and how it is not) before the piece, because it’s long, and to some extent out of date.

Reading over the essay below, I had two thoughts immediately. One was that it was more vociferous than I remembered, and the other was amusement, looking at it again, of how many times I have been accused of being a “Trumpster” and a “Trump supporter” over last four years.

My assessment of Donald Trump has changed over that period in the following respects:

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Friday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/23/2020: Oh, Might As Well Talk About The Debate…

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If you are going to have a bad and a good debate performance, is it better to have the better showing in the last debate? That was certainly the case for Barack Obama in 2012, after Romney aced him in the previous one. Allowing early voting makes the calculation uncertain—one more reason it’s a terrible policy that undermines responsible, informed elections.

(The debate transcript is here.)

1. By recent, horrible standards, the moderator, Kristen Welker on NBC, was relatively competent, fair and unbiased. How hard was that? Even so, she interrupted the President repeatedly while mostly letting Biden finish his answers, which was not necessarily in Joe’s best interests. The mains thing was that her questions to both candidates were pointed and tough, and she did not seem hostile to one or the other. Nor did she bail out the Democratic candidate—you know, the one she’s almost certainly voted for already, a la Candy Crowley in 2012.

Welker did not ask Biden about #MeToo and his repeated sexual harassment as VP, never mind the accusation from his former staffer. That topic has been verboten during the campaign, and of course Trump wasn’t going to bring it up. Astounding, really, that Biden sailed through the primaries and this campaign without anyone prominent officially raising the question of how the party of #MeToo could have an open sexual harasser as its standard bearer.

2. Joe Biden’s appeals to trust based on the public knowing good ol’ Joe were either audacious, cynical or stupid, depending on your degree of tolerance. I found them nauseating, and for me they raised the question of whether Biden really thinks the public is that inattentive. Biden has spent his entire run for the White House rejecting the positions and values he promoted during his career; how can he keep saying, “You know me! You know what I stand for!”?

3. As always, the President’s inability to be verbally precise was infuriating, as in the exchange about “catch and release.” The basic fact is that the policy is irresponsible, since there is no reason to trust someone who would illegally enter our country to appear voluntarily in court. Trump said that almost no illegals appear, which is a typical exaggeration; Biden, absurdly, said almost all of them do, which is flat out false.

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Ethics Observations On 2020 Presidential Debate #1 [Comments Restored!]

 

Ten Ethics Observations:

1. I showed a photo from the first Presidential debate in 1960 to introduce the post Chris added his comments to, earning his Comment of the Day. Maybe I should have shown a video. Jack Kennedy was a Machiavellian phony of more style than talent, and Richard Nixon was more talented but just as ruthless and more unstable. Yet both conducted themselves as dignified aspirants to an honored office and role in our government, with sober and substantive answers to neutral questions that never betrayed the intense dislike the two men had for each other. Compare that event to what was on display last night. There are reasons for it, but no excusing it. Both men harmed the nation and the office last night with their ugly attitudes toward each other. As a result, they harmed the process, and democratic institutions.

2. The lack of a handshake was inexcusable, and shame on both campaigns and the debate commission for permitting this departure from traditional civility, as well as all concerned for giving the fake excuse of caution regarding the Wuhan virus. The two adversaries could have worn gloves and masks; hell, they could have worn suits of medieval armor for all I care. They needed to signal the traditional respect of each other even if they have none.

Shame on everyone.

 3. Trump’s constant interruptions of Biden and “bullying,” as it is being described in many forums, were bad form and poor strategy: Biden was vague and sometimes incomprehensible. Ethically, the President’s rudeness raises a familiar tit for tat dilemma. In his 2016 debate with Paul Ryan, Biden’s tactic was to mug, sigh, cackle, mock, and generally do everything he could to interfere with poor, polite Paul Ryan’s attempts to talk about policy, while moderator Martha Raddatz  made Ryan look weak. Trump decided that if that was going to be Biden’s game again—and it was—he wasn’t going to make Ryan’s mistake and be passive. So he acted as rude and jerkish as Biden, and made his contempt for and distrust of the moderator clear from the beginning.

4. I suspect Biden was drugged. He looked drugged last night; his pupils looked huge. The Trump team wanted to require a drug test, and though that was partially gamesmanship, it was also a fair request, given legitimate questions about Biden’s health, which should be the equivalent in this race of what Trump’s taxes were in 2016.

5. I don’t like either of these men as personalities, as elected officials, and as leaders, potential or otherwise. The difference is that President Trump has never pretended to be any different than he appears and sounds. W.S. Gilbert had a libretto he was inexplicably obsessed with about a magic lozenge that turned people into whatever they were pretending to be. (It helped break up his partnership with Sullivan, who refused to set it to music.) If Donald Trump ate that lozenge, it would have no effect at all. If Joe Biden did, he would turn into a nice guy. His supposed appeal is that he’s decent, trustworthy official, whatever his other deficits. He isn’t, and last night it was obvious that he isn’t. I can’t see anyone who was inclined to vote for Trump being put off by last night’s debate, but I can see Biden losing the votes of those who want someone more “Presidential.” Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: The First 2020 Presidential Debate.

[The transcript is here]

I’ll make my comments regarding last night’s debate relatively brief. Right now I’m going to give the floor to Chris Marschner, whose lengthy comment shortly after it concluded is both fair and thorough. This is an ethics blog that has been forced into commenting on politics far more than it should or that its writer wants to, and for that I blame, as a depressed friend said yesterday, “the politicization of everything.” I am going to try, as I have all along in matters relating to President Trump and the unconscionable methods the Axis of Unethical Conduct has employed to undermine and remove him regardless of the long- and short- term harm they inflict on the nation, to keep my observations on the debate to ethical issues . I think, for the most part, Chris does too, which is one reason I admire his Comment of the Day.

One of his main complaints is the incompetence of the President in failing to clearly explain and defend his response to the Wuhan virus. I won’t touch on that at all;  Chris is right,  but it’s Julie Principle territory. Yes, it would be great if this President could articulately marshal facts and statistics to kill false narratives, as Barack Obama and Bill Clinton could. The man just doesn’t do that, can’t, and never will. It is true that Biden provided many opportunities that a more verbally adept President could have exploited, but complaining that Trump is Trump seems pointless now.

My own observations, which I will restrict to just ten, are here—I wrote them up before reading Chris’s analysis.. Meanwhile, here is Chris Marschner’s Comment of the Day on last nights debate, nominally on the post, “Pre-Debate Ethics Distraction, 9/29/2020: Prediction: Whatever Happens, I’m Going To Hate It, And The News Media Will Lie About It”:

I can’t believe American politics has devolved in to the one of those circuses elsewhere when the the two sides clear the benches for physical free for all. Chris Wallace is ill suited for what our debates have become and his questions being so long allowed the two candidates to go off into their preferred areas of attack instead of giving relatively succinct answers.

It also appeared to me that the questions were structured in such a way that Trump had to defend his decisions while Biden was given the opportunity to lay out his ideas. Having to defend the measurable and complex issues of a pandemic response coupled with widespread unrest in major cities fomented by race-baiters while your opponent merely has to give unmeasurable platitudes is sort of unreasonable. The only one challenging Biden on his record was Trump while Trump was challenged by Wallace and Biden.

Trump may come across as overbearing tonight but I recall Biden’s debate with Paul Ryan in which he behaved as Trump did tonight. Perhaps the game plan was to not let Biden pull that again. Continue reading