Are you running out of outrage?
By Bill Press
Attention Deficit Disorder. If you don't have it, consider yourself lucky. According to the American Psychiatric Association, one out of 25 Americans, and one out of 10 children, have some level of A.D.D., loosely described as the inability to remain focused for a reasonable amount of time on any given task, activity, subject, or conversation.
I've got it. My secretary used to warn visitors before entering my office: Don't waste any time. Get right to the point. You have five minutes max to make your case before his eyes glaze over and he's no longer paying any attention.
As common as it is, in this age of Donald Trump, I fear A.D.D. has been replaced by a more disturbing malady: O.D.D., or Outrage Deficit Disorder. You know what I mean. You probably have it, too. You get so outraged by one thing Donald Trump says or does, that it's hard to stir up enough outrage for his next monumental stupidity and, a couple of days later, you hardly have any outrage left at all.
Take last week. It started with a report in Atlantic Magazine that, on a visit to Paris in early 2018, Trump had refused to visit nearby Aisne-Marne American Cemetery because it's filled with nothing but the bodies of Americans killed in combat, or, as Trump allegedly called them, "losers" and "suckers." Which filled us all with outrage.
Then, two days later, we learned the unbelievable news from Bob Woodward, confirmed by Trump himself on tape, that, starting in January, Trump knew all along how serious the coronavirus was, but deliberately kept that information from the American people. "I wanted to always play it down," he told Woodward on March 19, "I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic." In other words, he knew the coronavirus was deadly, but decided not to tell us. Instead he insisted the virus would soon disappear. He refused to wear a mask. He did not practice social distancing. He lied and almost 200,000 Americans (so far) have died.
Could there be anything more outrageous than that? YES! Donald Trump's trip to California this week, ostensibly to get a briefing on wildfires that continue to ravage the state.
First, let's put that visit in perspective. For weeks, wildfires had roared through the West, not only in California, but also in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. America had never seen wildfires like this. At one time, over 200 fires were burning in 13 states. Over 5 million acres have been consumed by fire, dozens lost their lives, thousands of homes were destroyed, hundreds of thousands were forced to leave their homes. And fire officials in every state, red and blue, agreed that this year's never-before-experienced wildfires were the direct result of climate change.
Yet during all that time, Donald Trump said nothing about the wildfires. Not one word. Then, this week, he scheduled a hurried visit to California. Why? To offer federal assistance? To express sympathy for victims of the fires? To regret the loss of lives and property? No way. Trump went to California for one purpose only: to blame governors for the fires because of poor forest management (even though the vast majority of fires occurred on federal, not state lands) and to deny, yet again, the reality of climate change, which spurred this telling exchange with California Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot.
After state officials briefed Trump on the record number of acres and homes destroyed, Trump tried to reassure them: "It'll start getting cooler, you watch." Crowfoot shot back: "I wish science agreed with you." To which Trump sneered: "I don't think science knows, actually." As if the Fifth Avenue penthouse billionaire with his golden bathroom fixtures knows anything about science.
At which point, if you have any left, bring on the OUTRAGE. Having ignored science to deny the deadly reality of the coronavirus, Trump is now, once again, ignoring science to deny the reality of climate change. Which, I believe, is even worse. Because, despite Trump's lack of leadership, and thanks to our great health professionals, we'll someday have a vaccine and put coronavirus behind us. But climate change is not going away. It's here in the record number of deadly wildfires, tornadoes, and hurricanes. It's here in rising sea levels. It's here in record temperatures. It may, in fact, already be too late to reverse its destructive impact.
Only by following science can we save American lives and save the planet. But Donald Trump doesn't care about either. Feeling the outrage?
(C) 2020 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.
White voters: It's up to you!
By Bill Press
Labor Day's behind us. With fewer than 55 days until November 3, the presidential election is in full swing, and the differences between the two parties could not be clearer.
For Joe Biden, the issue is: Donald Trump has sunk this country into a four-fold catastrophe: the worst public health crisis in our lifetime, a pandemic that's killed almost 200,000 Americans; the resulting economic crisis, leaving 20 million Americans out of a job; systemic racism, especially in our police departments and system of justice; and climate change, as evidenced by the growing number of disastrous tornadoes, hurricanes, and wildfires.
Message: Only a solid, experienced, competent leader like Joe Biden can get us out of this mess and back on track.
For Donald Trump, the issue is: The white race is in trouble. By 2042, ethnic and racial minorities will compromise a majority of Americans. Whites will no longer be the dominant force or largest voting bloc.
Message: Only an outright racist like Donald Trump can protect and preserve your white power or, to borrow a phrase, "Make America White Again."
Let's be honest. For Donald Trump, that's what Election 2020's all about: white supremacy. He doesn't even use dog whistles anymore. He's running the most openly racist campaign since George Wallace in 1968.
For five years, Trump led the birther movement, denying the legitimacy of our first African-American president. As candidate for president, according to former counsel Michael Cohen, he made a video with a "Faux-Obama," whom he ridiculed and then "fired." He launched his campaign by calling Mexican immigrants "criminals and rapists." As president, he praised white supremacists, chanting racist and anti-Semitic hate-speech in Charlottesville.
Now running for re-election, Trump calls peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters "thugs." He told Bob Woodward he felt no need to understand the anger and pain felt by Black Americans. He went to Kenosha, Wisconsin, without even mentioning the name of Jacob Blake, the unarmed African American shot seven times in the back by police officers, while praising a white vigilante who shot and killed two peaceful protesters. He compared police officers who kill unarmed black men to golfers who "choke" and miss a putt. He claims Joe Biden would "destroy" suburbs by forcing them to build "low-income housing," meaning: "Watch Out! Blacks will soon be moving in next-door."
And this week Trump ordered federal agencies to stop racial sensitivity training. Because, according to Russell Vought, director of the Office of Management and Budget, such programs are nothing but "divisive, anti-American propaganda." Only in the world of Donald Trump (or George Wallace) would teaching federal employees that the words of the Constitution actually mean what they say be considered "anti-American."
Under the banner of "LAW & ORDER," Trump is trying to scare white Americans into voting for him in order to prevent black and brown people from taking over their jobs, homes, cities, suburbs, and power. As Finian O'Toole writes in the latest New York Review of Books, "Trumpism is a Ghost Dance for white, male America, an act of faith that the invaders can be banished and the old order restored."
Trump used the same, racist, scare tactics in 2016. The only question is: will white voters fall for it again? Duke University professor Ashley E. Jardina warns they might. After all, she writes, "These are people who feel that the rug is being pulled out from under them - that the benefits they have enjoyed because of their race, their group's advantages, and their status atop the racial hierarchy are all in jeopardy."
And remember, as much as we celebrated election of the first African-American president in 2008, the majority of white voters did not vote for him. Only 43 percent of whites voted for Obama in 2008; 39 percent in 2012. In Mississippi, only one in 10 white voters pulled the lever for Obama in 2008. In 2016, only 37 percent of white voters supported Hillary Clinton; 58 percent went for Trump. Even 53 percent of white women voted for Trump. (94 percent of black women voted for Clinton).
Because of the Black Lives Matter movement, this election, for white voters especially, is a pivotal moment. It's about a lot more than Biden or Trump. It's about whether this country leaps forward or lurches backward. Whether we follow Martin Luther King Jr. or Jim Crow. Whether we embrace the premise that "all men (and women) are created equal" or continue to mouth the words, while living the opposite. Whether the America we love finally lives up to its promise. Whether we fall for Trump's racist appeals, or reject them. White voters, it's up to you.
(C) 2020 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.
Message to Democrats: don't fret, fight!
Full confession. I'm a proud Democrat. I'm a lifelong Democrat. But, I must admit, sometimes my fellow Democrats drive me crazy. They always fear the worst. They're such worry-warts. They're such bed-wetters. Like now.
No exaggeration. I must get half a dozen emails, texts, or phone calls every day from Democratic friends (you know who you are!), wringing their hands with some version of the same lament: "Oh, I'm so worried. Biden's still in the basement. Trump's on the road. People are so focused on the riots they've forgotten all about COVID-19. The polls are tightening. Trump might actually win this thing. I'm so worried."
To which I say: Yes, you should be worried. Why? Two reasons. One, because so much is at stake. Let's be honest. Donald Trump is the most unstable, unqualified, conspiratorial, mean, cruel, narcissistic, dangerous, and downright evil man ever to get even close to the Oval Office. No doubt, he is mentally ill. With zero evidence, he warns about a plane heading to Washington "almost completely loaded with thugs, wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms." He accuses Joe Biden of being controlled by "people that are in dark shadows." He compares police officers killing unarmed African Americans to a golfer missing a three-foot putt. He defends a vigilante who shot and killed two peaceful protesters. There's no limit to how low he can go.
Were Donald Trump to win another four years, everything we believe in, all the progress we've made as a people, including our democratic institutions, the presidency, and our democracy itself would be lost.
Second reason to be worried. Because this is no cakewalk. Welcome to Campaign 2020. Of course, the polls are tightening. This was always going to be a close race. This is a campaign, not a coronation of either Biden or Trump. Did you really expect the other side to roll over and play dead? Donald Trump's no idiot. He's a smart political operative, or he wouldn't be where he is. Not only that, he's surrounded by a devoted, slavish team of amoral, cutthroat political operatives. And together, they'll do everything they can - cheat, lie, steal - to win this election. Even promote a phony vaccine before Election Day, you watch.
This is, no doubt, the most important election of our lifetime. So, what's the answer? The answer's to do what they do. The answer's not to get worried. The answer's to get mad - and then to get out and work like you've never worked before to make sure Joe Biden wins. And Democrats take back the Senate, just for good measure.
I'm asked all the time: Is there anything the average citizen can do to help dump Trump? YES! First, make sure you're registered to vote. I know, this is so basic - but you'd be surprised how many people are not registered. Next, reach out to make sure everybody you know - family members, co-workers - is also registered.
Then, if you don't automatically receive one, request an absentee ballot and, once you receive it, fill it out and mail it in or drop it off immediately. That's important, to avoid any possible postal delays and offset any likely "October Surprise." Again, make sure all your friends do the same. Check out the website iwillvote.com for information on how to vote in your state.
Second, send money. Very few of us can afford the maximum $721,300 contribution. But everybody can afford five dollars. Send five bucks this month, and another five, 10, or 25 next month. The Biden campaign raised a record, eye-popping $364.5 million in August, of which $205 million came from small, online contributions. Get on board. Connect directly with Biden campaign by texting 303-30, or go to actblue.org.
Third, volunteer as much time as you can. There's still nothing more effective than neighbor-to-neighbor grassroots politics. Walk door-to-door. Put up a yard sign. Write letters to the editor. Join a local protest. Or, the perfect COVID way of campaigning: write postcards to key voters in battleground states. Sign up at postcardstovoters.org.
Bottom line: We can win this election. We can get rid of Donald Trump. But we won't win unless every one of us does everything we can to make it happen. This election is too important for anybody to sit on the sidelines.
So, don't just worry. Get off your butt and get to work. Don't fret, fight! To my fellow Democrats: Please, I don't want to know how worried you are. I want to know what you're doing about it.
Postscript to RNC: need to tell the truth
By Bill Press
Donald Trump’s not wrong about everything. He’s telling the truth when he says he’s created a lot of new jobs. In fact, he can take credit for vastly expanding one particular industry: fact-checkers. Newsrooms have hired hundreds of them.
Fact-checkers have been in great demand since the beginning of the Trump presidency, but never more so than during the Republican convention, starting on Day One — when Trump delivered a rambling, incoherent, 50-minute rant to delegates about the dangers of voting by mail, Democrats’ attempts to steal the election, and Joe Biden’s radical socialism.
What could networks do? Reluctant to be mere purveyors of propaganda, they did their job. They told the truth. CNN cut away from Trump’s speech, with anchor John King telling viewers: “A lot of what you just heard from the President of the United States is wrong, misleading and outright lies.” On MSNBC, Chuck Todd noted that Trump’s speech was “filled with so many made-up problems about mail-in voting that if we were to air just the truthful parts, we probably could only air maybe a sentence, if that much.”
Of course, that didn’t stop Trump or his loyal acolytes. They kept repeating the same lies over and over again — so often that we may start believing them. Don’t! As your own fact-checker, I offer you the truth to counter the most oft-repeated lies you heard during the Republican National Convention.
Tax cuts. Eric Trump: “My father, on the other hand, delivered the largest tax cuts in American history.” FALSE! At least six other tax cuts were bigger than Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut of December 2017, including Ronald Reagan’s (1981) and Barack Obama’s (2012).
Police reform. Steve Scalise: “Joe Biden has embraced the left’s insane mission to defund the police.” FALSE! Biden has repeatedly said he does not support defunding of police. Not only that, but he’s proposed $300 million in increased funding for community-based policing.
Fracking. Nikki Haley: “They want to ban fracking.” FALSE! Biden’s climate change plan would ban new fracking on public lands only. It allows continued fracking on existing public and private land leases and new fracking on private lands.
Pre-existing conditions. Kayleigh McEnany: “This president stands by Americans with pre-existing conditions.” FALSE! The Trump administration is actually in court trying to overturn the entire Affordable Care Act, including protection for people with pre-existing conditions.
Drug prices. On Day One, Trump again bragged that he’d reduce the cost of prescription drugs as much as “60, 70 percent.” FALSE! Yes, on July 24 Trump signed four executive orders on drug prices, but there’s been no follow-up. The text of one, the “favored nation” order, hasn’t even been released yet. Kaiser Health Plan says it’s unlikely the orders will result in any drug-pricing discounts for most Americans.
Economy. You hear this all the time. Larry Kudlow and many other RNC speakers claim Trump built “the most successful economy in the history of our country.” FALSE! Nearly 6.6 million jobs were created in Trump’s first three years; nearly 7 million were created in Obama’s last three years, according to Owen Ullmann of The International Economy magazine. Wages grew 3.3 percent in Obama’s last three years, 3.2 percent in Trump’s first three. The S&P 500 has climbed 51 percent under Trump; in Obama’s second term, 52 percent.
Vote-by-mail. According to Trump, vote-by-mail leads to massive voter fraud. FALSE! In use since the Civil War, vote-by-mail is highly successful and increases voter turnout, with almost ZERO evidence of voter fraud. Remember: Trump formed a commission to uncover voter fraud, which disbanded when they found nothing.
Coronavirus. The biggest lie of all. Mike Pence asserted that the pandemic is now behind us, thanks to Trump’s bold leadership. FALSE! And FALSE! Some 181,000 Americans, more than in any other country, have died of COVID-19. And, far from leaping into the fight against the coronavirus, Trump at first dismissed it as a hoax, claimed it would soon disappear, refused to wear a mask or self-distance, promoted bogus drug cures, condemned governors for taking preventive measures, insisted on reopening businesses and schools before it was safe to do so, then ignored advice of health professionals by holding maskless, no-social-distancing rallies during the convention.
The Niagara of lies from the Trump campaign presents a challenge to the media: How to cover political attacks that are so manifestly untrue? The answer is to do just what they did this week: First, provide the airtime as a public service, then expose the lies as a professional obligation. If they fail to tell the truth, they’re not doing their job.