Charlie Pierce is a near “must-read” on the American political opinion-writing scene. The old sportswriter turned political commenter has seen it all and isn’t the least bit afraid of calling bullshit on whomever, including some of the more timid Democrats. Pierce enjoys confronting power and believes deeply in the power of the press, but he has deep fears over what he saw last night.
Simply put, as Charlie sees it, Trump came into the debate furious he even had to do these stupid things. The heroes in Trump’s world don’t have to show up and talk to some “chump” wanting “his” office. Nor do Trump’s heroes care what the audience at home thinks. Putin doesn’t “debate” Russian issues, nor Kim, Xi, Erdogan, and god knows that MBS would kill someone who even floated the idea. Surely, Trump had to feel “small” even having to go through with the exercise.
It rings true. But the fact that it rings true means we’re in very deep trouble as a nation if we don’t rid ourselves of Trump and his Republican supporters, fast. Pierce sees this going the wrong way, Esquire :
The world is closing in on the president* and he wants to wreck everything he can before he’s run to ground. That’s the only possible explanation for his behavior on Tuesday night. None of his idols around the world have to put up with this silly debate stuff, in which somebody can point out with impunity that he is a liar and a clown who should shut up …
It hadn’t occurred to us that, yes, that was the exact feel that dominated the entire night.
The only thing left for him to break is an election, and he’s getting around to that, too. Connect his refusal to condemn white supremacist groups —”Stand back and stand by!”—to this little steamer he left behind right at the end of things.
And then Charlie quoted Trump’s lines that should still be ringing in our ears and haunting our dreams, lest we don’t get him out of office:
I’m telling my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully. That is what has to happen. I’m urging them to do it. In Philadelphia they went to watch. They are called poll watchers. They were thrown out. They were not allowed to watch because bad things happen in Philadelphia. Bad things. I hope it is a fair election I am 100 percent on board. But if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I cannot go along it means we have a fraudulent election.
What Trump means by “tens of thousands of ballots manipulated” is tens of thousand mail-in ballots being counted in the days after the election, that’s all. That is what he won’t allow.
As Charlie says, Trump wants his own private Belarus. He wants private militias (not too different than the S.S., “Proud Boys”?), and he wants that private army on the streets causing as much damage as possible if Trump goes down. Because we all know, Trump is not going to lose without screaming that he actually won, “but for the coup.”
That is fascism. We’re here.
It doesn’t mean we have four decades of fascism ahead of us, but it does mean that this is where things stand right now and it will take three to four years to even make a significant dent in the danger that these people pose.
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