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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 10/23/20

Good morning,

We’re only days away…and…


The debate was a draw. Trump did much better than last time. He was still undisciplined but less “Trumpian” in his rage and serial interruptions. He did the best he could with the record he has. If one landed from another planet and didn’t have fact-checkers at one’s fingertips, one might actually have bought some of what he was selling. But if you have lived in America for the past four years, you would know that:

  • Immigrant children were in fact separated from their parents at the border; that a human rights crisis continues; that over 500 sets of parents cannot be located; and that the Obama administration did not “build cages” for this purpose.

  • There has not been an alternative to Obamacare proposed by the Trump administration and he has offered no explanation for how he will rebuild the healthcare system.

  • Trump’s tax plan benefited the rich and was disproportionately disadvantageous to “Democrat states” with high and non-deductible state income taxes.

  • America has consistently worked to dismantle trade pacts and alliances with allies; that the Trump administration has coddled Putin and been enamored with, and ineffective with, Kim.

  • It is Mr. Trump’s family that has proven financial benefits as a result of his office and no credible evidence exists that suggests Mr. Biden or his family benefitted.

  • But for being President, the Muller report clearly provided grounds for indictment; Mr. Trump tried to bribe Ukraine to find dirt on Mr. Biden. Other than the fact that Iran or China might actually prefer Mr. Biden, there is no evidence of their collusion with the Biden campaign. While Mr. Trump continues to call it a “witch hunt,” numerous of his colleagues have been indicted and convicted of crimes.

  • Mr. Trump is not the friend of the Black community, with his repeated taunts, rejection of racial injustice, and weak stance against far-right racists. And, contrary to his own conclusion, is not the greatest president for the Black community (with the possible exception of Mr. Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation and fought a war against slavery).

  • We do not have the best testing “by far” and we do not have the best response to the COVID-19 pandemic—not by a long shot…

  • Joe Biden will not terminate health care for 180 million people on private healthcare.

  • Mr. Trump only paid $750 in taxes over two years; his significant “prepayments” were returned upon filing.

  • Trump has bank accounts in China; they were not closed. Biden wasn’t doing business in China.

I believe the election is essentially over. Over 40 million people already have voted. In 2016 nearly 139 million people voted. So much of the result already is in.

Verdict: Trump did the best he could, given the record and personality he must defend. Biden got at least the “tie” that he needed and landed some meaningful blows. Joe should start measuring the curtains in the oval office.


And he should consider a national unity cabinet that would include the following:

  1. Appoint at least one Republican to one of the four “most senior” cabinet positions. Appoint a Republican to State, Defense, Treasury or Attorney General. The most likely candidates would be Mitt Romney or John Kasich but there are a number of other possibilities. Appoint at least one more to one of the more other positions in the cabinet. Declare that this is a “national unity” government.

  2. Appoint Elizabeth Warren to a senior cabinet position. I’m guessing Treasury. In the interest of inclusion and getting to the work of fixing our problems, appealing to the left side of the Democratic party is critical. Bernie is not a realistic option. He doesn’t play well with others. Warren is bright, probably past her viability as a Presidential candidate, appealing to the left and not nearly as left as the right seems to think.

  3. Appoint Amy Klobuchar as Attorney General. She’s a smart one and she is a leader in the party. Move her to the executive branch and get a new, young senator appointed by Governor Whitmer.

  4. Appoint Pete Buttigieg to a significant position. Youth and intelligence…

I’m not President, but I’m open to other suggestions. Ideally, Biden should come out with a road map of 6-10 “big ideas” in his first 100 days. My suggestions will come next week.


We are in a golden age of documentary and historical reenactment television. Here is the first of several sets of recommendations. I welcome others:

  • When They See Us. The story of the “Central Park Five,” who were wrongfully convicted of raping a jogger and were the subject of a Donald Trump paid ad in the New York Times calling for their execution. A commentary on race, policing, bias, and the failures of the criminal justice system, all within the context of the stories of real human beings harmed at the hands of the State.

  • The Last Dance. Not so much news as the story of a celebrity and an era. The Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls, his supporting cast and his lasting effect on the game, sneakers and our culture.

  • Waco. Andrea and I were riveted by this dramatization of the siege of the Branch Davidian complex by the FBI and, worse, the DEA. The government looks as much like the Keystone Kops as they do Elliot Ness. It is a sympathetic view of David Koresh and takes some liberties, most notably rewriting the events as a story of policing over-reach. But this was a fascinating case of excessive force against religious fanaticism that did not value the human lives under its protection.

  • A Very English Scandal. Hugh Grant will always be the king of the British “rom-com.” That he could play a character so out of character is a tribute to his acting chops. Start with this exchange: “My wife insists that ‘gay’ means happy,” one groans. “I think she’s absolutely right,” the other says. “And I intend to be very happy — very many times in my life.” This proceeds to the point where a highly placed British politician, who is in his ascendancy of influence, puts out a contract for murder on a former lover who talked too much. Fascinating, emotional, and revealing.

  • All The Way, directed by Jay Roach on a screenplay by Robert Schenkkan. Bryan Cranston completely inhabits the character of LBJ in the fight for passage of the Civil Rights Act.

  • Challenger: The Final Flight, on Netflix. A dutiful retrospective of the mission, the program, NASA, the corners that were cut, and the ultimate disaster, told through interviews with engineers, family members, and NASA officials. A lot of great footage of the 70s and 80s at NASA, nice profiles of the astronauts and the news broadcasts of the day. Much of the three part miniseries is about the warning signs and the “O-ring” problem that led to the disaster.


I’ll be participating in a conversation entitled “Humility and How to Cultivate More of it in Our Lives,” sponsored by Respect Talks, hosted by Elisabeth Rohm. If you’re interested in this event, at 1:00 Pacific Time this Sunday November 1, just send an email to, opting in. You will then receive the link to join in.


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