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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 9/30/20

Good morning,

This was going to be a Musing about books, movies and baseball. Alas, events interrupted this happy plan…

I want to cry. I suspect you do too. Last night’s debate was a dark moment for our democracy and our institutions. But it is only the latest in a string of shameful behaviors by this president.

As I watched our President violate all the rules of decency and decorum last night, I imagined what my parents would have thought. Children of immigrants and believers in the ideals of this country, they would have been appalled and disappointed. When my father’s chosen candidate would lose any election, he’d shrug his shoulders and say “we will survive—we’ve survived worse.”

But last night was about more than behavior. It was the failure to acknowledge the science of the COVID crisis and climate change. And the failure to disavow and condemn white supremacists. And the failure to play by the rules. And the casting of an election that has not yet happened as fraudulent and fixed, readying the waters for a challenge—possibly violent— to the result.

Trump lost. When even Rick Santorum and Chris Christie both say Mr. Trump “came in hot” and can think of very little to say about the President’s performance, it’s a tough night for the president.

How did Biden do in the debate? At first I felt he didn’t win as much as Trump lost. I thought he was long on empathy, short on details. I loved him looking directly at the camera and speaking to the people. But he was too polite, let Trump speak over him, and didn’t deliver knockout blows. Then I realized that, as is the case with everything he touches, Trump made this all about him. Biden never had the chance to win—or lose, for that matter. Trump basically took the stage and said, “it’s all about me—stand back.” Biden was forced into a WWF match without rules, whose only burden was to show that he was “with it,” not senile, not frazzled, respectful of the process, and decent. He did that and more. And it was “good enough.”

I said I would cut back politics in these Musings. But this isn’t so much about politics as it is about decency and respect. And it is about the continued vibrancy of our democracy and the future of debate, with real facts, in the public square. It is about decorum, trust, and scientific and objective truth. It is about rejecting the “what ifs” of alternative history, conspiracy theories, and white supremacism. The times are dangerous, as Tom Friedman points out in today’s New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/29/opinion/trump-election-fraud-2020.html

Vote. Tell others to vote. Joe Biden is not a puppet of the far left. He’s not a socialist. And while you may not agree with him all the time, the country will survive his presidency. It may not survive the alternative. And make no mistake—even with a win, Biden will still need to fight to take office.

I pray for our republic.

Glenn

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