Alan Zendell, December 4, 2020
Last evening, CNN aired the first joint interview of President Elect Joe Biden and soon to be Vice President Kamala Harris. It was like seeing the sun pop out from behind the clouds after a forty-day and forty-night rainstorm. After all the lying, ranting, whining, ego gratification, and avoidance of questions of substance that have characterized the Trump administration, the forty-five minute interview was, as Trump would say, perfect. Except it really was.
Biden and Harris put on a clinic of transparent communication, answering every question directly and openly. The only point at which Biden grasped for a response was when journalist Jake Tapper asked him whether Republican leaders have congratulated him on winning the election. Biden hesitated and said, “I need to be tactful,” to which Tapper replied, “No, you don’t.” Biden was not only truthful, but went out of his way to offer olive branches to Republicans, pointing out that they’re all in a tough spot, and he doesn’t hold their silence against them. No resentment, anger, or scores to settle.
Admittedly, the bar for meaningful interviews has been set lower than ever, as Trump’s army of followers has been given free rein to lie through their teeth as long as they stick to the Trump narrative. While Biden and Harris consistently talk about bipartisan discussions and unity, Trump has given no indication that he will stop creating chaos and uncertainty for Americans who are terrified of the corona virus, of losing their jobs, and of how they’re going to pay rent and feed their families. By contrast with Biden and Harris, the Trump administration looks like a clown show.
Yesterday was no different. In the Bizarroland that is Trump country, on the same day that Michael Flynn was slapped down by our senior military leaders for signing on to a petition demanding that Trump declare martial law so he can order a new election supervised by the military, Scott O’Grady, Trump’s new Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense retweeted the same petition. For O’Grady, a big fan of Trump’s conspiracy theories and election challenges, this was no surprise. Apparently, like his boss, he doesn’t consult with the General Chiefs of Staff and has no idea of how the chain of command works.
In ring number two, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani testified before a Republican Michigan legislative committee, attempting to convince them to throw out their election results. He brought with him Melissa Carone, a former IT specialist at Dominion Voting Systems, which Trump has accused of rigging vote counts against him. Carone had been billed as the White House’s star witness who would blow the lid off alleged massive election fraud. The testimony was almost a perfect microcosm of the incompetence of the Trump administration. Like many of Trump’s appointments, Ms. Carone was never vetted by Giuliani or anyone else. Rather than present meaningful evidence, she seemed like she was auditioning for Saturday Night Live. Judging by the laughs she got from the legislators, maybe NBC will hire her.
Over on the far side of the circus tent is the discussion of presidential pardons. Trump is considering preemptive pardons for himself, his children, (Ivanka, Don Jr., and Eric,) his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Jared’s father Charles, a convicted felon who served two years in federal prison for income tax evasion. On the issue of a president pardoning himself, Harvard Law Professor Laurence Traub says that would violate the constitutional provision that no one may sit in judgement of himself. The Constitution does not prohibit pardoning friends and family members, though doing so without obvious justification would be more than unusual. If Trump did pardon his family members, their acceptance of pardons would be tacit admissions of guilt according to many legal scholars.
The main event is, of course, the corona virus. With new confirmed cases approaching 200,000 per day, daily deaths approaching 3,000, and new projections that the death count will exceed a half million by April 1st, Trump’s only reference to the pandemic was insisting that he be given full credit for the development of a vaccine. He was quite specific that Biden should not receive any credit, although the new president will be responsible for the monumental task of assuring proper distribution to the states. As Trump was once again tone deaf to the suffering and death of hundreds of thousands of Americans, Biden shed tears when asked about how he would fight the pandemic.
Many people find clowns sinister and frightening, and clown shows creepy. Americans can no longer bear the daily din of viciousness and craziness from the White House. Contrast that with what we saw on CNN last night – a President Elect who behaves with unfailing grace, compassion, and generosity.