So Monday, Dec. 14, was either a good day or a great day depending on your tolerance for optimism.
The first COVID-19 vaccinations were administered, a sign of genuine hope. Let’s hope that people understand, however, that the vaccines won’t be available for most of us until the late spring or early summer, and that, in the meantime, Americans are dying at record rates, that masks and social distancing are still the simple keys to saving lives, and that we remain, and will remain for some time, in the midst of a crisis.
Still the image of those hospital workers taking the first vaccines is one that many of us will long remember.
And on that same Monday, the Electoral College voted without incident, electing Joe Biden to be the next president, a sign of real change. Well, there was one incident. Lauren Boebert, congressperson in waiting, tweeted that Republican electors in Michigan weren’t being allowed to vote like the “Democrat” ones were and called it “totalitarianism.” She deleted the tweet after someone apparently explained to her that the winning electors in each state are the only ones allowed to vote in the Electoral College.
Also on Monday, Bill Barr was fired/resigned, a sign that Trump is still the mad king, who, even in his last days, rids himself of any sycophant whom Trump deems insufficiently sycophantish. In this case, though, I’m with him 100%.
You could argue that it was the best single day in America since Donald Trump descended that golden escalator to announce he was running for president. As a footnote, Trump lied about the size of the crowd waiting for him in the hotel lobby that day. He said there were thousands. There weren’t. And he is still tweeting about how he won the 2020 election in a landslide. He didn’t. He didn’t win at all.
Now we must ask whether any or all of this means, at long last, that the End Times have been officially held at bay and whether the Before Times are now somewhere in sight.
I’m going with a “not exactly” to the first and “only if you’ve got a high-powered telescope” to the second. Yes, it was an important day and a good day, but the truth is this is still going to be a long slog.
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It is true — and has been since Nov. 5 — that Trump will soon be gone from the White House. It won’t be the hoped-for frog march. He says he’ll leave on his own. I’m still hoping for, at minimum, the Nixon helicopter wave, but the guessing is that Trump will be at Mar-a-Lago sharing classified information with his high-paying guests by the time Biden is being sworn in.
But the Trumpian toxic cloud still hangs over the country. It was not until Tuesday that Mitch McConnell could bring himself to say that Biden had won the election. As I tweeted earlier, does that give Cory Gardner the green light to make his statement of affirmation, or is he still studying the matter? In any case, Vladimir Putin beat McConnell by a day. That should tell you something. And Putin didn’t even have to hack the Electoral College to get the right answer.
But whither Trumpism? That’s another matter. And you don’t have to look far to see the problem. We saw it when 128 U.S. House members filed an amicus brief in the latest unanimous Supreme Court rejection of a Trump case. We saw it with 17 state attorneys general signing on. Will the Republican Party be able to escape Trump’s grasp? Maybe a better question is whether it wants to.
In any case, Trumpism made a brief stop Tuesday in Colorado as Rep. Lori Saine, who is sadly term limited out of office, chaired a meeting of the Legislative Audit Committee to examine issues of election integrity in Colorado.
There are no issues of election integrity in Colorado, where, it should be noted, Trump lost by more than 13 points. Despite looking for evidence everywhere, the crack Trump legal team has been unable to show any fraud anywhere. Most judges, including those appointed by Trump himself, haven’t even allowed cases to be heard because — and I can’t stress this enough — there is no case to be heard.
Meanwhile, Colorado’s voting system is considered to be the “gold standard” — I’m not sure if it’s a state law that you have to use the term “gold standard,” but everyone does, so I’m not taking any chances — and, this once, this is not a case of state chauvinism. Colorado’s voting system success is the real thing.
The reason the committee hearing was called is because Saine is somehow the chair of this bipartisan committee, and if you know anything about Saine’s legislative career, you already have your answer. And if there are remaining questions, let it be known that the first witness was Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis, best known, I’d say, for her “MicroPenis” tweet. For more on Ellis, check out The Sun story on the sketchy beginnings of her legal career in Colorado.
According to polls, as many as three in four Republicans believe that the election has been rigged, presumably because Trump keeps saying it has been rigged. And committee hearings like this one, which, for the most part rebutted any notion of voter fraud, are meant to reinforce that belief. Sen. Rhonda Fields, who is on the committee, rightly called the hearing a waste of time and a “nothing burger.”
I confess I did not listen to the entire hearing — something about life being too short — but I did hear Ellis, who called for an investigation into Colorado’s voting procedures because mail-in balloting isn’t safe (uh, it is), because Dominion voting machines can be compromised (by Hugo Chavez, if I remember correctly), and because Jefferson County has been voting more Democratic since using Dominion (and since, yes, Trump became president).
The Democrats on the committee grilled Ellis, whose response, in general, was that there’s fraud everywhere and so there might be some in Colorado, too, and it’s up to the legislature to check. Several people had to point out that Colorado does check, running post-election audits in case of fraud or just a mistake.
And never mind that Ken Buck, the state party chair and conspiracy-welcoming congressman, went out of his way recently to say that Colorado’s elections were safe and secure, noting that there was no reason to believe in “some conspiracy theory in Colorado that something has been manipulated, and the Russians or the Iranians or some group, George Soros or somebody else, is doing something to our system …”
And yet, here’s the money quote from Ellis: “We don’t know if it’s happening in Colorado. Wouldn’t you like to find out?”
That’s pretty much the same baseless case Rudy and the rest of the Trump legal team have been making in courtrooms and legislative hearings across the country. It’s the same case, I’d bet, that you’ll hear Trump making for years to come. The verdict is in on Trump. The verdict on Trumpism won’t come until we know — with or without an audit — whether people continue to listen.
Mike Littwin has been a columnist for too many years to count. He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
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