Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The Proud Boys Win First Presidential Debate

Who would have thought that in a debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, the winner would be:

The Proud Boys!

I found this description of the Proud Boys:

The group was founded in 2016 by Gavin McInnes, a political commentator and the co-founder of Vice Media. The group existed informally online before McInnes began planning formal meetings in New York through a far-right publication, Taki's Magazine.

While the group officially rejects the notion of white supremacy and deny they are part of the "alt-right." They consider themselves "western chauvinists" who want to spread "anti-political correctness."

The New Yorker reports that the Proud Boys began distancing themselves from the alt-right in 2017, following the attacks of alt-right members against counter-protesters in Charlottesville.

"They care about the white race. We care about Western values,” McInnes said.

...

The Proud Boys also embrace political violence against leftists. The group has battled with Black Lives Matter protesters in Oregon throughout the summer. The New York Times also reports that the group instigated violence against self-described anti-fascists in New York in 2018.

The Presidents' words spawned an on-line celebration by the Proud Boys:

Members of the group praised Trump's choice of words during Tuesday night's presidential debate, his first against Joe Biden, resharing his remarks and even embedding the words in a new graphic with their logo. 

"Standing by sir," one user who identifies with the group wrote on the social-media app Telegram, according to Mike Baker, a correspondent for The New York Times.

"President Trump told the proud boys to stand by because someone needs to deal with ANTIFA...well sir! we're ready!!" another organizer, Joe Biggs, posted.

It could be that Trump, defiantly not wanting to give in to debate moderator Chris Wallace and Biden by using the words "stand down," chose instead to say "stand by."  Although some Democrats and more liberal members of the media immediately jumped to the conclusion that Trump was doing a clever dog whistle to his white nationalist supporters, I believe that way overstates Trump's intelligence.  Trump quite possibly did not grasp in the heat of the moment the YUGE difference between the two phrases.  

Today will be telling. Trump can clarify his Proud Boys comment and condemn the organization. (It needs to be done directly by him, not by campaign surrogates.)  Or he can let his "stand by" comment, well, stand, encouraging violence in the streets and, possibly, at the polls on November 3rd.  Even though it would hurt him politically, my guess is Trump will choose the second option.  Why?  Because, at the end of the day, Donald Trump is just plain stupid.

OOP's short takes:

  • By far Biden's worst debate moment substance-wise:  Refusing to answer the question on court-packing and getting rid of the Senate filibuster.   Because of time limits, Wallace could not do a follow-up so Biden was able to skate.  No doubt the issue of court-packing and the Senate filibuster came up during debate prep, so the response decided on was to refuse to answer the question?  You're kidding. The Biden campaign better come up with an actual answer for next time these questions are raised. 
  • By far Biden's worst debate style-wise:  His calling Trump a "clown" and telling him to "shut up."  While pretty much everyone was thinking what Biden said, as a possible future President, Biden needed be more, well, presidential.
  • The debate should  put to rest this whole "Dementia Joe" nonsense.  It won't though.
  • The big losers of last night's debate were all the Republicans running on the ballot this year with Donald Trump.  The are going to lose seats in the House and the Senate majority.  Speaking of the Senate, I see from this morning's poll that the Kansas Senate is basically a statistically dead heat.  That's not a first or second tier race in terms of competitiveness.  It is a third tier race. 
  • Going into the vice-presidential debate, expectations are that Senator Kamala Harris, with her prosecutor background, will easily best Vice President Mike Pence.  No doubt, Pence welcomes the shift in expectations from that the presidential contest which predicted Trump as the winner over Dementia/Sleepy Joe.  Harris supporters though need to have more tempered expectations.  As a former law school classmate of Pence, I can attest to the fact that the Vice President, while he clearly has sold his soul to the devil in return for his current position, is not dumb and can be very personable.  Pence's performance is going to be compared to Trump's and, on that score, Pence is going to look very good. 

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