In my short life I've been on many committees that decide who gets awards and honors. For many years, I helped decide who gets a Grammy and who gets into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame. Long before that I was one of the people who decided who gets into the Country Music Hall of Fame. I was over the moon last year when one of the DWT artists, Nancy Ohanian, was honored with the National Press Foundation's award for editorial cartoons. But I honestly have no idea how they decide which journalists get Pulitzer Prizes. It's confusing who wrote the Washington Post's Inside Trump's Quest To Overturn The Election over the weekend. Was it Philip Rucker or Ashley Parker? Or the whole team of Rucker, Parker, Josh Dawsey and Amy Gardner? But whomever it was is likely to get Pulitzer consideration.
I suggest you read the whole piece. I just want to focus on two points-- the psychosis of Trumpist attorney Sidney Powell (late today in a seperate post) and how the Trumpist breakdown impacts Georgia's dual Senate runoff January 5. Rucker, Parker, Dawsey and Gardner-- or whoever-- began their opus with a simple "The facts were indisputable: President Trump had lost." And then got into the problem-- the "but": But Trump refused to see it that way. Sequestered in the White House and brooding out of public view after his election defeat, rageful and at times delirious in a torrent of private conversations, Trump was, in the telling of one close adviser, like 'Mad King George, muttering, <i>I won. I won. I won.</i> ' However cleareyed Trump’s aides may have been about his loss to President-elect Joe Biden, many of them nonetheless indulged their boss and encouraged him to keep fighting with legal appeals. They were 'happy to scratch his itch,' this adviser said. 'If he thinks he won, it’s like, Shh... we won’t tell him.'... The result was an election aftermath without precedent in U.S. history. With his denial of the outcome, despite a string of courtroom defeats, Trump endangered America’s democracy, threatened to undermine national security and public health, and duped millions of his supporters into believing, perhaps permanently, that Biden was elected illegitimately. Trump’s allegations and the hostility of his rhetoric-- and his singular power to persuade and galvanize his followers-- generated extraordinary pressure on state and local election officials to embrace his fraud allegations and take steps to block certification of the results. When some of them refused, they accepted security details for protection from the threats they were receiving." And that brings us to Georgia and its 2 Senate runoffs and control of national governance for at least two years.
“It was like a rumor Whac-A-Mole,” said Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Despite being a Republican who voted for Trump, Raffensperger said he refused repeated attempts by Trump allies to get him to cross ethical lines. “I don’t think I had a choice. My job is to follow the law. We’re not going to get pushed off the needle on doing that. Integrity still matters.”
...Though Trump ultimately failed in his quest to steal the election, his weeks-long jeremiad succeeded in undermining faith in elections and the legitimacy of Biden’s victory.
...Trump empowered loyalists who were willing to tell him what he wanted to hear-- that he would have won in a landslide had the election not been rigged and stolen-- and then to sacrifice their reputations by waging a campaign in courtrooms and in the media to convince the public of that delusion.
...In the days following the election, few states drew Trump’s attention like Georgia, a once-reliable bastion of Republican votes that he carried in 2016 but appeared likely to lose narrowly to Biden as late-remaining votes were tallied.
And few people attracted Trump’s anger like Gov. Brian Kemp, the state’s Republican governor, who rode the president’s coattails to his own narrow victory in 2018.
A number of Trump allies tried to pressure Raffensperger, the Republican secretary of state, into putting his thumb on the scale. Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler-- both forced into runoff elections on Jan. 5-- demanded Raffensperger’s resignation. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a Trump friend who chairs the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, called Raffensperger to seemingly encourage him to find a way to toss legal ballots.
But Kemp, who preceded Raffensperger as secretary of state, would not do Trump’s bidding. “He wouldn’t be governor if it wasn’t for me,” Trump fumed to advisers earlier this month as he plotted out a call to scream at Kemp.
In the call, Trump urged Kemp to do more to fight for him in Georgia, publicly echo his claims of fraud and appear more regularly on television. Kemp was noncommittal, a person familiar with the call said.
Raffensperger said he knew Georgia was going to be thrust into the national spotlight on Election Day, when dramatically fewer people turned out to vote in person than the Trump campaign needed for a clear win following a surge of mail voting dominated by Democratic voters.
But he said it had never occurred to him to go along with Trump’s unproven allegations because of his duty to administer elections. Raffensperger said his strategy was to keep his head down and follow the law.
“People made wild accusations about the voting systems that we have in Georgia,” Raffensperger said. “They were asking, ‘How do we get to 270? How do you get it to Congress so they can make a determination?’ ” But, he added, “I’m not supposed to put my thumb on the Republican side.”
Trump fixated on a false conspiracy theory that the machines manufactured by Dominion Voting Systems and used in Georgia and other states had been programmed to count Trump votes as Biden votes. In myriad private conversations, the president would find a way to come back to Dominion. He was obsessed.
“Do you think there’s really something here? I’m hearing . . . ” Trump would say, according to one senior official who discussed it with him.
Raffensperger said Republicans were only harming themselves by questioning the integrity of the Dominion machines. He warned that these kinds of baseless allegations could discourage Republicans from voting in the Senate runoffs. “People need to get a grip on reality,” he said.
More troubling to Raffensperger were the many threats he and his wife, Tricia, have received over the past few weeks-- and a break-in at another family member’s home. All of it has prompted him to accept a state security detail.
“If Republicans don’t start condemning this stuff, then I think they’re really complicit in it,” he said. “It’s time to stand up and be counted. Are you going to stand for righteousness? Are you going to stand for integrity? Or are you going to stand for the wild mob? You wanted to condemn the wild mob when it’s on the left side. What are you going to do when it’s on our side?”
On Nov. 20, after Raffensperger certified the state’s results, Kemp announced that he would make a televised statement, stoking fears that the president might have finally gotten to the governor.
“This can’t be good,” Jordan Fuchs, a Raffensperger deputy, wrote in a text message.
But Kemp held firm and formalized the certification.
“As governor, I have a solemn responsibility to follow the law, and that is what I will continue to do,” Kemp said. “We must all work together to ensure citizens have confidence in future elections in our state.”
The political angst and the back-and-forth in Georgia has not won Trump a single electoral vote. Instead it has endangered the two Republican incumbents. Conventional wisdom would predict that David Perdue and probably Kelly Loeffler will go back to the Senate in 2020. And a visit to the state by Mike Pence isn't going to move one vote. Now Trump says he's going to campaign for Perdue and Loeffler. He could do more harm than good. Sure, he'll boost Democratic participation but will his visit inspire his devoted cult followers to end all the talk of boycott and dutifully turnout for the two establishment Republican phonies? If Trump gets rolling into a screed of personal grievance and self-pity-- as is his wont-- it could be a win for Warnock and Ossoff. I've heard talk from people I know in Georgia that there's a lot of talk among independent voters and even mainstream Republicans to vote for Perdue (R) and Warnock (D)... a non-committal, even passive-aggressive, posture towards the country's deteriorated political system.
And that boycott? How strong is it? Just a few Q-Anon nutcases? Probably... but Q-Anon elected its first member of Congress in the backward northwest corner of Georgia. Crackpot Marjorie Taylor Green, beat her Democratic opponent 229,827 (74.7%) to 77,798 (25.3%) in Geogia's mask-free-or-die COVID-capital (Whitfield, Murray, Paulding and Floyd counties). The two worst hit counties in the state are:
Whitfield County (7,258 cases per 100,000 residents)- R+48
Murray County (4,349 cases per 100,000 residents)- R+71
There are 12 counties in the district-- and Ms Q-Anon won each and every one of them by a landslide. There wasn't even one that was remotely close. And in the Senate elections, every county in GA-14 went for Perdue and Loeffler. Statewide, Warnock came in first in the jungle primary, leading second-place Kelly Loeffler by 7 points-- 1,617,035 (32.9%) to 1,273,214 (25.9%)-- but didn't come close in any of the dozen Q-Anon counties in the northwest part of the state. If you want to help Warnock or to help Warnock and Ossoff, you can click on the Blue America Senate thermometer on the right-- all of which is a hot link-- and contribute what feels right to you to either or both candidates. If both win, there's at least some chance the U.S. government won't be hogtied and hobbled for the entire first two years of Biden's administration.