Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
If she wins the White House, Hillary Clinton will face the daunting task of healing the national divisions exposed by a vicious campaign season.
Whether Clinton could knit the nation back together is an open question. Her supporters say she will do what she can, but that the GOP will have to play its part. Opponents argue that she is uniquely ill equipped for the task.
The former secretary of State has been a polarizing figure for decades. She is the most unpopular nominee of modern times, with the sole exception of her Republican counterpart, Donald Trump. To many conservatives, she represents everything that is wrong with liberal politics.
Yet Clinton has sought to make overt appeals to Republican voters. Invited to deliver a closing statement at the third and final presidential debate last week, she said that she was “reaching out to all Americans — Democrats, Republicans, and independents — because we need everybody to help make our country what it should be.”
If Clinton wins, said former Republican Sen. Judd Gregg (N.H.), “for the first time in our history, we will have a president who more than half the people don’t trust and don’t like. That means that, rather than having the historic honeymoon period — being given the benefit of the doubt for a time — she won’t have that, unless she creates it.”
Gregg, who is also a columnist for The Hill, served in the Senate at the same time as Clinton. He acknowledged that during her time representing New York “she aggressively crossed the aisle,” going out of her way to seek areas where bipartisan progress was possible.
But, he added, “since she left the Senate her positions have hardened, and she has moved very far left” — in part to rebut the challenge from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during this year’s Democratic primary.
Many liberals, however, either don’t believe Clinton has moved to the left or doubt her sincerity in doing so. While all politicians are subject to pressures from both left and right, Clinton may have an unusually small amount of leeway.
Tad Devine, who served as a senior advisor to Sanders during the primary, said that he believed some progressives “will wait to see what her agenda is. If she pursues the agenda that was outlined in the Democratic platform, she will convert them into supporters. And, if she doesn’t, she will have to deal with a less-than-unified party, like President Carter in 1980.”
The parallel with Carter is ominous for Clinton. Democratic discontent with Carter fueled a primary challenge at the end of his first term from then-Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. Although Kennedy’s bid had its share of missteps and ultimately fizzled, his candidacy weakened Carter before his eventual defeat by Ronald Reagan in the general election that fall.
Gregg suggested one possible way of threading the needle between competing political pressures.
A President-elect Clinton could convene a meeting with the leaders of the Senate and House before even taking office, he said, and outline issues on which bipartisan agreement ought to be possible: infrastructure and reform of the Veterans Administration being two examples. This would not require Clinton to forsake her campaign pledges, he said. Instead, she could simply run them along “a parallel track.”
But others are dubious that such an approach would work, especially with a Republican Party that may still be shell-shocked from the turbulent Trump candidacy.
While some Republican leaders in Washington, including Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.), have made no secret of their differences with Trump, they have to be mindful of the power his supporters wield within the party.
A new poll from Bloomberg last week asked Republican voters whether Trump or Ryan better represented their own views. Fifty-one percent chose Trump, while only 33 percent favored Ryan.
It seems inconceivable that the Trumpian forces would accept GOP leaders cutting deals with Clinton on any issue of significance.
“I don’t think his people are going anywhere,” said Joe Trippi, a Democratic strategist who was the campaign manager of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential bid.
“Whether he gets 38 percent, 40 percent, or whatever, that is a pretty rock-solid group of people. If he loses, they are not going to decide it’s time to stay home and not be involved with politics. How does their party deal with all that? How it comes back together is more important than anything Hillary tries.”
There are some things Clinton can do right now to ameliorate these problems. Even in the closing days of the campaign, a more positive tone in her advertising could give voters a better sense of what she stands for, experts say. Clinton’s most memorable ads so far have been attacks on Trump.
Clinton could also focus on running up the score on Nov. 8. A thumping win could give her greater leverage in any negotiations with Capitol Hill Republicans — especially if she brought a significant number of Democrats into Congress on her coattails.
Even so, however, she will almost inevitably face critics who say her victory was a national repudiation of Trump, rather than a positive endorsement of her.
“There’s where the non-Trump Republicans will be: ‘We made a mistake, the media was too light on him,’ ” Princeton University history professor Julian Zelizer predicted.
“It won’t be because she is a great candidate or there is some mandate for what she stands for. And many people — not just Republicans — will believe that argument, given how explosive Trump has been. It’s a plausible argument to many people.”
The political polarization of the United States had been underway for years before battle was joined between Clinton and Trump, fueled by forces like talk radio and the growth of social media.
The widening fissures have begun to affect the basic geography of American life.
In a 2014 Pew Research Center report, a full 50 percent of people with “consistently conservative” beliefs said it was important for them “to live in a place where most people share my political views.” Thirty-five percent of people with “consistently liberal” views said the same thing.
Another Pew report this summer found that the number of partisans who hold a “very unfavorable” opinion of the opposing party continues to rise. Fifty-eight percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats now feel that way — figures roughly three times as high as they were in 1994.
Findings like that underline the sheer scale of the challenges Clinton will face, even if she storms to victory on Election Day.
“The country is really at war many ways, rhetorically at least,” Devine said.
CNN Screen capture
A CNN panel failed to maintain composure on Friday when Donald Trump supporter Gina Loudon insisted there was no evidence to back up claims that the Republican nominee has engaged in racist and misogynistic behavior.
“Words matter,” panelist Symone Sanders told Loudon during a discussion on CNN Tonight. “Donald Trump is running for president of the United States, okay? So, his words are extremely important because as president, your words — I mean we can talk about the fact he’s discriminated against African-Americans, Latinos in this country, Muslims –”
“He has when?” Loudon asked.
CNN analyst Bakari Sellers launched into a summary of Trump’s past treatment of black Americans, citing the housing discrimination lawsuits his family was forced to settle for refusing to rent to black tenants and the full-page New York Times Trump took out calling for the wrongfully incarcerated Central Park Five to be executed.
“Donald Trump had nothing do with that!” Loudon said.
“Wait, wait wait,” host Don Lemon cut in. “You said Donald Trump had nothing do for taking out ads on the Central Park Five?”
“Donald Trump himself,” she answered. “It was not Donald Trump himself.”
Lemon later showed Loudon a photograph of the ad, which bore Trump’s signature.
Things really dissolved when Sellers asked Loudon to name senior black staffers advising Trump’s campaign.
“You named Katrina Pierson. I bet you can’t name two,” he challenged.
“I could go on all day,” Loudon replied. “Omorosa. I mean I could go on all day. I’m not going to play into your little tester—”
Lemon and the rest of the four-person panel burst into laughter, and apparently some CNN staffers did as well.
“Stop. Stop it y’all. People in the studio are even laughing,” Lemon said.
Watch the clip below:
Schilling: “I’m Apparently An Anti-Semite Now,” “I’m Not Going To Play The Victim Game Because I’m A White Male Christian, Which Apparently Makes Me A Racist”
From the October 21 edition of MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews:
CHRIS MATTHEWS (HOST): Let me ask you about you, you had comments a couple hours ago, with Jake Tapper, talking about how the Jewish vote tends to go Democrat, even though the Democratic Party is not as hawkish as the Republican in the middle east — Republican Party is. Do you want to clarify some of that? Because that’s a tricky topic with people, anything to do with ethnicity or gender, I’ll tell you is tricky, very tricky. So, here’s a chance —
CURT SCHILLING: Well, I mean Chris, I’m apparently an anti-semite now, because I had the gall and the audacity to ask someone of the Jewish faith why or how they believe people of the Jewish faith vote Democrat! I mean, god forbid I listen to someone of the faith, rather than the media, who clearly are not biased and don’t have an agenda. I mean, that to me is just common sense.
I don’t want — I don’t need Chris Matthews to tell me why people of Jewish faith vote the way they do, I want to ask someone of the faith. To me, that’s much more relevant. I think that — and I don’t have a problem asking people questions like that, because I’m not trying to be offensive or racist. I’m clearly curious, because I’ve read my history. I understand my history, that, you know, that this country feels so anti-Israel in the last 15 years, more so than at any point in my life and I can’t figure that out.
MATTHEWS: Well, that’s a legitimate debate we’re all going to have. By the way, left, right on Israel, left, right on Bibi Netanyahu is a popular argument anywhere in the country, by the way. Especially in Israel they argue about that stuff, which is a great thing over there.
But the problem is, people will say is, and I’ll say it, you can’t ask a person of a religious faith or a race to speak for that religious group and to ask them to sort of account for it. You ask them to account for it as an individual.
SCHILLING: No, you can. Chris —
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
SCHILLING: Not true. Liberals do it with Christians all the time. Liberals do it with Christians all the time, and I’m not going to play the victim game because I’m a white male Christian, which apparently makes me a racist to anybody, that as long as — if I don’t speak out in favor of whatever it is they want me to speak out of.
THE WASHINGTON POST via Getty Images
WASHINGTON ― Earlier this month, just ahead of Indiana’s voter registration deadline, state police executed a search warrant at the office of an organization that had set out to register black voters in a state with the worst voter turnout in the country.
Officers conducted their search on the Indiana Voter Registration Project’s headquarters just a few weeks after Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson sent a letter to state election officials warning that “nefarious actors are operating” in the Hoosier state and asking them to inform authorities if they received any voter registration forms from the group.
The letter from Lawson ― who, when she was a state legislator, co-sponsoredIndiana’s controversial voter ID law ― amounted to “the voter suppression equivalent of an Amber alert,” said Craig Varoga, the president of Patriot Majority USA, a liberal nonprofit group that ran the Indiana Voter Registration Project.
The publicity surrounding the actions taken by Lawson and Indiana’s state police have cast a shadow over the nonprofits, with many stories accusing them of voter fraud.
Varoga said the Oct. 4 police action prevented the group from registering 5,000 to 10,000 additional voters ahead of Indiana’s Oct. 11 voter registration deadline. He’s worried that clerks won’t count some of the 45,000 applications the group had already collected.
So why did state officials take such a dramatic step in interrupting the IVRP’s work just days ahead of the voter registration deadline?
From what we’ve gathered, it’s not because there’s any mass “voter fraud” scheme to steal an election. Instead, it seems the extraordinary investigation is likely to find no more than potential technical violations of obscure regulations for third-party voter registration groups.
DANIEL ACKER/BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES | Ballots sit on a table as a precinct worker waits for residents in a polling station during the presidential primary vote in South Bend, Indiana on May 3.
This all seems to have started after a county clerk’s office received 10 potentially problematic forms allegedly submitted by IVRP canvassers. In mid-September, Lawson issued a press release accusing IVRP of turning in “forged voter registration applications,” even though the evidence wasn’t clear that those forms were actually forged.
Lawson’s office and the Indiana State Police insist that their investigations are separate. Valerie Warycha, deputy chief of staff and communications director for Lawson, said the office had no prior knowledge of the police action on Oct. 4.
“At the onset of the state police investigation they told her they were going to conduct an investigation. They will not brief us on the details of their investigation until the end,” Warycha said. She also said that despite Lawson’s talk of “nefarious” actors, she never directly accused the group of voter fraud.
“She never said fraud or accused anyone of fraud ― including the Indiana Voter Registration Project,” Warycha said. “I am not sure why they are so defensive. Have they done something wrong?”
Despite the public shaming from state officials, IVRP was following the law when it turned in the forms ― even if they were fraudulent.
Individuals conducting voter registration drives are required to turn in each and every voter registration application they receive, even those they believe may not be legitimate. Many states have similar protections in place to make sure organizations are not filtering out voters based on their political party. Bill Buck, a spokesman for Patriot Majority USA, said that IVRP canvassers worked with officials and “flagged applications it thought might have omissions or other problems and asked the clerks to examine them as part of their standard review.”
Sounds responsible, right? But here’s where it gets tricky. Indiana law requires that a person who receives a voter registration application they have “reason to believe” is false, fictitious or fraudulent submit the application “with a statement sworn or affirmed to under the penalties for perjury, setting forth the reasons why the person believes the application may be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent.”
That requirement isn’t mentioned in the voter registration drive flyer published on the Indiana secretary of state’s website, but it is mentioned in a voter registration drive guide published by one Indiana county. A state police official said that part of the investigation is looking at whether IVRP canvassers submitted affidavits when they believed an application was fraudulent.
“You’ve got to comply with all aspects of the law ― not just the part of the law that you like,” Capt. David Bursten, a spokesman for the Indiana State Police, said when he pointed The Huffington Post to that statute.
Asked if IVRP had failed to submit affidavits, Bursten said that’s one piece of the investigation. “We would have no reason for doing this investigation unless there were indications that there are potential violations of state law,” he said.
The Indiana State Police said they have more than two dozen officers working on this case. But it doesn’t take too much effort to figure out that IVRP didn’t submit any affidavits.
“To my knowledge, we did not submit any affidavits,” says Buck, the Patriot Majority USA spokesman. “Canvassers did not know with certainty that the information on any forms was false or fraudulent.”
And it gets more complicated. Under the law, the state police don’t seem to have a role in an investigation into a potential fraudulent voter registration form. Instead, it is up to the county election board to investigate before turning any findings over to a prosecutor.
TASOS KATOPODIS/GETTY IMAGES | Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (R) and Indiana Governor Mike Pence (L) take the stage during a campaign rally at Grant Park Event Center in Westfield, Indiana in July.
What makes a form fraudulent depends on who you ask. To the county officials who initially called in the state police, it was missing or inaccurate information. But IVRP could not determine whether those inaccuracies were an attempt at fraud or simple human error. Lawson, it seems, is now leaning toward the latter.
“It’s very possible that because of heightened activity this year that many of those changes are changes that the individual made,” Lawson told the Associated Press on Thursday, walking back her initial comments. “That should give Indiana voters the comfort that we are vigilant and we are protecting their rights and the elections here are not rigged.”
State Democrats condemned Lawson’s earlier language as “inflammatory” since she claimed thousands of fraudulent applications had been found but did not release an exact number. But Varoga thinks that comments from other Republicansin an IndyStar story caused her to soften her language.
“The only reason she would walk it back is because members of her own party must have told her she was being reckless,” he said.
The idea that police officers could target a voter registration drive aimed at black voters doesn’t look too good for the state. One registration worker told The New Republic that state police were repeatedly trying to get her to say that the voter registration group set quotas for canvassers and paid them per voter registration received, an allegation the group says is simply untrue.
Voter fraud is incredibly rare. In fact, there’s a greater chance of someone getting struck by lightning than of in-person fraud occurring. A 2014 study from Loyola University analyzed 14 years of voting and found 241 fraudulent ballots out of one billion cast, and just 31 that were potential instances of in-person voter fraud.
But claims of voter fraud and demonization of black voter registration drives have been a component of election cycles long before Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump started warning about “rigged” elections.
Doug Carter, the head of the state police, said the investigation will likely go past Election Day. He denied that Gov. Mike Pence (R) ― the man who appointed him to his job and Trump’s running mate ― had any involvement in an investigation that Pence has mentioned on the campaign trail. (Bursten, the police spokesman, told HuffPost that Carter did not make the decision to launch an investigation into IVRP).
“I wish people could know Mike Pence like I do,” Carter, a Republican donor, said.
The Justice Department, which does not typically say whether it has opened up a voting rights investigation into a particular jurisdiction, declined to comment.
Meet the Press: Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee Tim Kaine; Trump Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway; Roundtable: Tom Friedman (New York Times), Republican Strategist Stuart Stevens,Eliana Johnson (National Review) & Yamiche Alcindor (New York Times).
Face The Nation: RNC Chair Reince Priebus; Democratic StrategistDavid Axelrod; Republican “Messaging Guru” Frank Luntz;Roundtable: Peggy Noonan (Wall Street Journal), Jamelle Bouie(Slate), Jeffrey Goldberg (The Atlantic) & Ed O’Keefe (Washington Post).
This Week: Douchebag Eric Trump; Clinton Campaign Strategist Joel Benenson; Independent Presidential Candidate Evan McMullin; Defense Secretary Ash Carter; Roundtable: “Independent” StrategistMatthew Dowd, Republican Strategist Sara Fagen, Jonah Goldberg(National Review), Democratic Strategist Jamal Simmons & Katrina vanden Heuvel (The Nation).
Fox News Sunday: Clinton Campaign Manager Robby Mook; Trump Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway; Former House Spaker Newt Gingrich (R); Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA); Roundtable: Republican Strategist Karl Rove, Bob Woodward (Washington Post, Kimberly Strassel (Wall Street Journal) & Juan Williams (Fox News).
State of the Union: Clinton Campaign Manager Robby Mook; Trump Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway; Roundtable: Former South Carolina State Rep. Bakari Sellers (D), Former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE); Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) & Radio Talk Show Host Dana Loesch.
60 Minutes will feature: a report on battleground state Ohio (preview); an interview with financial adviser Jeff Rubin, who lost his NFL player clients tens of millions of dollars (preview); and, an interview with Kim Kardashian (preview); etc.
Monday: Actor Tom Hanks; Comedian Adam Conover.
Tuesday: Actor Will Forte; Actor Dermot Mulroney; Comedian Wyatt Cenac; Indie Rock Performer Mitski.
Wednesday: Actor Joel McHale; Actress Abbi Jacobson; Actor Jon Glaser.
Thursday: Actress Mary-Louise Parker; Hip-Hop Artist Pusha T; Rock Band The Record Company.
Friday: Actor Drew Carey; Actress Claire Foy; Actor Matt Smith; Comedian Sebastian Maniscalco.
Monday: Rerun; Tuesday: Dana Bash (CNN); Wednesday: John Della Volpe (Harvard Institute of Politics), Singer-Songwriter Phil Collins; Thursday: Rapper Jeezy.
A top Kansas state lawmaker heiled the words of Adolf Hitler.
“Great quote from Hitler in the video,” Speaker Pro Tem Peggy Mast, R-Emporia, the No. 3 Republican in the Kansas House, posted to her Facebook page Thursday morning. “Please listen to it closely. His words are profound! Let’s start using discernment.”
She said in another Facebook post that her intent was to compare Planned Parenthood, the country’s largest reproductive health provider, to the Nazi leader and that she “was not in any way agreeing with Hitler’s words.”
“The receptivity of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan,” Hitler said in the quotation.
In one of her social media posts, Mast wrote: “To clarify the intent of my previous post: Planned Parenthood has learned well the same tactics and deception used by Hitler regarding innocent lives. … I was making a connection between the ideology he used and the arguments made by Planned Parenthood.”
You know who else was impressed with Hitler?
During his 2000 consideration of a presidential run, Donald Trump once took a reportedly pretty surreal visit to the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.
Dana Milbank, then a reporter for the New Republic, followed Trump as he was exploring entering the 2000 presidential race on the Reform Party ticket. As part of a trip to California, Trump toured the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Holocaust remembrance museum named after the famed Nazi hunter.
As Trump visited exhibits dedicated to Bosnia, Rwanda, and the Holocaust, he “seemed detached, focusing his attention on the presentation rather than the content,” Milbank wrote.
At the end of the stop, Trump compared the “racist” views of his Reform Party rival Pat Buchanan to Hitler. “But even here Trump sounded like a developer,” Milbank commented. “He marveled that Hitler came to power ‘so brilliantly.'”
Stephen Baldwin—the Malik Obama of the famous acting family—is not so impressed with his brother Alec’s Trump impersonation.
Stephen Baldwin would like to build a wall around television sets when his brother is portraying Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live.”
The evangelical Christian actor attended Wednesday night’s debate in Las Vegas as a guest of the Republican presidential candidate — and Trump Ice water is apparently thicker than blood.
“Well he’s got the voice down very well,” Stephen told CBS News of his brother’s impression. “(But) I think it’s getting a little nasty right now.”
“What do I think of Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of Donald Trump on SNL and everything they’re doing, I don’t want to be a party pooper here, but I don’t think it’s very funny.”
Live from Daily Kos, it’s Sunday Talk!
As police shootings of blacks continue, as anti-Muslim speech and violence intensifies, and as Donald Trump surfs a wave of Alt-Right bigotry toward the White House, I can’t help flashing back to the Alabama of my childhood, half a century ago. I grew up in a small town during the heyday of George Wallace and the turbulence of the Civil Rights movement, when wholesale hatred and violence from angry whites were directed against African Americans seeking equality.
I was seven in May 1963, when the police chief in Birmingham turned fire hoses and police dogs loose on Civil Rights protesters. I was still seven in September, when four KKK members planted a bomb beneath the steps ofBirmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, which had played an active role in the movement. The bundle of dynamite—15 sticks say some accounts, 19 say others—went off shortly before the worship service was scheduled to start, killing four girls and injuring more than 20 other people. It was the city’s deadliest bombing, but far from the first: previously some 50 racially motivated explosions had already earned Birmingham the nickname “Bombingham.”
I was nine in March 1965, when state troopers and a mounted sheriff’s posse blocked a march by peaceful protesters in Selma. After a brief standoff, the police attacked the marchers, firing tear gas and clubbing people with wooden nightsticks. At the time, I was too young and too sheltered—I lived in a quiet town of 6,500—to grasp the ferocity of the bigotry and violence.
By the time I was in seventh grade, my school had integrated. One of my basketball teammates was a black boy named Earl—“Earl the Pearl”—who, confounding stereotypes, played as badly as I did. Earl sometimes stopped by my house after school to shoot hoops, but we both remained benchwarmers, sitting side by side: equals, judged not by the color of our skin but by the lameness of our game. Dr. King’s dream had come true, at least in a third-string sort of way.
In high school I got religion and felt called to the ministry; at 16, I landed an appointment as a Methodist lay pastor, preaching the gospel twice a month at a one-room country church whose dead, their graves adorned with dusty plastic flowers, far outnumbered the living. One day early in my appointment, I passed a hand-lettered sign beside the road, less than a mile from my church: Klan Meeting Tonight. I was astonished; I’d imagined the Klan was over and done with. I was also baffled. Who would go to a Klan meeting in this sleepy crossroads? Would Etta Mae, the church’s fifty-something pianist? Her husband, Bob, whom I never saw on Sundays because he had his own pulpit, in a fire-and-brimstone Primitive Baptist church? The handful of quiet farmers and highway-department workers scattered among my pews?
Being young and new and unsure of myself, I didn’t ask about the sign, I’m sorry to say. Over the course of my pastorate—which ended two years later, when I went off to college and lost my theological certainty—I never saw the sign again.
I remember it, though—more often than ever now, against the backdrop of Ferguson and Black Lives Matter and White Lives Matter and Charleston and a sickening rise in hate groups and Klan groups. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, whose Intelligence Project tracks extremists of all stripes, the number of U.S. hate groups rose last year to more than 1,600—a 14 percent increase in just one year. More alarmingly, says the SPLC, the number of Klan chapters rose by more than 250 percent in 2015, to a total of nearly 200.
Last fall came the mass shootings in San Bernardino and Paris, which killed dozens of people in the name of radical Islam. Those tragedies were followed by a fierce anti-Muslim backlash. Donald Trump vowed to ban Muslim immigration and called for a “national registry” of Muslims already in the country. Trump’s Muslim-bashing was mirrored by (perhaps partly responsible for) a continuing surge of anti-Muslim violence, including incidents of vandalism and arson at mosques, widespread harassment, and violent assaults—beatings and murders—of innocent Muslims.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sympathizing with radicalized terrorists who kill in the name of Allah. Their actions sicken and grieve me, just as “Christian Identity” violence—shootings and bombings at abortion clinics, or calls for the killing of every Jew in America—sickens and grieves me. Murder gives God—any God—a bad rap. You don’t have to be a former preacher boy to realize that.
I no longer live in Alabama; now I’m next door in Georgia, in the music-making, tatted-up town of Athens, home of the University of Georgia. I love it here. And yet: Two weeks after the Charleston church shootings—and less than an hour after my wife and I first arrived in Athens—a shiny crew-cab pickup rumbled past us, cruising the street that doubles as the university’s fraternity row. Two big Confederate battle flags streamed behind it, waved by jeering young white men, and my wife—a newly hired professor of social work and human rights—stopped dead, turned to me, and wept tears of sadness and fury.
Last month, in Covington, Georgia, a Muslim group’s plan to build a mosque was thrown into doubt when a militia group staged a protest at the proposed site. Some of the militia members wore fatigues and carried assault rifles. Their spokesman called the local Muslims “a future ISIS training group.”
It’s not very far to Covington from Athens. Truth is, these days it’s not very far to Covington from anywhere in Georgia. Or Alabama. Or America. The back roads of bigotry and dark alleys of violence could quickly take us all to Covington. From there, it’s only a hop, skip, and a rope back to Bloody Sunday and Bombingham and Klan Meeting Tonight.
Jon Jefferson is a crime novelist in Athens, Georgia.
Tom Hanks is here, and everything is going to be alright.
“America is feeling a little nervous these days,” said the Hollywood legend. “And I’m a responsible father, so I thought maybe it’s time we had a little chat.”
The “Inferno” star acknowledged that the U.S. had endured a “rough year” and felt “anxious and conflicted” and “scared” about “what’s gonna happen next.”
But “you’re gonna be fine,” Hanks reassured the country.
“All I came in here to say is you are great,” he said, before trying to boost morale by reeling off a list of the nation’s accomplishments.
In reference to the upcoming election, he said he knew America will “make the right choice” ― as long as it thinks with its hearts and minds “and not so much down there.”
Hanks ended the heart-to-heart by urging the country to pick itself up, dust itself off “and go show the world what else you can stuff inside a pizza crust.”
Justin Merriman/Getty Images
Earlier this week, Trump said he’d like to incorporate the Russian autocrat into his post-election presidential transition process, effectively rewarding Putin for suspected criminal efforts surrounding intervention in the American election. Last night, Trump read from the same script, pretending Russia may have had nothing to do with the recent email hacks – ignoring his own intelligence briefings that told him the opposite – and raving about Putin “outsmarting” U.S. leaders.
Trump also referred to the START arms agreement as “the start up,” and proceeded to get every relevant detail of the policy wrong.
The result was a stunning exchange, starting with Hillary Clinton’s explanation that Putin would “rather have a puppet as president of the United States.”
TRUMP: No puppet. No puppet.
CLINTON: And it’s pretty clear…
TRUMP: You’re the puppet!
CLINTON: It’s pretty clear you won’t admit…
TRUMP: No, you’re the puppet.
I’m sure someone, somewhere, will make the case that Trump’s posture was coherent, but I’m less sure how they’ll do so with a straight face.