EDITORS' BLOG
Where Things Stand: Trump Reignites War On Civil Servants
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President Trump has had an issue with career professionals since he took office.

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Quick Take
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This debate went like how I expected the first debate to go: Biden better on the merits but both guys playing to their preferred ways of speaking to the public, their core audiences. Trump wasn’t out of control like he was in the first debate. I thought he might be just as feral; but he wasn’t. I got that wrong.

But that’s a crazy standard. In the first debate Trump showed his absolutely worst self, someone who simply has no business being President. It pushed him from clearly losing to landslide defeat territory. Trump held it together for the first twenty minutes before sliding into conspiracy theories and nonsense. But he never got near the fusillade of petulance and predation we saw three weeks ago. He was better here. But so was Biden.

Biden was sharper in this debate than three weeks ago. I’m not sure whether that’s because he was barely allowed to speak and constantly interrupted last time. But he was better.

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The Last Clash Debate Blogging
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9:31 PM: Still claiming he’s under audit.

9:25 PM: For the first fifteen minutes Trump did a pretty good job being relatively normal and non-feral. But then after about 15 minutes in the feral-o-meter started to tick up minute by minute.

9:24 PM: Trump on Fauci: “I think he’s a Democrat but that’s okay.”

8:58 PM: I realize that I look forward to this debate with a sense of dread. That’s not because I think it will go badly necessarily – badly in the sense of making a bad election result more likely. But I recognize that is one more big opportunity for this predatory degenerate to inflict more harm on the country.

Don’t Study Court Reform To Death
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Kicking an issue to a fancy commission is a notorious method for taking it off the table and putting it out of play with little political cost. That can be handy! But if you want the issue in play, Joe Biden’s plan for a blue ribbon commission on reforming the federal courts is a bad sign of where he’s headed.

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Where Things Stand: Closing Arguments
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Tonight, the candidates will make their closing arguments. But it will likely be a far-cry from the professional demeanor of attorneys making their final cases in the court room.

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Face Off at the Last Chance Corral
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Ever since the debacle of the first presidential debate we’ve been hearing that President Trump has to be nicer in the next face off and let Joe Biden (or even just the moderator) talk. Numerous articles in recent days purport to quote top Trump advisors saying this, demanding this. I have no doubt they’re saying this and may even believe it. But it seems basically a certainty that in tonight’s final debate – likely the last chance to change the dynamic of the race – President Trump will be every bit as aggressive, feral and rage-soaked as he was three weeks ago.

Indeed, we should expect it to be worse.

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Not Over Till It’s Over

Two points on the latest polls. The first is that President Trump does appear to have regained a small measure of support in recent days – very small and it still leaves him in landslide loss territory but it seems to show up as some real movement. At the same time, I keep seeing polls in which the “likely voter” screen shows a slightly better result than the “registered voter” screen. Most of you know that that inverts the rule of thumb in which Republicans – who tend to be older, wealthier, more fixed in communities – do better on likely voter screens. This suggests a non-trivial turnout advantage.

Where Things Stand: They’re Really Sticking With The ‘Anarchist Cities’ Thing
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Yesterday, President Trump tweeted a disingenuous rallying cry to residents of states like New York, California and Illinois — messaging that won’t do much for him in the relatively blue states that are home to some of country’s largest deep blue cities.

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Trump Preps His COVID Stab-in-the-Back Storyline
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We are rightly focusing on President Trump last night telling rally goers he’d never be in their dump of a town if the election weren’t going so badly for him. But let’s not miss the more important and lasting part of this message. President Trump is already previewing one explanation and justification for his defeat: COVID. He was cruising toward reelection, he claims, when COVID struck. For him, there’s the added feature that it was the handiwork of his purported arch-enemy China.

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What’s It Mean?

Tierney Sneed on the Supreme Court’s alarming handling of a key Pennsylvania voting law case last night

Week In Review
| News

Debate Doesn’t Move The Needle

  • It was President Trump’s last best chance to alter the trajectory of the 2020 campaign. But even with a more subdued performance, the debate Thursday night failed to shake up the race, with polls showing Trump trailing Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
  • Trump threw a lot against the wall during the 90-minute debate, little of it decipherable: Biden got money from Russia! Biden’s brother got money in Iraq! And on and on it went.
  • The President also made a number of racist appeals in his last appearance before a broad national audience before Election Day, telling moderator Kristen Welker, who is Black, that he was surely the least racist person in the room.
  • Welker, for her part, was widely praised for her job moderating. It’s no easy task, but she kept the candidates on track with sharp questions and effective follow-ups. Even Trump, who had spent the previous week baselessly attacking her, gave her kudos during the debate.
  • We also rounded up some fun reactions after the debate, from Trump both claiming he takes “full responsibility” for his handling of COVID, and yet none at all, to pundits getting roundly mocked for celebrating Trump’s so-called new tone.

 

Trump Throws A Fit At CBS

  • As is customary before a presidential election, both Trump and Biden sat down with “60 Minutes” for interviews. But the President did not seem too happy with how his went.
  • On Tuesday, Trump reportedly stormed out of the interview and later tweeted a brief clip of  “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl speaking with her producers without wearing a mask. “Much more to come,” Trump teased. The President reportedly cut the interview short because he was unhappy with Stahl’s questions.
  • The next day, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said there was a “high probability” that Trump would release the full “60 Minutes” interview, which is set to air Sunday evening on CBS, early.
  • Sure enough, Trump did just that on Thursday. Earlier in the day, CBS released a short clip of Stahl challenging Trump after he inflated his accomplishments.
  • CBS News on Thursday also fired back at Trump for breaking his agreement with the network and releasing the interview early. “The White House’s unprecedented decision to disregard their agreement with CBS News and release their footage will not deter 60 MINUTES from providing its full, fair and contextual reporting which presidents have participated in for decades,” the network said in a statement.

 

SCOTUS Signals Danger For Voting Rights

  • The Supreme Court deadlocked on Monday over whether to grant a Republican effort to prevent Pennsylvania from counting mail-in ballots up to three days after Election Day.
  • That marks a win for voting rights advocates, but as TPM’s Tierney Sneed reports, the conservative Supreme Court dissenters could spell trouble for similar cases in the future.
  • The Supreme Court also upheld a ban on curbside voting in Alabama on Wednesday. State Republicans argued that because Alabama does not have a law explicitly allowing for curbside voting that it should not be allowed.
  • And in North Carolina, a crucial swing state in the presidential race, Republicans asked the Supreme Court to undo a six-day extended deadline that allowed mail-in ballots to be received by the state.

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