Trump’s (Unmasked) Last Gasp
On this episode of democracy-ish, Danielle sums up the debate and the looming election deadline: “There's not enough vodka to soothe the insanity I feel growing in myself.”
Trump didn’t physically attack, or cough on, anyone at the debate, so he seems to have exceeded the nation’s expectations. But it’s clear that he lost, while Biden made a compelling, empathetic case for our votes.
Biden is leading in the polls, and Trump’s debate performance didn’t move the needle. Can we learn anything from his empty promises and attacks on Biden?
What can the epic fall of short-lived mobile TV platform Quibi tell us about the racial wealth gap?
This week, we learned the U.S. set a new record of COVID-19 cases, the Russians are interfering yet again with our elections and the American president has a secret bank account in China.
Oh, and there was another debate.
Blessedly, no matter the outcome of the race, it will be Trump’s last.
POTUS “did not pee his pants and he did not storm off the stage,” Toure notes. “So he exceeded expectations –– which were grave-level low.”
The moderator, NBC journalist Kristen Welker, provided a masterclass in preparedness, professionalism, and complete control.
“She kept it moving. She didn't let them roll over each other. She didn't let Trump attack her,” says Toure.
Even so, Trump “had a terrible debate,” he adds. “He lied throughout it … He gave us the same old greatest hits: The lockdown is the real problem. I'm the least racist person in the room.”
Biden, on the other hand, actually answered questions. He looked straight into the camera and addressed the American people: “You know who I am. You know who he is, you know his character. You know my character. You know our reputations for honor and telling the truth.”
With less than two weeks left, “this might've been the first debate that a lot of people were watching,” Toure notes. “But Trump did nothing to change the trajectory of this race.”
With Biden leading in the polls and record-breaking early-voter turnout already, let’s hope he’s right. Something here?
Episode Highlights –– Trump’s Last Debate
Biden’s great awakening
“We just finished watching the third and final debate and Danielle is en fuego,” says Toure. “What are you thinking about?”
“I'm thinking that Donald Trump is a fucking racist. I'm thinking that I am so disgusted by the fact that he brought up Ukraine and China ... and I'm like, bitch, you were impeached because of Ukraine. Does anybody remember ‘can you do me a favor, though?’
No matter the question, Trump fell back on his talking points, Toure adds: “We don't really know what he's really thinking about.”
Meanwhile, “Biden seemed to awaken more and more as the debate goes on,” he says. “You get the sense that you get more than a politician who's been there and has deep ideas about lots of things, but somebody who cares about people. And that's a nice thing to have in the Oval Office.”
“But Trump has a hard time connecting directly with people who are not already sold on Trumpism. He cannot win them over.”
Uncle Joe talks ‘the talk’
Kristen Welker’s questions were tough and pointed, covering not only COVID but election security, family separation at the border and even “the talk, which every black family knows about,” Toure notes.
The talk “happens regardless of class and income, parents who feel they have no choice but to prepare their children for the chance that they could be targeted, including by the police, for no reason other than the color of their skin … Speak directly to these families. Do you understand why these parents fear for their children?”
Biden excelled in this segment.
“The fact of the matter is, there is institutional racism in America. And we have always said … we hold these truths to be self-evident, all men and women are created equal,” the former VP argued.
“Well, guess what? We have never, ever lived up to it.”
The way we discuss race is criminal (literally)
Meanwhile, Trump “glided right over” Welker’s question, says Toure, “going right to, hey, we gave money to HBCUs. And he said super predator once. Let's talk about that."
Danielle’s noticed that “every single conversation that has to do with race immediately turns to criminal justice. It’s a fucking problem.”
When we want to have conversations about systemic racism –– not just in the criminal justice system but in every system, Trump brags about granting executive clemency to a handful of people –– “much in the same way that Mitch McConnell said: You don't need reparations. Barack Obama is your reparation.”
Meanwhile, there are more than 200,000 Black people in jail for low-level drug offenses, she adds.
“We allow them to turn us into stereotypes. We allow them to sit there and just devolve the conversations that are so necessary to have.”
No kitchen-table politics in the wolves’ den
Danielle finds it amusing that Trump attempts to attack Biden's record as a public servant, “as if it's something Biden should be ashamed of. I'm thinking, he’s sacrificed 47 years of his life ... lost multiple children, his wife. He’s been through so much hardship.”
“He seems very classy. He seems very loving. He seems very humble,” Toure says of Biden.
But Trump calls him “just a typical politician.”
When Biden talked about American families sitting at the kitchen table trying to figure out how they're going to make it, Trump mocked him.
The president wanted to focus on the purported corruption of the Biden family, “which nobody outside of the Trump base is buying,” adds Toure.
“You want to talk about families and I want to talk about China,” Danielle paraphrases. “I was like, motherfucker, why don't you want to talk about families? Oh, that's right, because you were raised by wolves … You have no idea what it means to have family and kinship ...You don't know what it's like to struggle. You don't know what it's like to connect.”
Trump’s ass-tral projection
In the absence of a coherent argument for his reelection, Trump's closing message seems to be a rehash of 2016: His opponent is corrupt.
“It doesn't make any sense when Trump is actually corrupt,” says Toure.
Projecting his own flaws and failures onto others is like Trump’s default setting.
“Trump keeps bringing up the 1994 crime bill, and I applauded Joe Biden when he was like, “remember when you called for the execution of five Black boys in a New York Times ad?” says Danielle. “Remember when, even when they were exonerated, you still called for their execution? Remember when you didn't allow Black people to get housing in your apartments?”
“It's always been about projection with him,” Toure says. “We saw that with Hillary. Later in the race, he would call her tired. I'm like, ooh, I think *he's* tired. He’d call her crooked. He's crooked.”
Chinese (fact) checkers
Between his trade war and the “Kung Flu,” China is another Trump talking point that he uses to deflect from his own wrongdoings.
“His continued blaming of China is wrongheaded and disgusting,” says Toure, pointing to Alex Gibney's documentary “Totally Under Control” (on Hulu).
“I implore you to watch it,” he adds. “He breaks down all the government failures that led to this. It [COVID] literally came from China, but China's getting back to business.”
“It’s been back to business,” Danielle notes. “Wuhan, where the virus fucking came from, has been open. They're back in school. Trump makes it seem like Hiroshima. It is not. Meanwhile, 40 states in the U.S. are spiking. Boston just had to close all its schools.”
Toure agrees: “We're a mess not because of China, but because of the way we responded to this. Republicans want to put it all on the governors and that's ridiculous. We have a massive national problem, and the federal government has failed us over and over, in so many different ways.”
Trump does not seem to have learned much from his experience as a coronavirus patient, says Toure.
“He keeps wanting to say it was a transformative moment, but there's no evidence of it. It’s more evidence to him that it's no big deal. Which was his story before he got it.”
Now that he’s recovered, it's still no big deal. Even his son Barron got it, but “it just naturally went away,” Toure deadpans.
The president got the best healthcare in the world courtesy of our tax dollars, Danielle points out. “Meanwhile, there are janitors, teachers and other essential workers who died alone. Trump had a COVID parade in front of Walter Reed.”
To her, Trump’s post-corona behavior has signaled profound disrespect –– “of those still mourning the loss of their family members, of the American people and our money and our resources.”
And while the number of citizens infected with the virus continues to skyrocket, the president argues that we have so many cases because … we’re doing so much testing.
“It just baffles the mind that someone could be so dumb as to think if you don't test, then it's not a case,” says Toure. If we don't know whether or not they're sick, it doesn't mean they're not sick. It's a weird philosophical thing. It’s fucking bizarre.”
At the same time, Trump “seems to be pushing even harder on the notion that lockdowns themselves are the problem –– the cure can't be worse than the problem,” says Toure.
“We just need to open up, just rush back into society. It's all good. But this is where not just Trump, but the historic modern GOP's war on science, is running them into a wall.”
Trump went as far as to claim that staying home is leading to suicide, depression and substance abuse “at a level that nobody’s ever seen before” –– without citing any data, of course.
“Where did that come from?” Danielle asks. “He just says these things. And because we have not become adept at fact-checking Trump in real time, things like that just go out into the ether and get mixed up in the right-wing media, and then become somehow fact.”
The actual facts are depressing enough: 30 million people are unemployed and 220,000 are dead.
And yet Trump wants to take healthcare away from 20 million more Americans in the midst of a global pandemic, she adds.
He also promises us a vaccine is imminent, if you’re infected you’re immune and that we’re “turning a corner.”
“No, motherfucker,” says Toure. “There's no vaccine about to come. You're disgusting. You know what stood out to me? After the debate, they were all standing on stage. Melania was wearing a mask, Biden's wearing a mask, Dr. Biden is wearing a mask, and Trump is not. Again, the leader refuses to be an example. He continues to politicize mask-wearing.”
Takeaway from Quibi's demise: Opportunity is for white folks
Danielle tells young people she mentors that not every person you encounter will be a model for good.
“They're going to be a model for something, but they are not necessarily for good. Donald Trump is the prime example. He is absolutely a model … a model of what happens when white male privilege is just allowed to run rampant, when you are celebrated for mediocrity.”
“White male entitlement is a hell of a drug,” says Toure. It opens a lot of doors.
It reminds him of the recent demise of mobile entertainment platform Quibi –– a spectacular failure from a few white guys “with the right connections and a shitty idea, who were able to get [nearly]$2 billion. That shit barely lasted six months,” he says.
“Do you know what Black women entrepreneurs get from VCs? 0.00001%,” Danielle adds.
She has no doubt the creators of Quibi will raise money for their next shitty idea, and do it again and again. But the “fail fast” mentality doesn’t apply to Black folks.
“Investors love people who look like others who’ve succeeded,” says Toure. “You have to look like Zuckerberg or Jack [Dorsey] … you have to be a young, skinny weirdo. A nerdy white man who went to Harvard or Stanford or some shit.”
Barack Obama is hot on the campaign trail for Biden. On Wednesday in Philadelphia, he delivered a “beautiful speech about where we have been over the past four years,” says Toure, who admits he cried watching it.
“It wasn't because I miss Barack Obama, because obviously [I do], but there are a thousand things that happen every week –– that over the course of four years, we have forgotten. We've become so used to insanity that we forget what it's like to be normal. And that is a dangerous place to be.”
Obama’s refrain was “America, remember who we are, remember who we can be, remember why the world looks to us,” Toure adds.
Danielle points to the question most candidates ask when they’re running for a second term: Are you better off now than you were four years ago?
“We have never heard Donald Trump utter that phrase. Barack Obama was 4 years ago. Your kids were in school four years ago. 30 million people weren't unemployed four years ago; 100,000 small businesses weren't closed down for good.”
There’s no way to ask that question and “come back with a good retort as to what this administration has offered the American people,” she adds. “They've had Muslim bans, walls on the Southern border, concentration camps. None of these things have bettered any lives. And now they're rushing through a Supreme court nominee so that they can rip away your healthcare, right before the November 10 deadline.”
‘Borat’ movie film and Rudy’s demise
The first item on Toure’s weekend agenda?
“I cannot wait until ‘Borat’ o’clock,” he says. “People who have seen the Rudy Giuliani scene have tweeted that it’s far worse than the descriptions we’ve seen.”
“It's worse than the still picture?” Danielle asks.
That's what they’re saying, says Toure.
“How is that possible?” Danielle wonders. “Giuliani is laying on his back on a cheap hotel bed with a young woman –– young enough to be one of his granddaughters –– fiddling with his belt. I can't unsee that shit, so can somebody get me a bleach injection for my eyes?”
Danielle speculates that perhaps Giuliani was looking for Hunter Biden’s laptop, or Hillary's emails, in his pants.
“I can't call it,” says Toure. “I just can't wait to see it. I do love Borat and I'm blown away that he got Rudy on the hook. “Rest in peace to Rudy Giuliani's reputation, which was already dead, but it's about to get deader than dead.”
The bizarre October surprises keep coming.
“Thank you so much for rolling with us on this post-debate rollick,” Toure says. “We’ll be back next week––”
“When there is a week until the motherfucking election,” says Danielle.
Toure agrees: “The next couple of weeks are going to be the longest years of our life.”
“100,” Danielle replies. “Pray about that.”
Get your weekly rundown of the presidential election from a Black progressive point of view on democracy-ish. Consider Danielle Moodie and Toure as your tour guides, flight attendants and/or therapists as we move through this dumpster fire of an election cycle — together!