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Joe Biden

A Post-Election Battle Plan (Ep. 276)

Topics include how Joe Biden and the Democratic party should fight back against attempts to overthrow the will of the people in November, the upcoming presidential debate, and how Senate Democrats should go about questioning SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett during her confirmation hearing.

Life Post-RBG (Ep. 275)

This week the gang discusses what the world will be like in the aftermath of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, the future of the ACA and Roe v. Wade, the presidential campaign in the shadow of the upcoming confirmation battle, and the Emmy Awards in the time of Covid-19.

Don’t Tape Me, Bro! (Ep. 274)

This week’s episode looks at the new Bob Woodward book and Trump’s audio tape confessions, the potential sale of TikTok to Oracle and what that could mean for the popular social media platform, and the state of the presidential race as we march toward the debates.

Boater Fraud (Ep. 273)

This episode looks at the ill-fated Trump boat parade and the president’s reportedly dismissive comments about military veterans and soldiers who died in battle.

Uncivil War (Ep. 272)

This episode looks at the aftermath of the Republican National Convention and the dual protest shooting deaths in Portland and Kenosha in the wake of the James Blake shooting.

 

The Black and White of Vaccine Politics

By Kevin Kelton

There can be little doubt that President Trump will use the announcement of a coronavirus vaccine breakthrough as an October surprise to try to peel voters away from Joe Biden. He will brag about his role in fast-tracking the process and claim that he alone can get it to the American people in an organized, timely fashion. And with only 50 to 100 million doses available in the initial wave of the rollout, the unspoken truth is that some people will be first in line for the “miracle cure” while millions more are left to wait. And wait. And wait.

But what Democrats should be ready for is the racial wedge issue that a vaccine could become. A real American president would never use life-saving drugs as a cultural wedge issue. But for this president, the temptation to dog whistle to the worst instincts of his base may be too strong.

What happens when Trump and his down-ballot surrogates begin to imply that a Biden-Harris administration would favor high-risk demographics such as blacks and the elderly for the first round of vaccines, leaving other Americans unprotected from the disease? Is Biden ready to respond when Trump wonders aloud if Joe and Kamala would target the those precious life-saving doses to their elite blue state supporters at the expense of hard-working voters in the heartland (i.e., white people)? How do you deny a charge like that?

Biden better be ready to hear Trump drop that loaded accusation in one of the debates. A question about how each candidate plans to implement a vaccine rollout is the perfect moment for Trump to suggest that “some people are saying” Biden would target the first doses to his black and elite coastal supporters as a political reward while leaving “most Americans” (the racist dog whistle) to continue to perish.

Will Biden be caught by surprise? Will he be able to cobble a stronger rebuttal than “that’s poppycock” and “c’mon, man!”

Once those charges are blasted into the public consciousness, all bets are off. You’ll have Tucker Carlson asking, “Who do you want making decisions about whether your family gets vaccinated? King Fauci and Cory Booker?” I can hear Trump’s rabid supporters echoing those thoughts on social media. “Can you really trust white lives to people who think only Black Lives Matter?” 

If the Biden-Harris campaign is smart, they will preempt such an attack by announcing their own rollout plan first. Instead of simply parroting the tired bromide that he’ll turn to the scientists and ethicists to decide (as he’s already said), Biden should release a detailed position paper that explains how his White House would administer the vaccine program and what will be the specific medical criteria for who gets the first wave of inoculations.

A coronavirus vaccine will come in it’s own time, but the presidential candidates better be ready to answer hard questions about what they’ll do with it. The campaign that owns that issue may own the late-breaking voters in November.

It’s clear that Donald Trump will use any tactic at his disposal to win those voters. The only question is, will Joe Biden be prepared.

Kevin Kelton is a cohost of The More Perfect Union podcast and founder of Open Fire Politics.

 

The Honorable Tom Selleck (Ep. 271)

This MPU episode assesses the Democratic Convention and what to expect from the Republican Convention…with a little help from Magnum P.I. himself.

The Democratic Un-Convention (Ep. 270)

Hollywood veterans Paul Block and Ward Anderson join the panel to preview the Democratic National Convention and wedge issues that are heating up the 2020 campaign.

Bitches Get Stuff Done (Ep. 267)

 

This week’s podcast covers the escalating tensions on the streets of Portland and Seattle, Kim Kardashian’s comments about Kanye’s bipolar disorder, Johnny Depp versus Amber Heard, and AOC’s perfect takedown of Ted Yoho.

 

 

If Trump Refuses To Leave (The John Roberts Conundrum)

by Kevin Kelton

Should the results of the 2020 presidential election be contested, Chief Justice John Roberts may determine who becomes the next president. But not because he might be the swing vote in a Supreme Court ruling on the matter. Instead, Roberts might find himself in the awkward position of choosing who to swear in.

Let’s back up a moment to find out how one man might end up deciding a presidential election. For months now, people have been asking, what happens if President Trump loses but refuses to leave? There are several scenarios that could get us to that point. Let’s look at them one by one.

First off, we need to put an end to the silly meme Democrats are spreading that Joe Biden has to “win big” to become president. No, he doesn’t! He just needs to win in the electoral college, even if the popular vote is close – just as Kennedy did in ’60, Nixon in ’68, Bush in 2000, and Trump in 2016. Please don’t create an artificial higher standard for Joe that Trump can then exploit to question the legitimacy of a tight race.

But if there is no clear winner and the matter is still in the courts, with Trump refusing to leave the White House, the Constitution is pretty clear on that point. Per the 20th Amendment, the sitting president’s four year term ends at noon on January 20th. If no one is sworn in as the next president, Trump doesn’t just continue in the job. It’s up to the Congress to determine who would become the 46th president, which opens a whole panoply of scenarios. As of today the GOP controls the 26 state delegations needed to win in the House. But the vote would happen in the next Congress, not this one, and since an overwhelming Biden popular vote win would likely have strong enough coattails to flip a few more state delegations blue, they would surely elect the Democrat.

And if no one is certified by congress as the new president by January 20th, that void in the line of presidential succession would be filled by… wait for it… Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Yes, if Trump tries to hole up in the White House while chaos reins, Republicans might end up having to swallow a Nancy Pelosi presidency! (At least until the election results were fully resolved.) Wouldn’t that be a delicious plot twist?!

But let’s say we don’t get there. Let’s assume the electoral process works as it’s designed. The votes are counted, and Joe Biden has at least 270 electoral votes, but Trump claims that mail-in ballots were tainted or illegal voters tipped the outcome in one or more pivotal swing states. Each state would still have to certify its outcome, and we can presume that key swing states run by Democratic governors and secretaries of state (Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, North Carolina, Virginia, and Nevada) would defend the legitimacy of all the votes counted and certify the winner of their state. The right combination of those would give Biden 270 EC votes, even if there were certification shenanigans in the GOP led states of Florida, Georgia, New Hampshire, or Arizona.

So for the purposes of this hypothetical, let’s say 270 or more electoral votes are certified in Biden’s favor, but Trump still claims the vote was rigged.

The next step happens regardless of Trump’s public pronouncements of a fake election. The Electoral College votes (bound by the new SCOTUS ruling to honor the state outcomes) and Congress ratifies Biden as the winner. 

That brings us to January 20th. Let’s say Biden is the certified winner but Trump is still holding out in the White House, claiming the election was a sham. Biden will still show up at the Capitol Building to be sworn in, with the Chief Justice there to perform the oath. At that moment, boom! Joe Biden becomes the 46th president. It doesn’t matter who is living in the White House or who is sitting in the Oval Office. Neither of those locations are mentioned in the Constitution, and neither of them convey the power of the presidency. Trump would simply be an interloper on government property, and he would soon be escorted out by the Secret Service, whether he likes it or not.

Even if Chief Justice Roberts, for some reason, weren’t to show up, the inauguration would still go forward. Because the President does not have to be sworn in by the Chief Justice; any federal judge can perform the presidential oath of office. As has happened at least seven times in history. So Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg or another willing associate justice could swear him in, or any judge on the DC Circuit. That oath would make Joe Biden the official President of the United States, and he would assume the powers of the presidency and set up a government, while Trump was illegally barricading himself in the White House like a Branch Davidian.

Which brings us to the thorniest of possibilities: the Roberts conundrum.

Suppose both Biden and Trump claim victory, and each shows up to take the oath on January 20th. At that point, the country would be looking for some form of official validation as to whose inauguration counts. That would put the chief justice in the awkward position of having to decide who to swear in. If Roberts follows the Constitution, he will administer the oath to the congressionally certified winner, Biden.

However, if Roberts, for whatever reason – politics, loyalty, fear – decides to swear in Trump, leaving Biden to be sworn in by a less senior federal judge, an argument would be made that the Roberts inauguration was the more valid one, based on his top position on the federal bench.

Would Roberts really create that type of existential constitution crisis just to protect a Trump presidency? This author highly doubts so. But in the hyper-partisan world of today, it is a hypothetical that cannot be ignored.

So if Trump tries to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, and he is able to get the public support of Senate and House Republicans, it could come down to John Roberts to decide who will get the imprimatur of the chief justice and, with it, the perceive legitimacy of the oath. Lawsuits would certainly continue for years. But in the meantime Donald Trump might still serve as president, allowing him to pick Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement. Which would all but certainly ensure he would prevail when the matter of the contested election eventually reaches the Supreme Court.

And the question of him voluntarily leaving at the end of a second term becomes ever more in doubt.

Kevin Kelton is a cohost of The More Perfect Union podcast and founder of Open Fire Politics.

 

Portlandia (Ep. 266)

This week’s podcast looks at the highly suspicious federal agents being unleashed on the streets of Portland and the highly suspicious President being unleashed on Chris Wallace and Fox News.

 

Covid Hits Home (Ep. 265)

As the coronavirus pandemic rips through the nation, everyone seems to know someone who’s been personally affected, including the More Perfect Union family. This week Kevin and Jessica describe their experience after testing positive for Covid-19.