On Being Wrong

Some Election Day thoughts...and a tarot reading.

“I HOPE YOU’RE RIGHT.”

I’ve lost count of how many times this has been said to me, on PREVAIL and on Twitter and even “IRL,” as the kids say, these last four years. I hope you’re right, or From your lips to God’s ears, or Please let it be so.

My track record isn’t terrible, I’m pleased to report. I mean, if I weren’t right at least some of the time, you wouldn’t be reading this, no one would subscribe to this site, I’d have the same 500-some-odd Twitter followers I started out with in 2016…and this would not still be my pinned tweet, almost two full years later:

Heck, I published a book about Trump/Russia in May of 2018—unlike a bad tweet, it’s pretty hard to retract a book—and when the Mueller Report came out a year later, confirming pretty much everything I wrote, I felt like I’d aced my take-home test.

But I don’t want to toot my own horn here. To the contrary: I want to talk about the things I got wrong. Because I’ve gotten a lot of things wrong these past four years. More than I like to admit. And it’s the mistakes that stick with me. I beat myself up over them.

Back in 2004, although I was not crazy about John Kerry as a candidate—I like him more now, knowing what I know about transnational organized crime and his role in fighting it—I watched the pollster John Zogby go on one of the late-night shows a night or three before the election and predict a Kerry victory. I held with Zogby, because: math. Zogby was wrong (actually, Zogby was right, Karl Rove probably purloined Ohio, but you know what I mean). Ergo, I was wrong.

Four years ago, for my Weeklings site, I had a “winners and losers” column locked and loaded for when the election was called for Hillary. That call never came. The piece is still in my drafts folder. I’m afraid to even open it.

After the 2016 election, I was convinced that, once the voting public became aware of Donald John Trump’s glaring conflicts of interest—once it dawned on the average conservative that the president was basically lining his own pockets with our tax dollars—they would turn on him. Wrong! The media was never interested in emoluments as a story, so most people never figured this out. The repudiation of Trump never came.

When I turned my attention to Trump/Russia in January of 2017, I was operating under the belief that the Republican Party would choose country over party when it realized its leader was a turncoat, fully owned by Russia. Again: wrong. In my naïvete, I did not realize that the GOP had actively participated in the treason, and thus were going to protect their guy to the bitter end, if only to save themselves.

In December of that year, I published a piece on Medium titled “Five Reasons Mike Pence Will Resign First.” While I hedged more in the piece itself than the clickbait-y title suggested, I really did believe that Pence (who knew) would be swapped out for a VP who was not involved in Trump/Russia—someone like John Kasich or Mitt Romney or Nikki Haley. This way, when Trump was inevitably impeached, the GOP could remove him, and have a 2020 standard-bearer untainted by his orange stink. Nope. Wrong.

Rupert Murdoch being a savvy businessman, I assumed that Fox News would one day turn on Trump. Like, a complete 180 in a single news cycle—literally Tucker and Hannity and Laura would pivot from licking Donald’s prodigious ass to dunking on him 24 hours later, if not during the same show. I thought Fox News had to do this, to maintain its post-Trump existence as a viable news source. I’m still waiting for it to happen.

When the Mueller Report came out in April of 2019, I called for immediate impeachment, and assumed the House Democrats would bring down the hammer. But Bill Barr’s cockblock effectively killed the story, and Speaker Pelosi clearly felt that impeachment at that time was not what the public wanted, and would be seen as partisan. Once again, I was wrong.

I thought Kamala Harris would be the nominee, and was stunned when she dropped out in December (although I also, like the rest of KHive, assumed she had struck a deal with Joe Biden for the VP slot).

The scenario where we nominated an old white guy in Joe Biden, and the GOP responded by nominating Haley, a Gen X woman of color, filled me with dread. I’m very happy to have been wrong about that.

Even with Mike Pence and not Haley/Romney/Kasich as the VP (see above), it made good tactical sense for Republicans to jettison Trump in January 2020. They could do the patriotic thing with the impeachment vote, run Pence for president, put someone shiny and new on the ticket with him, and have eight months to separate themselves from Trump’s abject awfulness. I thought Mitch McConnell was smart enough to see the chessboard. He wasn’t, and today’s down-ballot elections may well represent the death knell of the Party of Lincoln.

I thought that Chief Justice John Roberts, a man I’d admired since watching his confirmation hearings, would not allow the impeachment trial to be a sham. Sadly, I was again wrong. Few people have disappointed me more these last four years than Roberts.

Wishful thinking, sure, but I thought that when Trump named Mike Pence to head the coronavirus response team, the VP might actually do a good job, if only to prove his mettle for future elections. I mean, Vice President Flypaper had every incentive to kill in that job. And kill he did—but not in the fun, colloquial sense of the word. He failed miserably, and we are all the worse for his flaccid ineptitude.

Finally, I thought Trump would be out of office by now. I never thought a brazen criminal would last a full term. I thought a poltroon like Trump would resign before subjecting himself to public humiliation. I’m still stunned he’s still there.

Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.

But guys, I’m on a nice little run this week. On Sunday, I was one of three percent of players in all of the Yahoo! Fantasy universe to pick the Bengals to beat the Titans, and one of two percent of players to pick the Vikings over the Packers. I don’t wager real money on sports, but if I’d done a parlay on those two outcomes, I’d have enough of a windfall to underwrite a down payment on Brett Kavanaugh’s house.

Here’s the thing, though: this election is not Bengals-Titans or Vikings-Packers, where an upset, though unlikely, was predictable. The 2016 election was like that, yes, but not the 2020 tilt. This election is Chiefs-Jets, another game this past Sunday, where Kansas City won so resoundingly that they beat the (rare) three touchdown spread. Every metric indicates that Joe and Kamala will prevail: all the reputable polling, betting markets, early voting turnout, campaign cash on hand, state courts shooting down voter suppression attempts (hats off to Marc Elias!), states the candidates have chosen to visit this past week, Trump canceling his big election night party, the condition in which Donald Trump, Jr. has appeared on talk shows the last few days, massive voter turnout in Texas, James Carville’s confident sagacity.

Will the MAGA terrorists try and intimidate voters? Yes. Will Trump cry foul when things don’t go his way? Yes. Will Russia try and fuck with the election again? Yes. Will the media shit the bed, live-reporting all of this? Yes. Will it be enough to save this mob asset, this hateful bringer of death, from a crushing defeat, and from leaving the premises by noon on January 20? Nyet.

Forget the crushing disappointment of four years ago and look at it objectively. Do we really think that the American people will re-elect this monster, the lone president since Gallup began polling to never once have an approval rating above 50 percent? A loser so desperate for campaign surrogates that he allows himself to be represented by Jason Miller, a deadbeat dad who looks like a thumb with a face Sharpied on; by Candace Owens, who on Tucker Carlson last night said, in a rare moment of Freudian-slip candor, “You are either on the side of mob rule or you are on the side of law and order, and I am on the side of mob rule;” by compromised politicians like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio; and by his namesake son, who, all joking aside, appears to be one rail away from a stint in rehab? A racist who, in his last visit to Ohio yesterday, led the MAGA crowd in a “Lebron James sucks” chant, because the Akron native vociferously opposes him? A would-be despot who has erected a series of walls around the White House, and who will spend election night holed up there, instead of at a more festive locale? A science denier who wants to fire Dr. Fauci during a pandemic? A sadist who in the final week of his campaign stranded his ardent supporters for hours on a freezing airport tarmac because his operation is too broke to pay the bus company to bring them back to their cars—not once, not twice, but three times?

Are we really to believe that all these voters flocking to the polls are this determined because they want four more years of this asshole? Even Barack Obama had a drop off of five percent in his second election; do we really think Trump will receive more votes than the 62,984,828 he got in 2016? That Joe won’t best Hillary’s 65,853,514 in epic fashion, and easily exceed the 69,498,516 that Obama earned in 2008 (the most popular votes ever)? Put another way: do we really think Trump will break the popular vote record? Or that his Electoral College tally will enable him to cobble together a photo-finish victory? Even in our clunky, antediluvian system, there is a correlation between popular and electoral votes.

“He can only cheat if the vote is close,” I’ve written countless times the last two years, “and this one won’t be close.” Corrupt officials threw the 1972 Olympic men’s basketball final to the Russians, costing the U.S. the gold medal, because it was a one-point game. No number of corrupt officials would have affected the outcome of, say, the United States versus Nigeria—the blowout in which Carmelo Anthony scored 37 points in 14 minutes. Shit, even the Trump people don’t think this is going to be close. That’s why they are in court, fighting to suppress the vote—and losing bigly. Will I be wrong about this, too?

While contemplating how to wrap up this column, I glanced at the tarot deck on my desk and thought: “I know! I’ll do a ‘past/present/future’ reading about the election!” It works like this: you draw three cards at random from the deck of 78—one for the past, one for the present, and one for the future. Pretty straightforward.

You don’t need to know a damned thing about tarot to figure out the meaning here—past, present, future, left to right. And I swear to god I’m not making this up. These really are the cards I drew:

I’ve been wrong more times than I can count. But the tarot never is.

Justice is coming.

We shall prevail!

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Photo credit: jenibeth6 (pixabay.com).