Monthly Archives: March 2021

What’s Wrong With the GOP?

A recent Gallup Poll found that Americans, in general, are happy with the Biden Administration. Except for Republicans. Another poll indicated that most of us want to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Except Republicans. What’s wrong with the GOP?

The most recent Gallup Poll ( ) found that 56 percent of respondents approved Joe Biden’s job performance — versus 39 percent who disapproved.  While 96 percent of Democrats viewed Biden favorably, he earned the support of only ten percent of Republicans (and 55 percent of Independents).    (Not surprisingly, Biden polls worst with non-college-educated, rural, white men.)

To determine the true level of Biden’s support, it’s useful to study national opinion regarding the Covid relief bill.  A recent Pew Research poll ( found that 70 percent of respondents supported the Biden proposal — including 41 percent of those who were “Republican/lean Republican.”  The poll indicates that roughly two-thirds of voters support Biden’s policies — as opposed to supporting Biden personally — including a sizable chunk of Republicans,  (That is, about one-third of Republicans support Biden’s major initiatives even though they may not admit that in public.)

This makes sense because two-thirds of Republicans believe the 2020 presidential election was “invalid.”  (  “[Former] President Trump’s rhetoric seems to have had a profound impact on his base’s outlook on the election.  Across all regions, our participants by and large opposed alternative voting methods, believed that those methods opened the election process to fraud, and felt that the 2020 election result was invalid.”  At the moment, two-thirds of the GOP feel cheated and, therefore, aren’t going to support Biden no matter what he does.  In contrast, the one-third of Republicans who believe the election was “valid” are prepared to move on.  They are prepared to consider the Biden-Administration agenda on an item by item basis — in contrast to most Republican members of Congress who appear to be opposed to anything Biden or Democrats propose.

A recent PBS/NPR/Marist Poll ( found that 60 percent of respondents approved of President Biden’s handling of the Coronavirus while 30 percent disapproved.  It was another indication that Biden has roughly a two-thirds level of support for his policies.

Of interest was the PBS/NPR/Marist poll finding that 30 percent of respondents have no intention of being vaccinated for the Coronavirus: 49 percent of Republican men.  Therefore, there is a “Trumpian” bloc of the electorate who believes the election was “invalid,” will not support any Biden/Democratic policy initiative, and will not  be vaccinated.  (They are prepared to “eat worms.”)

There are three consequences of the current political reality.  The first is that, at the moment,  Joe Biden has the support of a substantial majority of the electorate and, therefore, can move a lot of legislation through Congress.  (Obviously, the Senate’s filibuster rule will determine how much.)  That’s a good sign.  Democrats can’t bank on it, but it does indicate that Dems, at the moment, have political momentum.

The second consequence is that Republicans are fractured.  In the 2020 presidential election exit polls: 37 percent of respondents identified as Democrats, 36 percent identified as Republicans, and 26 percent identified as Independents.  Of the 36 percent that identified as Republicans, it appears that two-thirds are “Trumpians.”  In other words, at the moment about 25 percent of the electorate are hardcore Trump supporters.

Trump retains his hold on these Republicans but his attraction to the general electorate has diminished.  A recent Forbes poll ( found that 54 percent of Republican respondents “said they would vote for Trump in a hypothetical GOP primary.”  The Forbes study concluded: “While Republicans appear to have moved past evaluating Trump’s role in the insurrection at the Capitol, the broader electorate has not let go so easily, the poll suggests: 64% of respondents said Trump is a least partially responsible for the Capitol Hill violence.”  (At the February Conservative Political Action Conference, “only 68 percent of those at the conference said they wanted [Trump] to run again in 2024.” ( ) )

There’s early indications that in many 2022 Republican primaries, Trump will run his own slate of candidates; that is, back candidates that “fully supported” him in 2020.  For example, in 2022, in Georgia, Trump will field a Republican candidate — Jody Hice — as an alternative to incumbent Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger. (

Heading into the critical 2022 midterm election, Republicans are fractured.  While the majority of the GOP supports Trump — and his policies — there is strong support for other conservatives.  Therefore, in many GOP contests there will be a “mainstream” Republican candidate and a Trump candidate.  This will negatively impact Republican fundraising.  (In email appeals, Trump is advising his supporters to send money to his PAC and not to the regular GOP outlets such as the Republican National Committee. (

The third consequence is that Democrats are remarkably unified, at the moment.  The Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) fundraising is off to a strong start: “The DNC fundraised $8.5 million in February and $18.4 million since the beginning of the year, which is a blistering start for the Democrats in a non-presidential election year… According to the DNC, 67 percent of the funds it raised came from small donors, meaning people who gave $200 or less.”

At his March 25th press conference, President Biden was asked if he expected to run against Trump in 2024 responded: “Oh, come on. I don’t even think about – I have no idea… I have no idea if there will be a Republican Party. Do you?”  Perhaps Biden was musing that in 2024 the Republican Party will split and Trump will run on the MAGA ticket.  The Grand Old Party is suffering from moral cancer and refuses to acknowledge this.


There are 1440 minutes in a day
More than sufficient time
To sleep, eat, be on our way
To earn our daily dime
Or perhaps engage in rhyme.

480 minutes to devote to sleep
120 involved with food
300 earning our keep
The remainder? To the TV glued?
Or, perhaps, with something lewd?

When you “retire”
Each day goes on and on
The serenity to which we aspire
Proves elusive, come the dawn
And our purpose feels withdrawn.

What do you love doing?
That’s the place to start
Don’t tell me “TV viewing”
I prefer some form of art
Or work connected to your heart.

Silicon Valley denizens work long hours
Seldom inspired by love
They forget to eat or hit the showers
All for money, when push comes to shove
Or fame, prestige, power (sort of).

Dedicated artists have focus
They often enter a trance
As they work on their opus
They engage in a mystic dance
Have their faculties enhance(d).


What does it mean to be open
To accept new information
Perhaps a style of cope’n
To shield us from frustration
Facilitate cerebral dilation.

What closes the door
Shuts down flexibility
Is it chance, abuse, or something more
That hinders our agility
Turns us toward docility.

How do we respond to the novel
Do we express curiosity
Or blindly retreat to our hovel
Do we extend the hand with generosity
Or clench our fists with ferocity.

To be liberal is to be flexible
To be conservative obdurate
One is open and sensual
The other closed, inconsiderate
Judgmental, and obstinate

Who supports you in a crisis
The one who is adaptable
or the one who is biased
The friend with the smile
Or the narcissist with guile.

Biden’s First 50 Days

The passage of the American Rescue Plan –the coronavirus relief bill — comes less than two months after Joe Biden’s inauguration. How does this period compare to the similar period in Barack Obama’s first term?

In both cases, the Democratic Presidents had to deal with a grave national disaster. Obama had to deal with The Great Recession. He mobilized Congress to pass “The American Relief and Recovery Act” (ARRA), the stimulus bill. Biden had to deal with the Coronavirus Pandemic. He organized the vaccine delivery process and mobilized Congress to pass “The American Rescue Plan.”

Both Obama and Biden had to clean up messes created by their Republican predecessors. And, in both cases, the corrective legislation passed with little or no Republican support — In 2009, in the Senate, ARRA passed with only 3 Republican votes; in 2921, in the Senate, the Rescue Plan passed with 0 GOP votes.

In 2009, because of the objections of conservative Democrats, Obama’s ARRA was smaller than he wanted ($787B). During his first term, Obama did not prove to be adept at managing congressional Democrats. In 2021, Biden’s Rescue Plan was what he wanted ($1.9T) — although Biden did not get an increase in the minimum wage he wanted.

In both cases, the Democratic Presidents had to deal with adamant Republican opposition.  In retrospect, Obama seems to be have been ill-prepared for this.  Part of the reason that Democrats lost the House, in 2010, was the fact that Obama let the healthcare discussion be dragged down by Republican Senators.  Perhaps it’s too soon to tell, but Biden seems to be better prepared to deal with Republican intransigence.

(In a recent CNN interview ( ), Senate Majority Leader Schumer was asked if he thought Democrats should have done more to secure the votes of moderate Republicans such as Susan Collins.  Schumer replied: “No… We made a big mistake in 2009 and ’10’… Susan Collins was part of that mistake. We cut back on the stimulus dramatically, and we stayed in recession for five years. And what was offered by the Republicans was so far away from what’s needed, so far away from what Biden proposed, that he thought that they were not being serious in wanting to really negotiate.”)

Obama had a full plate but Biden’s is fuller.  Obama had to worry about the economy, healthcare, and divided government.  Biden has to worry about the pandemic, the economy, the aftermath of Trump (extreme polarization), climate change, and racial strife.

Early in his first term, Obama made two big mistakes: he took a “hands-off” attitude towards getting his healthcare plan through Congress and he was largely uninvolved in the Democratic Party preparation for the 2010 midterms.  (Obama also made a mistake having Tim Geithner be his Treasury Secretary, which led to the “too big to fail” treatment of big banks.)

Biden has a bigger problem with Republicans.  In 2009, Obama faced a united GOP, inhabited by members that a) thought he had not been born in the US and b) was a muslim terrorist.  In 2010, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said that the top GOP priority was “to make Obama a one-term President.”

Biden has a more complicated problem.  First, two-thirds of the Republican base feel that Biden “stole” the election.  (  Second, because of gerrymandering, most of the Republican members of Congress come from deeply “Red” districts; their constituents don’t want them to cooperate.  Third, Republicans aren’t responding appropriately to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Biden administration inherited a pandemic mess: while vaccines had been developed — thanks to “operation warp speed” — the vaccine-delivery system was in shambles, and the White House message incoherent.  The Biden White House has done a good job fixing the delivery system — at the moment, more than 2 million Americans are being vaccinated each day — and delivering a coherent message: “Wear a mask, socially distance, and get vaccinated.”  Nonetheless, the Republican electorate is resistant.  Many Trump supporters refuse to wear masks and about half of GOP men refuse to get vaccinated.  (

Biden is doing a better job preparing for the 2022 midterms: So far, Biden seems to be working hand-in-hand with Democratic congressional leadership (Pelosi and Schumer). It appears that, in 2021, communication is much improved over what it was in 2009.

In 2009, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine was (part-time) leader of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).  For a variety of reasons, Democrats lacked energy in 2010 and suffered devastating losses: six Senate seats, 63 House seats (and control of the chamber), and six governorships.  In 2021, Jamie Harrison is leader of the DNC and Democrats appear to be better prepared than they were in 2009.

In the coming weeks, Biden plans to tour the nation, speaking about pandemic progress and the virtues of the American Rescue Plan.  The Administration must continue to sell their plans to the American people.

Joe Biden is doing a good job.  Democrats can’t let up.



Ten thousand hours
To become proficient
Activate your higher powers
Nonetheless, insufficient
To ensure you’re omniscient.

Years of practice
Focused execution
Avoiding what distracts us
And dissolution
To reach the desired solution.

There are many examples
Emily Dickinson comes to mind
Among modern samples
Beatles and Bill Gates we find
Dylan and Stoppard intertwined.

8760 hours in one year
Means ten thousand is a lot
Eons of sweat and tear
Many efforts come to naught
Angst over what fate has wrought.

To write and rewrite
Go blank, then start again
Searching for a path that’s right
Forgetting food and pain
Hoping inspiration does not wane.

Let’s not forget talent
Not always the winning card
One may start out gallant
Find the going hard
Be “Hoist with his own petard.”

For every famous person
A thousand dead troubadours
The path can often worsen
Narrow to gated doors
Blocked by critics one abhors.

A toast to perseverance
Those who serve their time
Escape their disappearance
Make the arduous climb
Celebrate their prime.

Trump 2.0

Donald Trump’s February 28th Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) speech gave us a good idea of what to expect from him for the next two years.  The speech introduced Trump version 2.0; not all that different from Trump 1.0.  Bad news for the GOP.

Here are the big themes in Trump 2.0 and their implications for the 2022 midterms.

1.Trump’s continuing to push “the big lie.”  Throughout his CPAC speech, Trump contended he won the November 3rd election: “I got more votes…they used COVID as a way of cheating… The Democrats used the China virus as an excuse to change all of the election rules without the approval of their state legislatures…This election was rigged and the Supreme Court and other courts didn’t want to do anything about it.”  [Audience response: “You won. You won…”]

Trump will continue to push the big lie.  It may help him with his base but for the other 75 percent of the electorate it’s old news.

To remain a political power, Donald needs media attention.  The big lie won’t get him air time anywhere other than the usual GOP propaganda outlets (Fox, OAN, and Newsmax) — Trump’s CPAC speech wasn’t carried by the other media outlets.

2. Republicans will use their experience of the 2020 election as an excuse for voter suppression.  Trump said, “Another one of the most urgent issues facing the Republican Party is that of ensuring fair, honest, and secure elections.”  He outlined several steps: “One election day.”  In other words, no early voting or mail-in voting.  “We must have voter id.”  “We need universal signature matching.”  Trump contends that he lost the 2020 election because of voting abuses.  (The CNN fact-checker ( pointed out that Trump’s claim has been refuted.)

Question: In 2022, What will Republicans stand for? Answer: Voter suppression.

3. Trump wants Republicans to purge their ranks of GOP Senators and Representatives that voted for his impeachment:  Senators Burr, Cassidy, Collins, Murkowski, Romney, Sasse, and Toomey;  Representatives Herrera-Beutler, Cheney, Gonazlez, Katko, Kinzinger, Meyer, Newhouse, Rice, Upton, and Valadao.  Of the 7 Republican Senators, only Alaska Senator Murkowski is up for reelection in 2022.  (Burr and Toomey are retiring.)

Of the ten Republican House members that opposed Trump, all ten can expect Trump-based primary opponents.  Congressman Valadao represents California swing district 25.  Valadao defeated his opponent, T.J. Cox, by 1500 votes — after losing to Cox in 2018 by a smaller margin.  In 2022, if Trump finds a proxy to run against Valadao, that probably ensures a Cox victory.

Taking revenge on Republicans who voted for Trump’s impeachment is not a winning strategy.  It will further diminish the GOP.

4. Trump defined “Trumpism.”  “What it means is great, great trade deals… It means low taxes and eliminating job-killing regulations… It means no riots in the streets. It means law enforcement.  It means very strong protection for the second Amendment…. It means a strong military and taking care of our troops… We stand up to political correctness… we reject cancel culture.”  (Trump conveniently ignored the January 6th insurrection  when he said, “[Trumpism] means no riots in the streets.”)

From the perspective of a 2022 Republican candidate, Trumpism means loyalty to Trump.  Trumpism doesn’t subsume a distinct set of policy objectives; except for cutting taxes, opposing immigration, and (of course) not wearing masks.  In 2022, Trumpism will not be a winning strategy; Voters will be most concerned about jobs, healthcare, and climate change.

5 Besides complaining about the 2020 presidential election, Trump spent the largest portion of his 90-minute speech talking about immigration.  “When I left office, just six weeks ago, we had created the most secure border in U.S. history… Joe Biden has triggered a massive flood of illegal immigration into ur country, the likes of which we have never seen before…Biden’s radical immigration policies aren’t just illegal.  They’re immoral.”

Trump pivoted to Biden’s “pathway to citizenship” initiative and argued: “The democratic immigration bill is a globalist con.  You take a look at the corporatist, big tech attack on hardworking citizens…”

From the perspective of a 2022 Republican candidate, Trumpism means opposition to Biden’s immigration policies.  Once again, this will not be a winning issue in 2022.  (By the way, most voters approve of Biden’s pathway-to-citizenship initiative (

6. Despite the recent surge of ultra-cold weather in most of the U.S., Trump didn’t talk about climate change.  (Of course.)  But he did reiterate his opposition to the Paris Climate accords.  “Joe Biden put the United States back into the very unfair and very costly Paris Climate Accord without negotiating a better deal….I could have made an unbelievable deal and gone back in, but I didn’t want to do that.”

From the perspective of a 2022 Republican candidate, Trumpism means opposition to Biden’s climate policies.  Not a winning position.

7. Trump didn’t talk much about Biden’s proposed “American Rescue plan.” Trump said: “The Democrats now say we have to pass their $1.9 trillion boondoggle to open schools, but a very small part of it has to do with that. You know where it’s going…  it’s going to bail out badly run Democrats.”

From the perspective of a 2022 Republican candidate, Trumpism means opposition to the American Rescue Plan.  Not a winning position — two-thirds of voters support this plan.

8. Trump presented a (familiar) cartoon image of Democrats: ” The mission of the Democrat party is to promote socialism… ultimately leading, unfortunately, to communism… Their party is based upon unvarnished disdain for America.”

From the perspective of a 2022 Republican candidate, Trumpism means opposition to Democrats because they “socialists.”

9. Republicans have become the Party of “White Grievance.”  Writing in the Washington Post, Republican columnist Michael Gerson ( observed: “One of the poisonous legacies of Donald Trump’s presidency has been to expand the boundaries of expressible prejudice. Through the explicit practice of White-identity politics, Trump has obviated the need for code words and dog whistles… The party has been swiftly repositioned as an instrument of white grievance. It refuses to condemn racists within its congressional ranks. Its main national legislative agenda seems to be the suppression of minority voting.”

“White grievance” may be emotionally satisfying for Republicans, but it won’t produce a viable political movement.

Summary:  Besides complaining about the 2020 presidential election results, Donald Trump’s CPAC speech provided a sketchy outline of what it takes to be labelled a “Trumpism” candidate in 2022.  Above all, fealty to Trump.  Beyond that, opposition to all Biden policies,  Rejection of “cancel culture.” And white grievance.

Trump 2.0 is a tired reworking of Trump 1.0.  On November 3rd, Trump 1.0  lost by 7 million votes.  Trump 2.0 will appeal to Donald’s acolytes but no one else.

Bon Mot

I reached out for a witty word
Which slipped away unseen, unheard
Escaped from my writing fray
And left me feeling quite absurd.

I did not retreat that blighted day
Giving up is not my way
My heart barely missed a beat
Treated this as bizarre play.

The bon mot marshaled its retreat
Sauntered down the plucky street
Paused beneath a Bijou sign
Wilted swiftly in the heat.

I grabbed it gruffly by the spine
Wrapped it up with heavy twine
Made sure that it was mine
Treasured the moment, quite sublime.

(Apologies to “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”)

Un bon mot ne prouve rien.”